On Krishnamurti, Osho, and Meditation: The meaning of ‘The observer is the observed’


(Acharya Prashant speaking at Pondicherry as part of his lecture tour
on 15th February, 2016.)

Acharya Prashant: Guru is not a provider of knowledge and experience, Guru is one who shows the futility of knowledge. We all have knowledge and are firm believers in the potency of our knowledge. Guru is the one who shows you the all knowledge is futile. Till the time you are believing in knowledge you will also be believing in ego. Till the time you are believing in knowledge your trust, your fundamental trust will be in the world because all knowledge comes from the world and all knowledge is material.

Listener 1: So, ultimately you have a faith in something.

AP: Faith can never be objective.

Faith can never be upon something or someone. If it is upon something or someone, then it will be belief. If faith has an object it immediately becomes a belief and beliefs are dangerous.

Faith is such a courageous thing precisely because it is upon nobody.

You have faith and if someone asks, ‘Upon whom?’, you just smile, and say, ‘Nobody in particular.’ And when it is upon nobody in particular, then you are faithful towards existence itself and that is real spirituality. Faith does not mean trust; these are very different things.

L2: I keep on listening to Krishnamurti, he uses a very important sentence over and over, that is – “Observer is the observed.” There is also an interpretation of this by Osho, he takes it to meditation, he has talked a lot on meditation and then he says when images come and go, an internal talk is happening and when you are quite, you can hear all those images, see all those images and hear all those conversations and in the end  all that is left is the observed; observer is the observed. Now I heard your views on meditation and also on Krishnamurti, they’re very different way So, as a practitioner of meditation, it shakes my faith when you say that meditativeness is the 24*7 thing, it is not eyes closed and you go about it. It shakes my faith that the very effort of meditation as I put on everyday basis. Is it that am I going wrong? Because I do see a quietness that descent on me when I finished mediation.

AP: See, could you have entered the ‘act’ of meditation without first being already meditative?

Now do not be in a hurry to answer this.

What comes first, the act or the center from which act arises?

Meditativeness is the submergence of mind in the center.

If I ask you, ‘Does the bhakt (devotee) go to the temple and hence become a devotee or does he got to the temple out of his pre-existing devotions? What would you say later?

So, the act of going to the temple cannot really be called as devotion. Devotion is there and therefore it is manifesting itself as a visit to the temple. Take the visit to the temple as meditation exercise and take devotion as meditativeness.

When I am saying meditativeness is 24*7, all I means is that it is something beyond time because whatever is in time cannot be 24*7. Time means it will start and it will end. 24*7 does not mean it is for a long time or a continuous time, it means it is beyond time and hence it is the self  (Aatman).

So, when the mind is submerged in the self then it takes up diverse activity. All those activities are of meditations of different kinds. One of those activities could even be a breathing exercise, sitting silently or whatever you do. I have no issues in that. It is just that it is false when somebody calls as activity as meditation. If that activity is a result of an inner meditativeness, wonderful. But if inner meditativeness is not there and you are just entering the activity then it is wasteful, the activity will not give much to you.

You see, people think that peace comes from meditation activity and what I have been continuously asserting is that the meditation activity comes from peace. If you are believing that by sitting in a particular pose for half an hour, you will get peace then you are deluded. But if there is an inner peace that submergence, which I talked about, if there is an inner peace then surely you will discover more and more methods of meditation. Anything that you do will be a meditative exercise because now you love peace, so you want to sustain that peace. You will not want to leave it, miss it.

So, whatever you do will be aimed at maintaining the peace that you are in and that is real meditation. Now, there will be not only a few methods of meditation but an infinite numbers of meditation.

Are you getting it?

Now everything that you do is meditation but first you have to be internally meditative without that if you will try this and that it will never help.

Methods do not take you to the end.

When you are already at the end, then you know which methods are right and that knowing is spontaneous.

You first have to be a devotee then wherever you go you know there is God; now there is a temple everywhere. But without being devoted internally if you enter some temple then you are just boosting your ego that is what I have been trying to say.

About the other thing, “The observer is observed”, all that Krishnamurti is saying in his own language, in a particular kind of expression is that the world appears to you as you are that’s all.

What you see outside is just an expression of the quality of the mind – the observer is the observed. He could have added, “And both are false.”

He could have completed the sentence by saying, “The observer is the observed and both are false.”

He could have even said that “When the observation is honest ,then both the observer and the observed dissolve into each other and the falseness vanishes.”

Honest observation is the ending of both – the observer and the observed.

Are you getting it?

L2: It is in every field – musician playing and becoming one with the audience

AP: Yes. And when we are saying that it becomes one with the audience that doesn’t mean that he feels that he is sitting with the audience; that means that there is no more any audience of any kind and hence not the musician either.

L2: Is this doing?

AP: No, nothing. Now, there is just happening just the happening without the doer.

L1: The time and space have gone.

AP: Gone. Because they exist only when there is a mental activity.

L1: But the very fact of self-exploration, in watching yourself creates a dualism.

AP: Yes.

L1: When teacher’s talk about observing yourself I see that the dualism is being talked which is not the intention of the teacher, I think.

AP: No, it is just an ignorance of the teacher. I am sorry I am compelled to say that.

You see, yesterday itself I saw a saw a European woman walking on the grass and she was keeping her feet like (gesturing the pressing of the ground by feets). I know what she was doing, she would have surely been taught by some teacher that you should walk in awareness.

L1: Mindfulness.

AP: Mindfulness. So mindful walking is what she was practicing so she was trying to do this that okay I am keeping a next step and I am aware of the grass touching my feet and the pressure exerted by the earth and now I keep the next step.

Now, you know what she is doing – an act which could have happened very simply without the aid of thought, now even that simple act has been brought even in the province of thought. In the name of awareness, thought is being promoted. It is not awareness, awareness is the cessation of thought, not more thinking that you are thinking even while keeping your step you will go mad. If you start doing that even for four hours a day, your mind will go kaput, finished.

L1: What if she just watching and trying to feel all those step feels that grass not thinking at all?

AP: Yes, but that cannot be an organized thing; then she cannot know that I have to keep next step slowly and slowly and slowly. This slowly is formal procedure. A formal procedure that she is mentally remembering and is hence contributing to more mental activity.

L1: Is that wrong understanding of the disciple of what teacher has said because Thich Nhat Hanh, I don’t want to say anything about any teacher but Thich Nhat Hanh knows a lot about mindfulness.

AP: The mind is already so full why do you want to have more mindfulness!

What do you mean by mindfulness?

In fact, you need the mind to be emptied a lot of suffering has been caused by this thing called mindfulness because in the name of mindfulness, all you get is more thinking, more thought more thought more thought. Somebody is saying I am full of sipping tea; now sipping tea which was such a Sahaj (Simple) activity has been turned into a procedure.

No names, not talking about someone in particular. I am just saying that is whole concept of watching yourself whenever it is misplaced, then instead of witnessing it becomes more mental activity. What they are trying to promote is witnessing, detachment. They are saying watch yourself act. It does not happen like that. It is not so gross.

Witnessing is not about saying now this happening. You know what these teacher they are saying – the whole day you are involved in ten activity, now add one more activity—witnessing. So. witnessing instead of becoming a dissolution of ten activity, becomes an eleventh activity – another load on the mind, another thought.

Krishnamurti, therefore, took care to use the word passive, he uses the word very often he says, “Passive observation not active” because active would mean thinking so he would say passive by that he only meant that by doing this kindly do not start thinking, kindly do not start planning your next step, kindly do not have a pattern in mind.

He used to say passive awareness. But you know, even the word passive can become a thought. You can start thinking whether it is passive, am I actively or passive? Now, gone finished.

L1: He talks about, when admiring a flower he says that don’t analyze the beauty of the flower.

AP: You could be standing in front of it and say, ‘I am not analyzing the beauty of flower, see I am not analyzing that without knowing this is an analysis.’

You know this is what happens when the subtle is interpreted by a gross mind.

The words of the real teacher are very subtle, but when they fall in the hands of the gross mind he gives them gross meaning.

He gives material meaning to the spiritual. Some of the words in the spiritual domain today are extremely misused word—mindfulness, faithfulness, loving, compassion, kindness.

L1: What are your thought on Ahimsa (non-violence)?

AP: I don’t know whether it is in circulation these days is that so? Repeat that word.

L2: Ahimsa (non-violence)

AP: See if I do not know compassion, if I do not know witnessing, if I do not know any of the words that I frequently used obviously I’ll not know Ahimsa also. Even my non-violence will be very violent. Anything that is cultivated, planned, enforced is violence.

Violence is when you are going against the Self, against your central nature that is violence.

Ahimsa means abiding in the self, that’s all.

Excerpts from a ‘Shabd-Yoga’ session. Edited for clarity.

Watch the session: Acharya Prashant on Krishnamurti, Osho and Meditation:The meaning of ‘The observer is the observed’



    1. There are various opportunities to connect to and meet Acharya Prashant. These are:

      1. Meet the Master:

      Meet the Master program is rare opportunity to meet Acharya Prashant personally, either physically or online. To meet the Master, send your application, write to requests@prashantadvait.com or contact: Ms. Anoushka Jain: +91-9818585917.

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      Advait Learning Camps are monthly retreats organized under Acharya Prashant’s guidance. These camps are about spending four days and three nights in the lap of nature, while reading, reflecting, learning and evolving. So far, scores of ALCs have been organised in places like Rishikesh, Mukteshwar, Jim Corbett National Park, Chopta, KainchiDham, etc.
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      Weekends with Acharya Prashant brings you the unique opportunity for a 2 day 2 night stay with the Master every month at Advait Ashram, Greater Noida. The getaway involves two mystical days of dynamic activities, explorations of the self, sports, meditative reading, deep reflections, midnight walks and more.
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