WHO IS THIS “I”?

Society has put before you the ideal of a ‘perfect man’. No matter in which culture you were born, you have scriptural doctrines and traditions handed down to you to tell you how to behave. You are told that through due practice you can even eventually come into the state attained by the sages, saints and saviors of mankind. And so you try to control your behavior, to control your thoughts, to be something unnatural.

We are all living in a ‘thought sphere’. Your thoughts are not your own; they belong to everybody. There are only thoughts, but you create a counter-thought, the thinker, with which you read every thought. Your effort to control life has created a secondary movement of thought within you, which you call the ‘I’. This movement of thought within you is parallel to the movement of life, but isolated from it; it can never touch life. You are a living creature, yet you lead your entire life within the realm of this isolated, parallel movement of thought. You cut yourself off from life — that is something very unnatural.

The natural state is not a ‘thoughtless state’ — that is one of the greatest hoaxes perpetrated for thousands of years on poor, helpless Hindus. You will never be without thought until the body is a corpse, a very dead corpse. Being able to think is necessary to survive. But in this state thought stops choking you; it falls into its natural rhythm. There is no longer a ‘you’ who reads the thoughts and thinks that they are ‘his’.

Have you ever looked at that parallel movement of thought? The books on English grammar will tell you that ‘I’ is a first person singular pronoun, subjective case; but that is not what you want to know. Can you look at that thing you call ‘I’? It is very elusive. Look at it now, feel it, touch it, and tell me. How do you look at it? And what is the thing that is looking at what you call ‘I’? This is the crux of the whole problem: the one that is looking at what you call ‘I’ is the ‘I’. It is creating an illusory division of itself into subject and object, and through this division it is continuing. This is the divisive nature that is operating in you, in your consciousness. Continuity of its existence is all that interests it. As long as you want to understand that ‘you’ or to change that ‘you’ into something spiritual, into something holy, beautiful or marvelous, that ‘you’ will continue. If you do not want to do anything about it, it is not there, it’s gone.

How do you understand this? I have for all practical purposes made a statement: “What you are looking at is not different from the one who is looking.” What do you do with a statement like this? What instrument do you have at your disposal for understanding a meaningless, illogical, irrational statement? You begin to think. Through thinking, you cannot understand a thing. You are translating what I am saying, in terms of the knowledge you already have, just as you translate everything else, because you want to get something out of it. When you stop doing that, what is there is what I am describing. The absence of what you are doing — trying to understand, or trying to change yourself — is the state of being that I am describing.

 

U.G. Krishnamurti

 

 


 

Featured image by @chelseakauai

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