A few years before his death, prompted by his biographer Mary Lutyens, Krishnamurti wrote a summary of his entire message. In this piece, entitled "The Core of the Teaching", Krishnamurti writes:
When man becomes aware of the movement of his own thoughts he will see the division between the thinker and thought, the observer and the observed, the experience and the experiencer. He will discover that this division is an illusion. Then only is there pure observation which is insight without any shadow of the past or of time.
Krishnamurti here seems to suggest that the human mind is not limited to the familiar state of consciousness characterized by a clear separation between a subject (the experiencer) and an object (the experience). In addition to this everyday way of experiencing, Krishnamurti claims that the human mind also has the capacity for perceiving reality "purely", that is to say in a direct, non-personal manner, one that is not processed through an egocentric consciousness.
Although it's possible to imagine what such a state of non-duality might resemble, these musings rarely go beyond the realm of the intellect. For us, the separation between the observer and the observed lies at the heart of our actual experience, unquestioned and unquestionable. In fact, the sense of separation is so real that we find ourselves in a state of constant tension with our environment. We view the environment as an external agency, one that has the power to shape and influence who we are. Despite our strong intuitive feeling to the contrary, Krishnamurti nonetheless keeps on insisting that the individual and its environment are in fact one and the same thing.
Now, each one tries to immortalize the product of environment; that thing which is the result of the environment we try to make eternal. That is, the various fears, hopes, longings, prejudices, likes, personal views which we glorify as our temperament - these are, after all, the result, the product of environment; and the bundle of these memories, which is the result of environment, the product of the reactions to environment, this bundle becomes that consciousness which we call the "I".
Here, Krishnamurti implies that the "I" is nothing more than a consolidation of reactions to external influences. What happens to us as an organism from birth (and maybe even before) - the joys, hurts, pleasures and fears - all leave traces. These get stored and accumulate over time into a "bundle of memories". Memories, as Krishnamurti sees them, are not just a passive storehouse of information. On the contrary, they are actively involved in naming, recognizing and interpreting the world around us.
Eventually, there comes a point in the development of a human being at which reality is more likely to be processed in accordance with complex stored information - as an added layer on top of native awareness. In practical, day-to-day matters this ability of the human mind to re-fashion reality according to its memories is extremely useful for solving practical problems. In a flash, the past can be summoned in order to deal with a challenge in the present or plan for the future. Ultimately, this reliance on subjective memory as a valid interpreter of reality seems to give rise to the sense of self and the feeling of separateness.
The difficulty, according to Krishnamurti, is that we have lost sight of the fact that this memory-based world view is abstract and we have come to mistake it for the real thing. As such, most of our day is spent dealing with problems generated from within this mental model of reality, problems related to the security demands of an imaginary "I".
The whole struggle is between the result of environment with which mind identifies itself and becomes the "I", between that, and environment. After all, the "I", the consciousness with which the mind identifies itself is the result of environment. The struggle takes place between that "I" and the constantly changing environment.
Krishnamurti's viewpoint is that if we were able to discover that our perception of reality - including the feeling of "I" - is basically a thought construct, the abstraction would come to an end of its own accord. What would remain in its stead is the natural ability to perceive, or to see "without any shadow of the past or of time".
Yet even with a fairly solid understanding of what Krishnamurti is saying, few can claim that this fundamental transformation actually has taken place. Why is this the case? In hindsight, it seems rather obvious. Despite the intent to question the entirety of our experience, the information contained in what Krishnamurti has to say simply causes new elements to appear on the radar of our consciousness. In this case, an "I" and "its environment". These are subsequently labeled as as "false". We then proceed to adjust our mental model to be in accord with this reworked paradigm. All the while, though, the sense of self remains in the background, the neutral implementer of this information. As such the state of affairs we know as "I" and "not I", the status quo as it were, continues without interruption.
To find out what the mind is - is that not meditation? If the mind can understand the total process of its own existence, then perhaps it can go beyond itself and discover what is true. But reason and logic are not passionate, vital, and that is why, to understand and transcend itself, the mind must go beyond reason and logic. The mind that is passionate to find out what is true - only such a mind can come to know the whole process of reasoning, with its illusions and falseness, and so transcend itself. A mind that is logical, reasoning, traditional, fearful, may be enthusiastic in terms of a dogma, creed, or political formula; it may be keen to bring about a particular reform, but it can never be vitally free to find out what is true.
It would appear that this investigation into the nature of the human consciousness is unlike any other problem we have had to solve. Since our very "self" is the subject of study, it follows that in this particular inquiry we cannot avail ourselves of anything originating from that self - that is, our feelings, intuitions, understandings, and so on. This is borne out by our own trials and experiments, where neither logic, reason nor emotion have succeeded in coercing this state of "pure observation" into being.
Most definitely then, the understanding Krishnamurti speaks of is of a wholly different order than what we normally understand as understanding. The "understanding" he speaks of is a flash of insight that instantaneously does away with illusion. And that is the end of the story. No further action is required. There is nothing to oppose, nothing on which to act, to change, to control.
After all, the ascetic is one who eschews life because he does not understand it. He runs away from life, from life with all its expressions; whereas intelligence does not seek to escape from anything, because there is nothing to be put away; intelligence is complete, and in that completeness there is no division.
This lies in sharp contrast to our brand of understanding, which inevitably seeks to assert itself. So when we say that we have understood that the self and the environment are fabricated, it leads to an effort to somehow set things right. Krishnamurti's point is that the very presence of reactions like resistance, control, acceptance and so on - all of which are based on an understanding of sorts - indicates that we have not seen "directly" that the whole affair is false.
Anything that we perceive directly, understand completely, leaves no scar on the mind.
It can be rather discouraging to realize that the intellectual understanding of Krishnamurti's teaching leaves one essentially nowhere. But if you look carefully at what he himself described as the core of his message, namely that the "observer is the observed", you will perhaps agree this is what he has been saying all along. If the "I" is identical with the environment it seeks to change, then there is clearly no help to be had for that "I", neither from Krishnamurti, nor from any other source. Not because he failed somehow in his mission, but rather because truth is simply not something that the "I" can bargain with.
After all, to understand truth, God, the unknown, or whatever name you care to give to it, mind and heart must come unprepared, insecure. In the vitality of insecurity, there is the eternal.
This realization, that memory-based reality has absolutely no relation with that which is true, that the "I" can never observe freely, is perhaps the single most important point we can take from Krishnamurti. What's more, it may well be the key to opening the door to an entirely different state of being.