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The Mirror of Relationship

Ojai, California
4th Talk in the Oak Grove 26th April, 1936

Many of you come to these meetings with the hope that by some miracle I am going to solve your difficulties, whether economic, religious or social. And if I cannot solve them, or if you are incapable of solving them for yourselves, you hope that some miraculous event or circumstance will dissolve them; or else you lose yourselves in some philosophic system, or hope that by joining a particular church or society your difficulties will of themselves disappear.

As I have often tried to point out, these problems, whether social, religious or economic, are not going to be solved by depending on any particular system. They must be solved as a whole, and one must deeply comprehend one's own process of creating ignorance and being caught up in it. If one can understand this process of accumulating ignorance, with its self-sustaining action, and discern consciousness as the combination of these two - ignorance and action - one will then profoundly comprehend this conflicting and sorrowful existence. But unfortunately most of us are indifferent. We wait for outward circumstances to force us to think, and this compulsion can only bring about greater suffering and confusion. You can test this out for yourself.

Then there are those who depend on faith for their understanding and comfort. They think that there is a supreme being who has made them, who will guide them, who will protect and save them. They fervently believe that by following a certain creed or a certain system of thought, and by forcing themselves into a certain mould of conduct and discipline, they will attain to the highest.

As I tried to explain last Sunday, faith or acceptance is a hindrance to the deep comprehension of life. Most of us, unfortunately, are incapable of experimenting for ourselves or we are disinclined to make the effort; we are unwilling to think deeply and go through the real agony of being uncertain. So we depend on faith for our understanding and comfort. We often think that we are changing radically, and that our attitude is being fundamentally altered; but unfortunately we are merely changing the outward forms of our expression, and we still cling to the inner demands and cravings for support and comfort.

Most of us belong to the category of those who depend on faith for the explanation of their being. I include in that word faith the many subtle demands, prayers and supplications to an external being, whether he be a Master or saint; or the appeal to the authority of beliefs, ideals and self-imposed disciplines. Having such a faith, with all its implications, we are bound to create duality in our life; that is, there is the actor ever trying to approximate himself and his actions to a concept, to a standard, to a belief, to an ideal. So there is a constant duality. If you examine your own attitude and action in life, you will see that there seems to be a separate entity who is looking at action, who is trying to mould, to shape the process of life according to a certain pattern, with the result that there is an ever increasing conflict and sorrow. If you observe, you will perceive that this duality in action is the cause of friction, conflict and misery, for one's effort is spent in making one's life conform to a particular pattern or concept. And we think that a man is happy and intelligent who is able to live in complete union with his ideal, with his preconceived beliefs. A person who can completely shape his actions to a principle, to an ideal, is considered sincere, wise and noble. It is but a form of rigidity, a lack of deep pliability, and hence a decay.

So in one's life there is the abstract and the actual; the actual being the conflict, and the abstract, the unconscious, made up of those beliefs and ideals, those concepts and memories that one has so sedulously built up as a means of self-protection. There is taking place in each one a conflict between the abstract and the actual, the unconscious and the conscious. Each one is trying to bridge over the gap that exists between the unconscious and the conscious, and this attempt must lead to rigidity of mind-heart and hence to a gradual withering, a contraction, which prevents the complete understanding of oneself and so of the world. One often thinks this attempt to unify the actual with the abstract will bring about deep fulfilment; but if one discerns, it is but a subtle form of escape from the conflict of life, a self-protection against the movement of life.

Before we can attempt to bring about this unity, we must know what is our unconscious, who has created it, and what is its significance. If we can deeply comprehend this, that is, if we can become aware of our own subtle motives, concepts, conceits, actions and reactions, we will then discern that there is only consciousness, the "I" process, which becomes perceptible to sense as individuality. This process must ever create a duality in action and bring about the artificial division of the conscious and the unconscious. From this process there arises the conception of a supreme deity, an ideal, an objective towards which there is a constant striving. Until we comprehend this process, there must be ignorance and hence sorrow.

The lack of comprehension of oneself is ignorance. That is, one must discern how one has come into being, what one is, all the tendencies, the reactions, the hidden motives, the self-imposed beliefs and pursuits. Until each one deeply understands this, there can be no cessation of sorrow, and the confusion of divided action, as economic and religious, public and private, will continue. The human problems that now disturb us will disappear only when each one is able to discern the self-sustaining process of ignorance. To discern needs patience and constant awareness.

As I have explained, there is no beginning to ignorance; it is sustained by its own cravings, through its own acquisitive demands and pursuits, and action merely becomes the means of maintaining it. This interacting process of ignorance and action brings about consciousness and the identity of the "I." As long as you do not know what you are and do not discern the various causes that result in the continued "I" process, there must be illusion and sorrow.

Each one of us is unique in the sense that each one is continually creating his own ignorance, which is without a beginning and is self-sustained through its own actions. This ignorance, though it has no beginning, can come to an end when there is a deep discernment of this vicious circle. Then there is no longer the "I" attempting to get outside of the circle to a greater reality, but the "I" itself perceives its own illusory nature and so weans itself away from itself. This demands alertness and constant awareness.

We are now making an effort to acquire virtues, pleasures, possessions, and are developing many tendencies towards greater accumulation and security; or, if we are not doing this, we go about it negatively by denying these things and trying to develop another series of subtle self-protections. If you examine this process carefully, you will perceive that consciousness, the mind, is ever isolating itself through acquisitive and self-protective desires. In this separative process duality is created, which brings conflict, suffering and confusion. The "I" process itself creates its own illusions, sorrows, through its self-created ignorance. To understand this process, there must be awareness, without the desire to choose between opposites. Choice in action creates duality, and this affirms the process of consciousness as individuality. If the mind-heart, not cognizant of its own secret demands, pursuits, of its hopes and fears, chooses, there must be the further creation of limitation and frustration. Thus, through the lack of understanding of ourselves, there is choice, which creates circumstances necessitating a further series of choices, and so mind-heart is caught over and over again in its own self-created circle of limitation.

Those of you who want to experiment with what I am saying will soon discover that there is no such thing as an external entity or environment guiding you, and that you are entirely responsible for yourself, for your own limitations and sorrows. If you see this, then environment does not become a separate force in itself, controlling, dominating, twisting the fulfilment of the individual. Then you begin to realize that there is only consciousness, perceived as individuality, and that it does not conceal or cover any reality. The "I" process is not proceeding to reality, to greater happiness, intelligence, but it is itself creating its own sorrow and confusion.

Take a very simple example and you can test this out for yourself. Many of you have very strong beliefs, which you make out to be the result of intuition; but they are not. These beliefs are the outcome of secret fears, longings and hopes. Such beliefs are unconsciously guiding you, forcing you into certain activities, and all experience is translated according to your ideals and beliefs. Hence there is no comprehension of life, but only the storing up of self-protective memories which increase in their intensity and limitation through further experience. If you are aware, you will observe that this process is taking place in you, and that your activities are being approximated to a standard, to an ideal. The complete approximation to an ideal is called success, fulfilment, happiness; but what one has really achieved is a rigidity, a complete isolation, a self-protection through escape into security, and so there is no comprehension of life, nor is there the cessation of ignorance with its sorrow and confusion.

Question: What is the purpose of suffering? Is it to teach us not to repeat the same mistake?

Krishnamurti: There is no purpose in suffering. Suffering exists because of the lack of comprehension. Most of us suffer economically, spiritually, or in our relationships with each other. Why is there this suffering? Economically, we have a system based on acquisitiveness, exploitation, fear; this system is being encouraged and maintained by our cravings and pursuits, and so it is self-sustaining. Acquisitiveness and a system of exploitation must go together, and they are ever present where there is ignorance of oneself. It is again a vicious circle; our craving has produced a system, and that system maintains itself by exploiting us.

There is suffering in our relationships with others. It is created by an inner craving for comfort, security, possession. Then there is that suffering caused by profound uncertainty, which prompts us to find peace, security, reality, God. Craving certainty, we invent many theories, create many beliefs, and the mind becomes limited and enmeshed in them, overheated with them, and so it is incapable of adjusting itself to the movement of life.

There are many kinds of suffering, and if you begin to discern their cause, you will perceive that suffering must coexist with the demand on the part of each individual to be secure, whether financially, spiritually, or in human relationship. Where there is a search for security, gross or subtle, there must be fear, exploitation and sorrow.

Instead of comprehending the cause of sorrow, you ask what is its purpose. You want to utilize sorrow to gain something further. So you begin to invent the purpose; you say that sorrow is the result of a past life, it is the result of environment, and so on. These explanations satisfy you, so you continue in your ignorance, with the constant recurrence of sorrow.

Suffering exists where there is ignorance of oneself. It is but an indication of limitation, of incompleteness. There is no remedy for suffering itself. In the discernment of the process of ignorance, suffering disappears.

Question: Is it not true that good deeds are rewarded, and that by leading a kind and an upright life we will attain to happiness?

Krishnamurti: Who rewards you? Reward in this world is called making a success of life, getting on the top, by exploiting people, being decorated by the government or by your party, and so on. And if you are denied this kind of reward, you want another kind, a spiritual reward - either discipleship from a Master, initiation, or a recognition for having done good in your past life.

Do you seriously think that such a thing exists, except as a childish encouragement and impetus; that it has any validity? Are you kind and do you love because you are going to get a reward now or in a future life? You may laugh at this, but if you deeply examine and understand your motives and actions, you will perceive that they are tinged with this idea of reward and punishment. So our actions are never integral, complete and full. From this arise sorrow and conflict, and our lives become small, petty, and without any deep significance.

If there is no reward or punishment, and so the utter freedom from fear, then what is the purpose of living? This would be the natural question you would ask, because you have been trained to think in terms of reward and punishment, achievement, competition, and all those quali- ties that make up what you consider to be human nature. When we understand profoundly, the significance of our existence, of the process of ignorance and action, we will see that what we call purpose has no significance. The mere search for the purpose of life covers up, detracts from the comprehension of oneself.

Reward has no significance; it is merely a compensation for the effort you have put forth. All effort put forth in order to gain a reward, here or in the hereafter, leads to frustration, and reward becomes so much dust in your mouth.

Question: Do you not consider philanthropy an important element in creating a new environment leading to human welfare?

Krishnamurti: If we understand philanthropy to be the love of man and the effort to promote his happiness, then it will have value only in so far as we consider him as a unique individual and help him to realize that in his own hands lie his happiness and the welfare of the whole. But, I fear, this would not be considered as philanthropy; for most of us do not realize that we are unique, that the process of creating ignorance and sorrow lies within our own power, and that only through the comprehension of ourselves can there be freedom from them. If this is fully and deeply comprehended, then philanthropy will have significance.

Charity merely becomes a compensation, and with it go all the subtle and gross exploitations to which man has become so accustomed.

The Mirror of Relationship

Ojai, California
4th Talk in the Oak Grove 26th April, 1936

Jiddu Krishnamurti. The Mirror of Relationship. The collected works of J.Krishnamurti, 1936..1944.


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