The Mirror of Relationship
6th Talk in the Oak Grove 10th May, 1936
Some of you may think that I am repetitive, and I may be so, for the questions that have been sent in, the interviews and general conversations I have had with people, have given me the impression that there is little understanding of what I have been saying; and so I have to repeat the same thing in different words. I hope those of you who have more or less grasped the fundamental ideas will have the patience to listen again to what I have to say.
There is so much suffering, in such a variety of ways, that one agonizes over it. This is not an empty phrase. One perceives so much exploitation and cruelty around one, that one is constantly asking oneself what is the cause of sorrow and by what means can it be dissipated.
There are some who firmly believe that the misery of the world is the result of some evil misfortune beyond the control of man, and that happiness and freedom from sorrow can exist only in another world, when man returns to God. This attitude towards life is completely erroneous, from my point of view, for this chaos is of man's own making.
To discern the process of suffering, each one must comprehend himself. To understand oneself is one of the most difficult tasks and demands the most strenuous effort and constant alertness, and very few have the inclination or the desire to comprehend deeply this process of suffering and sorrow. We have more opportunities to dissipate our energies through absurd amusements, futile conversations and vain pursuits, than to search out, to penetrate deeply into our own psychological demands, needs, beliefs and ideals. But this involves strenuous effort on our part, and as we do not wish to exert ourselves, we would rather escape into all manner of easy satisfactions.
If we do not escape through diversions, we escape through beliefs, through the activities of organizations with their loyalties and commitments. These beliefs become a shield, preventing us from comprehending ourselves. Religious societies promise to help us to understand ourselves, but unfortunately we are exploited and we merely repeat their phrases and succumb to the authority of their leaders. So these organizations, with their increasing restrictions and secret promises, lead us away into further complications which make us incapable of understanding ourselves. Once we have committed ourselves to a particular society, to its leaders and their friends, we begin to develop those loyalties and responsibilities which prevent us from being wholly honest with ourselves. There are of course other forms of escape, through various superficial activities.
To understand oneself profoundly, one needs balance. That is, one cannot abandon the world, hoping to understand oneself, or be so entangled in the world that there is no occasion to comprehend oneself. There must be balance, neither renunciation nor acquiescence. This demands alertness and deep awareness. We must learn to observe our actions, thoughts, ideals, beliefs, silently and without judgment, without interpreting them, so as to be able to discern their true significance. We must first be cognizant of our own ideals, pursuits, wants, without accepting or condemning them as being right or wrong. At present we cannot discern what is true and what is false, what is lasting and what is transient, because the mind is so crippled with its own self-created wants, ideals and escapes that it is incapable of true perception. So we must first learn to be silent and balanced observers of our limitations and frictions which cause sorrow.
If you begin to observe, you will see that you are seeking new explanations, definitions, satisfactions, ideals, graphic images and pictures, as substitutes for the old. You accepted the old beliefs, explanations and pictures because they satisfied you; and now, through friction with life, you are finding out that they no longer give you what you crave. So you seek new explanations, new hopes, new ideals and escapes, but with the same background of want and satisfaction. Then you begin to compare the old explanations with the new, and choose those which give you the greatest security and contentment. You think that by accepting these new explanations and ideals, you will find happiness and peace. As your demand is for contentment and satisfaction, you help to create and accept beliefs and explanations that fulfil your want, and then you begin to shape your thought and conduct according to these new moulds. If you observe, you will perceive that this is so. As there is so much suffering, both within and without, you desire to know the cause, but you are easily satisfied with explanations and you continue to suffer. Explanations are as so much dust to a discerning mind.
Some of you believe in the idea of reincarnation. You come and ask me what I believe, whether reincarnation is a fact or not, whether I remember my past lives, and so on. Now, why do you ask me? Why do you want to know what I think about it? You want a further confirmation of your own belief, which you call a fact, a law, because it gives you a hope, a purpose in life. Thus belief becomes to you a fact, a law, and you go about seeking confirmation of your hope. Even though I may confirm it, it cannot be of vital importance to you. Whatever it may be to me, real or false, what is important for you is that you should discern for yourself these conceptions, through action, through living, and not accept any assertions.
There are three conditions of mind: "I know", "I believe", and "I do not know." When you say, "I know", you mean you know through experience, and through that experience you become certain and convinced of an idea, a belief. But that certainty, that conviction may be based on imagination, on a wish-fulfilment, which to you gradually becomes a fact, and so you say, "I know." Some say reincarnation is a fact, and to them perhaps it is so, as they say they can see their past lives; but to you who crave for continuity, reincarnation gives hope and purpose, and so you cling to the idea, saying that it is your intuition that prompts you to accept it as a fact, as a law. You accept the idea of rebirth on the assertion of another, without ever questioning his knowledge, which may be imagination, hallucination, or the projection of a wish. Craving self-perpetuation, immortality, you become incapable of true discernment. If you do not say, "I know", you then say, "I believe in reincarnation because it explains the inequalities of life." Again, this belief, which you say is prompted by intuition, is the outcome of a hidden hope and craving for continuity.
Thus both the "I know" and "I believe" are insecure, uncertain and not to be relied on. But if you can say, "I do not know", fully comprehending its significance, then there is a possibility of perceiving that which is. To be in a state of not knowing demands great denudation and strenuous effort, but it is not a negative state; it is a most vital and earnest state for the mind-heart that does not grasp at explanations and assertions.
One can casually and easily say that one does not know, and most people say it. One hears and reads so much about the cause of suffering, that unconsciously one begins to accept this explanation and reject that, according to the dictates of satisfaction and hope. As most people have minds cluttered up with beliefs, prejudices, hidden hopes and demands, it is almost impossible for them to say, "I do not know." They are so bound to certain beliefs by their inner longings, that they are never in a state of complete bankruptcy. They are never in that state of utter denudation when all the supports, explanations, hopes, influences have completely ceased.
We begin to discern what is true only when all want has ceased, for want creates beliefs, ideals, hopes, which are mere escapes. When the mind is no longer seeking security in any form, or demanding explanations, or relying on subtle influences, then, in that state of nakedness, there is the real, the permanent. If the mind is able to discern that it is creating its own ignorance through craving and perpetuating itself through its own action of want, then consciousness changes to reality. Then there is permanency, then there is the ending of the transiency of consciousness. Consciousness is the action or friction between ignorance and the external provocations of life, of the world, and this consciousness, this strife and sorrow, is self-perpetuating through want, through craving, which creates its own ignorance.
Question: Please explain more clearly what you mean by pliability of mind.
Krishnamurti: Is it not necessary to have a supple, alert mind? Must not one have a mind that is supremely pliable? Must not the mind be like a tree, that has its roots deep in the earth, yet yields to passing winds? It is itself, and so it can be pliable. Now, with what are we occupied? We are trying to become something, and we glory in that becoming. That becoming is not fulfilment but imitation, the copying of a pattern of what is called perfection; it is a following, obeying, in order to achieve, to succeed. That is not fulfilment. A rose or a violet that is lovely is a perfect flower, and that in itself is fulfilment; it would be vain to wish that a violet could be as the rose. We are making constant effort to be something, and so the mind-heart becomes more and more rigid, limited, narrow, and incapable of deep pliability. So it creates further resistances for self-protection against the movement of life. Those self-created resistances prevent the mind-heart from comprehending its own activities which engender and increase ignorance. Pliability of mind is not in becoming something, in worshipping success, but it is known when the mind denudes itself of those resistances which it has brought into being through craving. This is true fulfilment. In that fulfilment there is the eternal, the permanent, the ever pliable.
Question: I know all my limitations, but they stay with me still. So what do you mean by bringing the subconscious into the conscious?
Krishnamurti: Sir, merely to know one's limitations is surely not enough, is it? Haven't you to discern their significance? I have said for many years that certain things are limitations, and you may perhaps be repeating my words without deeply understanding them, and then you say, "I know all my limitations." The strenuous awareness of your own limitations brings about their dissipation.
Ceremonies, as other perversions of thought, are to me limitations. Suppose you agree, and you want to discover if your mind is held in these limitations. Begin to be aware of them, not by judging, but by silently observing and discerning whether certain reactions are harmful, limited. That very discernment, that awareness itself, without creating an opposite quality, dislodges from the mind those resistances and harmful restrictions. When you ask, "How am I to get rid of my limitations?" it indicates that you are not aware of them, that there is not a strenuous effort to discern. There is a joy in this strenuous awareness, in the struggle itself. Awareness has no reward.
Question: I have listened to your talks for several years, but to be frank, I have not yet grasped what you are trying to convey. Your words have always seemed vague to me, whereas the writings of H. P. Blavatsky, Rudolf Steiner, Annie Besant, and a few others, have greatly helped me. Is it not that there are different ways of presenting truth, and that your way is the way of the mystic as distinct from that of the occultist?
Krishnamurti: I have answered this question I do not know how often, but if you wish I shall answer it again. Any explanation, any measure of truth must be erroneous. Truth is to be comprehended, to be discerned, not to be explained. It is, but is not to be sought after. So there cannot be one way or many ways of presenting truth. That which is presented as truth is not truth.
But then you can ask me: What are you trying to do? If you are not giving us a graphic picture of truth, measuring for us the immeasurable, then what are you doing? All that I am trying to do is to help you to discern for yourself that there is no salvation outside of yourself, that no Master, no society, can save you; that no church, no ceremony, no prayer can break down your self-created limitations and restrictions; that only through your own strenuous awareness is there the comprehension of the real, the permanent; and that your mind is so cluttered up, so overheated with beliefs, ideals, wants and hopes, that it is incapable of perception. Surely this is simple, clear and definite; it is not vague.
Each one, through his own want, is creating ignorance, and that ignorance, through its volitional activities, is perpetuating itself as individuality, as the "I" process. I say that the "I" is ignorance, it has no reality, nor does it conceal anything permanent. I have said this often and explained it in many ways, but some of you do not want to think clearly, and so you cling to your hopes and satisfactions. You want to avoid deep strenuousness; you hope that through the effort of another your conflicts, miseries and sorrows will be dissipated, and you wish that the exploiting organizations, whether religious or social, would be miraculously changed. If you make an effort you want a result, which excludes comprehension. Then you say: What is the point of making an effort if I don't get something out of it? Your effort, through want, creates further limitations which destroy comprehension. The mind is caught up in this vicious circle, effort through want, which maintains ignorance; and so the "I" process becomes self-sustaining. The people who have gathered money, properties, qualities, are rigid in their acquisition and are incapable of deep comprehension. They are slaves to their own want, which creates a system of exploitation. If you give thought to it, it is not difficult to understand this, but to comprehend it through action demands strenuous effort.
To some of you, what I say is empty and meaningless; to others, coming to these meetings is a habit; and a few are vitally concerned. Some of you take one or two statements of mine, separate them from their contexts, and try to work them into your own particular system. In this there is no comprehension, and it will only lead to further confusion.
Question: Since the Masters founded the Theosophical Society, how can you say that spiritual societies are a hindrance to man's understanding? Or does this not apply to the Theosophical Society?
Krishnamurti: That is what every society, sect, or religious body declares. Roman Catholics have maintained for centuries that they are the direct representatives of the Christ. And other religious sects have similar assertions, only they use different names. Either their teaching is inherently true in itself, and so does not need the support of any authority, however great it is; or it can stand only because of authority. If it stands on any authority, whether of the Buddha, the Christ, or the Masters, then it has no significance. Then it merely becomes the means of exploiting people through their fears. This is constantly happening the world over: the use of authority to coerce people through their fear - which is called love or respect for a particular form of activity - or to found a religious organization. And you who want happiness, security, follow without thought and are exploited. You do not question the whole conception of authority. You submit yourself to authority, to exploitation, thinking that it will lead you to reality; but only greater confusion and misery await you. This question of authority is so subtle that the individual deceives himself by saying that it is his own voluntary choice to submit himself to a particular form of belief or action. Where there is want, there must be fear and the creation of authority with its cruelties and exploitation.
I have repeated this in different words very often. Some have come and told me that they have resigned from this or that organization. Surely that is not the most important thing, though resignation must necessarily follow if there is comprehension. What is important is: Why did they join at all? If they can discover the impulse that drives them to join these religious sects, groups, and discern the deep significance of that impulse, then they will themselves abstain from joining any religious organization. If you analyze that urge, you will perceive fundamentally that where there is a promise of security and happiness, the desire for these is so great that it blinds comprehension, discernment; and authority is worshipped as a means to the satisfaction of the many cravings.
Question: Are you, or are you not, a member of the Great White Lodge of Adepts and Initiates?
Krishnamurti: Sir, what does it matter? I am afraid this country, and especially this Coast, is inundated with this kind of mystery, which is used to exploit people through their credulity and fear. There are so many swamis, both white and brown, who tell you about these things. What does it seriously matter whether there is a White Lodge or not? And who talks or writes about these mysteries except those who, consciously or unconsciously, wish to exploit man in the name of brotherhood, love and truth? Beware of such people. They have set going incredible and harmful superstitions. Often I have heard people say that they are guided by Masters who send out forces, and so on. Don't you know, cannot you perceive for yourself that you are your own master, that you create your own ignorance, your own sorrow, that no other can by any means free you from suffering, now or ever? If you discern this fundamental fact, truth, law, that you create your own limitation and sorrow, that you yourself help to bring about a system which exploits man ruthlessly, and that out of your own inner demands, fears and wants, are created religious and other organizations for cunning exploitation, then you will no longer encourage or help to create these systems. Then authority ceases to have any significant position in life; then only can man come to his own true fulfilment. This demands a tremendous self-reliance. But you say: We are weak and must be led; we must have nurses. Thus you continue the whole process of superstition and exploitation. If you will discern deeply that ignorance is perpetuating itself through its own action, then there will be a profound change in your relationship to life. But I assure you, this demands a deep comprehension of yourself.
The Mirror of Relationship
6th Talk in the Oak Grove 10th May, 1936
Jiddu Krishnamurti. The Mirror of Relationship. The collected works of J.Krishnamurti, 1936..1944.