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The Mirror of Relationship

Eddington, Pennsylvania
1st Public Talk 12th June, 1936

It is important to ask yourself why you come to these meetings, and what it is that you are seeking. Unless you know that for yourself, you are apt to be greatly confused in trying to solve the many problems and issues which confront us all.

To comprehend the motive and the object of your search, if you are seeking anything at all, you must know whether you regard life from the mechanistic point of view, or from the point of view of belief in the other world, which is called religious. Most people will tell you that they are working for a world in which exploitation of man by man, with its cruelties, wars and appalling miseries, will cease. While they will all agree as to this ultimate object, some will accept the mechanistic, and others the religious view of life.

The mechanistic view of life is that as man is merely the product of environment and of various reactions, perceptible only to the senses, the environment and reactions should be controlled by a rationalized system which will allow the individual to function only within its frame. Please comprehend the full significance of this mechanistic point of view of life. It conceives no supreme, transcendental entity, nothing that has a continuity; this view of life admits no survival of any kind after death; life is but a brief span leading to annihilation. As man is nothing but the result of environmental reactions, concerned with the pursuit of his own egotistic security, he has helped to create a system of exploitation, cruelty and war. So his activities must be shaped and guided by changing and controlling the environment.

The mechanistic view of life deprives man of the true experience of reality. This is not some fantastic, imaginative experience, but that which comes into being when the mind is free of all the encumbrances of fear, dogma, belief, and those psychological diseases resulting from restrictions and limitations, which we accept in our search for self-protection, security and comfort.

Then there are those who accept the view that man is essentially divine, that his destiny is controlled and guided by some supreme intelligence. These assert that they are seeking God, perfection, liberation, happiness, a state of being in which all subjective conflict has ceased. Their belief in a supreme entity, who is guiding man's destiny, is based on faith. They will say this transcendental entity or supreme intelligence has created the world and that the "I", the ego, the individual, is something permanent in itself and has an eternal quality.

If you think critically about this, you will perceive that this concep- tion, based on faith, has led man away from this world into a world of conjectures, hopes and idealism, thus aiding him to escape from conflict and confusion. This attitude of otherworldliness, based on faith and so on fear, has developed beliefs, dogmas, ceremonies, and has encouraged a morality of individual security, resulting in a system of escapes from this world of pain and conflict; it has brought about a division between the actual and the ideal, the here and the hereafter, earth and heaven, the inner and the outer. And out of this conception there has developed a morality based on fear, on acquisitiveness, on individual security and comfort here and in the hereafter, and on a series of immoral, hypocritical and unhealthy values that are utterly at variance with life. This conception of life with its escapes, based on faith, also deprives man of the true experience of reality.

So, either one is bound to faith, with its fears, organized beliefs and disciplines; or, rejecting faith, one accepts the mechanistic view of life with its doctrines, its rationalized beliefs and conformity to a pattern of thought and conduct.

Most people belong to one of these two groups, to one of these opposites. Opposites can never be true; and if neither of them is true, how is one to understand life, its values, its morality and the deep significance which one feels it has?

There is a different way of looking at life, not from the point of view of the opposites, of faith and of science, of fear and of the mechanical; and that is to comprehend life, not as manifested in the universe, but as a process focussed in each individual. That is, each one has to discern the process of becoming and the process of apparently ceasing, of being born and of dying. This process alone is wholly perceptible to the individual as consciousness. Please see this point clearly. The process that is at work in the universe or in another individual cannot be discerned except as it is focussed in you, the individual.

The inclination to accept the mechanistic view of life, or to embrace the security and comfort that faith offers, does not lead to true discernment of what is. Reality is to be comprehended only through the "I" process, as consciousness, from which arises individuality. That is, one has to understand the process of one's own becoming, which involves intelligence, an acute discernment, a constant awareness. In understanding oneself integrally there comes the possibility of having true life values, of true relationship with other individuals, with society.

To belong to either of the two opposing groups of thought I have mentioned, will only lead ultimately to greater confusion and misery. All opposites impede discernment. To discern what is, one must comprehend oneself, and to do this, one must pierce through all those encumbrances and limitations produced by the mechanistic view of life or by faith; then only is it possible to discern sanely, without violence, the "I" process as consciousness from which arises individuality.

All things come into being through the process of energy, which is unique to each individual. You and I are the results of that energy which in the course of its development creates those prejudices, tendencies and cravings that make each individual unique. Now, this process which is without a beginning, in its movement, in its action, becomes consciousness through sensation, perception, and discernment. This consciousness is perceptible to the senses as individuality. Its action is born of ignorance which is friction. The energy which is unique to each individual, is not to be glorified.

Of this process of perpetuating ignorance as consciousness, perceptible to sense as individuality, you must become aware, so that to you it becomes an actuality and no longer a theory. Then only will there be a fundamental change of values which alone will bring about true relationship of the individual to his environment, to society. If you are able to discern this process of ignorance which is without a beginning, and comprehend also that it can be brought to an end through the cessation of its own volitional activity, then you will perceive that you are entirely master of your destiny, utterly self-reliant and not dependent on circumstances or on faith for conduct and relationship.

To bring about this profound change of values, and to establish the right relationship of the individual with society, you, the individual, must consciously free yourself from the mechanistic view of life, with its many implications and its structures of superficial adjustment. You must also be free from the encumbrances of faith with its fears, beliefs, and creeds.

Sometimes you think life is mechanical, and at other times when there is sorrow and confusion, you revert to faith, looking to a supreme being for guidance and help. You vacillate between the opposites, whereas only through comprehension of the illusion of the opposites can you free yourself from their limitations and encumbrances. You often imagine that you are free from them, but you can be radically free only when you fully comprehend the process of the building up of these limitations and of bringing them to an end. You cannot possibly have the comprehension of the real, of what is, as long as this beginningless process of ignorance is perpetuated. When this process, sustaining itself through its own volitional activities of craving, ceases, there is that which may be called reality, truth, bliss.

To understand life and to have true values, you must perceive how you are held by the opposites, and before rejecting them, you must discern their deep significance. And in the very process of freeing yourself from them, there is born the comprehension of beginningless ignorance, which creates false values and so establishes false relationship between the individual and his environment, bringing about confusion, fear and sorrow.

To comprehend confusion and sorrow, you, the individual, must discern your own process of becoming, through intensity of thought and integral awareness. This does not mean that you must withdraw from the world: on the contrary, it involves the comprehension of the numerous false values of the world, and being free from them. You yourself have created these values, and only through constant alertness and discernment can this process of ignorance be brought to an end.

Question: Is there not the possibility that awareness, which demands constant occupation with one's own thoughts and feelings, might produce an indifferent attitude towards others? Will it teach one sympathy, which is a sensibility to the suffering of others?

Krishnamurti: Awareness is not occupation with one's own thoughts and feelings. Such occupation, which is introspection, objectifies action and calculates the results of an act. In that there can be no sympathy, nor the fullness of being. Each one is so occupied with himself, with his own psychological needs, his own security, that he becomes incapable of sympathy.

Now awareness is not this. Awareness is discernment, without judgment, of the process of creating self-protecting walls and limitations behind which the mind takes shelter and comfort. Take, for example, the question of faith, with its fear and hope. Faith gives you comfort, a solace in misfortune or sorrow. On faith you have built up a system of compulsion, discipline, a set of false values. Behind the protective wall of faith you take shelter, and that wall has prevented love, sympathy, and kindliness; because your occupation has been with yourselves, with your own salvation, with your own well-being here and in the hereafter.

If you begin to be aware, to discern how you have created this process through fear, how you are constantly taking shelter, whenever there is any reaction, behind these ideals, concepts and values, then you will perceive that awareness is not occupation with your own thoughts and feelings, but the deep comprehension of the folly of creating these values behind which the mind takes shelter.

Most of us are unconscious that we are following a pattern, an ideal, and that it is guiding us through life. We accept and follow an ideal because we think that it will help us to wade through the confusion of existence. With that we are occupied rather than in comprehending the whole process of life itself. We are therefore unconscious of this constant adjustment to an ideal, and never question why it exists; but if we were to examine critically, we should see that an ideal is but a means of escape from actuality, and that in conforming ourselves to an ideal we are allowing ourselves to become more and more restricted, confused and sorrow laden. In comprehending the actual, with its sufferings, acquisitiveness, cruelties, and in eliminating them, there is true sympathy, affection. This awareness is not occupation with one's own thoughts and feelings, but a constant discernment, freed from choice, of what is true. All choice is based on tendency, craving and ignorance, which prevents true discernment. If choice exists, there cannot be awareness.

Question: By intelligent observation of the lives of other people, one can often draw valuable conclusions for oneself. What value do you think such vicarious experience has?

Krishnamurti: Fundamentally, vicarious experience cannot have integral value. There is only that process of perpetuating ignorance as focussed in each one, and it is only through the comprehension of this process that one can understand life, not through a bypath - the experience of another. Through the bypath, that is, the following of another or accepting the wisdom of another, there cannot be fulfilment.

Question: Assuming that we usually act in response to some mental bias or some emotional stress, is there any technique by which we may become conscious of such bias or stress at the moment of action, before we have actually performed the action?

Krishnamurti: In other words, you are seeking a method, a system, which will enable you to keep awake at the moment of action. System and action cannot exist together, they kill each other. You are asking me: Can I take a sedative and yet be awake at the moment of action? How can a system keep you awake, or anything else except your own intensity of interest, the necessity of keeping awake? Please see the significance of this question. If you are aware that your mind is biased, then you do not want any discipline or system or mode of conduct. Your very discernment of a prejudice burns away that prejudice, and you are able to act sanely and clearly. But because you do not perceive a bias, which causes suffering, you hope to rid yourself of sorrow by following a system, which is but the development of another bias, and this new bias you call the process of keeping awake, becoming conscious. The search for a system merely indicates a sluggish mind, and the following of a system encourages you to act automatically, destroying intelligence. The so-called religious teachers have given you systems. You think that by following a new system, you will train the mind to discern and accept new values. When you succeed in doing this, what you have really done is to deaden the mind, put it to sleep, and this you mistake for happiness, peace.

One listens to all this, and yet there remains a gap between everyday life and the pursuit of the real. This gap exists because change involves not only physical discomfort but mental uncertainty, and we dislike to be uncertain. Because this uncertainty creates disturbance, we postpone change, thus exaggerating the gap. So we go on creating conflict and misery, from which we desire to escape. We then accept either the mechanistic view of life or that of faith, and so escape from actuality. The gap between ourselves and the real is bridged only when we see the absolute necessity for cessation from all escapes and hence the necessity for integral action, out of which is born true human relationship with individuals, with society.

The Mirror of Relationship

Eddington, Pennsylvania
1st Public Talk 12th June, 1936

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


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