The Mirror of Relationship
1st Public Talk 6th December, 1936
In this world of conflict and suffering, right comprehension alone can bring about intelligent order and lasting happiness. To awaken intelligent thought there must be right effort on the part of each individual, effort which is not induced by personal reactions and fancies, by beliefs and ideals. Such thought alone can produce right organization of life and true relationship between the individual and society. I shall try to help you, the individual, to think directly and simply, but you must have the intense desire for comprehension. You must free yourself from the prejudice of loyalty to particular beliefs and dogmas, from the prejudices of habitual conduct moulded by traditions of thoughtlessness. You must have the burning desire for experimentation and action, for only through action can you truly perceive that authority, beliefs, ideals, are definite hindrances to intelligence, to love.
But I am afraid most of you come merely by habit to listen to these talks. This is not a political meeting. Nor do I wish to incite you to some economic, social or religious action. I do not want a following nor do I seek your worship. I do not want to become a leader or create a new ideology. I desire only that we should attempt to think together clearly, sanely, intelligently; and from this process of true thinking, action will inevitably follow; thought is not to be separated from action.
Right comprehension of life cannot come about if, in any form, there is fear, compulsion. Creative understanding of life is prevented when thought and action are constantly impeded by authority, the authority of discipline, of reward and punishment. By the directness of creative action you will discern that the ruthless search for individual security must inevitably lead to exploitation and suffering. Only through dynamic thought-action can there come about that complete inward revolution with its possibility of true human relationship between the individual and society.
What, then, is our individual answer to the present complex problem of living? Do we meet life with the particular point of view of religion, science, or economics? Do we cling to tradition, whether old or new, without thought? Can this prodigiously subtle, complex thing called life be understood by dividing it into different parts, as political, social, religious, scientific; by laying emphasis on one part and disregarding the others?
It is the fashion nowadays to say: Solve the economic problem first, and then all other problems will be solved. If we regard life merely as an economic process, then living becomes mechanical, superficial and destructive. How can we grasp the subtle, unknown, psychological process of life by merely saying that we must solve first the question of bread? The mere repetition of slogans does not demand much thought.
I do not mean to say that bread is not a problem; it is an immense problem. But by laying emphasis on it, and by making it our chief interest, we approach the complexity of life with narrowness of mind and thereby only further complicate the problem.
If we are religious, that is, if our minds are conditioned by beliefs and dogmas, then we merely add further complexity to life. We must view life comprehensively with deep intelligence, but most of us try to solve life's problems with conditioned minds burdened with tradition. If you are a Hindu you seek to understand life through the particular beliefs, prejudices and traditions of Hinduism. If you are a Buddhist, a socialist, or an atheist, you try to comprehend life only through your special creed. A conditioned, limited mind cannot understand the movement of life.
Please do not look to me for a panacea, a system, or a mode of conduct; because I regard systems, modes of conduct, and panaceas as hindrances to the intelligent comprehension of life.
To understand the complexity of life, mind must be extremely pliable and simple. Simplicity of mind is not the emptiness of negation, renunciation or acceptance; it is the fullness of comprehension. It is the directness of perception, of integral thought, unhindered by prejudice, fear, tradition, and authority. To free the mind from these limitations is arduous. Experiment with yourself and you will see how difficult it is to have integral thought, unconditioned by provocative memory with its authority and discipline. And yet with such thought alone can we comprehend the significance of life.
Please see the importance of a pliable mind, a mind that knows the intricacies of fear with its illusions and is wholly free from them, a mind that is not controlled by environmental influences. Before we can comprehend the full significance of life, its vital processes, thought unconditioned by fear is necessary; and to awaken that creative thought, we must become conscious of the complex, the actual.
What do I mean by "being conscious"? I mean not only the objective perception of the interrelated complexity of life, but also the complete awareness of the hidden, subtle, psychological processes from which arise confusion, joy, struggle, and pain. Most of us think that we are conscious of the objective complexity of life. We are conscious of our jobs, of our bosses, of ourselves as employers or as the employed. We are conscious of friction in relationship. This perception of the mere objective complexity of life is not, to me, full consciousness. We become fully conscious only when we deeply relate the psychological to the objective complexity. When we are able to relate through action the hidden with the known, then we are beginning to be conscious.
Before we can awaken in ourselves this full consciousness from which alone can come true creative expression, we must become aware of the actual, that is, of the prejudices, fears, tendencies, wants, with their many illusions and expressions. When we are thus aware, we shall know the relationship of the actual to our action which limits and conditions thought-emotion with its reactions, hopes and escapes. When we are conscious of the actual there is the immediate perception of the false. That very perception of the false is truth. Then there is no problem of choice, of good and evil, false and true, the essential and unessential. In perceiving what is, the false and the true are known, without the conflict of choice.
Now, you think you are able to choose between the false and the true. That choice is based on prejudice; it is induced by preconceived ideals, by tradition, hope, and so the choice is only a modification of the false. But, if you are able to perceive the actual without any desire or identification, then in that very perception of the false there is the beginning of the true. That is intelligence, which is not based on prejudice, tradition, want, and that alone can dissolve the subtle essence of all problems, spontaneously, richly, and without the compulsion of fear.
Let us find out, if we can, what is the actual, without interpretation, without identification. When I speak of your beliefs and theories, your worships, your Gods, your ideals and leaders, when I speak of the disease of nationalism, of systems of gurus and masters, do not project defensive reactions. All that I am trying to do is to point out what I consider to be the cause of conflict and suffering.
Action from integral thought, without identification and interpretation, will awaken creative intelligence. If you are deeply observant you will begin to see what is true; then you will awaken intelligence, without the continual conflict of choice. Mere conduct according to a standard is imitative, not creative. Intelligent action is not imitation. Only the conditioned mind is always adjusting itself to standards, because it is afraid to know what is. If you perceive the actual in all its clarity, as it is, without interpretation and identification, then at the very instant of perception there is the dawning of new intelligence. This intelligence alone can solve the tremendously complicated, conflicting and painful problems of life.
What is the picture of ourselves and of the world? The division as ourselves and the world seems actual, though such division disappears when we deeply examine the individual and the mass. The actual is the conflict between the individual and the mass, but the individual is the mass and the mass is the individual. Individuality or the mass ceases when the characteristics of the individual or the mass disappear. The mass is ignorance, want, fear, in the individual. All the unexplored regions of consciousness, the half-awakened states of the individual, form the mass. It is only when the individual and the mass, as conflicting forces, cease to exist that there can be creative intelligence. It is this division of the mass and the individual, which is but an illusion, that is creating confusion and misery. You are not a complete individual nor are you wholly the mass; you are both the individual and the mass.
In the minds of most people there is this unfortunate division, as the individual and the mass; there is the idea that by organizing the mass you will bring about creative, individual freedom and expression. If you are thinking of organizing the mass in order to help the creative release of the individual, then such organizing becomes the means of subtle exploitation.
There are two forms of exploitation, the obvious and the subtle. The obvious has become habitual, which we know and pass by, but it requires deep perception to recognize the subtle forms of exploitation. One class, which has the wealth, exploits the mass. The few who control industry exploit the many who work. Wealth concentrated in the hands of the few creates social distinctions and divisions; and through these divisions we have economic and sentimental nationalism, the constant threat of war with all its terrors and cruelties, the division of peoples into races and nations with their fierce struggle for self-sufficiency, the hierarchical systems of graded cunning and privilege.
All this is obvious, and as it is obvious, you have become accustomed to it.
You say nationalism is inevitable; so each nation asserts, and prepares for war and slaughter. As individuals you are unconsciously helping war by emphasizing your national separativeness. Nationalism is a disease, whether in this country, in Europe or America. Separative individual or national search for security only intensifies conflict and human suffering.
The subtle form of exploitation is not easily perceived, because it is an intimate process of our individual existence. It is the result of the search for certainty, for comfort in the present and in the hereafter. Now this search, which we call the search for truth, for God, has led to the creating of systems of exploitation which we call beliefs, ideals, dogmas, and to their perpetuation by priests, gurus and guides. Because you as individuals are in confusion and doubt, you hope that another will bring enlightenment to you. You hope to overcome suffering and confusion by following another, by following a system of discipline or some ideal. This attempt to conquer misery and pain by submitting yourself to another, by regulating your conduct according to a standard, is merely a flight from actuality. So, in your search for escape from the actual, you go to another to be enriched and comforted and thereby you engender the process of subtle exploitation. Religion, as it is, thrives on fear and exploitation.
How many of you are conscious that you are seeking security, an escape from the constant gnawing of fear, from confusion and sorrow? The desire for security, for psychological certainty, has encouraged a subtle form of exploitation, through discipline, compulsion, authority, tradition.
So, you must discern for yourself the process of your own thought-action, born of ignorance and fear, which brings about cruel exploitation, confusion and sorrow. When there is the comprehension of the actual, without the struggle of choice, there is love, the ecstasy of truth.
The Mirror of Relationship
1st Public Talk 6th December, 1936
Jiddu Krishnamurti. The Mirror of Relationship. The collected works of J.Krishnamurti, 1936..1944.