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The Mirror of Relationship

Madras, Spain
4th Public Talk 28th December, 1936

In my talks I use words without the special significance which has been given to them by philosophers or psychologists.

What comprehension have these talks brought to you? Are you still asserting that there is a divinity, a love that is beyond human life? Are you still groping for partial remedies, superficial cures? What is the state of your mind and heart?

To bring about intelligent order there must be right thinking, right action. When the mind is capable of comprehending its own process of struggle limitation, when thought is capable of revealing itself without the conflict of division, then there is the completeness of action. If the mind prepares itself for action, then such preparation must be based on the past, on self-protective memories, and must therefore prevent the fullness of action. Mere analysis of past action cannot yield its full significance. Mind that is consciously or unconsciously conforming to an ideal, which is but the projection of personal security and satisfaction, must limit action and so become conditioned. It is merely developing self-protective memories and habits, to resist life. So there is constant frustration.

From the accumulation of self-protective memories there arises identity, the conception of the "I" and its continuance, its evolution towards perfection, towards reality. This "I" seeks to perpetuate itself through its own volitional activities of ignorance, fear, want. As long as the mind is not aware of these limitations, the effort to evolve, to succeed, only creates further suffering and increases the unconscious. Effort thus becomes a practice, a discipline, a mechanical adjustment and conformity.

Most of us think that time and evolutionary progress are necessary for our fulfilment. We think that experiences are essential for our growth and unfoldment. Many accept this idea readily, as it comforts them to think that they have many lives through which they can perfect themselves; they hold that time is essential for their fulfilment. Is this so? Does experience truly liberate or merely limit thought? Can experience free the mind with its self-protective memories, from ignorance, fear, want? Self-protective memories and desires use experiences for their perpetuation. So we are time-bound.

What do we mean by experience? Is it not the accumulation of values, based on self-protective memories, which give us a mode of behaviour prompted by personal advantage? It is the process of like and dislike, of choice. The accumulation of self-protective memories is the process of experience, and relationship is the contact between two individualized and self-protective memories, whose morality is the agreement to guard what they possess.

You are your own way and your own life. Out of your own right effort will be awakened creative intelligence. Till there is this creative intelligence, born of choiceless awareness, there must be chaos, there must be contention, hatred, conflict, sorrow.

Question: You have said that the comprehension of truth is possible only through experimentation. Now experimentation means action, which if it is to have any value must be born of mature thought. But if, to start with, my thinking is itself conditioned by memories and reactions, how can I act or experiment rightly?

Krishnamurti: To experiment rightly, mind must first be aware that its thought is conditioned. One may think one is experimenting; but, if one is not aware of the limitation, then one is still acting within the bondage of ignorance, fear. Conditioned thought cannot know itself as conditioned; the desire to escape from this limitation, through analysis, through the artificial process of compulsion, denial or assertion, will not bring you comprehension, freedom. No system or compulsion of will can reveal to the mind its own limitation, its own bondage.

When there is suffering, mind seeks an escape and therefore only creates for itself further illusions. But if the mind is fully aware of suffering and does not seek an escape, then that very awareness destroys illusion; that awareness is comprehension. So instead of inquiring how to free thought from fear, from want, be conscious of sorrow. Sorrow is the indication of conditioned mind, and mere escape from it only increases limitation. In the moment of suffering, begin to be aware; then mind itself will perceive the illusory nature of escape, of self-protective memories and personal advantages.

Question: Should one be dutiful?

Krishnamurti: Who asks this question? Not a man who is seeking comprehension, truth, but the man whose mind is burdened with fear, tradition, ideals and racial loyalties. Such a mind coming into contact with the movement of life only creates friction and suffering for itself.

Question: Are elders guilty of exploitation when they expect respect and obedience from the young?

Krishnamurti: The showing of respect to the aged is generally a habit. Fear can assume the form of veneration. Love cannot become a habit, a practice. There is no respect in the aged for the young nor in the young for the aged, but only the show of authority and the habit of fear.

The organization of phrases, the cultivation of respect, is not culture, but a trap to hold the thoughtless. Our minds have become so slavish to habitual values that we have lost all affection and deep respect for human life. Where there is exploitation there can be no respect for human dignity. If you demand respect just because you are aged and have authority, it is exploitation.

Question: If a man is in ignorance or at a loss to know what to do, is there no need of a guru to guide him?

Krishnamurti: Can anyone help you to cross this aching void of daily life? Can any person, however great, help you out of this confusion? No one can. This confusion is self-created; this turmoil is the result of one will in conflict with another will. Will is ignorance.

I know the pursuit of gurus, teachers, guides, masters, is the indoor sport of many, the sport of the thoughtless all over the world. People say: How can we prevent this chaotic misery and cruelty, unless those who are free, the enlightened, come to our aid and save us from our sorrow? Or they create a mental image of a favoured saint and hang all their troubles round his neck. Or they believe that some super-physical guide watches over them and tells them what to do, how to act. The search for a guru, a master, indicates an avoidance of life.

Conformity is death. It is but the formation of habit, the strengthening of the unconscious. How often we see some ugly, cruel scene and recoil from it. We see poverty, cruelty, degradation of every kind; at first we are appalled by it, but we soon become unconscious of it.

We become used to our environment, we shrug our shoulders and say: What can we do? it is life. Thus we destroy our sensitive reactions to ugliness, to exploitation, cruelty and suffering, also our appreciation and deep enjoyment of beauty. Thus there comes a slow withering of perception.

Habit gradually overcomes thinking. Observe the activity of your own thought and you will see how it is forming itself into one habit after another. The conscious is thus becoming the unconscious and habit hardens the mind through will and discipline. Forcing the mind to discipline itself, through fear which is often mistaken for love, brings about frustration.

The problem of gurus exists when you seek comfort, when you desire satisfaction. There is no comfort, but understanding; there is no satisfaction, but fulfilment.

Question: You seem to give a new significance to the idea of will, that divine quality in man. I understand you to regard it as a hindrance. Is this so?

Krishnamurti: What do you mean by will? Is it not an overcoming, a conquering, a determining effort? What have you to conquer? Your habits, resistances developed by fear, the conflict of your desires, the struggle of the opposites, the frustration of your environment. So you develop will. The will to be, in all its significance, is but a process of resistance, a process of overcoming, prompted by self-protective craving.

Will is really an illusory necessity of fear, not a divine quality. It is but the perpetuation of self-protective memories. Out of fear you make yourself invulnerable to love, to truth; and the development of the process of self-protection is called will. Will has its roots in egotism. The will to exist, the will to become perfect, the will to succeed, the will to acquire, the will to find God, is the urge of egotism.

When the action of fear, ambition, security, personal virtue and character, yields to intelligence, then you will know how to live completely, integrally, without the battle of will.

Will is only the insistent prompting of self-protective memories, the result of individualized ignorance and fear. The cessation of will is not death, it is only the cessation of illusion, born of ignorance. Action, devoid of fear and personal advantage, will alone bring about harmonious, creative relationship with another, with society.

The Mirror of Relationship

Madras, Spain
4th Public Talk 28th December, 1936

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


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