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The Mirror of Relationship

Ommen, Holland
1st Public Talk 1st August, 1937

Amidst the changing circumstances of life, is there anything permanent? Is there any relation between ourselves and the constant change about us? If we accepted that everything is change, including ourselves, then there would never be the idea of permanency. If we thought of ourselves as in a state of continual movement, then there would be no conflict between the changing circumstances of life and the thing we now think of as being permanent.

There is a deep, abiding hope or a certainty in us that there is something permanent in the midst of continual change, and this gives rise to conflict. We see that change exists about us. We see everything decaying, withering. We see cataclysms, wars, famines, death, insecurity, disillusionment. Everything about us is in constant change, becoming and decaying. All things are worn out by use. There is nothing permanent about us. In our institutions, our morals, our theories of government, of economics, of social relationship - in all things there is a flux, there is a change.

And yet in the midst of this impermanency we feel that there is permanency; being dissatisfied with this impermanency, we have created a state of permanency, thereby giving rise to conflict between that which is supposed to be permanent and that which is changing, the transient. But if we realized that everything, including ourselves, the "I", is transient and the environmental things of life are also impermanent, surely then there would not be this aching conflict.

What is it that demands permanency, security, that longs for continuity? It is on this demand that our social, moral relationship is based.

If you really believed or deeply felt for yourself the incessant change of life, then there would never be a craving for security, for permanency. But because there is a deep craving for permanency, we create an enclosing wall against the movement of life.

So conflict exists between the changing values of life, and the desire which is seeking permanency. If we deeply felt and understood the impermanency of ourselves and of the things of this world, then there would be a cessation of bitter conflict, aches and fears. Then there would be no attachment from which arises the social and individual struggle.

What then is this thing that has assumed permanency and is ever seeking further continuity? We cannot intelligently examine this until we analyze and understand the critical capacity itself.

Our critical capacity springs from prejudices, beliefs, theories, hopes, and so on, or from what we call experience. Experience is based on tradition, on accumulated memories. Our experience is ever tinged by the past. If you believe in God, perhaps you may have what you call an experience of Godhood. Surely this is not a true experience. It has been impressed upon our minds through centuries that there is God, and according to that conditioning we have an experience. This is not a true, firsthand experience.

A conditioned mind acting in a conditioned way cannot experience completely. Such a mind is incapable of fully experiencing the reality or the non-reality of God. Likewise a mind that is already prejudiced by a conscious or an unconscious desire for the permanent cannot fully comprehend reality. To such a prejudiced mind all inquiry is merely a further strengthening of that prejudice.

The search and the longing for immortality is the urge of accumulated memories of individual consciousness, the "I", with its fears and hopes, loves and hates. This "I" breaks itself up into many conflicting parts: the higher and the lower, the permanent and the transient, and so on. This "I", in its desire to perpetuate itself, seeks and uses ways and means to entrench itself.

Perhaps some of you may say to yourselves, "Surely with the disappearance of these cravings, there must be reality". The very desire to know if there is something beyond the conflicting consciousness of existence is an indication that the mind is seeking an assurance, a certainty, a reward for its efforts.

We see how resistance against each other is created, and that resistance through accumulative memories, through experience, is more and more strengthened, becoming more and more conscious of itself.

Thus there is your personal resistance and that of your neighbour, society. Adjustment between two or more resistances is called relationship, upon which morality is built.

Where there is love, there is not the consciousness of relationship. It is only in a state of resistance that there can be this consciousness of relationship, which is merely an adjustment between opposing conflicts.

Conflict is not only between various resistances, but also within itself, within the permanent and the impermanent quality of resistance itself.

Is there anything permanent within this resistance? We see that resistance can perpetuate itself through acquisitiveness, through ignorance, through conscious or unconscious craving for experience. But surely this continuance is not the eternal; it is merely the perpetuation of conflict.

What we call the permanent in resistance is only part of resistance itself, and so part of conflict. Thus in itself it is not the eternal, the permanent. Where there is incompleteness, unfulfilment, there is the craving for continuance which creates resistance, and this resistance gives to itself the quality of permanency.

The thing that the mind clings to as the permanent is in its very essence the transient. It is the outcome of ignorance, fear and craving.

If we understand this, then we see the problem is not that of one resistance in conflict with another, but how this resistance comes into being and how it is to be dissolved. When we face this problem deeply there is a new awakening, a state which may be called love.

The Mirror of Relationship

Ommen, Holland
1st Public Talk 1st August, 1937

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


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