The Mirror of Relationship
4th Public Talk 5th August, 1937
Ignorance is the unawareness of the process of one's own thought and emotion. I have tried to explain what I mean by awareness.
Will experience dissolve this ignorance? What do we mean by experience? Action and reaction according to conditioned thought and emotion. The mind-heart is conditioned through conclusions, habits of thought, preconceptions, beliefs, fears, wants.
This mass of ignorance cannot be dissolved merely by experience. Experience can give to ignorance new meaning, new values, new illusions; but it is still ignorance. Mere experience cannot dissolve ignorance; it can only reform it.
Can the mere control and change of environment dissolve ignorance? What do we mean by environment? Economic habits and values, social divisions, the morality of conformity, and so on. Will the creation of a new environment, brought about through compulsion, violence, through propaganda and threat, dissolve this ignorance? Or merely reshape it, again in a different way?
Through external domination, can this ignorance be dissolved? I say it cannot. This does not mean that the present barbarity of wars, of exploitation, cruelties, class dominations, should not be changed. But mere change of society will not alter the fundamental nature of ignorance.
We have looked to two different processes of dissolving ignorance: the one to control the environment, and the other to destroy ignorance through experience. Before you accept or deny the impossibility of doing away with ignorance through these methods, you must know the reality of each process. Do you know it? If not, you must experiment and find out. No artificial stimulation can yield reality.
Ignorance cannot be dissolved either through experience or through the mere control of environment, but it spontaneously, voluntarily withers away if there is that awareness in which there is no desire, no choice.
Questioner: I am conscious that I love, and that death will take away the one I love, and the suffering is a difficult thing for me to comprehend. I know it is a limitation and I know that I want something else, but I do not know what.
Krishnamurti: Death brings great sorrow to most of us, and we want to find a way out of that suffering. We either turn to belief in immortality, taking comfort in this, or try to forget sorrow by various means, or cultivate a superior form of indifference, through rationalization.
All things decay, everything is worn away by usage, all comes to an end. Perceiving this, some rationalize away their sorrow. By an intellectual process they deaden their suffering. Others seek to overcome this suffering through postponement, through a belief in the hereafter, through a concept of immortality. This also deadens suffering, for belief gives shelter, comfort. One may not be afraid of the hereafter or the death of oneself, but most of us do not want to bear the agony of the loss of someone we love. So we set about to discover ways and means of frustrating sorrow.
The intellectual explanations of how to do away with suffering make one indifferent to it. In the disturbance caused by becoming aware of one's own impoverishment through the death of someone whom one loves, there comes the shock of suffering. Again the mind objects to sorrow, so it seeks ways and means to escape from it: it is satisfied with the many explanations of the hereafter, of continuity, of reincarnation, and so forth. One man rationalizes away suffering, so as to live as undisturbed as possible, and another in his belief, in his postponement, takes shelter and comfort so as not to suffer in the present. These two are fundamentally the same; neither wants to suffer, it is only their explanations that differ. The former scoffs at all belief, and the latter is deeply immersed either in bolstering up his belief in reincarnation, in immortality, and so on, or in finding out "facts", "reality" about them.
Questioner: I do not see why the refuge itself is false. I think taking refuge is silly. Reincarnation may be a fact.
Krishnamurti: If one is suffering and there is the supposed fact of reincarnation, what fundamental value has this fact if it ceases to be a refuge, a comfort? If one is starving, what good is it to know that there is over-production in the world? One wants to be fed, not facts, but much more nourishing substance.
We are not disputing as to whether reincarnation is a fact or not. To me this is utterly irrelevant. When you are diseased, hungry, facts do not relieve suffering, do not satisfy hunger. One can take hope in a future ideal state, but hunger will still continue. The fear of death and the sorrow it brings will continue even in spite of the supposed fact of reincarnation; unless, of course, one lives in complete illusion.
Why do you take shelter in a supposed fact, in a belief? I am not asking you how you know that it is a fact. You think that it is, and for the moment let us leave it at that. What prompts you to take shelter? As a man takes refuge in the rationalized conclusion that all things must decay, and thereby softens his suffering, so by taking refuge in a belief, in a supposed fact, you also deaden the action of sorrow. Because of the sharpness of misery, you desire comfort, an alleviation, and so you seek a refuge, hoping that it is enduring and real. Is it not for this fundamental reason that we seek refuge, shelter?
Questioner: Because we are not able to face life, we seek a substitute.
Krishnamurti: Merely asserting that you are seeking substitu- tions, does not solve the problem of suffering. They prevent us from thinking and feeling deeply.
Those of you who have suffered and are suffering, what has been your experience?
Krishnamurti: Some of you do nothing, bearing it indifferently. Some try to escape from it through drink, amusement, forgetting themselves in action, or taking shelter in a belief.
What is the actual reaction in the case of death? You have lost the person whom you love and you would like to have him back; you do not want to face loneliness. Realizing the impossibility of having him back, you turn, in your emptiness and sorrow, to fill your mind and heart with explanations, with beliefs, with secondhand information, knowledge and experiences.
Questioner: There is a third possibility. You show us only those two possibilities, but I feel quite distinctly that there is another way to meet sorrow.
Krishnamurti: There may be many ways of meeting sorrow, but if there is a fundamental desire to seek comfort, all the methods resolve themselves into these two definite approaches, either to rationalize, or to seek refuge. Both these methods only assuage sorrow; they offer an escape.
Questioner: What if a man re-marries?
Krishnamurti: Even if he does, the problem of suffering still remains unsolved. This is also a postponement, a forgetting. One gives himself intellectual, rational explanations because he does not want to suffer. Another takes shelter in a belief, also to avoid suffering. Another takes refuge in the idea that if he can find truth there will be at last a cessation of suffering. Another, through cultivation of irresponsibility, avoids suffering. All are attempting to escape from suffering.
Do not object to the words "shelter", "refuge". Substitute your own word - belief, God, truth, re-marriage, rationalization, and so on. But as long as there is a conscious or unconscious craving to escape from sorrow, illusion in many forms must exist.
Now, why should you not suffer? When you are happy, when you are joyous, you do not say you must not be happy. You do not run away from joy, you do not seek a refuge from it. When you are in a state of ecstasy, you do not resort to beliefs, to substitutions. On the contrary, you destroy all things which stand in its way, your gods, your moralities, your values, your beliefs, everything, to maintain this ecstasy.
Now why don't you do the same thing when you are suffering? Why don't you destroy all things that interfere with sorrow, the mind's many explanations, escapes, fears and illusions? If you sincerely and deeply put this question to yourself you will see that beliefs, gods, hopes, no longer matter. Then your life has a new and fundamental meaning.
In the flame of love, all fear is consumed.
The Mirror of Relationship
4th Public Talk 5th August, 1937
Jiddu Krishnamurti. The Mirror of Relationship. The collected works of J.Krishnamurti, 1936..1944.