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The Mirror of Relationship

Ojai, California
6th Public Talk 30th June, 1940

Those of you who have been to these meetings regularly will have to have a little patience as I am going to make a short resume of what I have been saying, to the newcomers.

During the last five weeks we have been trying to understand the problem of greed and relationship. I tried to explain that as long as one depends psychologically on things, on property, there must be greed, which creates many individual and social problems. The natural need of man is not greed, but it is greed when things assume a psycho- logical significance and importance. Being caught up in greed how can thought free itself from it? This freedom does not come from mere renunciation or denial but from fully understanding the process of craving. Understanding is not control or restraint but a process that transcends both reason and emotion through discerning awareness.

After dealing with greed and its complexities, I went into the question of human, personal relationship, in which, as most of us are aware, there is constant conflict. I tried to explain that relationship is a process of self-revelation, revelation of oneself through contact with others. That is, if we allow it, others can help us to see ourselves as we are, but this revelation is denied to us if we depend upon them or use them for our gratification and happiness, whether physiological or psychological. For, the condition of dependence is caused by fear which gives rise to possessive love. In this state of fear there cannot be self revelation or the understanding of oneself. Relationship is deep; it needs constant adjustment which becomes impossible if one is always seeking satisfaction and certainty. If the individual does not understand his relationship with another and the causes of conflict involved in it, then his relationship with society will inevitably lead to friction and antisocial action. The extension of the individual is society.

Last Sunday we saw how dependence upon ideas creates beliefs, dogmas, creeds, and cults, which divide man against man. Can thought ever be free from all dependence, either of the past or the future? Dependence is an indication of fear which prevents the understanding of the real. When thought depends for its well-being on things, on people, there must be fear which creates illusion and sorrow dependence on various beliefs and ideals which one has created for oneself, prevents the understanding of human relationship and unity of man. We see this process ever at work in the world through social and religious divisions; each group is anxious to preserve at all costs its own separative identity and seeks to convert other groups, or to overcome their resistance to its own security. Thus the world is torn apart by beliefs, ideals, dogmas, and creeds. As I explained last week, thought ever seeking security, moves from one anchorage to another; but in each anchorage there is uncertainty, yet it hopes for ultimate certainty. So it creates an ideal reality, a god that is of ultimate satisfaction. Against the background of the known, mind tries to find the unknown, thus creating duality. The mind has become a storehouse of experiences and memories, it is the past with its traditions and accumulative certainties, limiting the present and so the future. With this burden, thought tries to understand the unknown. What is known is not reality. From what source does our thought spring? It begins, surely, does it not, from craving, from expansive and outgoing desire? Perception, contact, sensation, give rise to reflection; then craving generates these outgoing desires in which thought becomes entangled. Then begins the conflict of the opposites, the pleasurable and the painful, the transient and the permanent. Our consciousness is held in the conflict of the opposites, of pain and pleasure, of denials and identification, of the self and the not-self. The content of our consciousness which we regard as our whole being, is made up of these dual and contradictory values, both mental and emotional.

Observe your own process of thinking and you will see that it springs from some fear or other, from craving, affection, hope, from the sensation of what is mine and not mine. In other words, thought is enslaved by craving. This dependent thought divides itself into the high and the low, the conscious and the subconscious, and there is conflict between the two. The conscious influenced by the subconscious, creates that faculty which we call the intellect, the faculty to discern, to discriminate, to choose. Memory, tradition, value imposed by society, religion, and personal experience, influence our discernment. Thought, in our daily life, is occupied with the creation of tradition, the continuance of tradition, and the modification of tradition. To do away with the conflict that is there, to prevent it from arising, and to create a state in which there will be no conflict; to overcome any sorrow that is there, to prevent any future sorrow from arising, and to find peace that is enduring; this is the desire of most of us, is it not? The will of outgoing desires, with its conflict and pain; the will to refrain or to deny, and the will to renounce; all these forms of will are still within the limitation of craving. If one can grasp the full significance of all these forms of will, and how they arise in life, in action, then through intense and discerning awareness there is an understanding which is not the result of mere control, denial, or renunciation. This understanding is the natural outcome of deep awareness of the process of craving in its different forms. This demands keen interest out of which comes spontaneous concentration. Understanding is not a reward; in the very moment of awareness it is born.

The outgoing desires with their various layers of memories, the divisions of the high and the low, and the different types of will, form the content of our consciousness. The intellect, the faculty to discern, to choose, is influenced by the past, and if we merely rely on that faculty to understand, to love, then our understanding, our love, will be limited. Reality, or whatever one may choose to call it, for most of us, is the product of the intellect or of the emotion and so must inevitably be illusion. But if we can become keenly aware of the process of crav- ing, understanding will naturally come into being. This awareness is not morbid self-introspection, but a keen, joyous perception, in which conflict of choice is no longer taking place. The conflict of choice arises when the intellect, with its fears, and limitations of mine and another's of merit and demerit, of failure and success, begins to project itself into the solution of our human problems. What we have to become aware of is craving in its different forms; this craving is not to be denied or renounced, but to be understood. Through mere denial or renunciation thought does not free itself from fear and its limitations.

Questioner: How do we keep intelligence awakened?

Krishnamurti: Surely, this is a wrong way of putting the question, is it not? Either you are awake or you are not. Is there not the subtle thought implied in this question that you are fundamentally intelligent, that deep within you is reality or God and that this abiding intelligence in you is guiding, shaping your life? And, at the same time, being caught up in ignorance and sorrow, how are you to keep awake to its beauty and its promptings?

Now, where there is darkness there cannot be light, where there is ignorance there cannot be understanding or love. If you are God then you are not suffering, you are not afraid, brutal, covetous; but you are suffering, you are afraid, so that cannot be false, and to assert that you are not suffering because you are truth or God is to deceive yourself and be in illusion.

Alert and discerning awareness alone can awaken intelligence. In becoming aware of your environment, you begin to perceive the creator of that environment, which is yourself; you see how you have separated yourself from it and thereby started a dual process of conflict between the I and the not-I. But through this awareness you begin to understand the cause of your own prejudices, your fears, your national and racial antagonisms, your craving. In trying to understand the environment you come upon yourself, the investigator, and you find that you yourself are limited. Then how is thought to free itself from its own limitations? it can do so only by becoming intensely aware of its own process of greed, possessive love, and its craving for its own continuity. This strenuous awareness creates its own understanding.

Questioner: What may I hope.

Krishnamurti: Does not the questioner mean: What is there for me in the future? One is seeking blessedness in the future and thereby creates imaginatively, ideally, or romantically, a state after which one constantly aspires, with a nostalgic feeling of otherness. Hope indicates a future. That is, having been frustrated in one's desires and ambitions and being caught up in this world of brutal struggle and sorrow, one hopes for a happy, peaceful future state. Is there a blessedness in the future beyond all these transitory states?

Time is the continuous past, present, and future. Hope, the outcome of the present influenced by the past, is concerned with the future. Future hope implies the postponement of the present. Looking to the future is a denial of the present. When you are concerned with the future, you must have satisfying theories about it, what you will be, will not be, and so on. You must create theories that will help you to overcome the present, with its aches and fears. So one begins to procrastinate; but looking to the future is an avoidance of the present. Or if you do not look to the future, then you look to the immediate alteration of the present. When you are concerned with gaining blessedness in the present, there must be haste, a restlessness, a quick, eager, thoughtless acceptance of assurances to gain what you crave for. Both these aspects of time, postponement and haste, bring about illusion.

To look to the future for hope or to the present for immediate fulfilment is to create delusion from which sorrow arises. Blessedness is ever in the present. It can never be in the future. Even in the future there is always the present. If you cannot understand the present you will not understand it in the future. If we don't understand now, how can we understand in the future? If we are not keenly aware now, how can we realize it in the future? Blessedness is ever in the present, and to understand it requires constant interest and awareness. Peace is ever in the present, but to understand it one must not be concerned with time. Thought must free itself from the continuous past, present, and future; in that freedom, what is, is immortal, timeless. Blessedness is not a reward. One has to be alert, aware, in a state of continual understanding, never letting one thought or one word pass by without seeing its significance. This state of awareness which is happiness, is not to be confused with self-introspective, morbid analysis. Blessedness is ever in the present, and to know it one must be free of the bondage of time.

Questioner: Do you believe in karma and reincarnation?

Krishnamurti: I hear some of you groaning. Why? Do you understand the problem of karma and reincarnation so well or are you bored with it, or are you tired?

Audience: No.

Krishnamurti: Now let us go into this question fairly thoroughly because I think it is important to understand it, for consciously or unconsciously most of us think in terms of rebirth, continuity, and personal immortality. Let us take first the idea of karma. It is a Sanskrit word, its basic meaning is to act, to do, to work. If thought is fettered, limited, then all action springing from it is also fettered, limited, An acorn will produce an oak tree; the seed holds the future tree. A cause must produce a certain effect, a certain result. We experience this in our daily life. We do something without understanding, either greedily or viciously. It brings its own result. If you hate, the result of this is further hate and violence. If thought is narrow, personal, it must always create, with modification and variation, further ignorance, further limitation, and it cannot escape from its results. The result can always be changed or modified according to our understanding and the integrity of our thought. A cause may not necessarily produce a definite, expected result, for there are always factors and influences tending to modify or change the effect. Thought cannot escape from its limited action and reaction until it understands deeply and fully the cause and the process of its own bondage.

Suppose one is a Hindu, the thought that is expressed by him is limited by the beliefs and traditions of a Hindu, which are the results of accumulated craving, ignorance, fear, and convenience. When this thought expresses itself in action, then that action creates further limitation of thought. Into this very drastic and simple reality, reward and punishment have been introduced, to deter so-called wrong action. If one is good - the good depending upon the limitation of thought, not upon understanding - then in the future or in the next life one will be suitably rewarded, and if one is not, one will be suitably punished. This element of fear, as reward and punishment, destroys understanding and love. If thought is influenced by reward and punishment, gain and loss, achievement and failure, then it cannot understand the craving that seeks reward and avoids punishment. Thought can only understand its own process if it does not identify itself with and cling to any of its own creations, any of its outgoing desires. To dissociate our thought from the idea of reward and punishment requires earnest awareness and in this process each one will discover his own particular form of conditioning. Mere discovery of the cause is not understanding; action, born of understanding alone, frees thought from limitation.

The idea of reincarnation involves the rebirth of the I which is regarded as a spiritual essence, the soul - and this implies a timeless state - or as the various sheaths which cover up the reality in man. This I is supposed to continue being born over and over again till it reaches perfection, reality, liberation. We are trying to understand the idea; we are not condemning the theory, so please do not be on the defensive.

If you think that you are a spiritual entity or reality, what does it mean? Does it not imply a timeless, deathless state? If it is the eternal, then it has no growth; for that which is capable of growth is not eternal. If the soul is spiritual essence, above and beyond all physical condi- tioning, apart from this thing called the I, then the I is of no importance. Then why do we cling to it so desperately? Why are we caught up in its perpetuity, in its activities, in its ambitions and achievements, in its expansive desires? So when we say there is a spiritual entity, independent of all influence and conditioning, surely such an idea is an illusion, is it not? And also, if that spiritual entity is beyond and above and yet in us, if it cannot be contaminated, if nothing can be added to it, then why do we exert ourselves to understand, why do we struggle to make ourselves more perfect? If this spiritual essence is supposed to be love, intelligence, truth, then how can it be surrounded by this confusing darkness, by this violence and hate, by this feverish pursuit of the demands of the self? Yet it is. This does not mean that I am denying reality which can only be comprehended through understanding illusion and not by inventing illusions. We have accepted this idea of a spiritual entity, apart from the I, for such an idea is very gratifying, comforting.

Now what is this I? We see continuation of character, the I being different from another I. As I explained, conditioned thought must continue to create further limitations for itself. The I is not only a particular, physical form with its name, but beyond its outer appearance, there is the psychological I. What is this I? A representative of previous influences and limitations, being. born in a certain family, belonging to a certain group, a particular race, with its prejudices, its hates and superstitions, fears, and so on. These fears and conditioning originate in ignorance, in craving. These limitations have been transmitted from father to son right through till I am also that father, that past.

Audience: This is interesting.

Krishnamurti: You say that this is interesting; if you saw the implication in it, you would understand its real significance and not merely be intellectually interested. My father is also myself. The ideas and the beliefs, which my forefathers had and which have come down to me, combine with the present action and reaction and become the I of the present. Thus character is preserved and continued myself as today being reborn as another in the future. Without sentimentality and false emotion and prejudice, one can perceive the deep significance and reality of what I am saying: that our ancestors, through their desires, fears, and hopes, created a certain pattern of thought and this thought is partly continuing in us; these ideas, in combination with the present, have created that narrow and limited thought which is the I. This I, this ignorance, this myself, will go on in the future as another. So the world, mankind, is myself. If I, being the world, the you, act thoughtlessly, I must increase and perpetuate ignorance with all its effects, fears, and hates. So what I do matters greatly; not in terms of reward and punishment. But when I am deeply concerned about my rebirth, my immortality, the continuance of my experiences of achievement and sorrow, such concern must lead to wrong and thoughtless conclusions. The I is a conditioned, limited state, and so it is unreal. Reality is that state which is free from the self.

Now, most of us are apt to think that cause and effect are cyclic. If it were thus in the past it must be so in the present, and so in the future. But this is not so, for there is always a continuous change taking place and thus modifying the effect. Understanding the past influences and limitations, and discerning their effect, thought can transform itself in the present; and need not be bound by the past. Thought can free itself in the present from the bondages of the past through intense awareness. Take, for example, a Hindu or a Christian with his social and religious background; thoughtlessly he lives in a limited state and so in sorrow, and he attributes this sorrow to karma, to the past and not to his thoughtlessness. It is indolence, a form of conceit, that makes us cling to our past. Blessedness is not in the past or in the future but in the present for those who through joyous awareness understand and so are free from the cause of ignorance, which is craving.

If you will seriously reflect upon what I have been saying, then understanding will come out of your own earnestness. Knowledge is utterly valueless if you do not relate it to your daily life. If we are worldly, psychologically depending on things for our personal happiness, if our love is possessive and our thought crippled by beliefs and fears, then life becomes an increasing sorrow. In joyous and strenuous awareness thought frees itself from its limitations; out of self-reliant, exercised understanding, there comes peace.

The Mirror of Relationship

Ojai, California
6th Public Talk 30th June, 1940

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


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