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The Mirror of Relationship

Ojai, California
7th Public Talk 7th July, 1940

The world, especially at the present time, is in a state of confusion and conflict and in deep sorrow. One can create a theoretical conception of what the world should be and try to adjust oneself to that idea but in the long run that would not contribute to our understanding of the complex problem of life, though momentarily it might alleviate our suffering. Intellect is the faculty to discern and when it is limited, as it is now, theoretical hopes are of little use. When so many people are caught up in hate, in ruthless ambition, which is creating such havoc and misery, you, at least as an individual, can liberate yourself from these causes and help to bring about a happier and a saner world. If you have a desire to help the world, you must begin with yourself for the world is yourself. The present condition of the world has been brought about consciously or unconsciously by each one of us, and in order to alter it fundamentally, we must deliberately and intelligently direct our minds and hearts to bring about a complete change in ourselves. If we do not deeply understand this and try to organize merely a better economic or social system, our efforts will not, I feel, create a saner and happier world. Unless the individual is harmonious in himself, he is bound to be antisocial in his relationship with another, which is after all society.

We have been trying to understand what it is that creates in us and so about us confusion and misery. The disproportionate value we give to things when we psychologically depend upon them creates greed. Human needs do not corrupt our thoughts and feelings, if psychologically we do not become dependent upon things, possessions. As long as our relationship with another is possessive there must be conflict, for conflict arises when there is physiological and psychological dependence. I explained how the world is broken up and divided, through individuals and groups depending upon beliefs, dogmas, theories, whether they be political, social, or religious. These beliefs and dogmas have their origin in the craving of each individual for security, not only economic, but also psychological and spiritual.

Thus we are in a world divided in itself, racially, socially, economically, nationally, and religiously. We are aware of this. Then what are we to do? How are we to break through this vicious circle of greed, possessive love, and personal immortality? Is it possible to break through completely and not fall into other subtle forms of avarice, power, and possessiveness? How are we to set about removing the cause of so much suffering and illusion?

We must become aware, thoughtful. I am going to explain what I mean by awareness. We have to become conscious of what we are. How do we become conscious of what we are? By being interested. That is, in being interested, there is a natural concentration which produces will. Concentration is the focussing of all energies on something in which we are interested. For instance, when our interest is in making money, and in the power money gives, or when we are absorbed in a book or in some creative activity, there is a natural concentration. Will is created when there is interest. When there is no interest, there is diffusion of thought, contradiction of desire. The beginning of awareness is the natural concentration of interest in which there is no conflict of desires and choice, and therefore there is a possibility of understanding different and opposing desires. If thought is seeking a certain definite result, then there is exclusion or aggregation, which leads to incompleteness and is not the awareness of which I speak. You cannot understand the whole complex process of your being if you are seeking results or trying to achieve a state which you think is peace or reality or liberation. Awareness is the understanding of the whole process of the conscious and the unconscious desire. In the very beginning of awareness there is the perception of what is true; truth is not a result or an achievement, but it is to be understood. In the very process of understanding, say for example, greed, there is the realization of what is true. This understanding is not born of mere reason or emotion but is the outcome of awareness, the completeness of thought-action.

When we are conscious, we are aware of a dual process at work in us, want and non-want, expansive desires and refraining desires. The outgoing desires have their own form of will. The concentration on outgoing desires, and their action, create a world of competition and division in worldliness, of possessive love and the craving for personal continuity. perceiving the consequences of these outgoing desires, which cause pain and sorrow, there is the desire to refrain, with its own type of will. So there is conflict between the outgoing will and the will to refrain. This conflict creates either understanding or confusion and ignorance. The outgoing will and the will to refrain are the cause of duality, which is not to be denied.

Though opposites have a similar common cause, we cannot slur over them or put them aside; we have to understand them and so be free from the conflict of opposites. Being envious and therefore conscious of conflict and pain, we try to cultivate its opposite but there is no freedom from envy. The motive for cultivating the opposite matters greatly; if it is a desire to escape from the struggle and pain of envy, then its opposite becomes identical with itself and so there is no freedom from envy. Whereas, if you consider deeply the intrinsic cause of envy and become aware of its various forms, with their urges, then in that understanding there is a freedom from envy, without creating its opposite. The concentration that comes into being in the process of awareness is not the result of self-interest or of morbid self-introspection. As I said, to be interested is to be creative which is happiness. This concentration of interest comes naturally when there is awareness. When there is an understanding of the process of outgoing desires, with its so-called positive will and the will of restraint, then there comes a completeness, a wholeness which is not the creation of the intellect. Intellect, the faculty to discern, is the instrument of understanding and not an end in itself. Understanding transcends reason and emotion.

Questioner: What is best attitude towards this terrible war in Europe? Can we do anything by thought? I feel the horror and suffering of this war. Can I escape from it? Can I escape from it if I dissociate myself from it? Will you consider the present world conditions in your talk?

Krishnamurti: We often mistakenly think that the world's chaos and misery arise from a single cause and by overcoming it we shall bring order and happiness to the world. Life is a complex process and we must have wide and deep understanding to grasp its vastness. War is the result of our daily life, of our acquisitiveness, of our general attitude towards our fellow men in so-called peace-time. In our daily life we are competitive, aggressive, nationalistic, vengeful, self-seeking, which inevitably culminates in war; intellectually and emotionally we are influenced and limited by the past which produces the present reaction of hate, antagonism, and conflict. Intellectually we are incapable of clear discernment, and so we are confused; we are incapable of critical discernment because our faculty to think has become dulled by previous influences and limitations. Until thought is freed from them, struggle and war, pain and sorrow, will continue. Until our own lives are no longer aggressive and greedy, and psychologically we cease seeking security, and so breaking up the world into different classes, races, nationalities, religions, there cannot be peace.

Though, superficially, there might he a cessation of this carnage, yet until we direct our minds and hearts earnestly and strenuously to understand and so free ourselves from those psychological causes of acquisitiveness, possessive love, and continuity of self, struggle and misery must ever be. Peace is from within, not from without. This understanding of peace requires deep thought and earnestness.

You ask if you can escape from war if you dissociate yourself from it. How can you dissociate yourself from war? For you are the cause of war. Why are you associated with this war that is going on? Either because your relations are involved in it or you are emotionally caught up in it. If your relations are involved in it, such a sorrow is understandable, but merely to be emotionally involved in it is thoughtless. If you merely dissociate yourself from this form of excitement you will undoubtedly turn to other forms. So unless you understand why you depend upon sensation, upon this constant search for excitement, which becomes vulgar and degrading, you will ever find new forms of excitement, satisfaction. The cause is deep and you have to understand it to be free from its superficialities.

Do not think by merely wishing for peace, you will have peace, when in your daily life of relationship you are aggressive, acquisitive, seeking psychological security here or in the hereafter. You have to understand the central cause of conflict and sorrow and then dissolve it and not merely look to the outside for peace. But you see, most of us are indolent. We are too lazy to take hold of ourselves and understand ourselves, and being lazy, which is really a form of conceit, we think others will solve this problem for us and give us peace, or that we should destroy the apparently few people that are causing wars. When the individual is in conflict within himself he must inevitably create conflict without, and only he can bring about peace within himself and so in the world, for he is the world.

Questioner: Should we refrain from taking on new responsibilities in order not to have cause for new desires?

Krishnamurti: Surely that depends on how one has acquitted oneself with regard to the old responsibilities. If one has not understood the past responsibilities fully and has merely broken away from them taking on new ones is merely the continuation of the old in a different form. Must I explain this further?

Audience: Yes, please.

Krishnamurti: What we consider new responsibilities are really the continuation of the old under different conditions. So, before one takes on new responsibilities, one must consider how one has fulfilled the old; if one has not, but has merely broken away through anger, through thoughtlessness or obstinacy, then one has to consider why one takes on the new. The assumption of the new may only be the continuation of craving for sensation, for comfort, for the old desire has not been fully understood and solved. Desire is ever seeking further expression and expansion and merely taking on new responsibilities will not fulfil desire, for there is no end to desire, to craving. But in understanding the process of desire, through becoming aware of its implications and causes, you will know for yourself whether to take on new responsibilities or not. I cannot naturally tell you what you should do, but you can find out for yourself definitely.

Questioner: Please tell us what is your conception of God.

Krishnamurti: Now, why do we want to know if there is God? If we can understand deeply the intention of this question we shall comprehend a great deal. Belief and non-belief are definite hindrances to the understanding of reality; belief and ideals are the result of fear; fear limits thought and to escape from conflict we turn to various forms of hopes, stimulation, illusions. Reality is authentic, direct, experience. If we depend on the description of another, reality ceases, for what is described is not the real. If we have never tasted salt, no description of its taste is of any value. We have to taste it for ourselves to know it. Now, most of us want to know what God is because we are indolent, because it is easier to depend upon the experience of another than upon our own understanding: it also cultivates in us an irresponsible attitude, and then all we have to do is to imitate another, mould our life after the pattern, or the experience of another, and by following the example we think we have arrived, attained, realized. To understand the highest, there must be liberation from time, the continuous past, present, and future; from the fears of the unknown, of failure, and success. You are asking this question because you want either to compare your image of God with mine and so bolster up yourself or to condemn, which only leads to contention and wallowing in opinions. This way does not lead to understanding.

God, Truth, or whatever you may choose to call reality, cannot be described. That which can be described is not the real. It is vain to inquire if there is God, for reality comes into being when thought frees itself from its limitations, its cravings. If we are brought up in the belief of God, or in opposition to that, thought is influenced, a habit is formed, from generation to generation. Both belief and non-belief in God prevent the understanding of God. Being anchored in belief, any experience that you may have in accordance with your belief can only strengthen your previous conditioning. Mere continuation of limited thought is not an understanding of reality. When we assert that through our own experience there is or there is no God, we are continuing and repeating experiences influenced by the past. Experiences, without our understanding the causes of bondage, do not give us wisdom. If we continue to repeat a certain influence which we call experience, such experience only strengthens our limitations and so does not bring about freedom from them. The mind, as I pointed out in my talk, is the result of craving and therefore transient, and when the mind conceives a theory of God or of truth it is bound to be the product of its own conceit and so it is not real. One has to become aware of the various forms of craving, fear, and so on, and through constant inquiry and discernment, a new understanding comes into being which is not the result of the intellect or of the emotion. To understand reality, there must be constant and earnest awareness.

Questioner: What is the significance of Christ or the problem of Christianity in our present age? Krishnamurti: What is happening in our present age? There is confusion, hate, fear, greed, war. Now, what is the answer to all this? Is there a Christian or a Hindu or a Buddhist answer to this, or is there only one true solution? Each religion and each dogmatic group thinks that it alone has the key to the solution of the present chaos. There is competition between religions, with their systems and priests. The solution of the present chaos lies in yourself and not in another. Through self-reliance you can bring about peace within yourself, and so in the world, which is an extension of yourself. No leader can give you peace. The important thing is to understand how your own thought and action create the present chaos and misery and only through your own self-reliant and discerning awareness can there be freedom from this ever recurring agony and confusion.

Questioner: Is there any relationship between reality and myself?

Krishnamurti: You hopefully imply, do you not, that there should be a relationship between reality and yourself? You believe that reality or God or whatever you like to call it, is in you, but is covered over by ignorance; then you ask what is the relationship between this ignorance and reality. Can there be any relationship between ignorance and understanding? Now what are these coverings, these sheaths, that are supposed to hide reality? What is the I that is asking this question? Is not the I a certain form, a name, a certain bundle of qualities, memories, that have divided themselves into the high and the low, into the spiritual and non-spiritual, and so on? All of this is the I.

Now you want to know if there is any relationship between this I and reality. What is reality? You don't know, but you have a hope, a longing for it. Can there be any relationship between the known, the I, and the unknown? You can find out if there is any relationship only by understanding what you are, not by supposing or asserting that there is a relationship between the I and reality. Surely, if the I is transient, and it is transient, as we can observe it from day to day, then what is the relationship between the transient and something which is not? None whatsoever. In thoroughly comprehending the process of the I and its transiency and being unattached to it, there is an understanding of reality. The I is this bundle of desires, of greed, of possessive love, of craving for immortality, here or in the hereafter, and through earnest awareness the process of craving can be transformed into peace which is not a theoretical hope but a reality.

Questioner: You say we must be alert and watchful every moment and that this watchfulness isn't the same as introspection. Will you please explain how they differ? Krishnamurti: Between awareness and introspection there is a difference. Introspection is a kind of self-analysis in which thought is measuring its own action and its results, according to pleasure and pain, reward and punishment, thus forming a judgment, a pattern. That is, having examined the action of the past, thought tries to carry out what it has learned through the present action and so determines how it shall act in the future. Observe what takes place as you try to analyze yourself. You are always analyzing a past action; you cannot analyze an action that is being lived. If you have done something which has caused pain or conflict you want to understand it in order not to act again in the same manner. So when you do this you are trying to understand a past action, a dead action, with present intention, hoping to produce a future result. That is, thought is occupied, in this introspective process, with the result, with how it should act.

Now, awareness is different. In awareness there is only the present, that is, being aware, you see the past process of influence which controls the present and modifies the future. Awareness is an integral process, not a process of division. For example, if I ask the question, do I believe in God, in the very process of asking, I can observe, if I am aware, what it is that is making me ask that question; if I am aware I can perceive what has been and what are the forces at work which are compelling me to ask that question. Then, I am aware of various forms of fear, those of my ancestors who have created a certain idea of God and have handed it down to me, and combining their idea with my present reactions, I have modified or changed the concept of God. If I am aware I perceive this entire process of the past, its effect in the present and in the future, integrally, as a whole.

If one is aware, one sees how through fear one's concept of God arose; or perhaps there was a person who had an original experience of reality or of God and communicated it to another who in his greediness made it his own, and gave impetus to the process of imitation. Awareness is the process of completeness, and introspection is incomplete. The result of introspection is morbid, painful, whereas awareness is enthusiasm and joy.

Questioner: Do you advise meditation?

Krishnamurti: It all depends on what you call meditation. There is a great deal involved in this question. Have you ever done any so-called meditation? Perhaps some of you have in one form or another. Perhaps you have reflected deeply when there was a pressing human problem that demanded an answer; this can be considered to be a form of meditation. Through continual dwelling upon a certain idea which helps to eliminate other intruding ideas, you will learn con- centration; this also is considered to be a form of meditation. You want to awaken certain powers, the so-called occult powers, because you hope by having these powers you will find greater understanding. These practices are also considered a form of meditation.

To be constantly alert and aware, to be thoughtful, is the beginning of meditation, for without the true foundation of discernment, mere concentration and other forms of so-called meditation become dangerous and are without any deep significance. As I pointed out, when you are aware you will find that the mind is seeking a result, a conclusion, desiring achievement, security. To pursue a predetermined conclusion is no longer meditation for thought then is caught in its own net of images.

Let us consider the process of meditation a little more fully. It is very difficult to steady the wandering and trembling thought; it moves from one object of sensation to another, from one interest to another. In this process one becomes aware of the extreme sensitiveness of thought. Thought wanders from one set of ideas to another, either because of interest or merely because it is sluggish and indifferent. If thought merely controls itself from wandering, it becomes narrow, limited, and destructive. If thought is interested in wandering, then merely controlling itself is useless because that will not reveal why it is interested in the dissipation of its own energy. But if you are interested to find out why it is wandering then you are beginning to discern and be aware and there is then a natural, spontaneous concentration. So, first you must observe that thought is wandering, then discern why it wanders. When thought perceives that it is indolent, lazy, it is already beginning to be active, but merely controlling thought does not bring about creative action.

When there is a natural concentration of interest, not mere control, you begin to discover that thought is in a process of constant imitation and that it is ever wandering through its many layers of memories, precepts, examples; or, having had a stimulating sensation or experience during moments of concentration it re-creates it and tries to vivify the past sensation, but thereby it only stultifies its own creative process; or, apart from daily life, thought tries to develop various qualities in order to control its daily actions, and living loses its inherent significance, and standard becomes most important.

All this then is merely a form of approximation and not creative meditation. If you are aware in your daily activities - when you are talking, when you are walking, when you are making money or seeking pleasure - in that awareness, depending on your earnestness, there begins an understanding, a love, which is not at the behest of intellect or of emotion. So, meditation is a process of awareness in action. From the reality of life must spring meditation, and then meditation is a process of self-liberation. Meditation is not the approximation of a pattern. The stilling of the mind through will, choice, may achieve certain calmness but this calmness is of death, producing languor. This is not meditation. But the understanding of choice, which is a very delicate and strenuous process, is meditation in which there is calmness without a trace of languor or contentment. There must be alert and strenuous discernment in meditation. Meditation is a process of completeness, wholeness, not a series of achievements culminating in reality.

Questioner: What has diet to do with the mental process or intelligence?

Krishnamurti: Certainly, a great deal. Understanding reality does not necessarily depend on the kind of food one eats; one may be a vegetarian and be vicious and dull, or a meat-eater and be intelligent in the widest sense. If one overeats, it is an indication of thoughtlessness; moderate and rational diet is necessary to alert thought. Too much fasting also dulls the mind. Not to be angry, not to be disparaging in our talk, not to be ruthless, obstinate, not to flatter, not to receive flattery, these are more important than the consideration of what we eat. Of primary importance are your thoughts and feelings. Cleanliness of food is not cleanliness of thought. Again we begin at the wrong end, with the external, hoping to grasp that state of inward peace, which cannot be realized through the mere alteration of environment. We hope to have psychological peace through discipline and denial, through imitation and isolation; we begin at the periphery, hoping to create inward peace and compassion but we must begin from the centre, the centre from which arise conflict and sorrow. We must become aware of the process of craving and its outward expressions; in discerning these, there is a natural restraint, not imposed through fear.

The Mirror of Relationship

Ojai, California
7th Public Talk 7th July, 1940

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


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