The Mirror of Relationship
8th Public Talk 14th July, 1940
We are all well aware of the appalling chaos and misery that exist at the present time, not only in the world about us but also in ourselves. To this problem there must be a complete solution. Certain groups and systems of thought maintain that only their particular panacea will solve the problem. Any partial remedy to the complexity of life, however facile and logical, must inevitably bring in its wake other complications. Let us see if we cannot find a complete solution to this problem, which is economic, psychological, and spiritual. We must understand this struggle, this suffering, as comprehensively as possible not partially through the limitation of any particular system; we must have a free mind that is capable of facing the problem as a whole.
There must be some cause for this confusion and misery not only in ourselves but also in our relationship with mankind which we call society. If we can understand the fundamental cause, then perhaps this problem will be forever solved.
We will consider two different approaches to the problem of conflict and sorrow. This division is artificial, for convenience only. The one is the approach from the outside, and the other from within. If we attempt to solve this problem of struggle and pain entirely from the outside, we shall not understand it, nor shall we understand it if we deal with it only from within. For the sake of clarity only, do we divide life as the outer and the inner, but to understand the complex problem of life we must have an integrated understanding.
In all my talks I have been trying to explain this integrated approach to our daily problems of relationship, not only with another but also with our work and our ideas. When we try to solve the problem of existence from the outside as it were, we soon realize that there must be a complete social and economic change; we see that there must be the elimination of barriers, racial, national, economic. We perceive also that we must be free of religious barriers, with their separative dogmas and beliefs, which cause different groups to be formed in antagonistic competition with one another. Organized religions have separated man from man, they have not united mankind. If we approach this problem of existence from the outside, emphasis must be laid on institution, on legislation, on the importance of the state, with its resultant dangers. Though the action of the state may momentarily give satisfactory results, there is inherent in it great possibilities of corruption and brutality; for the sake of an ideology man will sacrifice man.
In this external approach there is a possibility of losing oneself in an ideology, in service, in the state, and so on; one hopes unconsciously that through this forgetfulness, one's own sorrows, anxieties, responsibilities, and conflicts, will disappear. And yet, in spite of the attempt to sacrifice oneself to the outer, there still remains the I with its personal, limited ambitions, hopes, fears, passions, and greed. One may forget oneself in the state, but as long as the I remains, the state becomes the new means for its expansion, for its glory, and cunning thought will again bring about new chaos and misery. Competition for property is primarily for the power it gives, and power will ever be sought as long as the I exists. Competition is the outward manifestation of the inner conflict of ambition, envy, and the worship of success.
The other approach to the problem of suffering and conflict is from within; to overcome the many causes that create conflict in relationship between individuals, and so with society. We try to overcome one cause by another cause, one substitution-by another substitution, and so thought gets entangled in its own vicious net. We try to remove the cause of conflict and misery by mere assertions, by logical and rational conclusions. We worship God or an idea or a pattern in order to forget ourselves and be free of our-daily struggles through our sacrifice and love. There is the idea that the individual is a spiritual essence, and if through constant assertion and control he can discipline thought and emotion according to a particular idea, he will be able to identify himself with that spiritual essence and thus escape his daily conflict in relationship and action. Thus the pattern, the belief, becomes more important than the understanding of life. There is ever competition between religious groups; their leaders are thinking in terms of conversion and so cannot coalesce. Behind the weight of tradition, escape, and worship, there is ever the I, with its worldliness, possessive love, and craving for its own immortality.
Though we may try to lose or forget ourselves in beliefs and dogmas, yet behind this effort there is an intense craving for completeness, wholeness. Without thoroughly understanding this craving, merely to multiply or change beliefs and dogmas is utterly in vain.
There is a complete answer to our problem of suffering and conflict, which is not based on dogmatism or on theories. This answer is to be found when we approach the problem integrally from the centre; that is, we must understand the process of the I in its relationship with another, with action, with belief. In the voluntary transformation of the process of the I, intelligently and sanely and without compulsion, lies the complete solution of our conflict and sorrow. As most of us are unwilling to concentrate thought on the fundamental alteration in the centre, legislation and institutions force us to adjust ourselves to an outward pattern in the hope of achieving social harmony, but this does not eradicate the cause of conflict and suffering. Compulsion does not create understanding, whether it is from outside or from within.
The complete answer to this problem of conflict and suffering lies in understanding the process of craving, not through mere control and introspection, but through becoming aware of its expression in our daily thought and action. That is, by becoming aware of greed, possessive love, and the desire for personal continuity, there comes into being a comprehensive understanding without the conflict of choice. This needs experimental approach and earnest application. As most of us are slothful, environmental influences and external impositions, as values, traditions, opinions, control our lives and so keep our thought in bondage.
Unless we thoroughly understand and so transcend the process of craving, however well the outer is planned and made orderly, this inward process will ever overcome the outer and bring about disorder and confusion. However carefully and sanely the social and economic conditions are arranged, as long as individual thought is acquisitive, possessive, seeking security for itself either here or in the hereafter, these well-arranged social orders will constantly be disintegrated. The inner is ever overcoming the outer and until we transcend craving, the superficially well-arranged social order is in vain.
We as individuals must direct our thought to that freedom in which there is no sense of the I, the freedom from the self. This freedom from the self can only come about when we understand the process of craving as acquisitiveness, possessive love, and personal immortality. For, the world is the extension or projection of the individual, and if the individual looks to authority and legislation to bring about a drastic change within himself, he will be caught in a vicious circle of thoughtlessness from which there is no release.
Through constant and alert awareness, thought must free itself from worldliness and discern greed from need; thought must free itself from possessive love, and love completely, without fear without the thought of self; thought must free itself from the craving for personal immortality through property, family, or race, or through the continuation of the individual I. As long as craving, expressing itself in these three complex ways, is the motive of action, peace and human unity cannot be realized. When thought is not conditioned by acquisitiveness, possessive love, and the desire for personal continuation, there is true disinterestedness which alone can bring about a sane and happy social order. This depends on each one of us, and each one of us has to become actively and discerningly aware of the expressions of the self and so free thought from its bondage.
Questioner: Can continued effort in meditation lead to full awareness?
Krishnamurti: Without true discernment mere concentration on an idea, image, or virtue, leads to barrenness of thought and to the destruction of love. Discernment comes through constant awareness of our daily thought, speech, and action; without this true corrective element, meditation becomes an escape, a source of delusion. Without understanding and love, any form of meditation must lead to illusion: without true awareness, any form of meditation is an escape from reality.
When there is awareness we observe that thought is ever approximating itself to a pattern, to a memory, to a past experience; it is measuring itself against an opinion or a standard. Though mind may reject outward patterns, standards, values, yet it may cling to its own so-called experience; this experience without true discernment may be the continuation of narrow and prejudiced thought, and unless mind frees itself from its bondages, meditation only strengthens its own limitation. So through alert awareness of daily thought, speech, and action, thought must free itself from its fetters; this freedom is the true beginning of meditation.
When thought is occupied with approximation then it is concerned with achievement, with success, and so it is no longer capable of true discernment, for the desire to gain, to attain, springs from fear which prevents true perception. Fear cannot yield understanding but in becoming intensely aware of the causes of fear in our daily life, interest and discernment are born. Interest is natural concentration without the conflict of opposing desires. We force ourselves to concentrate without this interest, and so it becomes artificial, painful, and has no deep significance. Understanding does not come through compulsion or through mere control but through constant and earnest awareness of our daily thoughts and activities, of our speech and work. Meditation must spring from this awareness. The cultivation of so-called occult powers, trances, and so forth, is of very little importance. Without true discernment mere concentration on images, standards, and ideals, does not lead to comprehension. Creative stillness of the mind is necessary for the understanding of reality.
Questioner: You are in a happy position, all you need is given to you by friends. We have to earn money for ourselves and our families, we have to contend with the world. How can you understand us and help us?
Krishnamurti: Each one of us has to contend with some particular environment. Each has his own limitations and tendencies wherever his sphere of existence may lie. Being envious of another does not help us to comprehend the aches and sorrows of our own life; to be envious is part of our heritage, part of our social structure. If we succumb to our limitation, then there is no possibility of understanding another; but if we, wherever we find ourselves, try earnestly to understand our environment and free thought from our particular tendencies and limited experiences, then we will comprehend life as a whole, and not be bound by the prejudices, the traditions, and values of our particular environment. Whatever the circumstances of our life may be, we have to understand and so transcend them. Thought must dig deep into its own conscious and subconscious states and liberate itself from those influences and bondages that make it personal, greedy, possessive, and cruel. Truth is to be understood in our daily thoughts, conduct, and activities. It is foolish to be envious of another, for the other is ourselves.
Questioner: In one of your recent talks you stressed the importance of action. Is what I do of tremendous importance?
Krishnamurti: I said that if thought is limited by memories, traditions, prejudices, by the past, then any action springing from it can only create further ignorance and sorrow. If one thinks in terms of a particular race or religion, then such thinking must be limited, separative. Sanely and deliberately, as individuals we can set about to free thought from those causes that bring about limitation. Then what one thinks and does greatly matters. If one acts thoughtlessly then one increases and perpetuates limitation and sorrow. But by becoming aware of the past and the causes of conditioning, if one is interested and therefore concentrated, one can free thought from its bondages. This demands earnestness and integral awareness. Also you are the world, and by your particular action or inaction, you can increase or help to diminish ignorance.
Questioner: By being ambitious do I destroy my purpose?
Krishnamurti: If our purpose is the outcome of the desire for self-aggrandizement, conscious or unconscious, to achieve it, ambition is necessary. Such ambition, being the expression of craving for personal success, must produce antisocial action and sorrow in relationship. One must grasp the underlying significance of ambition; ambition is an ardent desire for personal distinction and achievement, which in action becomes competitive and ruthless. We give such importance to self-expression, without fully and deeply understanding what it is that is being expressed. In modern society to be ambitiously self-expressive is considered not to be antisocial and is even honoured. This form of ambition is condemned by those who are spiritually ambitious; that is, they condemn worldliness but yet they crave for achievement, success, in other spheres. Both forms of ambition are the same, both imply the expansion of the I, the self.
So unless we grasp the meaning of self-expression, its purpose, and its action, merely to aspire towards an ideal becomes a subtle form of self-aggrandizement. Unless we see the inward significance of craving, mere outward legislation and religious promises cannot curb the desire for dominance, for personal power, and success. In becoming intensely aware of the process of craving, with its many ambitions and pursuits, there is born not only the will to refrain, but also understanding whose creative expression is not of the self.
Questioner: I would like to devote my life to awakening men to a desire for freedom. Your dissertations - writings - seem to be the best instrumentality, or should each develop his own technique?
Krishnamurti: Before we awaken another, we must be sure that we ourselves are awake and alert. This does not mean that we must wait until we are free. We are free insofar as we begin to understand and transcend the limitations of thought. Before one begins to preach awareness and freedom to another, which is fairly easy, one must begin with oneself. Instead of converting others to our particular form of limitation we must begin to free ourselves from the pettiness and narrowness of our own thoughts.
Questioner: You said, if I remember rightly, that we must tackle the problem of inner insufficiency. How can one tackle that problem?
Krishnamurti: Why does one accumulate things, property, and so on? In oneself there is poverty and so one tries to enrich oneself through worldly things; this enrichment of oneself brings social disorder and misery. Observing this, certain states and religious sects prohibit individuals from possessing property and being worldly, but this inner poverty, this aching insufficiency still continues, and it must be filled. So thought seeks and craves for enrichment in other directions. If we do not find enrichment through possessions, we try to seek it in relationship or in ideas, which leads-to many kinds of delusion. So long as there is craving, there must be this painful insufficiency; without understanding the process of craving, the cause, we try to deal with the effect, insufficiency, and get lost in its intricacies. By becoming aware of the fallacy of accumulative sufficiency, thought begins to free itself of those possessions which it has accumulated for itself through fear of incompleteness. Completeness, wholeness, is not the aggregation of many parts or the expansion of the self; it is to be realized through understanding and love.
Questioner: Will you explain again the relationship between awareness and self-analysis?
Krishnamurti: I thought I explained this last Sunday, but that was a week ago.
For most people it is difficult to concentrate with interest, for more than half an hour or so. Added to this difficulty many are anxious to take notes. Unless they are experts they cannot listen with attention and at the same time take notes. These talks will be printed, so it is more important to listen now than to take notes. You would not be taking notes if you were interested, listening to a friend. The purpose of these talks has been, not to give a system of thought, but to help each one of us to become aware of ourselves, of our daily action and relationship, and thus naturally discern our prejudices, fears, cravings; through this awareness, there is a natural concentration, induced by interest, which brings about the will to refrain; this will is not the result of mere fear and control but of understanding.
The Mirror of Relationship
8th Public Talk 14th July, 1940
Jiddu Krishnamurti. The Mirror of Relationship. The collected works of J.Krishnamurti, 1936..1944.