The Mirror of Relationship
Notes on Sarobia discussions 1940
Opinions, ideologies, and theories, are dividing the world; no agreement is possible as long as we cling to them in any form whatsoever, for they breed thoughtlessness and obstinacy. Agreement is only possible when we have disentangled thought from them, and experience for ourselves. We cannot agree if our thought is perverted; genuine, direct experience, cannot create contention. To be capable of an original experience we must slough off the many bondages, the limiting influences, on our thoughts and feelings, and we shall attempt to do this during this gathering. This is essential and it is only possible if each one of us becomes aware, and understands the component parts that go to create our background, the I.
We must have knowledge about the material before we can transform it. The material is the intellectual, emotional state of our being, also the religious, artistic, scientific, physical. Any form of limitation must be a hindrance to completeness. For this attempt, deep and wide intelligence is necessary. Intelligence is the discovery, by each one, of what is of primary importance and the capacity to pursue it.
If one pursues the path of knowledge - what must I know - one has to submit to authority, which must engender fear and various forms of idolatry; then masters, guides, intermediaries, priests, in different forms, become necessary. This path is the way of the intellect and any action that comes from the mere pursuit of knowledge must be imitative and not liberating. For then action must conform to a preconceived pattern or knowledge which hinders direct experience. But if we put to ourselves this question, what can I do, then direct experience is knowledge and this knowledge is not a limiting process. With action comes knowledge which is not imitative, and so is liberating. The pursuit of what can I know destroys self-reliance, but the pursuit of what can I do creates self-reliance which is essential for the comprehension of reality, what can I do with regard to life - things, people, and ideas.
Greed in its many forms puts man against man, bringing disunion and contention. Balance, co-ordination, is necessary for completeness; mere control or denial of the objects of craving does not free thought from greed, envy. Only through understanding the process of craving, by becoming aware of it, is there a possibility of thought freeing itself from it. Awareness is not mere analysis or self-examination. Meditation is interested concentration, the awareness in which the conflict of opposites ceases.
Greed breeds envy and hate. Imitation is the result of envy. Our social structure is based on envy and imitation. One of the main causes of division in society is envy and the craving for success; each is imitating the one above him. Many of us desire to belong to the socially elect. This imitative process keeps the social division going from generation to generation.
This same attitude and action exist in the so-called spiritual realm. There too we think in terms of progressive hierarchical achievement. Such attitude is born of greed and envy, which produces imitation and fosters fear; the idea that one day you will become a Master or a higher Being is similar to your becoming one day a Knight or a Duke. It is repulsive and not ennobling to a man of thought.
There is expansion, growth, in greed and envy but not in freedom from them. There may be growth or evolution of the outer, of the periphery, but not of what is true. The freedom from greed and envy is not progressive; you are either free or not free from them. This freedom is not the result of evolution, growth. If we understand need, utterly dissociated from greed, craving, and envy, then social and personal conflicts cease, then thought is free from worldliness.
What can I do about my needs? The answer will be found when we put to ourselves the question: How is thought to free itself of greed, from the very centre and not merely from the outside? First one must be conscious or aware of being greedy or envious or imitative; then be aware also of its opposite reactions. That is, be aware of the very strong will of outgoing desires, cultivated through generations, which has a very strong momentum; and also become aware of the will to refrain, to deny, which has also been cultivated through moral and religious injunctions. Our mind is the battleground of these two opposing forces, of want and non-want. We hope by pursuing and cultivating an opposite we shall transcend all opposites; that which is achieved through the cultivation of the opposites is still within the opposite, though one may think that the state one has achieved has transcended the opposites.
There is duality, good and evil, greed and non-greed. Being greedy, to cultivate its opposite is not freedom from greed, nor does thought transcend an opposite by the cultivation of its opposite. Thought can only free itself from the opposites, duality, when it is not caught up in them and is capable of understanding what is, without the reaction of the opposite. That is, being envious, to cultivate its opposite does not free thought from envy, but if we do not react in opposition to it, but are capable of understanding the process of envy itself, then there is a lasting freedom from it. In the very centre there is a freedom from greed and not merely from the outside.... This experience is truly religious and all experiences of opposites are non-religious.
All comparative change is a change in resistance; all comparative thinking and acting do not free thought from its limiting influences. Freedom from greed, envy, imitation, lies not in the mere change of the outside, but in understanding and transcending the will of outgoing desires, which brings lasting transformation in the very centre itself.... Relationship with people divides itself - though there is no such real division - as superficial and deep; as superficial contact and contact of interest and affection.
Love is hedged about with fear, possessiveness, jealousy, and with peculiar tendencies inherited and acquired. We have to become aware of these barriers and we can become aware of them most poignantly and significantly in relationship, whether superficial or deep. In relationship the I generally forms the centre and from this, action radiates. There cannot be compassion if thought is perverted by partisanship, by hate, by prejudices of class, of religion, of race, and so on.
All relationship, if allowed, becomes a process of self-revelation; but most of us do not allow ourselves to discover what we are, as this involves pain. In all relationship there is the I and the other; the other may be one or the many, the society, the world.
Can there be individuality in the widest and deepest sense, if one belongs to society? What is society? The many, cemented together through necessity, convenience, affection, greed, envy, fear, standards, values, imitation, that is, essentially through craving; the many with their peculiar organizations and institutions, religions and moralities. If one is born a Hindu one is brought up in a certain social and religious environment, with its special dogmas and prejudices. As long as one remains conditioned as a Hindu, one has consciously identified oneself with a particular race, a class, a set of ideas, and so one is really not an individual. Though within that limited conditioning, called Hinduism, one may struggle to achieve, to create; though one may have a func- tional purpose which gives a sense of independence, utility, importance, yet within the circle of its conditioned influence there can be no true individuality.
The world is broken up into these different forms of restricting groups, Hindu, English, German, Chinese, and so on, each fighting and killing or coercing the other. It is possible to be a true individual in the highest sense, only if one is not identified with any special conditioning. The conflict of society is between those who are liberating themselves from the mass, from a particular identification, and those who are still part of a particular group. Those who escape from particular influences and limitations are soon deified or put in prison or neglected.
Relationship is a process of self-revelation and liberation. To inquire within the circle of limitation about the soul, reality, God, immortality, is vain, for these words, images, and ideas, belong to the world of hate, greed, fear, craving. When one has liberated oneself from society, group, race, family, and from all separative conditioning, and has become an undivided, integral being the problems which now torment the citizens of various particularized states will have utterly lost their significance. As long as man belongs to particular groups, classes, creeds, there cannot be love, there must be antagonism, war.
Individual thought is influenced, limited, by society, by inherited and acquired tendencies. These tendencies are revealed in relationship, superficial and intimate. By becoming aware of them and not through mere self-analysis does thought free itself without falling into other forms of narrowness, pettiness. This requires interested watchfulness and clear discernment. This discernment is not comparative, nor is it the result of choice. Intellect, the instrument of craving, is itself narrow, conditioned, and therefore what it chooses is bound to be also limited.
We need things for our physical existence, this need is natural and not harmful, but when things become psychological necessities, then begin greed, envy, imitation, from which conflict and other unnatural desires ensue. If we "need" people, then there is a dependence upon them. This dependence shows itself in possessiveness, fear, domination. When we use people, as we use inanimate things, consciously or unconsciously, to satisfy our craving for comfort or security, true human relationship ceases. Then relationship, superficial or deep, is no longer a process of self-revelation or of liberation. Love is the only lasting answer to our human problems. Do not divide love artificially as the love of God and the love of man. There is only love, but love is hedged about by various barriers. Compassion, forgiveness, generosity, and kindliness cannot exist if there is no love. Without love, all virtues become cruel and destructive. Hate, envy, ill will, prevent completeness of thought-emotion, and in this completeness alone can there be compassion, forgiveness.
Relationship acts as a mirror to reflect all the states of our being, if we allow it; but we do not allow it as we want to conceal ourselves; revelation is painful. In relationship, if we become aware, both the unconscious and the conscious states are revealed. This self-revelation ceases when we "use" people as needs, when we "depend" upon them, when we "possess" them. Mostly relationship is used to cover our inner poverty; we try to enrich this psychological poverty by clinging to each other, flattering each other, limiting love to each other, and so on. There is conflict in relationship, but instead of understanding its cause and so transcending it, we try to escape from it and seek gratification elsewhere.
We use our relationship with people, with society, as we use things, to cover up shallowness. How is one to overcome this shallowness? All overcoming is never transcending, for that which is overcome, only takes another form.
Poverty of being is revealed when we try to overcome it by covering it up with possessions, with the worship of success, and even with virtues. Then things, property, come to have great significance; then class, social position, country, pride of race, assume great importance, and have to be maintained at all costs; then name, family, and their continuance, become vital.
Or we try to cover up this emptiness with ideas, beliefs, creeds, fancies; then opinion, goodwill, and experience of others, take on powerful import; then ceremonies, priests, masters, saviours, become essential, and destroy self-reliance; then authority is worshipped.
Thus the fear of what one is creates illusion, and poverty of being continues. But if one becomes intensely aware of these indications in oneself, both in the conscious and the unconscious, then through strenuous discernment there comes about a different state which has no relation to the poverty of being. To overcome shallowness is to continue to be shallow.
Self-analysis and awareness are two different things; the one is morbid. but awareness is joyous. Self-analysis takes place after action is past: out of that analysis mind creates a pattern to which a future action is forced to conform. Thus there comes about a rigidity of thought and action. Self-analysis is death and awareness is life. Self-analysis only leads to the creation of pattern and imitation, and so there is no release from bondage, from frustration. Awareness is at the moment of action; if one is aware, then one understands comprehensively, as a whole, the cause and effect of action, the imitative process of fear, its reactions, and so on. This awareness frees thought from those causes and influences which limit and hold it, without creating further bondages, and so thought become deeply pliable which is to be deathless. Self-analysis or introspection takes place before or after action, thus preparing for the future and limiting it. Awareness is a constant process of liberation.
We should approach life, not from the point of what can I know but what can I do. The path of what can I know leads to the worship of authority, fear, and illusion; but in understanding what can I do, there is self-reliance which alone brings forth wisdom.
From what source does our thought process come? Why do I think that I am separate? Am I really separate? Before we can transcend what we are, we must first understand ourselves. So what am I? Can I know this for myself or must I rely for this knowledge on others? To rely on others is to wallow in opinion; the acceptance of opinion, information, is based on like and dislike which lead to illusion. Am I really separate? Or is there only a variation, a modification of a central craving or fear, expressing itself in different ways? Does the expression of the same fundamental craving, ignorance, hate, fear, affection, in different ways make us truly different, truly individuals? As long as we are expressing ignorance, however differently, we are essentially the same. Then why do we separate ourselves into nations, classes, families, and why do we concern ourselves with our soul, our immortality, our unity? As long as we cling to the separateness of the expression of ignorance, of fear, there can never be the lasting unity of mankind.
Separateness is an illusion and a vanity. To think of myself as separate, different in consciousness, is to identify myself with fundamental ignorance; to cling to my achievement, my work, my soul, is to continue in illusion. What are we? We are the result of our parents, who were, like their parents, influenced and limited by climatic, social, and psychological values based on ignorance, fear, and craving. Our parents passed on to us those values. We are the result of the past; our forefathers' beliefs, ideas, hopes, in combination with the present action and reaction, are our thoughts. We cherish illusion and try to find unity, hope, love, in it. Illusion can never create human unity nor awaken that love which alone can bring peace. Love cannot be transmitted, but we can experience its immensity if we can become free of our prejudices, fears, greed, and craving.
We are concerned with things, people, and personal continuity. Continuity in different forms; continuity through things, property, family, race, nationality; continuity through ideals, beliefs, dogmas. The craving for personal immortality breeds fear, illusion, and the worship of authority. When the craving for personal immortality ceases, in all its forms, there is a state of deathlessness.
What is our mind? What is our thought process? What are the contents of our consciousness and how have they been created? perception, contact, sensation, and reflection, lead to the process of like and dislike, attachment and non-attachment, self and not-self. Mind is the outcome of craving; and intellect, the power to discern, to choose, is influenced and limited by the past in combination with the present action and reaction. Thus the instrument of discernment itself is cunningly perverted. Thought must free itself from the past, from the accumulations of self-protective instincts; intellect must make straight its own wanton crookedness.
What is the origin of our thinking? Seeing, contacting, sensing, reflecting. Like and dislike, pleasure and pain, the many pairs of opposites are the outcome of reflection; the desire for the continuance of the one and the denial of the other is part of reflection. Sensation, craving, dominates most of our thinking. Our thought is influenced and limited by the past generations of people who in their suffering, in their joys, in their aspirations, in their escapes, in their fear of death in their longing for continuity, created ideas, images, symbols, which gave them hope, assurance. These they have passed on to us. When we use the word soul, it is their word to convey that intense longing for continuity, for something permanent, enduring beyond the transiency of the physical, of the material. Because we also crave for certainty, security, continuity, we cling to that word and all that it represents. So our consciousness - both the conscious and the sub-conscious - is the repository of ideas, values, images, symbols of the race, of the past generations. Our daily thought and action are controlled by the past, by the concealed motives, memories, and hidden cravings. In all this there is no freedom but only continued imitation caused by fear.
Within consciousness, there are two opposing forces at work which create duality - want and non-want, pain and pleasure, outgoing desires and refraining desires. Instincts, motives, values, prejudices, passions, control and direct the conscious.
Is there, in consciousness, any part that is not contaminated by the past? Is there anything original, uncorrupted, in our consciousness? Have we not to free thought from the past, from instincts, from symbols, images, in order to understand that which is incorruptible, untrammelled?
The known cannot understand the unknown; death cannot understand life. Light and darkness cannot exist together. God, reality, is not to be realized through the known. What we are is of the past in combination with the present action and reaction according to various forms of influence, which narrows down thought, and through this limitation we try to understand that which is beyond all transiency. Can thought free itself from the personal, from the I? Can thought make itself anew, original, capable of direct experience? If it can, then there is the realization of the eternal.
What is the content of consciousness? Both the conscious and the subconscious tendencies, values, memories, fears, and so on. The past, the hidden causes, control the present. Is there not in us, in spite of this limited consciousness, a force, a something, that is unconditioned? To assume that there is, is a part of our past influence; we have been brought up, through many generations, to think and believe and hope that there is. This tradition, this memory, is part of our racial heredity, part of our ignorance, but also merely to deny it, is not to discover for ourselves if there is. To assert or to deny, to believe or not to believe, that there is an uncontaminated, spiritual essence, unconditioned in us, is to place a barrier to our discovery of what is true.
There is suffering, conflict, between want and non-want, between the will of outgoing desires and the will to restrain. Of this conflict we are all conscious.
When we do not understand the makeup of our background, the cause of our tendencies and limitations, experience only further strengthens them; but in becoming aware of them in our daily thought and action, experience acts as a liberating force.
Neither postponement nor trying to seek an immediate solution to our human problems can free thought from bondage. Postponement implies thoughtlessness and this sluggishness produces comforting theories, beliefs, and further complication and suffering; and if thought is concerned with the immediate now, with the idea that we live but once, then there is restlessness, haste, and a shallowness, that destroys understanding. But without imagining a future or clinging to the past, we can understand the fullness of each flowing moment. Then what is, is immortal.
Masters, gurus, teachers, cannot help to free thought from its own self-imposed bondage and suffering; neither ceremonies, nor priests, nor organizations, can liberate thought from its attachments, fears, cravings; these may force it into a new mould and shape it, but thought can free itself only through its own critical awareness and self-reliance.
Extrasensory perception, clairvoyance, occult powers, cannot free thought from confusion and misery; sensitive awareness of our thoughts and motives, from which spring our speech and action, is the beginning of lasting understanding and love. Mere self-control, discipline, self-punishment, or renunciation, cannot liberate thought; but constant awareness and pliability give clarity and strength. Only in becoming aware of the cause of ignorance, in understanding the process of craving and its dual and opposing values, is there freedom from suffering. This discerning awareness must begin in our life of relationship with things, people, and ideas, with our own hidden thoughts and daily action.
The way we think makes our life either complete or contradictory and unbalanced. Through awareness of craving, with its complex process, there comes an understanding; which brings detachment and serenity. Detachment or serenity is not an end in itself. In this world of frenzied buying and selling, whose economy is based on craving, unless thought is persistently aware, greed and envy bring the confusing and conflicting problems of possessions, attachment, and competition. Our private thoughts and motives can bring either harmony in our relationship or disturbance and pain. It depends on each one what he makes of relationship with another or with society. There can never be self-isolation, however much one may crave for it; relationship is ever continuous; to be is to be related.
The trembling and wavering thought is difficult to steady; mere control does not lead to understanding. Interest alone creates natural, spontaneous adjustment and control. If thought becomes aware of itself, it will perceive that it goes from one superficial interest to another, and merely to withdraw from one and try to concentrate on another does not lead to understanding and love. Thought must become aware of the causes of its various interests, and by understanding them there comes a natural concentrated interest in that which is most intelligent and true.
Thought moves from certainty to certainty, from the known to the known, from one substitution to another, and thus it is never still, it is ever pursuing, ever wandering; this chattering of the mind destroys creative understanding and love, but these cannot be craved for. They come into being when thought becomes aware of its own process, of its cravings, fears, substitutions, justifications, and illusions. Through constant, discerning awareness, thought naturally becomes creative and still. In that stillness there is immeasurable bliss.
We have all many and peculiar problems of our own; our craving to solve them only hinders the comprehension of the problems. We must have that rare disinterested awareness which alone brings understanding. When death causes us great sorrow, in our eagerness to overcome that sorrow, we accept theories, beliefs, in the hope of finding comfort which only becomes a bondage. This comfort, though satisfying for a passing moment, does not free thought from sorrow, it is only covered up and its cause continues. Likewise when one feels frustrated, instead of craving for fulfilment, one must understand what it is that feels itself frustrated. There will be frustration as long as there is craving; instead of understanding what is deeply implied in craving, we struggle anxiously to fulfil ourselves, and so the ache of frustration continues.
These discussions are not meant to be for intellectual amusement. We have discussed together in order to clear our thought so as to be able to apply ourselves more acutely and disinterestedly to the problems of our everyday life. It is only through disinterested application, through strenuous and discerning awareness, and not through following this or that belief, ideology, leader or group, that thought can liberate itself from those self-imposed bondages and influences.
Being incomplete, one craves for completeness, which is only a substitution, but if one understood the causes of incompleteness, then there comes a freedom through that understanding, the ecstasy of which is not to be described or compared. We must begin low to climb high, we must begin now to go far.
We all have to live in this world; we cannot escape from it. We must understand it and not run away from it into illusory comforts, hopeful theories, and fascinating dreams. We are the world and we must intelligently and creatively understand it. We have created this world of devastating hate, this world that is torn apart by beliefs and ideologies, by religions and gnawing cults, by leaders and their followers, by economic barriers and nationalities. We have created this world through our individual craving and fear, through our ambition and ignorance. We ourselves must change radically, free ourselves of these bondages, so that we can help to create a truly sane and happy world.
Then let us live happily without attachment and envy; let us love without possessiveness and be without ill will towards anyone; do not let us separate ourselves into narrow and conflicting groups. Thus though our own strenuous and constant awareness, will our thought be transformed from the limited into the complete.
The Mirror of Relationship
Notes on Sarobia discussions 1940
Jiddu Krishnamurti. The Mirror of Relationship. The collected works of J.Krishnamurti, 1936..1944.