The Mirror of Relationship
2nd Public Talk 2nd June, 1940
To those who have come here today for the first time I shall briefly explain what we talked about last Sunday. Those of you who are earnestly following these talks should not become impatient, for we are trying to paint in words as complete a picture of life as possible. We must understand the whole picture, the complete attitude towards life, and not merely a part of it.
I was saying last week that there cannot be peace or happiness in the world unless we as individuals cultivate that wisdom which brings forth tranquillity. There are many who think that without considering their own inward nature, their own clarity of purpose, their own creative understanding, by somewhat altering the outer conditions they can bring about peace in the world. That is, they hope to have brotherhood in the world though inwardly they are racked with hatred, envy, ambition, and so on. That this peace cannot be unless the individual, who is the world, brings about a radical change within himself, is pretty obvious to those who think deeply.
We see chaos about us, and extraordinary brutality after centuries of preaching of kindliness, brotherhood, love; we are easily caught up in this whirlpool of hatred and antagonism, and we think that by altering the outward symptoms we shall have human unity. Peace is not a thing to be brought from the outside, it can only come from within; this requires great earnestness and concentration, not on some single purpose, but on the understanding of the complex problem of living.
I took greed as one of the principal causes of conflict in ourselves and so in the world, greed, with its fear, with its craving for power and domination, social as well as intellectual and emotional. We tried to differentiate between need and greed. We need food, clothes, and shelter, but that need becomes greed, a driving psychological force in our lives when we, through craving for power, social prestige, and so on, give to things disproportionate value. Until we dissolve this fundamental cause of conflict or clash in our consciousness, mere search for peace is vain. Though through legislation we may have superficial order, the craving for power, success, and so on, will constantly disturb the cement that holds society together and destroy this social order. To bring about peace within ourselves and so within society, this central clash in consciousness caused by craving must be understood. To understand there must be action.
There are those who see that the conflict in the world is caused by greed, by individual assertion for power and domination, through property, and so they propose that individuals shall not hold the means of acquiring power; they propose to bring this about through revolution, through state control of property - state being those few individuals whose hands hold the reins of power. You cannot destroy greed through legislation. You may be able to destroy one form of greed through compulsion but it will take inevitably another form which will again create social chaos.
Then there are those who think greed or craving can be destroyed through intellectual or emotional ideals, through religious dogmas and creeds; this again cannot be, for it is not to be overcome through imitation, service, or love. Self-forgetfulness is not a lasting remedy for the conflict of greed. Religions have offered compensation for greed but reality is not a compensation. The pursuit of compensation is to remove the cause of conflict which is greed, craving, to another level, to another plane, but the clash and sorrow are still there. Individuals are caught up in the desire to create social order or friendly human relationship between people through legislation, and to find reality which religions promise as a compensation for the giving up of greed. But, as I pointed out, greed is not to be destroyed through legislation or through compensation. To grapple anew with the problem of greed, we must be fully aware of the fallacy of mere social legislation against it and of the religious compensatory attitude that we have developed. If you are no longer seeking religious compensation for greed, or if you are not caught up in the false hope of legislation against it, then you will begin to understand a different process of dissolving this craving wholly but this requires strenuous earnestness without emotionalism, without the deceits of the cunning intellect.
Every human being in the world needs food, clothes, and shelter, but why is it that this need has become such a complex, painful problem? Is it not because we use things for psychological purposes rather then for mere needs? Greed is the demand for gratification, pleasure, and we use needs as a means to achieve it and thereby give them far greater importance and worth than they have. So long as one uses things because one needs them, without being psychologically involved in them, there can be an intelligent limitation to needs, not based on mere gratification.
The psychological dependence on things manifests itself as social misery and conflict. Being poor inwardly, psychologically, spiritually, one thinks of enriching oneself through possessions, with ever increasing complex demands and problems. Without fundamentally solving the psychological poverty of being, mere social legislation or asceticism cannot solve the problem of greed, craving. How is this to be overcome, fundamentally, not merely in its outward manifestation, on the periphery? How is thought to be liberated from craving? We perceive the cause of greed - desire for satisfaction, gratification - but how is it to be dissolved? Through the exertion of will? Then what type of will? Will to overcome, the will to refrain, the will to renounce? The problem is, is it not, being greedy, avaricious, worldly, how to disentangle thought from greed?
For thought is now the product of greed, and therefore transitory, and so cannot understand the eternal. That which can understand the immortal must also be immortal. The permanent can be understood only through the transitory. That is, thought born of greed is transient and whatever it creates must surely be transient, so long as the mind is held within the transient, within the circle of greed, it cannot transcend nor overcome itself. In its effort to overcome, it creates further resistances and gets more and more entangled in them.
How is greed to be dissolved without creating further conflict if the product of conflict is ever within the realm of desire which is transitory? You may be able to overcome greed through the mere exertion of the will of denial, but that does not lead to understanding, to love, for such a will is the product of conflict and therefore cannot free itself from greed. We recognize that we are greedy. There is satisfaction in possession. It fills one's being, expands it. Now why do you need to struggle against it? If you are satisfied with this expansion, then you have no conscious problem. Can satisfaction ever be complete, is it not ever in a state of constant flux, craving one gratification after another?
Thus thought becomes entangled in its own net of ignorance and sorrow. We see we are caught up in greed and also we perceive, at least intellectually, the effect of greed; how then is thought to extricate itself from its own self-created cravings? Only through constant alertness, through the understanding of the process of greed itself. Understanding is not brought about through the mere exertion of a one-sided will but through that experimental approach which has that peculiar quality of wholeness. This experimental approach lies in the actions of our daily life; in becoming keenly aware of the process of craving and gratification there comes into being that integral approach to life, that concentration which is not the result of choice but which is completeness. If you are alert, you will observe keenly the process of craving; you will see that in this observation there is a desire for choice, a desire to rationalize, but this desire is still part of craving. You have to be sharply aware of the subtlety of craving and through experiment there comes into being the wholeness of understanding which alone radically frees thought from craving. If you are so aware, there is a different type of will or understanding which is not the will of conflict or of renunciation, but of wholeness, of completeness that is holy. This understanding is the approach to reality which is not the product of the will to achieve, the will of craving and conflict. Peace is of this wholeness, of this understanding.
Questioner: Since it is as true that the individual is a product of society as that society is a product of the individual who composes it, and since the change in social organization affects large numbers of individuals, is it not as important to stress the need for changing society as it is to emphasize the need for changing individuals, and since the major causes of catastrophe in the world arise from malfunctioning social organization, is there not danger in over-emphasizing the need for the individuals to change themselves, even though the change is ultimately necessary?
Krishnamurti: What is society? Is it not the relationship of one individual with another? If individuals in themselves are ignorant, cruel, ambitious, and so on, their society will reflect all that they are in themselves. The questioner seems to suggest that the conflicting relationship of individuals which is society, with its many organizations, should be changed. We all see the necessity, the importance of social change. Wars, starvation, ruthless pursuit of power, and so on, with these we are all familiar, and some earnestly desire to change these conditions. How are you going to change them? By destroying the many or the few who create the disharmony in the world? Who are the many or the few? You and I, aren't we? Each one is involved in it, because we are greedy, we are possessive, we crave for power. We want to bring order within society, but how are we to do it? Do you seriously think there are only a few who are responsible for this social disorganization, these wars and hatreds? How are you going to get rid of them? If you destroy them, you use the very means they have employed and so make of yourself also an instrument of hatred and brutality. Hate cannot be destroyed by hate, however much you may like to hide your hate under pleasant sounding words. Methods determine the ends. You cannot kill in order to have peace and order; to have peace you must create peace within yourself and thereby in your relationship with others, which is society.
You say that more emphasis should be laid on changing the social organization. Superficial reforms can, perhaps, be made, but surely radical change of lasting peace can be brought about only when the individual himself changes. You may say that this will take a long time. Why are you concerned about time? In your eagerness you want immediate results, you are concerned with results and not with the ways and means; thus in your haste you become a plaything of empty promises. Do you think that the present human nature which has been the product of centuries of maltreatment, ignorance, fear, can be altered over night? A few individuals may be able to change themselves over night, but not a crystallized society. This does not mean a postponing, but the man who thinks clearly, directly, is not concerned with time.
Social organization may be an independent mechanism but it has to be run by us. We have created it and we are responsible for it, and we can be independent of it only when we, as individuals, do not contribute to the general hate, greed, ambition, and so on. In our desire to change the world we always meet with opposition, groups are formed for and against, which only further engender antagonism, suspicion, and competition in conversion. Agreement is almost impossible, except when there is common hate or fear; all actions born of fear and hate must further increase fear and hate. Lasting order and peace can be brought about only when the individual voluntarily and intelligently consents to think without hate, greed, ambition, and so on. Only in this way can there be creative peace within you and therefore in your relationship with another, which is called society.
This requires strenuous and directed attention, without emotionalism, but as most of us are lazy, we hope that through some miraculous happenings, social organization will be changed. Thus we yield to sentiment and not to clear thought. We consider self-assertion, aggressiveness as manly, for we have made of religion a thing of sentiment; we have denied critical, experimental thought in the most serious thing that matters, religion and reality, and then naturally we become brutal, destructive with regard to the things of this world.
Questioner: How is emotion to be controlled?
Krishnamurti: Let us understand this problem of control. What do we mean by control? What is involved in control? We see in our thinking process a dual force at work, the desire to hold, to grasp, and also the desire not to grasp, not to hold. Isn't that so? There is in thought that which is and also that which it wants to be; the pleasant, called the good, and the unpleasant, the evil. So there is continual conflict between these dual processes, the one trying to overcome the other, through discipline, assertion, denial, and so on. So in the idea of control there is always duality. Thought, having divided itself into two processes, that which is pleasurable, and that which is not pleasurable, creates conflict in itself, and it tries to overcome this conflict, through various means, ideals, denials, concentration, and so on. So the central point is not how to control, but why do we create and cling to this dual process. What makes one angry first and later discover the pain of anger which induces one to learn to control oneself? What makes one brutal, and then try to cultivate compassion? In becoming aware of the process of duality, we shall awaken that understanding, wholeness, completeness, which will eliminate the conflict of resistance. What makes our life, thought, so disjointed, so uncoordinated? Why have we in our thought process created this duality, not that there is not duality?
At the precise moment of anger there is no reaction of its opposite we are merely angry. Then later on come all our reactions to it, depending on our previous conditioning, and according to this, we control ourselves, training ourselves not to he angry, and by exerting will, we throw up resistances against anger, which is not the dissolution of anger; we cover it up and thus duality still exists. Now why are we angry? For many reasons. It may be that our social or financial security is threatened, or it may be due to some physiological reason. Now without understanding fully the physiological and psychological reasons for anger, and thereby intelligently and wholly becoming aware of them, we are only concerned deeply with the idea of getting rid of anger. Merely to get rid of anger is comparatively easy, but this does not completely dissolve its causes; but if you are fully aware of the causes, physiological as well as psychological, aware without the desire to be free from anger, then in this fullness of understanding not only the effect, anger, but also the causes fade away, giving place to a quality that only experience can reveal. All overcoming is a form of ignorance and violence; only understanding can free thought from bondage.
Questioner: Will you please explain more fully: "The world is the extension of the individual, you are the world."
Krishnamurti: Through experimental approach one discovers that man is the measure of all things; or, accepting authority, there is another measure, beyond man, God or whatever you choose to call it. The world of the past is the world of today, of the "I" and the future "I" of tomorrow. The past is the world of our ancestors, the previous generations, with their ignorance, fears, and so on, which limit the present, the "I" of today and gives birth to the "I" of tomorrow, the future. Each one of us is this accumulated past, with which is incorporated the present with its reactions and experiences. Individuals are the result of varied forms of influence and limitation and the relationship of one individual with another creates the world - the world of values. The world is the social, moral, spiritual structure based on values created by us, isn't it? The social world, as well as the so-called spiritual world, is created by us individuals through our fears, hopes, cravings, and so on. We see the world of hate taking its harvest at the present. This world of hate has been created by our fathers and their forefathers and by us. Thus ignorance stretches indefinitely into the past. It has not come into being by itself. It is the outcome of human ignorance, a historical process, isn't it? We as individuals have co-operated with our ancestors, who, with their forefathers, set going this process of hate, fear, greed, and so on. Now, as individuals, we partake of this world of hate so long as we, individually, indulge in it.
The world, then, is an extension of yourself. If you as an individual desire to destroy hate, then you as an individual must cease hating. To destroy hate, you must dissociate yourself from hate in all its gross and subtle forms, and so long as you are caught up in it you are part of that world of ignorance and fear. Then the world is an extension of yourself, yourself duplicated and multiplied. The world does not exist apart from the individual. It may exist as an idea, as a state, as a social organization, but to carry out that idea, to make that social or religious organization function, there must be the individual. His ignorance, his greed, his fear, maintain the structure of ignorance, greed, and hate. If the individual changes, can he affect the world, the world of hate, greed, and so on? First make sure, doubly sure, that you, the individual, do not hate. Those who hate have no time for thought; they are consumed with their own intense excitement and with its results. They won't listen to calm, deliberate thought; they are carried away by their own fear; and you cannot help these people, can you, unless you follow their method, which is to force them to listen, but such force is of no avail. Ignorance has its own sorrow. After all, you are listening to me because you are not immediately threatened, but if you were, probably you would not be; you would not be thoughtful. The world is an extension of yourself so long as you are thoughtless, caught up in ignorance, hate, greed, but when you are earnest, thoughtful and aware, there is not only a dissociation from those ugly causes which create pain and sorrow, but also in that understanding there is a completeness, a wholeness.
The Mirror of Relationship
2nd Public Talk 2nd June, 1940
Jiddu Krishnamurti. The Mirror of Relationship. The collected works of J.Krishnamurti, 1936..1944.