The Mirror of Relationship
3rd Public Talk 9th June, 1940
I was trying to explain last week the difference between greed and need. If we don't understand the difference between them there will be a constant conflict of choice. There is a different approach to the problem of craving and need instead of the usual control, denial, and choice; it is to understand the process of greed, to become aware of craving. Psychologically, inwardly, being impoverished, we want to enrich ourselves through accumulations and possessions, and thereby give to things a disproportionate value. In being aware, there is a deep understanding of the causes of this psychological poverty, of this lack of creative enrichment, and so there is a freedom from greed and its conflicts. In this process of awareness, in this inward search to understand the dependence upon things for one's satisfactions, pleasures, you will perceive, if you will experiment, that there is a different kind of will, not the will of conflicting resistances, but the will of understanding which is whole, complete. To experiment one must become aware of craving, greed, not theoretically, but in our daily life of relationship and action. It is only when we are really inwardly free from greed, not merely in our outward relationship and action, that there can be peace and disinterested action.
We have been trying to understand our craving for things, and now let us go into the question of our relationship with people, and through understanding this complex problem, the richness of life is revealed.
Is not all existence a question of relationship? To be is to be related. In our relationship there is conflict, not only between individuals, but also between the individual and society. Society is, after all, the relationship of the individual with the many; it is the extension, the projection, of the individual. If the individual does not understand his relationship with regard to things or with people he is immediately concerned with, his actions will produce conflict, personal as well as social. There is conflict in relationship and also there is the desire to isolate oneself, to withdraw from a relationship that causes pain. This isolation takes the form of either accepting new and pleasant relationships instead of the old, or withdrawing oneself into the world of ideas. If life is a series of events that will ultimately produce an isolation of the individual, then relationship is a means towards that end. But one cannot withdraw, for all existence is a form of relationship. So until one understands and is free from the causes of conflict within oneself, wherever one is, whatever the circumstances are, there must always be conflict. The idea of progressive isolation which man in his conflict longs for, calling it reality, unity, love, and so on, is an escape from reality which is to be understood only in relationship. There is in relationship conflict, and at the same time thought is seeking to withdraw from that conflict. One finds many ways of escape, but the cause of conflict is still there.
Why is there conflict between people? What is the reason of this conflict even among those who say they love each other? Now, is not all relationship a process of self-revelation? That is, in this process of relationship, you are being revealed to yourself, you are discovering yourself, all the conditions of your being, the ugly and the pleasant. If you are aware, relationship acts as a mirror, reflecting more and more the various states of your thoughts and feelings. If we deeply understand that relationship is a process of self-revelation, then it has a different significance. But we don't accept relationship to be a revealing process, for we are not willing to be shown what we are, and hence there is constant conflict. In relationship we are seeking gratification, pleasure, comfort, and if there is any deep opposition to it we try to change our relationship. So relationship instead of being a progressive action of constant awareness, tends to become a process of self-isolation. The way of desire leads to self-isolation and limitation.
When we are seeking merely gratification in relationship, critical awareness becomes impossible, yet it is only in this alert awareness any adjustment or understanding is possible. Responsibility in relationship, then, is not based on satisfaction, but on understanding and love. Not finding satisfaction in human relationship we often try to establish it in the realm of theories, beliefs, concepts. Love, then becomes merely an emotion, a sensation, an ideal conception, and not a reality, to be understood in human relationship. Because in human relationship there is friction, pain, we try to idealize love and call it cosmic, universal, which is but an escape from reality. To love wholly without fear, without possessiveness, demands an intense awareness and understanding which can only be realized in human relationship when thought is freed from craving and possessiveness. Then only can there be the love of the whole.
If we understand the cause of conflict and sorrow in our relationship, without fear, there comes into being a quality of completeness which is not mere expansiveness nor the aggregation of many virtues. We hope to love man through the love of God, but if we do not know how to love man, how can we love reality? To love man is to love reality. We find that to love another is so painful, so many complex problems are involved in it, that we think it is easier and more satisfying to love an ideal, which is an intellectual emotionalism, not love.
We depend on sensation for the continuance of so-called love, and when that gratification is withheld we try to find it in another. So what most often we are seeking is satisfaction of desire in our human relationship. Without understanding craving, there cannot be completeness of love. This again requires constant and intense awareness. To understand this completeness, this wholeness, we must begin to be aware of desire as greed and possessiveness. Then we shall understand the complex nature of desire and thus there will not only be a freedom from greed but also completeness that transcends intellect and its resistances. If we are able to do this with regard to things, then perhaps we shall be able to grasp a much more complex form of craving, which exists in human relationship. We must begin not from the heights of aspiration, hope and vision, but with things and people with whom we are in daily contact. If we are incapable of deep understanding of things and of people, we shall not understand reality, for reality lies in the understanding of the environment, things, and people. This environment is the product of our relationship to things and people; if the result is based on craving and its gratification, as it is now, to escape from it and seek reality is to create other forms of gratification and illusion. Reality is not the product of craving; that which is created through craving is transient; that which is eternal can be understood only through the lasting.
Questioner: Is it not sometimes very difficult to differentiate between natural human needs and the psychological desires for satisfaction? Krishnamurti: it is very difficult to differentiate. To do this, there must be clarity of perception. To be aware of the process of all outgoing desires, and in fully understanding them, natural human needs will intelligently be regulated, without undue emphasis. But you see, individually we are not interested in understanding the process of desire. We are not eager enough to find out if we can differentiate between human needs and psychological desires. One can discover this through critical awareness, through patient probing, but another's understanding of this problem is of little value to you; you will have to understand it for yourself. If you say that you will limit yourself to the minimum of things, you are not understanding the complex problem of desire; you are then merely interested in achieving certain results, which is to seek gratification on another level; but this does not solve the problem which desire creates.
What we are trying to do here is to understand the process of desire, not to put a boundary to craving. In understanding craving there comes a natural limitation of things, not a predetermined limitation brought about by the exertion of will. it is craving that gives to things their disproportionate values. Those values are based on psychological demands. If one is psychologically poor, one seeks satisfaction in things; therefore, property, name, family, become urgent and important, resulting in social chaos. As long as one has not solved this conflict of greed, mere limitation of things cannot bring about either social order or that tranquillity of freedom from craving. Through social legislation, greed cannot be destroyed; you may limit its expression in certain directions but even those limitations are overcome if craving is still the motive for man's action. Compensations that are offered by religions for giving up worldly things are still forms of craving. To be free from craving, one must patiently, tactfully, without prejudice, understand its complex process.
Questioner: last Sunday you said that if we could find out why we are angry instead of trying to control anger we would free ourselves from it. I find I am angry when my comfort, my opinions, my security, and so forth, are threatened; and why am I angry when I hear of injustice that concerns someone I don't know?
Krishnamurti: We have all, I am sure, tried to subdue anger but somehow that does not seem to dissolve it. Is there a different approach to dissipate anger? As I said last Sunday anger may spring from physical or psychological causes. One is angry, perhaps, because one is thwarted, one's defensive reactions are being broken down, one's security which has been carefully built up is being threatened, and so on. We are all familiar with anger. How is one to understand and dissolve anger? If you consider that your beliefs, concepts, opinions, are of the greatest importance, then you are bound to react violently when questioned. Instead of clinging to beliefs, opinions, if you begin to question whether they are essential to one's comprehension of life, then through the understanding of its causes there is the cessation of anger. Thus one begins to dissolve one's own resistances which cause conflict and pain. This again requires earnestness. We are used to controlling ourselves for sociological or religious reasons or for convenience but to uproot anger requires deep awareness a constancy of intention.
You say you are angry when you hear of injustice. Is it because you love humanity, because you are compassionate? Do compassion and anger dwell together? Can there be justice when there is anger, hatred? You are perhaps angry at the thought of general injustice, cruelty, but your anger does not alter injustice or cruelty; it can only do harm. To bring about order, you yourself have to be thoughtful, compassionate. Action born of hatred can only create further hatred. There can be no righteousness where there is anger. Righteousness and anger cannot dwell together. Anger under all circumstances is the lack of understanding and love. It is always cruel and ugly. What can you do if someone else acts unjustly, with hatred and prejudice? That act is not wiped away by your anger, by your hatred.
You are really not concerned with injustice, if you were you would never be angry; you are angry because there is an emotional satisfaction in hatred and anger; you feel masterful through hating and being angry. If in our human relationship there is compassion and forgiveness, generosity and kindliness, how can there also be brutality and hatred? If we have no love, how can there be order and peace? We desire to reform another when we ourselves are in need of it most. It is not another that is cruel, unjust, but ourselves. To understand this we have to be aware constantly. The problem is ourselves, and not another. And I tell you that when you look at anger in yourself and are beginning to be aware of its causes and expressions, then in that understanding there is compassion, forgiveness.
Questioner: In being completely dissociated from violence is it possible that my action can be dissociated? For example, if I am attacked, I kill for self-preservation as a part of violence. If I refuse to kill and let myself be killed, am I not still a part of violence? Is dissociation a matter of attitude rather than action?
Krishnamurti: Questions about violence in all its various forms will be understood if we can grasp the central cause of hatred, of the desire to hurt, of vengeance, of fear, and so on. If we can understand this then we shall know, spontaneously, how to deal with those who hate us, who wish to do violence to us. Our whole attention should be directed not to what we should do with regard to violence aimed at us, but to understand the cause of our own fear, hate, arrogance, or partisanship. In understanding this, in our daily life, the problem created by another cease to have much significance. You will solve the outward problem of violence by understanding the central problem of craving, envy, through constant critical awareness of your thought, of your relationship with another.
Questioner: To be fully aware, to be pliable, there must always be a great feeling of love. Not by effort can one feel love, nor become fully aware, so what should one do?
Krishnamurti: Now what is the effort involved in understanding, for example, our psychological cravings and natural needs? To understand deeply that all psychological dependence whether on things or on people creates not only social but personal conflict and sorrow, to understand the complex causes of conflict and the desire to be free from it, requires not the mere will to be free, but constant awareness in our daily life. If that awareness is the outcome of the desire to achieve a certain result, then the effort to be aware only produces further resistance and conflict. Awareness comes into being when there is the interest to understand but interest cannot be created through mere will and control. If you give true value to things only in order not to have conflict, you are living in a state of illusion, for then you do not understand the process of craving which creates conflict and pain.
The Mirror of Relationship
3rd Public Talk 9th June, 1940
Jiddu Krishnamurti. The Mirror of Relationship. The collected works of J.Krishnamurti, 1936..1944.