The Mirror of Relationship
4th Public Talk 16th June, 1940
In the last three talks I tried to explain the experimental approach to the problem of greed, an approach that is neither denial nor control but an understanding of the process of greed, which alone can bring lasting freedom from it. So long as one depends on things for one's psychological satisfaction and enrichment, greed will continue, creating social and individual conflict and disorder. Understanding alone will free us from greed and craving which have created such havoc in the world. We shall now consider the problem of relationship between individuals. If we understand the cause of friction between individuals and therefore with society, that understanding will help to bring about freedom from possessiveness. Relationship is now based on dependence, that is, one depends on another for one's psychological satisfaction, happiness and well-being. Generally we do not realize this but if we do, we pretend that we are not dependent on another or try to disengage ourselves artificially from dependence. Here again let us approach this problem experimentally.
Now for most of us relationship with another is based on dependence, economic or psychological. This dependence creates fear, breeds in us possessiveness, results in friction, suspicion, frustration. Economic dependence on another can perhaps be eliminated through legislation and proper organization but I am referring especially to that psychological dependence on another which is the outcome of craving for personal satisfaction, happiness, and so on. One feels, in this possessive relationship, enriched, creative and active; one feels one's own little flame of being is increased by another and so in order not to lose this source of completeness, one fears the loss of the other and so possessive fears come into being with all their resulting problems. Thus in this relationship of psychological dependence, there must always be conscious or unconscious fear, suspicion, which often lies hidden in pleasant sounding words. The reaction of this fear leads one ever to search for security and enrichment through various channels, or to isolate oneself in ideas and ideals, or to seek substitutes for satisfaction.
Though one is dependent on another, there is yet the desire to be inviolate, to be whole. The complex problem in relationship is how to love without dependence, without friction and conflict; how to conquer, the desire to isolate oneself, to withdraw from the cause of conflict. If we depend for our happiness on another, on society or on environment, they become essential to us; we cling to them and any alteration of these we violently oppose because we depend upon them for our psychological security and comfort. Though, intellectually, we may perceive that life is a continual process of flux, mutation, necessitating constant change, yet emotionally or sentimentally we cling to the established and comforting values; hence there is a constant battle between change and the desire for permanency. Is it possible to put an end to this conflict?
Life cannot be without relationship, but we have made it so agonizing and hideous by basing it on personal and possessive love. Can one love and yet not possess? You will find the true answer not in escape, ideals, beliefs, but through the understanding of the causes of dependence and possessiveness. If one can deeply understand this problem of relationship between oneself and another then perhaps we shall understand and solve the problems of our relationship with society, for society is but the extension of ourselves. The environment which we call society is created by past generations; we accept it, as it helps us to maintain our greed, possessiveness, illusion. In this illusion there cannot be unity or peace. Mere economic unity brought about through compulsion and legislation cannot end war. As long as we do not understand individual relationship, we cannot have a peaceful society. Since our relationship is based on possessive love, we have to become aware, in ourselves, of its birth, its causes, its action. In becoming deeply aware of the process of possessiveness with its violence, fears, its reactions, there comes an understanding, that is whole, complete. This understanding alone frees thought from dependence and possessiveness. it is within oneself that harmony in relationship can be found, not in another, nor in environment.
In relationship, the primary cause of friction is oneself, the self that is the centre of unified craving. If we can but realize that it is not how another acts that is of primary importance, but how each one of us acts and reacts and if that reaction and action can be fundamentally, deeply understood, then relationship will undergo a deep and radical change. in this relationship with another, there is not only the physical problem but also that of thought and feeling on all levels, and one can be harmonious with another only when one is harmonious integrally in oneself. In relationship the important thing to bear in mind is not the other but oneself, which does not mean that one must isolate oneself but understand deeply in oneself the cause of conflict and sorrow. So long as we depend on another for our psychological well-being, intellectually or emotionally, that dependence must inevitably create fear from which arises sorrow.
To understand the complexity of relationship there must be thoughtful patience and earnestness. Relationship is a process of self-revelation in which one discovers the hidden causes of sorrow. This self-revelation is only possible in relationship.
I am laying emphasis on relationship because in comprehending deeply its complexity we are creating understanding, an understanding that transcends reason and emotion. If we base our understanding merely on reason then in it there is isolation, pride, and lack of love, and if we base our understanding merely on emotion, then in it there is no depth, there is only a sentimentality which soon evaporates, and no love. From this understanding only can there be completeness of action. This understanding is impersonal and cannot be destroyed. It is no longer at the behest of time. If we cannot bring forth understanding from the everyday problems of greed and of our relationship, then to seek such understanding and love in other realms of consciousness is to live in ignorance and illusion.
Without fully understanding the process of greed, merely to cultivate kindliness, generosity, is to perpetuate ignorance and cruelty; without integrally understanding relationship, merely to cultivate compassion, forgiveness, is to bring about self-isolation and to indulge in subtle forms of pride. In understanding craving fully, there is compassion, forgiveness. Cultivated virtues are not virtues. This understanding requires constant and alert awareness, a strenuousness that is pliable; mere control with its peculiar training has its dangers, as it is one-sided, incomplete, and therefore shallow. Interest brings its own natural, spontaneous concentration in which there is the flowering of understanding. This interest is awakened by observing, questioning the actions and reactions of everyday existence.
To grasp the complex problem of life with its conflicts and sorrows one must bring about integral understanding. This can be done only when we deeply comprehend the process of craving which is now the central force in our life.
Questioner: In speaking of self-revelation, do you mean revealing oneself to oneself or to others?
Krishnamurti: One often does reveal oneself to others but what is important, to see yourself as you are or to reveal yourself to another? I have been trying to explain, that if we allow it, all relationship acts as a mirror in which to perceive clearly that which is crooked and that which is straight. It gives the necessary focus to see sharply, but as I explained, if we are blinded by prejudice, opinions, beliefs, we cannot, however poignant relationship is, see clearly, without bias. Then relationship is not a process of self-revelation.
Our primary consideration is: What prevents us from perceiving truly? We are not able to perceive because our opinions about ourselves, our fears, ideals, beliefs, hopes, traditions, all these act as veils. Without understanding the causes of these perversions we try to alter or hold on to what is perceived and this creates further resistances and further sorrow. Our chief consideration should be, not the alteration or the acceptance of what is perceived, but to become aware of the many causes that bring about this perversion. Some may say that they have not the time to be aware, they are so occupied, and so on, but it is not a question of time but rather of interest. Then in whatever they are occupied with there is the beginning of awareness. To seek immediate results is to destroy the possibility of complete understanding.
Questioner: You have used several times the word "training" in the past talks. As the idea of training with many of us is associated with control leading eventually to the possibility of rigidity and lifelessness, could you give a definition of this term? Is it to be understood in the sense of unflagging will, of alertness, adaptability and constant pliability?
Krishnamurti: Do we control ourselves out of fear? Do we control in order not to be hurt, to gain certain results and rewards? Is control the outcome of the search for greater and more lasting satisfaction and power? If it is, then it must lead to rigidity and lifelessness. Mere self-control does ultimately result in the sterility of understanding and love. Those who have merely by the exertion of will brought about self-control, will know of its dire results.
I am talking of understanding which transcends reason and emotion. In this understanding there is a natural and creative adaptability, an alert awareness and infinite pliability, but mere control does not create understanding. If we try to cultivate virtue, it is no longer virtue. Virtue is a by-product of understanding and love. Those who are greedy may train themselves not to be greedy through the mere exertion of will, but thereby they have not deeply understood the process of greed and so are not free from greed. They think by the aggregation of many virtues they will come to the whole. They seek to confine the whole vast expanse of life in virtues. To understand, there must be the clarity of purpose not established by another but which comes into being when one comprehends one's relationship to things and people. This experimental approach brings about that understanding which is not the result of mere control. If this inquiry is earnest and constant, then there will be a natural restraint without fear, without the will of expansive desires. This understanding is not partial but complete. Through constant awareness of the many obvious and subtle problems of greed there comes a definite and delicate pliability which, as I said, is a by-product of understanding and love.
Questioner: How does one cultivate virtues?
Krishnamurti: All cultivated virtues are no longer virtues. Understanding and love are of primary importance and virtues are of secondary importance. Duty, courage, charity, as virtues, are in the likeness of their own opposites and therefore, without understanding and love, they may be misused and become a source of grave danger. Take for example duty, as a virtue. This can be and is being brutally and tragically misused. Without understanding and love, virtues can become the instruments of barbarity and cruelty. Most of us have been conditioned by virtues, and as they are not of deep thought and understanding, those of us who are so limited are exploited by cunning and ambitious people. Without understanding the nature of greed, merely to cultivate its opposite does not free us from greed. What frees us from greed is to understand the process of craving and in doing this we will find that virtues naturally come into being. What is of primary importance then is understanding, in whose wake follows compassion.
Questioner: What do you mean by self-reliance?
Krishnamurti: Organized religions have not made us self-reliant for they have taught us to look for our salvation through another, through saviours, masters, deified personalities, through ceremonies, priests, and so on. Modern tendencies also encourage us to be psychologically non-self reliant, by insisting that collective action is of greater importance. Psychological regeneration cannot be brought about through the authority of tradition, group, or of another, however great; there cannot be self-reliance which alone can help us to understand reality, if we retain mass psychology. But there is a grave danger of this self-reliance turning into individualistic action, each for himself. Because the present social structure has been the result of this individualistic, aggressive action, we have its reaction in collectivism, the worship of the state. True collective and co-operative action can come into being only when psychologically the individual is self-reliant. As long as the individual is greedy, possessive in his relationship and depends for his psychological enrichment on beliefs, dogmas, and so forth, co-operative action, urged through economic necessity, only makes him more cunning, more subtle in his individualistic appetites for power and achievement.
We think that self-expression is a form of creativeness; we have intense longing to express ourselves, and so self-expression has assumed a great importance. I am trying to explain some of the problems involved in self-reliance and we must understand fully, if we can, the underlying significance in all this. When we rely psychologically on another, on a group, or on a leader for our understanding, for our hope, what takes place in us? Does it not create fear? Or being afraid do we not depend on others for our well-being? So fear is engendered or continues in both cases. But where there is fear, conscious or unconscious, intelligent understanding of life becomes impossible. Fear can only breed fear and so ignorance continues. This fear cannot be understood and dissolved except through one's own strenuous awareness.
If you think that understanding, love, can be given to you by another, then authority and belief become most important. Then dogma takes the place of self-reliant understanding. Where there is dogma there must be narrowness of mind and heart. The clash of dogma, belief, creates intolerance, cruelty. Self-reliance, in the deep psychological sense, is denied when you are pursuing compensatory religious or worldly promises and rewards. It is only when you are completely self-reliant, wholly independent of any saviour, master, is there serenity, wisdom, reality. Likewise when you merely rely for your social well-being on a particular group or organization, then you will become mere instruments in cunning and ambitious hands. This does not mean that social organizations should not exist, which would be absurd, but true co-operative social organizations of intelligent consent can exist only when there is deep, psychological self-reliance.
We are the result of the past, and without the critical comprehension of it, if we merely express it, then such self-expression or action can only continue ignorance and conflict. The ideas which we now have partly came from others who thought them and partly arise through present action and reaction. They are the result of craving, fear, possessiveness, and greed. As we are concerned with self-expression, we must ask ourselves what it is that is expressing itself. If I am a Hindu, I have certain beliefs, dogmas, social restrictions, a certain heritage, the result of my father's and my forefathers' craving, acquisitiveness, fear, and success, to which I have added my own conditioned experiences and knowledge. If I try to express myself as originally and fully as possible, what am I expressing? surely, am I not repeating, perhaps with modification and variations, essentially the limited thoughts and feelings of the past which I consider to be myself?
The expression of the self seems so vitally important to most of us. We are trying to express ourselves, according to space and time, and as we do not deeply understand what it is that is expressing itself, we are bound to create confusion, sorrow, antagonism, and competition. in other words, ignorance is expressing itself, creating further ignorance; and if thwarted in one of its expressions, we try to overcome that resistance through violence, anger, or other impetuous action. In its fullest scope and expression, the self, which is born of ignorance, must, when it acts from itself create its own bondages and sorrow. Without understanding the full implication of self-expression, self-reliance becomes merely the means to greater and greater expression of narrow individualistic and ignorant action.
Until we begin to break down this vicious circle of ignorance which only creates further ignorance, self-reliance cannot bring about release from sorrow. Yet to understand this continuity of ignorance and sorrow, each one must become utterly self-reliant to be able to probe into craving, fear, tendencies, memories, and so on. Mere self-expression is not creativeness and to be truly creative, one must understand the process of the self and so be free from it. Through earnest awareness as to what it is that is expressing itself, we begin to understand the limited causes of the past which control the present and in this strenuous understanding there comes a freedom from the cause of ignorance. True self-reliance, not the self-reliance for the purpose of mere aggressive expression of the self, can come about only through understanding the process of craving, with its limiting values, fears, and hopes; then self-reliance has great significance, for through one's own strenuous awareness there is a wholeness, a completeness.
The Mirror of Relationship
4th Public Talk 16th June, 1940
Jiddu Krishnamurti. The Mirror of Relationship. The collected works of J.Krishnamurti, 1936..1944.