The Mirror of Relationship
1st Public Talk 14th May, 1944
Amidst so much confusion and sorrow it is essential to find creative understanding of ourselves, for without it no relationship is possible. Only through right thinking can there be understanding. Neither leaders nor a new set of values nor a blue print can bring about this creative understanding; only through our own right effort can there be right understanding.
How is it possible then to find this essential understanding? From where shall we start to discover what is real, what is true, in all this conflagration, confusion and misery? Is it not important to find out for ourselves how to think rightly about war and peace, about economic and social conditions, about our relationship to our fellowmen? Surely there is a difference between right thinking and right or conditioned thought. We may be able to produce in ourselves imitatively right thought, but such thought is not right thinking. Right or conditioned thought is uncreative. But when we know how to think rightly for ourselves, which is to be living, dynamic, then it is possible to bring about a new and happier culture.
I would like during these talks to develop what seems to me to be the process of right thinking so that each one of us is truly creative, and not merely enclosed in a series of ideas or prejudices. How shall we then begin to discover for ourselves what is right thinking? Without right thinking there is no possibility of happiness. Without right thinking our actions, our behaviour, our affections have no basis. Right thinking is not to be discovered through books, through attending a few talks, or by merely listening to some people's ideas of what right thinking is. Right thinking is to be discovered for ourselves through ourselves.
Right thinking comes with self-knowledge. Without self-knowledge there is no right thinking. Without knowing yourself, what you think and what you feel cannot be true. The root of all understanding lies in understanding yourself. If you can find out what are the causes of your thought-feeling, and from that discovery know how to think-feel, then there is the beginning of understanding. Without knowing yourself, the accumulation of ideas, the acceptance of beliefs and theories have no basis. Without knowing yourself you will ever be caught in uncertainty, depending on moods, on circumstances. Without knowing yourself fully you cannot think rightly. Surely this is obvious. If I do not know what my motives, my intentions, my background, my private thoughts feelings are how can I agree or disagree with another? How can I estimate or establish my relationship with another? How can I discover anything of life if I do not know myself? And to know myself is an enormous task requiring constant observation, meditative awareness.
This is our first task even before the problem of war and peace, of economic and social conflicts, of death and immortality. These questions will arise, they are bound to arise, but in discovering ourselves, in understanding ourselves these questions will be rightly answered. So those who are really serious in these matters must begin with themselves in understanding yourself you cannot understand the whole.
Self-knowledge is the beginning of wisdom. Self-knowledge is cultivated through the individual's search of himself. I am not putting the individual in opposition to the mass. They are not antithetical. You, the individual, are the mass, the result of the mass. In us, as you will discover if you go into it deeply, are both the many and the particular. It is as a stream that is constantly flowing, leaving little eddies and these eddies we call individuality but they are the result of this constant flow of water. Your thoughts-feelings, those mental-emotional activities, are they not the result of the past, of what we call the many? Have you not similar thoughts-feelings as your neighbour?
So when I talk of the individual I am not putting him in opposition to the mass. On the contrary, I want to remove this antagonism This opposing antagonism between the mass and the you, the individual, creates confusion and conflict, ruthlessness and misery. But if we can understand how the individual, the you, is part of the whole, not only mystically but actually, then we shall free ourselves happily and spontaneously from the greater part of the desire to compete, to succeed, to deceive, to oppress, to be ruthless, or to become a follower or a leader. Then we will regard the problem of existence quite differently. And it is important to understand this deeply. As long as we regard ourselves as individuals apart from the whole, competing, obstructing, opposing, sacrificing the many for the particular or the particular for the many, all those problems that arise out of this conflicting antagonism will have no happy and enduring solution; for they are the result of wrong thinking-feeling.
Now, when I talk about the individual I am not putting him in opposition to the mass. What am I? I am a result; I am the result of the past, of innumerable layers of the past, of a series of causes-effects. And how can I be opposed to the whole, the past, when I am the result of all that? If I, who am the mass, the whole, if I do not understand myself, not only what is outside my skin, objectively, but subjectively, inside the skin, how can I understand another, the world? To understand oneself requires kindly and tolerant detachment. If you do not understand yourself you will not understand anything else; you may have great ideals, beliefs and formulations but they will have no reality. They will be delusions. So you must know yourself to understand the present and through the present the past. From the known present the hidden layers of the past are discovered and this discovery is liberating and creative.
To understand ourselves requires objective, kindly, dispassionate study of ourselves, ourselves being the organism as a whole: our body, our feelings, our thoughts. They are not separate, they are interrelated. It is only when we understand the organism as a whole that we can go beyond and discover still further, greater, vaster things. But with out this primary understanding, without laying right foundation for right thinking, we cannot proceed to greater heights.
To bring about in each one of us the capacity to discover what is true becomes essential, for what is discovered is liberating, creative. For what is discovered is true. That is, if we merely conform to a pattern of what we ought to be or yield to a craving, it does produce certain results which are conflicting, confusing, but in the process of our study of ourselves we are on a voyage of self-discovery, which brings joy.
There is a surety in negative rather than positive thinking- feeling. We have assumed in a positive manner what we are, or we have cultivated positively our ideas on other people's or on our own formulations. And hence we depend on authority, on circumstances, hoping thereby to establish a series of positive ideas and actions. Whereas if you examine you will see there is agreement in negation; there is surety in negative thinking which is the highest form of thinking. When once you have found true negation and agreement in negation then you can build further in positiveness.
The discovery that lies in self-knowledge is arduous, for the beginning and the end is in us. To seek happiness, love, hope, outside of us leads to illusion, to sorrow; to find happiness, peace, joy within, requires self-knowledge. We are slaves to the immediate pressures and demands of the world and we are drawn away by all that and dissipate our energies in all that and so we have little time to study ourselves. To be deeply cognizant of our motives, of our desires to achieve, to become, demands constant, inward awareness. Without understanding ourselves superficial devices of economic and social reform, however necessary and beneficial, will not produce unity in the world but only greater confusion and misery.
Many of us think that economic reform of one kind or another will bring peace to the world; or social reform or one specialized religion conquering all others will bring happiness to man. I believe there are something like eight hundred or more religious sects in this country, each competing, proselytizing. Do you think competitive religion will bring peace, unity and happiness to mankind? Do you think any specialized religion, whether it be Hinduism, Buddhism or Christianity will bring peace? Or must we set aside all specialized religions and discover reality for ourselves? When we see the world blasted by bombs and feel the horrors that are going on in it; when the world is broken up by separate religions, nationalities, races, ideologies, what is the answer to all this?We may not just go on living briefly and dying and hope some good will come out of it. We cannot leave it to others to bring happiness and peace to mankind; for mankind is ourselves, each one of us. Where does the solution lie, except in ourselves? To discover the real answer requires deep thought-feeling and few of us are willing to solve this misery. If each one of us considers this problem as springing from within and is not merely driven helplessly along in this appalling confusion and misery, then we shall find a simple and direct answer.
In studying and so in understanding ourselves there will come clarity and order. And there can be clarity only in self-knowledge which nurtures right thinking. Right thinking comes before right action. If we become self-aware and so cultivate self-knowledge from which springs right thinking, then we shall create a mirror in ourselves which will reflect, without distortion, all our thoughts-feelings. To be so self-aware is extremely difficult as our mind is used to wandering and being distracted. Its wanderings, its distractions are of its own interests and creations. In understanding these - not merely pushing them aside - comes self-knowledge and right thinking. it is only through inclusion and not by exclusion, not through approbation or condemnation or comparison, that understanding comes.
Questioner: What is my right in my relationship to the world?
Krishnamurti: It is an interesting and instructive question. The questioner seems to put himself in opposition to the world and then asks himself what are his rights in relationship to it. Is he separate from the world? Is he not part of the world? Has he any right apart from the whole? Will he by setting himself apart understand the world? By giving importance to and strengthening the part will he comprehend the whole? The part is not the whole but to understand the whole the part must not set itself in opposition to it. In understanding the part the whole is comprehended. When the individual is in opposition to the world then he claims his rights; but why should he put himself in opposition to it? The attitude of opposition, of the I and the not I, prevents comprehension. Is he not part of the whole? Are not his problems the problems of the world? Are not his conflicts, confusions and miseries those of his neighbour, near or far? When he becomes aware of himself he will know that he is part of the whole. He is the result of the past with its fears, hopes, greeds, aspirations and so on. This result seeks a right in its relationship to the whole. Has it any right so long as it is envious, greedy, ruthless? It is only when he does not regard himself as an individual but as a result and a part of the whole that he will know that freedom in which there is no opposition, duality. But as long as he is of the world with its ignorance, cruelty, sensuality, then he has no relationship apart from it.
We should not use the word individual at all, nor the words mine and yours because they have no meaning, fundamentally. I am the result of my father and my mother and the environmental influence of the country and society. If I put myself in opposition there is no understanding; the combination of opposites does not produce understanding. But if I become aware and observe the ways of duality then I will begin to feel the new freedom from opposites. The world is divided into the opposites, the white and the dark, the good and the bad, mine and yours and so on. In duality there is no understanding, each antithesis contains its own opposite. Our difficulty lies in thinking of these problems anew, to think of the world and yourself from a different point of view altogether, observing silently, without identifying and comparing. The ideas which you think are the result of what others have thought in combination with the present. Real uniqueness lies in the discovery of what is true and being in that discovery. This uniqueness, joy and liberation which comes from this discovery is not to be found in the pride of possessions, of name, physical attributes and tendencies. True freedom comes through self-knowledge which brings about right thinking; through self-knowledge there is the discovery of the true which alone puts an end to our ignorance and sorrow.
Through self-awareness and self-knowledge peace is found and in that serenity there is immortality.
The Mirror of Relationship
1st Public Talk 14th May, 1944
Jiddu Krishnamurti. The Mirror of Relationship. The collected works of J.Krishnamurti, 1936..1944.