The Mirror of Relationship
7th Talk in the Oak Grove 17th May, 1936
One must have often asked oneself if there is a something within us that has continuance, a living principle that has a permanency, a quality that is enduring, a reality that persists through all this transiency. In my talk this morning I shall try to explain what lies behind this desire for continuance, and consider whether there is really anything that has a permanency. I would suggest that you kindly listen to what I say, with critical thought and discernment.
Life is every moment in a state of being born, arising, coming into being. In this arising, coming into being, in this itself there is no continuity, nothing that can be identified as permanent. Life is in constant movement, action; each moment of this action has never been before, and will never be again. But each new moment forms a continuity of movement.
Now, consciousness forms its own continuity as an individuality, through the action of ignorance, and clings, with desperate craving, to this identification. What is that something to which each one clings, hoping that it may be immortal, or that it may conceal the permanent, or that beyond it may lie the eternal?
This something that each one clings to is the consciousness of individuality. This consciousness is composed of many layers of memories, which come into being, or remain present, where there is ignorance, craving, want. Craving, want, tendency in any form, must create conflict between itself and that which provokes it, that is, the object of want; this conflict between craving and the object craved appears in consciousness as individuality. So it is this friction, really, that seeks to perpetuate itself. What we intensely desire to have continue is nothing but this friction, this tension between the various forms of craving and their provoking agents. This friction, this tension, is that consciousness which sustains individuality.
The movement of life has no continuity. It is at every moment arising, coming into being, and so is in a state of perpetual action, flow. When one craves for one's own immortality, one must discern what is the deep significance of this craving and what it is that one desires to continue. Continuity is the self-maintaining process of consciousness, from which arises individuality, through ignorance, which is the outcome of want, craving; from this there is friction and conflict in relationship, morality and action. The "I" process that seeks to perpetuate itself is nothing but accumulated craving. This accumulation and its memories make up individuality, to which we cling and which we crave to immortalize. The many layers of accumulated memories, tendencies and wants make up the "I" process; and we demand to know whether that "I" can live forever, whether it can be made immortal. Can these self-protective memories become or be made permanent? Or, running through them like a solid cord, is there the permanent? Or, beyond this "I" process of friction, limitation, is there the eternal? We desire to make the accumulated limitations permanent, or we think that through these layers of memories, of consciousness, there exists a something that is everlasting. Or else we imagine that beyond these limitations of individuality there must be the eternal.
Again, can the memories of accumulated ignorance, wants, tendencies, from which arise friction and sorrow, be made to last? That is the question. We cannot deeply accept that there is running through individuality something which is eternal, or that beyond this limitation there is something permanent, for this conception can only be based on belief, faith, or on what is called intuition, which is almost always a wishfulfilment. From our inclinations, hopes and cravings for self-perpetuation, we accept theories, dogmas, beliefs, which give us the assurance of self-continuity. Nevertheless, deep uncertainty continues, and from this we try to escape by searching for certainty, by piling belief upon belief, by going from one system to another, by following one teacher after another, thereby merely increasing confusion and conflict.
Now, I do not want to create further beliefs or systems: I want to help you to discern for yourself whether there is continuity and understand its significance.
So, the important question is: Can the "I" process be made permanent? Can the consciousness of tendencies, wants and accumulated memories, from which arises individuality, be made permanent? In other words, can these limitations become the eternal? Life, energy, is in a perpetual state of action, movement, in which there can be no individual continuity. But, as individuals, we crave to perpetuate ourselves; and when you deeply discern what is individuality, you will perceive that it is nothing but the result of ignorance, maintaining itself through the many layers of memories, tendencies and wants. These limitations must inevitably cause sorrow and confusion.
Can these limitations, which we can call individuality, be made permanent? This is really what most people are seeking when they desire immortality, reality, God. They are deeply concerned with the perpetuation of their own individuality. Can limitation be made eternal? The answer is obvious. If one deeply discerns its obvious transiency, then there is a possibility of realizing the permanent, and in this alone there is true relationship, morality.
Now, if one can deeply discern the arising of the "I" process and become strenuously aware of the building up of limitations and their transiency, then that very awareness brings about their dissolution; and in that there is the permanent. The quality of this permanency cannot be described, nor can one search it out. It comes into being with the discernment of the transient process of the "I." The reality of the permanent can only happen, take place, and is not to be cultivated. One is either seeking the permanent, something that is enduring, beyond oneself, or one is trying to make oneself into the permanent. Both these conceptions are erroneous. If you are seeking the eternal beyond yourself, then you are bound to create and be caught up in illusions, which will only offer you means of escape from actuality, and in this there cannot be the comprehension of what is. The individual must be cognizant of himself, and in knowing himself, he will then be able to discern whether there is permanency or not. Our search for the eternal must lead us to illusion; but if, through strenuous effort and experiment, we can comprehend ourselves deeply and discern what we are, then only can there be the arising of the permanent - not the permanency of something outside of ourselves, but that reality which comes into being when the transient process of the "I" no longer perpetuates itself.
To many, what I say will remain a theory, it will be vague and uncertain; but if you will discern its validity or accept it as an hypothesis, not as a law or as a dogma, then you can comprehend its active significance in daily life. Our morality, conduct, concepts and longings are based fundamentally on the desire for self-perpetuation. The self is but the result of accumulated memories, which causes friction between itself and the movement of life, between the definite and the indefinite values. This friction itself is the "I" process, and it cannot be made into the eternal. If we can grasp this fundamentally, fully, then our whole attitude and effort will have a different significance and purpose.
There are two kinds of will - the will that is born out of desire, want, craving, and the will that is of discernment, comprehension. The will that is the outcome of desire is based on the conscious effort of acquisition, whether the acquisition of want or the acquisition of non-want. This conscious or unconscious effort of wanting, craving, creates the whole process of the "I", and from that arise friction, sorrow, and the consideration of the hereafter. From this process arises also the conflict between the opposites, and so the constant battle between the essential and the inessential, choice and choicelessness. And from this process there arise the various self-protective walls of limitation, which prevent the real comprehension of indefinite values. Now if we are aware of this process, aware that we have developed a will through the desire to acquire, to possess, and that that will is creating a continual conflict, suffering, pain, then there takes place, without conscious effort, the comprehension of reality which may be called the permanent.
To discern that want is present where there is ignorance and so brings about suffering, and yet not to let the mind train itself not to want, is a most strenuous and difficult task. We can discern that to possess, to acquire, creates suffering and perpetuates ignorance, that the movement of craving prevents clear discernment. If you think about it, you will perceive that this is so. When there is neither want nor non-want, there is then the comprehension of what is the permanent. This is a most difficult and subtle state to comprehend; it requires strenuous and right effort not to be caught between the opposites, renouncing and accepting. If we are able to discern that opposites are erroneous, that they must lead to conflict, then that very discernment, that very awareness, brings about enlightenment. To talk about this is very difficult, as whatever symbol one may use must awaken in the mind a concept, which has in it the opposite. But if we can discern fully that we, through our own ignorance, create sorrow, then there is not the setting up of the process of the opposite.
To discern demands right effort, and only in this right effort is there the comprehension of the permanent.
Question: All intelligent people are against war, but are you against defensive war, as when a nation is attacked?
Krishnamurti: To consider war as defensive and offensive will lead us only to further confusion and misery. What we should question is killing, whether in war or through exploitation. What is, after all, a defensive war? Why does one nation attack another? Probably the nation that is attacked has provoked that attack through economic exploitation and greed. If we deal with the question of war as defensive or offensive, we shall never come to any satisfactory and true solution. We shall be dealing only with acquisitive prejudices. There is such a thing as voluntarily dying for a cause; but that a group of people should send out other human beings to be trained to kill and be killed, is most barbarous and inhuman. You will never ask this question about war - in which there is the regimentation of hatred, mechanizing man through military discipline - and whether it is right to kill in defence or in aggression, if you can discern for yourself the true nature of man.
From my point of view, to kill is fundamentally evil, as it is evil to exploit another. Most of you are horrified at the idea of killing; but when there is the provocation, you are up in arms. This provocation comes through propaganda, through the appeal to your false emotions of nationalism, family, honour and prestige, which are words without deep significance. They are but absurdities to which you have become accustomed, and through which you exploit and are exploited. If you think about this deeply and truly, then you will help to break down all these causes that create hatred, exploitation, and ultimately lead to war, whether called offensive or defensive.
You seem to feel no vital response to all this. Some of you, being trained in religion, probably often repeat the phrase that one must love one's neighbour. But against others you have such deep rooted prejudices of nationalism and of racial distinctions that you have lost the human and affectionate response. One is so proud of being an American or belonging to some particular race, the class and racial distinction is so falsely and ruthlessly stimulated in each one of us, that one despises foreigners, Jews, Negroes, or Asiatics. Until we are free of these absurd and childish prejudices, wars of various kinds will exist. If you who listen with discernment to these talks, feel and act with comprehension and so free yourselves from those limiting, harmful and mischievous ideas, then there is a possibility of having a peaceful and happy world. That is not mere sentiment; but as this question of exploitation and killing concerns each one of you, you have to make strenuous efforts to free your mind from these self-imposed ideas of security and individual perpetuation, which create confusion and misery.
Question: Must we not have some idea of what is pure action? Merely becoming aware, even profoundly aware, seems to be a negative state of consciousness. Is not positive consciousness essential for pure action?
Krishnamurti: You want me to describe to you what is pure action; such a description you would call a positive teaching. Pure action is to be discerned by each one, individually, and there cannot be a substitution of the true in place of the false. Discernment of the false brings about true action. Mere substitution or having a notion of pure action must inevitably lead to imitation, frustration, and to the many practices that destroy true intelligence. But if you discern your own limitations, then out of that comprehension will come positive action.
If you experiment with this, you will see that it is not a negative attitude towards life; on the contrary, the only positive way of living, fulfilling, is to discern the process of ignorance, which must be present where there is craving, and from which arise sorrow and confusion. The mind seeks a definition with which to make a mould for itself in order to escape from those reactions which cause friction and pain. In this there is no comprehension. I have said this very often. Inwardly the "I" process, with its demands, cravings, vanities and cruelties, persists and continues. Through the comprehension of this process - not that it may bring you reward, happiness, but for itself - lies true and clear action.
Question: You have said that so-called spiritual organizations are obstacles to one's attainment of spirituality. But, after all, do not all obstacles that prevent the attainment of spiritual life lie within oneself, and not in outward circumstances?
Krishnamurti: Most of us turn to so-called spiritual organizations because they promise rewards; and as most of us are seeking spiritual, emotional or mental security and comfort, in one form or another, we succumb to their promises and become instruments of exploitation and are exploited. To discover for yourself whether you are caught in this self-created prison, and to be free of its subtle influences, demands great discernment and right effort. These organizations come into being and exist because of our craving for our own egotistic spiritual well-being, and our continuity and comfort. Such organizations have nothing spiritual about them, nor can they free man from his own ignorance, confusion and sorrow.
Question: If we are not to have ideals, if we must be rid of the desire to improve ourselves, to serve God and our less fortunate fellow-beings, what then is the purpose of living? Why not just die and be done with it?
Krishnamurti: What I have said concerning ideals is this: that they become a convenient means of escape from the conflict of life, and thus they prevent the comprehension of oneself. I have never said that you must not help your less fortunate fellow-beings. Now, ideals act merely as standards of measure; and as life defies measurement, mind must free itself from ideals so that it may comprehend the movement of life. Ideals are impediments, hindrances. Instead of merely accepting what I say and therefore saying to yourself that you must not have ideals, discern for yourself whether they do not cloud your comprehension. When the mind frees itself from preconceptions, explanations and definitions, then it is able to confront the cause of its own suffering, its own ignorance and its own limited existence. So the mind must be concerned with suffering itself, and not with what it can get out of life. The mere pursuit of ideals, the craving for happiness, the search for truth, God, is an indication of escape from the movement of life. Do not concern yourself with what is the object of living, but become aware and discern the cause of suffering; and in the dissolution of that cause there is the comprehension of what is.
Question: Will you please explain what you mean by the statement that even keeping accounts can be creative? Most of us think that only constructive work is creative.
Krishnamurti: Isn't it a matter of how you regard work, whether it is bookkeeping, tilling the ground, writing books, or painting pictures? To a man who is lazy and uninterested, all work becomes uncreative. Why ask what is and what is not creative work, whether painting a picture is more creative than typewriting? To fulfil is to be intelligent; and to awaken intelligence, there must be right effort. This strenuousness cannot be artificial; living must not be divided into work and inward realization. Working and inward life must be united. The very joy of right effort opens the door to intelligence. The discernment of the "I" process is the beginning of fulfilment.
The Mirror of Relationship
7th Talk in the Oak Grove 17th May, 1936
Jiddu Krishnamurti. The Mirror of Relationship. The collected works of J.Krishnamurti, 1936..1944.