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Jiddhu Krishnamurti (1895 - 1986)

The Mirror of Relationship

Eddington, Pennsylvania
3rd Public Talk 16th June, 1936

I am going to sum up what I have been saying during the talks and discussions that we have had here. I need not go into details, or point out the many implications, but these ideas when thought over deeply, will reveal to you their detailed significance.

Of course, there are those brutal and stupid exceptions, who are wholly at ease; or, fearful of their own personal safety, live without thought and consideration their minds are so padded, so invulnerable, that they refuse to be shaken by doubt or inquiry. They do not allow themselves to think; or if they do, their thoughts run along traditional lines. They have their own reward.

We are concerned, however, with those who are seriously attempting to comprehend life, with its miseries and apparently ceaseless conflict. We are concerned with those who, deeply realizing their environment, seek its true significance, and the cause of their suffering, of their transient joys. In their search they have become entangled, either in the mechanistic explanation of life, or in the explanations of faith, of belief. In these opposite explanations, mind has become involved and entrammelled.

The mechanistic view of life, rejecting everything that is not perceptible to the senses, maintains that man is a mere creature of reactions; that the mechanism of his being is kept going, as it were, by a series of reactions, not by force or energy capable in itself of bringing about action; that his development, his ideas and conceptions and his emotions are merely the result of outward impacts; that the adequate cause of each happening is simply a series of antecedent happenings. And from this it is argued that by controlling the happenings and man's reactions to these through the regimentation of his thought and action and through propaganda, he will be enabled to establish right relationship with his environment. That is, the regimentation and control of his various reactions will bring about events that will give man happiness.

Opposed to this stands faith. This view maintains that the adequate cause of man's existence is universal force, a force in itself divine, imperceptible to the senses. This transcendental force, this superintelli- gence, is ever guiding, watching, and it decrees that nothing shall ever take place without its being cognizant of the happening. From this, naturally, there arises the idea of predestination. If there is super-intelligence watching over you and guiding your actions, then you, the individual, have no great responsibility in life. Your destiny is predetermined, and so there can be no free will. If there is no free will, the idea of the soul and its immortality has no meaning. If that is so, then there is no reality or God or universal force. Faith destroys its own end.

Between these two opposites, the mechanistic view of life and that of faith, one vacillates, according to the personal inclination of the moment. Dependence on faith at one moment and at another on its opposite, has added to our confusion and sorrow.

Now, I say that there is another way of regarding our existence, and of truly comprehending it. Actuality is that which one experiences oneself. It has nothing to do with opposites, either with faith or with the rejection of that which is imperceptible to the senses. All existence is a process of energy which is both conditioned and conditioning. This energy in its self-acting, self-sustaining development, creates its own substance-material, sensation, perception, choice, and consciousness, from which arises individuality. This energy is unique to each individual, to each process which is beginningless.

Individuality or consciousness is the result of the process of this unique energy. With consciousness are compounded, ignorance and craving. This consciousness maintains itself by its own volitional activities born of ignorance, tendencies, craving. This self-sustaining process of individuality, which is unique, which has no beginning, is not, as it were, given an impetus, pushed forward, by another force or energy. It is a process which, at all times, is self-active through its own volitional demands, cravings, activities.

If you think this out very carefully and deeply, you will see that this has a totally different significance from the mechanistic view of life or that of faith. Those are theories based on the opposites, whereas that which I have explained is not of the opposites. You, as an individual, have to discover for yourself what is the true cause of existence, of suffering and its apparent continuance. As I said, actuality is that which one experiences oneself; one cannot experience a theory, an explanation. By allowing the mind to accept a theory, and to be trained according to that conception, one may have a series of experiences, but they will not be experiences of actuality. Belief or faith has given a certain training to the mind, and experiences based on it are not of actuality, being the product of presuppositions and convictions. Such experiences are merely the result of wish-fulfilment. To comprehend actuality, or to experience reality, there must be discernment. Discernment is that state of integrated thought-emotion in which all craving, choice has ceased; it is not a state induced through mere denial and suppression. All want, craving, perverts discernment, even the craving for reality. Want conditions thought-emotion and so makes it incapable of direct discernment. Hence, if the mind is prejudiced by any theory or explanation, or if it is caught in any belief, such as that of any religion or philosophy, it is utterly incapable of discernment.

So, one has to consider first, what are those tendencies and cravings which continue and perpetuate the "I" process. This deep consideration of the process of want and its results, this constant awareness in action, liberates the mind-heart from want, from those self-protective resistances that it has created for itself as security and comfort. For all want acts as an impediment to discernment; all craving distorts perception.

All craving, and any experience born from it, makes up the self-sustaining process of the "I". This "I" process with its wants and tendencies creates fear, and from this there arises the acceptance of comfort and security which authority offers. There are various kinds of authority. There is the authority of the outer, the authority of an ideal, and the authority of experience or memory.

The authority of the outer is born of fear which makes the mind-heart accept the compulsion of opinion, whether of the neighbour or of the leader, and the assertions of organized belief, called religion, with its systems and dogmas. These assertions and beliefs become part of one's being and consciously or otherwise one's thoughts and actions are adjusting themselves to the pattern established by authority.

Then there is the authority of an ideal, which prevents true self-reliance, born of comprehension of actuality. As you cannot understand this struggle and misery, you look to an ideal, to a concept, to guide you across this sea of confusion and suffering. If you carefully examine this want you will see that it is only an escape from actuality, from the conflict of the present. To escape from reality, from the now, you have the authority of an ideal, which becomes sacred through time and tradition. The authority of an ideal prevents the comprehension of the actual.

Then there is the authority of experience and memory. We are but the result of the process of time. Each one draws inspiration, guidance and comprehension from the past; the past acts as a background, the past is the storehouse of experience, and the mind has become merely a record of the various lessons of experience. These experiences, with their lessons, have become memories and these memories have become self-protective warnings. If you deeply examine the so-called lessons gained from experiences, you will see that they are merely the cunning desire for self-protection which guides you in the present. This cunning self-protective guidance prevents the comprehension of the living present. Thus experience adds to the storehouse more lessons, more memories, cunning knowledge by which to guide yourself in times of tribulation. But if you examine this so-called knowledge, you will see that it is nothing but self-protective memories stored up for the future and which become the authority that guides and directs action.

So, through craving, through want, there is engendered fear, and from this there arises the search for comfort and security, found in the authority of the outer, the authority of the ideal, and the authority of experience. This authority, in its various forms, maintains the "I" process, which is based on fear. Consider your thoughts and activities, and the way of your morality, and you will see that they are based on self-protective fear, with its subtle, comforting authorities. Thus, action born of fear is ever limiting itself, and so the "I" process is self-sustaining, through its own volitional activities.

To put it differently, there is the will of want, which is effort, and the will of comprehension, which is discernment. The will of want is ever in search of reward, of gain, and so it creates its own fears. On this is based social morality, and spiritual aspiration is but the attempt to establish protective relationship with the highest. The individual is the expression of the will of want and in the process of its activity, want is creating its own conflict and sorrow. From this the individual tries to escape into idealism, into illusions, into explanations, and so still maintains the process of the "I". The will of comprehension comes into being when there is the cessation of want with its ever recurring experiences.

If there is right comprehension of the fact that there cannot be true discernment as long as the will of want continues, this very comprehension brings the "I" process to an end. There is not another or higher "I" to bring this "I" process to an end; no environment and no divinity can bring this "I" process to an end. But the very perception of the "I" process itself, the very discernment of its folly, of its transient nature, brings it to an end.

The "I" process is self-sustaining, self-active through its own ignorance, tendencies, cravings. It has to bring itself to an end through the cessation of its own volitional wants. If you deeply understand the significance of this whole conception of the "I", then you will see that you are not the mere environment, opinion or chance, but the creator, the originator of action. You create your own prison of sorrow and conflict. Through the cessation of your own volitional activities, there is reality, bliss. Question: You have said that to comprehend the process of the "I" strenuous effort is required. How are we to understand your repeated statement to the effect that effort defeats awareness?

Krishnamurti: Where there is the effort of want, there is choice, which must be based on prejudice, on bias. Awareness is not born of choice, it comes into being when there is the perception of the transiency of the will of choice or the will of want.

By constant thoughtfulness and eager interest, the will of want is comprehended and there comes into being the will of comprehension. Where there is the will of want, there must be wrong effort, that effort which must ever produce confusion, limitation, and increase sorrow. Awareness is constant discernment of what is true. Sorrow, and the inquiry into its true cause, not the theoretical but the actual inquiry through experimentation and action, will bring about this awakened pliability of mind-heart. There is no one who does not suffer. He who suffers makes an effort to escape from actuality, and that escape only increases sorrow. But if through silent observation and patience, he discerns the true cause of suffering, that perception itself dissolves the very cause of suffering.

Question: Are you still as uncompromising as ever in your attitude towards ceremonies and the Theosophical Society?

Krishnamurti: Once you see an act to be wholly foolish, you do not revert to it. If you perceive deeply, as I did, the utter folly of ceremonies, then it can never again have any sway over you. No opinion, though it be of the many, no authority, though it be of tradition or of circumstances, can persuade differently one who has discerned its valuelessness. But as long as one does not see its significance completely, there is a going back to it. It is the same with regard to the Theosophical Society. The idea of organized belief, with its authorities, with its propaganda, with its conversion and exploitation, is to me fundamentally evil.

It is not important what I think about the Theosophical Society. What is important is that you shall find out for yourself what is true, what is the actual, not what you want the actual to be; and to comprehend the actual, the real, the true, without any doubt, you must come to it completely denuded of all want, of all desire for security or comfort. Then only is there a possibility of discerning that which is. But as most people are conditioned by want, by craving for security, for comfort, here and in the hereafter, they are utterly incapable of true perception.

Before you can understand what is true, either in the teachings of the Theosophical Society or of any other organization, you must first consider whether you are free from want. If you are not, these organizations, with their beliefs, will become the means of exploiting you. If you merely consider their teachings, then you will be lost in opinions, in explanations. So first begin to discern for yourself the process of craving which distorts perception and maintains the "I" process, and nourishes fear. Then these systems, these organizations, with their beliefs, threats and ceremonies, will have no significance at all.

Unfortunately we do not begin fundamentally. We think that systems and organizations are going to aid us in getting rid of our prejudices, sorrows and conflicts. We think that they will free us from our limitations, and so, through them, we hope to understand reality. This has never happened, nor ever will. No belief or organization can ever set man free from want, with its fears and agonies.

Question: What do you think will become of your soul after the body dies?

Krishnamurti: If the questioner examines the motive which prompted his question, he will see that it is fear. There is no fulfilment, no happiness, in the present, so he demands a future life of happiness and opportunity. In other words, the "I" is asking itself whether it will continue. To understand the significance of its desire for continuance, you must understand what the "I" is.

As I have tried to explain, faith destroys its own idea of soul. Faith maintains that there is a universal force, a supreme entity outside of man, directing, guiding man's existence, and determining his future. This conception, if you think it out fully, banishes the idea of the soul. If there is no soul, then you turn to the mechanistic view of life and thereby you are merely caught up in the opposites. Truth does not exist in the opposites. If you fully comprehended the significance of the opposites, with their implications, you would then discern the true process of the "I". Then you would see that it is a process of want, conceiving itself in fear, thus sustaining itself through itself. This fear prompts the "I" to ask itself if it has a continuance, if it shall live after the death of the body. The real question then is whether this limitation, the "I", the ego, passing through many experiences and gathering their lessons, finally becomes perfect. Can selfishness ever become perfect through time, through experience? The "I" can become bigger, more expanded, more rich in selfishness, in limitation, taking to itself other units of limitation and selfishness. But surely, this process must ever remain the "I" process, however expanded and glorified.

Whether this process continues or comes to an end depends on the comprehension of each individual. When you deeply discern that the "I" process is maintaining itself through its own limitations, its own volitional activities of craving, then your action, your morality, your whole attitude towards life undergoes a fundamental change. In that there is reality, bliss.

I can give explanations of the cause of existence and of sorrow. But a man who seeks an explanation will not discern reality. Definitions and explanations act merely as a cloud that darkens perception. This "I" process, about which I have spoken, can be to you but a theory. To discern its actuality you must experience it. To experience this, you must consider it critically, analyze it and experiment with it. The intelligent comprehension of it will alone bring about right action.