I wish to explain this morning one idea, and if we can grasp it, not so much as a fact, but deeply and significantly, I think then it will have a profound value in our lives. So please help me by thinking with me.
Most of us have created a concept of reality, of immortality, of a constant, eternal something. We have a vague inclination to seek what we call God, truth, perfection, and we are constantly striving to realize these ideals, these conceptions. To help us to attain these objectives, we have systems, modes of conduct, disciplines, meditations and various aids. These include the paraphernalia of churches, ceremonies, and other forms of worship, and all these are supposed to help us to realize those conceptions of reality that we have created for ourselves. So we have set in motion the process of want.
Now, there is in us a perpetual want, a continual striving after satisfaction which we call reality. We try to mould ourselves after a pattern, according to a particular system of conduct, of behaviour, which promises to give us the satisfying understanding of what we call reality, happiness.
This want is quite different from search. Wanting indicates an emptiness, a trying to become something, whereas true search leads to deep comprehension. Before we can understand what is truth, reality, or know if there be such a thing, we must discern what it is that is constantly seeking. What is it that is ever in the movement of want ? What is it that is ever craving, pursuing attainment ? Until we have understood this, want is an endless process which prevents true discernment ; it is a constant striving without understanding, a blind following, a ceaseless fear with its many illusions.
So the question is not what is reality, God, immortality, and whether one should believe in it or not, but what is the thing that is striving, wanting, fearing and longing. What is it and why does it want ? What is the centre in which this want has its being ? What is the consciousness, the conception from which we start and in which we have our being ? From this we must begin our inquiry. I am going to try to explain this process of want, which creates its own prison of ignorance ; and please cross over the bridge of words, for the mere repetition of my phrases can have no lasting significance.
This thing that is continually wanting is the consciousness which has become perceptible as the individual. That is, there is an « I » that is wanting. What is the « I » ? There is a self-sustaining energy, a force which, through its development, becomes consciousness. This energy or force is unique to each living being. This consciousness becomes perceptible to the individual through the senses. It is at once both self-maintaining and self-energizing, if I may use those words. That is, it is not only maintaining, supporting itself through its own ignorance, tendencies, reactions, wants, but also by this process it is storing up its own potential energies ; and this process can be fully comprehended by the individual only in his awakened discernment.
You see something that is attractive, you want it, and you possess it. Thus there is set up this process of perception, want and acquisition. This process is ever self-sustaining. There is a voluntary perception, an attraction or repulsion, a clinging or a rejecting. The « I » process is thus self-active. That is, it is not only expanding itself by its own voluntary desires and actions, but it is maintaining itself through its own ignorance, tendencies, wants and cravings. The flame maintains itself through its own heat, and the heat itself is the flame. Now, exactly in the same way, the « I » maintains itself through want, tendencies and ignorance. And yet the « I » itself is want. The material for the flame may be a candle or a piece of wood, and the material for the « I » process is sensation, consciousness. This process is without a beginning, and is unique to each individual. Experiment with this and you will discern for yourself how real, how actual it is. There is no other thing but the « I », that « I » does not conceal anything, any reality. It is itself and maintains itself continually through its own voluntary demands and activities.
So this process, this continual process of want, creates its own confusion, sorrows and ignorance. Where there is a want there cannot be discernment. That is very simple if one thinks it out. You crave for happiness. You look to the means of getting it. Someone offers you the means. Now, your mind-heart is so blinded by the intense desire for happiness that it is incapable of discernment. Though you may think that you are examining and analyzing the means that is offered to you, yet this deep craving for satisfaction, happiness, security, prevents clarity of comprehension. So where there is a want there cannot be true discernment.
Through want we create confusion, ignorance and suffering, and then we set in movement the process of escape. This escape we call the search for reality. You say : I want to find God, I want to attain truth, liberation ; I seek immortality. You never ask yourself what is the « I » that is seeking. You have taken for granted that the « I » is something enduring, a something in itself, and that it is created by some supreme entity. If you examine profoundly you will discern that the « I » is nothing but self- accumulated ignorance,tendencies, wants, and that it does not conceal anything in itself.
Once you deeply grasp this, you will never ask : Must I get rid of all my wants ? Must I have no beliefs ? Must I have no ideals ? Must I be without desires ? Is it wrong to have any craving ? To understand this whole process of the « I », requires on your part real thinking and deep penetration through discernment. If you comprehend the arising, the coming into being of consciousness through sensation, through want, and see that from consciousness there is born the unit called the « I », which in itself does not conceal any reality, then you will awaken to the nature of this vicious circle. When there is an understanding of its significance, then there is a new comprehension, a new something that is not entrammelled by want, by craving, by ignorance. Then you can live in this world intelligently, sanely, in deep fulfilment, and yet not be of the world. Confusion arises only when you are made incapable of adjustment by your fantastic and harmful conceptions, ideals and beliefs.
If you can deeply comprehend this self-sustaining process of ignorance which gives a solidity to the « I », from which arise all confusion and suffering, then life can be lived fully, without the various subtle escapes and pursuits that, unknowingly, you have created for yourself. Then there comes into being that extraordinary something, a fullness, a bliss. But before this can take place, there must be a profound understanding of the « I » process ; unless there is this comprehension, the « I » process is ever creating a duality in itself through want. When there is discernment, then the pursuit of virtue, the attempt to unify yourself with a reality, with God, loses its significance. To discern this process, there cannot be the acceptance of any belief, there cannot be the pursuit of any ideal or the moulding of yourself after a pattern of conduct. You must discern for yourself, deeply and significantly, the cause of this misery, confusion and ignorance, through the arising of the « I » process. Then there comes into being a bliss that has no words for its measure.
Question : In ties of relationship, one may be compelled to do something which one does not care to do, by the very nature of the relationship. Do you think one can live completely in such ties ?
Krishnamurti : Before we can understand what it is to live fully, let us discover what we mean by relationship. Relationship is morality. Relationship implies a living contact, whether it be with the one or with the many. This relationship, this morality, becomes impossible when we, as individuals, are incapable of pliability. That is, if one is limited, limited through ignorance, tendencies, various forms of acquisition and want, there is a barrier, a hindrance which prevents living contact with another. As the other also has the same limitations, true relationship becomes almost impossible. Since there is not this living contact, we create a mode of conduct which we call morality, and try to force our behaviour to that morality, to that standard. If we understand relationship to be the true, profound comprehension of oneself, then we give to morality, to relationship, quite a different meaning.
Most of us think there should be codes, systems, disciplines for morality. They may be necessary for those who are incapable of deep thought ; but no one can judge who is incapable. Do not say such and such a one needs a code of discipline ; one has to discover for oneself this active morality, this living relationship, and that demands deep, creative pliability, which can be experienced only when individual limitations are deeply discerned and their causes understood. When your life is one of acquisitiveness and of want, then there must be a continual tension with the other, who is also acquisitive, and this prevents true relationship, whether it be between individuals or nations. And this tension leads to conflicts, wars and the many gross and subtle forms of exploitation.
If you are aware of your own particular demands, the many forms of acquisitiveness, and so comprehend the process of self-active ignorance, then there is no longer a choosing, a withholding, a rejecting, but these very cravings and wants wear themselves out, they drop off as leaves in the autumn. Then there can be true relationship, in which there is no longer the constant struggle to adjust oneself to another.
Question : By meditating on the Master one may realize the bliss of conscious union with him. In that state, all sense of self disappears. Is this not of great value in breaking down the limitations of the ego ?
Krishnamurti : Certainly not. It can never be. The question is wrongly put. Let us go into it.
First, let us understand what you mean by a Master. Unfortunately, a great many books have been written about Masters, initiations and discipleship, and many supposed spiritual societies have been formed around all this. There exist many swamis and yogis, who encourage and cultivate all these conceptions. You who are seeking satisfaction, which you call happiness, truth, become their tools and are exploited by these teachers, leaders, and their societies. A Master can be either a concept or an actuality. If it is a concept, a theory, it can never become dogmatic. Then it is open to speculation, to be discussed from the point of view of what is called evolution. So it must remain abstract and can never be used as an actuality for furthering certain activities, action, modes of conduct. Being an abstraction, it has not the stimulation of fear as reward and punishment. But this is not so with those who talk about the Masters and their work. They confuse the two, the abstract and the actual. One moment they talk about the abstract idea of Masters, and the next they make of them an actuality by telling you, the followers, what the Masters desire you to think and to do. So you are caught up in confusion, and curiously enough, it is your own wants that create this confusion. This process of making the Masters into actual entities comes slowly, through hints and messages, till you believe that your leaders have actually met the Masters, and that these beings have told them how to save humanity ; and you, through so-called devotion, which is really fear, follow the leaders and are exploited. So there is a constant mingling of the conceptual and the concrete.
Who is to judge what a Master is ? To some, a Master is a person who possesses extraordinary powers, and to others he may be one who reveals some special knowledge. But wisdom is not realized through another, either through a Master or through a scientist. You are judging someone to be a Master according to your own particular idiosyncrasies, prejudices and tendencies. This must be so, even with those who are supposed to represent the Masters. People are always judging others, whether called Masters or neighbours, according to their own peculiar background. You never question the background of the person who says that he represents the Masters, that he is their messenger, because you are seeking happiness, and you merely want to be guided, to be told exactly what to do. So you obey through fear, which you call love, intuition, voluntary choice or loyalty. You think that you have examined, analyzed, understood, and that you intuitively agree with what your particular leaders say. But you cannot truly discern, for you are being carried away by your own intense wants. So, unfortunately, people in this country, and elsewhere, fall into this trap of exploitation.
I do not want you to agree with me ; but if, without any want, you examine this whole idea of a Master leading you to truth, then you will see how foolish it is. If you have somewhat grasped what I have explained about the process of the « I », then you will not meditate on a Master, either in the form of what you call a high ideal or a higher self, or as an image, graven in your mind through pictures and propaganda. Such forms of meditation become merely subtle escapes. Though you may have some kind of sensation out of it and marvel at it and be thrilled by it, you will find that it has no validity, but only leads to a rigidity of mind-heart.
Meditation is constant awareness and pliability, not an adjustment to any standard or mode of conduct. Try to be aware of your own idiosyncrasies, fancies, reactions and wants in your daily life, and understand them ; out of that comes the reality of fulfilment. For this deep comprehension there cannot be any system. No Master can ever give it to you or lead you to it. If one claims he can, he is not a Master. The process of self-active ignorance and its discernment is unique to yourself. Another cannot free you from it. Beware of him who offers to destroy for you the walls of your limitation. If you really comprehend this, you will see what a significant change takes place in your life. Being free of fear, of want, which is so often called love, devotion, you are no longer exploited by churches, by societies supposed to be religious and spiritual, by priests, by the so-called messengers of the Masters, and by the swamis and yogis. True meditation is the discernment of one’s own unique process of creating and being caught in ignorance, and being aware of this process.
Question : The economic system cannot change until human nature changes, and human nature will not change so long as the system exists and encourages human nature to remain as it is. How, then, will the break come ?
Krishnamurti : Do you think that this system has come into being spontaneously, of its own accord ? It is created by human nature, as it is called. Human nature must first change and not the system. A system may help or hinder, but fundamentally the individual must begin to transform himself.
Surely, if all of you really thought profoundly about the whole question of war, for example, this murder on a grand scale, this murder in uniform, with decorations, shouts of joy and praise, with trumpets and banners, with blessings from priests, if you thought and felt deeply about this and perceived its cruelty and infantile absurdities, its appalling maltreatment of man, forcing him to become a military machine through the many exploiting means of nationalism and so on - if you, as individuals, really perceived this horror, surely you would refuse to be used for furthering war and exploitation. You, as individuals, would not be used, exploited through propaganda. You, as individuals, would lose all sense of nationality. How are we going to change any exploiting system, economic, religious or social, unless we begin with ourselves, unless we see profoundly the necessity for such a change - not just for a moment, during this meeting, but continually in our daily lives ? But when you feel the pressure of a system being exerted by your neighbour, by your bosses, by your employees, then it becomes very difficult for you to maintain this profound comprehension. So the mind-heart must perceive the utter necessity of freeing itself from its own apparently ceaseless wants. As this needs individual effort, which we dislike, we look to a system to help us out of this misery ; we hope that a system will force us to behave decently and intelligently. That way leads to regimentation and greater misery, not to deep fulfilment.
Unless you profoundly feel all this, and are making an effort to be free from your self-imposed limitations, the system will imprison you, the system will become a self-sustaining process. Though it is lifeless, it will be maintained by your unique individual energies. Here again there is a vicious circle. Want creates the system of exploitation, and the system maintains that want. So the individual is caught up in this machine, and he says : How am I to get out of it ? He looks to others to lead him out of it, but he will be led only to another prison, to another system of exploitation. He himself, through his ignorance and its self-active process, has created the machine that holds him, and it is only through himself, through his own discernment of the process of the « I », that there can ever be true freedom and fulfilment.
Question : In rare moments one is not conscious of oneself as a separate, thinking entity. However, most of the time one is conscious of oneself, and of presenting a resistance toward life. Please explain why there is this resistance.
Krishnamurti : Isn’t prejudice a resistance ? Prejudice is so deep-rooted - the prejudice of class, nationality, religious and other forms of belief. Such tendencies are forms of the « I » process. Until we discern this process of creating beliefs, prejudices, tendencies, there must ever be resistance to life. For example, if you are a religious person and have a strong belief that there is immortality, this belief acts as a resistance to life and hinders the very understanding of immortality. This belief is continually strengthening the barrier, the resistance, because it has its foundation in want. You think that for you, the individual, there is a continuity, an abode where you will be safe forever. This belief may be subtle or gross, but in essence it is a craving for personal continuity. As the vast majority of people have this belief, when reality begins to show itself they are bound to reject it and therefore resist it, and such resistance creates conflict, misery and confusion. But you will not relinquish this idea of immortality, because it gives you hope, encouragement, the deep satisfaction of security.
We have many prejudices, subtle and gross, and each individual, being unique, sustains his own ignorance through his volitional activities. If you do not comprehend fully, in all its entirety, this self-active ignorance, you are constantly creating barriers, resistances, and so increasing misery. So you must become aware of this process, and with that discernment there comes, not the development of an opposite, but the comprehension of reality.
The Mirror of Relationship
5th Talk in the Oak Grove 3rd May, 1936
Jiddu Krishnamurti. The Mirror of Relationship. The collected works of J.Krishnamurti, 1936..1944.