Jiddu Krishnamurti - Self-knowledge lies in the unfolding of Relationship
Jiddu Krishnamurti - As I was suggesting yesterday, we should be able to listen to what is being said without rejection or acceptance. We should be able to listen so that if something new is being said, we do not immediately reject it - which does not mean either that we must accept everything that is being said. That would be really absurd because then we would merely be building up authority, and where there is authority, there can be no thinking, feeling; there can be no discovery of the new. And, as most of us are inclined to accept something eagerly, without true understanding there is a danger, is there not, that we may accept without thought or investigation, without looking deeply into it.
This morning I may perhaps say something new, or put something differently, which you may pass by if you do not listen with that ease, with that quietness which brings understanding.
I want to discuss this morning a subject which may be rather difficult - the question of action, activity, and relationship. Then I will answer questions. But before I do that, we have to understand first what we mean by activity, what we mean by action. Because, our whole life seems based on action, or rather, activity - I want to differentiate between activity and action. We seem to be so engrossed in doing things; we are so restless, so consumed with movement, doing something at any cost, getting on, achieving, trying for success. And what is the place of activity in relationship? Because, as we were discussing yesterday, life is a question of relationship.
Nothing can exist in isolation, and if relationship is merely an activity, then relationship has not much significance. I do not know if you have noticed that the moment you cease to be active, there is immediately a feeling of nervous apprehension; you feel as though you are not alive, not alert, so you must keep going. And there is the fear of being alone - of going out for a walk alone, of being by yourself without a book, without a radio, without talking, the fear of sitting quietly without doing something all the time with your hands or with your mind or with your heart.
So, to understand activity, surely we must understand relationship, must we not? If we treat relationship as a distraction, as an escape from something else, relationship then is merely an activity. And is not most of our relationship merely a distraction and therefore but a series of activities involved in relationship? As I said, relationship has true significance only when it is a process of self-revelation, when it is the revealing to oneself in the very action of relationship. But most of us do not want to be revealed in relationship. On the contrary, we use relationship as a means of covering up our own insufficiency, our own troubles, our own uncertainty. So, relationship becomes mere movement, mere activity. I do not know if you have noticed that relationship is very painful and that as long as it is not a revealing process in which you are discovering yourself, relationship is merely a means of escape from yourself.
I think it is important to understand this because, as we were discussing yesterday, the question of self-knowledge lies in the unfolding of relationship, whether to things, to people, or to ideas. Can relationship be based on an idea? And, surely, any act based on an idea must be merely the continuation of that idea, which is activity. Action is not based on an idea. Action is immediate, spontaneous, direct, without the process of thought involved. But when we base action on an idea, then it becomes an activity; and if we base our relationship on an idea, then surely such a relationship is merely an activity, without comprehension. It is merely carrying out a formula, a pattern, an idea. Because we want something out of relationship, such relationship is always restricting, limiting, confining.
Idea is, is it not, the outcome of a want, of a desire, of a purpose. If I am related to you because I need you, physiologically or psychologically, then that relationship is obviously based on idea, is it not, because I want something from you. And such a relationship, based on an idea, cannot be a self-revealing process. It is merely a momentum, an activity, a monotony, in which habit is established. Hence, such relationship is always a strain, a pain, a contention, a struggle, causing us agony.
Is it possible to be related without idea, without demand, without ownership, possession? Can we commune with each other - which is real relationship on all the different levels of consciousness - if we are related to each other through a desire, a physical or psychological need? And can there be relationship without these conditioning causes arising from want? As I said, this is quite a difficult problem. One has to go very deeply and very quietly into it. It is not a question of accepting or rejecting.
We know what our relationship is at present - a contention, a struggle, a pain, or, mere habit. If we can understand fully, completely, relationship with the one, then perhaps there is a possibility of understanding relationship with the many, that is, with society. If I do not understand my relationship with the one, I certainly shall not understand my relationship with the whole, with society, with the many. And if my relationship with the one is based on a need, on gratification, then my relationship with society must be the same. Therefore, there must follow contention with the one and with the many. And is it possible to live with the one and with the many without demand?
Surely, that is the problem, is it not? Not only between you and me, but between me and society. And to understand that problem, to inquire into it very deeply, you have to go into the question of self-knowledge because without knowing yourself as you are, without knowing exactly what is, obviously you cannot have right relationship with another. Do what you will - escape, worship, read, go to cinemas, turn on radios - as long as there is no understanding of yourself, you cannot have right relationship. Hence the contention, battle, antagonism, confusion, not only in you, but outside of you and about you.
As long as we use relationship merely as a means of gratification, of escape, as a distraction which is mere activity, there can be no self-knowledge. But self-knowledge is understood, is uncovered, its process is revealed, through relationship - that is, if you are willing to go into the question of relationship and expose yourself to it. Because, after all, you cannot live without relationship. But we want to use that relationship to be comfortable, to be gratified, to be something. That is, we use relationship based on an idea, which means the mind plays the important part in relationship. And as mind is concerned always with protecting itself, with remaining always within the known, it reduces all relationship to the level of habit, or of security, and therefore, relationship becomes merely an activity.
So, you see that relationship, if we allow it, can be a process of self-revelation, but since we do not allow it, relationship becomes merely a gratifying activity. As long as the mind merely uses relationship for its own security, that relationship is bound to create confusion and antagonism. And is it possible to live in relationship without the idea of demand, of want, of gratification? Which means, is it possible to love without the interference of the mind? We love with the mind, our hearts are filled with the things of the mind, but surely, the fabrications of the mind cannot be love.
You cannot think about love. You can think about the person whom you love, but that thought is not love, and so, gradually, thought takes the place of love. And, when the mind becomes supreme, the all-important, then obviously there can be no affection. Surely, that is our problem, is it not? We have filled our hearts with the things of the mind. And the things of the mind are essentially ideas - what should be, and what should not be.
Can relationship be based on an idea? And if it is, is it not a self-enclosing activity and therefore inevitable that there should be contention, strife, and misery? But if the mind does not interfere, then it is not erecting a barrier, it is not disciplining, suppressing, or sublimating itself. This is extremely difficult because it is not through determination, practice, or discipline that the mind can cease to interfere; the mind will cease to interfere only when there is full comprehension of its own process. Then only is it possible to have right relationship with the one and with the many, free of contention and discord.
Source - Jiddu Krishnamurti Second Talk in The Oak Grove, 1949
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