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Jiddu Krishnamurti on passion without a cause and facing Sorrow

Jiddu Krishnamurti - The last time we met here we were talking about fear and whether it is at all possible to be completely free of fear, which is the reaction that occurs when one is aware of danger. And this morning I would like, if I may, to talk about the ending of sorrow, because fear, sorrow, and what we call love always go together. Unless we understand fear we shall not be able to understand sorrow, nor can we know that state of love in which there is no contradiction, no friction.

To end sorrow completely is a most difficult thing to do, for sorrow is always with us in one form or another. So I would like to go into this problem rather deeply; but my words will have very little meaning unless each one of us examines the problem within himself, neither agreeing nor disagreeing, but simply observing the fact. If we can do this, actually and not just theoretically, then perhaps we shall be able to understand the enormous significance of sorrow and thereby put an end to sorrow.

Throughout the centuries, love and sorrow have always gone hand in hand, sometimes one predominating, and sometimes the other. That state which we call love soon passes away, and again we are caught up in our jealousies, our vanities, our fears, our miseries. There has always been this battle between love and sorrow; and before we can go into the question of ending sorrow, I think we must understand what is passion.

May I point out that we are not a privileged group of people who - being fairly well-to-do and having enough money to travel to a place like this - have come here merely to indulge in a form of intellectual amusement. What we are talking about is very serious, and one has to be very serious to go into it. By being serious I mean having the intensity, the drive to go to the very bottom of this thing called sorrow.

We are here to find out for ourselves whether it is at all possible to end sorrow completely, so that the mind is without a shadow, clear, sharp, capable of thinking without illusion. And we cannot do this if we merely live at the level of words, as most of us are apt to do. Concepts, patterns, ideals, words, symbols - these have an extraordinary meaning for most of us, and there we stop. We seem unable to break through the verbal level and penetrate beyond it, but to understand sorrow, one has to go beyond words. So, as I go into this problem of sorrow, I hope you also will examine it intensely and clearly, without sentimentality or emotionalism.

Now, unless we understand passion, I don't think we shall be able to understand sorrow. Passion is something which very few of us have really felt. What we may have felt is enthusiasm, which is being caught up in an emotional state over something. Our passion is for something: for music, for painting, for literature, for a country, for a woman or a man; it is always the effect of a cause. When you fall in love with someone, you are in a great state of emotion, which is the effect of that particular cause; and what I am talking about is passion without a cause. It is to be passionate about everything, not just about something, whereas most of us are passionate about a particular person or thing; and I think one must see very clearly this distinction.

In the state of passion without a cause, there is intensity free of all attachment; but when passion has a cause, there is attachment, and attachment is the beginning of sorrow. Most of us are attached; we cling to a person, to a country, to a belief, to an idea, and when the object of our attachment is taken away or otherwise loses its significance, we find ourselves empty, insufficient.

This emptiness we try to fill by clinging to something else, which again becomes the object of our passion. While I am talking, please examine your own heart and mind. I am merely a mirror in which you are looking at yourself. If you don't want to look, that is quite all right, but if you do want to look, then look at yourself clearly, ruthlessly, with intensity - not in the hope of dissolving your miseries, your anxieties, your sense of guilt, but in order to understand this extraordinary passion which always leads to sorrow.

When passion has a cause, it becomes lust. When there is a passion for something - for a person, for an idea, for some kind of fulfillment - then out of that passion there comes contradiction, conflict, effort. You strive to achieve or maintain a particular state, or to recapture one that has been and is gone. But the passion of which I am speaking does not give rise to contradiction, conflict. It is totally unrelated to a cause, and therefore it is not an effect.

Please, may I suggest that you just listen; don't try to achieve this state of intensity, this passion without a cause. If we can listen attentively, with that sense of ease which comes when attention is not forced through discipline but is born of the simple urge to understand, then I think we shall find out for ourselves what this passion is.

In most of us there is very little passion. We may be lustful, we may be longing for something, we may be wanting to escape from something, and all this does give one a certain intensity. But unless we awaken and feel our way into this flame of passion without a cause, we shall not be able to understand that which we call sorrow. To understand something, you must have passion, the intensity of complete attention. Where there is the passion for something - which produces contradiction, conflict - this pure flame of passion cannot be, and this pure flame of passion must exist in order to end sorrow, dissipate it completely.

We know that sorrow is a result; it is the effect of a cause. I love somebody, and that person doesn't love me - that is one kind of sorrow. I want to fulfill myself in a certain direction, but I haven't got the capacity; or if I have the capacity, ill health or some other factor blocks my fulfillment - that is another form of sorrow. There is the sorrow of a petty mind, of a mind that is always in conflict with itself, incessantly struggling, adjusting, groping, conforming. There is the sorrow of conflict in relationship, and the sorrow of losing someone by death. You all know these various forms of sorrow, and they are all the result of a cause.

Now, we never face the fact of sorrow; we are always trying to rationalize it, explain it away; or we cling to a dogma, a pattern of belief which satisfies us, gives us momentary comfort. Some take a drug, others turn to drink, or to prayer - anything to lessen the intensity, the agony of sorrow. Sorrow, and the everlasting attempt to escape from sorrow, is the lot of each one of us.

We have never thought of ending sorrow completely so that the mind is not at any time caught in self-pity, in the shadow of despair. Not being able to end sorrow, if we are Christians we worship it in our churches as the agony of Christ. And whether we go to church and worship the symbol of sorrow, or try to rationalize sorrow away, or forget our sorrow by taking a drink, it is all the same: we are escaping from the fact that we suffer. I am not talking about physical pain, which can be dealt with fairly easily by modern medicine. I am talking about sorrow, the psychological pain that prevents clarity, beauty, that destroys love and compassion. And is it possible to bring all sorrow to an end?

I think the ending of sorrow is related to the intensity of passion. There can be passion only when there is total self-abandonment. One is never passionate unless there is a complete absence of what we call thought. As we saw the other day, what we call thought is the response of the various patterns and experiences of memory, and where this conditioned response exists there is no passion, there is no intensity. There can be intensity only when there is a complete absence of the 'me'.

You know, there is a sense of beauty which is not concerned with what is beautiful and what is ugly. Not that the mountain is not beautiful, or that there is not an ugly building; but there is beauty which is not the opposite of ugliness, there is love which is not the opposite of hate. And the self-abandonment of which I am speaking is that state of beauty without cause, and therefore it is a state of passion. And is it possible to go beyond that which is the result of a cause?

Please do listen to this with complete attention. I may not be able to explain it very clearly, but do gather the meaning rather than stay with the words. You see, most of us are always reacting; reaction is the whole pattern of our life. Our response to sorrow is a reaction. We respond by trying to explain the cause of sorrow, or by escaping from sorrow, but our sorrow doesn't end.

Sorrow ends only when we face the fact of sorrow, when we understand and go beyond both the cause and the effect. To try to be free of sorrow through a particular practice, or by deliberate thought, or by indulging in any of the various ways of escaping from sorrow, doesn't awaken in the mind the extraordinary beauty, the vitality, the intensity of that passion which includes and transcends sorrow.

What is sorrow? When you hear this question, how do you respond? Your mind immediately tries to explain the cause of sorrow, and this seeking of an explanation awakens the memory of the sorrows you have had. So you are always verbally reverting to the past or going forward to the future in an effort to explain the cause of the effect which we call sorrow. But I think one has to go beyond all that.

We know very well what causes sorrow - poverty, ill-health, frustration, the lack of being loved, and so on. And when we have explained the various causes of sorrow, we haven't ended sorrow; we haven't really grasped the extraordinary depth and significance of sorrow any more than we have understood that state which we call love. I think the two are related - sorrow and love. And to understand what love is, one has to feel the immensity of sorrow.

The ancients talked about the ending of sorrow, and they laid down a way of life that is supposed to end sorrow. Many people have practiced that way of life. Monks in the East and in the West have tried it, but they have only hardened themselves; their minds and their hearts have become enclosed. They live behind the walls of their own thought, or behind walls of brick and stone, but I really do not believe they have gone beyond and felt the immensity of this thing called sorrow.

To end sorrow is to face the fact of one's loneliness, one's attachment, one's petty little demand for fame, one's hunger to be loved; it is to be free of self-concern and the puerility of self-pity. And when one has gone beyond all that and has perhaps ended one's personal sorrow, there is still the immense collective sorrow, the sorrow of the world. One may end one's own sorrow by facing in oneself the fact and the cause of sorrow - and that must take place for a mind that would be completely free.

But when one has finished with all that, there is still the sorrow of extraordinary ignorance that exists in the world - not the lack of information, of book-knowledge, but man's ignorance of himself. The lack of understanding of oneself is the essence of ignorance, which brings about this immensity of sorrow that exists throughout the world. And what actually is sorrow?

You see, there are no words to explain sorrow, any more than there are words to explain what love is. Love is not attachment, love is not the opposite of hate, love is not jealousy. And when one has finished with jealousy, with envy, with attachment, with all the conflicts and the agonies one goes through, thinking that one loves - when all that has come to an end, there still remains the question of what is love, and there still remains the question of what is sorrow.

You will find out what love is, and what sorrow is, only when your mind has rejected all explanations and is no longer imagining, no longer seeking the cause, no longer indulging in words or going back in memory to its own pleasures and pains. Your mind must be completely quiet, without a word, without a symbol, without an idea. And then you will discover, or there will come into being that state in which what we have called love and what we have called sorrow and what we have called death are the same. There is no longer any division between love and sorrow and death; and there being no division, there is beauty. But to comprehend, to be in this state of ecstasy, there must be that passion which comes with the total abandonment of oneself.

Sir, please don't take photographs. You ought to know better than that. This is not a political meeting, nor is it a gathering for entertainment, and it's pity to reduce it to that level.

Source - Jiddu Krishnamurti, 7th Talk in Saanen, 1962 - To Be Human

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