Ceasing to Create Opposites

From Krishnamurti’s Book FREEDOM FROM THE KNOWN

We are always comparing what we are with what we should be. The should-be is a projection of what we think we ought to be. Contradiction exists when there is comparison, not only with something or somebody, but with what you were yesterday, and hence there is conflict between what has been and what is. There is what is only when there is no comparison at all, and to live with what is, is to be peaceful. Then you can give your whole attention without any distraction to what is within yourself – whether it be despair, ugliness, brutality, fear, anxiety, loneliness – and live with it completely; then there is no contradiction and hence no conflict.

But all the time we are comparing ourselves – with those who are richer or more brilliant, more intellectual, more affectionate, more famous, more this and more that. The ‘more’ plays an extraordinarily important part in our lives; this measuring ourselves all the time against something or someone is one of the primary causes of conflict.

Now why is there any comparison at all? Why do you compare yourself with another? This comparison has been taught from childhood. In every school A is compared with B, and A destroys himself in order to be like B. When you do not compare at all, when there is no ideal, no opposite, no factor of duality, when you no longer struggle to be different from what you are – what has happened to your mind? Your mind has ceased to create the opposite and has become highly intelligent, highly sensitive, capable of immense passion, because effort is a dissipation of passion – passion which is vital energy – and you cannot do anything without passion.

If you do not compare yourself with another you will be what you are. Through comparison you hope to evolve, to grow, to become more intelligent, more beautiful. But will you? The fact is what you are, and by comparing you are fragmenting the fact which is a waste of energy. To see what you actually are without any comparison gives you tremendous energy to look. When you can look at yourself without comparison you are beyond comparison, which does not mean that the mind is stagnant with contentment. So we see in essence how the mind wastes energy which is so necessary to understand the totality of life.

I don’t want to know with whom I am in conflict; I don’t want to know the peripheral conflicts of my being. What I want to know is why conflict should exist at all. When I put that question to myself I see a fundamental issue which has nothing to do with peripheral conflicts and their solutions. I am concerned with the central issue and I see – perhaps you see also? – that the very nature of desire, if not properly understood, must inevitably lead to conflict.

Desire is always in contradiction. I desire contradictory things – which doesn’t mean that I must destroy desire, suppress, control or sublimate it – I simply see that desire itself is contradictory. It is not the objects of desire but the very nature of desire which is contradictory. And I have to understand the nature of desire before I can understand conflict. In ourselves we are in a state of contradiction, and that state of contradiction is brought about by desire – desire being the pursuit of pleasure and the avoidance of pain, which we have already been into.

So we see desire as the root of all contradiction – wanting something and not wanting it – a dual activity. When we do something pleasurable there is no effort involved at all, is there? But pleasure brings pain and then there is a struggle to avoid the pain, and that again is a dissipation of energy. Why do we have duality at all? There is, of course, duality in nature – man and woman, light and shade, night and day – but inwardly, psychologically, why do we have duality? Please think this out with me, don’t wait for me to tell you. You have to exercise your own mind to find out. My words are merely a mirror in which to observe yourself. Why do we have this psychological duality? Is it that we have been brought up always to compare ‘what is’ with ‘what should be’? We have been conditioned in what is right and what is wrong, what is good and what is bad, what is moral and what is immoral. Has this duality come into being because we believe that thinking about the opposite of violence, the opposite of envy, of jealousy, of meanness, will help us to get rid of those things? Do we use the opposite as a lever to get rid of what is? Or is it an escape from the actual?

Do you use the opposite as a means of avoiding the actual which you don’t know how to deal with? Or is it because you have been told by thousands of years of propaganda that you must have an ideal – the opposite of ‘what is’ – in order to cope with the present? When you have an ideal you think it helps you to get rid of ‘what is’, but it never does. You may preach non-violence for the rest of your life and all the time be sowing the seeds of violence.

You have a concept of what you should be and how you should act, and all the time you are in fact acting quite differently; so you see that principles, beliefs and ideals must inevitably lead to hypocrisy and a dishonest life. It is the ideal that creates the opposite to what is, so if you know how to be with ‘what is’, then the opposite is not necessary.

Trying to become like somebody else, or like your ideal, is one of the main causes of contradiction, confusion conflict. A mind that is confused, whatever it does, at any level, will remain confused; any action born of confusion leads to further confusion. I see this very clearly; I see it as clearly as I see an immediate physical danger. So what happens? I cease to act in terms of confusion any more. Therefore inaction is complete action.