Why Do We Depend?

From Krishnamurti’s Book FREEDOM FROM THE KNOWN

The cessation of violence does not necessarily mean a state of mind which is at peace with itself and therefore at peace in all its relationships.

Relationship between human beings is based on the image-forming, defensive mechanism. In all our relationships each one of us builds an image about the other and these two images have relationship, not the human beings themselves. The wife has an image about the husband – perhaps not consciously but nevertheless it is there – and the husband has an image about the wife. One has an image about one’s country and about oneself, and we are always strengthening these images by adding more and more to them. And it is these images which have relationship. The actual relationship between two human beings or between many human beings completely end when there is the formation of images.

Relationship based on these images can obviously never bring about peace in the relationship because the images are fictitious and one cannot live in an abstraction. And yet that is what we are all doing: living in ideas, in theories, in symbols, in images which we have created about ourselves and others and which are not realities at all. All our relationships, whether they be with property, ideas or people, are based essentially on this image-forming, and hence there is always conflict.

How is it possible then to be completely at peace within ourselves and in all our relationships with others? After all, life is a movement in relationship, otherwise there is no life at all, and if that life is based on an abstraction, an idea, or a speculative assumption, then such abstract living must inevitably bring about a relationship which becomes a battlefield. So is it at all possible for man to live a completely orderly inward life without any form of compulsion, imitation, suppression or sublimation? Can he bring about such order within himself that it is a living quality not held within the framework of ideas – an inward tranquillity which knows no disturbance at any moment – not in some fantastic mythical abstract world but in the daily life of the home and the office?

I think we should go into this question very carefully because there is not one spot in our consciousness untouched by conflict. In all our relationships, whether with the most intimate person or with a neighbour or with society, this conflict exists – conflict being contradiction, a state of division, separation, a duality. Observing ourselves and our relationships to society we see that at all levels of our being there is conflict – minor or major conflict which brings about very superficial responses or devastating results.

Man has accepted conflict as an innate part of daily existence because he has accepted competition, jealousy, greed, acquisitiveness and aggression as a natural way of life. When we accept such a way of life we accept the structure of society as it is and live within the pattern of respectability. And that is what most of us are caught in because most of us want to be terribly respectable. When we examine our own minds and hearts, the way we think, the way we feel and how we act in our daily lives, we observe that as long as we conform to the pattern of society, life must be a battlefield. If we do not accept it – and no religious person can possibly accept such a society – then we will be completely free from the psychological structure of society.

Most of us are rich with the things of society. What society has created in us and what we have created in ourselves, are greed, envy, anger, hate, jealousy, anxiety – and with all these we are very rich. The various religions throughout the world have preached poverty. The monk assumes a robe, changes his name, shaves his head, enters a cell and takes a vow of poverty and chastity; in the East he has one loin cloth, one robe, one meal a day – and we all respect such poverty. But those men who have assumed the robe of poverty are still inwardly, psychologically, rich with the things of society because they are still seeking position and prestige; they belong to this order or that order, this religion or that religion; they still live in the divisions of a culture, a tradition. That is not poverty. poverty is to be completely free of society, though one may have a few more clothes, a few more meals – good God, who cares? But unfortunately in most people there is this urge for exhibitionism.

Poverty becomes a marvellously beautiful thing when the mind is free of society. One must become poor inwardly for then there is no seeking, no asking, no desire, no – nothing! It is only this inward poverty that can see the truth of a life in which there is no conflict at all. Such a life is a benediction not to be found in any church or any temple.

How is it possible then to free ourselves from the psychological structure of society, which is to free ourselves from the essence of conflict? It is not difficult to trim and lop off certain branches of conflict, but we are asking ourselves whether it is possible to live in complete inward and therefore outward tranquillity? Which does not mean that we shall vegetate or stagnate. On the contrary, we shall become dynamic, vital, full of energy.

To understand and to be free of any problem we need a great deal of passionate and sustained energy, not only physical and intellectual energy but an energy that is not dependent on any motive, any psychological stimulus or drug. If we are dependent on any stimulus that very stimulus makes the mind dull and insensitive. By taking some form of drug we may find enough energy temporarily to see things very clearly but we revert to our former state and therefore become dependent on that drug more and more. So all stimulation, whether of the church or of alcohol or of drugs or of the written or spoken word, will inevitably bring about dependence, and that dependence prevents us from seeing clearly for ourselves and therefore from having vital energy.

We all unfortunately depend psychologically on something. Why do we depend? Why is there this urge to depend? We are taking this journey together; you are not waiting for me to tell you the causes of your dependence. If we enquire together we will both discover and therefore that discovery will be your own, and hence, being yours, it will give you vitality.

I discover for myself that I depend on something – an audience, say, which will stimulate me. I derive from that audience, from addressing a large group of people, a kind of energy. And therefore I depend on that audience, on those people, whether they agree or disagree. The more they disagree the more vitality they give me. If they agree it becomes a very shallow, empty thing. So I discover that I need an audience because it is a very stimulating thing to address people. Now why? Why do I depend? Because in myself I am shallow, in myself I have nothing, in myself I have no source which is always full and rich, vital, moving, living. So I depend. I have discovered the cause.

But will the discovery of the cause free me from being dependent? The discovery of the cause is merely intellectual, so obviously it does not free the mind from its dependency. The mere intellectual acceptance of an idea, or the emotional acquiescence in an ideology, cannot free the mind from being dependent on something which will give it stimulation. What frees the mind from dependence is seeing the whole structure and nature of stimulation and dependence and how that dependence makes the mind stupid, dull and inactive. Seeing the totality of it alone frees the mind.

So I must enquire into what it means to see totally. As long as I am looking at life from a particular point of view or from a particular experience I have cherished, or from some particular knowledge I have gathered, which is my background, which is the ‘me’, I cannot totally. I have discovered intellectually, verbally, through analysis, the cause of my dependence, but whatever thought investigates must inevitably be fragmentary, so I can see the totality of something only when thought does not interfere.

Then I see the fact of my dependence; I see actually what is. I see it without any like or dislike; I do not want to get rid of that dependence or to be free from the cause of it. I observe it, and when there is observation of this kind I see the whole picture, not a fragment of the picture, and when the mind sees the whole picture there is freedom. Now I have discovered that there is a dissipation of energy when there is fragmentation. I have found the very source of the dissipation of energy.

You may think there is no waste of energy if you imitate, if you accept authority, if you depend on the priest, the ritual, the dogma, the party or on some ideology, but the following and acceptance of an ideology, whether it is good or bad, whether it is holy or unholy, is a fragmentary activity and therefore a cause of conflict, and conflict will inevitably arise so long as there is a division between ‘what should be’ and ‘what is’, and any conflict is a dissipation of energy.

If you put the question to yourself, ‘How am I to be free from conflict?’, you are creating another problem and hence you are increasing conflict, whereas if you just see it as a fact – see it as you would see some concrete object – clearly, directly – then you will understand essentially the truth of a life in which there is no conflict at all.

Let us put it another way. 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.