The Futility of the Opposite

From Krishnamurti’s Book YOU ARE THE WORLD

In examining this thing called living, can we actually – not theoretically – put aside every form of psychological following, every urge to find somebody who will tell us what to do? How can a confused mind find somebody who will tell the truth? The confused mind will choose somebody according to its own confusion. So don’t rely or depend on another. If we do, we carry a heavy burden, the burden of dependence on books, on all the theories of the world; that is a tremendous burden and if you can put it aside then you are free to observe, then you have no opinion, no ideology, no conclusion, but can actually see ‘what is’. Then you can look, then you can say: ‘What is this conflict that one lives with?’

As one observes – and I hope you are also observing, not depending on the words of the speaker – you will see this conflict exists as long as there is contradiction in oneself, the contradiction of opposing desires; as long as there is the opposite, the ‘what is’ and the ‘what should be’. The ‘what’ should be’ is the opposite of ‘what is’ and ‘what should be’ is shaped by ‘what is’. So the opposite is also ‘what is’. Living is a process of conflict in which there is violence; that is ‘what is’, the fact. The opposite is ‘non-violence’, a state in which there is no conflict, no violence. The man who is violent is trying to become non-violent. It may take him ten years, or it may take him all the rest of his life to become non-violent, but in the meantime he is sowing the seeds of violence. So there is the fact of violence and the non-fact, which is non-violence, which is the opposite. In this contradiction there is conflict: the man trying to become something. When you can banish the opposite, not try to become non-violent, then you can actually face violence. Then you have energy which is not dissipated through conflict with the opposite. Then you have the energy, the passion, to find out ‘what is’.

Am I making this clear? You know, communication is quite arduous, but what is much more important than communication is communion: to commune together over this problem; that is, both of us at the same time, at the same level being intent to observe, to learn, to find out. Only then is there communion between two people, which goes beyond communication. We are trying to do both; we are not only establishing communication, but also at the same time we are trying to commune together over this problem. This is not propaganda, we are not trying to dominate you, or persuade you, or influence you, but merely ask you to observe.

Now I see that to observe, to see actually ‘what is’, is not possible when there is the opposite. The ideal is the cause of the contradiction and therefore of the conflict. When you are angry and you say ‘I should not be angry’, the ‘should not’ brings about a contradiction and therefore there is a division between anger and the pretence that one should not be angry. To admit your anger and to be aware, to see the significance of that anger, you need energy and that energy is dissipated through conflict and through the pursuit of the opposite. So can you leave the opposite altogether? This is very difficult, because the opposite is not only the ideal but also it is the process of measuring and comparing. When there is no comparison then there is no opposite.

You know, we are trained and conditioned to compare, to measure ourselves against the hero, the saint, the big man. To observe ‘what is’, the mind must be free of all comparison, of the ideal, of the opposite. Then you will see that what actually ‘is’, is far more important than what ‘should be’. Then you have the energy, the vitality, to put aside the contradiction which is brought about by the opposite. To be free of the process of comparison requires discipline and that discipline comes in the very act of understanding the futility of the opposite. To observe this closely, to see the whole structure and nature of this conflict, this very act of looking demands discipline; it is discipline. Discipline means learning and we are learning – not suppressing, not trying to become something, not trying to imitate, to conform. This discipline is extraordinarily pliable, sensitive.

Each one of us is examining this conflict. We said it arises through the opposite. The opposite is part of ‘what is’. The opposite is also ‘what is’. And as the mind cannot understand or resolve ‘what is’, it escapes into ‘what should be’. When you have put aside all that, then the mind is observing closely, what is’, which is violence (we are taking that as an example). So what is this thing we call violence? When there is no opposite to violence, when you are actually faced with that fact of anger, the feeling of hatred – then is there violence, is there anger? Go into it, if I may suggest, you will see it in yourself. I can’t go into it in too much detail because we have got to understand what death is, what love is; so we must proceed rather rapidly.

What we call living is conflict and we see what that conflict is. When we understand that conflict, ‘what is’ is the truth and it is the observation of the truth that frees the mind from ‘what is’. There is also much sorrow in our life and we do not know how to end it. The ending of sorrow is the beginning of wisdom. Without knowing what sorrow is and understanding its nature and structure, we shall not know what love is, because for us love is sorrow, pain, pleasure, jealousy. When a husband says to his wife that he loves her and at the same time is ambitious, has that love any meaning? Can an ambitious man love? Can a competitive man love? And yet we talk about love, about tenderness, about ending war, when we are competitive, ambitious, seeking our own personal position, advancement and so on. All this brings sorrow. Can sorrow end? It can only come to an end when you understand yourself, which is actually ‘what is’. Then you understand why you have sorrow, whether that sorrow is self-pity, or the fear of being alone, or the emptiness of your own life, or the sorrow that comes about when you depend on another.