What Is the Source of Desire?

From Krishnamurti’s Book THE NETWORK OF THOUGHT

What is love? This is a very complex question; all of us feel we love something or other, abstract love, love of a nation, love of a person, love of god, love of gardening, love of overeating. We have abused the word love so greatly that we have to find out basically what love is.

Love is not an idea. Love of God is an idea, love of a symbol is still an idea. When you go to the church and kneel down and pray, you are really worshipping, or praying to, something which thought has created. So, see what is happening, thought has created it – actually this is a fact – and you worship that which thought has created; which means you are worshipping, in a very subtle way, yourself. This may seem a sacrilegious statement, but it is a fact. That is what is happening throughout the world. Thought creates the symbol with all the attributes of that symbol, romantic or logical and sane; having created it you love it, you become totally intolerant of any other thing. All the gurus, all the priests, all the religious structures, are based on that. See the tragedy of it. Thought creates the flag, the symbol of a particular country, then you fight for it, you kill each other for it; your nation will destroy the earth in competition with another nation, and so the flag becomes a symbol of your love. We have lived for millions of years that way and we are still extraordinarily destructive, violent, brutal, cynical human beings.

When we say we love another, in that love there is desire, the pleasurable projections of the various activities of thought. One has to find out whether love is desire, whether love is pleasure, whether in love there is fear; for where there is fear there must be hatred, jealousy, anxiety, possessiveness, domination. There is beauty in relationship and the whole cosmos is a movement in relationship. Cosmos is order and when one has order in oneself one has order in one’s relationships and therefore the possibility of order in our society. If one enquires into the nature of relationship one finds it is absolutely necessary to have order, and out of that order comes love. What is beauty? You see the fresh snow on the mountains this morning, clean, a lovely sight. You see those solitary trees standing black against that white. Looking at the world about us you see the marvellous machinery, the extraordinary computer with its special beauty; you see the beauty of a face, the beauty of a painting, beauty of a poem – you seem to recognize beauty out there. In the museums or when you go to a concert and listen to Beethoven, or Mozart, there is great beauty – but always out there. In the hills, in the valleys with their running waters, and the flight of birds and the singing of a blackbird in the early morning, there is beauty. But is beauty only out there? Or is beauty something that only exists when the ‘me’ is not? When you look at those mountains on a sunny morning, sparkling clear against the blue sky, their very majesty drives away all the accumulated memories of yourself – for a moment. There the outward beauty, the outward magnificence, the majesty and the strength of the mountains, wipes away all your problems – if only for a second. You have forgotten yourself. When there is total absence of yourself beauty is. But we are not free of ourselves; we are selfish people, concerned with ourselves, with our importance or with our problems, with our agonies, sorrows and loneliness. Out of desperate loneliness we want identification with something or other and we cling to an idea, to a belief, to a person, especially to a person. In dependency all our problems arise. Where there is psychological dependency, fear begins. When you are tied to something corruption begins.

Desire is the most urgent and vital drive in our life. We are talking about desire itself, not desire for a particular thing. All religions have said that if you want to serve god you must subjugate desire, destroy desire, control desire. All the religions have said: substitute for desire an image that thought has created – the image that the Christians have, that the Hindus have and so on. Substitute an image for the actual. The actual is desire – the burning of it and they think that one can overcome that desire by substituting something else for it. Or, surrender yourself to that which you think is the master, the saviour, the guru – which again is the activity of thought. This has been the pattern of all religious thinking. One has to understand the whole movement of desire; for obviously it is not love, nor yet compassion. Without love and compassion, meditation is utterly meaningless. Love and compassion have their own intelligence which is not the intelligence of cunning thought.

So it is important to understand the nature of desire, why it has played such an extraordinarily important part in our life; how it distorts clarity, how it prevents the extraordinary quality of love. It is important that we understand and do not suppress, do not try to control it or direct it in a particular direction, which you think may give you peace.

Please bear in mind that the speaker is not trying to impress you or guide and help you. But together we are walking a very subtle, complex path. We have to listen to each other to find out the truth about desire. When one understands the significance, the meaning, the fullness, the truth of desire, then desire has quite a different value or drive in one’s life.

When one observes desire, is one observing it as an outsider looking at desire? Or is one observing desire as it arises? Not desire as something separate from oneself, one is desire. You see the difference? Either one observes desire, which one has when one sees something in the shop window which pleases one, and one has the desire to buy it so that the object is different from ‘me’, or else the desire is ‘me’, so there is a perception of desire without the observer watching desire.

One can look at a tree. ‘Tree’ is the word by which one recognizes that which is standing in the field. But one knows that the word ‘tree’ is not the tree. Similarly one’s wife is not the word. But one has made the word one’s wife. I do not know if you see all the subtleties of this. One must very clearly understand, from the beginning, that the word is not the thing. The word ‘desire’ is not the feeling of it – the extraordinary feeling there is behind chat reaction. So one must be very watchful that one is not caught in the word. Also the brain must be active enough to see that the object may create desire – desire which is separate from the object. Is one aware that the word is not the thing and that desire is not separate from the observer who is watching desire? Is one aware that the object may create desire but the desire is independent of the object?

How does desire flower? Why is there such extraordinary energy behind it? If we do not understand deeply the nature of desire we will always be in conflict with each other. One may desire one thing and one’s wife may desire another and the children may desire something different. So we are always at loggerheads with each other. And this battle, this struggle, is called love, relationship.

We are asking: what is the source of desire? We must be very truthful in this, very honest, for desire is very very deceptive, very subtle, unless we understand the root of it. For all of us sensory responses are important – sight, touch, taste, smell, hearing. And a particular sensory response may for some of us be more important than the other responses. If we are artistic we see things in a special way. If we are trained as an engineer then the sensory responses are different. so we never observe totally, with all the sensory responses. We each respond somewhat specially, divided. Is it possible to respond totally with all one’s senses? See the importance of that. If one responds totally with all one’s senses there is the elimination of the centralized observer. But when one responds to a particular thing in a special way then the division begins. Find out when you leave this tent, when you look at the flowing waters of the river, the light sparkling on the swiftness of the waters, find out if you can look at it with all your senses. Do not ask me how, for that becomes mechanical. But educate yourself in the understanding of total sensory response.

When you see something, the seeing brings about a response. You see a green shirt, or a green dress, the seeing awakens the response. Then contact takes place. Then from contact thought creates the image of you in that shirt or dress, then the desire arises. Or you see a car in the road, it has nice lines, it is highly polished and there is plenty of power behind it. Then you go around it, examine the engine. Then thought creates the image of you getting into the car and starting the engine, putting your foot down and driving it. So does desire begin and the source of desire is thought creating the image, up to that point there is no desire. There are the sensory responses, which are normal, but then thought creates the image and from that moment desire begins. Now, is it possible for thought not to arise and create the image? This is learning about desire, which in itself is discipline. Learning about desire is discipline, not the controlling of it. If you really learn about something it is finished. But if you say you must control desire, then you are in a totally different field altogether. When you see the whole of this movement you will find that thought with its image will not interfere; you will only see, have the sensation and what is wrong with that?

We are all so crazy about desire, we want to fulfil ourselves through desire. But we do not see what havoc it creates in the world – the desire for individual security, for individual attainment, success, power, prestige. We do not feel that we are totally responsible for everything we do. If one understands desire, the nature of it, then what place has it? Has it any place where there is love? Is love then something so extraordinarily outside of human existence that it has actually no value at all? Or, is it that we are not seeing the beauty and the depth, the greatness and sacredness of the actuality of it; is it that we have not the energy, the time to study, to educate ourselves, to understand what it is? Without love and compassion with its intelligence, meditation has very little meaning. Without that perfume that which is eternal can never be found. And that is why it is important to put the ‘house’ of our life, of our being, of our struggles, into complete order.