Krishnamurti on Images
This week’s episode on Images has two sections.
The first extract (2:11) is from Krishnamurti’s first talk in Bombay 1966, titled ‘To establish right relationship is to destroy the image’.
The second extract (39:44) is from the fourth talk in Ojai 1977, titled ‘Observing without the image’.
The final extract this week (50:46) is from the first talk in New York City 1974, titled ‘In attention there is no image’.
To Establish Right Relationship Is To Destroy the Image
What do we mean by relationship? What does it mean, to be related? First of all, are we related? Relationship means contact, to be together, to be related, to be in immediate contact with another human being, to know all their difficulties, their problems, their misery, their anxiety, which is your own. And in understanding yourself you understand the human being and, therefore, bring about a radical transformation in society. The ‘individual’ has very little meaning, but the ‘human being’ has tremendous significance. The individual may change according to pressures, strains and circumstances, but his change will not radically affect society. The problems of man, not as an individual but as a human being who has lived for two million years, and much more, with his concepts, with his anxieties, with his fears, with his cunning, being face to face with death – the whole of that is the human issue. Unless we understand that, not as an individual but as a human being, there is no possibility of bringing about a different culture or society.
So a radical transformation of the human being is absolutely essential, because most of us are still animals. If you have observed animals, you will know how closely related we are! You observe the dog, a pet you know – how jealous he is! How he loves to be praised, to be petted and so on, like human beings. So there is a very close relationship between the animal and the human being. Unless that animal in us is completely transformed, do what you will – have the most extravagant ideologies, commit yourself to any political, religious or economic group – you are not going to solve the problem at all.
So we have to understand what relationship is. Are we related? Is one human being related to another? We mean by relationship, to be in contact intellectually, emotionally, psychologically. Are we in such contact? Or, is there contact, relationship, between the image that you have about yourself and the image you have about another?
You have an image about yourself, ideas about yourself, concepts, experiences and so on. You have your particular idiosyncrasies and tendencies – all that has built an image about yourself. Please listen to it, observe it in yourself. Do not, as I said, merely listen to words; they have little meaning. But in hearing the words, if the words reveal your own consciousness, your own state, then the words have meaning. If you observe, you have an image about yourself: that you are this, you are that; that you had this experience and that experience; that you are ugly or you are beautiful; that you want to be this or you want to be that. You have an image, an idea, a conclusion about yourself: that you are spiritual, that you are the Atman, that you are the soul, or whatever it is. You have an image carved by the mind, or carved through your experience, through tradition, through circumstances, through strange pressures. There is that image of yourself, and the other person also has an image about himself. So these two images come into contact, and that is what we call relationship. Whether it is the most intimate relationship between a husband and wife, or the image that you have created about Russia, about America, about Vietnam, about this or that, the contact between the two images is what we call relationship. Please do follow this. That is all the relationship we know.
You have an image about yourself and you have created an image about another, whether he is American, Russian, Chinese, or this or that. You have an image about the Pakistani, you have an image about the Hindu, an image with a line called the frontier, and you are willing to kill each other for the sake of that image. And that image is strengthened through a flag, through the national spirit, through hatred and so on. So you are willing – please listen – to kill each other for the sake of a word, an idea, an image. The Chinese have an image about themselves, and they are willing to destroy anybody else for the sake of that image. There have been in the history of man, I believe, something like two-and-a-half wars every year.
Man has not solved the problem of war. The first woman or father must have cried out at the first battle. We are still crying. For us who are living in Bombay, far away from the frontier, war has very little meaning. But to everyone as a human being, war is a problem whether it is fought in Vietnam, Russia, Pakistan or India. It is a problem of relationship. This country, which has talked about non-violence, which has preached ahimsa, ‘don’t kill’, for years, forgets it overnight and is willing to kill, because it has an image about the other. And the other has an image about this country. And it is very strange if you come to think of it, if you observe, that in this country which has talked about peace, non-violence, morality, so-called spirituality, there has not been one human being who has said, ‘I will not fight’ – not whisper among friends but shout it aloud, as other people have done.
So all this shows what a terrible decline there is. Unless there is a radical revolution in our relationship, we will not have peace. And peace is absolutely necessary – not the peace of the politician, not the peace between two wars, not the peace between two quarrels, not the peace somewhere in faraway heaven, but peace here on this earth, between you and me. We must have it. Because unless you have peace, unless there is this extraordinary thing in your heart and mind, you cannot possibly blossom in goodness, you cannot flower in beauty, you cannot see the sky, you cannot see the beauty of the earth. If there is conflict in you, you cannot see anything. So peace, the thing that man has sought – not through some meditation, books and all that; we will come to all that later – is peace in relationship, so that two human beings can work together, think together, solve the problems together. We may stop wars because of the atom bomb or the new kind of bombs that may be developed, but that does not ensure this peace.
This peace can only come about when there is in each one of us the understanding of relationship and the complete transformation in that relationship. So we must understand what this relationship means as it is, factually and not theoretically. It is the relationship of two images and nothing else? There is no love between two images. How can I love you and you love me if you have an image about me, if you have ideas about me? If I have hurt you, if I have pushed you, if I have been ambitious, clever, and gone ahead of you, how can you love me? How can I love you if you threaten my position, my job, if you run away with my wife? If you belong to one country and I to another, if you belong to one sect – Hinduism or Buddhism or Catholicism and the rest of it – and I am a Muslim, how can we love each other? So unless there is a radical transformation in relationship, there cannot possibly be peace. By becoming a monk or sannyasi and running away to the hills, you are not going to solve your problems. Because wherever you live, whether in a monastery, cave or mountain, you are related. You cannot possibly isolate yourself, either, from your own image which you have created about God, about truth or from your own image about your own self, and all the rest of it.
So to establish right relationship is to destroy the image. Do you understand what it means to destroy the image? It means to destroy the image about yourself: that you are a Hindu, that I am a Pakistani, a Muslim, a Catholic, a Jew or a communist, and so on. You have to destroy the machinery that creates the image – the machinery that is in you and the machinery that is in the other. Otherwise, you may destroy one image, and the machinery will create another image. So one has not only to find out the existence of the image – that is to be aware of your particular image – but also to be aware of what the machinery is that creates the image.
Now let us see what that machinery is. That is, first one has to be conscious, to be aware, to know – not verbally, not intellectually, but actually know as a fact – the existence of this image. It is one of the most difficult things because to know the image implies a great deal. You can know, you can observe that microphone; that is a fact. You may call it by different names, but if we understand what you call by these names, then we see the fact of it. So there is no interpretation there – we both know it is a microphone. But it is a different thing to understand the image without interpretation, to see the fact of that image without the observer, because the observer is the image-maker and the image is the thought of the observer. This is a very complex thing. You cannot just say, ‘I will destroy the image,’ and meditate about it, or do some kind of trick, or hypnotise yourself that you can destroy the image – it is not possible. It requires tremendous understanding. It requires great attention and exploration, not a conclusion at any time. One who is exploring can never come to a conclusion. And life is an immense river that is flowing, moving incessantly. Unless you follow it freely, with delight, with sensitivity, with great joy, you don’t see the full beauty, the volume, the quality of that river. So we must understand this problem.
When we use the word ‘understand’, we mean by that word: not intellectually. Perhaps you have understood the word ‘image’, how it is created by knowledge, by experience, by tradition, by the various strains and stresses in family life, work in the office, the insults – all that makes up the image. What is the machinery that makes that image? The image must be put together, the image must be maintained, otherwise it will collapse. So you must find out for yourself how this machinery works. And when you understand the nature of the machinery and the significance of that machinery, then the image itself ceases to be – the image, not only the conscious image, the image that you have of yourself consciously, and are aware of superficially, but also the image deep down; the whole of it. I hope I am making this thing clear.
One has to go into and find out how the image comes into being, and if it is possible to stop the machinery that creates it. Then only is there a relationship between human beings – it will not be between two images which are dead entities. It is very simple. You flatter me, you respect me, and I have an image about you, through insult, through flattery. I have experience – pain, death, misery, conflict, hunger, loneliness – all that creates an image in me. I am that image. Not that I am the image, not that the image and me are different, but the ‘me’ is that image, the thinker is that image. It is the thinker that creates the image. Through his responses, through his reactions – physical, psychological, intellectual and so on – the thinker, the observer, the experiencer, creates that image through memory, through thought. So the machinery is thinking; the machinery comes into existence through thought. And thought is necessary, otherwise you cannot exist.
So first see the problem. Thought creates the thinker. The thinker begins to create the image about himself: he is the Atman, he is God, he is the soul, he is a Brahmin, he is a non-Brahmin, he is a Muslim, he is a Hindu, and the rest of it. He creates the image and he lives in it. So thinking is the beginning of this machinery. And you will say, ‘How can I stop thinking?’ You cannot. But one can think and not create the image. One can observe that one is a communist or a Muslim. You can observe this, but why should you create an image about yourself? You only create an image about me as a Muslim, as a communist or whatever it is, because you have an image about yourself, which judges me. But if you had no image about yourself, then you would look at me, observe me without creating an image about me. That is why this requires a great deal of attention, a great deal of observation of your own thoughts and feelings.
So one begins to see that most of our relationship is actually based on this image-formation; and having formed the image, one establishes or hopes to establish a relationship between two images. And naturally, there is no relationship between images. If you have an opinion about me and if I have an opinion about you, how can we have any relationship? Relationship exists only when it is free, when there is freedom from this image-formation. Only when this image is broken up, and the image-formation ceases, will there be the ending of conflict, the total ending of conflict. Then only will there be peace, not only inwardly but also outwardly. It is only when you have established that peace inwardly, that the mind, being free, can go very far.
Freedom can only exist when the mind is not in conflict. Most of us are in conflict, unless we are dead. You hypnotise yourself, or identify yourself with some cause, some commitment, some philosophy, some sect, or some belief – you are so identified that you are just mesmerised and you live in a state of sleep. Most of us are in conflict; the ending of that conflict is freedom. With conflict you cannot have freedom. You may seek, you may want it, but you can never have it.
So relationship means the ending of the machinery which puts together the image; and with the ending of that machinery, right relationship is established. Therefore there is the ending of conflict. And when there is the end of conflict, there is freedom, actual freedom, not as an idea but the actual state as a fact. Then in that state of freedom, the mind, which is no longer twisted, no longer tortured, which is not biased, which is not given to any fancy, any illusion, any mystical conception, or vision, that mind can go very far. Far, not in time or space – because there is no space and time when there is freedom. I am using the words ‘very far’ in the sense that then we can discover… – these are words which really have no meaning – then in that freedom there is a state of emptiness, a state of joy, a bliss which no God, no religion, no book can give you.
That is why unless this relationship is established between you and your wife, your neighbour, your society, between you and other people, you will never have peace, and therefore no freedom. And as a human being, not as an individual, you can then transform society. Not the socialist, not the communist – nobody will do it. Only the one that has understood what right relationship is can bring about a society in which a human being can live without conflict.
Krishnamurti in Bombay 1966, Talk 1
Observing Without the Image
Can we observe a person with whom we have lived intimately without the image, without the picture, without the idea? Can you do it? Perhaps we are able to perceive that thing which we call the tree without the word. That is fairly easy. If you have gone into it, that is fairly easy. But to observe a person with whom you have lived, and observe without the accumulation of memory about that person. If you have gone into it, if you are interested in it… – no, first of all, this observation through the image, through the picture, through the sensations and all the rest of it, through this accumulated memory, is no relationship at all. It is a relationship of one picture with another picture, and that is what we call relationship. But when you examine it closely it is not relationship – it is my idea and your idea.
So can we in the observation not make an abstraction of what we observe as an idea? You are following all this? Don’t be puzzled. You are not used to all this, are you? So this is what we mean by psychological knowledge. That is, I have built up psychologically a great deal of information about my wife – if I have a wife – or a girlfriend. I have built up this knowledge about her, correctly or incorrectly, depending on my sensitivity, depending on my ambition, greed, envy and all that, depending on my self-centred activity. So that knowledge is preventing actual observation of the person, which is a living thing. So I never want to meet that living thing because I am afraid. It is much safer to have an image about that person rather than to see the living thing.
So my psychological knowledge is going to prevent pure observation. So can one be free of that? Can the machinery that builds these images come to an end? Then you will say, ‘How am I to end it? I have got an image about my friend,’ or whatever it is, ‘and it is there, like a tremendous fact, like a stone round my neck. How am I to throw it away?’ Is the stone, the image (laughs) around one’s neck different from the observer? I am going slowly into this. Is that image, that weight around your neck, different from the observer who says, ‘I have an image’? I wonder if you catch this. You understand my question? Meet me, let’s talk together, move.
Is the observer who says, ‘I have the image,’ and says, ‘How am I to get rid of it?’ – is that observer different from the thing he has observed? You follow? Obviously not. Right? So the observer is the image-maker. I wonder if you see that. Right? Do you meet this?
So what is the observer? Who is this observer that is making the image, and then separating himself from the image, and then saying, ‘What am I to do about it?’ You understand? That is the way we live, that is the pattern of our action, and that is our conditioning to which we are so accustomed, so naturally accept.
So we are saying something entirely different, which is, the observer is the observed. Let me go into it a little more. I observe the tree but I am not the tree – thank God! That would be too stupid to say, I am the tree, or I have identified myself with the tree, and so on. All this process of identification is still the observer trying to be something, or become something. So we have to inquire into what is the observer, who is the observer. The observer is the result of all the past knowledge. His experience, his knowledge, his memories, his fears, his anxieties – the past. So the observer is always living in the past. If you have noticed, you can watch it in yourself. And he is modifying himself all the time meeting the present, but still rooted in the past. Right? So there is this movement of time, which is the past, modifying itself in the present, going on to the future. This is the momentum or the movement of time. I won’t go into that now for the moment.
So when we observe, we are observing through the image which we have created about that thing or that person. Can we observe that thing without the word, and can we observe the person without the image? That means can the observer be absent in observation. Right? Do you get the point? When you look at a person – of course, if it is a stranger you have no picture, or you say, ‘Oh, he is a foreigner, throw him out’ (laughter) – when you look at somebody whom you know fairly intimately, the more intimately you know them the more the image, can you look at that person without the image? Which means, can you look at that person without the observer? You get it? I wonder if you do. That is pure observation.
Krishnamurti in Ojai 1980, Question and Answer Meeting 1
In Attention There Is No Image
So we have this problem in relationship. Having created the image or many images about her or him, and realising that these images are actually preventing adequate response, which means response wholly, what is one to do with the image that you have, and how to prevent future images being built?
I have built an image about you: you are my brother, my wife, my mother, my sister, my lady and so and so on – you have said things to me, hurt me, you have bullied me, you have dominated me, you have given me pleasure, you have been my companion, sexually, this, that – I have built an image about you. The image is the response of the image which I have about myself. And that image prevents my relationship with you. I realise that very clearly. And how is that image and the formation of further images to end so that I respond wholly to you? You understand my question? You see, I have created an image about myself because that is part of my education. I begin to create images about myself from childhood, through school, through college, all the environment brings about this image in me about myself. That’s part of my life, that’s part of my culture, that’s part of my religious and social and economic and ordinary education, to build an image about myself. And that’s one fact.
Then according to that image, I build another image about you and that image, the original first image feels it must not be hurt. Are you following all this? We are not analysing because analysis is paralysis. (Clapping) No, no, please don’t. Would you mind not clapping, it is not worth it. What is important is that you understand and live this, not waste your energy clapping. As I said, we are not analysing. I won’t go into the question of analysis because it is rather complex. But we are merely observing. When you observe you see so much. It is only when you analyse you don’t see because then there is the analyser and the analysed, a division. Where there is a division there is conflict and therefore you don’t see completely.
Now we are saying there is the original image of myself and that image doesn’t want to be hurt, doesn’t want to express itself except according to its own fancy and so on. And in relationship there are various hurts, various flatteries, companionship, friendship, sexual appetites – all that takes place. And that creates another image. And so I have got dozens and dozens of images. I am saying to myself and I hope you are doing it – though I do it for you – how is it possible? Is it possible, not ‘how’ – it is possible not to have an image at all? Then only I can respond completely.
Now how is it possible not to have an image? I know I have an image built through the environment, through culture, through education and all the rest of it. That is the ‘me’ which says, ‘I must succeed, I must fulfil, I must become great, I must be famous, I must have money, I must have’ – you follow, the ‘me’. And there is the image about you. Now how is this image about you to end, never to take place? It can only end – please listen to this, it’s very simple, therefore you will miss it if you don’t see the simplicity of it – we want something complex, we love something complex, we can’t look at things simply. My image about you comes to an end completely when I am aware of what you are saying and give attention to what you are saying. You insult me, you flatter me – to be aware, attentive, at that moment. It is only when the mind is inattentive the image takes shape. Right? Am I explaining this clearly?
Look, you flatter me. There are many, various ways of flattering. Clapping. Clapping is one of the ways of flattering. Now I am aware at that moment the whole implications of that clapping. That’s a form of flattery. To be attentive at that moment. Attention implies non-duality as the observer and the observed. When you are completely attentive – have you ever noticed? – there is no division. And when you flatter, at that moment give your whole attention to it, then you will see there is no image formation at all. Do it as you are sitting now, there. Observe the image you have built about her or him, non-analytically. This is really important: non-analytically, just observe the image you have. That image has been created, has come into being through various incidents, pleasurable, non-pleasurable, and all the rest of it. Now look at that image you have about her or him with complete attention. Then you will see in that attention there is no image at all.
So the past image and the image that you might build will disappear when you give complete, whole, non-fragmented attention.
Krishnamurti in New York 1974, Talk 1