Krishnamurti on Relationship

Urgency of Change: The Krishnamurti Podcast
Episode 76

Episode Notes

‘Relationship, if we allow it, can be a process of self-revelation; but, since we do not allow it, relationship becomes merely a gratifying activity. As long as the mind uses relationship for its own security, that relationship is bound to create confusion and antagonism.’

This week’s podcast has two sections. The first extract (2:14) is from Krishnamurti’s first talk in Ojai 1973, titled ‘A life in which there is no conflict in relationship’.

The second extract (1:02:55) is from the second talk in Ojai 1949, titled ‘Right relationship’.

Part 1

A Life in Which There Is No Conflict in Relationship

First let us deal with the problem of human relationship, bearing in mind that we are sharing this together. I am not telling you what to do, I am not your guru or philosopher, or your analyst. You have got plenty of them, unfortunately! On the contrary, what we are saying is that you must be a light to yourself. Therefore no authority, except the authority of the law which you have made. And if you want to change the law, you have to change yourself first.

So we are going to deal with relationship, human relationship, because that is society. Relationship means life; there is no living without relationship. Relationship means action, movement, and without understanding human relationship, the totality of it, we shall always live in conflict with each other, however intimate we may be. So that is one of the primary important things to grapple with, to put our minds and hearts to understand it. Please see this, see the seriousness of it, because without relationship there is no life.

Relationship implies action. When in relationship there is contradiction, there is division, then there is conflict. And as our life, everyday life in relationship, is a series of conflicts between you and your closest, most intimate friend, between you and your neighbour, between you and the neighbour who may be thousands of miles away – when there is a division, whether that division be national, religious, a division brought about by belief, a conclusion, or your particular idiosyncrasy, that division invariably will bring about not only conflict but violence, antagonism, aggression and brutality. This is a fact, not a theory, not something invented by the speaker.

Look at your own relationship with another. Look at it objectively, not sentimentally, not emotionally – look at it very clearly. Observe it so that you see clearly not only yourself in relationship, but how in that relationship you have created an image about yourself and the image about another. Please do pay attention to this because this is the most basic thing in life. Because if we don’t have true relationship with another, we live in isolation, whether that isolation be intellectual, self-centred or ideological. These are all images. When you have an image, that very image, whether it be a verbal image or an image of imagination, a contrivance by thought, that image divides.

You have an image about your wife, or your husband, your girlfriend or a boyfriend, or whatever it is, you have an image, and she or he has an image about you. So the relationship is between these two images, which is not a relationship at all; it is a relationship based on a conclusion or knowledge.

So when there is knowledge as image in relationship, there is conflict. Is that clear? Can we go on from there? We are sharing this together, I am not telling you anything. I am only pointing out. And if you are sensitive, earnest, serious, then you have to face this problem, whether a relationship can exist between two human beings in which there is no image at all. Then only there is relationship, otherwise there isn’t any: it is a relationship based on conclusion, on memory, on an idea or an image, and therefore it is an abstraction, a thing drawn from a reality, and one lives in that abstraction of images. So is it possible to live with another, and therefore with society, and therefore bring a totally different kind of society in which relationship is not based on conclusions, images, knowledge?

Where there is division, as Americans and Russians, or Christians and Hindus, or Buddhists and Muslims, this very division is conflict. You may tolerate, you may put up with something, but at the core, when there is any kind of division, as there is in the world – the national division, we the Americans, we the Russians, we the Maoists, or we belonging to some guru, the Krishna consciousness and the Transcendental Meditationists – all the things that are pervading this country, and you being so astonishingly gullible swallow all this because you want new forms of entertainment – when one sees that division of any kind must breed inevitably struggle, conflict, war, brutality and all the rest of it, then is it possible for the mind and the heart – when we use the word ‘mind’ we are using that word totally, in the sense mind, heart, psyche, the whole human being – can the mind in relationship have no image whatsoever and therefore live a life in which there is no conflict in relationship?

That is one of the challenges, perhaps the greatest. You have images, of that there is no doubt about. Haven’t you? If you are married, you have built an image about her and she has built an image about you; the image of one day or ten years: nagging, bullying, sexual pleasures – you know, all the things that the mind accumulates, which is knowledge about another. This knowledge is the image you have. Can one observe it, not asking how to get rid of the image – we will go into that in a minute – but just to be aware of these images that one has: the national image, the Christian image, and so on, the dozens and dozens of images that one has built up. Or the image you have about another – because that is near; that you can almost get at – can you observe that image and not try to break it down, or ask the question how to be free of that image?

So one has to go into this question of what it is to observe.

We have been sharing this together. We are trying to investigate together. The word ‘investigate’ means to trace out, to follow the thing right through and not stop in the middle when it doesn’t please you to go further. So we are investigating together this question of relationship, which is one of the most fundamental things of life. And without understanding that deeply, you cannot possibly go beyond; you may escape from it through religion, through drugs, through sex, through – you know – joining one group after another and all that kind of nonsense that goes on.

So what is it to observe? How do you observe the image that you have about another?

You have an image about the speaker, obviously, otherwise you wouldn’t be sitting here. Can you observe the image which you have about the speaker, or about your wife or friend, or whatever it is – can you observe it? We are investigating the word, the meaning of that word ‘to observe’ – how do you observe? Do you observe the image as an outsider looking at the image, or there is no division between you as the observer and the observed, which is the image?

When you observe that mountain or that tree, or the water flowing under the bridge or the beauty of a bird on the wing, or the light of the morning, how do you observe it? As an outsider looking? Or there is no division between you and the thing you are seeing? When you look at that mountain, do you look at it with the image you have about mountains, or do you look at it without the image, the idea, the word ‘mountain’, so that there is no division, a verbal division between the observer and the observed? Perhaps you can do that fairly easily with regard to mountains, trees and birds, and the lovely trunk of a tree, but when it becomes a little more intimate, it becomes much more difficult.

You have an image, haven’t you, about your friend? How do you look at it? Do you look at it as though you are outside of it and looking at the image which you have built up, or do you look at it non-verbally, therefore you and the image are one, the observer is the observed. Right? That’s clear, isn’t it? At least the explanation. But the explanation is not the explained. We are considering the explained, not the explanation. So can you observe the image you have built about another without another image?

To observe then implies that you must give your total attention, or total awareness, to that which you see. If you see something you don’t like, or like, in that image the like and the dislike, which are another form of image, bring about a division. So it is very important, if one may point out, to learn the art of observation. In that lies the clue: to observe without any conclusion. Then you will see that between you and the image division disappears. Therefore you are the image. Therefore having no division, the image ceases. Are you following all this? No, I am afraid you are not. Too bad!

You are not used to thinking. I am afraid you are used to being told what to do. Unfortunately in this country, everything is organised, and you attend classes to learn to be aware, to be sensitive, how to meditate, what to do. You have been brought up on that as Christians: what to believe, what not to believe – as the Hindus, as the Muslims, as the Buddhists – you are all just second-hand human beings, told what to do. And we are not telling you what to do. What we are trying to do is share together an immense problem, a problem of relationship. And where there is division there is no love. Love isn’t pleasure, love isn’t desire, which you have made it into. And that is why you pursue everything in terms of pleasure.

So it is very important to understand this question: what is relationship? Until you resolve this, not according to some philosopher or psychologist or analyst, or according to your belief or pleasure, but actually in your daily life. If you haven’t resolved this problem, you are contributing to the corruption of the world. And relationship means a movement in action with another human being; because life is relationship, and if you observe you will see that you are, through daily life, isolating yourself. This isolation is self-centred, this tremendous concern about oneself.

Aren’t you deeply concerned about yourself? Whether you succeed, whether you fail, whether you are happy, unhappy, whether your desires are fulfilled, whether you have achieved enlightenment – God knows what else! In this isolation, which is the self-centredness of yours and the self-centredness of another, how can there be a relationship between the two? If there is no relationship between the two, therefore inevitably there must be conflict. And our society is based on this principle of conflict, which means of having no relationship. You may sleep with another, hold hands with another, have a family, but you – self-centred, ambitious, greedy, pursuing your own fulfilment – must inevitably create a division between you and another. This is a fact. This is a psychological certainty. And you who really are concerned to bring about a totally different kind of morality, behaviour, a social structure; until you understand and bring about right relationship with another, you are contributing to the brutality, to the violence, to the extraordinary things that are going on in this ugly, mad world.

So we have this problem: having created an image, how to prevent the creation of further images, and what to do with the past image that one has. You see the problem? Do you? No?

I have an image about you – I haven’t, but suppose I have an image about you; I have built it up through my interaction with you. There are those images in my mind and I realise that to be really related with another there must be no image. Now, how am I to be free of those images? That is one point. The second is, how am I not to create images at all in relationship, whatever you do? You understand these two? How am I not to create images whatever you do, whether you call me a fool, flatter me, steal things from me, insult me, hurt me – not to have an image? That is, how am I not to be hurt by you? Let’s bring it down to that simple thing, because the hurt is the building of image, as flattery is also building of an image.

From childhood we have been hurt. This hurt takes the form of competition; when you are being compared with another – that happens in schools and in families – the hurt has begun. Society hurts you, parents hurt you, your friends hurt you, and war, physical, hurts you psychologically, inwardly. We are human beings who are terribly hurt. We may shed tears quietly by ourselves in our rooms, or because we are hurt we become violent, aggressive, self-protective, defensive and all the rest of it. So how is a mind not to be hurt at all?

There are two problems: having been hurt, and never to be hurt again. If you can find out for yourself, not because somebody points it out, if you can find it out for yourself whether the mind, that is the total being, can never be hurt, then you will see that we have wiped away all the past images, past hurts. So the question is: how can the mind, your mind, never be hurt at all?

You tell me I am a fool, or you tell me I am a great man – which are both the same – and I listen to you. One I like, the other I don’t like. Can I listen to you – please listen to this – can I listen to you when you call me a fool or a great man, with total attention, so that there is no reaction to your verbal statement? Can you listen to your wife, or to your friend, with total attention, when she or he calls you all kinds of things, or flatters you? In that total attention, in that choiceless awareness, there are no frontiers, there are no borders. It is only when there is a border, when there is a line, that the mind gets hurt. When there is no border as the centre which is being hurt, there is no question of being hurt at all.

What is it that is being hurt? The image that you have about yourself, that image is getting hurt, isn’t it? When you call me a fool, I have an image that I am not a fool. I have this conclusion that I am not a fool and therefore when you call me that, I get hurt, I get disturbed. That is – please listen to this – when there is no image as the ‘me’, which means the ‘me’, the self, is not, because there is no image of me, then whatever you say, either pleasant or unpleasant is not a response, does not meet the response of being hurt. It is the centre as the ‘me’ that gets hurt. Now, can the mind listen with tremendous attention, care, love, when you say something pleasant or unpleasant? What gets hurt is the resistance you have. If you have no resistance there is no hurt. Please, this is terribly important in relationship.

One has lived seventy years, or fifty years, or ten years. Things happen, incidents take place, uninvited occurrences take place, and to have a mind that walks through all this without a single hurt, that is real innocency. The word ‘innocent’ means a mind that is not capable of being hurt. The real meaning of that word in the dictionary is a mind that is not capable of being hurt. And it will be hurt if there is an image, as Krishnamurti or Mr Smith or Mr ‘Y’. That image puts a limit, a border, a line, which you cannot cross. The moment you cross, I get hurt.

So in relationship to live a life, daily life, every moment of it, not just once a week, but every day in relationship, in which there is not a single image. If you can do this, really, not intellectually or verbally or emotionally, actually do it, you will bring about a totally different kind of human being, and therefore a different kind of society. And such a relationship is love.

Krishnamurti in Ojai 1973, Talk 1

Part 2

Right Relationship

Is it possible to be related without ideas, without demand, without ownership, without possession? Can we commune with each other – which is real relationship on all the different levels of consciousness – if we are related to each other through a desire, or a physical or psychological need? Can there be relationship without these conditioning causes arising from want? This is quite a difficult problem. One has to go very deeply and very quietly into it. It is not a question of accepting or rejecting.

We know what our relationship is at present – a contention, a struggle, a pain, or mere habit. If we can understand fully, completely, relationship with the one, then perhaps there is a possibility of understanding relationship with the many, that is, with society. If I do not understand my relationship with the one, I certainly shall not understand my relationship with the whole, with society, with the many. And if my relationship with the one is based on a need, on gratification, then my relationship with society must be the same. Therefore there must follow contention with the one and with the many.

Is it possible to live, with the one and with the many, without demand? Surely, that is the problem, is it not? Not only between you and me, but between me and society. And to understand that problem, to inquire into it very deeply, you have to go into the question of self-knowledge because without knowing yourself as you are, without knowing exactly ‘what is’, obviously, you cannot have right relationship with another. Do what you will – escape, worship, read, go to cinemas, turn on radios – as long as there is no understanding of yourself, you cannot have right relationship. Hence the contention, battle, antagonism, confusion, not only in you, but outside of you and about you. As long as we use relationship merely as a means of gratification, of escape, as a distraction which is mere activity, there can be no self-knowledge. But self-knowledge is understood, is uncovered, its process is revealed, through relationship – that is, if you are willing to go into the question of relationship and expose yourself to it. Because, after all, you cannot live without relationship. But we want to use that relationship to be comfortable, to be gratified to be something. That is, we use relationship based on an idea, which means the mind plays the important part in relationship. And as mind is concerned always with protecting itself, with remaining always within the known, it reduces all relationship to the level of habit, or of security; and therefore relationship becomes merely an activity.

So, you see relationship, if we allow it, can be a process of self-revelation. But since we do not allow it, relationship becomes merely a gratifying activity. As long as the mind merely uses relationship for its own security, that relationship is bound to create confusion and antagonism. Is it possible to live in relationship without the idea of demand, of want, of gratification? Which means, is it possible to love without the interference of the mind?

We love with the mind; our hearts are filled with the things of the mind; but the fabrications of the mind cannot be love. You cannot think about love. You can think about the person whom you love, but that thought is not love. And so gradually thought takes the place of love. When the mind becomes supreme, all-important, then obviously, there can be no affection. Surely, that is our problem, is it not?

We have filled our hearts with the things of the mind, and the things of the mind are essentially ideas – what should be and what should not be. Can relationship be based on an idea? And if it is, is it not a self-enclosing activity and therefore inevitable that there should be contention, strife and misery? But if the mind does not interfere, it is not erecting a barrier, it is not disciplining suppressing or sublimating itself. This is extremely difficult because it is not through determination, practice or discipline that the mind can cease to interfere. The mind will cease to interfere only when there is full comprehension of its own process. Then only is it possible to have right relationship with the one and with the many, free of contention and discord.

Krishnamurti in Ojai 1949, Talk 2

Listen on:

Apple Podcasts



Google Podcasts

Amazon Music

Apple Podcasts



Google Podcasts

Amazon Music