Quotes from Krishnamurti’s The Mirror of Relationship

This book had such a profound effect on me that in my attempt to jot down some quotes I ended up transcribing half of it, every single paragraph was loaded with paradigm shifting meaning and each leads on to the next…

All our actions are based on thought… Thought has brought about the division of nationalities which create wars, the division in religions… Thought has divided the world not only geographically but also psychologically, inwardly. Man is fragmented.

This division – both outwardly, geographically, religiously, nationally, and the division that is between yourself and another – is such a waste of energy. It is a conflict: wasting our energy, quarreling, dividing, each one pursuing his own thing, each one aspiring, demanding his own personal security, and so on.

Until there is freedom from conditioning, freedom from the activities of thought which is creating great problems, those problems cannot possibly be solved. A new instrument is necessary to solve our human problems.

Our brains are deeply conditioned and we are asking if it is at all possible to be free of that conditioning. Unless we are totally, completely, free of that limitation, mere enquiry or asking what is the new instrument which is not thought, has no meaning.

Is it possible to be free from that conditioning? There are those who say it is not possible, because they ask, how can a brain which has been conditioned for so many centuries upon centuries, how can that conditioning be wiped away completely so that the human brain is extraordinarily pristine, original, capable of infinite capacity? Many people assert this, and are merely satisfied in modifying the conditioning. But we are saying that this conditioning can be examined, can be observed, and there can be total freedom from that conditioning. To discover for ourselves whether it is possible or not, we have to enquire into our relationship.

Relationship is the mirror in which we see ourselves as we are. All life is a movement in relationship.

We are asking, what actually is the present relationship with each other, not theoretical, not romantic, not idealistic, which are all unreal, but the actaul, daily relationship of man, woman, with each other? Are we related at all? There is the biological relationship; our relationship is sexual, pleasurable. Our relationship is possessiveness, attachment, various forms of intrusion upon each other.

What is attachment? When you are attached to anything, there is always fear in it, fear of loosing it. There is always a sense of insecurity… There is always a sense of separation. I am attached to my wife. I am attached to her because she gives me pleasure sexually, gives me pleasure as a companion… So, I am attached to her, which means I am jealous, frightened. Where there is jelousy, there is hatred. And is attachment love?

Then, in our relationship each one has, through the years, put together an image about each other. Those images she and he have created about each other is the actual relationship. And in that relationship of images, how can there be any actual, factual, relationship with another? All of us from childhood have built images about ourselves and about others… Can one live without a single image in our relationship?

When you have an image about another, that image gives you a sense of security.

Love is not thought. Love is not desire, love is not pleasure, love is not the movement of images, and as long as you have images about another, there is no love. And we ask, is it possible to live a life without a single image? Then you have a relationship with each other. And as it is, it is like two parallel lines never meeting, except sexually.

So, if one asks why human beings live by images… you will see that they are created by thought, and thought is uncertain, fearful. There is no security in the things that thought has put together. Is it possible, then, to be free from our conditioning in our relationship? That is, to observe in the mirror of relationship attentively, closely, persistently, what our reactions are, whether they are mechanical, habitual, traditional. In that mirror you discover actually what you are.

So please consider what it is to observe. When you observe a tree, or a moon, something outside you, you always use the word – the tree, the moon; can you look at the moon, the tree, without naming it, without using the word to identify?..Now, can you look at your wife, at your husband, at your children, without the word ‘my wife’, without an image? Have you ever tried it? When you observe without a word, without a name, without the form you have created about her or him, in that observation there is no center from which you observe. Then find out what happens. The word is thought. Thought is born out of memory. So you have the memory, the word, the thought, the image interfering between you and the other. Right? But here is no thought, thought in the sense, the word, the content of the word, the significance of the word to look, to observe. Then only there is right relationship with another. In that, there is a quality of learning, a quality of certain beauty, certain sensitivity.

So the relationship between two individuals, very close together or very far, is a relationship of images, symbols, memories. And in that, how can there be real love?

When I can look at you and you can look at me without the image of memory, of insults and all the rest, then there is a relationship, but the very nature of the observer is the image, isn’t it? My image observes your image – if it is possible to observe it – and this is called relationship, but it is between two images, a relationship which is nonexistent, because both are images. To be related means to be in contact. Contact must be something direct, not between two images. It requires a great deal of attention, an awareness, to look at another without the image which I have about that person.

If you look at your wife or husband, all the memories that you have had, either of pleasure or of pain, interfere with looking.

In one’s relationship, if one is married or lives with somebody, is it possible not to create an image at all – not to record an incident which may be pleasurable or painful, in that particular relationship, not to record either the insult or the flattery, the encouragement or discouragement?

Is it necessary in our relationships to record, psychologically, inwardly, at all? The remembrance of incidents past, is that love?

Is it possible to be free and not to record psychologically at all? It is only possible when there is complete attention. When there is complete attention there is no recording.

To establish right relationship is to destroy the image… You have to destroy the machinery that creates the image… 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.

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. It 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 hypnotize 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; a man that 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 will not see the full beauty, the volume, the quality of that river.

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 the 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.

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 the image through memory, through thought. So, the machinery is thinking, the machinery comes into existence through thought. And thought is necessary, otherwise you can not exist.

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 the image about me. That is why this requires a great deal of attention, a great deal of observation of your own thoughts, feelings.

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.

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.

The psychological image-making is the outcome of constant inattention which is the very essence of thought. Thought in itself is inattentive. Attention has no center, it has no point from which to go to another point, as in concentration. When there is complete attention there is no movement of thought. It is only to the mind that is inattentive that thought arises.

Understanding pleasure and desire

I have never said that a free mind has no desire. After all, what is wrong with desire? The problem comes in when it creates conflict, when I want that lovely car which I cannot have. But to see the car – the beauty of its line, the color, the speed it can do – what is wrong with it?

If you begin to understand the whole subtlety of desire, the nature of desire, then you will never suppress desire, you will never suppress anything.

There is something pleasurable which I feel desirable, and I give it continuity by thinking about it.

So the arising of desire is natural, inevitable; you must have desire, you must react; otherwise you are a dead entity. But what is important to see, to find out for yourself, when to give continuity to it and when not to.

So, the resistance to pain or the pursuit of pleasure – both give continuity to desire.

If there was no contradiction – which is the battle between the good and the bad, between the pain and the pleasure, between fulfillment and frustration – if there was not this contradiction in desire and continuity in desire, if there was an understanding of that, then desire would have quite a different meaning. Then desire would become a thing of flame, would have a quality of an urgency, a beauty, a tremendous response – not a thing to be frightened of, to be destroyed, to be suffocated, to be denied.

So the problem is to understand desire and not to be slave to it, which means being totally sensitive with your body, with your mind and heart – sensitive to beauty and ugliness, to the sky, to the flowers, to birds on the wing, to sunset on the water, to the faces around you, to hypocrisy, and to the falseness of your own illusions. To be sensitive to all that is what matters, and not merely to cultivate sensitivity towards truth and beauty while denying everything else.

It is only when your whole being is made sensitive to everything – to the depth of your feelings, to all the extraordinary intricacies of your mind – and not just to what you call God, that desire ceases to be contradictory.

We have always thought of desire in terms of fulfillment, achieving, gaining, getting rich, inwardly or outwardly, in terms of avoidance, in terms of ‘the more’. And when you see all that, and put it away, then the feeling, which we have so far called desire, has a totally different meaning. Then you can see a beautiful car, a lovely house, a lovely dress without any reaction of wanting, identifying.

Where the mind is seeking fulfillment, there is frustration and therefore misery and conflict.

A mind that has understood desire, the feeling and the thought, and therefore goes beyond and above it… The mind, then, is highly sensitive, capable of intense reactions without conflict, sensitive to every form of demand; such a mind is above all feeling and thought, and its activity is no longer within the field of so-called desire.

If you could leave desire alone, either to let fly or wither away – just leave it alone – that is the very essence of a mind which is not in conflict.

What happens if you do not condemn desire, do not judge it as being good or bad, but simply be aware of it?.. Most of us are not aware because we have become so accustomed to condemning, judging, evaluating, identifying, choosing.

To be aware of every desire as it arises, not to identify oneself with it or condemn it, in that state of alertness, is it then desire, or is it a flame, a passion that is necessary?… You must have passion, intensity, to really live with anything; to live fully, to look at a mountain, a tree, to really look at a human being, you must have passionate intensity.

After all, the lives we lead at present, based on needs, desires, and the ways of controlling desire, make us more shallow and empty than ever… Deep down we are empty, lonely, and always trying to cover it up, to fill that emptiness; therefore,the need, the desire becomes a terrible thing. Nothing can fill that deep void within – no gods, no saviors, no knowledge, no relationship, no children, no husband, no wife – nothing. But is the mind, the brain, the whole of your being can look at it, live with it, then you will see that psychologically, inwardly, there is no need for anything. That is true freedom.

But that requires very deep insight, profound inquiry, ceaseless watching; and out of that perhaps we shall know what love is. How can there be love when there is attachment, jealousy, envy, ambition, and all the pretense which goes with that word? Then, if we have gone through that emptiness – which is an actuality, not a myth, not an idea – we shall find that love and desire and passion are the same thing.

To go into all this requires not a detached mind, not a dedicated mind or religious mind, but a mind that is inquiring, that is never satisfied, that is always looking, watching, observing itself, knowing itself.

When there is love, it is personal and impersonal, with and without an object. It is like the perfume of a flower; one or many can smell it: what matters is the perfume, not to whom it belongs.