Our relationship with the World (Part IV): Relationship to Oneself



by Prof. P. Krishna

Rector, Rajghat Education Centre, Krishnamurti Foundation India, Varanasi 221001, India


( Fourth talk delivered at the Krishnamurti Gathering in Saanen, Switzerland, on 5th August, 1995. )

I wish I could put myself away as easily as we have put the microphone away !

This is the last day of our enquiry together; but I want to emphasize the fact that there is really no beginning and no end to this enquiry. The inquiry goes on not only when we sit together and talk like this, or use words, or listen to somebody else, but also when we are with nature, Or when we are silently reflecting in our own minds, or observing ourselves at work in our everyday life. It is not more important to do an enquiry in this way. This is just one of the several forms in which the enquiry can be done. It is not frightfully important that we must have this kind of verbal enquiry. After all, we said on the first day that the purpose of the enquiry is to go beyond words, beyond knowledge, beyond thought. That opportunity is not greater now than at any other moment. Nor does it mean that the one who can verbalize knows better than the one who cannot. You can not measure this enquiry. You can measure thought, you can measure knowledge, but you can not measure insights. Even our own insights, we cannot measure. Therefore, that kind of attempt to measure our own understanding is really rather futile, and it is even more futile to try to compare it with that of another !

What is important is to see, for ourselves, whatever state or condition we are in. If we really understand that we all share the same consciousness, then when we understand ourselves we understand also all mankind. It is not really different. One person is not tremendously different from another. We went into that last time and saw rationally that the differences between us are rather superficial. We have seen so far that all the problems that we have, whether in our relationship with nature, or in our relationship with society, or in our relationship with our fellow man, originate in illusions which are held in our mind. There may be several illusions, but the source of those illusions lies in our consciousness, and at the root of it is this feeling of being a separate 'me', a separate individual-- separate from the world, separate from my school, and separate from mankind. We were questioning whether that separation is something which our own mind creates, or it is a fact. Whether we are really divided among ourselves, and from the world, or we are really all part of the same process, sharing the same consciousness, the same mind, but we create through our illusions a separate personal mind of our own, which we call the 'me', and thereafter, the 'me' sort-of takes over. All our faculties are then used, by this 'me', for furthering its own interest. So that all our activities, including this kind of enquiry, can turn into self-centred activity, without our being aware of it.

So, this morning I would like to investigate what our relationship is with ourselves. After all, I am the result of millions of years of past, and I am not what I decided to be. I don't even know what really I am. I can see that I have memory. I have this body and also that I identify with it; but I am not really sure if that is all there is in me because there is also this capacity to be aware of all this. A computer is not aware of itself. A computer only has the memory and the reactions that come out of that memory when we press the right key. For my brain the pressing of the key takes place when I see or hear something. That is the input and it also throws up a response. But in addition to this reaction from my computer which if I identify with it becomes the `me', there is also the awareness of this whole process going on. This capacity is also there, which the computer does not have. As that memory is there, that reaction arises -- I cannot help it. It may not be all there is to me but it does seem to be at least a constant companion -- both this body, and this conditioned mind. I can not wish them away ! So just as we enquired what our right relationship is to our fellow man, to society, to nature, because they all exist, can we enquire also what our right relationship is with this entity called `myself' which exists, whether I like it or not ?

We have seen so far that the right relationship to anything whether it is nature, society, even ideas, is one in which we approach it like a friend or like a student who wants to understand it. As soon as we shift from that position to one of a person who wants to manipulate it - whether nature or society or ideas or our fellow man -- we create an entity which is the exploiter, which is the `me'. which is the center, which then takes over and uses everything for its own purpose, turns that innocent activity of observation and learning into a self-centered activity, motivated and purposeful. That, in a sense, seems to be the corrupting factor in life. Whether it is the ecological disasters that are facing humanity, or the national divisions and the wars, or the family problems in our relationships, if you trace them objectively and go to their source, you find that the source lies in this centre, the `me', which is created by us in imagination. So, as Krishnaji pointed out, the crisis out there is created by the crisis in our consciousness.

So, what is my relationship with this entity, with this private computer that has been handed down to me at birth ? Can I approach it also like a friend ? Can I be also a friend to myself ? Because if the other man is myself, and it is right to be a friend to the other man, I must ask whether it may not also be the right relationship with myself just to be a friend--not an owner, not a manipulator, not an oppressor, not an exploiter, but just a friend. What does it means to be a friend to oneself ? After all, if somebody gives a computer to me, I begin to play with it, learn about it, use it where it is useful and put it aside when it is not useful. Can it be that that is the right way to deal with this computer also ? We may have only complicated matters by identifying with this computer and saying, "This is me", not treating it merely as something we have and discovering what is the right use of it. In that computer is included all the genetic programming and all the reactions. I don't distinguish between the reactions which come from the present memory and those that come from thousands of years of memory -- it is all stored there and I can not wish it away, I can not do away with that memory. It exists as my constant companion right through life. So if one had a friend who was going to be there all the time and one did not have the option not to live with him one would need to understand him and get to know him ? Obviously, I do not want to sit on judgment on him, I don't want to get attached to him, nor do I want to ignore him-- he is my friend ! What do we do when we have a child ? You can not run away from the child, it is your child, you are responsible for him, and you don 't really know him. You may have produced him but you don't really understand him. You may have produced him but you don't really understand him. You watch him, how he plays, what he likes, what he doesn't like , what illusions he has in his mind, his imaginations, his joys, his sorrows -- you try to understand your child. Why don't we approach ourselves that way, like a friend, like someone we truly love ?

We must of course be clear what we mean by friendship. Friendship doesn't mean support, friendship doesn't mean loyalty, friendship doesn't mean "I agree with you", Friendship means sharing -- sharing life, sharing concerns, sharing affection. Kahlil Gibran describes it beautifully, in his own inimitable words, in "The Prophet". I don't remember the words exactly, but I will tell you approximately, some part of it, because I think he uses words which are far more beautiful than what I can express. He says " Let there be no purpose in friendship, save the deepening of the spirit. For love that seeks ought but the disclosure of its own mystery is not love, but a net that is cast forth, and only the unprofitable is caught ! Seek your friend, not with hours to kill, but with hours to live, for it is his to fill your need but not your emptiness. And in friendship, let there be eating and drinking, and dancing for it is in the dew of little things that the heart finds its morning and is refreshed. " It is this quality of love and friendship that I am talking about, when I say, " Can we be a friend to ourselves, can we love ourselves the way we love someone else" ?

If a scientist wants to understand how a fish lives, he watches it. He closely studies how it sleeps, how it reproduces, how it moves, how it eats --- he watches everything about that fish. He doesn't say " It must do this, it must not do that. I wish it was a bigger fish ....." If he says all these things, he is not a scientist, he is not just studying that phenomenon, then he is trying to manipulate, he is trying to project his wishes into the phenomenon. Can I watch myself in that way, as the scientist watches and examines the fish ? You may ask me : " Why do you want to watch yourself ?" If you can answer that question, you are not watching rightly ! Because if there is a motive, if there is a purpose in watching then you are not looking with love. Then that purpose will corrupt the very enquiry and the looking. Therefore it is a wrong question and wrong questions have no answers. There is no purpose in friendship there is no purpose to love, and there is no purpose to enquiry. If there is an enquiry with a motive it already includes the ego and if you begin with the ego, you can never get out of it. That is why all our processes based on will and decision only make minor changes in life. We may think they make major changes, but when we examine it carefully, there is really no fundamental change in consciousness when you try to change things through effort, through will.

A businessman, trying to build a factory and make a success of himself and his mission, can get frustrated, give it all up, renounce his wealth and join a church, put on the yellow robe and then start a religious pursuit. We think it is a tremendous change, because outwardly he was earlier working with money, he was putting on good clothes and going in a Mercedes, and now he puts on this yellow robe and he lives with few things and is thinking about God instead of thinking about money -- but it is sill an outer change, a peripheral change. We said earlier that the real change occurs in the consciousness of man. If he was ambitiously working in his business and he is now ambitiously working at this religious aim, he is still ambitious. Inwardly, in his consciousness, he is still approaching it as an achievement, so the me is still continuing, it has only changed its object of interest. Instead of having one desire it now has another desire, but desire is still operating. Therefore there is no fundamental change in the consciousness when you change things externally. That is why efforts at the periphery will never take you to the centre. But if the change occurs in the centre it will affect the whole of the periphery, because it affects the entire way in which I look at society and at other human beings and also the way I look at myself. Then there is an actual transformation, not when I change things only outwardly. It appears to be a big change because we look at it superficially, we do not look at the consciousness. So if that is clear then I don't look with any motive. I don't look at myself in order to change, because I know that when I decide to change and then make it happen, it is the operation of will. It is the same confused mind, which is not clear, which does not understand itself, which is first positing what it wants to be and then trying to be that and this whole process is still part of the confusion. The `me' is sustained by this very effort. So this enquiry can also be part of the `me', or it may not be. That is not only true of this enquiry, it is true of any action. You can love your wife because of this, that and the other or you can just love for no reason. You can care for your house and live in it without any attachment or you can be terribly attached to that house and therefore care for it. Outwardly the action is the same. A scientist can be working very hard in his laboratory, spending sixteen hours a day observing some phenomenon because that is his passion, that is what he wants to discover and find out and he loves to do that. Or he can put in all that effort in the laboratory because he wants recognition, because he wants to get the Nobel Prize, because he wants all the honour and respectability that go with success. The action is the same but the inner state of consciousness is totally different. The work then is only a means to achieve an end.

So we cannot define right and wrong in terms of action. The same action may be right or wrong depending on what state of mind it emanates from -- the motive or the purpose behind it. And nobody else knows the motive or the purpose other than yourself. Only I can watch my motives, nobody else knows my motives, so nobody else can judge that. We can speculate, we can attribute motives to the actions of others and say "This is why he is doing it", and so on but we are only guessing, we can never be sure. In the Gita, Arjuna asks Krishna. "What is this kind of man, the liberated man ? How does he live, how does he work ? What does he eat ? How do you know him ? " And Krishna says : "You can not know him by looking at his actions. He does the same things which the ordinary man does, but it is totally different because he does not do them for the same reason."

So there is no problem in the action itself. The problem is not whether we read the Bible or not, but in the way we approach the Bible. The way I approach the Bible determines whether that reading is meaningful or not. The problem is not whether I go to a church or not, but how do I approach the church ? Do I create a lot of illusions out of it, do I feel that if I go to that church and stand there I am becoming more virtuous, more religious ? Then you have to examine whether that is an illusion or whether that is a fact. The problem is not in the action of going to the church. The Hindus have a belief or a superstition that if they bathe in the Ganges their sins are washed away ! The act of bathing in the Ganges may be as truly religious as bathing in any river early in the morning, if you approach it with a religious mind. It is the illusion associated with it that corrupts. If I had to express what I have just been trying to point out in one sentence. I would say : " Illusion is the only sin". No action in itself is a sin. But when my mind associates illusions with it, or when that action is born out of illusion, it is a sin. It is a sin because it creates disorder, it brings in division, it makes one irreligious. To be irreligious is to be divided and there is division when there is illusion. The self is the source of all illusion. If there is no illusion there is no self.

My mind creates illusion and I know that. I have read Krishnamurti I have read other people, I have read the Buddha and I know that the human mind creates illusion. I also know that we all share the same mind, that every human being has this capacity to create illusions. Does that mean that I have to do away with the faculty of imagination ? Of course not. No faculty which has been put there by nature, which is part of the order of nature, is without value. But I do not know what its right use is. To find that out I must uncover the entire mechanism of the `me'. What is this computer called `me' ? Sometimes I feel desire, sometimes I feel fear. The Buddhists say "Desire is the cause of all grief and sorrow", so they want to eliminate desire. In the process of eliminating desire they say "If you look at a woman, it creates desire, therefore don't look at a woman". If you look at something beautiful, you will get the desire to possess it, therefore do not look at something beautiful. Does that mean I have to make myself insensitive and avoid all that is beautiful ? It is like killing life, so I don't accept that. At the same time I really don't understand what to do with this faculty of imagination.

If I notice that I have desire, what is the point of saying "It should arise, it should not arise --- it is a right desire, it is a wrong desire"? I am a student, I want to study it. Desire may also be a part of the order of nature --- I don't know. So I have to understand my relationship with desire. Does desire become a problem because I identify with it ? Then it turns into 'my' desire and the purpose and aim of life becomes the fulfillment of that desire. Is the problem with the desire or is the problem with my identifying with that desire and calling it 'mine', thereby making it the mission of my life to fulfill that desire ? Desire itself may be a natural thing. It may be a reaction that is put there into that computer by nature. I may be complicating it through my imagination, building it up, like turning sexual desire into lust. So there may be a component that is natural and there may be a component from the 'me', the self. I build it up, therefore it becomes terribly important to fulfill it. So how do I discover how far desire is natural, a part of the cosmic order, and when does it become an obsession, an addiction ? Which guru, which friend is going to tell me the limits ? Who is going to give me the formula which tells me how far it is all right and when it turns dangerous ? Nobody. Nobody can tell us how much desire is all right and when it is not alright. You can't measure it, you can't draw lines, it is not like mathematics. So there is no formula, there is no path. When there is no formula there is no set way. When it cannot be communicated as knowledge there is no path; yet I can play with it and discover what is the right place of desire.

Similarly, there is fear in my consciousness. Is fear evil or is fear good ? Or is that a wrong question --- trying to put things into categories ? It is too simplistic. The question may be born out of my own desire to classify things. Life may not be classifiable. Why do I impose categories on life, if I am a student ? For communication, for convenience of talking we have to do it, but fundamentally, why impose categories ? If you do not impose categories, you can examine yourself in relationship to that fear.

How much of that fear is normal, healthy, a part of the cosmic order and when does it turn neurotic, create conflict involve the 'me' ? When do I build it up beyond what is normal, healthy, orderly ? So there may be a certain amount of fear which is normal, healthy, put there by nature as a part of biological order. If I had no fear of falling off a precipice, I might walk off and kill myself. If I had no fear of an accident with an oncoming truck, I might just sit on the road and get killed. So how can we say that all fear is evil ? That kind of fear is natural, it may be there as part of the body's intelligence. So when is fear part of intelligence, and when is fear neurotic ? Who is going to tell me that ? How am I going to learn that from another ? So self-knowledge is not something which can be transmitted from one human being to another. Krishnamurti cannot give it to us. He may have had it, he may have been able to see very clearly but he can't give us that clarity. That clarity, I must discover for myself. He can give me this question, " When is fear alright and when is it not alright ?" but he cannot give us the answer.

We must investigate that for ourselves. It is like the home-work which the teacher gives you in school, you have to do it. When nobody can give you the solution you have to struggle with it and find it out which means you have to examine it, live with that fear, play with it, make mistakes, learn through your own observation. And that may be the right relationship with ourselves -- not condemning, not saying "This is right that is wrong; it should be here, it should not be there". Who is judging ? This confused mind, which has so little understanding ? This brain which was born in Madras brought up in Indore, taught a little physics brought up with all that Indian culture, is that confused, limited brain going to answer this question ? It is not capable of answering this question ! Why do I have to identify with it ? It is just one particular programme out of millions of programmes in this world ! What is the significance of the response of one particular computer programme unless it conforms with actuality ? How am I to find out whether what comes up in this computer, called my brain, is the actuality or not, except through observation ? So can you study this computer like your little pet, like your child -- not get angry with it, not condemn it, not go into all that business of guilt and shame and so on ? Those are just other problems which we create for ourselves. The only problem is to understand the working of this computer. And my computer is not terribly different from yours. Therefore if I understand my computer, I understand all the human computers. The object of my fear may be different --- I may be afraid of darkness, you may be afraid of death, a third person may be afraid of losing his property --- but fear is common to all of us What does it matter what it is in relation to ? That is only the specific problem of one particular individual, but fear is a problem common to all of us and that is what we are wanting to understand.

That may be what Krishnamurti meant, when he said "Put your house in order" -- the inner house. Which means to find out the right place of everything - thought, imagination, desire, sex, money, work. Without discovering the right place, to accept a formula given by somebody is trivial. It is just a path shown by somebody else which doesn't do anything to our consciousness. The path which my mind accepts becomes the particular programme in my brain. To a mind which is in quest of truth, all these programmes have very little value -- whether they are in your head or in my head makes little difference.

Now, how to judge what is the right place ? I don't know it and I won't accept what somebody else said either because that is just accepting on authority and I will still not know. We may not know what the right place is but we have a way of knowing when things are in the wrong place. When it is in the wrong place, it will create division, it will create conflict, whether with another or within yourself. "I am this, I should be that" -- that is a conflict between what you are and what you want to be. When there is conflict we are looking at life wrongly, it is disorder. So I have a way of detecting disorder. But I have no way of knowing what is order. The order lies in the unknown and that is what I am trying to discover. But if I have a way of knowing what is disorder then I can examine every disorder, learn from it, and eliminate it. All disorder originates from illusion -- illusion being something which I have given a false place in my mind. It is not really so, but I have built it up in imagination and I think it is so. There may be subtle illusions and there may be crude illusions like beliefs. Then there may be still cruder illusions like superstitions. So some illusions may go away even through knowledge, through intellectual enquiry. Through the study of science superstitions may drop away, but there are in our mind much subtler illusions. Finally, I am not even sure whether it is not an illusion that I am a separate 'me'. I am questioning all that and studying this 'me', and I can study it because it operates within me. I can look at it as I am all the time with it. In every relationship it is revealing itself. But do I study it, do I want to learn about it ? Or is it my master, dictating what I should be doing ? Then I am caught in self-centred activity and everything I am doing is in subtle ways governed by this 'me', governed by what it is saying : "Do this, this is profitable, that is not." Then we are not studying it, we are following it. Then it becomes our master and we the slave.

You can study about the self by reading books in psychology, which scientists have written. They will tell you how the various complexes arise. Because a human being is afraid of being lonely he creates relationships in order to escape from loneliness. Because a human being is afraid of being nobody, he wants importance, he wants position, he wants to be somebody. Because he feels insecure about his future, he wants to accumulate wealth, property, house, in order to feel secure. You can read all that in psychology books. Knowledge can tell us all that but does that free us ? We know all the causes and we know all the effects. But the knowledge of cause and effect doesn't free you. You still have all the fears, you have the insecurity, you have the loneliness. So knowledge may be necessary, but it is not sufficient. And it becomes dangerous if you have the illusion that knowledge is sufficient. That is an illusion because it is really not sufficient. Knowledge is only the answer in words --- the explanation. It won't change anything from within. That is why the religious enquiry is so important -- to go beyond knowledge, beyond the words, to actually see for oneself. Not through thoughts, not through ideas, not through logic, but through direct perception --- as you perceive that fire burns your finger. Can we know in that way that the self divides, that it is irreligious, that it corrupts ? "My whole life is corrupted by this !" When one sees it that way, then there is an intelligence in our system which tells it not to touch poison. It will not touch poison. If a bottle is marked 'poison', you will get no desire to taste it. You don't get a desire to put your finger in the fire, because it is absolutely clear that it is damaging. If it is equally clear that the self is damaging the whole of your life, you will jump out of it ! So, it is clarity that is important, not knowledge. And knowledge in itself can give you the questions, but it will not give you the clarity. We have to come upon that clarity, or that intelligence or that insight or that direct perception --- call it what you will, but it is beyond words. To discover the actual thing and not just the explanations -- that may be the true purpose of our consciousness. May be this consciousness was given to us, not to fulfill all the desires and ambitions, and live by all the reactions of the 'me', but to study and examine all this, and to jump out of ourselves -- not gradually, not slowly, because you cannot accumulate clarity. You cannot jump through will -- we have already seen the falseness of using the will, of using the ego. The 'me' is never going to jump out of itself ! So who jumps out ? I don't know. The only way to know is to let it happen !