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Suffering and love

Suffering and love

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Public Talk 5 Saanen, Switzerland - 20 July 1976

We were talking over together the problem of consciousness. As we said, it is a very complex question. The content of consciousness is the whole nature and structure of consciousness. That is what we were saying the other day. One is only aware of that consciousness of oneself when one has any kind of problem, strife, contradiction, anger, jealousy and so on, it is only then that one becomes completely conscious of oneself. Otherwise there is no consciousness of the 'me' - which we talked about sufficiently the last time that we met here.

And I think it is important this morning to talk over together the question of suffering, and the word 'love', which has been so misused, and what is the real significance or meaning of that word. And to go into these questions rather deeply, one has to begin with what we call relationship - human relationship. Otherwise love becomes an abstraction, without much meaning and remains something printed in a book, or talked about in a church or in a temple, and completely forgotten.

So we should begin, I think if I may point out, that relationship is the whole structure of society - to put it very, very simply. It is a very complex problem, the question of relationship. But to enquire into that question one must begin very near. That is, very near, our human relationship with each other. And then discover from there what is right relationship - if there is such a thing - and move from there to the question of what is the nature of love. And whether love can exist as long as human beings suffer and if there is an end to suffering, specially psychologically. So we are going to go into this very complex problem.

As we said, we must begin very near to find out actually what our relationship is with each other, because on that our whole social, moral, ethical structure is based - that is society - the society which we have built, a society which is utterly, at present, immoral, degrading, destructive. And if we would change the social structure it must begin from within, not merely change from outside. I think that is fairly obvious as one observes more and more the attempts made by Communists and other reformers. They think that by altering, reshaping the social environmental structure, human beings will radically change. And when one examines the various experiments made in India, in ancient times, in China, and in recent times, basically human beings don't change even though environment changes. And it is very important, it seems to me, that we should understand the relationship of ourselves in our relationship to society, and whether in transforming human mind, human consciousness basically, whether a new social order can come into being. That is one of our problems. Because social order must change inevitably. There must be radical transformation of it - there are the terrorists, the revolutionaries, and the idealists, some of them at least, think by changing the environment, throwing bombs and all the rest of the physical revolution, will somehow transform the nature and the structure of human consciousness. And we think that the radical transformation of society can only take place when there is a radical transformation in human consciousness. I think we have made that very clear from the beginning of these talks.

So we must find out what is our human relationship to society, human relationship with each other, human relationship with the whole of humanity, a global relationship. So what is actually, in our daily life, our relationship to each other, and what is it based on? As we said, the word is not the thing, the description is not the described. What we are doing now is a verbal description but if we are caught in the description and don't go to the described, the fact, then we will merely skim on the surface and will lose all its meaning. So one must be aware, conscious, or whatever word one may use, not to be caught in words, not to be caught in descriptions, conclusions, but rather look, observe what actually is our relationship in daily life, and whether that relationship can be transformed into something other than 'what is'? That is our question: to transform 'what is' one must be concerned and observe completely 'what is', and not imagine 'what should be'. Right?

What is our relationship based on? Is it on knowledge? Is it on experience? Is it on various forms of intellectual, emotional, sentimental conclusions? Please, as we are saying, observe, if you do not mind, your own actual relationship with another - actual, not what you think it ought to be, not an ideal relationship, but factual, daily, everyday relationship, because that is what we live with, and if we understand that then we can go much further. But without deeply delving into that, merely to imagine or... a fanciful relationship has no meaning, because we are dealing with facts and not with ideational abstractions, because that will lead nowhere. So what is our relationship actually?

Relationship - the meaning of that word - means, does it not, to respond. To respond completely to another - the meaning of the word, not what we have made of that word - the root meaning of that word is to respond, like responsibility. And do we ever respond totally with each other? Or it is always a fragmentary response, a partial response? If it is a partial, fragmentary response, why is it? You understand my questions? I hope we are communicating with each other because this is really very important. Like everything else that we have talked about, human relationship is one of the most radical, basic, essential things that we have to find out, because from that we may find out for ourselves what love is, really what love is - not what we have made of it. So it is really most important for each one of us to find out what actually our relationships are, and whether they can be transformed, and is it possible to transform them radically?

Is not our relationship based on memory, memory piled up through various emotional, irrational, sexual responses? That is, there is desire, plus thought, and thought which creates the image. Right? Desire, that is sensation, plus thought and thought creates the image of myself and of you. So there are two images: myself and that which I have made out of you. Right? Go into it with me, please! This is your life and for heaven's sake, give some thought to this thing, because we are destroying each other, we are destroying the earth, the air, everything we touch we are destroying. And I do not think we feel utterly responsible for all this. So please give your attention, which means your care, your affection, to find out what actually our relationships are.

We said our relationship is sensation plus thought, which is desire, and the image which thought has shaped according to that desire. So I have an image about myself, various images - the business image (laughs), the intellectual image, the emotional image and various images which I have built in myself, which society has helped me to build, education has helped me to build - I have an image. And my relationship with you is another image which I am making from you. Right? That is an absolute fact. Right? The image or the picture, or the form is you, and I am related to you through that picture. Right? I am attached to that picture. As you are my wife, my friend, my girl or boy, or whatever, I am attached to the image which I have made about you and I am holding to that image. And that image is projected through the various incidents in our contact with each other. Right? Please! And you have an image about yourself - various images - and you add me to that image, another image. So your image and my image of you are related. Right? Go into this, please go into this. Look at yourself! You may be married for ten years, or five years, you have a girl or a boy, and slowly the images are built, consciously or unconsciously - generally unconsciously. So the image has taken root through nagging, through domination, through assertions, insults, possessiveness, attachments - you follow? - all those are the things that have, incidents, have built this image in me of you. And you do the same about me. This we call relationship, and this we call love. I love you - which is, I love the image of you which I have built. It's rather cynical, but it is not. But this is actual fact.

So why does the brain build such images? Do you understand my question? I have built one about you, and you have built one about me. I am asking, this is a fact, and I am asking: why does the brain do this? Which is, thought. Why does thought create this division between you and me through the image? Is that clear? Avanti. Let's get going. Why?

As we said, the brain needs security. Right? From childhood, you see children need security, they must be protected. We don't protect them, but that doesn't matter. We destroy them. That is another issue. So the brain needs complete security. It may find security in an illusion, god, fanciful images, all kinds of things and therefore neurotic; or it may find security in the image which it has built as knowledge. You are following this? So the brain has made this image through thought, this image in order to be completely secure. I know my wife - you follow? - I know her. A positive assertion. That is, the image which I have built about her gives me that feeling that I completely have her, she is mine - and the other way round, and so on, so on. So the images are built through the desire to be completely secure. That is one of the factors.

And having an image is very convenient, because you don't have to look at her, or him, you don't have to bother. You feel utterly responsible to that image, not to the human being. Watch yourself, please! And having an image, and you having an image, of each other, we live in our daily life at a very superficial level. The superficial level being sexual, and one goes off to the office, comes back - you know this very superficial life that one lives. That is one of the reasons why the images become tremendously important.

Now when one becomes aware of this process - the image maker and the image - when one becomes conscious of this, then one asks: can the image-making stop? You understand my question? Because this is very important. Please look at yourself, look at your relationship. You have an image and I have an image, and our relationships are based on that.

And the next question is: we said why does it do it, we find some reasons for doing it. And the other question is: is it possible not to make an image at all? If that can be prevented then our relationship becomes tremendously significant. You understand? Are we meeting each other? We are asking: is it possible not to build the image? The image-maker is thought - obviously. Right? Thought as time, the remembrance of many incidents of yesterdays, which is time, and through time the image has been formed, day after day, day after day, day after day. And thought has built the image through desire, sensation and so on. Now we are asking whether this whole momentum can stop, which is the traditional momentum.

We are slaves to tradition. We may think we are modern, very free, but deep down we are very traditional, which you can see when we accept this image-making, and establishing our relationship with each other on those images - it is as ancient as the hills. That is one of our traditions, we accept it, live with it, torture each other with it. So can that tradition come to an end? That is - we go back to what we were saying yesterday and the other days - when an incident between our relationship takes place, a happening, not to register it at all. You've understood... All right, it's not clear.

In our daily relationship you say something in anger, in irritation, and the brain registers it and adds to the image that it has already built about you, and that insult, that irritation, that anger, that something you said that you want to hurt me, hurt the image - can that stop? You understand my question? It can stop only when you understand the whole process of registration. The brain registers everything. It is now registering what I am saying. (Laughs) And when an incident takes place it is registered. Now we are saying can that registration stop? You understand now the question? I insult you in our relationship, and immediately reaction takes place, which is the registration. Now can that end, because otherwise our love is merely emotional, sentimental, sexual and rather superficial? It is only a mind that is not hurt that is capable of loving, isn't it? You see the meaning of it? Come on, please! So you hurt me, which is you hurt my image which I have built about myself; and can that insult not be registered at all so that my brain is not hurt. And then I will know the full meaning and the beauty of something which I feel exists but I now realise. So I am going to find out whether it is possible to stop that hurt being registered at all.

It is possible only when the image is not. Right? Is that clear? When I have no image about you and you have no image about me, it is only then whatever you say leaves no mark - which doesn't mean I am isolated, or I have no affection, but the registration of hurts, insults, all those movements of thought, have come to an end. Which is, at the moment of insult to be completely, with all your senses attentive. You understand what I am saying? Am I talking to myself? Or you are all with me. Because you see, our brains are hurt, various shocks, incidents, a sense of, you know, tremendous damage is being done to our brain. It wants security, therefore it finds security in abnormal and normal things, like a nation - the worship of a nation is an abnormal, tribal instinct, but it finds security there - and so on, so on, so on. The very desire to be secure is destroying itself. You understand? I am secure with my family. With my family there is a battle going on all the time between me and you, with my children - you follow? - constant conflict, agony, despair, annoyance - you know all that is going on and on and on and on, day after day, day after day. That is a great shock to the brain. And so we are saying: as long as there is an image-maker there must be hurts, there must be registration. It is only when the image-maker is not then no registration takes place. Which means there is no 'me' who is the image which gets hurt. You understand? There is no me - 'me' is the image which I have about myself: an extraordinary human being capable, or, 'I am going to be successful' - you know, the things that thought has built around itself as the me, which is the deep conscious or unconscious image that it has built.

Now we are saying: in our relationship the image-making becomes an extraordinary everyday activity and therefore there is actually no relationship. Relationship can only take place when there is no image - you understand what I am saying? Have you got something of this? Not verbally, for god's sake not verbally - actually in your blood! Then it brings a truth in our relationship.

So: then what is our relationship if there is no image between you and me - you understand? - then what is our relationship? Come on sir, investigate it. I have no image about you - which is the most important thing - you understand? I actually have no image about you. Then what is my relationship to you? Have you an image about me? - in our relationship. If you have what is our relationship? You have no image, and I have an image - then what takes place between us? I am in battle, because I have an image about myself and therefore I am in battle with you. You have no image, therefore you are not in battle with me. You understand?

So can you in our relationship bring about in me a state of mind in which the image-making has ended? You understand? That's your responsibility to me. Come on sirs! You have no image, and I have an image about you. What then is our relationship? You have a responsibility in our relationship to see that I do not make images about you. That is your responsibility. You understand? Then you are watching, you are alert, you are fully alive, and I am half-asleep all my life. So it is your responsibility to see that I have no image. So two people having no image - if it ever takes place - which is the most miraculous thing, greater than any miracle in the world, if that takes place then there is a totally different kind of communion with each other. Which means never quarrel - you understand, sir? - never possessiveness, never domination, shaping each other by words, threats, innuendoes. Then we have a relationship of the most extraordinary kind. I know it can take place. It has been done, we have done it. It is not just a lot of words.

So we are saying: when there is no image then there is love. So we have to find out what that love is, actually. What is it that we call love now in our life? When you say you love somebody, what does it mean? Is it sexual love, a biological affair, and the memory of it, the demand for it, the pursuit of it? And that apparently plays an extraordinary significance in our life. Blown up in every magazine, in every cinema, and all the rest of it. Is it sexual love? Is there love when there is jealousy? You understand? Is there love when there is - please listen - when I go off to the office or factory, or become a secretary, or whatever I do, and you do something else also because you want to fulfil yourself - the wife wants to fulfil herself, and the husband wants to fulfil himself, and the children want to fulfil themselves, where are we? You understand? So all this is called love, responsibility. So to find out what love is there must be no fragmentation, isn't it. No fragmentation in my work and the implications in that work, and there is no division between my work and my family, my wife, my girl - you understand what I am saying? It is not broken up. I go to the office, there I am very ambitious, greedy, envious, desiring success, you know, pushing, pushing, driving, competitive, and come home and say, 'Oh, darling I love you'. It becomes all so cheap! And this is our tradition.

So we are saying, asking: is it possible to live a life that is totally harmonious, whole, so that when I go to the office I am still whole there, not something different from my family? You understand? Is that possible? Not say it is an idea, it is a Utopia, it is this - one has to make it possible, one has to work at this thing, put your teeth into it to find out, because we are destroying ourselves.

So we are saying love comes into being only when there is total harmony in oneself, in whatever action one is doing, and so there is no conflict between the outer and the inner. You understand? So to find out how to live that way. How to live a life that is not contradictory, that is not broken up, that is not convenient, comfortable - you follow? - that is total, whole, harmonious. To find that out one must go into the question of sorrow. They are all related, you understand? Relationship, love and sorrow. They are all interrelated.

Man has lived with this thing called sorrow: from the ancient of days man has carried this burden; and we are still carrying that burden. We are very sophisticated, highly technical and so on, but inwardly there is this grief, this ache, this loneliness, this sense of isolation, this sense of great burden of sorrow, not only the sorrow of one's own little life, but the sorrow of humanity. You understand? We are meeting each other? The sorrow of humanity, sir. They are suffering in India, in Asia, in the Arab world, in the Jewish world, in Russia - human beings are suffering, there is a global suffering. And our little selves are also suffering. So we are asking: is it possible to end that suffering? If there is no end to suffering then there is no compassion, then there is no love, then there is no relationship. This is what actually has happened in our society: no relationship, no love, no compassion, no ending of sorrow, therefore we are making a hideous mess of our lives. You understand?

So we are asking: is there an end to sorrow? Do you understand? This is a question that every human being has asked, when he is at all serious, when he has looked at his own sorrow and the sorrow of another. One asks this question: 'Can this ever end? Or is it an everlasting misery of man?' We are going to find out, not in abstraction, not as a theory, but actually to find out if you as a human being who represents the world, and the world is you can end that sorrow. We are going to find out.

This is a very serious matter, like everything else in life, and very complex. To find out what love is, one has to shed every traditional... every sense of emotion, sentiment, all the things that one has built round oneself, to put away all that, then to come upon something that is whole, total, harmonious. One has to work, look, observe. So we are going to do the same with sorrow.

There is a biological pain, a physical pain. And that pain is registered in the mind, in the brain. And there is the fear that it might happen again tomorrow. And that brings sorrow also. There is loneliness, deep isolation, unrelated to everything in life, and the sense of complete withdrawal, complete sense of nothing to which the mind can be related. And that is a tremendous sorrow. I do not know if you have not known this. Most human beings do. Then there is the sorrow of death, the person you have lost and you left behind. The loneliness, the sudden cessation of that person whom you thought you loved, cared for, companionship, in whom perhaps you may have invested all your immortality, all that. There is sorrow there too. And there is the sorrow of all the people in the world who have been killed, so-called wars: wars of religion, wars of nationality, wars of security, killing millions and millions for your own particular nation, for your own particular security. There is all that immense untold sorrow. You understand all this? And we are responsible for all this - not the Americans in Vietnam, or the Arabs in Beirut - human beings are responsible for this, because their primary demand is: please give me security. And the security takes the form of nationality, the form of religious beliefs which goes very, very, very deeply and they hold on to that - that is security, for which you are willing to kill and destroy. There is the security of nationalism, and so on, so on, so on. All that has brought about thousands of years of sorrow. Right? We are describing this, so please don't get emotional about it because this is what we have to face and understand.

So there is this sorrow of man. Can it end? If it doesn't end we are chained everlastingly to this misery. The suffering may be conscious or unconscious. So we have to look at the unconscious, deep down, the hidden, as well as the conscious. So we have to go back into the question of what is consciousness.

The western world through Freud and others has divided consciousness into the unconscious and the conscious. The unconscious is the racial, communal, heredity, tradition, memories, all that, motives. And the conscious is the highly sophisticated, educated, technical mind. So there is a division between the conscious and the unconscious. Right? That is your tradition again. It may not be at all that way. What has divided it? Thought - right? Unless we understand the deep meaning of the movement of thought every movement it makes must be divisive. Right? So in the deep layers of one's consciousness is there sorrow? Is there sorrow of thousands of years of human suffering, stored, brought from the past to the present in a human being, deep down in the very deep recesses of one's mind? We said that is part of the content of consciousness. You understand? Because the part makes the whole. So the part is consciousness. So there is in us the past suffering of man as well as the present suffering of man in consciousness. And can that thing end? If you see the importance that it must end - the importance, the essentiality of it - not accept it, not say, 'Well it has been going on for a million years, what about it, a few more people suffering, a few more people not suffering, what importance does it make?' It makes tremendous importance because when a human being transforms himself totally, radically, then he affects the whole of consciousness of man. You understand? I'll show it to you.

Your consciousness is affected by all the things of the past, isn't it? By Hitler, by Stalin, by all the tyrannies, by all the brutalities, all that is the past. The content of that consciousness is the human consciousness. You are affected, as you are living in the western world, by Christianity in the name of... That Christianity is put together by priests, saviours and all the rest of it - that is part of your consciousness.

So suffering is part of this consciousness, whether hidden or one is aware of it. Now we are saying can all that immense burden of loneliness, despair, isolation, withdrawal through various forms of hurts, building a resistance around oneself, all that come to an end - not gradually, not over years, but end now? You understand my question? You understand what I am saying? We are used to and we have been trained, educated, it is our habit to say, 'Well I will gradually do it.' 'It'll take time but I will do it.' Which is, I am suffering now, gradually I will end suffering. There is that vast gap between the ending and the beginning, and in that gap various other forms of incidents and accidents take place, therefore there is always postponement of that. You are following all this? Therefore one has to break down this tradition of eventuality - of eventually I will come to that.

So we are saying: sorrow, which is part of human conditioning, part of our consciousness, can that sorrow end? Not in some distant happy future, but now. The now is the most important. You understand? So to find out what that now is - I wonder if you are meeting, coming on? Are we meeting each other? What is the now so that it ends? The now is the past meeting the present. Right? The past meeting the present. And if the past meeting the present modifies itself and goes to the future, then there is no now. Hai capito? Have you understood this thing - very simple thing? That is, the past, my memories, my anxieties, my hopes, my remembrances, pleasure, pain, all that is a movement with the present; that is I meet you, there is the challenge of the present and it modifies itself and proceeds to the future. Right? So time is a movement from the past, through the present to the future. This is what we are accustomed to, this is a part of our tradition. The Communists say, thesis, antithesis, and synthesis, which is bit by bit, bit by bit. So the past meeting the present, modified, proceeds further - the future. We are saying the now is when the past meets the present and ends it. You understand? And it can only end when you know the whole structure of memory. You get it? Memory as experience, as knowledge, and the response of that knowledge, experience, memory, is thought. So when thought brings the past to the present and for thought to end it there, and not proceed, say tomorrow. I wonder if you capture all this! Some of you get this? Because it is very important for your life so that there is an ending all the time. You understand?

So: that is, when you are feeling greatly lonely, isolated, which brings great sorrow, or the death of another, or losing a job and so on and so on - ten different sorrows that human beings have created for themselves - facing that loneliness, which is brought about by self-centred activity of daily life - you understand? - that loneliness is the synthesis, the essence of our daily self-centred activity. Right? To face that loneliness and not give it a future - you understand what I am saying? That is, to look at it, to observe it completely, with all your senses, with complete attention. Then you will see the past meets the present and ends it, so that there is no future to loneliness, it has ended. So in the same way sorrow, with which you are quite familiar, for most of us we have built various escapes from that thing: escapes through church, through reading books, you know, a dozen ways. The very escape from it only strengthens it, obviously. So to be aware of the escapes, which means giving it time to flower - you follow? - to be aware of the escapes and meet that suffering completely without any sense of distortion by thought, then there is an ending to suffering. Only when there is an ending to suffering there is compassion, because the word 'suffering' is related to compassion. Compassion means passion for all things. You understand? For all things. That means no killing. But Christians are used to killing. They have probably killed more people than anybody else. So no killing, which means to live on things that you have to kill, like vegetables - you have to kill (laughs) - you understand? - but not to kill animals. When there is this sense of compassion - you understand? - then you don't kill a thing - by word, by gesture, by an idea.

So what we are saying is: in the understanding of relationship love comes into being, and in the understanding of love we alter the structure of society, and there is an ending to sorrow. And it is only then there is compassion. You know compassion is the most extraordinary thing in life, because there is no 'me' who is compassionate, there is only that state of compassion which is not mine of yours.

What time is it, sir?

Questioner: Five to twelve.

Krishnamurti: Do you want to discuss anything? Ask questions?

Q: Sir, are emotions rooted in thought?

K: Are emotions rooted in thought. What are emotions? Emotions are sensations, aren't they? You see a lovely car, or a beautiful house, a beautiful woman or a man, and the sensory perception awakens the senses, doesn't it? Senses, then what takes place? Contact - right? Contact, then desire. Now thought then comes in. Can you end - please listen to this - can you end there and not let thought come in and take over? I see a beautiful house, well-proportioned, with a lovely lawn, nice garden, all the senses are responding because there is great beauty - well-kept, orderly, tidy - all the sensations respond. Why can't it stop there? You understand? Can it stop there and not let thought come in and say, 'I must...' and all the rest of it. Then you will see emotions, or sensations are natural, healthy, normal. But when thought takes over then all the mischief begins.

So to find out for oneself whether it is possible to look at something with all the senses and end there, and not proceed further. Do it! That requires, as we said, an extraordinary sense of awareness, in which there is no control. You understand? No control, therefore no conflict, just to totally observe that which is, and all the senses respond and end there. There is great beauty in that. For after all, what is beauty? We won't discuss that now. (Laughter)