You have shown me the superficiality and the futility of the life I am leading. I should like to change, but I am trapped by habit and environment. Should I leave everything and everyone and follow you?
JIDDU KRISHNAMURTI : – Do you think our problems are solved when we follow another? To follow another, no matter who it is, is to deny the understanding of yourself. And it is very easy to follow somebody. The greater the personality, the greater the power, the easier it is to follow; and in the very following you are destroying that understanding because the follower destroys – he is never the creator, he never brings about understanding. To follow is to deny all understanding and therefore to deny truth.
Now, if you do not follow, what are you to do? Since, as the questioner says, one is trapped by habit and environment, what is one to do? Surely, all that you can do is to understand the trap of habit and environment, the superficiality and the futility of your life. We are always in relationship, are we not? To be is to be related, and if you regard relationship as a trap from which you want to escape, then you will only fall into another trap – the trap of the teacher whom you follow. It may be a little more arduous, a little more inconvenient, a little less comfortable, but it will still be a trap; because, that also is relationship, and there too there are jealousies, envy, the desire to be the nearest disciple, and all the rest of the nonsense.
So, we are trapped because we do not understand relationship; and it is difficult to understand relationship if we are condemning, identifying ourselves with something, or if we are using relationship as a means of escape from ourselves, from that which we are. After all, relationship is a mirror, is it not? Relationship is a mirror in which I can see myself as I am. But to see ourselves directly as we are is very unpleasant, and so we avoid it by condemning it, justifying it, or merely identifying ourselves with it.
Without relationship there is no life, is there? Nothing can exist in isolation. And yet all our efforts are towards being isolated; relationship for most of us is a process of self-isolation, self-enclosure, and therefore there is friction. When there is friction, misery, pain, suffering, unhappiness, we want to run away, we want to follow someone else, to live in the shadow of another, and so we turn to the church, to a monastery, or to the latest teacher. They are all the same because they are all escapes, and our turning to them is obviously prompted by the desire to avoid that which is; and in the very running away we create further misery, further confusion.
So, most of us are trapped, whether we like it or not, because that is our world, that is our society; and awareness in relationship is the mirror in which we can see ourselves very clearly. To see clearly, there must obviously be no condemnation, acceptance, justification, or identification. If we are simply aware without choice, then we can observe, not only the superficial reactions of the mind, but also the deep and hidden reactions, which come out in the shape of dreams, or in moments when the superficial mind is quiet and there is spontaneity of response. But if the mind is conditioned, shaped, and bound by a particular belief, surely there can be no spontaneity, and therefore no direct perception of the responses of relationship.
It is important to see, is it not, that no one can give us freedom from the conflict of relationship. We can hide behind the screen of words, or follow a teacher, or run to a church, or lose ourselves in a cinema or a book, or keep on attending talks; but it is only when the fundamental process of thinking is uncovered through awareness in relationship that it is possible to understand and be free of that friction which we instinctively seek to avoid. Most of us use relationship as a means of escape from ourselves, from our own loneliness, from our own inward uncertainty and poverty, and so we cling to the outer things of relationship, which become very important to us.
But if, instead of escaping through relationship, we can look into relationship as a mirror and see very clearly, without any prejudice, exactly what is, then that very perception brings about a transformation of what is, without any effort to transform it. There is nothing to transform about a fact; it is what it is. But we approach the fact with hesitation, with fear, with a sense of prejudice, and so we are always acting upon the fact and therefore never perceiving the fact as it is. When we see the fact as it is, then that very fact is the truth which resolves the problem.
So, in all this the important thing is not what another says, however great or stupid he may be, but to be aware of oneself, to see the fact of what is, from moment to moment, without accumulating. When you accumulate, you cannot see the fact; then you see the accumulation, and not the fact. But when you can see the fact independently of the accumulation, independently of the thought process, which is the response of accumulated experience, then it is possible to go beyond the fact. It is the avoidance of the fact that brings about conflict, but when you recognize the truth of the fact, then there is a quietness of mind in which conflict ceases.
So, do what you will, you cannot escape through relationship; and if you do escape, you will only create further isolation, further misery and confusion, because to use relationship as a means of self-fulfillment is to deny relationship. If we look at this problem very clearly, we can see that life is a process of relationship; and if, instead of understanding relationship, we seek to withdraw from it, enclosing ourselves in ideas, in superstitions, in various forms of addiction, these self-enclosures only create more of the very conflict we are trying to avoid.
Source: Jiddu Krishnamurti Talk at New York & Seattle 1950