Life is relationship

By J Krishnamurti

April 2012

For J Krishnamurti, the philosopher-savant of our times, relationships constituted the seeker’s meditation mat. Here below are excerpts from his work that sum up the essence of his teaching

Life is a process of relationship. There is no life without relationship. This is a fact. You may be a hermit, you may be a monk, you may withdraw from all society, but you are related. As a human being, you cannot escape from being related. You are related to your wife, to your husband, to your children, you are related to your government, you are related to the hermit who withdraws because you feed him, and he is related to his ideas. So relationship is the basis of human existence. Without relationship there is no existence. You are either related to the past, which is, to all the tradition, to all the memories, to the monks, or you are related to some future ideation. So relationship is the most important thing in life. We are enquiring what is your relationship with another, however intimate or not. Is it that you are from childhood hurt, wounded psychologically, and therefore, from that hurt. from that psychological wound, you bring about violence? The consequence of being hurt, inwardly wounded, is that you enclose yourself more and more in order not to be hurt. And your relationship with another then becomes very narrow, limited. We must first enquire whether it is possible to find out if you can never be hurt. What is the root of being hurt? What is the cause? So what is it that is hurt? You say I am hurt. What is that `I’ which is being hurt? Is it not an image that you have built about yourself?

Part of meditation is to enquire into not becoming; becoming is measurement. Is it possible in our relationship with each other, however intimate it is, not to have measurement? That means your brain must be active in your relationship; it must enquire into your relationship, whether in that relationship there is hurt and that hurt brings about greater fear, greater enclosure within oneself, and therefore isolation. And as long as there is isolation, either outwardly or inwardly, there must be conflict.

We are saying the brain has been conditioned to isolation as a Hindu, as a Buddhist, and so on. To enquire into this question. whether the brain can resolve its own conditioning, we must enquire into relationship. What is your relationship with another, with your wife, with your husband, with your children? Begin there, near at home, not far away.

New Delhi 1st Public Talk 30th October, 1982

Krishnamurti: Your basic question is, isn’t it, how are you to live in this world? Before you find out let us first see what this world is. The world is not only all that surrounds us, it is also our relationship to all these things and people, to ourselves, to ideas. We see division into nationalities, into religions, economic, political, social and ethnical groups. In fact, this outer fragmentation is the manifestation of the human being’s inner division.

From The Urgency of Change `Awareness’

We can understand ourselves only in relationship to the present; and that relationship itself is the guru not someone outside. If I do not understand that relationship, whatever a guru may say is useless. To resolve that conflict, I must understand it myself, which means I must be aware of myself in relationship. To be aware, no guru is necessary. As a political leader is chosen by those who are in confusion and whose choice therefore is also confused, so I choose a guru. I can choose him only according to my confusion; hence he, like the political leader, is confused.

…What is important is not who is right – whether I am right or whether those are right who say a guru is necessary; to find out why you need a guru is important. Another can point out the way but you have to do all the work, even if you have a guru. The guru becomes useless when there is a particle of self-knowledge. No guru, no book or scripture, can give you self-knowledge: it comes when you are aware of yourself in relationship.

  No guru, no book or scripture, can give you selfknowledge: it comes when you are aware of yourself in relationship.  

To be, is to be related; not to understand relationship is misery, strife. Not to be aware of your relationship to property is one of the causes of confusion, which increases the conflict in society. If you do not understand the relationship between yourself and your wife, between yourself and your child, how can another resolve the conflict arising out of that relationship? Being confused in your relationship with people, with property, with ideas, you seek a guru. If he is a real guru, he will tell you to understand yourself. You are the source of all misunderstanding and confusion; and you can resolve that conflict only when you understand yourself in relationship.

The First and Last Freedom – Chapter 21

What is your present relationship with another? What is your relationship with a particular person?–perhaps intimate, involving sex, involving dependence on each other, possessing each other and therefore arousing jealousy and antagonism. The man or the woman goes off to the office, where he or she is ambitious, greedy, competitive, aggressive to succeed; he or she comes back home and becomes a tame, friendly, perhaps affectionate husband or wife. That is the actual daily relationship. Nobody can deny that. And we are asking: is that right relationship? We say no, certainly not, We say that that is wrong but we do not seem to be able to understand what right relationship is – except according to the pattern set by ourselves, by society.

Questions and Answers 1st Question Brockwood Park 1st Question & Answer Meeting 28th August 1979

Relationship is action, is it not? Action has meaning only in relationship; without understanding relationship, action on any level will only breed conflict. The understanding of relationship is infinitely more important than the search for any plan of action. Action based on ideology hinders the understanding of relationship between man and man. Ideology may be of the right or of the left, religious or secular, but it is invariably destructive of relationship. The understanding of relationship is true action. Without understanding relationship, strife and antagonism, war and confusion are inevitable.

Relationship means contact, communion. There cannot be communion where people are divided by ideas. A belief may gather a group of people around itself. Such a group will inevitably breed opposition and so form another group with a different belief. Ideals postpone direct relationship with the problem. But, unfortunately, all of us approach the problem with conclusions, with explanations, which we call ideals. They are the means of postponing action.

January 22, 1950

If we treat relationship as a distraction, as an escape from something else, relationship then is merely an activity. As I said, relationship has true significance only when it is a process of self-revelation, when it is the revealing to oneself in the very action of relationship. But most of us do not want to be revealed in relationship. On the contrary, we use relationship as a means of covering up our own insufficiency, our own troubles, our own uncertainty. So, relationship becomes mere movement, mere activity. I do not know if you have noticed that relationship is very painful and that as long as it is not a revealing process in which you are discovering yourself, relationship is merely a means of escape from yourself.

Second Talk in The Oak Grove July 17, 1949

Why in human relationship with each other there is such conflict, such misery, such intense sense of loneliness. We are going to enquire together into that. Enquire means to investigate, to question, to doubt about our relationship, between man and woman, between your nearest neighbour and the farthest neighbour. Why is there such conflict? From the past history, from all the knowledge that has been acquired, studied, man has lived in conflict with each other. But relationship is existence. In that existence there is conflict. But relationship is absolutely necessary. Life is relationship; action is relationship; what you think brings about relationship or destroys relationship? So we are going together to explore why human beings live in conflict with each other? Why there is conflict between the wife and the man? Why? Please ask this question of yourself. Let’s enquire together, because where there is conflict in relationship there is no love, there is no compassion and there is no intelligence.

Calcutta 1st Public Talk 20th November 1982

Then also you have to enquire into relationship, for it is still the material world. Relationship is of the highest importance, because life is relationship. What is your relationship? Have you any relationship?

Enquiring into relationship; is my relationship with you personal and intimate, or not so intimate; is it based on my opinions, my memories, my hurts, my demands, my sexual appetites? If it is, then my relationship with you is relative, it changes – I am moody one day, not moody the next day, the next day I am affectionate and the third day I hate you and the fourth day I love you and so on and so on. In that relationship, if it is not satisfactory, I will go to somebody else. This is the game that we have been playing for centuries. So my mind has to find out what its relationships actually are. So, is all relationship relative? Or is there no relationship at all except when the division as the me and the you does not exist? I am related to you because I love you, because you give me food, clothes, shelter, you give me sex, you give me companionship, I have built a marvellous image about you, we may get annoyed with each other, irritated, but that is trivial. And I hold on to you, I am attached to you, and in that attachment there is great pain, there is great sorrow, suffering, torture, jealousy, antagonism, and then I say to myself, `I must be free of that’. And in freeing myself from that I attach myself to somebody else. And the game begins again. So I say to myself, `What is this relationship? Can there ever be a relationship?’ There is the `me’ that is pursuing my appetites, my ambitions, my greed, my fears, my wanting to have more prestige, greater position and so on and so on; and there is the other also pursuing his or her own demands. So is there any relationship possible at all between two human beings, each functioning on and each pursuing his own exclusive, selfish, demands? So there may be no relationship in that direction, but there may be relationship when there is no `me’ at all. When the `me’, as thought, is non-existent, I am related – related to you, the trees, the mountains, to the rivers, to human beings. That means love – does it not? – which has no cause.

Talks in Saanen 1974 1st Public Talk 14th July 1974

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