Our relationship with the World (Part III): Relationship to our fellow human beings



by Prof. P. Krishna

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


( Third talk delivered at the Krishnamurti Gathering in Saanen, Switzerland on 2 August, 1995. )

In the first talk we examined our relationship with the universe, and we said that there seems to be a cosmic order governing the development of the entire universe, that all life was part of that order, and also that we, as human beings, have come into being as part of that order, and our development is also governed by those laws which the scientists are trying to discover. We raised the question whether the ego or the separate self which we intuitively think exists, is also part of that order, or it is something which we create, perhaps unknowingly, in our imagination and which then, makes us feel that we are separate from the rest of the universe, the rest of the world. Otherwise, we are a part of this world, the whole process of the world. Last time, we examined our relationship with society and we said that society is what the individuals are, that it is not really separate from the individuals, it is determined by each individual. Therefore, each one of us is responsible for whatever happens in society and out of that, may devolve a certain responsibility which we tend to ignore, because we feel that we are separate from society and unconnected with what is happening out there. We tend to feel that we are somehow at the receiving end and not at the creating end ! We went into that and we said that there cannot be a fundamental transformation in society unless the individual transforms, and the individual doesn't transform unless there is a change in his consciousness. So it's not a matter of control, or will, or decisions, or systems - political, economic, and so on. All these may affect the periphery, the outer organization, but they do not fundamentally alter the nature of society, which is determined by the nature of our individual consciousness. So the crisis is in the consciousness of man, and not out there where the conflict appears to be taking place right now.

Today, I would like to examine what our relationship is, to our fellow man. whether we are really separate from each other or we only think we are separate and because we think that way we feel we are separate.

In other words, whether the division between the Arab and the Jew, or the Christian and the Hindu, or the American and the Indian, is a fact, and we need some larger concept, superior philosophy or leader or ideal or world government to unite us ? Is it a fact that we are disunited and therefore we need something or somebody to unite us, or is the fact that we are not really separate and the feeling of division is born of illusion ? In the latter case, we don't need another illusion to unite us, we only need the ending of the present illusion ! To go into this question let us begin very simply, factually, with observation. We all do seem to be different from each other don't we ? We are different in our age, in the colour of our skin, in the knowledge that we have in our heads, in our ability to do something. Some may be more intelligent in certain directions, others may seem to be dull, and so on. So there are differences, from person to person every individual is different. Does difference necessarily create division ? Are we divided from the African because he is black and we are brown or white ? Does that fact of the difference in colour create division ? Or does our mind create division out of that difference, and then we feel separate because we have created division ? As we said on the first day, a mind that creates division is not religious, because religion means to unify.

That which unites is religious, that which divides is not religious, by definition. All differences don't seem to create division either.

We are not divided by the colour of our hair, or by the fact that one person is tall, and another is short. We don't have that kind of division, at least not yet, of short people fighting a war against tall people ! So there seem to be some areas where we really recognize differences as differences, and see them for what they are, and then they don't create any problems.

Why can't we see all differences in that way ? Why is it that certain differences create division ? Is the oak tree divided from the eucalyptus tree ? I see the oak tree, and I see the eucalyptus tree, they are very different from each other. Are they divided from each other ? We don't feel they are divided from each other, they are two trees but we don't see any antagonism between them. Is one of them superior to the other ? You will say "What do you mean by superior, how would you define superiority ?." If you want shade, the oak tree is superior. If you want oil or perfume, the eucalyptus tree is superior. But if you do not want anything, then which is superior ? So there may be no such thing as superior or inferior. There may be only differences -- as a fact. We create superiority, or inferiority, because we approach that fact like a beggar, asking for something, wanting something from it; which means we don't approach it like a friend. A friend does not approach something in order to get something for himself. He just approaches to share life, to share the beauty, may be the sorrow or whatever else-- just to share, with no other purpose. Then there is no measurement. There is no condemnation, there is no judgment. So does the division arise because we don't approach things rightly, we don't approach people rightly ? When we don't approach rightly, we keep measuring, we keep comparing, keep saying. "This is superior, that is inferior, this should be so, that should not be so, this is right that is wrong".

When I keep judging -- condemning or admiring, giving importance or neglecting-- I don't just see a difference as a difference because I attach to it a value judgment. That value judgment, then creates a feeling of superiority or inferiority. If you say "The White man is superior to the Black man", you become a racist, you have formed a group, and you want to belong to the superior race. But if you don't do all that, the black man is black, and the white man is white and noticing that in itself, doesn't divide us. Then you can see it just like the difference between two trees, or yourself and the wall and that does not divide. So our differences don't divide us. Then what divides us ? What makes us feel separate from each other ? I also question whether we are really as different as we imagine ourselves to be or that is also an illusion which arises because we look at each other very superficially, without a deep awareness. I would like to examine that very factually, which means not emotionally, not romantically, but rather scientifically, precisely.

A human being is his body, and his consciousness. That is how we define the individual. We can go into it separately whether one is truly an individual, but that is what we generally mean by an individual person--his body and his mind. Let us first examine whether we are really very different in our bodies. Outwardly we look different, the skin colour may be different or the shape of the nose, this, that and the other. But any scientist, any biologist, any doctor will tell us that inside, we are very much the same. You can transfuse blood, you can transplant organs, -- it is rather obvious, so I will not dwell on it. If you want me to put a figure on it, I would say ninety nine percent we are the same in our body, one percent we may differ from each other.

Now are we different in our consciousness ? It depends on what meaning we give to consciousness. My memory is different from yours.

My knowledge is different from yours. I was brought up in a different family, a different culture, educated differently, so there may be those differences in the conscious part of ourselves. But we share millions of years of a common heritage of mankind, and genetically, we are not all that different. We all have fear, we all have desires, we all want to be successful and we feel frustrated when we meet with failure. Throughout mankind there is this tendency to worship something beyond, which we call God. The mother loves her child and is attached to it in the same way whether in the Islamic world, the Christian world, the Hindu world, or anywhere else. All human beings face conflicts, suffer, have sorrow, have the same problems of desire-- so there is very much that is common in the depths of our being. What differs is just the computerized part of our memory which accumulated in our brain since birth. It is the result of the accident of birth. If I was born in Sweden, I would be speaking Swedish, and probably dressing differently, looking a bit different.

But deep down we are not different. So in our consciousness ninety percent or perhaps more is the same throughout mankind. It is just the language, the particular experiences of my lifetime, the particular cultural prejudices or psychological complexes which I might have collected from my experiences, which are different from those of another human being.

So I question whether we are really all that different as we imagine ourselves to be. Two human beings are rather like two waves in the ocean. One wave might say to the other "I'm different from you", because it moves a little faster, it is a little taller, but they are both water and they share the seven miles depth of the ocean. We would say : "There is no difference, one wave is just like another".

The scientist would say "They are both waves with different amplitude and frequency". Yet the waves can feel very different. If it attaches itself to its velocity, it can say "I am superior to you, I move faster" and when it says that, it divides itself from the other wave. Fortunately, it is not able to do that-- but we human beings have the capacity to do that ! So, does division arise from measurement ? Does it arise because I am constantly measuring -- taller, shorter, superior, inferior, beautiful, ugly ? So I ask myself "Why do I measure all the time ? "Is it just a habit ? Is it something I have been educated into ? Is it really all that important to measure ? Or has measurement acquired a tremendous importance just because in society we give tremendous importance to measuring ? These are fundamental questions, and fundamental questions are religious questions. They are to be answered not from the past, not from our knowledge and training but through observation, by looking at what is.

I wonder if you have noticed how it has become terribly important in our world, who can jump half a centimetre higher than other people.

Don't laugh Sir, it is a fact. We organize an Olympics, we make human beings jump, we have half the world watching them on television to see who is going to jump one millimetre higher ! I also watch, we all watch. Is it really terribly important who can jump five feet and five inches instead of five feet and four inches ? Then why has it become so important ? People leave their work in order to watch the television, so obviously some people think it is more important than their work. Is it not more important whether a human being is enjoying what he is doing -- not whether he does it better than other human beings and wins over them ? If you examine it carefully you will find that we first divide the world into nations then we identify a man with a nation saying. "This man was born in my nation, and he can jump higher than any man from any other nation". We give tremendous importance to it because we identify with all that ! We don't just see it as "Steffi Graff played a better game than Monica Seles" -- one individual happened to play better than the other, therefore she won. Instead, it seems to be a victory for Germany over Yugoslavia and the whole nation rejoices. Recently we had that terrible instance of a man being killed because he made a mistake in a football game ! When he went back home, they killed him. So a game becomes like a war. Is a game like a war ? Why has it become like a war ? At the root of it is measurement and comparison. I want to measure, I want to be superior to the other guy. So that raises the question: are we really rivals ? Am I in competition with all of you ? Why should not I be happy if you win ? I play a game of tennis with you, you are a better player than me, so you defeat me. Why should not I be happy that the right thing happened ? Why should I win, if I am not the better player ? The ego says everything good must happen to me -- I must benefit, I must win ! We are not saying: "What is the right thing ? If the right thing is happening, I am happy. " We are wanting the beneficial thing to happen. Beneficial to whom ? To the 'me' that I have created. Therefore one is all the time measuring whether the 'me' is benefiting or not, and choosing the path of benefit.

So our mind works like that of a businessman. A businessman is essentially looking for profits. All his decisions are based on profit. We are also living our life in that way, constantly calculating for profit, for gain. Our identifications are also based on profit. I identify with that group of people who make me feel secure, where I feel comfortable. So that is also self-centred activity. Where there is measurement in order to feel superior, in order to choose, in order to identify, there will be division.

Measurement is all right in a scientific laboratory. When you want to make a bridge, you have to measure. So let us not say "Measurement is evil". It has its right place, but we have just extended it un intelligently into comparing ourselves with other human beings and when you do that, you create superiority and inferiority, you create division. Then you are separate from me and we stand in competition with each other. It may not really be so. Sir, is your right hand in competition with your left hand ? Why not ? If a mosquito bites me on my left hand and I scratch with my right hand my left hand does not even say "Thank you" to the right hand. That is what it means to be one, to be undivided - there is not even a need to say thank you. In very close friendships with your parents, with your wife, with your friends, with your colleague, there is no sense of gratitude. The 'thank you', the gratitude, is also born of this feeling of being separate. We do not say "Thank you" to ourselves, the right hand does not say "Thank you" to left hand. We know it intuitively that the two are one, they are governed by one mind.

Can it be that we are also all governed by one mind but because we identify with our personal computer, which is our brain, we begin to feel separate and think we have our own personal mind ? Then we give tremendous importance to it as our personal possession. Indeed it is only a possession, a mental possession which we did not even buy in the market. It is there, as a part of this process in nature, this mysterious process of life that is going on. When I identify with that, call it my mind it becomes special, and that divides. Then it has rivalry with another identified entity and is competing with it.

Please do see the consequences of that in society, all born out of this illusion. All countries are exploiting nature. They all agree that it is wrong to exploit nature, to pollute, but they say "If I don't pollute it, they will pollute it first and get the benefit; so I must go and grab the cake before they grab it !" We are doing that at the international level. We object to it on our dining table-- when a man tries to grab the cake without offering it to all the others, we consider him uncultured. But we all accept it at the international level--competition, rivalry, selfishness.

The Arabs feel they are very different from the Jews. You could take any other example--you could take Catholics and Protestants, you could take Hindus and Moslems. The child who grows up in Palestine is told "You are an Arab", and he grows up identifying with the Arabs. His 'computer' is programmed the Arabic way. He is taught that the Jews are his enemies. He grows up thinking that. The old people die but the young man is left behind with this computer which was programmed by the old people. So he already hates the Jews, without even knowing them ! And it is exactly the same thing on the other side with the Jews. The old people all die, leaving their prejudices, which the young inherit. So how will that conflict end ? How will this division end ? It is happening not only with the Arabs and the Jews, please watch it, it's happening with us too in our families, wherever we are ! We are simply accepting what the older generation is telling us, identifying with it, saying "This is mine!" and then giving importance to it --not exploring, not trying to find out whether that is true.

So unless the Arab questions and frees himself of his Arabic conditioning, and the Jew questions and frees himself of the Jewish conditioning, you will never have an end to this conflict. It will perpetuate itself, generation after generation. The same applies to every other society: that is why Americans are Americans, Indians are Indians, and so on.

Take another example. Somebody organized society in India by dividing people into castes, perhaps five thousand years ago. They are still struggling to come out of it ! There are four major castes, depending on your profession, on your birth and so on. Either you are a Brahmin, or a Kshatriya or a Vaishya, or a Shudra. In the old days, society was organized that way. Even today, they can not get rid of it. Because as the child grows up, he sees the caste system operating around it. He sees these people do not eat meat, these people marry only among those people, and so on and that is what he learns. He grows up belonging to a particular caste. How is casteism to end ? Society has an inertia, a way of perpetuating itself. Our prejudices perpetuate themselves and the 'me' is just a bundle of such prejudices. But we are asserting the 'me' ! I need to see that I don't have to identify with the bundle of prejudices which happen to be lying in this particular head which I call 'my head' I don't have to identify with it. I need to look at it and cleanse it, erase what is false, examine it, study it and we have been given a consciousness to do that. The animal can't do that. It can't come out of its conditioning, because it is genetic. But we have the capacity to observe it, learn about it and let the false drop away. That capacity to see is not born out of this conditioning. It is not the conditioned brain that sees. Fortunately we have the capacity to observe all this happening within us.

So there is this capacity in my consciousness to observe the operation of the brain, the computer that is there in my head and to discard what is false and retain what is true. That may be the real purpose of religious inquiry - to discover what is true and drop what is false. Not identify with something as mine just because it's the particular prejudice I received from my family, or my guru or a book.

I need to examine it and find out if it is true, not identify with an opinion or merely accept it. We do that in science. We do not accept something just because Newton said it. We test it, we experiment with it and if it is false, we say "Sorry, Newton was a great scientist, but he was mistaken". Why do we accept it in the field of religion ? There is no such thing as American science, and Indian science or British science. There is no separate national mathematics. There is only one mathematics. Why are there ten different religions ? Why is there no such thing as a comprehension of human consciousness ? Why is there a Christian truth and a Hindu truth ? Is not truth universal ? If it is true here, it is true there, it is true in India, it is true in America it is true for you, it is true for me-- because that is what it actually is. But illusions can differ. The truth is I don't know what God is, but I say "This imagination is the Hindu imagination which is mine". And you can say "This imagination is the Christian imagination which is mine" and then we fight and are divided over those imaginary illusions ! You cannot be divided over a fact, because you can test it and find out whether it is a fact or not. Why don't we approach the religious truths also in that manner ? To admit that we do not know, to doubt what we hold, to question it sincerely, honestly. That means somebody who comes and criticizes and says "You are thinking wrongly" may be our best friend, because he is making us look at something which may not be true. It may be true but at least he is forcing you to examine it. We consider it as an attack on us because we are not really interested in the truth, we are interested in support. We want support for what we already maintain, so that we feel good. If we are looking for support it is not a quest for truth.

So, let us not easily accept that we are really in quest of truth for the mind is very subtle. It deceives itself. It will seek pleasure, it will seek satisfaction, it will seek comfort, and say "I am seeking truth". It is in the very nature of the self to be deceptive. Our mind works like our personal lawyer. A lawyer has already taken a position. He is choosing those arguments which fit his case, and ignoring the evidence which is against it. That is prejudice, that is not a quest for truth. The man who is in quest of truth has no position, no assertion, no anchor. He is only looking and willing to change if he sees something is false. We might have held a view for twenty years and yet it may be false. The day you see it is false, you drop it -- that is what it requires. Dropping it like that may be what Krishnamurti meant when he said "You must die everyday". You must die to everything that you have accumulated from the past, which is prejudice, which is false. You can't die to truth, because truth is not a matter of your opinion, it is what is. You can't die to it.

You can die only to that which is false, which is an illusion. Because when you see something is false, since it is an illusion it dissolves.

And that is what the religious quest may be -- to uncover every nook and corner of our mind, put a little light there, and let the darkness drop away. That may also be the meaning of "You have to be a light unto yourself." Only you can put that light there-- no guru, no other human being, neither your closest friend nor your father, can do it for you. They can give you a description, an idea, their view, but that is not the same as seeing the truth. The seeing we have to do ourselves. And each one of us may be very clear in some areas but confused in other areas-- none of us may be completely clear. It isn't important to measure who is more clear, who is less clear.

Remember, we are not in competition with each other. So we can inquire together, with one mind, as human beings who don't know, who have areas of darkness which we wish to dispel. And in discussing with each other, in sharing honestly our perceptions, in questioning each other, we can help each other light up those little areas of darkness. So, if the mind lives with that religious quality, it does not divide itself from a fellow man. We are both partially blind, and we are both seeking light together. Don't say "I am more blind than you". That measurement creates division. We are fellow inquirers, fellow pilgrims sharing life together and that may be the only true relationship between one human being and another.

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