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‘Love and Sex’
Questioner: I’m a married man with several children. I’ve lived rather a dissipated life in search of pleasure, but a fairly civilized life too, and I’ve made a success of it financially. But now I’m middle-aged and am feeling concerned, not only about my family but also about the way the world is going. I’m not given to brutality or violent feelings, and I have always considered that forgiveness and compassion are the most important things in life. Without these man becomes subhuman. So if I may I should like to ask you what love is. Is there really such a thing? Compassion must be part of it, but I always feel that love is something much vaster, and if we could explore it together perhaps I should then make my life into something worthwhile before it is too late. I have really come to ask this one thing – what is love?
Krishnamurti: Before we begin to go into this we must be very clear that the word is not the thing, the description is not the described, because any amount of explanation, however subtle and clever, will not open the heart to the immensity of love. This we must understand, and not merely stick to words: words are useful for communication, but in talking about something that is really non-verbal we must establish a communion between us, so that both of us feel and realize the same thing at the same time, with a fullness of mind and heart. Otherwise we will be playing with words. How can one approach this really very subtle thing that cannot be touched by the mind? We must go rather hesitatingly. Shall we first see what it is not, and then perhaps we may be able to see what it is? Through negation we may come upon the positive, but merely to pursue the positive leads to assumptions and conclusions which bring about division. You are asking what love is. We are saying we may come upon it when we know what it is not. Anything that brings about a division, a separation, is not love, for in that there is conflict, strife and brutality.
Questioner: What do you mean by a division, a separation that brings about strife – what do you mean by it?
Krishnamurti: Thought in its very nature is divisive. It is thought that seeks pleasure and holds it. It is thought that cultivates desire.
Questioner: Will you go into desire a bit more?
Krishnamurti: There is the seeing of a house, the sensation that it is lovely, then there is the desire to own it and to have pleasure from it, then there is the effort to get it. All this constitutes the centre, and this centre is the cause of division. This centre is the feeling of a “me”, which is the cause of division, because this very feeling of “me’’ is the feeling of separation. People have called this the ego and all kinds of other names – the “lower self” as opposed to some idea of a “higher self” – but there is no need to be complicated about it; it is very simple. Where there is the centre, which is the feeling of “me”, which in its activities isolates itself, there is division and resistance. And all this is the process of thought. So when you ask what is love, it is not of this centre. Love is not pleasure and pain, nor hate nor violence in any form.
Questioner: Therefore in this love you speak of there can be no sex because there cannot be desire?
Krishnamurti: Don’t, please, come to any conclusion. We are investigating, exploring. Any conclusion or assumption prevents further enquiry. To answer this question we have also to look at the energy of thought. Thought, as we have said, sustains pleasure by thinking about something that has been pleasurable, cultivating the image, the picture. Thought engenders pleasure. Thinking about the sexual act becomes lust, which is entirely different from the act of sex. What most people are concerned with is the passion of lust. Craving before and after sex is lust. This craving is thought. Thought is not love.
Questioner: Can there be sex without this desire of thought?
Krishnamurti: You have to find out for yourself. Sex plays an extraordinarily important part in our lives because it is perhaps the only deep, firsthand experience we have. Intellectually and emotionally we conform, imitate, follow, obey. There is pain and strife in all our relationships, except in the act of sex. This act, being so different and beautiful, we become addicted to, so it in turn becomes a bondage. The bondage is the demand for its continuation – again the action of the centre which is divisive. One is so hedged about – intellectually, in the family, in the community, through social morality, through religious sanctions – so hedged about that there is only this one relationship left in which there is freedom and intensity. Therefore we give tremendous importance to it. But if there were freedom all around then this would not be such a craving and such a problem. We make it a problem because we can’t get enough of it, or because we feel guilty at having got it, or because in getting it we break the rules which society has laid down. It is the old society which calls the new society permissive because for the new society sex is a part of life. In freeing the mind from the bondage of imitation, authority, conformity and religious prescriptions, sex has its own place, but it won’t be all-consuming. From this one can see that freedom is essential for love – not the freedom of revolt, not the freedom of doing what one likes nor of indulging openly or secretly one’s cravings, but rather the freedom which comes in the understanding of this whole structure and nature of the centre. Then freedom is love.
Questioner: So freedom is not licence?
Krishnamurti: No. Licence is bondage. Love is not hate, nor jealousy, nor ambition, nor the competitive spirit with its fear of failure. It is not the love of god nor the love of man – which again is a division. Love is not of the one or of the many. When there is love it is personal and impersonal, with and without an object. It is like the perfume of a flower; one or many can smell it: what matters is the perfume, not to whom it belongs.
Questioner: Where does forgiveness come in all this?
Krishnamurti: When there is love there can be no forgiveness. Forgiveness comes only after you have accumulated rancour; forgiveness is resentment. Where there is no wound there is no need for healing. It is inattention that breeds resentment and hate, and you become aware of them and then forgive. Forgiveness encourages division. When you are conscious that you are forgiving, then you are sinning. When you are conscious that you are tolerant, then you are intolerant. When you are conscious that you are silent, then there is no silence. When you deliberately set about to love, then you are violent. As long as there is an observer who says, “I am” or “I am not”, love cannot be.
Questioner: What place has fear in love?
Krishnamurti: How can you ask such a question? Where one is, the other is not. When there is love you can do what you will.