WHAT IS LOVE?
J. Krishnamurti (abridged)
Love has already been spoken about on The New Wisdom page. But we’ve always thought that
Krishnamurti’s words on love – and especially what it isn’t – were both unique and timeless,
and deserving of a separate page.
What is love? The word is so loaded and corrupted that I hardly like to use it. Everybody talks of love – every magazine and newspaper and every missionary talks everlastingly of love. I love my country, I love my king, I love some book, I love that mountain, I love pleasure, I love my wife, I love God.
Because we cannot solve this human thing called love we run away into abstractions. Love may be the ultimate solution to all man’s difficulties, problems and travails, so how are we going to find out what love is? By merely defining it? The church has defined it one way, society another, and there are all sorts of deviations and perversions. Adoring someone, sleeping with someone, the emotional exchange, the companionship – is that what we mean by love?
For most people love means comfort, security, a guarantee for the rest of their lives of continuous emotional satisfaction.
That has been the norm, the pattern, and it has become so tremendously personal, sensuous, and limited that religions have declared that love is something much more that this. In what they call human love they see there is pleasure, competition, jealousy, the desire to possess, to hold, to control and to interfere with another’s thinking, and knowing the complexity of all this they say there must be another kind of love, divine, beautiful, untouched, uncorrupted.
Throughout the world, so-called holy men have maintained that to look at a woman is something totally wrong: they say you cannot come near to God if you indulge in sex; therefore they push it aside although they are eaten up with it. But by denying sexuality they put out their eyes and cut out their tongues for they deny the whole beauty of the earth. They have starved their hearts and minds; they are dehydrated human beings; they have banished beauty because beauty is associated with woman.
Can love be divided into the sacred and the profane, the human and the divine, or is there only love?
The government says, ‘Go and kill for the love of your country’. Is that love? Religion says, ‘Give up sex for the love of God’. Is that love? Is love desire?
You say you love your wife. In that love is involved sexual pleasure, the pleasure of having someone in the house to look after your children, to cook. You depend on her; she has given you her body, her emotions, her encouragement, a certain feeling of security and well-being. Then she turns away from you; she gets bored or goes off with someone else, and your whole emotional balance is destroyed, and this disturbance, which you don’t like, is called jealousy. There is pain in it, anxiety, hate and violence. So what you are really saying is, ‘As long as you belong to me I love you but the moment you don’t I begin to hate you. As long as I can rely on you to satisfy my demands, sexual and otherwise, I love you, but the moment you cease to supply what I want I don’t like you.’
This belonging to another, being psychologically nourished by another, depending on another – in all this there must always be anxiety, fear, jealousy, guilt, and so long as there is fear there is no love; a mind ridden with sorrow will never know what love is.
Don’t you know what it means really to love somebody – to love without hate, without jealousy, without anger, without wanting to interfere with what he is doing or thinking, without condemning – don’t you know what it means? When you love someone with all your heart, with all your mind, with all your body, with your entire being, is there comparison? When you totally abandon yourself to that love there is not the other.
Does love have responsibility and duty, and will it use those words? When you do something out of duty is there any love in it? When there is love there is no duty and no responsibility.
When you lose someone you love you shed tears – are your tears for yourself or for the one who is dead? Have you ever cried for another? You have cried, but do those tears come out of self-pity or have you cried because a human being has been killed? When you cry for yourself, is it love – crying because you are lonely, because you have been left, because you are no longer powerful?
Sorrow and love cannot go together, but in the Christian world they have idealized suffering, put it on a cross and worshipped it, implying that you can never escape from suffering except through that one particular door, and this is the whole structure of an exploiting religious society.
So when you ask what love is, you may be too frightened to see the answer. It may mean complete upheaval; you may have to shatter the house you have built, you may never go back to the temple.
But if you still want to find out, you will see that fear is not love, dependence is not love, jealousy is not love, possessiveness and domination are not love, responsibility and duty are not love, self-pity is not love, the agony of not being loved is not love, love is not the opposite of hate any more than humility is the opposite of vanity.
Who is going to teach you how to love? Will any authority, any method, any system, tell you how to love? If anyone tells you, it is not love. Can you say, ‘I will practice love. I will sit down day after day and think about it. I will practice being kind and gentle and force myself to pay attention to others’? Do you mean to say that you can discipline yourself to love, exercise the will to love? When you exercise discipline and will to love, love goes out the window. By practising some method or system of loving you may become extraordinarily clever or more kindly or get into a state of non-violence, but that has nothing whatsoever to do with love.
So we reach the point: can the mind come upon love without discipline, without thought, without enforcement, without any book, any teacher or leader – come upon it as one comes upon a lovely sunset?
But you don’t know how to come to this extraordinary fount – so what do you do? If you don’t know what to do, you do nothing, don’t you? Absolutely nothing. Then inwardly you are completely silent. Do you understand what that means? It means that you are not seeking, not wanting, not pursuing; there is no centre at all. Then there is love.