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Jiddu Krishnamurti talk on Marriage
Questioner: Marriage is a necessary part of any organized society, but you seem to be against the institution of marriage. What do you say? Please also explain the problem of sex. Why has it become, next to war, the most urgent problem of our day?

Jiddu Krishnamurti: To ask a question is easy, but the difficulty is to look very carefully into the problem itself, which contains the answer. To understand this problem, we must see its enormous implications. That is difficult, because our time is very limited and I shall have to be brief; and if you don’t follow very closely, you may not be able to understand. Let us investigate the problem, not the answer, because the answer is in the problem, not away from it. The more I understand the problem, the clearer I see the answer.

If you merely look for an answer, you will not find one, because you will be seeking an answer away from the problem. Let us look at marriage, but not theoretically or as an ideal, which is rather absurd; don’t let us idealize marriage, let us look at it as it is, for then we can do something about it. If you make it rosy, then you can’t act; but if you look at it and see it exactly as it is, then perhaps you will be able to act.

Now, what actually takes place? When one is young, the biological, sexual urge is very strong, and in order to set a limit to it you have the institution called marriage. There is the biological urge on both sides, so you marry and have children. You tie yourself to a man or to a woman for the rest of your life, and in doing so you have a permanent source of pleasure, a guaranteed security, with the result that you begin to disintegrate; you live in a cycle of habit, and habit is disintegration.

To understand this biological, this sexual urge, requires a great deal of intelligence, but we are not educated to be intelligent. We merely get on with a man or a woman with whom we have to live. I marry at 20 or 25, and I have to live for the rest of my life with a woman whom I have not known. I have-not known a thing about her, and yet you ask me to live with her for the rest of my life. Do you call that marriage?

As I grow and observe, I find her to be completely different from me, her interests are different from mine; she is interested in clubs, I am interested in being very serious, or vice versa. And yet we have children – that is the most extraordinary thing. Sirs, don’t look at the ladies and smile; it is your problem. So, I have established a relationship the significance of which I do not know, I have neither discovered it nor understood it.

It is only for the very, very few who love that the married relationship has significance, and then it is unbreakable, then it is not mere habit or convenience, nor is it based on biological, sexual need. In that love which is unconditional the identities are fused, and in such a relationship there is a remedy, there is hope. But for most of you, the married relationship is not fused. To fuse the separate identities, you have to know yourself, and she has to know herself. That means to love.

But there is no love – which is am obvious fact. Love is fresh, new, not mere gratification, not mere habit. It is unconditional. You don’t treat your husband or wife that way, do you? You live in your isolation, and she lives in her isolation, and you have established your habits of assured sexual pleasure. What happens to a man who has an assured income? Surely, he deteriorates. Have you not noticed it? Watch a man who has an assured income and you will soon see how rapidly his mind is withering away. He may have a big position, a reputation for cunning, but the full joy of life is gone out of him.

Similarly, you have a marriage in which you have a permanent source of pleasure, a habit without understanding, without love, and you are forced to live in that state. I am not saying what you should do; but look at the problem first. Do you think that is right? It does not mean that you must throw off your wife and pursue somebody else. What does this relationship mean? Surely, to love is to be in communion with somebody; but are you in communion with your wife, except physically? Do you know her, except physically?

Does she know you? Are you not both isolated, each pursuing his or her own interests, ambitions and needs, each seeking from the other gratification, economic or psychological security? Such a relationship is not a relationship at all: it is a mutually self-enclosing process of psychological, biological and economic necessity, and the obvious result is conflict, misery, nagging, possessive fear, jealousy, and so on. Do you think such a relationship is productive of anything except ugly babies and an ugly civilization?

Therefore, the important thing is to see the whole process, not as something ugly, but as an actual fact which is taking place under your very nose; and realizing that, what are you going to do? You cannot just leave it at that; but because you do not want to look into it, you take to drink, to politics, to a lady around the corner, to anything that takes you away from the house and from that nagging wife or husband – and you think you have solved the problem.

That is your life, is it not? Therefore, you have to do something about it, which means you have to face it, and that means, if necessary, breaking up; because, when a father and mother are constantly nagging and quarrelling with each other, do you think that has not an effect on the children? And we have already considered, in the previous question, the education of children.

So, marriage as a habit, as a cultivation of habitual pleasure, is a deteriorating factor, because there is no love in habit. Love is not habitual; love is something joyous, creative, new. Therefore, habit is the contrary of love; but you are caught in habit, and naturally your habitual relationship with another is dead. So, we come back again to the fundamental issue, which is that the reformation of society depends on you, not on legislation. Legislation can only make for further habit or conformity.

Therefore, you as a responsible individual in relationship have to do something, you have to act, and you can act only when there is an awakening of your mind and heart. I see some of you nodding your heads in agreement with me, but the obvious fact is that you don’t want to take the responsibility for transformation, for change; you don’t want to face the upheaval of finding out how to live rightly.

And so the problem continues, you quarrel and carry on, and finally you die; and when you die somebody weeps, not for the other fellow, but for his or her own loneliness. You carry on unchanged and you think you are human beings capable of legislation, of occupying high positions, talking about God, finding a way to stop wars, and so on. None of these things mean anything, because you have not solved any of the fundamental issues.

Then, the other part of the problem is sex, and why sex has become so important. Why has this urge taken such a hold on you? Have you ever thought it out? You have not thought it out, because you have just indulged; you have not searched out why there is this problem. Sirs, why is there this problem? And what happens when you deal with it by suppressing it completely – you know, the ideal of Brahmacharya, and so on? What happens? It is still there. You resent anybody who talks about a woman, and you think that you can succeed in completely suppressing the sexual urge in yourself and solve your problem that way; but you are haunted by it.

It is like living in a house and putting all your ugly things in one room; but they are still there. So, discipline is not going to solve this problem – discipline being sublimation, suppression, substitution – , because you have tried it, and that is not the way out. So, what is the way out? The way out is to understand the problem, and to understand is not to condemn or justify. Let us look at it, then, in that way.

Why has sex become so important a problem in your life? Is not the sexual act, the feeling, a way of self-forgetfulness? Do you understand what I mean? In that act there is complete fusion; at that moment there is complete cessation of all conflict, you feel supremely happy because you no longer feel the need as a separate entity and you are not consumed with fear. That is, for a moment there is an ending of self-consciousness, and you feel the clarity of self-forgetfulness, the joy of self abnegation.

So, sex has become important because in every other direction you are living a life of conflict, of self-aggrandizement and frustration. Sirs, look at your lives, political, social, religious: you are striving to become something. Politically, you want to be somebody, powerful, to have position, prestige. Don’t look at somebody else, don’t look at the ministers. If you were given all that, you would do the same thing. So, politically, you are striving to become somebody, you are expanding yourself, are you not?

Therefore, you are creating conflict, there is no denial, there is no abnegation of the `me’. On the contrary, there is accentuation of the `me’. The same process goes on in your relationship with things, which is ownership of property, and again in the religion that you follow. There is no meaning in what you are doing, in your religious practices. You just believe, you cling to labels, words. If you observe, you will see that there too there is no freedom from the consciousness of the `me’ as the centre.

Though your religion says, `Forget yourself’, your very process is the assertion of yourself, you are still the important entity. You may read the Gita or the Bible, but you are still the minister, you are still the exploiter, sucking the people and building temples.

So, in every field, in every activity, you are indulging and emphasizing yourself, your importance, your prestige, your security. Therefore, there is only one source of self-forgetfulness, which is sex, and that is why the woman or the man becomes all-important to you, and why you must possess. So, you build a society which enforces that possession, guarantees you that possession; and naturally sex becomes the all-important problem when everywhere else the self is the important thing.

And do you think, Sirs, that one can live in that state without contradiction, without misery, without frustration? But when there is honestly and sincerely no self-emphasis, whether in religion or in social activity, then sex has very little meaning. It is because you are afraid to be as nothing, politically, socially, religiously, that sex becomes a problem; but if in all these things you allowed yourself to diminish, to be the less, you would see that sex becomes no problem at all.

There is chastity only when there is love. When there is love, the problem of sex ceases; and without love, to pursue the ideal of Brahmacharya is an absurdity, because the ideal is unreal. The real is that which you are; and if you don’t understand your own mind, the workings of your own mind, you will not understand sex, because sex is a thing of the mind. The problem is not simple. It needs, not mere habit-forming practices, but tremendous thought and enquiry into your relationship with people, with property and with ideas. Sir, it means you have to undergo strenuous searching of your heart and mind, thereby bringing a transformation within yourself. Love is chaste; and when there is love, and not the mere idea of chastity created by the mind, then sex has lost its problem and has quite a different meaning.

Source: New Delhi, India, 3rd Public Talk, 19th December, 1948

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