Love, attachment and loneliness
I realize that love cannot exist when there is jealousy: love cannot exist when there is attachment. Now, is it possible for me to be free of jealousy and attachment? I realize that I do not love. That is a fact. I am not going to deceive myself; I am not going to pretend to my wife that I love her. I do not know what love is. But I do know that I am jealous and I do know that I am terribly attached to her and that in that attachment there is fear, there is jealousy, anxiety; there is a sense of dependence. I do not like to depend but I depend because I am lonely; I am shoved around in the office, in the factory and I come home and I want to feel comfort and companionship, to escape from myself. Now I ask myself: how am I to be free of this attachment? I am taking that just as an example.
At first, I want to run away from the question. I do not know how it is going to end up with my wife. When I am really detached from her my relationship to her may change. She might be attached to me and I might not be attached to her or any other woman. But I am going to investigate. So I will not run away from what I imagine might be the consequence of being totally free of all that attachment. I do not know what love is, but I see very clearly, definitely, without any doubt, that attachment to my wife means jealousy, possession, fear, anxiety and I want my freedom from all that. So I begin to enquire; I look for a method and I get caught in a system. Some guru says; “I will help you to be detached, do this and this; practise this and this.” I accept what he says because I see the importance of being free and he promises me that if I do what he says I will have reward. But I see that way that I am looking for reward. I see how silly I am; wanting to be free and getting attached to reward.
I do not want to be attached and yet I find myself getting attached to the idea that somebody, or some book, or some method, will reward me with freedom from attachment. So, the reward becomes an attachment. So I say: “Look what I have done; be careful, do not get caught in that trap.” Whether it is a woman, a method, or an idea, it is still attachment. I am very watchful now for I have learned something; that is, not to exchange attachment for something else that is still attachment.
I ask myself: “What am I to do to be free of attachment?” What is my motive in wanting to be free of attachment? Is it not that I want to achieve a state where there is no attachment, no fear and so on? And I suddenly realize that motive gives direction and that direction will dictate my freedom. Why have a motive? What is motive? A motive is a hope, or a desire, to achieve something. I see that I am attached to a motive. Not only my wife, not only my idea, the method, but my motive has become my attachment! So I am all the time functioning within the field of attachment–the wife, the method and the motive to achieve something in the future. To all this I am attached. I see that it is a tremendously complex thing; I did not realize that to be free of attachment implied all this. Now, I see this as clearly as I see on a map the main roads, the side roads and the villages; I see it very clearly. Then I say to myself: “Now, is it possible for me to be free of the great attachment I have for my wife and also of the reward which I think I am going to get and of my motive?” To all this I am attached. Why? Is it that I am insufficient in myself? Is it that I am very very lonely and therefore seek to escape from that feeling of isolation by turning to a woman, an idea, a motive; as if I must hold onto something? I see that it is so, I am lonely and escaping through attachment to something from that feeling of extraordinary isolation.
So I am interested in understanding why I am lonely, for I see it is that which makes me attached. That loneliness has forced me to escape through attachment to this or to that and I see that as long as I am lonely the sequence will always be this. What does it mean to be lonely? How does it come about? Is it instinctual, inherited, or is it brought about by my daily activity? If it is an instinct, if it is inherited, it is part of my lot; I am not to blame. But as I do not accept this, I question it and remain with the question. I am watching and I am not trying to find an intellectual answer. I am not trying to tell the loneliness what it should do, or what it is; I am watching for it to tell me. There is a watchfulness for the loneliness to reveal itself. It will not reveal itself if I run away; if I am frightened; if I resist it. So I watch it. I watch it so that no thought interferes. Watching is much more important than thought coming in. And because my whole energy is concerned with the observation of that loneliness thought does not come in at all. The mind is being challenged and it must answer. Being challenged it is in a crisis. In a crisis you have great energy and that energy remains without being interfered with by thought. This is a challenge which must be answered.
I started out having a dialogue with myself. I asked myself what is this strange thing called love; everybody talks about it, writes about it–all the romantic poems, pictures, sex and all other areas of it? I ask: is there such a thing as love? I see it does not exist when there is jealousy, hatred, fear. So I am not concerned with love anymore; I am concerned with `what is’, my fear, my attachment. Why am I attached? I see that one of the reasons–I do not say it is the whole reason–is that I am desperately lonely, isolated. The older I grow the more isolated I become. So I watch it. This is a challenge to find out, and because it is a challenge all energy is there to respond. That is simple. If there is some catastrophe, an accident or whatever it is, it is a challenge and I have the energy to meet it. I do not have to ask: “How do I get this energy?” When the house is on fire I have the energy to move; extraordinary energy. I do not sit back and say: “Well, I must get this energy” and then wait; the whole house will be burned by then.
So there is this tremendous energy to answer the question: why is there this loneliness? I have rejected ideas, suppositions and theories that it is inherited, that it is instinctual. All that means nothing to me. Loneliness is `what is’. Why is there this loneliness which every human being, if he is at all aware, goes through, superficially or most profoundly? Why does it come into being? Is it that the mind is doing something which is bringing it about? I have rejected theories as to instinct and inheritance and I am asking: is the mind, the brain itself, bringing about this loneliness, this total isolation? Is the movement of thought doing this? Is the thought in my daily life creating this sense of isolation? In the office I am isolating myself because I want to become the top executive, therefore thought is working all the time isolating itself. I see that thought is all the time operating to make itself superior, the mind is working itself towards this isolation.
So the problem then is: why does thought do this? Is it the nature of thought to work for itself? Is it the nature of thought to create this isolation? Education brings about this isolation; it gives me a certain career, a certain specialization and so, isolation. Thought, being fragmentary, being limited and time binding, is creating this isolation. In that limitation, it has found security saying: “I have a special career in my life; I am a professor; I am perfectly safe.” So my concern is then: why does thought do it? Is it in its very nature to do this? Whatever thought does must be limited.
Now the problem is: can thought realize that whatever it does is limited, fragmented and therefore isolating and that whatever it does will be thus? This is a very important point: can thought itself realize its own limitations? Or am I telling it that it is limited? This, I see, is very important to understand; this is the real essence of the matter. If thought realizes itself that it is limited then there is no resistance, no conflict; it says, “I am that”. But if I am telling it that it is limited then I become separate from the limitation. Then I struggle to overcome the limitation, therefore there is conflict and violence, not love.
So does thought realize of itself that it is limited? I have to find out. I am being challenged. Because I am challenged I have great energy. Put it differently: does consciousness realize its content is itself? Or is it that I have heard another say: “Consciousness is its content; its content makes up consciousness”? Therefore I say, “Yes, it is so”. Do you see the difference between the two? The latter, created by thought, is imposed by the `me’. If I impose something on thought then there is conflict. It is like a tyrannical government imposing on someone, but here that government is what I have created.
So I am asking myself: has thought realized its own limitations? Or is it pretending to be something extraordinary, noble, divine?– which is nonsense because thought is based on memory. I see that there must be clarity about this point: that there is no outside influence imposing on thought saying it is limited. Then, because there is no imposition there is no conflict; it simply realizes it is limited; it realizes that whatever it does–its worship of god and so on–is limited, shoddy, petty–even though it has created marvellous cathedrals throughout Europe in which to worship.
So there has been in my conversation with myself the discovery that loneliness is created by thought. Thought has now realized of itself that it is limited and so cannot solve the problem of loneliness. As it cannot solve the problem of loneliness, does loneliness exist? Thought has created this sense of loneliness, this emptiness, because it is limited, fragmentary, divided and when it realizes this, loneliness is not, therefore there is freedom from attachment. I have done nothing; I have watched the attachment, what is implied in it, greed, fear, loneliness, all that and by tracing it, observing it, not analyzing it, but just looking, looking and looking, there is the discovery that thought has done all this. Thought, because it is fragmentary, has created this attachment. When it realizes this, attachment ceases. There is no effort made at all. For the moment there is effort conflict is back again.
In love there is no attachment; if there is attachment there is no love. There has been the removal of the major factor through negation of what it is not, through the negation of attachment. I know what it means in my daily life: no remembrance of anything my wife, my girl friend, or my neighbour did to hurt me; no attachment to any image thought has created about her; how she has bullied me, how she has given me comfort, how I have had pleasure sexually, all the different things of which the movement of thought has created images; attachments to those images has gone.
And there are other factors: must I go through all those step by step, one by one? Or is it all over? Must I go through, must I investigate–as I have investigated attachment–fear, pleasure and the desire for comfort? I see that I do not have to go through all the investigation of all these various factors; I see it at one glance, I have captured it.
So, through negation of what is not love, love is. I do not have to ask what love is? I do not have to run after it. If I run after it, it is not love, it is a reward. So I have negated, I have ended, in that enquiry, slowly, carefully, without distortion, without illusion, everything that it is not–the other is.
taken from a Discussion Meeting at the Brockwood Part Gathering, August 30, 1977
Copyright © Krishnamurti Foundation Trust, Ltd., London 1977