Questioner: What relation has the observer, my observer, to other observers, to other people?
Krishnamurti: What do we mean by that word ‘relationship’? Are we ever related to anyone, or is the relationship between two images which we have created about each other? I have an image about you, and you have an image about me. I have an image about you as my wife or husband, or whatever it is, and you an image about me also. The relationship is between these two images and nothing else. To have relationship with another is only possible when there is no image. When I can look at you and you can look at me without the image of memory, of insults, and all the rest, then there is a relationship, but the very nature of the observer is the image, isn’t it? My image observes your image, if it is possible to observe it, and this is called relationship, but it is between two images, a relationship which is nonexistent because both are images. To be related means to be in contact. Contact must be something direct, not between two images. It requires a great deal of attention, an awareness, to look at another without the image which I have about that person, the image being my memories of that person how he has insulted me, pleased me, given me pleasure, this or that. Only when there are no images between the two is there a relationship. (Collected Works, Vol. XVII,7, Choiceless Awareness)

Oh Mr. K what a load of hogwash! I love K but his stuff on relationships betrays his lack of them.

Let us just take one small quote: “When I can look at you and you can look at me without the image of memory, of insults, and all the rest, then there is a relationship”

Actually the opposite is true. Or let’s say it another way – if I look at you and I know nothing about you there is absolutely no judging on my part (maybe) but there is also no relationship. It is, to use his own terminology, all images. It seems that K. is suggesting that the highest level of relationships are the anonymous ones.

In fact, had he a long term relationship, a true marriage let’s say, then he would know that what is infuriating about a true relationship is that the other does not for long remain an image. Thus the insults…because if I expect something from you then it is not very insulting. I am insulted when you act in a way that I did not predict, or say something I did not expect, and that something is, furthermore not pampering to my ego. You have, in fact, cut through the image.

It is actually even more powerful – you not only cut through my image of you (by not agreeing with me) but you also cut through my image of myself (thus hurting me).

There is a deeper dynamic of intimacy which takes years to evolve, and which allows for true imageless relationships. This is earned through many hurts. It is actually the opposite of K’s suggestion.

​ I would take his final statement and reverse it: to look at another through the whole of me, my thoughts, my feelings, my memories, in short with all my heart and mind and soul and body, to look at them with and through our shared history how they have insulted me, pleased me, given me pleasure, this or that. Only when I “see” them is there a relationship. “Seeing” is the gestalt of completing a picture based on the few lines available – seeing the triangle from the few clues we have from the other – their past behavior.

The trick, the gestalt trick, and our responsibility is to come to this other-image looking for the invisible triangle – which is the imago dei – and not to stare at the givens. You need to look at the unseen and watch its shape. But this is tremendously hard to do if you deny even the possibility a long term relationship in the first place.
Of course we can all come up with countless examples of image-only relationships. But I want to propose that those relationships are a failure in awareness, not a failure in relationships. The participants might deliberately seek others who will enable them to remain asleep. This is quite possible. But it is a broken and unhealthy relationship.
Still, eventually, you stay with a person for a long enough time and nature and the cosmos being what they are, the barriers between false selves will begin to break. Unfortunately, or wisely, this is also when people decide the relationship is not working and it is time to separate.

About spaceloom

An urban monk, and an experienced spiritual director with a Masters in Psychology. Married with two children. Want to know me better? Read my thoughts.
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