“Mindfulness is basically just a particular way of paying attention. It is a way of looking deeply into oneself in the spirit of self-inquiry and self-understanding.” – Jon Kabat-Zinn, “Full Catastrophe Living,” pg. 12
[W]hat is relationship generally based on?—apart from the emotional screen which we throw up against each other, what is it based upon?
.On mutual gratification, is it not? If I do not please you, if you find me in some way aversive or unappealing, you get rid of me. If I please you, if you want something from me, if I make you feel good, then you accept me either as your wife or as your neighbour or as your friend.
That is the actual fact.
So relationship is sought where there is mutual satisfaction, gratification. And when you do not find that satisfaction you change the relationship—either you divorce, or you remain together but seek gratification elsewhere, or else you move from one relationship to another till you find what you seek, which is satisfaction, gratification a sense of self-protection and comfort, and so on.
We talk about love, we talk about responsibility, duty, and so on, but really there is no love in a relationship when it is based on gratification. If we look closely at the way we treat our wives, children, neighbours, friends, it shows this; it shows that in our relationships there really is no love at all, they are merely mutual gratification pacts (which is why our relationships are so disposable and interchangeable).
And when this is so, what then is the purpose of relationship? What is its ultimate significance?
Relationship has very little significance when we are merely seeking mutual gratification.
But relationship becomes extraordinarily significant when it is a means of self-revelation and self-knowledge.
Does not my contact with you reveal my own state of being if I am aware, if I am honest with myself, if I am alert enough to be conscious of my own actions and reactions and motivations in a relationship? Relationship really can be a process of self-revelation which is a process of self-knowledge—if I can accept what I see of myself and not run. Because in that self-revelation which is relationship, there will be many unpleasant things—many disquieting, uncomfortable thoughts and activities and tendencies—that I will find out about myself. And because I do not like what I am discovering about myself I will be quick to run away from a relationship, because none of this will be pleasant to a relationship which is supposed to be pleasant, easy, comfortable, gratifying, and make me feel good, fulfilled, accepted, secure.
Relationship is self-revelation. And it is because we do not want to be revealed to ourselves that we run away and hide in comfort. And whenever we do this relationship loses its extraordinary depth, significance and beauty. There can be true relationship only when there is love, but love is not the search for gratification. Love exists only when there is self forgetfulness, when there is complete communion, not between one or two, but communion with the highest, and that can only take place when the self is forgotten.
– Jiddu Krishnamurti (this is my abridgement and adaptation and elaboration from his “The Observer is the Observed,” Madras, India, public talk; December 7, 1947; http://www.jiddu-krishnamurti.net/en/1945-1948-observer-is-observed/krishnamurti-the-observer-is-the-observed-47-12-07; and the parenthetical above is mine as well)
Yes, real Love—mature Love—is not the search for solace, comfort, gratification; it’s not the search for titillation or excitement. Real Love exists only when there is forgetfulness of this smaller self, when that part of us that lacks perspective, that spins out, is skittish, easily frightened, anxious, avoidant, self-deceptive, that part of us that wants comfort, gratification, safety, security, and to avoid challenges and difficulties—in short, what’s worst and or what’s weakest in us—is forgotten—or at least kept in check.
Real Love can exist only—only—when there is communion or real contact between what is best in two people—their consciences, the depths of their heart and their minds—their soul, their higher self—the part of each that desires to grow and become more truthful, objective, real, honest, healthy.
Real love cannot be based on contact between two people’s smaller selves, because smaller selves cannot “commune,” they can only temporarily fuse and glom onto each other and use and rob and steal from each other and then hide and run and or spin out. The contact between the smaller selves of two people is infatuation, fusion, intoxication, self-medication; it’s not real love or even real contact; it’s love that is a feeling, and thus it’s not even love at all.
“There is no pain equal to that which two lovers can inflict on one another. This should be made clear to all who contemplate such a union. The avoidance of this pain is the beginning of wisdom, for it is strong enough to contaminate the rest of our lives. ” — Cyril Connolly
Communion is only possible between the highest parts of each of us, between what’s best in us—that part of each of us that is self-aware, honest, courageous, resilient, open, transparent, conscientious, that has perspective, that can put itself in another’s shoes and that can seek first to understand (to become more aware). “Love is what’s left in a relationship after *all* the selfishness has been removed” (Cullen Hightower)—or at least a good portion of the selfishness. The less the selfishness and pettiness and using/exploiting, the more “space” that is created for Love to enter in and inhabit. Put another way, love is what’s left in a relationship after the smaller self and all its—which is to say our—fears, pettiness, discursiveness, erraticness, avoidance have been removed or at least kept in check.
This is the true inner work of love—accurately identifying and overcoming or managing (keeping in check) the weaker, unhealthy, smaller parts of ourselves; all of which requires a tremendous amount of sensitivity and awareness (mindfulness) and self-honesty.
This is the work that each of us must do if we are to become more loving. The extent to which we refuse or neglect to do this work, is the same extent to which we limit, even cripple—even pollute and make toxic—our “love” and our capacity to love.
(And how can mindfulness be applied to this article/blog post and the reading of it? It would mean being aware of or witnessing our own reactions as we read—paying attention to what we agree with or to what irks us or sets us off and, just as importantly, why—trying to get to the bottom of our own reactions, trying to step back and really listen [as objectively and or fairly as possible] to what we’re actually saying to ourselves and why—what the payoff is that is in it for us. That’s mindfulness in action; that’s the “examined” life; that’s self-knowledge and self-revelation occurring in real time or near real time.)