Question: There is a prevalent assumption these days that everything is relative, a matter of personal opinion, that there is no such thing as truth or fact independent of personal perception. What is an intelligent response to this belief?
Jiddu Krishnamurti – Is it that we are all so personal that what I see, what you see, is the only truth? That my opinion and your opinion are the only facts we have? That is what the question implies; that everything is relative; goodness is relative, evil is relative, love is relative. If everything is relative (that is, not the whole complete, truth) then our actions, our affections, our personal relationships are relative, they can be ended whenever we like, whenever they do not please us.
Is there such a thing as truth apart from personal belief, apart from personal opinion? Is there such a thing as truth? This question was asked in the ancient days by the Greeks, by the Hindus and by the Buddhists. It is one of the strange facts in the Eastern religions that doubt was encouraged – to doubt, to question – and in religion in the West it is rather put down, it is called heresy.
One must find out for oneself, apart from personal opinions, perceptions, experiences, which are always relative, whether there is a perception, a seeing, which is absolute truth, not relative. How is one going to find out? If one says that personal opinions and perceptions are relative then there is no such thing as absolute truth, all is relative. Accordingly our behaviour, our conduct, our way of life, is relative, casual, not complete, not whole, fragmentary.
How would one find out if there is such a thing as truth which is absolute, which is complete, which is never changing in the climate of personal opinions? How does one’s mind, the intellect, thought, find out? One is enquiring into something that demands a great deal of investigation, an action in daily life, a putting aside of that which is false – that is the only way to proceed.
If one has an illusion, a fantasy, an image, a romantic concept, of truth or love, then that is the very barrier that prevents one moving further. Can one honestly investigate what is an illusion? How does illusion come into being? What is the root of it? Does it not mean playing with something which is not actual?
The actual is that which is happening, whether it is what may be called good, bad or indifferent; it is that which is actually taking place. When one is incapable of facing that which is actually taking place in oneself, one creates illusions to escape from it. If one is unwilling or afraid to face what is actually going on, that very avoidance creates illusion, a fantasy, a romantic movement, away from that which is. That word `illusion’ implies the moving away from that which is.
Can one avoid this movement, this escape, from actuality? What is the actual? The actual is that which is happening, including the responses, the ideas, the beliefs and opinions one has. To face them is not to create illusion.
Illusions can take place only when there is a movement away from the fact, from that which is happening, that which actually is. In understanding that which is, it is not one’s personal opinion that judges but the actual observation. One cannot observe what is actually going on if one’s belief or conditioning qualifies the observation; then it is the avoidance of the understanding of that which is.
If one could look at what is actually taking place, then there would be complete avoidance of any form of illusion. Can one do this? Can one actually observe one’s dependency; either dependency on a person, on a belief, on an ideal, or on some experience which has given one a great deal of excitement? That dependence inevitably creates illusion.
So a mind that is no longer creating illusion, that has no hypotheses, that has no hallucinations, that does not want to grasp an experience of that which is called truth, has now brought order into itself. it has order. There is no confusion brought about by illusions, by delusions, hallucinations; the mind has lost its capacity to create illusions.
Then what is truth? The astrophysicists, the scientists, are using thought to investigate the material world around them, they are going beyond physics, beyond, but always moving outward. But if one starts inwards one sees that the `me’ is also matter. And thought is matter. If one can go inwards, moving from fact to fact, then one begins to discover that which is beyond matter. Then there is such a thing as absolute truth, if one goes through with it.