THE conflict between thesis and antithesis is inevitable and necessary; it brings about synthesis, from which again there is a thesis with its corresponding antithesis, and so on. There is no end to conflict, and it is only through conflict that there can ever be any growth, any advance.’
‘Conflict cannot be denied, it is part of the human structure, and we use it as a means to an end, the end being the right environment for the individual. We work towards that goal and use every means to bring it about. Ambition, conflict, is the way of man, and it can be used either against him or for him. Through conflict we move to greater things.’
‘How can there be progress from one form of society to another without conflict? The ‘haves’ will never voluntarily give up their wealth, they must be forced, and this conflict will bring about a new social order, a new way of life. This cannot be done pacifically. We may not want to be violent, but we have to face facts.’
You assume that you know what the new society should be, and that the other fellow does not; you alone have this extraordinary knowledge, and you are willing to liquidate those who stand in your way. By this method, which you think is essential, you only bring about opposition and hate. What you know is merely another form of prejudice, a different kind of conditioning. Your historical studies, or those of your leaders, are interpreted according to a particular background which determines your response; and this response you call the new approach, the new ideology. All response of thought is conditioned, and to bring about a revolution based on thought or idea is to perpetuate a modified form of what was.
The conflict between the opposites is utterly wasteful and stupid. Intellectually or verbally you can prove or disprove anything, but that cannot alter certain obvious facts. The present society is based on individual acquisitiveness; and its opposite, with the resulting synthesis, is what you call the new society. In your new society, individual acquisitiveness is opposed by State acquisitiveness, the State being the rulers; the State is now all-important, and not the individual. From this antithesis you say there will eventually be a synthesis in which all individuals are important. This future is imaginary, an ideal; it is the projection of thought, and thought is always the response of memory, of conditioning. It is really a vicious circle with no way out. This conflict, this struggling within the cage of thought, is what you call progress.
‘Do you say, then, that we must stay as we are, with all the exploitation and corruption of the present society?’ Not at all. But your revolution is no revolution, it is only a change of power from one group to another, the substitution of one class for another. Your revolution is merely a different structure built of the same material and within the same underlying pattern. There is a radical revolution which is not a conflict, which is not based on thought with its ego-made projections, ideals, dogmas, utopias; but as long as we think in terms of changing this into that, of becoming more or becoming less, of achieving an end, there cannot be this fundamental revolution.
There must be a fundamental revolution in man’s relationship to man; we all know that things cannot go on as they are without increasing sorrow and disaster. But all reformers, like the so-called revolutionaries, have an end in view, a goal to be achieved, and both use man as a means to their own ends. The use of man for a purpose is the real issue, and not the attainment of a particular end. You cannot separate the end from the means, for they are a single, inseparable process. The results of using wrong means for a so-called right end are fairly obvious. There can be no peace through war. Through this conflict there is no release, no freedom for man. Without freedom, there can be no happiness; and freedom is not an ideal. The State uses the individual and calls him its citizen; but it has no relationship with the individual, it merely uses him as a tool. A tool is a dead thing, and there can be no relationship with the dead. We cannot use a living thing, so our demand is for dead things; our society is based on the use of dead things. The use of another makes that person the dead instrument of our gratification. Relationships can exist only between the living, and usage is a process of isolation. It is this isolating process that breeds conflict, antagonism between man and man. ‘Why do you lay so much emphasis on relationship?’ Existence is relationship; to be is to be related. Relationship is society. Relationship is communion; and how can there be communion if there is exploitation? Exploitation implies fear, and fear inevitably leads to all kinds of illusions and misery. Conflict exists only in exploitation and not in relationship.
Conflict, opposition, enmity exists between us when there is the use of another as a means of pleasure, of achievement. This conflict obviously cannot be resolved by using it as a means to a self projected goal; and all ideals, all utopias are self-projected. To see this is essential, for then we shall experience the truth that conflict in any form destroys relationship, understanding. There is understanding only when the mind is quiet; and the mind is not quiet when it is held in any ideology, dogma or belief, or when it is bound to the pattern of its own experience, memories. The mind is quiet only when it is not caught in thought, which is the net of its own activity. When the mind is still, not made still, a true factor, love, comes into being.
— Excerpts from Jiddu Krishnamurti’s Lecture