THE FIRST AND LAST FREEDOM CHAPTER 14 'RELATIONSHIP AND ISOLATION'
Life is experience, experience in relationship. One cannot live in isolation, so life is relationship and relationship is action. And how can one have that capacity for understanding relationship which is life? Does not relationship mean not only communion with people but intimacy with things and ideas? Life is relationship, which is expressed through contact with things, with people and with ideas. In understanding relationship we shall have capacity to meet life fully, adequately. So our problem is not capacity - for capacity is not independent of relationship - but rather the understanding of relationship, which will naturally produce the capacity for quick pliability, for quick adjustment, for quick response.
Relationship, surely, is the mirror in which you discover yourself. Without relationship you are not; to be is to be related; to be related is existence. You exist only in relationship; otherwise you do not exist, existence has no meaning. It is not because you think you are that you come into existence. You exist because you are related; and it is the lack of understanding of relationship that causes conflict.
Now there is no understanding of relationship, because we use relationship merely as a means of furthering achievement, furthering transformation, furthering becoming. But relationship is a means of self-discovery, because relationship is to be; it is existence. Without relationship, I am not. To understand myself, I must understand relationship. Relationship is a mirror in which I can see myself. That mirror can either be distorted, or it can be 'as is', reflecting that which is. But most of us see in relationship, in that mirror, things we would rather see; we do not see what is. We would rather idealize, escape, we would rather live in the future than understand that relationship in the immediate present.
Now if we examine our life, our relationship with another, we shall see that it is a process of isolation. We are really not concerned with another; though we talk a great deal about it, actually we are not concerned. We are related to someone only so long as that relationship gratifies us, so long as it gives us a refuge, so long as it satisfies us. But the moment there is a disturbance in the relationship which produces discomfort in ourselves, we discard that relationship. In other words, there is relationship only so long as we are gratified. This may sound harsh, but if you really examine your life very closely you will see it is a fact; and to avoid a fact is to live in ignorance, which can never produce right relationship. If we look into our lives and observe relationship, we see it is a process of building resistance against another, a wall over which we look and observe the other; but we always retain the wall and remain behind it, whether it be a psychological wall, a material wall, an economic wall or a national wall. So long as we live in isolation, behind a wall, there is no relationship with another; and we live enclosed because it is much more gratifying, we think it is much more secure. The world is so disruptive, there is so much sorrow, so much pain, war, destruction, misery, that we want to escape and live within the walls of security of our own psychological being. So, relationship with most of us is actually a process of isolation, and obviously such relationship builds a society which is also isolating. That is exactly what is happening throughout the world: you remain in your isolation and stretch your hand over the wall, calling it nationalism, brotherhood or what you will, but actually sovereign governments, armies, continue. Still clinging to your own limitations, you think you can create world unity, world peace - which is impossible. So long as you have a frontier, whether national, economic, religious or social, it is an obvious fact that there cannot be peace in the world.
The process of isolation is a process of the search for power; whether one is seeking power individually or for a racial or national group there must be isolation, because the very desire for power, for position, is separatism. After all, that is what each one wants, is it not? He wants a powerful position in which he can dominate, whether at home, in the office, or in a bureaucratic regime. Each one is seeking power and in seeking power he will establish a society which is based on power, military, industrial, economic, and so on - which again is obvious. Is not the desire for power in its very nature isolating? I think it is very important to understand this, because the man who wants a peaceful world, a world in which there are no wars, no appalling destruction, no catastrophic misery on an immeasurable scale must understand this fundamental question, must he not? A man who is affectionate, who is kindly, has no sense of power, and therefore such a man is not bound to any nationality, to any flag. He has no flag.
There is no such thing as living in isolation - no country, no people, no individual, can live in isolation; yet, because you are seeking power in so many different ways, you breed isolation. The nationalist is a curse because through his very nationalistic, patriotic spirit, he is creating a wall of isolation. He is so identified with his country that he builds a wall against another. What happens when you build a wall against something? That something is constantly beating against your wall. When you resist something, the very resistance indicates that you are in conflict with the other. So nationalism, which is a process of isolation, which is the outcome of the search for power, cannot bring about peace in the world. The man who is a nationalist and talks of brotherhood is telling a lie; he is living in a state of contradiction.
Can one live in the world without the desire for power, for position, for authority? Obviously one can. One does it when one does not identify oneself with something greater. This identification with something greater - the party, the country, the race, the religion, God - is the search for power. Because you in yourself are empty, dull, weak, you like to identify yourself with something greater. That des1re to identify yourself with something greater is the desire for power.
Relationship is a process of self-revelation, and, without knowing oneself, the ways of one's own mind and heart, merely to establish an outward order, a system, a cunning formula, has very little meaning. What is important is to understand oneself in relationship with another. Then relationship becomes not a process of isolation but a movement in which you discover your own motives, your own thoughts, your own pursuits; and that very discovery is the beginning of liberation, the beginning of transformation.