On Living Together Without Marriage

by J.Krishnamurti
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Questioner: May I interrupt a moment, sir? I wonder if the group might find it a little more interesting if you could address yourself to some of the striking statements that are in your tapes and books that I have read. I will give you an example of the sort of thing that could be answered, I think relatively briefly, and might be very stimulating. In one tape you refer to marriage as ‘that terrible institution’. My question would be, could you elaborate? Do you think a young man and a young woman, for example, should live together without marriage, or should not live together, that kind of thing? And I have other things.

K: All right, sir. Let’s have some fun. (Laughter) Let’s answer that question; we’ll come back to this. One may live with another person, sexually or in relationship with another and take the responsibility – entire responsibility, both of us – and continue with that responsibility, not change when it doesn’t suit you, when that other person doesn’t satisfy you in various different ways. Right? Or, you go through marriage, which is, get a license, go to church and the priest blesses the couple, you know, and there you are tied, legally. And that tie, legally, gives you more the feeling of being more responsible. Right? That you are held by law.

Are you waiting for me to answer this? You are held there by law, and with it goes a responsibility that one thinks is enduring, lasting. What’s the difference between the two? You’re legally controlled; it takes time to get a divorce; you have children and the children may hold you together for a while, till they grow up; and then when they grow up, you say goodbye to each other perhaps, or get a divorce and all the rest of it. If the other, which is not legalized marriage, and if there is a responsibility as much as in the other, and perhaps more, then what’s the difference between the two? Either it is responsibility based on law, either the responsibility of convenience, necessity, comfort, and sexual and all the other demands – where is the question of love in all this? Right?

Each one of us – each one – wife and the husband or girl and the boy or whatever it is, are they ever together, except sexually? Whether they are legally married or not legally married, together. They may hold hands in public as they embrace each other in public, as they do in this country – right? In Asia, that’s rather considered immoral, immodest, and they do it quietly by themselves in their house. So what’s the difference between the two? And where is love in all this? Please answer this question for yourself.

Is love the pursuit of desire? Is love pleasure? Sexual and other forms of pleasure? Is love mere companionship, depending on each other? Is love attachment? Go on, sir, enquire all this. And if one negates intelligently – because you see the reason of it, that attachment is not love, nor detachment, remembrance of each other’s past incidents and pressures and insults and all that, living together day after day, month or year after year, the stored-up memories, the pictures, the imagination – all that’s not love, surely. When you negate all this, which is, through negation you come to the positive. But if you start with the positive, you end up with negation. That’s what you are all doing. Right? Am I saying things which are true or incorrect?

So, that gentleman asked a question: why doesn’t the speaker talk about all that? Sir, what is important in life? What is the root or the basic essential in life? As one observes more and more, in television, and literature, magazines, and all the things that are going on, it is becoming more and more superficial – quick answers. If you are in trouble, go to a specialist; they’ll tell you what to do. It’s all becoming so superficial and vulgar – if one may use that word without any sense of derogatory or insulting. It’s all becoming so superficial and rather childish.

And one never asks what is the fundamental question or fundamental necessity or the depth of life. Surely not beliefs, not dogmas, not faith, not all the intellectual rigmarole, whether in the Communist theology or the Catholic theology, Marxist theology or Lenin or St Thomas Aquinas: they’re all the same – theories, conclusions and ideologies, based on belief, faith, dogma, rituals. So all that is becoming more and more in one’s life, outwardly, very, very, very superficial. Just out there. And we live like that. This is a fact, I am not saying anything which is not so.

And it’s a marvelous world of entertainment, both religious and football, anything to escape: yell, shout, never quiet conversation, never look at anything quietly, beautifully. So what is the fundamental, basic demand or basic thing that is really of utmost importance in one’s life?

Q: Do you want us to answer?

K: You can answer, sir, if you want to.

Q: The answer is compassion. Compassion.

K: I know, I know, I’ve heard it. When you use that word, are you again using that word superficially or there is compassion in you? You understand? When you say, yes, compassion, that becomes utterly superficial; you have already stamped it. The word ‘compassion’ means passion for all, not just for your family. And you cannot have compassion if you are attached to any belief, to any dogma. If there is not complete freedom, there cannot be compassion. And with compassion there is intelligence. So if you say compassion, love is the root of all things in life, in the universe, in all our relationship and action, to find that out, to come upon it, to live with it and act from there – then marriage or not marriage – then you are no longer an individual, there is something else, entirely different from one’s own petty little self.

Question and Answer, Meeting No.1, Question No.3

Ojai, California