Question: What do you mean by love?
Krishnamurti: We are going to discover by understanding what love is not, because, as love is the unknown, we must come to it by discarding the known. The unknown cannot be discovered by a mind that is full of the known. What we are going to do is to find out the values of the known, look at the known, and when that is looked at purely, without condemnation, the mind becomes free from the known; then we shall know what love is. So, we must approach love negatively, not positively.
What is love with most of us? When we say we love somebody, what do we mean? We mean we possess that person. From that possession arises jealousy, because if I lose him or her what happens? I feel empty, lost; therefore I legalize possession; I hold him or her. From holding, possessing that person, there is jealous, there is fear and all the innumerable conflicts that arise from possession. Surely such possession is not love, is it?
Obviously love is not sentiment. To be sentimental, to be emotional, is not love, because sentimentality and emotion are mere sensations. A religious person who weeps about Jesus or Krishna, about his guru or somebody else, is merely sentimental, emotional. He is indulging in sensation, which is a process of thought, and thought is not love. Thought is the result of sensation, so the person who is sentimental, who is emotional, cannot possibly know love. Again, aren’t we emotional and sentimental? Sentimentality, emotionalism, is merely a form of self-expansion. To be full of emotion is obviously not love, because a sentimental person can be cruel when his sentiments are not responded to, when his feelings have no outlet. An emotional person can be stirred to hatred, to war, to butchery. A man who is sentimental, full of tears for his religion, surely has no love.
Is forgiveness love? What is implied in forgiveness? You insult me and I resent it, remember it; then, either through compulsion or through repentance, I say, “I forgive you”. First I retain and then I reject. Which means what? I am still the central figure. I am still important, it is I who am forgiving somebody. As long as there is the attitude of forgiving it is I who am important, not the man who is supposed to have insulted me. So when I accumulate resentment and then deny that resentment, which you call forgiveness, it is not love. A man who loves obviously has no enmity and to all these things he is indifferent. Sympathy, forgiveness, the relationship of possessiveness, jealousy and fear – all these things are not love. They are all of the mind, are they not? As long as the mind is the arbiter, there is no love, for the mind arbitrates only through possessiveness and its arbitration is merely possessiveness in different forms. The mind can only corrupt love, it cannot give birth to love, it cannot give beauty. You can write a poem about love, but that is not love.
Obviously there is no love when there is no real respect, when you don’t respect another, whether he is your servant or your friend. Have you not noticed that you are not respectful, kindly, generous, to your servants, to people who are so-called `below’ you? You have respect for those above, for your boss, for the millionaire, for the man with a large house and a title, for the man who can give you a better position, a better job, from whom you can get something. But you kick those below you, you have a special language for them. Therefore where there is no respect, there is no love; where there is no mercy, no pity, no forgiveness, there is no love. And as most of us are in this state we have no love. We are neither respectful nor merciful nor generous. We are possessive, full of sentiment and emotion which can be turned either way: to kill, to butcher or to unify over some foolish, ignorant intention. So how can there be love?
You can know love only when all these things have stopped, come to an end, only when you don’t possess, when you are not merely emotional with devotion to an object. Such devotion is a supplication, seeking something in a different form. A man who prays does not know love. Since you are possessive, since you seek an end, a result, through devotion, through prayer, which make you sentimental, emotional, naturally there is no love; obviously there is no love when there is no respect. You may say that you have respect but your respect is for the superior, it is merely the respect that comes from wanting something, the respect of fear. If you really felt respect, you would be respectful to the lowest as well as to the so-called highest; since you haven’t that, there is no love.
How few of us are generous, forgiving, merciful! You are generous when it pays you, you are merciful when you can see something in return. When these things disappear, when these things don’t occupy your mind and when the things of the mind don’t fill your heart, then there is love; and love alone can transform the present madness and insanity in the world – not systems, not theories, either of the left or of the right. You really love only when you do not possess, when you are not envious, not greedy, when you are respectful, when you have mercy and compassion, when you have consideration for your wife, your children, your neighbor, your unfortunate servants.
Love cannot be thought about, love cannot be cultivated, love cannot be practiced. The practice of love, the practice of brotherhood, is still within the field of the mind, therefore it is not love. When all this has stopped, then love comes into being, then you will know what it is to love. Then love is not quantitative but qualitative. You do not say, “I love the whole world” but when you know how to love one, you know how to love the whole. Because we do not know how to love one, our love of humanity is fictitious. When you love, there is neither one nor many, there is only love. It is only when there is love, all our problems can be solved and then we shall know its bliss and its happiness.
Source: The First and Last Freedom, Questions & Answers, Question 22