Quote of the Day

by Jiddu Krishnamurti

Question: Is marriage a need or a luxury?

Krishnamurti: Now, let us examine the problem, the question. Why do we marry? First, obviously, because of biological necessity, the sexual urge, which society has legalized by marriage. Society wants to protect the children and not have them illegitimate, because it looks upon illegitimate children with horror. Therefore, marriage is legalized. But surely, that is not the only reason why we marry. We marry because of psychological demands. I need a companion, somebody I can posses, dominate, somebody I can call mine. I can do with my wife what I like, she is subordinate to man - in this country, not in America. Here, the marriage system has made the woman a slave, to be protected, controlled, dominated, possessed. Don't look at somebody else, Sirs; you are all involved in it. Woman is a possession; as I possess property, so I possess my wife. I possess her sexually and dominate her outwardly. Psychologically, possession gives me comfort, security: my property, my wife, my children - the horror of it all. We treat human beings as we treat material goods, without any consideration; because, once I possess you legally, you are under me. So, society legalizes marriage in order to perpetuate the race, to hold it within limits; but psychologically, inwardly, I can do what I like. And you know the whole business of existence, the horrors, the agonies, the miseries, of those who are married and who don't love each other. How can there be love when there is possessiveness? And if you don't marry, what happens? I have seen that in several countries; there is what is called companionate marriage. Don't look shocked. Again, if there is no love, companionate marriage becomes an easy way out for your sexual appetite and irresponsibility. So, without love, both are a horror. But society does not care two pins whether there is love or not; and as most of us are so concentrated, so engrossed in our business life, in making money or whatever it be, as we are ruthless in our business and cruel in the world, how can we possibly have love for anyone at home? You cannot on the one hand exploit your neighbour, starve him out, suck the blood out of him, and then go home and have affection for your wife. No, Sirs, you cannot do both. But that is what you are trying to do, and that is why you have no love. That is why marriage throughout the world is such a miserable affair.

Marriage is also a form of self-perpetuation. I want continuity through my children. Therefore, children become very important, not in themselves, but for my own continuity - my name, my class, my caste. You know the whole business. And naturally, when you are merely using children for your own continuity, there is no love. How can there be when you are more interested in your own continuity through them, than in loving them, whatever they are? Therefore, tradition and name become very important, because they are the means of perpetuating yourself through your children.

So, to understand this problem, to find out what it involves, we must study it, go into it. In studying there comes intelligence, and only intelligence and love can deal with this problem, not legislation. The moment I possess a person, he becomes a prostitute; that is, the per- son becomes important, not for himself, but because in myself I am empty, starving, ugly, I am insufficient, poor, so I use another - my wife, my employer, or whoever it be - to cover my inward emptiness. Therefore, the possessed becomes important as a means of escape from my own loneliness; and naturally I grow jealous, envious, when the other, who is helping me to escape from myself, looks at somebody else. So to understand all this human process, which is extremely complex and subtle, one must have intelligence. Intelligence is also love, not mere intellect; and we cannot have love if, on the one hand, we are ruthless in our business, in everyday life, and on the other, try to be gentle, tender and merciful. You cannot do both, you cannot be an ambitious rich man and yet be loving and tender. You cannot be a captain of industry, or a big politician, and yet be merciful. The two don't go together. And it is only when there is love, mercy - which is intelligence, the highest form of intelligence - that this problem can be solved. We are human beings, whether men or women; we are alive, sensitive, we are not doormats to be trampled upon, used sexually or mentally for self-gratification. The moment we regard each other as human beings, as individuals, not as something to be possessed, then there is a possibility of understanding and of going beyond this conflict that exists between two people in marriage,

Public Talk 21st March, 1948
Mumbai, India