One of the Reasons We Run (Away) in Life. . . . Krishnamurti on Self-Knowledge & Relationship


“Relationship is self-revelation; it is because we do not want to be revealed to ourselves that we run away and hide in comfort.” – Krishnamurti

“Only in relationship can you know yourself, not in abstraction and certainly not in isolation. The movement of behavior is the sure guide to yourself. It is the mirror of your consciousness: the mirror will reveal its content, the images, the attachments, the fears, the loneliness, the joys and sorrow. Poverty lies in running away from this. . . .” – Krishnamurti

“Relationship is a process of self-revelation; relationship is as a mirror in which you begin to discover yourself, your tendencies, pretensions, selfish and limited motives, fears, and so on. In relationship, if you are aware, you will find that you are being exposed, which causes conflict and pain. The thoughtful person welcomes this self-exposure to bring about order and clarity, to free his thought-feeling from isolating, self-enclosing tendencies. But most of us try to seek comfort and gratification in relationship; we do not desire to be revealed to ourselves; we do not wish to study ourselves as we are, so relationship becomes wearisome and we seek to escape.” – Krishnamurti

“The understanding of the mind is possible only in relationship – in your relationship to property, to people, and to ideas. At present that relationship is reaction, and a problem that is created by reaction cannot be solved by another reaction; it can be solved only when the whole process of reaction is understood – which is the self, the ‘me’. Then you will find there is an action which is not reaction. . . . ” – Krishnamurti 

“[R]elationship can be a means of self-discovery. 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 not see, and things we want and hope to see; so we do not see what is.” – Krishnamurti

“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.” – Krishnamurti

In the choice between distorted self-knowledge and genuine self-knowledge, most of us choose distorted self-knowledge, because it’s more comfortable–the distortions make life easier, more comfortable; the distortions make it easier for us to live with ourselves as we are, and to keep doing what we do.

And so as long as life doesn’t get too challenging, too difficult, and we can remain in control in our comfort zone, this self-deceptive approach to life will “work” for many of us.

How does this apply to our relationships?  It means that when a relationship exposes more of ourselves than we want to see, then we will sever that relationship and emotionally cut the other person out of our life.  In the choice between keeping distorted self-knowledge about ourselves versus facing uncomfortable truths about ourselves, we will keep the distortion and get rid of anyone who reflects things about us that we’d rather not see, that we’re not ready to face.

In the choice between love and self-preservation, most of us choose self-preservation.  In the choice between growing and giving up our distortions and self-deceptions versus keeping these and ending a relationship, many of us would rather end the relationship and keep our distortions rather than give up our distortions and illusions and grow into a more genuinely loving and honest relationship with another and ourselves.

“Only the best in us talks about the worst in us, because the worst in us lies about itself and its own existence.” – David Schnarch

“Until you make peace with who you are, you’ll never be content with what you have.” – Doris Mortman

“We all wear masks, and the time comes when we cannot remove them without removing some of our own skin.” – André Berthiaume


9 thoughts on “One of the Reasons We Run (Away) in Life. . . . Krishnamurti on Self-Knowledge & Relationship

  1. Pingback: One of the Reasons We Run Away from Love . . . | What Is Real True Love?

  2. Thanks very much for this. I have always believed the purpose of love marriage or a relationship is not love – but to reveal yourself. That we are attracted to those who express the shadow of our self that we either deny or repress – the unacknowledged parts of ourselves.

    They force us to see ourselves and when we come to know and love ourself then we are able to extend that love to others.

  3. I like this post John. In the end it talks about getting rid of relationships. Another reason we may choose to get rid of relationships is if they’re toxic and harmful or if we discover they’re based on less-than-healthy or compatible motives. I think that relationships also require a solid amount of self knowledge and discernment… like being able to choose well the relationships we’re willing to fight for — and then being as authentic as we can.

  4. “In the choice between love and self-preservation, most of us choose self-preservation.”– Very true. However, there are times when self-preservation and love are working in tandem. When self preservation is in the act of love for not only oneself but for the other person in the relationship. When Woman is faced with continuing in a relationship and having love lacking (not able to grow in love with Man; not able to express to or receive absolute love from Man) she is withering. Man is not preserving her and stifling the possibility of transcendental love of self and one another. When Woman decides to self preserve (in such an instance), is she not doing do so out of love? To allow for that spark of love to grow in the presence of another who will kindle the flame, so to speak, and thereby allowing for Man to have the potential to seek his own better suited partner who may be just the right key to unlock/unblock what was hindering him with Woman?

    I’m really appreciative of your posts (in all the different arenas of thought you have out there) and enjoy reading them.

    • Hello Deidra, thank you for reading and commenting, I appreciate you for having done both; and please accept my apologies for my tardiness in responding!

      To answer your question: I don’t know. The example is somewhat vague, but my suspicion is that unless the man is abusive or an addict, then she is withering because she is not loving enough, or loving in a way that is meaningful to her partner. My suspicion is that she is more interested in being loved than in actually loving. To love is not easy; it is work, it takes effort, it takes attention (giving it), it takes extending and expending oneself, it takes evaluating one’s efforts. Love is not about receiving; it’s much more about giving and the quality and caliber of that giving.

      “To allow for that spark of love to grow in the presence of another who will kindle the flame, so to speak, and thereby allowing for Man to have the potential to seek his own better suited partner who may be just the right key to unlock/unblock what was hindering him with Woman?” I understand what you are saying here. One of my favorite poems is Carl Dennis’s “The God Who Loves You.” It speaks of just this–meeting one’s optimal match. But the reality is that the world is large, there are so many people to potentially try on and try out as a partner. At a certain point it’s more about who we are, rather than who the other person is. I tend to suspect that there are many people with whom we could be very compatible. They may be few and far between–especially if we are very unique in terms of who we have become as a person; but most people are not exceptionally unique, and that is what seems to be really be one of the fundamental problem with most relationships–that two not very unique people have glommed onto each other and are relying on each other to make them feel unique–when there really is no reason for them to be treated as that unique. They aren’t different than most people–they aren’t able to deeply love; instead they’re more interested in being loved. That’s the same as most people. Most people would rather be loved than to actually develop the capacity to love. Loving is difficult. Getting hooked on a feeling and confusing infatuation and or a lot of validation and compliments and fun with love is easy–it’s what everyone does. And this is how most relationships start and proceed–in the dark, with two people who don’t know how to actually love another (or even themselves) trying to make love out of infatuation.

      And most people fail at it. They make a ripe mess of it. And then when one person clams up or shuts down, or when one or both people become too comfortable and begin taking each other for granted, they start looking elsewhere for another hit of automatic love to revive them and make them feel alive, young, enthusiastic, happy, less depressed again. It’s all very predictable.

      The reality is that each person in the scenario you outlined above might actually be better suited for each other if they read a few decent books (“Passionate Marriage,” “The Road Less Traveled,” “The Art of Loving,” “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” “A Return to Love,” anything by Krishnamurti about love, Letter no. 7 in Rilke’s “Letters to a Young Poet,” et cetera), if they read my blogs (especially ), if they got to work on themselves and making themselves into a less needy and dependent creature and a more genuinely loving and appreciative person who has some perspective and some inner resourcefulness within him- or herself. That’s the real spark that brings a person to life–when they switch from being receptive and needing love and instead become able to give and produce love.

      What do you think?

      Warmest regards, Deidre, and thank you again for reading and commenting,


    • I believe what makes a relationship “toxic” is when it is unevenly yoked. One partner may be unselfish and continually working to improve themselves and become the unselfish lover.. whereas if their partner is less apt to looking within themselves and making an equal effort to becoming a better partner.. than it would only be fair and just that if there come a point when the truly loving one will have to see how unloving and selfish the other one is. After patiently and lovingly making suggestions to their partner about how their selfish actions make them feel and their is no real improvements than you will see that the other is not ready for a mature lasting relationship.. I believe it is healthier for the one who is much more mature to love themselves more and find a greater sense of happiness by dissolving their current toxic relationship.

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