Images, Projections, Reflections; Perturbations on the Surface of Sorrow

In this second segment of a video-taped dialogue Krishnamurti speaks of sorrow and compassion, death, and the sacred. At one point David Shainberg, who sits in for “every-person,” makes a connection between images and the surface of the sorrow that underlies existence. He suggested that images were like waves upon this river of sorrow.

I spend a lot of time looking at waves, though mostly on ocean and not a river. They embody an interplay of reflection, refraction, the rhythms within cyclical forces, and especially at the shore, the dramatic collisions that occur between two realms, fluid water and solid land.

We project. Not only is this a source of confusion as we turn will upon our expectations, but it is central to how we act within being. Vision takes in light but it also projects images. Our perceptions of the world are convincingly out there, not locked up inside our craniums.

We reflect. As with looking at a surface of water, it is impossible to “see” what we “are” without taking into account how we reflect. These are actions, as well as passive responses, and both – all – have repercussions as they affect and have effects on our being.

Perturbations ripple through us as waves. They carry forces across distances and therefore take them forward in time. Their direction and their strength offer insights into future, a place that otherwise has no valid existence, and which always confounds our expectations.

Images are the media that carry our thought, what Krishnamurti characterizes as our conditioning and includes all thoughts, emotions, everything that generates the illusion of an I, a thinker behind the thinking. Getting caught up in these images we lose track of proprioception, of who does what to whom. We enter the futility of confrontation in which waves of imagery leave us at the mercy of projections, reflections, and perturbation without at any point our actually addressing the reservoir of suffering beneath.

All our striving may be futile but it does have reason. It is driven, ultimately, by our reflections on sorrow, however in our ignorance we confuse sorrow with our relative levels of comfort. As we confront fact, and are left face to face with being, we see sorrow more profoundly, more directly. The energy released by this insight is compassion and its object is the river of sorrow underlying all existence. It’s depth and breadth cannot be seen directly, but only intuited from the imagery we see reflected as if they were waves upon its surface. It is only through our recognition that these images are but the fleeting effects of what lies beneath that we can discover how to sidestep the futility of grappling with waves and direct our actions, our compassion, at what lies beneath.

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