Question: What is the meaning of right relationship with nature?
Krishnamurti: Sir I do not know if you have discovered your relationship with nature. There is no 'right' relationship, there is only the understanding of relationship. Right relationship implies the mere acceptance of a formula, as does right thought. Right thought and right thinking are two different things. Right thought is merely conforming to what is right, what is respectable, whereas right thinking is movement, it is the product of understanding; and understanding is constantly undergoing modification, change. Similarly, there is a difference between right relationship, and understanding our relationship with nature. What is your relationship with nature? - nature being the rivers, the trees, the swift-flying birds, the fish in the water, the minerals under the earth, the waterfalls and shallow pools. What is your relationship to them?
Most of us are not aware of that relationship. We never look at a tree, or if we do, it is with a view of using that tree, either to sit in its shade, or to cut it down for lumber. In other words, we look at trees with utilitarian purpose; we never look at a tree without projecting ourselves and utilizing it for our own convenience. We treat the earth and its products in the same way. There is no love of earth, there is only usage of earth. If one really loved the earth, there would be frugality in using the things of the earth. That is, Sir, if we were to understand our relationship with the earth, we should be very careful in the use we made of the things of the earth. The understanding of one's relationship with nature is as difficult as understanding one's relationship with one's neighbour, wife and children.
But we have not given a thought to it, we have never sat down to look at the stars, the moon or the trees. We are too busy with social or political activities. Obviously, these activities are escapes from ourselves; and to worship nature is also an escape from ourselves. We are always using nature, either as an escape, or for utilitarian ends - we never actually stop and love the earth or the things of the earth. We never enjoy the rich fields, though we utilize them to feed and clothe ourselves. We never like to till the earth with our hands - we are ashamed to work with our hands. There is an extraordinary thing that takes place when you work the earth with your hands. But this work is done only by the lower castes; we upper classes are much too important apparently to use our own hands! So, we have lost our relationship with nature.
If once we understood that relationship, its real significance then we would not divide property into yours and mine; though one might own a piece of land and build a house on it, it would not be 'mine' or 'yours' in the exclusive sense - it would be more a means of taking shelter. Because we do not love the earth and the things of the earth but merely utilize them, we are insensitive to the beauty of a waterfall, we have lost the touch of life, we have never sat with our backs against the trunk of a tree.
Since we do not love nature, we do not know how to love human beings and animals. Go down the street and watch how the bullocks are treated, their tails all out of shape. You shake your head and say, 'Very sad'. But we have lost the sense of tenderness, that sensitivity, that response to things of beauty; and it is only in the renewal of that sensitivity that we can have understanding of what is true relationship. That sensitivity does not come in the mere hanging of a few pictures, or in painting a tree, or putting a few flowers in your hair; sensitivity comes only when this utilitarian outlook is put aside.
It does not mean that you cannot use the earth; but you must use the earth as it is to be used. Earth is there to be loved, to be cared for, not to be divided as 'yours' and 'mine'. It is foolish to plant a tree in a compound and call it 'mine'. It is only when one is free of exclusiveness that there is a possibility of having sensitivity, not only to nature, but to human beings and to the ceaseless challenges of life.
On Nature and the Environment, Poona, 17 October 1948