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4th Public Talk - 28th November, 1970
4th Public Talk - 28th November, 1970
I THINK WE were going to talk over together the question of death. Before we go into that we ought to consider habit, time, and what we call living. Death and living are not two separate things though we have divided them, though we have through our fear of death put it far away from our minds and from our hearts, from our daily activity. We ought to be concerned with the totality of life, not a particular part of it - what we call living - and try to put away from us this question of death.
We are so easily gullible, we take things for granted, we accept so easily, we never question, we don't seem to have fundamental questions at all. We never ask, and if we do we expect someone else to answer. We never search out in ourselves, deeply, to find the right answer to most fundamental questions.
One of the fundamental questions is death, as is love, as living is. We have made living into a habit. There is nothing new in our lives. There's a great deal of excitement, entertainment, escape either through the church or through watching football. We have never, unfortunately, questioned the whole implication of habit and whether; caught in many habits, not only superficial habits but deeply rooted habits, whether one can be free of them, not gradually but instantly, immediately.
We have never questioned for ourselves, deeply, inwardly, what time is. When we do begin to enquire into the question of habits, both superficial and deep, we don't seem to be able to be free of them. One of the accepted habits is that gradually, psychologically we will change, slowly, step by step. We have developed a sense of gradualness. One can see that in the technological world, in the scientific world gradually one accumulates knowledge about space, all the outward effects of life; one must have time there, to accumulate knowledge, slowly, carefully, painstakingly, not with a personal attitude but with a logical, sane pursuit of knowledge. And one asks if there is psychologically any progress at all, or is it also a peculiar habit that we have cultivated that says there will tomorrow: that at the end of many tomorrows I will change. That allows time, a gradual process of achieving.
Now is there, psychologically, tomorrow at all? Please don't, if we may suggest, accept anything, especially what the speaker is saying. Let us investigate together, enquire together, actually share the enquiry, the understanding, together. We are asking if there is, psychologically, tomorrow at all. We have fallen into the habit of thinking that there is a tomorrow. Chronologically there is tomorrow; by the watch. You have to make arrangements for tomorrow, for the various complications and projects of tomorrow. But inwardly, is there a tomorrow at all? Or, are we caught in the habit of becoming: becoming gradually wise, gradually enlightened, gradually be free to investigate, to observe, gradually wade through this confusion and sorrow. This gradual acceptance, the acceptance of gradual process, is there any validity in that at all?
We see outwardly a building can't be put up immediately, therefore there must be a gradual structure of that building. And psychologically, inwardly, we also think it is a gradual process to bring about a radical change. Is it so? This is one of the most fundamental questions that you must ask.
It's like a man who is terribly violent, has an ideal of non-violence, and is going to achieve it someday. In the mean- time, he is sowing the seeds of violence, he is being violent while he is pretending to follow the ideal. Isn't it a trick of the mind, this idea that you'll gradually, slowly change?
We have so many habits, physical as well as psychological. A particular habit, like smoking or eating meat, after all, is a habit. Can that habit be dropped immediately, a particular habit, or must it be done gradually? One has to enquire, go into this question of time. Is there a living, is there an action which is total, which is not involved in the gradual process of achievement? When we talk about time, and, most of us are concerned with time, time as getting old, time to realize, to understand, to accomplish, to fulfil, to be free and so on. One must go into this question of time altogether totally.
We are sharing this question together, you are not merely, if I may point out, listening to the speaker. What he says has very little importance, but what you discover through what he is saying has tremendous importance; what you discover, what you find out. But if you're merely trying to understand what the speaker is saying, then you'll be lost in words. If you employ the words of the speaker to find out, to investigate, to discover for yourself, then it's yours. Then we shall be sharing together. And it's much more vital, and much more fun, if one can use that word.
There is chronological time. There is time by the watch, and we depend a great deal on that to do anything, to go from here to your house or travel, anything involves chronological time, time as yesterday, today and tomorrow. How, inwardly, psychologically is there time at all? Is there tomorrow at all? That means one has to find out what it means to become, because most of us are concerned in becoming. Aren't we? We are slaves to the verb 'to be'. That's one of our peculiar, consistent slaveries to a word. To be, to become, this shall be and what has been. That word conditions the mind; do follow this a little bit because we are slaves to words. 'Australian', that means a tremendous lot to you, and the word 'Hindu' means a great deal to those who live in India and the word 'Arab' means something tremendous to the Arab. The verb 'to be' has extraordinary significance in our life. That verb has conditioned our thinking, and when you observe yourself you will see, if you have not already done so, that we are always postponing, that we are always caught in the habit of becoming. Therefore the negation of becoming is 'not being'. Therefore we are afraid of 'not being'.
To explore together this question of what is death and what lies beyond, if there is something beyond, one has to learn very deeply the question of time. Is it possible to change instantly and not be concerned with time at all? When you are concerned with time it involves gradualness; and when a change is to take place, psychologically, inwardly through time there are many factors which will prevent the radical change. A human being is violent; for various reasons which we won't go into now, because that's not what we're concerned with. Human beings throughout the world are aggressive, brutal, ready to kill, violent. They've destroyed so many species of animals, they're making the earth almost uninhabitable. They're violent. Can this violence be completely set aside, not gradually, but immediately? If you introduce time into this between what you want to achieve and what actually is, there is an interval, there is a gap, a lag of time. In that interval a great many other factors happen, a great many other causes, influences take place and therefore you can never possibly be free of total violence.
Human beings, you and I, must radically change, because we are the society and the society is us. We are the community, and to bring about a change in the social structure which is so ugly, we ourselves have to change, because we are part of that structure, we have created that structure; and to bring about this change shall we depend on time, the many tomorrows? Or, is it possible for the human mind to change instantly? Probably you have not put this question to yourself, ever, because we are caught in the habit of gradualness which is quite terrible really. We see evolution in the species, and we see things evolving like a motor car; a bullock cart evolving into a jet. We think we human beings can also do that, gradually. Gradually we shall be happy people. We shall love each other, we shall live in harmony and all the rest of it. I think that is totally absurd. It is a lie.
What has validity, vitality, passion is to find out if it is possible for the human mind to change instantly. We say it is possible. Don't accept it. We are going to look into it. You know, first of all, one must put away, altogether, the idea of gradualness; it has no meaning. When you have pain, a really serious pain, you don't think it will gradually disappear. You do something instantly. When you see the danger of nationalism, or the danger of division between human beings, the Catholic, the Protestant, the Hindu, not only the division between human beings outwardly, when you see the effect of division, the danger of it, if you actually see the danger of it as you see the danger of a snake, of a precipice, you act instantly. If you see the danger of this division between human beings then there is instant action.
So the problem is, why don't we see the psychological dangers that we have cultivated for so long? Why is it that we don't see the world and living as a total unit, as a whole movement; not a separate movement as the individual and the collective. The word 'individual' means indivisible. The human being who is not fragmented in himself is the true individual. But we're not individuals, we are fragmented, we are contradictory, we are not harmonious, complete; therefore, to call oneself an individual has no meaning. Yet we have fallen into the habit of it. Why is it that we don't see the danger of our psychological habits, like belonging to a particular nation, accepting a particular organization such as Catholicism or Hinduism and so on? We don't see the danger of it. Why? If you see the danger you would act instantly. What makes the mind dull? You know this fact, an absolute fact, that any kind of division between human beings will inevitably bring about conflict, war, hatred, Jew against Arab and so on.
Intellectually we think we see that division creates harm. Verbally we agree, but apparently we don't feel, deeply, the danger of this division. Why?
In asking that question, why, we're not going to analyse, that is, through analysis discover the cause of why the human mind is so appallingly dull. In analysing why human beings don't see the danger, the psychological danger, in analysis time is involved. And that is going to prevent you from acting. In asking why, we're not analytically, intellectually examining. We can, afterwards, if we wish, but in asking 'why' you are confronted with your own mind which has become terribly dull to danger. Are you, if I may ask, are you aware of the danger of division? Are you aware, conscious, not just intellectually saying I understand what you mean, but actually understand? The word understand; what does it mean to understand something? There is no understanding if it's mere verbal comprehension. Surely, that's not understanding. A verbal agreement or disagreement, that's not understanding. Understanding implies, doesn't it, not only hearing the word, recognising the meaning of that word, but also going beyond the word; that is, you understand something when you listen to it totally, which is non-verbally, non-intellectually, but totally. So, we put the question, why the human mind through so many centuries has accepted this division and perceives the danger of this division and yet doesn't end the division. Is it that it doesn't actually see the danger? To see the danger one must not verbalize or escape through the word but actually be in contact with your heart and your mind with the question.
I want to know why my mind, this mind, accepts the psychological dangers and lives in that terrible state of not perceiving what is really most destructive. Why? When I ask that question of myself, am I asking the question because you have asked me? Or, am I asking that question because it is an important question to myself? You know, to be told that you are hungry is one thing, and to feel hungry is another. Which is it? You're being told that your mind is dull because you don't see the danger. You are told; or, do you realize that your mind is dull because you don't see the danger? And, therefore no one is instructing you of the danger, you yourself have discovered the danger. And therefore, that discovery is the instant action. The perception of danger is immediate action. If I perceive the danger of smoking which is habit, nervousness, accepted by society, the result of propaganda and also perceive that it stimulates or dulls - you know what cigarettes do, tobacco does - see the danger of it, not of smoking, but the danger of habit, see it, totally; then you will find that in dropping smoking there's no conflict at all. You do it and you'll find out for yourself.
After considering what time is, we'll have to consider now what living is. Not what living should be or the ideal of living but what actually is living, the living that we do every day. What is it? It's a series of efforts, battles, a series of - you know what life is don't you, need I describe it: confusion, misery, anxiety, guilt, an appalling sense of loneliness, ugliness, old age, all the fear of disease, fear of insecurity, clinging on, depending on someone. This is what we call living. We want to find in this living, a meaning, a significance, and if you are very clever you invent a significance as all the churches of the world have, as the philosophers have. We try to find something outside this frightful confusion and mess. And, not being able to find something beyond it, we cling to what we have. We cling to our sorrows, cling to our problems, our fears, our anxieties, and our miseries. And that's what we call living, an everlasting battle from the moment we are born till we die, with an occasional flare of something.
We have divorced from this living what is called death, put it away as far as possible. Knowing that it is inevitable we begin to speculate on what is beyond death, or accept as truth what others say lies beyond. So, we believe. Belief implies accepting as true what we don't know. You never believe in the rising sun, it is there. Our belief is the acceptance of something being true.
We're going to find out whether we can change totally what we call living, not gradually but completely, put aside all our miseries, all our problems. What is a problem? It is something that has not been resolved which you carried over to the next day. It is not resolved because you want that particular problem solved in your particular way, according to your conditioning, your particular prejudice or pleasure, or fear. You never face the problem. You don't finish it as it arises, and to finish it as it arises is to be totally aware of that problem. You cannot be aware if you are condemning it, judging it or wanting it resolved in a particular way.
The thing that we call living is actually a terrible affair. We don't know what to do and we escape through so many ways. One of the ways is to believe in something. To face this confusion completely, not move away from it, to be totally aware of this confusion which means to give all our attention (not to trying to find out the cause of it, that again is very simple to explain) but to be aware that we are completely in confusion, which we are. The man who is confused, trying to seek reality, trying to find out what is the right action will only further increase his confusion. Out of this confusion, when he chooses, his choice is also confused. Be aware completely without any distortion of this confusion; when you see the danger of it there is a totally different kind of action.
We're going to find out, together, what death means. What is it that dies? This is a complex question. People have written volumes about it. One has to put aside everything other people have said. That's the first truth. One has to find out for oneself, absolutely, otherwise you live always in the shadow of fear. The organism grows old, grows unnecessarily decrepit, senile, has many diseases, because we have abused the organism. The organism is mechanical, is a machine and we have misused it. And, naturally, it dies. We know that. That isn't what is causing deep fear, there is something else. We are afraid not only of the unknown, but also afraid of letting go the known. Letting go your furniture, you know, actually your furniture which you have cherished, which you have polished every day. You have bought it and given so much attention to the beastly thing, however beautiful it is, and you're part of that furniture. You are the furniture. Do observe it, you're part of that house, which you have bought through so much difficulty. You've identified yourself with a particular community, with a particular family; so, you are the community, you are the family, you are the book, whether that book is the red book of China or the black book or the red book of some other country. You are what you have identified yourself with, whether it is the image that you have identified yourself with, or the image which you have built about yourself. You're that, and you're also this terrible confusion, mess, misery, torture of living. You're all that. All that is the word and the memory of association, association which has its memories.
This is a fact. It is not what you and I wish, but it is so. Then we see the impermanency of the furniture, the impermanency of ourselves, so thought begins to invent the soul, as the permanent. The Hindus have done this beautifully. They've had time, 10,000 or 5,000 years, so they have invented this extraordinary structure; the higher self, the Atman, the ultimate and the physical. Gradually through birth after birth, reincarnation, all the rest of it, you'll ultimately reach whatever that is you're going to reach. You have also, in the Christian world, this whole idea of resurrection; only it's not so complicated. The Hindus have a very cunning mind and they have invented extraordinary things, but the Christian mind is a little more unsophisticated. They accept so easily. They're as superstitious as anybody else. So, you're all that. That's an absolute, psychological fact. That is what is.
You say to yourself, when I die I hope something of me will continue. What is this me that, according to the whole Asiatic world believing in reincarnation, is to be reborn again? What is that thing that you call the 'me' which is the permanent, which is going to be reborn... you follow?.. if you believe in that. What is that 'me'? What are you? If you look at yourself, what are you? Not only the physical appearance, the few clothes and the house and all the rest of it. What are you, actually, inwardly? Unless you look and not be afraid to discover what you are, you'll avoid this question very cleverly. What are you? You are a series of memories, experiences, knowledge that you have acquired, a conditioned mind that is shaped according to the particular culture in which it is born. If you were born in the Communist world you don't believe in God; that, they say, is silly, bourgeois. If you were born in the Western world, brought up in the particular culture, you believe, which is the same as being conditioned in the Communist world where you do not believe. You are the result of your culture, of your conditioning. That's a fact also. Don't escape from this. You say you also have looked at it and you say there must be something much more fundamental; much more permanent, real, which will, when we die, perhaps continue.
You have lived an unfortunate life, not really beautiful, rather shoddy, superficial, joined this and that cult, believed in this or that; lived a superficial life and when the inevitable comes, off you go. If you really want to find out while living, living, not diseased, not neurotic, actually to find out what it means to die you have to ask this question. The question is: Is there anything permanent in you? Or, is the you a series of bundles of memories with all its associations? To believe in reincarnation; in that is involved something that is going to be reborn next life, something that you, now have which is not transient, which is going to take shape again on earth. When you believe in reincarnation, you believe you are going to be better next life; that is, if you are a poor, unfortunate person, next life you'll be the most beautiful person. If you believe that, then what you do matters infinitely, because what you do now is going to shape your future. Those people who believe in reincarnation don't care a pin what happens now, what they do now. They gossip, they butcher, they are violent, they are ugly, superficial, stupid, and yet they believe. When you are concerned with right conduct which is righteousness, when you are behaving totally, completely rightly, then it doesn't matter where you are, whether you are born next life or you die.
This is not only physical, obviously, but also psychological, the dying to all things that you have cherished including the piece of furniture, and furniture I'm afraid does play a tremendous part in our life. Eventually you're going to die to the furniture, so find out if you can die to your furniture now; not to be attached to anything. Not to be attached doesn't mean indifference, it doesn't mean callousness; on the contrary, when you are not attached you have tremendous vitality. There is tremendous passion, there is great energy and that energy, then, can act totally. Is it possible to die every day to everything, to your image, to your memories, to your various dogmas, beliefs, hopes, fears? Die to everything, so that your mind is fresh, young, innocent?
The word innocence means not to hurt, not to have the capacity to hurt or be hurt. Can your mind find a way of living where it is never hurt. Not by resistance, not through isolation, but by dying to all identification, to all attachment, dependency, inwardly, because inevitably that's what is going to happen. When death comes you're either diseased, 'gaga' or unconscious. Whereas now, having full vitality, not neurotic, but sane, balanced, capable of reason, with energy; to die to all these things that one has accumulated in oneself. Otherwise there is no freedom. Dying every day is to love. One cannot love if there is no freedom. There is no freedom if there is the 'me' which is the accumulation, the images, the movement of identification and detachment; that 'me' prevents love. One has to die every day to know what love is. Then you'll bring a different kind of world into being.
Would you like to ask any questions about all that we have talked this afternoon?
Questioner: If nobody cares for their furniture isn't the world going to be rather flat?
Krishnamurti: Do you mean to say the furniture makes the world beautiful? What is beauty? Is beauty in the architecture, in the structure of a building, in the painting, in music, in the word? What is beauty? You know, we are enquiring, therefore we must share it together. Don't just sit there and listen to my enquiry. Share with it.
Questioner: Beauty is working among the poor. Love is beautiful.
Krishnamurti: If I may say so, don't assert anything. Don't say love, beauty is this, that. We're questioning, enquiring, we'll find out sir, give it a chance, have patience. You see, we find beauty in nature, we find beauty in the building, in a poem, in a boat that is sailing in the wind, we see beauty out there, in the tree, in the cloud, in the movement of the water, in the flight of a bird, in the leaf trembling in the breeze. Is it out there? Go slowly. Where is it? In your heart, in your mind? Is it there? Or is it in the tree, in the picture that you see in the museum, in the Velasquez which has just been bought for five million pounds, or whatever? Where is beauty, and what does beauty mean? You know, as long as there is a division, the observer and the observed, you the observer looking at the picture and saying how beautiful it is, is there beauty? Go slow, please, just enquire, don't answer me. As long as there is a division between the onlooker and the thing that he looks upon is there beauty? As long as there is a division of any kind between you and the cloud, between you and the child with the smiling face, is there beauty? Not that you identify yourself with the child, or with the cloud, or with the flutter of the sail; when you identify, again there is a duality; you identifying yourself with another.
So, one discovers that there is no beauty at all when there is any kind of division or identification. I identify myself with the beautiful blue sky or with the beauty of my wife or husband. In that identification there is division. So one discovers that there is no beauty if there is any kind of division and distance, a time interval. Can this division between you and the light on that water end, in the sense that there is no division, there is no space, no time interval? For that to happen there must be no observer; there must be no me. The 'me' must be abandoned. The 'me' creates the division, as the observer. For that to end there must be passion; if you have no passion (not lust) there's no beauty.
You can visit all the museums in the world, compare Michelangelo with da Vinci and so on; in that there is no beauty. Beauty implies total self-abandonment and with passion so that there is no division. After all, that is love. When there is that quality of mind that has no division, and therefore loves, that is beauty.
Questioner: Does the insanity of violence bring about the privilege of death?
Krishnamurti: Why can't we be simple about all this? Life is very complex. It's terribly complex. All our relationships are complex. Society is getting more and more and more complex. And apparently we can't be simple enough to look at all this with clear, simple eyes. What I said was, there is no new life unless you die to yesterday. That's all. That's a simple fact. If you want to discover something totally new, you have to abandon all the old.
Questioner: In a book that you wrote previously you said you had spoken to your brother after he died, you'd seen him. Doesn't this prove to you there's life after death?
Krishnamurti: In a book you wrote, you saw your brother when he died, and how do you explain that? That was the question wasn't it?
Questioner: That's right.
Krishnamurti: Did you hear the previous answer which I talked about, which is to live a simple life? Or were you occupied with some other question? Apparently, you're asking whether when the speaker's brother died about 45 years ago, he saw him. How do you explain that? That's the question. Are you interested in it? Yes? Good Lord.
You see, you're really not interested in the real things. You're really not interested to find out how to live a different kind of life, deeply, beautifully. All right, sir. First of all, it may be imagination. That's a tremendous possibility, isn't it? When you love or so-called love your brother and he's gone, there is great sorrow, there is a great feeling of apartness, and in that state you see all kinds of things, don't you? You see yourself lonely; I'm not talking about myself, I'm talking about the human being. You see yourself as lonely, deprived of companionship, things that had meaning, gone; and what you could have done and didn't do, the regrets, the pleasures, you see so many things, don't you? Both the past and the future. And among those you see perhaps through imagination or the thought, the form of a thought, you understand? You see that. You know, all these things exist. There is thought transference, you know it, don't you? When you are very close to somebody, husband, wife, the wife hasn't to say a thing, and you do it, or you think it, there is immediate transference. There is also extra-sensory perception, all kinds of powers as you begin to investigate yourself deeply. All kinds of capacities come, so-called clairvoyance and other kinds of powers. But a wise man puts aside all those because they are irrelevant. But, people who want excitement, power, position, use those as a means of exploiting. A wise man avoids all this and moves away from all this.
I'm sure I haven't answered your question. We want comfort and therefore we want the solace that we find in the companion who has gone. Therefore the mind can do all kinds of tricks, caught in all kinds of illusion; and that doesn't lead to clarity, to truth. The mind must be free of every form of deception.
Questioner: If there is no God what does it matter what we do or think?
Krishnamurti: Because you have God does it matter what you do and think? Does it? Because you believe in God, do you think what you do matters? If it does, what matters is what you do, not what you believe in; what you do for itself, not because of something else. This question of God we can't go into today, we'll go into it tomorrow. This is one of the questions, a part of our life, God, death, beauty, love, pain, suffering, it's all one. One has to understand all of it, not just God and something else, apart from that. It's a total movement of life and not a fragmentary movement in which there is God and the other fragments in which there is no God. To go into this question, whether there is or there is not, and not according to your conditioning or the speaker's conditioning - if he is conditioned - but to find out, actually, not verbally but deeply to find out if there is such a thing as something immortal, something timeless, something that is not measured by thought; to find that out requires not just an afternoon or an hour, an hour of controversy or discussion or dialogue, but requires your whole life, the way you live it. We'll go into that if you don't mind, tomorrow morning.