On Living and Dying
Third Public Talk at Brockwood Park
Shall we continue in spite of the wind, with what we were talking about the last time we met here?
We were saying, I think, that thought which plays so important a part in our life, thought which has created our culture, whether it is the eastern or the western. All the religious structures and beliefs and sects and dogmas, are brought about by thought. Our gods, our saviours, our masters, our gurus - if you have any, and I hope you haven't any - are the result of our thought. And without understanding the structure and the nature of thought we cannot go very deeply into what is the meaning and the significance of life. Thought can project any meaning, any purpose, any goal but it is still divisive, it is still separative, it breaks up. And if we would understand the deeper significance of life, one has to understand oneself, know oneself, not according to some philosopher or psychologist, ancient or modern, but to know ourselves as we are - not according to somebody else. As we are, without condemning, without judging, without rationalising, just to observe what we are, neither being discouraged, nor hopeful, neither being depressed nor encouraged, but to observe. And then one will see how extraordinarily important it is to understand the movement of thought because we have to learn from ourselves psychologically. You may learn technological things from another but psychologically we have to be our own teachers, our own disciples. Then there is no authority, then there is no someone to follow or to accept. But in studying oneself one learns what the meaning of this self-centred activity leads to. And we are going to talk over together this morning not only our daily life, but also what is the meaning of love and death. We are going to be concerned with these three things: what we call living, what we call love and this question, which has bothered, which has created such extraordinary myths and romance and illusion, with regard to death.
So in understanding ourselves, our daily life, there are one or two very prominent principles that operate, pleasure, fear and suffering. Please as we said the other day, and if we may repeat again, we are learning together, we are thinking together, we are investigating together. Though the speaker sits on a platform a little higher than yourself, it is for convenience, not for any sense of authority. And if we are going to share this question of what is the meaning of existence, what are the implications of love, and that strange phenomenon called death, we have to share this thing together, really share it, not merely listen to a series of words, draw a conclusion and agree or disagree with the conclusion that you have drawn. So we are sharing. And it is very important, I think, to understand that. We have created this so-called civilisation, this culture, together, we have built this social structure, the political entity, the economic state, and all that we have built it together, the mess that we have made is made by us together, in our relationship with either principles, ideas, persons and so on. We have built this together and we have to change that thing together. Therefore in investigating all this we are sharing. We're not merely listening to a series of words and ideas but actually sharing what is being said together. What is being said is nothing with which you can possibly agree or disagree, these are obvious facts and when we are looking at facts the facts themselves tell you what to do, not what you tell the facts to do.
So in understanding ourselves we come upon these three principles: pain, pleasure, fear and this thing called sorrow. This spreads right through the world. There is suffering right through the world, not only poverty, physical suffering, there is also psychological suffering, the fear and the pursuit of pleasure. Now to understand this suffering one has to look at it. You know what suffering is? There is a physical suffering, the pain of a disease and there is the psychological suffering - the loneliness, the emptiness, the utter meaninglessness of one's own existence and the existence of the world as it is being lived now, and the suffering that is caused by not being loved, or loving another, not having that love returned. There are so many different kinds of suffering. And can the mind, your mind, your heart, be free of that suffering? Because if one is not free from that suffering then inevitably all our actions, everything we look at is distorted, perverted, becomes corrupted?
So it is very important to find out for ourselves whether it is possible to be totally free from suffering, which doesn't mean that one becomes callous, indifferent, or builds a wall round oneself in isolation because when one understands suffering then out of that suffering comes passion. And passion is necessary because without passion you cannot be together. I do not mean by passion lust. The very word 'suffering', the root meaning of that is passion. And a mind that is constantly suffering, that is constantly aware of its own fears, and its own pursuits of pleasures, is incapable of clear total action. So it becomes very urgent and important and absolutely necessary whether the mind - the mind being the brain, the heart, the whole thing - whether the mind can be free from suffering and yet have that extraordinary sense of vital passion and energy. To find that out, if you are at all serious, and you must be serious when the world is so utterly chaotic, mad, utterly insane, if you are not serious there is something very wrong, and so one has to find out - this wind is too much, isn't it? - one has to find out for oneself, for oneself, not according to somebody else, not create an ideal out of this suffering, but to find out for oneself whether it is possible for a mind to be entirely free from suffering. That is what we are going to investigate now, together.
Each one has his own particular form of suffering. There is not only personal suffering, but also the collective human suffering - the suffering of people who have not enough food a day, who are uneducated, who have tremendous accidents and are laid up for the rest of their life; the destruction of war, all those people who are maimed, destroyed, and also there is not only that but also personal suffering. Therefore there is suffering, collective and personal.
We are talking about suffering because that is one of our accepted habitual burdens: we put up with it, or we idealise it as the Christians have done, or as the Hindus with their rationalisation of Karma and all the rest of it. I hope you can hear all this in spite of the wind. Suffering has many causes - personal loss of a person whom you think you love, the loss of a job, poverty, a mind that is aware of its own emptiness, shallowness, pettiness, the shoddy life that one leads, or many forms of frustrations, and there is the suffering of death. And when you try to find out the cause of suffering - we are talking about psychologically - is that not a waste of energy and time? Please follow this carefully if you are interested in it. Is not the investigation for the cause of suffering, is this not only a wastage of energy but it involves time? All analysis involves time and we think time will cure the suffering and so is it necessary to discover for oneself the cause of suffering? Or deal with suffering and not with the cause? Because cause implies in itself time. And the constant investigation of the cause, through analysis, is paralysis of action. Right? I hope you understand this. I suffer, for various reasons - what is the cause of that suffering? Because I am perhaps lonely and then I begin to investigate that loneliness and in the investigation of that loneliness I find that I need companionship, and then I'll escape from that loneliness, and therefore from sorrow. Right? So what have I done? I have gone away from the fact of suffering into a secondary issue. Whereas if you can look at suffering without escape, without seeking comfort, without rationalising and investigating the cause but merely remain with that suffering, without any movement of thought. Because it is the movement of thought that has brought about the suffering. You see this? So the mind is aware that the investigation of a cause is merely the furthering of thought which has brought about suffering, therefore there is no relief from suffering, there is only an illusory form of comfort. Are we sharing this together? Right?
So can the mind see the truth, the fact that any form of escape from suffering, psychological suffering, is a wastage of energy and therefore time, the pursuit of secondary issues and therefore no solution to sorrow? Now if this is clear, then can the mind remain with that suffering without a single movement of thought? Which doesn't mean that you control thought, because when you see the truth that any movement of thought is a withdrawal from suffering, when you see the truth of that, it naturally ends. Right? Then the mind is completely immobile with that suffering and it has all the energy to go beyond itself. You have got it? Have you understand this?
That is, we are not talking of physical pain, you can deal with that by going to a doctor or a dentist or whatever it is, take a pill. We are talking of the psychological anxiety, psychological fear, psychological sense of deprivation, negligence, which bring about a great anxiety. This anxiety creates sorrow. And can the mind without the interference of thought - comment?... The current is off... Can you hear me now? You have heard a statement: remain with suffering, don't escape from it, don't let thought have any place in it. When you hear a statement of that kind you have already translated it into an idea, haven't you? And so you are pursuing the idea, not the fact. So without formulating a concept, to listen to the fact, to the fact that any form of escape from psychological suffering continues that suffering. Can the mind hear it and not make a conclusion out of it, because we have been trained, educated to draw conclusions? The moment we hear something there is a conclusion. And according to that conclusion and idea we act. Whereas we are not acting according to the fact, we are acting according to a conclusion that we have drawn from the fact, which is non-real. Right.
So can the mind - please this demands on your part, if you are serious, a great deal of discipline. We are using that word 'discipline' to indicate not suppression, conformity to a pattern, but discipline means to learn, not to copy. So hearing this is to learn. Learning is not to form conclusions, learning is constantly learning - right. So with regard to suffering, when the mind remains totally involved in that suffering without any movement of thought, then out of that totality there is passion. And the same thing with regard to fear and to the pursuit of pleasure.
Then we can begin also to enquire what is love. This is one of the most complex problems like everything else in life. I am sure you have ideals about love, what love should be. And in the modern world love is almost synonymous with sex. So in trying to understand what love is actually, not what we think it should be, or what we would like it to be, but to understand and go into it very, very deeply one wants to find out what is love. We have made such a mess of that word, we become romantic, sentimental, but if you are not caught in words then we can begin to look at what it is. Then we can begin to ask: is it desire, is it pleasure, is it something personal or impersonal, is it something that the mind can understand? Or is it an ideal, which is what the churches and religions throughout the world have said: love is something totally different, and so on and on and on. I want to find out what it means, what actually it is, not what I would like it to be. So is love something brought about by memory? You understand my question? Is it the product, the result of memory? Memory is experience, knowledge and therefore the past, a remembrance - is love a remembrance? Please look at it yourself, not what the speaker is talking about, use him as a mirror. But break the mirror after you have understood it. Is it a memory of something that you have enjoyed, something that has given you great pleasure, physical, or psychological, intellectual or whatever you like? Therefore is love something in the past? And if it is not in the past, then what place has desire with regard to love? Then what place has pleasure with regard to that? All these questions are involved in this.
Desire is sensation - as we went into it the other day. Desire originates through perception, contact, sensation, desire. And is love desire? I can't answer it for you. One has to go into this for oneself. That is, if you are serious and want to know the full significance of this extraordinary thing called love, one has to go into the question of desire. And what part does desire play, or distort love? And is it pleasure? And modern world has made love into pleasure; and also religions have made it into a form of super-pleasure. And the pursuit of that pleasure is the remembrance of something that is over. So is love a memory, a picture, which thought has built, from which it derives sensation, sexual or otherwise? Or has love nothing whatsoever to do with all this? And since in the modern world sex has become such an astonishingly important thing, love has become identified with that, therefore all pleasure becomes very personal, very limited, very small. And can the mind in understanding, in being aware of this whole structure of desire and pleasure, which soon becomes a memory, and what place has memory with regard to love? Or has it no place whatsoever? And therefore is love a matter of time? 'I will love you', or, 'I have loved you'. And where there is jealousy can there be love? Where there is ambition, physical, psychological or a social ambition, can there be love?
In understanding all this, going into it by yourself, not casually, not indifferently but giving your total attention, then you will see that love has nothing to do with all this. Then it becomes compassion, passion for all. And we have divided love, separate from living and separate from death. You are following? It is thought that has divided living, loving, dying.
And now, if we have understood really, as you are sitting there this morning, on a windy morning, really understood deep within yourself, have learnt, or are learning the nature of desire; not to suppress it, not to deny it, not to run away from it, but to look at it, to understand it, to investigate it, to unravel it. In the unravelling process of that you will understand fear and pleasure. And also you will see the meaning of what love is. It is stripped of all sentimentality, because sentiment can become cruel, like emotionalism. And then you will find out for yourself what that thing is that man has talked about endlessly, written volumes about it: what love is.
Then we can begin to investigate what death is. You know this has been one of the problems, probably the greatest problem in human life. Not love, not fear, not relationship, but this question, this mystery, this sense of ending, has been the concern from the ancient of days. And here we are trying to investigate what that thing is. Can we investigate what death is when we have separated it from living? You understand my question? I have separated death as something at the end of my life. Right? Something that I have postponed, put away, a long interval between the living and the dying. Dying is something in the future, something of which one is frightened, something which one doesn't want, to be totally avoided. But it is always there, either through accident, disease, old age and so on, it is always there, whether we are young or old, infirm, or full of joy, it is always there. And people have said, living is only a means to dying, death is much more important than living, and look to death rather than to life. And knowing that there is death people have invented every form of comfort - comfort in beliefs, in ideas, in hopes that you will sit next to God when you behave properly, on the right hand of that entity, and so on and on and on and on. The whole of Asia believes in reincarnation. And you have here not such a rationalised but a sentimental hope.
When you look at all this: the beliefs, the comforts, the desire for comfort knowing that there is an ending, and there is a hope that next life you will continue, and also there is the whole intellectual rationalisation of death. When you look at all this one sees that one has separated dying from living - right? - I hope we are following all this together. Dying, something separate from living: the living, the everyday living, with all the conflicts, the miseries, the attachments, the despairs, the anxieties, the violence, the suffering, the tears and the laughter, all that something totally separate from the dying. Why has the mind separated life from dying? You have understood my question? Which we have done, why? Is the life that we lead, the everyday life, the shoddiness of it, the bitterness of it, the emptiness of it, the travail, the routine, the office, year in and year out for fifty years and more, going to the factory, all that we call living: the strife, the struggle, the ambition, the corruption, the fleeting affections and joys and pleasures, that is what we call living. And we say death mustn't enter into that field because that is all we know and death we do not know, therefore keep it away. So we cling - oh, this wind! - so we cling to the known - please watch it in yourself - to the known, to the remembrance of things, past, to the sorrows, to the anxieties, to memories, to experiences, which are all the known and therefore the past - we cling to the past and that is what we call the known. And the unknown is death, of which you are frightened. So there is a wide gulf between the known and the unknown. And we would rather cling to the known than enter into the field of the unknown because our minds operate always within the known, because there, there is security, we think there is security, we think there is certainty, we think there is permanency, and when you look at it, it is impermanent, it is totally uncertain, but yet we cling to it because that is all we know. That is, we only know the past.
And death is something we do not know. Now this division exists and it exists because thought has divided life as living, dying, love and all the rest of it: the artist, the business man, the socialist, the politician - thought has divided. So thought has divided life into the known and death as something unknown. These are all facts.
Now can the mind, which clings to the known, enquire into what is permanent? Because that is what we think we are clinging to: the permanent relationship between you and another, the permanent ownership of land, property, money, name, form, idea. Now is there anything permanent? - not as an idea but an actuality. You understand? Please work at it. Is there anything permanent? My name, my reputation, my house, my wife, my children, my ideals, my experience? And yet the mind wants permanency because in that there is security. So realising there is nothing permanent here, nothing, it creates a permanency in god, in an idea. And you find how extraordinarily difficult it is for human beings to change ideas. And that is our battle now, between you and the speaker. Because you have ideals or ideas or pictures, images which you think are permanent. And you have accepted that permanency as real. And here comes along somebody who says, 'Look, there is nothing permanent: your ideas, your gods, your saviours, you yourself are impermanent' - and you refuse to see that. And to realise that there is impermanency, uncertainty, creates havoc in one's life. The more uncertain you are, the more neurotic you become, the more imbalanced, the more insane the world, your activities become, so you must have something permanent. And so you create a belief, a god, an ideal, a conclusion, an image. As we said, these are all illusions because there is nothing permanent, but yet unless the mind has something basically permanent all its activities will be distorted, neurotic, incomplete. Therefore is there something totally permanent? You are following all this? For god's sake follow it, it is your life.
If there is nothing permanent, then life becomes totally meaningless. So is there something permanent in the sense not as a house, as an idea, but something that is beyond and above this impermanency? We are investigating that. You have to follow this a little bit carefully otherwise you will miss it.
As we said, we live in the past and the past has become our permanency, has become our state of permanency. And when you observe and see the illusion of the past, what comes out of that perception? You understand? I see that living in the past has a certain value - because I can't ride a bicycle, I can't talk English, or drive a car, or do certain technological things, or recognise you, my friend, or wife, children, so there must be the knowledge of the past. But is there a quality of mind that is not put together by thought which in itself is impermanent, is there a quality out of this perception? That quality is intelligence. That intelligence is not yours, or mine. It is intelligence. The intelligence that is capable of seeing the impermanent and not going off into neurotic habits or activity, but because there is intelligence it is always acting rightly - you've got it?
With that intelligence we are now going to look at death. Death is something, we say, the unknown. Being attached to all the things that we know, what we are frightened of is complete ending of that attachment: attachment to my name, attachment to my family, to my job, to the book I have written, to the book I hope to write or to the picture, or god knows what else - various forms of attachment. Death is the ending of that attachment. Right? Now living, daily, can you be free of attachment, therefore inviting death? You understand what I am talking about? You have understood? Am I making myself clear? That is, I am attached to my book, to my reputation, to my family, to my job, to my pride, to my vanity, to my sense of honesty - you follow? - to my sense of glory or whatever it is I am attached to. And death means the ending of that attachment. Now can I end that attachment immediately? Which is death. So I have brought death into the very moment of living. You understand this? So there is no fear, therefore when the mind sees the truth of this, that death is an ending of the things that you are attached to, whether it is the furniture, to your face or whatever it is you are attached to, to the ideals and so on, you have brought this faraway thing called death to the immediate action of life, which is the ending of your attachment. So death means a total renewal. You understand? A total renewal of a mind that has been caught in the past. So the mind becomes astonishingly alive, it is not living in the past.
But then the problem arises: if the mind is incapable of this action - and it is tremendous action - to end completely every day to all the things that one is attached to, every day and every minute, you are living with life and death together. You understand? From this arises the problem: if you cannot do it what will happen? Do you understand? My son can't do this, or my friend, my brother, can't do this, you have done it and I can't do it. You have applied, you are diligent, you are attentive, you have understood this thing basically, radically, that you are not dependent any more on anything. Ending all that dependency, attachment immediately, that is death. Then what happens to those who do not enter into that intelligence, supreme excellency of action?
You know most people live in the past, live thoughtlessly, live without sanity, what happens to all those people? You understand my question? You have stepped out of that stream of life, which means you are compassionate, you know what you are doing, aware of all the significance of the past, the present and the future, all that is involved. And I am not. I don't even listen to you, I don't even care, I just want to have a good time, I want to enjoy myself, that is all my concern. I may be afraid of death and I have a comforting belief that I will be born next life, or that I will end up in heaven. So what happens to me? You understand my question? What is your relationship to me? You, who have understood all this, therefore compassionate, and your actions are supremely intelligent and therefore excellent, and I am not interested in what you are saying, doing, writing, thinking. I am caught in this stream, which most human beings are. You understand? Very few step out of that stream. And what is your relationship to the man in that stream? Have you any relationship? Or none at all? You understand? How can you have any relationship with the insane when you are sane? You can be compassionate, you can be kind, generous and all the rest of it, but you have no relationship. Therefore what can you do?
Your responsibility then is, if you are out of that stream, to live that life and not be an example. If you are an example then you become a dead person, then you have a following, then you become the authority, then you are the very essence of destruction, you are the very cause of that stream. You understand? Then what will you do? You have a responsibility: responsibility to act intelligently because you have seen the whole issue, therefore the perception of the map of this whole thing that we have talked about brings that intelligence, according to that intelligence you will act. Not, I like or I don't like. That is the responsibility. And if you say, 'Is there for me, who are still caught in that stream, a future life?' - you understand? You know thought creates the future, as thought created the past and from the past, through the present, modified, becomes the future. Right? So the man who is still thinking in terms of the excellency of thought will have a future. I don't know if you follow all this. But to the man to whom thought means time, thought means matter, thought means memory, experience, knowledge, which is the past, to such a man, obviously, thought and its structure becomes all important, and he is caught in that. Therefore he lives in the past, in the future. Which it is not the time to go into now, because that is a very complex problem to go into: what happens to a mind that is caught in this. Is that an individual mind, or a collective mind? Is it a consciousness which is separate, unique, indivisible, which means individuality? Or is that consciousness collective, therefore it has no individuality at all? You follow all this? The moment it is collective it is not individual, and most people are the collection of all. Look at your own mind and you will see it. You are an Englishman or a German, or a Hindu, or whatever it is, and you are the result of that culture, of that economic condition, the climate, the food you eat and all that, you are the result of all that. So as a collective human being you will follow the collective. But the moment you step out of that stream you are not collective or individual, you are intelligent. You understand?
Do you want to ask any questions about all this?
Krishnamurti: Sir, when you look at yourself, are you an individual? You know what that word means? It means indivisible, whole, not fragmented; whole means sane, healthy and also it means holy. Are you that? Are you an individual? Or a collective? Be terribly honest about it, and you will see how you are the collective - the traditions, oh, all the rest of it. And to be an individual means to be whole, not fragmented - think one thing, say another, do something contrary - you follow? - all this contradiction in oneself is the collective, because the collective, the mass, the whole of human beings, are caught in this everlasting battle within oneself and therefore outward battles. And the individual is one who is totally out of that. He is then no longer an individual.
K: Of course. That is what I said sir. The gentleman says one suffers, and he hears the statement that you must watch suffering. So you have made that statement into a conclusion and you are watching the conclusion. You follow sir? Not watching the fact. Now, just look. I suffer because my son is dead, or my mother, wife or whatever it is. My son is dead and I feel lonely, I have invested everything in him, I have made him a continuity of myself, and he comes to an end, and I suffer. In that suffering there is self-pity and a sense of loss, a sense of life has no meaning, and all the rest of it. I suffer. Not to escape from that suffering, just to live with that suffering - you understand sir? - which is not morbid. I don't know if you are following all this. To live with it, not to escape from it, not to transcend it, not to suppress it, not to translate it into something other than what it is. When the mind does that then you have all the energy which has been dissipated in trying to go beyond it, escape and so on, you have all that energy, all that attention, which is energy, in the observation of that suffering. In that observation the observer is the observed. This is important otherwise you will separate it again and there is conflict. So in that observation there is no observer, only that fact, then you have the energy to go beyond it. That is meditation.
Q: Does the abandonment of passion mean one abandons one's responsibilities as well?
K: Is that what you are saying, sir? Abandon also one's responsibility, is that what you're saying?
Q: If you abandon your attachments doesn't it mean that you have abandoned your responsibilities?
K: When you abandon attachment, are you not also abandoning responsibility. When you abandon attachment, do you lose responsibility? Or you become much more responsible? Please follow this. I am attached to my son, my poor son, who is dead, I am attached to him. I am attached to my son. What am I attached to? The image of my son? What I would like my son to have been? Or am I attached to the person? Which is it? Both, the person as well as the image. If I am attached to the image, which I have built about my son, that he must be this, he must be that, he must be a great politician, or a great musician, or a great writer, or whatever it is, or marry very well and have a big house, and money, property. Now if I abandon my attachment to the image I have built about him - have I lost responsibility? On the contrary, I feel much more responsible to him - responsibility being to respond rightly to the person, not to the image I have about that person. You see, we are really... when we are attached to the image we are really irresponsible. When you say I am attached to my idea of my nationality, that I am an Englishman, a Frenchman, then I am irresponsible to man, I am irresponsible to the rest of the world. And we have made this irresponsibility into a highly respected thing. And we need co-operation to bring about the daily human problems, and which we are unwilling to do because you are an Englishman, you are a Frenchman, I'm somebody else. You understand? Therefore attachment to the idea is irresponsibility.
Q: If we are not to be examples or teachers, how can that intelligence grow, spread?
K: If we are not to be an example, or a teacher, how can that intelligence grow, spread. Be first intelligent. You understand sir? Don't bother about that intelligence being spread abroad, but be committed, seriously, to the awakening of that intelligence, and then that intelligence will tell you what to do. You may go out and talk about it, write, give up your life to it. Do you understand? You will be totally committed then. Right? Is that enough?