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To die implies having no continuity of thought

To die implies having no continuity of thought

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Public Talk 8 Saanen, Switzerland - 10 August 1961

We were talking yesterday about the way of meditation and how, if there is freedom, the mind can go very deeply within itself. And I would like this morning, if I may, to consider several things. First fear, and then time and death. I think they are interrelated, and that without understanding the one we cannot possibly understand the others. Without understanding the whole process of fear we shall not be able to comprehend what time is; and in the process of understanding time, we shall be able to go into this extraordinary question of death. Death must be a very strange fact. As life is, with its abundance, with its richness, with its varieties, fullness, so must death be. Death, surely, must bring with it a newness, a freshness, an innocence. But to comprehend that vast issue, the mind must obviously be free from fear.

Each one of us has many problems, not only outward problems but inward, and the inward problems outweigh the outer ones. If we understand the inner, go into them profoundly, then the outward problems become fairly simple and clear. But the outward problem is not different from the inward problem. It is the same movement, as the ocean tide that goes out and comes in again. And if we merely follow the outward movement and remain there, we shall not be able to comprehend the inward movement of that tide. Nor shall we understand the inward movement if we merely escape from, abandon, the comprehension of the outer. It is the same movement, which we call outer and inner.

Most of us are trained to look at the outward tide, the movement that goes outward; and in that direction the problems increase more and more. And without understanding those problems, the inward movement, the inward look is not possible.

Unfortunately, we have both outer problems, social, economic, political, religious, and so on, and also the inward problems of what to do, how to behave, how to respond to the various challenges of life. It seems that whatever we touch, outwardly or inwardly, creates more problems, more miseries, more confusion. I think that is fairly clear for most of us who are watching, observing, living: that whatever we touch with our hands, with our minds, with our hearts, increases our problems: there is greater misery, greater confusion. And I think all our problems can be understood when we understand fear.

I am not using that word `understand' intellectually, or verbally, but I am speaking of that state of understanding which comes into being when we perceive, see the fact, not only visually but inwardly. Seeing the fact implies a state wherein there is no justification or condemnation but merely an observing, a seeing of a thing without interpretation. For all interpretation distorts. Understanding is instantaneous when there is no justification, condemnation or interpretation.

For most of us this is difficult, because we think understanding is a matter of time, a matter of comparison, a matter of gathering more information, more knowledge. But understanding does not demand any of these. It demands only one thing, which is direct perception, direct seeing without any interpretation or comparison. So without understanding fear, our problems invariably increase.

Now, what is fear? Each one has his own series of fears. One may be afraid of the dark, afraid of public opinion, afraid of death, afraid of not making a success in life, of frustration, not being able to fulfil, having no capacity, feeling oneself inferior. At every turn of the mind there is fear; every whisper of thought, consciously or unconsciously, breeds the dreaded thing called fear.

So what is fear? And please put that question to yourself. Is it something isolated, by itself, unrelated, or is it always related to something? I hope you understand what I mean, because we are not indulging in psychoanalysis. We are trying to find out if it is possible to rid the mind totally of fear - not bit by bit, but wholly, completely. And to find that out we must enquire into what is fear, how it comes into being, and that out we must enquire into thought, not only conscious thinking, into the unconscious, the deep layers one's own being. To enquire into unconscious is not, surely, a process of analysis; because when you analyse, or another analyses, there is always the observer, the analyst who is analysing, and therefore there is a division, a dissimilarity, and so conflict.

I want to find out how fear comes into being. I do not know if we are aware of our own fears, and how we are aware of them. Are we aware merely of a word, or are we directly in contact with the thing that causes fear? Is the thing that causes fear, fragmentary? Or is it a total thing which has varying expressions of fear? I may be afraid of death; you may be afraid of your neighbour, of public opinion; another may be afraid of being dominated by the wife, the husband; but the cause must be one. There are not, surely, several different causes which produce several types of fear. And will the discovery of the cause of fear free the mind from fear? Knowing, let us say, that I am afraid of public opinion, does that rid the mind of fear? The discovery of the cause of fear is not the liberation from fear.

Do please understand this a little; we have not the time to go into it in great detail because we have a vast field to cover this morning.

Knowing the cause, or the innumerable causes that breed fear, will that empty the mind of fear? Or is some other element needed?

When enquiring into what is fear one has not only to be aware of outward reactions, but also to be aware of the unconscious. I am using that word `unconscious' in a very simple way, not philosophically, psychologically or analytically. The unconscious is the hidden motives, the subtle thoughts, the secret desires, compulsions, urges, demands. Now, how does one examine or observe the unconscious? It is fairly simple to observe the conscious through its reactions of likes and dislikes, pain and pleasure; but how does one enquire into the unconscious without the help of another? Because if you have the help of another, that other may be prejudiced, limited so that what he interprets he perverts. So, how is one to look into this enormous thing called the hidden mind, without interpretation; to look, to absorb, to comprehend it totally, not bit by bit? Because if you examine it fragmentarily, each examination leaves its own mark, and with that mark you examine the next fragment, thereby furthering the distortion. Therefore there is no clarity through analysis. I wonder if you are getting what I am talking about?

We can see, surely, that the discovering of the cause of fear does not free the mind from fear, and that analysis does not bring freedom from it either. There must be a total understanding, a complete uncovering of the totality of the unconscious; and how does one set about it? Do you see the problem?

The unconscious cannot, surely, be looked at through the conscious mind. The conscious mind is a recent thing, recent in the sense that it has been conditioned to adjust itself to the environment; it has been newly moulded through education to acquire certain techniques in order to live, to achieve a livelihood; it has cultivated memories and is therefore capable of leading a superficial life in a society which is intrinsically rotten and stupid. The conscious mind can adjust itself and its function is to do so. And when it is not capable of adjusting itself to the environment then there is a neurosis, a state of contradiction, and so on. But the educated, the recent mind cannot possibly enquire into the unconscious which is old, which is of the residue of time, of all the racial experiences. The unconscious is the repository of infinite knowledge of the things that have been. So, how is the conscious mind to look at it? It cannot, because it is so conditioned, so limited by recent knowledge, recent incidents, experiences, lessons, ambitions and adjustments. Such a conscious mind cannot possibly look at the unconscious, and I think that is fairly simple to understand. Please, this is not a matter of agreement or disagreement; if we start that business of `You are quite right' or `You are quite wrong', then it has no meaning, we are lost. If one sees the significance of this immediately, then there is no agreement or disagreement, because one is enquiring.

Now, what is necessary if one is to look into the unconscious, to bring out all the residue, to cleanse the unconscious totally so that it does not create all the contradictions which breed conflict? How is one to proceed to enquire into the unconscious, knowing that an educated mind is not capable of looking at it, nor the analyst, whose examination is fragmentary? How is one to look at this extraordinary mind which has such vast treasures, the storehouse of experiences, racial and climatic influences, tradition, the constant impressions; how is one to bring it all out? Do you bring it out fragmentarily, or is it to be brought out totally? If you do not understand the problem, then the further enquiry has no meaning. What I am saying is that if the unconscious is to be examined fragmentarily, then there is no end to it, because the very fact that you examine and interpret fragmentarily strengthens the layers of the hidden mind. It must be examined as a whole picture. Surely, love is not fragmentary; it is not to be broken up into divine and profane, or put into various categories of respectability. Love is something total, and a mind that dissects love can never know what love is. To feel, to understand love there must be no fragmentary approach to it.

So, if that is really clear - that the totality cannot be understood through fragmentation - , then a change has taken place, has it not? I do not know if you are meeting my point.

Now, the unconscious mind must be approached negatively, because you do not know what it is. We know what other people have said about it, and we occasionally know of it through intimations, hints. But we do not know all the twists and turns of it, the extraordinary quality of the unconscious, all the roots. Therefore, to understand something which we do not know, one must approach it negatively, with a mind that is not seeking an answer.

We talked the other day about positive thinking and negative thinking. I said that negative thinking is the highest form of thinking; and that all thinking, whether positive or negative, is limited. Positive thinking is never free; but negative thinking can be free. Therefore, the negative mind, looking at the unconscious which it does not know, is in direct relationship with it.

Please, this is not something strange, a new cult, a new way of thinking; that is all immature and infantile. But when one wants to find out for oneself about fear and to be totally rid of it, not in fragments but completely, then one must enquire into the depths of one's mind. And that enquiry is not a positive process. There is no instrument which the superficial mind can create or manufacture in order to dig. All that the superficial mind can do is to be quiet, to put aside voluntarily, easily, all its knowledge, capacities, gifts, be independent of all its techniques. When it does that, it is in a negative state. To do that, one must understand thought.

Does not thought, the totality of thought - not just one or two thoughts - breed fear? If there were no tomorrow, or the next minute, would there be fear? The dying to thought is the ending of fear. And all consciousness is thought.

We come, then, to the thing called time. What is time? Is there time? There is time by the watch, and we think there is also inward, psychological time. But is there time, apart from the chronological time? It is thought which creates time; because thought itself is the product of time, of many yesterdays - `I have been that; I am this: and I shall be that'. To go to the moon requires time; it takes many days, many months to put the rocket together; and to acquire the knowledge of how to put the rocket together also requires time. But all that is mechanical time, time by the watch. Distance is involved in going to the moon, and distance is also within the field of time, within the field of hours, days, months. But apart from that time, is there time at all? Surely, thought has created time. There is thought - I must become more intelligent, I must find out how to compete, I must try and become successful; how am I to become respectable, to subjugate my ambitions, my anger, my brutalities? And this constant process of thinking, which is part of the mechanistic brain, does breed time. But if thought ceases, is there time? Do you follow this? If thought ceases, is there fear? I am afraid, let us say, of public opinion - what people say about me, what they think of me. That thinking about it breeds fear. If there was no thought, I wouldn't care two pins for public opinion, and therefore there would be no fear. So, I begin to discover that thought breeds fear, that thought is the result of time. And thought, which is the result of many yesterdays, modified by all the experiences of the present, creates the future - which is still thought.

So the whole content of consciousness is a process of thought; therefore it is bound within time. I hope you are following all this.

Now, can the mind be free of times I am not talking of being free of chronological time - that would be to be insane, to be mentally unbalanced. I am talking of time as achievement, as success, as being something tomorrow, as becoming or not becoming, as fulfilling and frustration, as getting over something and acquiring something else. Which means that the question is: can thought - which is the totality of consciousness, the revealed and the unrevealed completely die, cease to be? When it does, you have understood the totality of consciousness.

So, dying to thought - to thought that knows pleasures, to thought that suffers, to thought that knew virtue, that knew relationship, that had become and had expressed itself in various ways, always within the field of time - , surely, is total death. I am not talking of the mechanical, organic death, bodily dying. The doctors may invent some drug which will make it possible for the organic existence of the body to continue for a hundred and fifty or two hundred years - God knows what for! But that is all irrelevant. What is relevant is the dying in which there is no fear.

So, can the mind die to everything it has known, which is the past - which is death? That is what we are all afraid of, death, suddenly ceasing, in which there is no argumentation. You cannot argue with death: it is the ending. And to cease means to die to thought, and therefore to time.

I do not know if you have experimented with this at all. It is fairly easy to die to suffering; everybody wants to do that. But is it not possible to die to the pleasures, the things you have cherished, the memories that give you stimulation, that give you a feeling of well-being, to die to all that which is within time? If you have gone into it, if you have done it, then you will see that death has quite a different meaning from the death of decay.

You know, we do not die to it all; instead, from moment to moment we are decaying, corrupting, deteriorating withering away. To die implies to have no continuity of thought. You may say, `That is very difficult to do, and if one has done it what is the value of it?' It is not difficult, but it requires enormous energy to go into it. It requires a mind that is young, fresh, unafraid and therefore rid of time. And what value has it? Perhaps not any utilitarian value; to die to thought and therefore to time means to discover creation - creation which is destroying and creating everything anew, every second. In that there is no deterioration, no withering away. It is only thought that withers - thought that creates the centre as the `me' and the `not me' - , it is only that which knows decay.

So, to die to everything that the mind has accumulated, gathered, experienced, to cease on the instant, is creation, in which there is no continuity. That which has continuity is always decaying. I do not know if you have noticed this perpetual longing for continuity, which most of us have, the desire for the continuity of a particular relationship between the husband and wife, father and son, and all the rest of it. Relationship, when it is continual, is decaying, dead, worthless. But when one dies to continuity, there is a newness, a freshness.

So, the mind can directly experience what death is, which is quite extraordinary. Most of us do not know what living is; and therefore we do not know dying. Do we know what living is? We know what struggling is, we know what envy is, we know the brutalities of existence, the vulgarity of it all, the hatreds, the ambitions, the corruptions, the conflicts. We know all that; that is our life. But we do not know death, and so we are afraid of it. Perhaps if we knew what living is we should also know what dying is. Living, surely, is a timeless movement in which the mind is no longer accumulating. The moment you have accumulated you are in a state of decay. Because whether it is a vague experience or a little experience, around that you build the wall of security.

So, to know what living is means to die every minute to the things one has acquired, the inward pleasures, the inward pains; not in the process of time, but to die as it arises. Then you will find, if you have gone that far, that death is as life. Then living is not separate from dying, and that gives an extraordinary sense of beauty. That beauty is beyond thought and feeling; and it cannot be put together and used in painting a picture, writing a poem or playing an instrument. Those are irrelevant. There is a beauty that comes into being when life and death are the same, when living and dying are synonymous; because then life and death leave the mind completely rich, total, whole.

Question: Can we ask questions about this?

Krishnamurti: It seems that a few are so ready with questions that I am wondering if you have listened to the speaker. Were you listening, or were you busy formulating your questions. Do you understand? You were already forming your questions and therefore not listening. Please, I am not being rude, believe me. I am just pointing it out. If one had listened to this talk, one's questions would be answered.

Question: Through the exploration of fear will there not be danger of mental disorder?

Krishnamurti: Could there be a greater danger of mental disorder than in the mentality with which we live now? Are we not all, if you will forgive me for pointing it out, a little bit disorderly, mentally? I am not being rude; it is not my intention or my thought to judge you. But there is this extraordinary concern about the danger of increased mental illness. Do you know what is making us ill? Not the enquiry into fear. Wars, Communism, religious bigotry, ambition, competition, snobbery - these things are the indications of a mentally ill person. Surely, the enquiry into fear and ridding the mind totally of fear is the highest sanity. The question indicates, does it not?, sirs, that we think the present society is a marvellous thing. Probably those of us who have a good bank account and are well-to-do feel that things are all right, and they do not want to be disturbed. But life is a very disturbing thing, a very destructive thing; and that is what we are afraid of. We are not interested in living, in being free from fear; but we want to find a corner where we are secure and comfortable, and to be left alone to rot. Sirs, this is not rhetoric; it is our inward, secret desire. We seek this safety in every relationship. What jealousy and envy there is in relationship! What hatred when the wife turns away from the husband, or the husband goes off with another! How we seek the approval of society and the benediction of the church! Surely, it is all these many things that bring about deterioration, the destruction of sanity.

Question: These things are quite new to us, and I think we must continue with them.

Krishnamurti; Sir, you cannot continue with them. If you continue with them, they are mere ideas, and ideas are not going to create anything new. I have been talking about the total destruction of the things that the mind has built inwardly. You cannot continue with destruction; if you do, it is merely construction, building up again that which must be destroyed.

We need a new mind, a fresh mind, a new heart, an innocent, young, decisive mind; and to have such a mind there must be destruction; there must be a creation which is ever new.

August 10, 1961