New Delhi 1962
New Delhi 7th Public Talk 11th February 1962
If I may, I am going to talk about death this evening; but before we go into that immense question, I think we ought to understand the capacity to investigate, the capacity to enquire, to find out, because that is very important in the understanding of this whole question of what is death. If we have that capacity to enquire, to investigate, to ask, to find out,then we shall be free from fear. Without freedom from fear of every kind, outward as well as inward, without the understanding of the outward fears as well as of psychological fears, we shall never be able to understand the immense question of death.
What is this capacity to investigate? How does it come about? What are the necessary requirements, if I may use that word, so as to have that directive, understanding capacity that will open the door to find out? First of all, it seems to me, there must be no motive in enquiring. The search must not be motivated by any personal idiosyncrasy or for any utilitarian purposes, or coloured by a peculiar desire for safety. Those are absolutely essential for all enquiry, whether it is a scientific enquiry or a psychological enquiry.
We are this evening going to investigate psychologically into the whole question of death; and to do that the mind must be free of motive. It is one of the most psychologically difficult things to be free of motive, a purpose, an end which is sought unconsciously or consciously. If one wishes to be free from the agony that fear causes with regard to death, one must surely be free of motive - a motive being not only the cause but also the search for an end. To overcome fear one must find out what is the cause of fear and also of the desire to be free of it, which will prevent investigation.
I do hope that you will listen so as to investigate into your own mind, into your own heart, and not merely verbally accept or deny or bring an argument to refute - because this will be of no avail; at the end you will be nowhere, and fear will continue. Is it possible to be totally free of fear, psychologically, inwardly, and to investigate into that question not intellectually, not verbally, but actually? To walk out of this tent without fear would be a marvellous thing; then you will be free of society and the agony of relationship which is society; then you will not be caught in the neck by the innumerable conflicts, problems, anxieties, griefs, that exist in the mind and heart of every human being.
And to investigate into this question, as I said, the mind must be entirely free from motive. Can it be free, and does it take time? If you see the necessity of being absolutely free from fear, then that very perception eliminates the motive - because your intention, your urge, your insistence is to be free from fear; and you see that the investigation into the question of fear is prevented if there is a motive. Therefore, when you understand the necessity of being free from fear, the motive disappears. This is a psychological fact: where there is something of greater importance, the less important ceases - as in everything else.
So, in enquiring into this question of fear, we must understand first of all what it means and what is implied in the process of investigation, not of fear yet, but of the mind that is capable of enquiring into fear. We are only concerned for the moment with the capacity to enquire - not the capacity to enquire into death, into love, into beauty, into ambition, or into any of those things in particular. The capacity to enquire is denied if the mind is seeking to get rid of the problem. Most of us are concerned to be free of fear, and therefore we avoid it; and the moment the mind seeks avoidance, you stop investigating. So, in investigation there must be no escape. And it is extremely difficult not to escape. One has to be aware of the implication of motive and also of escape because if one desires to escape, to avoid, to run away, then the whole process of investigation completely ceases. And there is no investigation if you bring in your personal opinion or your particular idiosyncrasy or the things that you have learnt. As I was saying, investigation into any problem, especially a psychological problem, ceases if you bring in your personal opinion or the knowledge that you have acquired from others, or if you project your own experiences based on your own conditioning.
So, please see all the implications and the difficulties involved in investigation. As we are talking of very serious matters and of things that are very urgent, you have to pay attention. Attention has no distraction, because it is a part of the process of investigation - and opinion, judgment, or evaluation is a distraction which prevents investigation. We are going to investigate into the whole question of fear. So, your mind must be prepared for investigation; mere acceptance or denial of what is being said or not said is of no value.
You are concerned with living - everyday living, with all the misery, the anxiety, the sorrow, the pain, the passing joy. When you are concerned with all that, the mere acceptance of verbal explanations, or the mere assertion of some knowledge that you have acquired from some book, does not solve your problems. The problems are solved only through investigation, through a complete understanding of the problems. This problem of fear is an extraordinarily urgent problem. There is the fear of death. It does not matter whether it is for the old or for the young, because death faces everyone of us, the young and the aged. And to understand, to investigate, to go into this whole problem of what it is to die requires a mind that is capable of investigating.
Investigation, as I pointed out, is impeded, is denied, when there is a motive. When there is a search for an end, when you project into your investigation a personal opinion or knowledge that you have acquired, all investigation ceases. So, when you are investigating you must be aware of these facts - the motives, the urge to seek an end and to escape, and the subtle forms of opinions, evaluations and judgments.
If that is very clear for each listener, we can proceed into the investigation of fear. What is fear? What is it that fears, and how does fear arise? Fear distorts perception, distorts clarity. A mind that is afraid lives always in illusion, whether it is the illusion of God, or the illusion of adjusting oneself to society, or the illusion of trying to make oneself perfect. As long as there is any form of psychological fear at any level, conscious or unconscious, there must be distortion of thought, distortion of perception. Therefore it is very important for sanity, for sensitive living, that the mind should not only understand the whole process of fear but also find out if it is possible to live without fear.
The essence of fear is non-existence, because we all want to live, we all want to continue in some form or another even though our life is miserable, petty, narrow, shortsighted and not rich, not full. However shallow it is, we want to live, we want to express ourselves, we want to be in relationship with something. And this desire to be in relationship with another, with nature, with ideas, is the very essence of the desire to live, to love and to be loved, to express and to fulfil, with all its anxieties, frustrations. Fear surely exists only in relationship to something. fear does not exist in abstraction, by itself. Fear exists in the desire to continue and to search out, to find, to establish a permanency.
Please, as I have said, you are listening not to me, nor to my words nor to certain ideas; but you are listening to, you are observing, your own mind and your own heart. You are watching your own processes in your own life. The words are merely a mirror, but the mirror is not the life. The mirror shows what is in your heart, in your mind; but if you merely listen to words, accepting or denying those words, then you are not watching your own mind and heart. All these talks are not meant to add more ideas and ideations, but rather to point out to you the operation, the working of your own mind and heart. So, please, if I may point out, observe your own mind.
And also, as I have said often, listening is an art. If you know how to listen rightly, there is an immediate perception and understanding - to listen to something totally with all your being; that is with all your senses, with your heart, with your mind, with your body, completely. Then you will see that, in that very act of listening, the thing of which you are afraid, the thing that causes fear has completely gone away. But you do not listen; you never do listen because you are tired, you have your own problems; and when you do hear, you compare what is being said with what you already know.
So, your mind is never quiet to listen, it is always agitated in listening. And a mind that is agitated can neither understand nor listen. And this is a problem of understanding immediately. Understanding does not come about through time, through comparison. Understanding comes when your mind is clear, sharp and rational. Then you understand immediately, and the immediacy of understanding is essential. As you know, the world and yourself are in travail, in great anxiety and misery. Anxiety and misery are not just words, are not slogans. You have to understand them; you have to go to the very root and then tear it out to find out. So, if you know how to listen and if you do listen attentively, completely, then you will find as you are listening, that the very thing of which you are afraid, conscious or unconscious, is being revealed; and you will wipe it away completely, totally, for ever.
A mind that has fear is a corrupt mind. It may occupy a high place; it may go to a church or to a temple, and repeat endlessly some sacred words - these have no meaning, because the heart and the mind are corrupt in fear. To understand fear is quite a difficult problem. But it is very important to understand it. Fear exists - not only; of little things but also of great things. You are afraid of your wife or husband, you are afraid of losing the job, you are afraid of public opinion, you are afraid of not having anything permanent in your life. Everybody in fear seeks some form of permanency. There is no permanency in this world; there is no permanency in any relationship between your wife and yourself, your husband and yourself, between yourself and society, between yourself and your boss and your occupation. There is nothing permanent in this world; and so, the mind seeks something much more permanent, which it calls God - an idea. And having established that idea, the mind holds that idea tight to its heart.
Is there anything permanent, psychologically? You know, outwardly there is nothing permanent. Inwardly, we want permanence; and there is nothing permanent - even your wife or your husband, your children, your ideas, your beliefs, your dogmas. Nothing is permanent. But you refuse - the mind refuses - to see that, because all our society, all our virtues, all our principles are based on this idea of permanency. Your fear comes into being when that permanency is questioned. In that permanency we establish our being. We identify ourselves with an idea which we say is permanent as the Supreme God and all the rest of the ideological jargon. And when that permanency is questioned the whole structure of fear arises. There is fear of immediacy and of the future. The future that is tomorrow is the projection of time which is thought. I am talking very simply of a very complicated problem. It is only when you approach very simply a problem which is complicated, that you begin to see it clearly. Thought is the response of time. Thought is the response of memory which is the past. Thought which is the present, which was the past, creates the future. We have to understand the process of thinking in order to understand fear; and to understand fear we must understand time.
So let us first enquire into the question of thought. What is thinking? I am asking you a question: what is thinking? And your immediate response, if you are aware of your response, is the awakening of memory which seeks to find an answer. Please follow this. It is very simple. Let me put it differently. I ask you: where do you live? And your response is immediate, because you are very familiar with that. There is no interval between the question and the answer; you know it instantly because you are familiar with it. I ask you something a little more complex; then there is an interval of silence, an interval of time; and during that interval your memory is in operation, and then you answer. So during the question and the answer the time interval is the process in which memory comes into operation and thought comes out expressed in words. So thought is the response of memory. And memory is the multiplication of a thousand yesterdays with all its experiences and knowledge. The culture in which one is brought up, the education one has had, conscious or unconscious - from this background of knowledge and memory every challenge is answered; and the answering is an action previous to thought. Thought comes and acts. That is the whole mechanism of memory. So unless you have understood this mechanism of memory, of thought, you will not be able to understand what time is.
There is the chronological time by the watch, time as twenty-four hours, time as yesterday, today and tomorrow. When we talk about time, we are not talking of that time; we are talking of psychological time. The time that builds up tomorrow, the time thought has invested in hope, the time as the future where you will be something, time as achievement, time as arriving, time as gaining - all that time is psychological; it is not chronological. So a mind that wishes to understand and comprehend the whole problem of fear, has to understand the process of thinking, in itself - not in some book - the process of its own thought and how thought fabricates time.
If there is no thought, there is no time. If there is no time, there is no fear. If you are told that you will die on the instant now, there is no fear, because you are dead already. Fear comes in only when there is an interval between the fact and what you hope should not be. So thought is fear, thought is time; and the ending of thought is the ending of fear. Just listen to this. Do not ask how to end thought. Just listen to what is being said. If you are able to listen to it, you will understand. So in investigating fear, one has to understand thought. Thought is the reaction of memory; and memory is the past, the past being not only the past of thousand years but also the past of yesterday, the past in which you have been educated in English, in technology.
All the reaction of the past is time which is thought. And fear arises when thought is conscious of itself in contradiction. If there is no contradiction, if there is no conflict, if there is no urge to fulfil, then there is no consciousness of the border of time. Thinking is the response of memory; and that memory is the centre from which all action takes place - the me, my family, my country, my job, my virtue - it is the centre from which all thought as reaction takes place. As long as that centre exists, there must be fear. That centre is nothing extraordinary, nothing spiritual. It is just the machinery of memory. It is a bundle of memories. There is fear when that centre is questioned, when that centre is made to feel uncertain, when that centre feels it cannot achieve, when that centre feels itself frustrated, when that centre feels utterly lonely.
We are going to examine this question of loneliness, because that is the very essence of fear. I do not know if you have ever been aware how lonely you are. I do not mean solitude, I do not mean aloneness; I mean loneliness. You feel this loneliness when someone whom you love dies, or someone whom you love turns away from you. When that person turns away from you, you are jealous; and that jealousy is the response of this loneliness which is the questioning of the very centre that demands permanency. I do not know if you have ever been aware of this loneliness, the ache of loneliness, complete isolation without having any relationship to anything. You must have felt it. Every person who is at all sensitive, thoughtful, aware, obviously feels it; and then feeling this loneliness from which arises fear, he runs away from it; he takes to drink, women, church, God, rituals, anything - in order to escape from this feeling of loneliness to something more satisfactory. For those who call themselves religious, God becomes an extraordinary escape; for those who are worldly, intellectual rationalization is an escape; and if they have money, drink or sex is an escape. One thousand and one things are there to escape from this loneliness. And these escapes become all important because they give you a sense of permanency. When that permanency is questioned, you are back again to the problem of loneliness and fear; and you try to fill this loneliness with knowledge, with education, with sex, with virtue. But nothing can fill it. If you have gone into yourself and observed this whole process, you will see that nothing can fill it. All that you have to do with loneliness is to face loneliness. All that you have to do with fear is to face fear. That is, the word is not the thing.
Please follow this. The word is not the thing. The word fear is not fear. But for most of us the word has become important, not only with regard to fear but also with regard to God, with regard to sex, with regard to communism, with regard to politics. With regard to everything words or symbols have become important, and not the fact - which means that the mind is a slave to words. You are slaves to the words like communism or congress or Hindu or Buddhist or Muslim. So if you want to understand fear, the mind must be free of the word. The word contains condemnation, and therefore you cannot approach the fact if the mind is a slave to the word. I will put it very simply. Take the word 'jealousy; in that word itself there is a condemnatory implication. Likewise is the word `anger; in that word there is the significance which involves that you must not be angry. And if you would go behind the word and understand the feeling that is involved in jealousy, you must be free of the word. Surely, that is simple.
So when you are investigating into fear, you must be free of the word - not only of that word `fear' but of the whole system of words and symbols to which the mind has become a slave. Please follow this, because if you do not understand this, you will miss totally what I am going to explain further. The word `God' is not God. But to be free of that word, it is extraordinarily important to find out what God is or if there is God. Similarly, fear is a word, an opinion, an escape from the fact. If you are confronted with that fact immediately, there is no fear. You have to look at it. So is thought; there is no thinking if it is not verbalized. But the word implies time which is thought; and when there is thought, there is an interval between the fact and the process of thinking; so you never see the fact.
There is death, an undeniable fact. You see it every day. Every house has it. Every human being knows it. It is an end, an absolute, final, irrevocable end. You may spin a lot of theories round it - that there is continuity, that there is a hereafter, that there is a future life and all that. But the fact is a fact. If you understand the fact, you will find out what is beyond. But without understanding the fact, without facing the fact, you cannot go beyond. The fact is that there is death; and there is no argument about that. You cannot argue with death. You cannot say to it, `Come tomorrow'. So what is this dying? There is certainly the physiological dying, the body coming to an end. Death will inevitably come to the body because the body is a machine, it is an organism that is worn out by misuse, by conflict, by pressures, by various struggles, by bad diet and so on, and the whole process comes to an end. That we can accept very easily and very readily. But is that all?
I have lived, I have struggled, I have acquired experience, I have built up tremendous power - what for? If I die, will all that go or will there be a continuity? How are you to find it out? You understand, sirs? You are not listening to me to accept ideas. I am not giving you arguments, I am not refuting what you believe, and substituting my particular form of belief. I have no belief in this matter; I have only facts. I want to know what death is and I cannot find it out if I do not know how to die. Physically your body continues - you know it - till you come to an end, that is, till the machine dies.
Now, is it possible to die psychologically? Do you know what it means, to die, to end? You understand my question? Am I making my question clear? Look here, sirs. There is death, something you do not know. And what you do not know you are afraid of. At least you think you are afraid of something you do not know. Is that not so? How can you be frightened of something you do not know? You are frightened of losing something which you already know. That is the real cause of fear, the fear is not of the unknown. You are afraid of losing something which you have stored up. You are afraid of losing the known, not of the unknown.
So can you die to the known? Can you die to yesterday's memory, to all your achievements, to all the things that you have gathered? Can you die freely, easily, happily, to the things that you have held dear? You may love your family - I wonder if you do love your family; if you do love your family, this rotting society would not be like this. Can you die to your pleasures, to your vanities, to your ambitions, to your greed, on the instant? Because, that is what is going to happen when you do die. To die to yesterday, to die to every minute, to all the things that you have gathered, is death. This means: can you live always in a state of not knowing, and therefore always young, fresh, innocent? You know, death is an extraordinary thing. Death is the unknown. You cannot come to it with the known; you cannot come to it with all your burdens. Death is going to strip you of everything - your family, your sons, your character, your ambitions. So why not strip yourself of all that now? When you do it, then you will know what death means. And I assure you that, when you do know it, you know great beauty. Then you know what love is, because death, love and beauty always go together. The thing that we call love is not love; it is mere memory. What you love is your personal investment. Your family is the continuity of yourself; your family is your own. And you know, when you die there is no family; nothing exists. So is it possible to die to everything that you have known? This is not annihilation; this is not denial; this is not nothingness. There is an immensity, there is a vastness, there is something beyond words, when you know how to deny the whole ground, deny all that you have known. So to die to every thing that you have known, every moment, means never to gather, never to accumulate, and therefore never to have the conflict of detachment.
Death is a state when the mind has lost its recognition of itself as consciousness and of the borders of time. Where there is continuity of thought - which is what most of us want, which is all that we know - it breeds sorrow, anxiety, guilt and all the travail of life; that thought has a continuity of its own, but thought is bound by time. When thought dies to itself, when the machinery of memory as thought comes to an end - it is psychological thought, not the mechanical thought of knowledge - then you will find that the thing that you are afraid of is not there. Fear ceases altogether. Then you are living completely, integrally, wholly, from moment to moment; and that is creation.
You know, for us beauty is a thing that is put together by the mind. For us, beauty is woman or man, service, a building, a picture, a piece of pottery, or an idea. But there is a beauty beyond thought and feeling, which is not put together by the mind. And that beauty is love. Without that love life becomes utterly empty - as most peoples' lives are; though they have families, though they have virtues, though they have jobs, their life is petty, shallow, empty.
But when you have died to everything psychologically, when you have gone that far, you will find that out of dying there is a living - a living which has no meaning as compared to this living. That living is the state of creation, and that creation has no time. That is the immense, the immeasurable, the unknowable. And only that mind that has died to itself and to everything that it has known, will know the unknowable.
February 11, 1962
New Delhi 1962
New Delhi 7th Public Talk 11th February 1962
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