Bombay 6th Public Talk 7th March 1962
I want to go this evening into the question of death. I would like to talk about it as age and maturity, time and negation, which is love. But before I go into that, I think we should be very clear and have deeply understood that fear in any form perverts and breeds illusion and that sorrow dulls the mind.. A dull mind, a mind caught in illusion of any kind, cannot possibly understand the extraordinary question of death. We take shelter in illusion, in fancy, in myth, in various forms of story. And a mind so crippled cannot possibly understand this thing that we call death,. nor can a mind understand, which has been made dull by sorrow, as we. explained in a previous talk.
The question of fear and sorrow is nota thing that you can philosophize about or put away from you through an escape. It is there as your shadow, and one has to deal with it directly and immediately. We cannot carry it over from day to day, however deep - what we may consider - the sorrow or the fear; whether it is conscious or unconscious, it has to be understood immediately. Understanding is immediate, understanding does not come through time. It is not a result of continuous, searching, seeking, asking, demanding. Either you see it totally, completely in a flash, or you don't see it at all. I have dealt with that sufficiently in the two, previous talks, when we considered fear and sorrow. This evening I would like to go into this thing called death with which we are all so familiar. We have observed it, we have seen it, but we have never experienced it; it has never been our lot to go through the portals of death. It must be an extraordinary state. I would like to go into it, not sentimentally, not romantically, not with a series of built up structural beliefs, but actually, as a fact, to comprehend it as I would comprehend that crow cawing on that mango tree - as factually as that. But to understand something factually, you must give your attention as you listen to that bird on the tree - you don't strain, you listen; you don't say, `It is the crow. What a nuisance it is! I want to listen to somebody', but you are listening to that as well as to what is being said. But when you want to listen only to the speaker and resist the bird and the noise it is making, you will hear neither the bird nor the speaker. And I am afraid that is what most of you are doing when you are listening to a complex and profound problem.
Most of us have not given our minds totally, completely. You have never taken a journey of thought towards its end. You have never played with an idea, and seen the whole implication of an idea, and gone beyond it. So it is going to be very difficult if you don't pay, if you don't give, your attention - that is, if you don't listen easily, pleasantly, with a grace, with a playfulness in which there is no restraint, there is no effort. That is a very difficult thing for most of us to do - to listen. Because, we are always translating what is being said, and we never listen to what is being said.
I want to go into this question of death as a fact, not your death or my death, or somebody's death - somebody whom you like, or somebody whom you don't like - but death as a problem. You know we are so ridden with images, with symbols; for us symbols have an extraordinary importance, more factual than the reality. When I talk about death, you will instantly think of someone whom you have lost; and that is going to prevent you from looking at the fact. I am going to approach it through diverse ways, different ways - not just what is death and what is hereafter after death; those are utterly immature questions. When you understand the extraordinary thing implied in death you don't ask that question: what is hereafter? We have to consider maturity. A mature mind will never ask a question: what is hereafter, is there a life hereafter, is there a continuity?
So we have to understand what is mature thinking, what is maturity and what is age.
Most of us know what age is, because we do grow old, whether we like it or not. Age is not maturity. Maturity has nothing to do with knowledge. Age can contain knowledge but not maturity. But age can continue with all the knowledge, with all the traditions it has acquired. Age is a mechanical process of an organism growing old, being used constantly. A body that is constantly being used in strife, in travail, in sorrow, in fear - an organism that is driven - , soon ages, like any machine. But an organism that has aged, is not a mature mind. So we have to understand the difference between age and maturity.
Most of us are born young; but the generation that has aged soon brings old age to the young. The past generation which has aged in knowledge, in decrepitude, in ugliness, in sorrow, in fear, impinges that on the young. They are already old in age, and they die. That is the lot of every generation caught in the previous structure of society. And society does not want a new person, a new entity; it wants him to be respectable, it moulds him, shapes him and so destroys the freshness, the innocence of youth. This is what we are doing to all the children around here and in the world. And that child, when it grows into manhood, is already aged; he will never mature.
Maturity is the destruction of society, of the psychological structure of society. Unless you are totally ruthless with yourself, and unless you are completely free from society, you will never be mature. The social structure, the psychological structure of greed, envy, power, position, obeying - if you are not free of all that psychologically, then you will never mature. And you need a mature mind. A mind that is alone in its maturity, a mind that is not being crippled, not being spotted, that has no burden whatsoever - it is only such a mind that is a mature mind.
And you have to understand this: maturity is not a matter of time. If you see very clearly, without any distortion, the psychological structure of the society in which you are being born, brought up, educated, then, the instant you see, you are out of it. Therefore there is maturity on the instant, not in time. You cannot mature gradually; maturity is not like the fruit on the tree. The fruit on the tree needs time, darkness, fresh air, sunlight, rain; and in that process it ripens, ready to fall. But maturity cannot ripen; maturity is on the instant - either you are mature, or you are not mature. That is why it is very important psychologically to see how your mind is caught in the structure of the society in which you are being brought up, the society that has made you respectable, the society that has made you to conform, that has driven you in the pattern of its activities.
I think one can see totally, immediately, the poisonous nature of society, as one sees a bottle marked `Poison'. When you see it that way, you will never touch it; you know it is dangerous. But you don`t know that society is a danger, that it is the deadliest thing for a man who is mature. Because, maturity is that state of mind which is alone, whereas this psychological social structure never leaves you alone, but is always shaping you, consciously or unconsciously. A mature mind is a mind which is completely alone; because it has understood, it is free. And this freedom is on the instant. You cannot work for it, you cannot seek it, you cannot discipline yourself in order to get it; and that is the beauty of freedom. freedom is not the result of thought; thought is never free, can never be free.
So, if we understand the nature of maturity, then we can look into time and continuity. For most of us, time is an actual reality. The time by the watch is an actual reality - we have to stop this meeting at seven o'clock or a quarter past seven; it takes time to go to your house; it takes time to acquire knowledge; it takes time to learn a technique. But is there any other time, except that time? Is there psychological time? We have built up psychological time, the time which is covered by the distance, the space, between `me', and what I want to be, between `me', and what I should be, between the past which was the `me', through the present which is the `me', to the future which is the `me'. So thought builds psychological time. But is there such time? So to find out for yourself you have to consider continuity.
What do we mean by that word 'continuity'? And what is the inward significance of that word, which is so common on our lips? You know, if you think about something, such as the pleasure that you have had, constantly, day after day, every minute, that gives to the past pleasure a continuity. If you think about something that is painful, either in the past or in the future, that gives it continuity. It is very simple. I like something and I think about it; the thinking about it establishes a relationship between what has been, the thought which thinks about it, and the fact that I would like to have it again. Please, this is a very simple thing if you give your mind to it; it is not a complex thing. If you don't understand what is continuity, you will not understand what I am going to say about death. You have to understand what has been expressed by me, not as a theory or a belief, but as an actuality which you see for yourself.
If you think about your wife, about your house, about your children, or about your job, all the time, you have established a continuity, have you not? If you have a grudge, a fear, a sense of guilt, and if you think about it off and on, recall, remember, bring it out of the past, you have established a continuity. And our minds function in that continuity, all our thinking is that continuity. Psychologically you are violent; and you think about not being violent, the ideal; so, through your thinking about not being violent, you have established the continuity of being violent. Please, this is important to understand, it is very simple once you see this thing: that thought, thinking about something, gives it continuity, whether it is pleasant or unpleasant, whether it gives you joy or gives you pain, whether it is something past or something that is going to take place tomorrow or next week.
So it is thought that establishes continuity in action - as going to the office day after day, month after month, for thirty years till your mind is a dead mind. And you equally establish a continuity with your family. You say, `It is my family; you think about it, you try to protect it; you try to build a structure, a psychological protection on it and around yourself. And so the family becomes extraordinarily important, and you are destroyed. The family destroys; it is a deadly thing, because it is a part of the social structure which holds the individual. So having established continuity, psychologically as well as physically, then time becomes very important - time not by the watch, but time as a means of arriving, time as a means of psychologically achieving, gaining, succeeding. You can't succeed, you can't gain, unless you think about it, till you give your mind to it. So psychologically, inwardly, the desire for continuity is the way of time, and time breeds fear; and thought as time dreads death.
If you had no time at all inwardly, then death is in an instant, it is not something to be frightened of. That is, if every minute of the day thought does not give continuity to either pleasure or pain, to fulfilment or to lack of fulfilment, to insult, to praise, to everything to which thought gives attention, then there is death every minute. One must die every minute - not theoretically. That is why it is important to understand this machinery of thought. Thought is merely a response, a reflex of the past; it has no validity, as the tree has which you see actually.
So, to understand the extraordinary significance of death - there is a significance of death, which I shall go into presently - , you must understand this question of continuity, see the truth of it, see the mechanism of thought which creates continuity.
I like your face, I think about it; and I have established a relationship with you in continuity. I do not like you, I think about it; and I establish it. Now, if you don't think about what gives you pleasure or pain, or of tomorrow, or of what you are going to get - whether you are going to succeed, whether you are going to achieve fame, notoriety and all the rest of it-; if you don't think at all about your virtue, about your respectability, about what people say or do not say; if you are totally, completely indifferent; then, there is no continuity.
I do not know if you are at all indifferent to anything - I do not mean getting used to things. You have got used to the ugliness of Bombay, the filth of the streets, the way you live. You have got used to it; that does not mean you are indifferent. Getting used to something as habit dulls the mind, makes the mind insensitive. But being indifferent is something entirely different. Indifference comes into being when you deny, negate a habit. When you see the ugly and are aware of it; when you see the beautiful sky on an evening and are aware of it; neither wanting nor denying, neither accepting nor pushing it away, never closing the door to anything; and so, being completely, inwardly sensitive to everything around you; then out of that, comes an indifference which has an extraordinary strength. And what is strong is vulnerable, because there is no resistance. But the mind that only resists is caught in habit, and therefore it is a dull, stupid, insensitive mind.
A mind that is indifferent, is aware of the shoddiness of our civilization, the shoddiness of our thought, the ugly relationships; it is aware of the street, of the beauty of a tree, or of a lovely face, a smile; and it neither denies it nor accepts it, but merely observes - not intellectually, not coldly, but with that warm affectionate indifference. Observation is not detachment, because there is no attachment. It is only when the mind is attached - to your house, to the family, to some job - , that you talk about detachment. But, you know, when you are indifferent, there is a sweetness to it, there is a perfume to it, there is a quality of tremendous energy - this may not be the meaning of that word in the dictionary. One has to be indifferent - to health, to loneliness, to what people say or do not say; indifferent whether you succeed or do not succeed; indifferent to authority.
Now, if you observe, you hear somebody is shooting, making a lot of noise with a gun. You can very easily get used to it; probably you have already got used to it, and you turn a deaf ear - that is not indifference. Indifference comes into being when you listen to that noise with no resistance, go with that noise, ride on that noise infinitely. Then that noise does not affect you, does not pervert you, does not make you indifferent. Then you listen to every noise in the world - the noise of your children, of your wife, of the birds, the noise of the chatter the politicians make - , you listen to it completely with indifference and therefore with understanding.
A mind that would understand time and continuity, must be indifferent to time and not seek to fill that space which you call time with amusement, with worship, with noise, with reading, with going to the film, by every means that you are doing now. And by filling it with thought, with action, with amusement, with excitement, with drink, with woman, with man, with God, with your knowledge, you have given it continuity; and so, you will never know what it is to die.
You see, death is destruction, it is final; you can't argue with it, you can't say, `Nay, wait a few days more'. You can't discuss, you can't plead; it is final, it is absolute. We never face anything final, absolute; we always go around it; and that is why we dread death. We can invent ideas, hopes, fears; and have beliefs like 'we are going to be resurrected, be born again' - those are all the cunning ways of the mind, hoping for a continuity, which is of time, which is not a fact, which is merely of thought. You know, when I talk about death, I am not talking about your death or my death - I am talking about death, that extraordinary phenomenon.
For you a river means the river with which you are familiar, the Ganga, or the river around your village. Immediately when the word river is mentioned, the image of a particular river comes into your mind. But you will never know the real nature of all the rivers, what a real river is, if the symbol of a particular river arises in your mind. The river is the sparkling water, the lovely banks, the trees on the bank - not any particular river, but the river-ness of all the rivers, the beauty of all rivers, the lovely curve of every stream, every flush of water. A man that sees only a particular river has a petty, shallow mind. But the mind that sees the river as a movement, as water - not of any country, not of any time, not of any village, but its beauty - that mind is out of the particular.
If you think of a mountain, you will probably visualize, being an Indian brought up with all the so-called religious books and all the rest of it, that a mountain means the Himalayas to you. So you have an image of it immediately; but the mountain is not the Himalayas. The mountain is that height in the blue sky, of no country, covered with whiteness, shaped by the wind, by earthquakes.
When a mind thinks of mountains vastly, or of rivers of no country, then such a mind is not a petty mind, it is not caught by littleness. If you think of a family, you think immediately of your family; and so the family becomes a deadly thing. And you can never discuss the whole issue of a family in general, because you are always relating, through continuity of thought, to the particular family to which you belong.
So, when we talk about death, we are not talking about your death or my death. It does not really very much matter if you die or I die; we are going to die, happily or in misery - die happily having lived fully, completely, with every sense, with all our being, fully alive, in full health; or die like miserable, crippled people with age, frustrated, in sorrow, never knowing a day, happy, rich, never having a moment in which we have seen the sublime. So, I am talking about Death, not of the death of a particular person.
Death is the ending. And what we are frightened about, what we dread, is the ending - the ending of your job, the putting away, the going away, the ending of your family, of the person whom you think you love, the ending of a continuous thing which you have thought about for years. What you dread is the ending. I do not know if you have ever deliberately, consciously, purposely thought of ending something - your smoking, your drinking, your going to the temple, your desire for power - , ending it completely, on the instant, as a surgeon's knife cuts cancer. Have you ever tried to cut the thing that is most pleasurable to you? It is easy to cut something that is painful; but it is not easy deliberately to cut with a surgical precision and with compassionate precision something pleasurable, not knowing what is going to happen tomorrow, not knowing what is going to happen in the next instant, after you cut; if you cut, knowing what is going to happen, then you are not operating. If you have done it, you will know what it means to die.
If you have cut everything around you, every psychological root - hope, despair, guilt, anxiety, success, attachment - , then out of this operation, this denial of this whole structure of society, not knowing what will happen to you when you are operating completely, out of this total denial, there is the energy to face that which you call death. The very dying to everything that you have known, deliberately to cut away everything that you have known, is dying. You try it some time - not as a conscious, deliberate, virtuous act to find out - , just try it, play with it; for you learn more out of play than out of deliberate conscious effort. When you so deny, you have destroyed; and you must destroy; for, surely, out of destruction purity can come - an unspotted mind.
There is nothing psychological which the past generation has built that is worth keeping. Look at the society, the world, which the past generation has brought about. If one tried to make the world more confused, more miserable, one could not do it. You have to wipe all that away instantly, sweep it down the gutter. And to cut it, to sweep it away, to destroy it, you need understanding and also something much more than understanding. A part of that understanding is this compassion.
You see, we do not love. Love comes only when there is nothing, when you have denied the whole world - not an enormous thing called the world, but just your world, the little world you live in - the family, the attachment, the quarrels, the domination, your success, your hopes, your guilts, your obediences, your gods, and your myths. When you deny all that world; when there is absolutely nothing left, no gods, no hopes, no despairs; when there is no seeking; then out of that great emptiness comes love which is an extraordinary reality, which is an extraordinary fact not conjured up by the mind that has a continuity with the family through sex, through desire.
And if you have no love - which is really the unknown - , do what you will, the world will be in chaos. Only when you deny totally the known - what you know, your experiences, your knowledge, not the technological knowledge but the knowledge of your ambitions, your experiences, your family - , when you deny the known completely, when you wipe it away, when you die to all that, you will see that there is an extraordinary emptiness, an extraordinary space in the mind. And it is only that space that knows what it is to love. And it is only in that space there is creation - not the creation of children or putting a painting on the canvas, but that creation which is the total energy, the unknowable. But to come to that, you must die to everything that you have known. And in that dying, there is great beauty, there is inexhaustible life-energy.
March 7, 1962
Bombay 6th Public Talk 7th March 1962
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