London 4th Public Talk 12th June 1962
This evening I would like to talk about time and death; and I would also like to talk about what we call love.
In these talks we are not dealing with ideas. Ideas are organized thought, and thought does not solve our deep psychological problems. What really wipes away our problems is facing them, not through the screen of thought, but coming directly and vitally into contact with them, actually seeing and feeling the fact. If I may use the word, one has to be emotionally - not sentimentally, but emotionally - in contact with the fact. If we rely on thought, however clever, however well organized, however learned, logical, sane, rational it may be, our psychological problems will never be solved. Because, as I was pointing out the other day, it is thought that creates all our problems; and a man who would really go into this whole question of death and not run away from it must find out for himself how thought creates time, and how thought also prevents us from understanding the meaning, the significance and the profundity of death.
Most of us are frightened of death, and we try to escape from that fear by rationalizing death or we cling to various beliefs, rational or irrational, again manufactured by thought.
Now, to go into this question of death demands, it seems to me, a mind that is not only rational, logical, sane, but which is also able to look directly at the fact, to see death as it is and not be overwhelmed by fear.
To understand fear, we must understand time. I do not mean time by the watch, chronological time; that is fairly simple, that is mechanical, there is nothing much to understand. I am talking about psychological time: the looking back to many yesterdays, to all the things that we have known, felt, enjoyed, gathered and stored up in memory. Remembrance of the past shapes our present, which in turn is projected into the future. This whole process is psychological time, in which thought is caught. Thought is the result of yesterday passing through. today to tomorrow. The thought of the future is conditioned by the present, which again is conditioned by the past.
The past is made up of the things that the conscious mind learned at school, the jobs it has held, the technical knowledge it has acquired, and so on, all of which is part of the mechanical process of remembering; but it is also made up of psychological knowledge, that is, the things that one has experienced and stored away, the memories which are hidden deep in the unconscious. Most of us have not the time to inquire into the unconscious, we are too busy, too occupied with our daily activities; so the unconscious gives various hints and intimations in the form of dreams, and these dreams then require interpretation.
All this, both the conscious and the unconscious process, is psychological time - time as knowledge, time as experience, time as distance between what is and what should be, time as a means to arrive, to succeed, to fulfil, to become. The conscious mind is shaped by the unconscious; and it is very difficult to understand the hidden motives, purposes and compulsions of the unconscious, because we cannot feel our way into the unconscious through conscious effort. It must be approached negatively, not by the positive process of analysis. The analyzer is conditioned by his memories; and his positive approach to something which he does not know and of which he is not fully aware, is of very little significance.
Similarly, we must approach death negatively, because we don't know what it is. We have seen others die. We know there is death through disease, old age and decay, death through accident, and death with a purpose; but we don't really know what it means to die. We may rationalize death. Seeing old age coming upon us - gradual senility, losing our memory, and so on - we may say, "Well, life is a process of birth, growth and decay, and the ending of the physical mechanism is inevitable". But that doesn't bring deep understanding of what death is.
Death must be something extraordinary, as life is. Life is a total thing. Sorrow, pain, anguish, joy, absurd ideas, possession, envy, love, the aching misery of loneliness - all that is life. And to understand death we must understand the whole of life, not take just one fragment of it and live with that fragment, as most of us do. In the very understanding of life there is the understanding of death, because the two are not separate.
As I said, we are not dealing with ideas or beliefs, because they solve nothing. A man who would know what it means to die, who would actually experience and know the full significance of it, must be aware of death in living; that is, he must die every day. Physically you can't die every day, although there is a physiological change going on every moment. I am talking about dying psychologically, inwardly. The things that we have gathered as experience, as knowledge, the pleasures and pains we have known - dying to all that.
But you see, most of us don't want to die, because we are content with our living. And our living is very ugly; it is mean, envious, a constant strife. Our living is a misery, with occasional flashes of joy which soon become only a memory; and our death is also a misery. But real death is to die psychologically to everything we know - which means being able to face tomorrow without knowing what tomorrow is. This is not a theory or a fanciful belief. Most people are afraid of death and therefore believe in reincarnation, in resurrection, or cling to some other form of belief. But a man who really wants to find out what death is, is not concerned with belief. Merely to believe is immature. To find out what death is, you must know how to die psychologically.
I don't know if you have ever tried to die to something which is very close to you and which gives you immense pleasure - to die to it, not with reason, not with conviction or a purpose, but just to die to it as a leaf falls from the tree. If you can die in this way every day, every minute, then you will know the ending of psychological time. And it seems to me that for a mature mind, for a mind that would really inquire, death in this sense is very important. Because to inquire is not to seek with a motive. You cannot find out what is true if you have a motive, or if you are conditioned by a belief, by a dogma. You must die to all that - die to society, to organized religion, to the various forms of security that the mind clings to.
After all, beliefs and dogmas offer psychological security. We see that the world is in a mess; there is universal confusion, and everything is changing very rapidly. Seeing all this, we want something lasting, enduring, so we cling to a belief, to an ideal, to a dogma, to some form of psychological security; and this prevents us from really finding out what is true.
To discover something new, you must come to it with an innocent mind, a mind that is fresh, young, uncontaminated by society. Society is the psychological structure of envy, greed, ambition, power, prestige; and to find out what is true, one has to die to that whole structure, not theoretically, not abstractly, but actually to die to envy, to the pursuit of `the more'. As long as there is the pursuit of `the more' in any form, there can be no comprehension of the enormous implication of death. We all know that sooner or later live shall die physically, that time is passing and death will catch up with us; and being afraid, we invent theories, we put together ideas about death, we rationalize it. But that is not the understanding of death.
After all, with physical death you can't argue; you can't ask death to let you live another day. It is absolutely final. And is it not possible to die to envy in the same way, without argument, without asking what will happen to you tomorrow if you die to envy, or to ambition? This means, really, understanding the whole process of psychological time.
We are always thinking in terms of the future, planning for tomorrow psychologically. I am not talking about practical planning, that is a different matter altogether. But psychologically we want to be something tomorrow. The cunning mind pursues what it has been and what it will be, and our lives are built on that pursuit. We are the result of our memories, memory being psychological time. And is it possible effortlessly, easily to die to that whole process?
You all want to die to something which is painful, and that is comparatively easy. But I am talking of dying to something which gives you great pleasure, a great sense of inward richness. If you die to the memory of a stimulating experience, to your visions, to your hopes and fulfilments, then you are confronted with an extraordinary sense of loneliness, and you have nothing to rely on. The churches, the books, the teachers, the systems of philosophy - you can't trust any of them any more, which is just as well; because if you put your trust in any of them, then you are still afraid, you are still envious, greedy, ambitious, seeking power.
Unfortunately, when we don't trust anything we generally become bitter, cynical, superficial, and then we just live from day to day, saying that is enough. But, however cunning or philosophical the mind may be, that makes for a very shallow, petty life.
I do not know if you have ever tried this, if you have ever experimented with it: to die effortlessly to everything that you know, not superficially but actually, without asking what will happen tomorrow. If you can do this, you will come to an extraordinary sense of loneliness, a state of nothingness where there is no tomorrow - and if you go through it, it is not bleak despair; on the contrary.
After all, most of us are terribly lonely. You may have an interesting occupation, you may have a family and plenty of money, you may have the wide knowledge of a learned mind; but if you push all that aside when you are by yourself, you will know this extraordinary sense of loneliness.
But you see, at such a moment we become very frightened. We never face that loneliness; we never go through that emptiness to find out what it is. We turn on the radio, read a book, chatter with friends, go to church, go to the cinema, take a drink - all of which are on the same level because they all offer an escape. God is a cheerful escape, just as drink is. When the mind is escaping, there is not much difference between God and drink. Sociologically, perhaps, drink is not so good; but the escape to God also has its detriment.
So, to understand death, not verbally or theoretically, but actually to experience it, one must die to yesterday, to all one's memories, one's psychological wounds, the flattery, the insults, the pettiness, the envy - one must die to all that, which is to die to oneself. Because all that is oneself. And then you will find, if you have gone so far, that there is an aloneness which is not loneliness. Loneliness and aloneness are two different things. But you cannot come to aloneness without going through and understanding that state of loneliness in which relationship means nothing any more. Your relationship with your wife, with your husband, with your son, your daughter, your friends, your job - none of these relationships has meaning any more when you are completely lonely. I am sure some of you have experienced that state. And when you can go through it and beyond it, when you are no longer frightened by that word `lonely', when you are dead to all the things that you have known and society has ceased to influence you, then you will know the other. Society influences you only as long as you belong to it psychologically. Society can have no influence on you whatsoever from the moment you cut the psychological knot that binds you to it. Then you are out of the clutches of social morality and respectability. But to go through that loneliness without escaping, without verbalizing, which is to be with it completely, requires a great deal of energy. You need energy to live with something ugly and not let it corrupt you, just as you need energy to live with something beautiful and not get used to it. That uncontaminated energy is the aloneness to which you must come; and out of that negation, out of that total emptiness, there is creation.
Surely, all creation takes place in emptiness, not when your mind is full. Death has meaning only when you die to all your vanities, your superficialities, to all your innumerable remembrances. Then there is something which is beyond time, something to which you cannot come if you have fear, if you cling to beliefs, if you are caught in sorrow.
Questioner: What are the implications of being aware without choice?
Krishnamurti: We must not give too great a significance to that word `aware'. Awareness isn't something mysterious that you must practise; it isn't something that can be learnt only from the speaker, or from some bearded gentleman or other. All that kind of fanciful stuff is too absurd. Just to be aware - what does it mean? To be aware that you are sitting there and I am sitting here; that I am talking to you and you are listening to me; to be aware of this hall, its shape, its lighting, its acoustics; to observe the various colours that people wear, their attitudes, their effort to listen, their scratching, yawning, boredom, their dissatisfaction at not being able to get from what they hear something to carry home with them; their agreement or disagreement with what is being said. All that is part of awareness - a very superficial part.
Behind that superficial observation there is the response of our conditioning: I like and I don't like, I am British and you are not British, I am a Catholic and you are a Protestant. And our conditioning is really very deep. It requires a great deal of investigation, understanding. To be conscious of our reactions, of our hidden motives and conditioned responses - this also is part of awareness.
You can't be totally aware if you are choosing. If you say, "This is right and that is wrong", the `right' and the `wrong' depend on your conditioning. What is right to you may be wrong in the Far East. You believe in a Saviour, in the Christ, but they don't - and you think they will go to hell unless they believe as you do. You have the means to build marvellous cathedrals, while they may worship a stone image, a tree, a bird, or a rock, and you say, "How silly, how pagan". To be aware is to be conscious of all this, choicelessly; it is to be aware totally of all your conscious and unconscious reactions. And you can't be aware totally if you are condemning, if you are justifying, or if you say, "I will keep my beliefs, my experiences, my knowledge". Then you are only partially aware; and partial awareness is really blindness.
Seeing or understanding is not a matter of time, it is not a matter of gradations. Either you see, or you don't see. And you can't see if you are not deeply aware of your own reactions, of your own conditioning. Being aware of your conditioning, you must watch it choicelessly; you must see the fact and not give an opinion or judgment about the fact. In other words, you must look at the fact without thought. Then there is an awareness, a state of attention without a centre, without frontiers, where the known doesn't interfere; and it is in this state of total attention that the mind can comprehend the unknowable. A petty mind, a mind that is crippled with neurotic ideas, with fear, greed, envy - such a mind may think about the unknowable, about God, about this or that, but it will have very little meaning. Such a mind is not a religious mind at all.
Questioner: Is it not important to get rid of negative emotions, while keeping the positive ones?
Krishnamurti: What do we mean by emotion? Is it a sensation, a reaction, a response of the senses? Hate, devotion, the feeling of love or sympathy for another - they are all emotions. Some, like love and sympathy, we call positive, while others, like hate, we call negative and want to get rid of. Is love the opposite of hate? And is love an emotion, a sensation, a feeling that is stretched out through memory?
Do we know what it means to love? Do we? We talk of loving God, of loving our wives, our husbands we say we love our animals; and on the posters we read, "Lovely beer". Is that love? Do we love our families? A most extraordinary thing, the family. The family has become a dreadful thing because we cling to it, we invest in it, we immolate ourselves to it, we continue ourselves through the family name; it is ourselves extended and perpetuated. But one can have a family without all that mess and ugliness.
So, what do we mean by love? Surely, love is not memory. That is very difficult for us to understand, because for most of us love is memory. When you say that you love your wife or your husband, what do you mean by that? Do you love that which gives you pleasure? Do you love that with which you have identified yourself and which you recognize as belonging to you? Please, these are facts, I am not inventing anything, so don't look horrified.
When we say we love, what do we mean by that? Is love a matter of time? Can love exist when there is attachment, or when you possess another? When you say, "She is my wife", "He is my husband", is there love in that relationship? Is there love when you are jealous? When you feel lonely, miserable, agonized because your wife or husband has turned away from you, is that love? And is it love of God when you attend a church service every day, or once a week, and go through all the business of it?
To love something you must be with it completely; your heart, your mind, your whole being must be with it, so that there is not the observer and the thing observed. This doesn't mean identification, which is merely another trick. When you identify yourself with your family, that is not love at all. It is yourself extended that you love.
It is the image, the symbol of `my wife' or `my husband' that we love, or think we love, not the living individual. I don't know my wife or my husband at all; and I can never know that person as long as knowing means recognition. For recognition is based on memory - memory of pleasure and pain, memory of the things I have lived for, agonized over, the things I possess and to which I am attached. How can I love when there is fear, sorrow, loneliness, the shadow of despair? How can an ambitious man love? And we are all very ambitious, however honourably.
So, really to find out what love is, we must die to the past, to all our emotions, the good and the bad - die effortlessly, as we would to a poisonous thing because we understand it.
Questioner: Is not life in the West more artificial than life in the East?
Krishnamurti: I am afraid they are about the same, there is not much to choose between them. We have got romantic ideas about the East.
Questioner: I would have thought it more primitive there. Is there not a more primitive virtue?
Krishnamurti: A primitive life is not a spiritual life. The primitive is just as frightened as the so-called civilized man, only his fears are more crude, more superficial. But there is a sense in which the sophisticated, the highly educated, the very knowledgeable person must become primitive. He must become young, innocent; he must die to all the knowledge he has gathered. And that primitiveness can be found in the West just as well as in the East. This division between the East and West is so utterly immature; apart from the natural geographical division, it is completely artificial. Men suffer there as much as they do here, and they are just as materialistic, only they spin out a lot of words about God, about Wisdom, and do a few cunning tricks with their minds.
Questioner: Can one arrive at the state which you speak without first training the mind?
Krishnamurti: Sir, after you have. trained your mind, you must die to the trained mind. You see, this is one of our peculiar ideas: that we must go through a certain training or discipline in order to `arrive' at freedom. I didn't use the word `arrive' I said just die to the things that you experience every day; just watch your own misery, your attachments. Surely, that doesn't need training.
Attachment is obviously not love. You are attached to your wife or husband. Why? First of all, because you are lonely, and you find pleasure in the companionship of another; it gives you joy, comfort, a sense of security and all the rest of it. Being attached you say you love that person; and if that person turns to someone else, you are jealous, envious, you suffer. Does love bring suffering?
So, being aware of one's attachment, and to die to it immediately, does that require training? You say it does because you don't want to give up your attachment and you think you will free yourself from it gradually.
Have I answered your question, sir?
Questioner: Not quite. I don't see how a person who isn't first educated and trained to think can understand your answers.
Krishnamurti: You are all educated, you all speak English. What is there so difficult to understand in what I am saying? I am saying that attachment is not love; and that to find out what love is, you must die to attachment. Does that require training? Must you go through a system of discipline to die to attachment? Psychologically to uncover why you believe in certain things, and after uncovering, looking at that belief, to die to it - does that need training. Must you go through various forms of training to find out what love is?
Questioner: We have to pay close attention to everything.
Krishnamurti: Does that mean you must follow a system? You see, I am afraid most of us are rather sluggish; we don't really want to look immediately, therefore we say it will take time.
Questioner: We don't seem to be able to apply what you are talking about, we haven't the energy.
Krishnamurti: We have plenty of energy when it comes to the things we really want to do. It took a lot of energy for you to come here. It takes a great deal of energy to believe, to be jealous, to be envious, to be ambitious. The ambitious man - you know how energetic he is. But we say we have not the energy to get rid of ambition. Why? The answer is very simple; we have only to look at ourselves, to examine our own minds and hearts.
Questioner: You have described to us a nothingness, a state of emptiness. Can you tell us something of the great truth that might fill this emptiness?
Krishnamurti: First of all, the nothingness is not something mysterious. It is the denial, without motive, of everything, of the whole psychological structure of society. If you deny without motive, without ambition, you are left with an emptiness, aren't you? If you are no longer ambitious, no longer driven by the desire for fame, success, no longer escaping from fear - if you have died to all that, cut through it, then, as I pointed out, there is an emptiness, a state of negation. And the questioner asks, what great truth will fill this emptiness?
Now, are we merely exchanging words, talking theoretically, or have you - without any influence, urging or compulsion - completely broken away from the psychological structure of society? You may have given up one ambition, and are keeping another ambition going; you may have partially got rid of fear, and are still clinging to certain beliefs. But when you are completely free from the psychological social structure, then there is an emptiness; there is neither tomorrow nor yesterday, nor is there an observer who is observing. If you have not come to that point, then any verbal communication about what is beyond, is merely theoretical, it has no value; because the word is not the thing. So, if you don't mind, we won't discuss what lies beyond that state of emptiness. It becomes merely a speculative amusement.
Questioner: You have not mentioned the imminent destruction of the world through the hydrogen bomb.
Krishnamurti: I am afraid historical events must take their course. If in the meantime we are constantly threatened with being blasted out, vaporized, what are we going to do about it? Do you mean to say we are going to stop the politicians from cultivating this marvellous mushroom? just see what is invested in it; look at the private and governmental interest in it. The army, the navy, the air force, the captains, the generals - they are all interested in it, and that interest cannot be dissolved over night.They are going to resist any attempt to outlaw the bomb, just as you would resist if your particular racket were attacked. But we - not the world, not somebody else, but you and I - can die psychologically to our greed and envy', to our hatred and nationalism.To all that we can die immediately, and not wait for the hydrogen bomb to blast us out.
Questioner: Wouldn't it be better to use the words `psychological serenity', `tranquillity', instead of `psychological death'?
Krishnamurti: If the words `serenity', `tranquillity' mean psychological ending or death,-then they will do just as well. You see, we can' easily enough substitute one set of words for another, but the fact remains that psychologically we don't die. If there is such a thing as God, truth, or what name you will, it can be found only when there is freedom from the known. To die to the known is an extraordinary thing - the known being your experience of yesterday, the things that you cherish and look back to with longing. In using the word `die' I do not mean being tranquil about it. To die to the known is to put an end to it. Such dying brings tranquillity; but tranquillity is a minor affair, because out of this immense death there is an innocency which in itself is stillness of the mind. The innocent mind is a still mind; and only the still mind can discover what there is in that stillness.
June 12, 1961
London 4th Public Talk 12th June 1962
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