Madras 1964 (1)
Madras 5th Public Talk 26th January 1964
This evening, I would like - if I may - to talk about time, sorrow and death. It is a wide field to cover in an hour. And at all times, communication is difficult. To commune with one another requires a certain intensity, a meeting of two minds at the same level, at the same time and with the same intensity; otherwise, communion is not possible. We may intellectually or verbally agree or disagree, but that is not communion. Communion is a relationship which is extraordinarily intense. And that intensity must exist between two minds, at the same time and at the same level; otherwise, communion becomes merely verbal or interpretative or superficial.
To talk about death, sorrow and time requires an infinite patience. Patience is not the thing that you cultivate in order to acquire a certain technique or to form a certain habit. To go very deeply into anything, especially psychologically, you require a certain quality of the mind that is willing to go step by step and not come to any conclusion at any time, not conceive or formulate at any time, but merely proceed from observation to observation, from clarity of understanding to further clarity of understanding. I am using the word `patience' in that sense. That requires an extraordinary state of mind - not a superficial mind that agrees or disagrees, or, while hearing, compares with what it has read or heard; such a mind is not in a state of communion.
We have to talk about something, this evening, which requires an astonishing amount of attention - not concentration - an attention in which there is no exclusion, even of that noise, and in which that hideous noise is not allowed to interfere. Then only, in that state of attention, we can commune and go into something which is extraordinarily difficult.
But, to understand anything one must direct experience it, not verbally. Actually to experience something demands that you and I be together and have the same look, the same ear, the same eye, the same voice, to understand; otherwise, you and I are not at the same point, at the same level, with the same intensity. We have to understand this problem of `time'. Because, without understanding it, we shall not understand the extraordinary thing called Death.
I mean by the word `understand' not a verbal, intellectual, fragmentary comprehension, or an informed mind which has gathered a lot of information, and compares, judges, evaluates from what it has gathered - such a mind is not in a state of understanding, it is not capable of understanding. Again understanding is another strange phenomenon of the mind. You understand only when you totally listen, completely, with all your being, with your mind, with your heart, with your body, with your eyes, with your nerves, completely - then only you understand something totally. And unfortunately, we never give ourselves to understanding. We have never given ourselves to anything.
You have to give yourself completely to this comprehension of time, sorrow and death. And you cannot give yourself if there is no understanding of fear, of time. Death must be a very strange phenomenon as life is. And to understand it, to go into it, with your heart and not with your words, you require a mind that is sharp, clear, that can reason logically, sanely, with complete confidence - not the speaker's confidence but your confidence. Otherwise, you cannot take a journey into this strange land; and if you cannot take the journey, you have not lived. So, we are going to talk about `time'. Probably, most of you have not thought about it at all; or, if you have thought about it, you have thought what will happen to you tomorrow or ten years later. You have not thought about it, probably, as a factor in life. By the word `time' I mean psychological time, but not chronological time which is by the watch - as yesterday, today and tomorrow, the next hour and what you are going to do after this meeting. Probably you have thought about that because you were forced to; but you have not gone beyond to enquire into, to find out for yourself, the tremendous significance of time. We have never brought time to a crisis. We have always avoided it. We have never felt our way into this thing called the past, the present and the future, this continued existence as the past, the present and the future, with all the turmoil, anxieties, guilt, pain, joy and all the other things which the human mind goes through, through this period of time as yesterday, today and tomorrow.
And without fully comprehending the significance of time you will not be able to understand what is sorrow. And where there is sorrow, there is no love; and without love you will never understand what is death. So you have to take the journey with the speaker - not verbally; because that is very superficial and has no meaning whatsoever. You have to take the journey with all your being, without any resistance or agreement, completely giving yourself over to that understanding.
Time, for most of us, is a movement as the past expressing itself in the present, conditioning the future. And also time is a gradual process of achievement. We use time to postpone; we use time as a means of change from this to that. And can there be no time at all? Time exists only for a man who thinks in terms of the past through the present into the future - his achievements, his cultivation of virtue, capacity, learning techniques and so on; all those remain at the level of achievement, development and gathering. So, we use time; and a mind that is caught in such usage of time cannot understand this: that there is probably no time at all.
Consider a man who has been to his office for thirty or forty years of his life as a scientist, as an engineer, as a physicist, as a bureaucrat. How can such a man who has given himself to the office for this period of forty years, understand something which is not the office, the routine? His brain cells are used up, warped, twisted, worn out; and they are not fresh, young, eager, alert, alive. His reactions are slow. He has been ambitious, he has been driven by ambition, greed, position, power; and he has used time. Time has withered him, time has made his mind go into decay. Such a mind - most of our minds are like that - when it approaches this problem of time, is incapable of understanding the full meaning of it. But such a mind has to understand time; and it can only understand when it is aware of the problem and aware that it has been destroyed by forty years of office routine. When such a mind realizes that, it can bring the whole of time into one minute and comprehend it completely - that is to bring time to a crisis.
Time is continued existence - what has been, what will be and what is. That is all we know. Our memories, our experiences, the things that we have heard and stored up, the experiences that we met with in the past, which give more strength to the past - all that gives us continuity of existence. The memory, the pleasure, the pains, the insults, the angers, the brutalities, the venomous states of hatred, envy, jealousy, the competition, the ambitious drive and ruthless desire - this continuity of existence is what we call life. We never bring this whole existence into one minute, and clear it; but we keep on repeating, repeating, repeating. And what we call life is caught up in the net of time and so there is always tomorrow full of pain, anxiety and sorrow.
And time is what gives pain and pleasure. For thought has continuity. You think about something that gives you pleasure, and you keep on thinking about it - either it is sexual, or it is your position, or it is the thing that you are going to achieve. The thinking about it gives it continuity - as when you think about pain, how to avoid it and so on, that thinking gives continuity to pain. Please observe yourself - observe how you give continuity to the existence which you call life, which is full of anxiety, despair, agony, with passing pleasures, because you think constantly about it; therefore, you live in time, in psychological time. Therefore, the past - with all its memories, with all the scars of pleasure, pain, with all the things that it has acquired, heard, the tradition - shapes the present, and the present shapes the future. So we become slaves to time.
You have to find out for yourself - you are not to be told - if there is time at all. If actually you had no tomorrow, your whole life would be transformed immediately; then you would throw away all the rubbish from your minds, all the things that you have acquired, learnt, heard; and you will be so tremendously active - then you have no time, and therefore, there is no time.
A mind that has no time can then look at death with quite different eyes. Then death is not something in the distance, an interval of years, with old age, with all the agonies and pains; it is not over there, and you over here - it is this space which is `time'. It is this `time' that you dread, that you are afraid of, not of death. And time brings decay; it dos not enrich, it does not mature. Do not compare it to the fruit of a tree - for that, you need time; there you need sunshine, rain, darkness, nourishment; and then when the fruit is ripe, it drops. But we have no time. If you look to time, you are caught in sorrow. Then you are thinking in terms of what has been, what will be, must be. And to understand sorrow, with its pain - physical pain, emotional anxiety, the sorrow of someone whom you have lost, and the pain of it - you must not look to time, you must have no time.
I do not know if you have gone through sorrow. But most of us avoid sorrow, or worship sorrow, or accept it. You go into any church in Europe or in this country, and you see how sorrow is worshipped! And here, in this country, you have explanations for sorrow, karma and so on; you have never objected, totally, with all your being, to be in sorrow. You have accepted sorrow - and that is the sad part of sorrow.
What is sorrow? Have any of you really known any sorrow? The word 'sorrow' has its memories - the memory of self-pity, the memory of the things that have been, the things that you did or did not do with your friend, with your wife, or with your child, whoever it is. The memory, the picture, the word, the symbol, creates that feeling of sorrow; and then we say, "We must avoid it, we must find out a reason for it; then we are going to invent, then we look to the future as a means of conquering something. If there was no time at all, no tomorrow, then you would not accept sorrow, then you have no time to think at all - for thought breeds sorrow. I do not know if you have noticed that either sorrow is personal or it is the sorrow of `man' - man who has suffered, who has been driven, who has been bullied, who has been made to do things and believe and accept through propaganda of a thousand years or ten thousand years. There is sorrow of man as a whole, and there is the sorrow of a particular human being. My son dies; I have a picture of him in my mind. I have invested in him all my hope, my pleasures; it is `me' continuing in that person, and he dies. And I am being bereft of everything that I had; I find myself suddenly alone, suddenly lonely.
Do you know what it means to be lonely? Have you ever experienced actually that state of complete isolation in which there is no relationship to anything, no identification with another - your wife, your children, your country - , in which you are completely cut off from everything? When you feel lonely, your past has no meaning, your experiences have lost their significance; your job, your family means nothing; though you are surrounded by a crowd, you have no relationship with anything. I do not know if you have ever been through that state of loneliness. If you have not, you will never know the end of sorrow. Because that is the path that is part of you - this intense, complete isolation, this loneliness. And from this loneliness we are always, consciously or unconsciously, escaping - through drink, through sex, through gods, through prayers, through every form of deceit.
And this loneliness has to be understood. Every one of us, in his secret mind, knows loneliness - not in the sense of experiencing but in the sense of knowing it verbally through intimations, through occasional glimpses of it. He knows it but cannot understand it, cannot live with it, cannot cope with it; he runs away and tries to fulfil in so many ways. But this thing goes on relentlessly, it is there. So, when my son dies, I am confronted with that, I translate my sorrow into every form of escape from that. You know all the dozen escapes - I think about meeting my son in heaven, I have conclusions, explanations such as reincarnation! Again time comes in: that is, I will meet him, I will do this with him, it is my karma, it is that, it is this. By escaping, you have admitted time. And the moment you admit time, you admit sorrow, and therefore sorrow and time bring about decay, deterioration of the mind.
So, when there is sorrow, one must not escape from loneliness, but understand it completely. Do you know what it means to live with something, unpleasant or pleasant? It requires a great deal of energy to live with something. To live with a tree, with a family, with squalor, with dirt, with anything, you need tremendous energy; otherwise, you get used to it. Probably you have got used to the sunset, to the water of the river when it is calm, when the sky is upon it. When you have got used to something, you no longer notice it. The moment you have got used to it, you are not living. And that is what we do.
We put up with Governments, with our families, with our quarrels, with our sorrows, with dirt, with squalor, with misery, with everything, because we have got used to them. First there is a shock, pain; and then gradually we find ways and means of getting used to it which is time. I get used to my son's death; therefore I have accepted sorrow; and, therefore, out of that comes self-pity. If there is no self-pity at all, then you will be understanding sorrow, you will grapple with it immediately, because sorrow must end.
And the ending of sorrow is the beginning of wisdom. You cannot gather wisdom from books, from attending schools. Wisdom comes to a man only with the ending of sorrow. That means you have to understand this problem of thought and time. We like sorrow! If you took down the picture of that one whom you loved, from the wall of your room or from the wall of your mind, you would think it would be a terrible thing. You really do not love that person, you love the memory of him who, at one time, was pleasant. You do not think about him, of all his stages, your quarrels with him, your anxieties, your competition. All that, you do not have. You would just have the one picture that you like, and you do not want to let that go. Because if you let it go, you are by yourself, lonely, lost; and so sorrow begins again.
But a man who rejects sorrow who would not accept it who has no philosophy, no church, no formulas, no beliefs - it is only such a man that can look at this extraordinary thing called sorrow. And to end sorrow, one must go into this whole question of memory and understand where memory is necessary and where memory is detrimental. If one has travelled so far, not verbally but actually, then one can face death.
There is the old age and the pain of old age - the physical faculties deteriorating. But we have spent forty years in an office, grinding away, and our mind has lost its quickness, freshness. Even in youth, we have lost it. Please observe yourself. Don't listen to the speaker; what the speaker is saying has very little value, if you are not actually observing yourself. So you have to observe your own process of thinking, not rejecting it not condemning it, but watching the flow, the actual process of your own thinking.
We have never gone into the question of death. We have always found beliefs, consolations, ideas and formulas, which will protect us against death. But death is there for everybody - from the greatest philosophers to the poor woman on the street. For most people, death is something away from life, because they have not understood life. Life is an extraordinary field in which we live. Sorrow, pain, anxiety, affection, sympathy, hatred, everlasting fear, the false gods, the temples, the corruption, the competition - all that is life. We do not understand that. Yet, we cling to it desperately, because that is all we know. We do not know anything else and we do not want to know anything else!
And so, not having understood living, naturally we avoid death and put it at a distance, away from you and me. And to understand life, you must give yourself to life. To understand pain, anxiety, despair, affection, you have to give yourself, to give your whole being to it. Then you will see that living and death are not separate. To live, you must die every day; otherwise, you cannot live. Merely living in memory, in your pictures, in your formulas, in your beliefs - that is not living. The moment you have understood, the moment you have given your being to life, then you will see that you are dying - not withering, not decaying, not degenerating. I am talking about dying psychologically. When you are dying psychologically, you are always living with death. Then death is not something far away, something to be afraid of, something which you dread. Because to live completely, every minute, every day, you have to die to the past, every minute, every day - and that is what is actually going to take place when you die. There, you cannot argue with death, you cannot postpone it, asking of it a favour for another year. It is there, whether you like it or not. And a man who is afraid of death, is not living, because he is afraid of life.
Do please understand this very simple fact in life: you do not know how to live, when you are living always in pain and anxiety, fear, hope and despair; that is a battlefield. I mean by `living' when none of these exist, when you are no longer competing with anybody, when there is a total, complete cessation of sorrow - not a fragmentary cessation. And there is such a thing as a complete ending of sorrow. And when you so live, you will see that, to live, you have to die to everything that you know. Then life and death are not separate.
I hope you are listening not merely to the words, not with the intention of gathering a few ideas to refute them or to collaborate with them or to say that the speaker is right or wrong. We are taking a journey together. And to take a journey, you cannot journey on words; it must be actual treading, not only hearing the noise of your footsteps but also listening to your words, to your thoughts, to your feelings.
Then you will see that where there is freedom from the known, there is death; then you are not bothered at all whether there is reincarnation or not. And besides, what continues? Only your thought, your memory, continues - not the so-called spiritual essence. If it is the spiritual essence, you cannot think about it. The moment you think about it, you have reduced it into the field of time, the field of sorrow; therefore it is not the spiritual essence at all, but merely a product of thought. When we talk of the soul as something that will continue, we are still within the realm of thought. Where thought merely dominates, that thought creates fear. Then you are caught in the whole vicious circle of time, sorrow and the fear of death.
So, to understand death and sorrow and time, one must give oneself to living. And to live you must be highly sensitive - not with your traditions. You must be sensitive with your nerves, with your eyes, with your body, with your mind, with your heart. And you cannot be sensitive if you have got used to anything - used to sex, used to anger, used to having a family around you, used to the squalor of a road, used to the lovely sunset in the clear sky, or used to your own vulgarities, your own cruelties and unobserved gestures and words.
So, one has to be astonishingly awake and sensitive. Then you will know what it means to die and what it means to live totally - in the sense that a mind has no future, no tomorrow, because it has no past; it is no longer becoming, it simply is flowing, living, moving. And a thing that moves, flows, has no death. But death only exists for him who desires continuity. But if a man dies every minute, to everything, to every pleasure, to every pain, to every habit, good or bad, then he will know for himself what is beyond death, what is beyond this agony of life. There is something beyond - not because the speaker says so. You have to find it out. But to find out there must be no sorrow; because where sorrow abides, there is no love. And without love you will never understand what death is.
January 26, 1964
Madras 1964 (1)
Madras 5th Public Talk 26th January 1964
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