Bombay 5th Public Talk 24th February 1965
There is a creeper - I think, it is called "the Morning Glory" - which has that extraordinary pale blue colour that only flowers have, or a deep purple with a touch of the mauve, or a peculiar white. Only living flowers have those colours. They come, they bloom in the morning, - the trumpet-shaped flowers - and then within a few hours they die. You must have seen those flowers. In their death they are almost as beautiful as when they are alive. They bloom for a few hours and cease to be; and in their death they do not lose the quality of a flower. And we live for thirty, forty, sixty, eighty years in great conflict, in misery, in passing pleasures, and we die rather miserably without delight in our heart; and in death we are as ugly as in life.
I am going to talk this evening about Time, Sorrow and Death. We must, I think, be very clear that we are not talking about ideas, but only about facts. That flower, blooming, full of beauty, delicate, with delicate fragrance - that is a fact. And the dying of it after a few hours when the wind comes and the sun rises, and the beauty of it even in death - that is also a fact. So we are going to deal with facts and not with ideas.
You can imagine, if you have got imagination, the colour of those flowers. Have a picture, mentally conjure up an image of that creeper with its delicate colours, the flowers of delicate colours, the extraordinary beauty of the flowers. But your image, your idea about the creeper, your feeling about the creeper, is not the creeper. The creeper with its flowers is a fact. And your idea about the flowers, though it is a fact, is not actual. You are not actually in contact with the flower through an idea. I think this must be borne in mind throughout this talk: that we are dealing with facts and not with ideas, and that you cannot touch intimately, directly, concretely, come into contact with a fact through an idea. Death cannot be experienced. One cannot come directly into contact with it through an idea. Most of us live with ideas, with formulas, with concepts, with memory; and so we never come into contact with anything. We are mostly in contact with our ideas, but not with the fact.
And I am going to discuss, rather I am going to talk about, time, sorrow and that strange phenomenon called death. One can either interpret them as ideas, as conclusions, or come directly into contact with the whole problem of time and the dimension of time. One can come directly into contact with sorrow - that is, that sense of extraordinary grief, And also one can come directly into contact with that thing called death. Either we come directly into contact with time, sorrow, love and death, or we treat them as a series of conclusions - the inevitableness of death or the explanations. The explanations, the conclusions the opinions the beliefs, the concepts, the symbols have nothing whatsoever to do with the reality - with the reality of time, with the reality of sorrow, with the reality of death and love. And if you are going merely to live or look or come or hope to come into contact with the dimension of time, sorrow, or death through your idea, through your opinion, then what we are going to say will have very little meaning altogether. In fact, you would not be listening at all, you would be merely hearing words; and being in contact with your own ideas, with your own conclusions, opinions, you would not be in direct contact.
I mean by contact: I can touch this table, I am directly in contact with the table. But I am not in contact with the table, if I have ideas of how I should touch the table. So the idea prevents me from coming directly, intimately, forcefully in contact. And during this hour, if you are not directly in contact with what is being said, then you will continue living a wasteful life. We have this life to live. We are not discussing the future life - we will come to that presently. We have this life to live. We have lived wastefully, without life itself having any significance. We live in travail, in misery, in conflict and so on, and we have never been in contact with life itself. And it would be a thousand pities - at least I think so - if you are merely in contact with ideas and not with facts.
We are going to talk about time, first. I do not know if you have thought at all about this thing called "time" - not abstractly, not as an idea, not as a definition - , if you have actually come into contact with time. When you are hungry, you are in contact directly with hunger. But what you should eat, how much you should eat, the pleasure you want to derive from eating and so on - those are ideas. The fact is one thing and the idea is another. So to understand this extraordinary question of time, you must be intimately in contact with it - not through ideas, not through conclusions; but intimately, directly, with tremendous intimacy with time. Then you will be able to go into the question of time, and see whether the mind can be free from time.
There is obviously the question of time by the watch, chronological time. That, obviously, is necessary. In that is involved the question of memory, planning, design and so on. We are not discussing that time, the chronological time of every day. But we are going to talk about time which is not by the watch. We do not live only by chronological time; we live much more by a time which is not by the watch. For us, time which is not chronological is much more important, has much more significance, than time by the watch. That is, though chronological time has importance, what has much more importance, greater significance, greater validity for most people is psychological time - time as continuity; time as yesterday, a thousand yesterdays and traditions; and time not only as the present, but as the future.
So we have time as the past - the past being the memory, the knowledge, the tradition, the experiences, the things remembered - and the present which is the passage of yesterday to the time of tomorrow, which is shaped, controlled by the past through the present. For us that has tremendous significance, not the time by the watch; and in that dimension of time we live. We live with the past, in conflict with the present, which creates the tomorrow. This is an obvious fact. There is nothing complex about it. So there is time as continuity and there is time as the future and the past; and the past shapes our thinking, our activity, our outlook, and so conditions the future.
We use time as a means of evolving, as a means of achieving, as a means of gradual changing. We use time because we are indolent, lazy. Because we have not found the way of transforming ourselves immediately, or because we are frightened of immediate change and the consequences of the change, we say, "I will gradually change". Therefore we use time as a means of postponement, time as a means of gradually achieving, and time as a means of change. We need time by the watch to learn a technique; to learn a language we need time, a few months. But we use time - psychological time, not time by the watch - as a means of changing, and so we introduce the gradual process: "I will gradually achieve; I will become; I am this and I will become that, through time."
And time is the product of thought. If you did not think about tomorrow or look back in thought to the past, you would be living in the now; there would be neither the future nor the past; you would be completely living for the day, giving to the day your fullest, richest, complete attention. As we do not know how to live so completely, totally, fully, with such urgency, in today, bringing about a complete transformation in today, we have invented the idea of tomorrow: "I will change tomorrow; I will; I must conform tomorrow, and so on." So, thought creates psychological time and thought also brings fear.
Please follow all this. If you do not understand these things of which I am talking, now, you won't understand them at the end. They will be just words and you will be left with ashes.
Most of us have fears: fear of the doctor, fear of disease, fear of not achieving, fear of being left alone, fear of old age, fear of poverty; these are outward fears. Then there are a thousand and one inward fears: the fear of public opinion, of death, of being left completely alone so that you have to face life without a companion, the fear of loneliness, the fear of not reaching what you call God. So, man has a thousand and one fears. And being frightened, he either escapes in a vast network, subtle or crude; or he rationalizes these fears; or he becomes neurotic, because he cannot understand it, he cannot resolve it; or he completely runs away from fear, from various fears, through identification or social activities, reformation, joining a political party and so on.
Please I am talking not of ideas, but of what actually is taking place in each one of you. So you are not merely listening to my words, but through the words that are being used, you are looking at yourself. You are looking at yourself, not through ideas, but by coming directly into contact with the fact that you are frightened - which is entirely different from the idea that you are frightened.
So unless you understand the nature of fear and are completely free of it totally, your gods, your escapes, your doing of all kinds of social work and so on have no meaning, because you are then a destructive human being, exploiting, and you cannot resolve this fear. A neurotic human being with his innumerable fears, in whatever he does - however good it may be - is always bringing to his action the seed of destruction, the seed of deterioration, because his action is an escape from the fact.
Most of us are frightened, have secret fears; and being afraid, we run away from them. The running away from the fact implies that the objects to which you run away become much more important than the fact. You understand? I am frightened; I have escaped from it through drink, through going to the temple, God and all the rest of it; so the god, the temple, the pub become far more important than the fear. I protect the god, the temple, the pub much more vigorously, because to me they have become extraordinarily important; they are the symbols which give me the assurance that I can escape from fear. The temple, the god, nationalism, the political commitment, the formulas that one has, become far more important than the resolution of the fear. So unless you totally resolve fear,you cannot possibly understand what fear is, what love is, or what sorrow is.
A mind that is really religious, a mind that is really socially-minded, a mind that is creative, has completely, totally to put away, or understand, or resolve this problem of fear. If you live with fear of any kind you are wasting your life, because fear brings darkness. I do not know if you have noticed what happens to you when you are frightened of something. All your nerves, your heart, everything becomes tight, hard, frightened. Haven't you noticed it? There is not only physical fear but also psychological fear which is much more. Physical fear which is a self-protective physical response, is natural. When you see a snake you run away from it, you jump - that is a natural self-protective fear. It is not really fear; it is merely a reaction to live, which is not fear, because you recognize the poison and you move away. We are talking not only of physical fear, but much more of the fear that thought has created.
We are going into this question of fear. Unless you follow it step by step, you won't be able to resolve it. We are going to come into contact directly with fear - not what you are frightened about. What you are frightened about is an idea; but fear itself is not an idea. Suppose one is frightened - as most people, the young and the old, are - of public opinion, of death. It does not matter what they are frightened of; take your own example. I will take death. I am frightened of death. Fear exists only in relationship with something. Fear does not exist by itself but only in relation to something. I am frightened of public opinion. I am frightened of death, I am frightened of darkness, I am frightened of losing a job. So fear arises in connection with something.
Let us say, I am frightened of death. I have seen death. I have seen bodies being burnt. I have seen a dead leaf falling to the ground. I have seen so many dead things. And I am frightened of dying, coming to an end. Now there is this fear in relation to death, loneliness, a dozen things. How do I look at, or come into contact with fear as I come into contact with this table? Am I making myself clear? To come directly into contact with fear, - I hope you are doing it, not merely listening - to come directly into contact with that emotion, with that feeling called "fear", the word, the thought, the idea must not come in at all. Right? That is, to come into contact with a person I must touch his hand, I must hold his hand. But I do not come into contact with that person though I may hold his hand, if I have ideas about him, if I have prejudices, if I like or dislike. So, inspite of my holding his hand, the image, the idea, the thought prevents me from coming into contact directly with that man. So, in the same way, to come directly into contact with your fear - with your particular fear, conscious or unconscious fear - you must come into contact with it, not through your idea.
So one must first see how the idea interferes with coming into contact. When you understand that the idea interferes with coming into contact, you no longer fight the idea. When you understand the idea - the idea being the opinion, the formula, and so on - , you are then directly in contact with your fear, and there is no escape either verbal, or through a conclusion, or through an opinion, or through any form of escape. When you are in contact with fear, in that sense, then you will find - as you are finding when we are discussing what we are talking about - that fear altogether disappears. And the mind must be free of all fears, not only the secret fears, but the open fears, the fears of which you are conscious. Then only can you look at the thing called sorrow.
You know, man has lived with sorrow for millennia, many thousands, millions of years. You have lived with sorrow, you have not resolved it. Either you worship sorrow as a means to enlightenment, or you escape from sorrow. We put sorrow on a pedestal symbolically identified with a person, or you rationalize it, or you escape from it. But sorrow is there.
I mean by sorrow the loss of some one, the sorrow of failure, the sorrow that comes upon you when you see that you are inefficient, incapable, the sorrow that you find when you have no love in your heart, that you live entirely by your ugly little mind; there is the sorrow of losing someone whom you think you love. We live with this sorrow night and day, never going beyond it, never ending it. Again, a mind burdened with sorrow becomes insensitive, becomes enclosed; it has no affection, it has no sympathy; it may show words of sympathy, but in itself, in its heart it has no sympathy, no affection, no love. And sorrow, breeds self-pity. Most of us carry this burden all through life, and we do not seem to be able to end it. And there is the sorrow of time. You understand? We carry this sorrow to the end of our life, not being able to resolve it. There is a much greater sorrow: to live with something which you cannot understand, which is eating your heart and mind, darkening your life. There is also the sorrow of loneliness, being completely alone, lonely, companionless, cut off from all contacts, ultimately leading to a neurotic state and mental illness and psychosomatic diseases.
So, there is vast sorrow, not only of a human being but also the sorrow of the race. How do you resolve sorrow? You have to resolve it, just as you resolve fear. There is no future - you can invent a future. There is no future for a man who is living with intelligence, who is sensitive, alive, young, fresh, innocent. Therefore you must resolve fear, you must end sorrow.
Again, to end sorrow is to come into contact with that extraordinary feeling without self-pity, without opinion, without formulas, without explanation; just to come directly into contact with it, as one would come into contact with a table. And that is one of the most difficult things for people to do: to put away ideas and to come into direct contact.
Then, there is the problem of death - and with the problem of death, the problem of old age. You all know that death is inevitable - inevitable through senility, through old age, through disease, through accident. Though scientists are trying to prolong life by another fifty years or more, death is inevitable. Why they want to prolong this agonizing existence, God only knows! But that is what we want. And to understand death, we must come into contact with death; it demands a mind that is not afraid, that is not thinking in terms of time, that is not living in the dimension of time - which I have explained. To live with death - I am going to go into it.
You know, we have put death at the end of life - it is somewhere there, in the distance. And we are trying to put it as far away as possible, as long away as possible. We know there is death. And so we invent the hereafter. We say, "I have lived, I have built a character, I have done things. Will all things end in death? There must be a future. "The future, the afterlife, reincarnation - all that is an escape from the fact of today, from the fact of coming into contact with death.
Think of your life, what is it? Actually look at your life which you want to prolong! What is your life? A constant battle, a constant confusion, an occasional flash of pleasure, boredom, sorrow, fear, agony, despair, jealousy, envy, ambition - that is your life actually, with diseases, with pettiness. And you want to prolong that life after death!
And if you believe in reincarnation - as you are supposed to believe, as your scriptures talk about it - then what matters is what you are now. Because what you are now is going to condition your future. So what you are, what you do, what you think, what you feel, how you live - all this matters infinitely. If you do not even believe in reincarnation, then there is only this life; then it matters tremendously what you do, what you think, what you feel, whether you exploit or whether you do not exploit, whether you love, whether you have feeling, whether you are sensitive, whether there is beauty. But to live like that you have to understand death and not put it far away at the end of your life - which is a life of sorrow, a life of fear, a life of despair, a life of uncertainty. So you have to bring death close; that is, you have to die.
Do you know what it is to die? You have seen death enough. You have seen a man being carried to the burning place where he will be destroyed. You have seen death. Most people are frightened of that. Death is as that flower dies, as that creeper dies with all the "morning glories". With that beauty, with that delicacy, it dies without regret, without argument; it comes to an end. But we escape from death through time - which is, it is over there. We say, "I have a few more years to live, and I shall be born next life; or, "This is the only life, and therefore let me make the best of it; let me have all the greatest fun, let me make it the greatest show". And so, we never come into contact with that extraordinary thing called death. Death is: to die to everything of the past, to die to your pleasure.
Have you ever tried without argument, without persuasion, without compulsion, without necessity, to die to a pleasure? You are going to die inevitably. But have you tried to die today, easily, happily, to your pleasure, to your remembrances, to your hates, to your ambitions, to your urgency to gather money? All that you want of life is money, position, power and the envy of another. Can you die to them, can you die to the things that you know, easily, without any argument, without any explanation? Please bear in mind that you are not hearing a few words and ideas, but you are actually coming into contact with a pleasure - your sexual pleasure, for example - and dying to it. That is what you are going to do anyhow. You are going to die - that is, die to everything you know, your body, your mind, the things that you have built up. So, you say, "Is that all? Is all my life to end in death?" All the things you have done, the service, the books, the knowledge, the experiences, the pleasures, the affection, the family, all end in death - that is facing you. Either you die to them now, or you die inevitably when the time comes. Only an intelligent man who understands the whole process, is a religious man.
The man who takes the sanyasi's robes, grows a beard, goes to the temple and runs away from life - he is not a religious man. The religious man is one who dies every day and is reborn every day. That is, his mind is young, innocent, fresh. To die to your sorrow, die to your pleasure, die to the things that you hold secretly in your heart - do it; thus you will see you will not waste your life; then you will find something that is incredible, that no man has ever perceived. This is not a reward. There is no reward either. You die willingly, or you die inevitably. You have to die naturally, every day, as the flower dies, blooming, rich, full and then to die to that beauty, to that richness, to that love, experience and knowledge - to die to that, every day, you are reborn, so that you have a fresh mind.
You need a fresh mind; otherwise you do not know what love is. If you do not die, your love is merely memory; your love is then caught in envy, jealousy. You have to die every day, to everything you know, to your hatred, to your insults, to flatteries. Die to them; then you will see that time has no, meaning: there is no tomorrow then, there is only the now that is beyond the yesterday and the today and the tomorrow. And it is only in the now that there is love.
A human being that has no love cannot approach truth. Without love, do what you will - do all your sacrifices, your vows of celibacy, your social work, your exploitations - nothing has any value. And you cannot love, without dying every day to your memory. For love is not of memory; it is a living thing. A living thing is a movement; and that movement cannot be caged in words, or in thought, or in a mind that is merely self-seeking. Only the mind that has understood time, that has ended sorrow, that has no fear - only such a mind knows what death is: and therefore for such a mind there is Life.
February 24, 1965
Bombay 5th Public Talk 24th February 1965
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