Madras 6th Public Talk 6th January 1980 'Sorrow, Death and Meditation'
Shall we sit quietly for awhile, it would be rather nice. Not meditate or anything like that, just sit quietly, then we can probably observe our own activities of mind, our own behaviour, our own conduct, our ways of daily life, our relationship with others, our relationship with each other, intimate or superficial. We have hardly any leisure, we are so occupied, from morning until night. And even if we do sleep our minds, our brains are constantly active, dreaming, unresolved problems being solved consciously or unconsciously, and so on. And in the last five talks we have covered most of the complicated areas of our life. I think we ought to also talk over this evening sorrow, death and meditation. On a pleasant evening like this, a rather nice cool breeze, to talk about death seems rather irrelevant. A lovely sky and looking at the sky through the leaves, and the strange silence of an evening that seems to descend on earth about this time, and to talk about the ending of life, or death, though irrelevant, or may be relevant, it is part of our life, like sorrow. And we want solutions, answers immediately for all our problems. That is what we all expect, answers to a very complex life. We don't want to examine the complexity, the diversity, the enormous superficial differences, height, colour, capacities, skill. And we don't want answers for those superficial problems, like business, scientific research, social studies and so on, but we want answers, psychological answers, solutions for our problems. Probably that's why you are here.
These problems can be solved immediately. That is, if you immediately change your life, if you immediately behave righteously, if you immediately change your relationship with each other, completely. That is the final absolute answer for your problems. But we wont, because our brains are accustomed, trained, to postpone, to put up with, to acquiesce, to yield, never enquiring, never going into the problem very deeply. We want somebody to tell us what to do. And we have as human beings relied for thousands of years on somebody to tell us what to do - your books, your gurus, your philosophers, the Upanishads, all the rest of it. Probably most of you have read them, but you are where you are in spite of all that.
So the problem is how you approach the problem, not the problem itself but how you come to it. This is really very important to understand because we are going to go into problems like sorrow, death and meditation, which are very complex, it needs all your attention, all your care, all your passion. So how do you approach any problem, both physical and psychological: how you come to it, what's your motive, what's your intention, what's your end? Because the motive, the direction, the demand for an answer, those prevent the solution of the problem because your approach is already directed, is already conditioned, you have already come with a conclusion. The answer must be that, satisfactory, comfortable, if I can use the word, bourgeois, highly respectable and so on.
So it matters very much if you are serious, if you are willing to find out for yourself how you approach any problem. If you are a scientist you approach your problem with a hypothesis, and try to prove that hypothesis to be correct; or if it is not you reject that hypothesis and pick up another until through hypotheses you prove the fact. Then from the fact you move to another hypothesis, and so on, you build up a series of activities ending in knowledge. If you are an engineer, a philosopher, your motive is obviously to gain money, to fulfil your ambitions and so on. If you are a philosopher, I don't know if you are, I hope you aren't - if you are a philosopher there is not only your private life, which is already very complex, but you try to escape from that complexity of relationship through ideas, through a lot of reading and so on.
So what is your approach to this problem, the problems of sorrow, the problem of death and what is that thing called meditation, what is meditation? What is your approach? Is it traditional, it is an escape, is there a motive that is directing your observation? Or are you free to approach the problem? You understand my question? Because it is only a free mind that can look, that can observe, that can solve the problem. But if you have your prejudices, your conclusions, your concepts and try to understand the problems through the conflict, prejudices and conclusions, you will never solve them, because your conclusions, your concepts are going to dictate what the problem should be. So if you approach it freely then you can look at the problem. Then the problem itself has an answer. You understand? Are we following each other? I must find a face that can say, yes, or no.
If we have a problem of this kind, sorrow, whether there is an ending to sorrow, and the extraordinary thing called death, and the various forms of meditation that have been cultivated throughout the centuries, those are our problems. As we have dealt with other problems previously in the five talks that we have had here, we are now facing these problems. How do you come to it? If you are a traditionalist you will translate sorrow as something that is the result of what you have done in your past life, and you have solved the problem. At least you think you have. And so you say, next life it will be better. During this life you put up with sorrow, and say it's your karma, or whatever word you use, and you put up with it. Which is one of our peculiar habits, to put up with anything.
Now a mind that is traditional, that acquiesces, puts up with everything, how can it solve a problem, a human problem? Which demands that you enquire, that you look, that you exercise your energy. So if you will kindly find out for yourself how you approach the problem, because the approach dictates the answer or the solution. If you approach it freely the answer is in the problem. That's because problem exists only when you have not comprehended fully, when you have not seen the full context, the full implications, the consequences of all that, and that's why it remains a problem. I hope you are following all this.
So if one is at all serious, and one must be serious in a world that is so rapidly declining, degenerating, and if you are at all serious, not intellectually, not verbally, but serious from your heart, from your blood, from your guts, then you must enquire what is your approach to any problem. If you are free, that is, your mind is capable of observing without any pressure, which is very difficult because we always act under pressure because of over population, and disorder, you are acting under pressure. So if you are approaching this problem of sorrow with any kind of pressure, the very ending of it, which becomes a pressure in itself, if there is not any pressure, any urge to find a solution or an answer, then your mind is terribly alive. It's logical. If you are logically minded, which is verbally, carefully explain, then you might say, I intellectually understand, but I can't free myself from the pressures I have, the conditionings of my tradition, my beliefs. So your concern is not then with sorrow but with your traditions, which is much more important than the ending of sorrow. So you are caught both ways. You understand? Either you come to it freely, openly, without a single shadow of prejudice, or pressure; or you realize your own prejudices, your own conclusions and concepts, and end those. Only then you can understand the problem with all its implications.
So if you are prepared, not preparation, that means time, I don't mean that - if you have listened to what has been said, and that very listening has brought about your attention to your own prejudices, conclusions and concepts, and you put those aside, not for this afternoon, or for this evening, when you put them aside you put them aside, it is not a game we are playing, either intellectual, or emotional or romantic, it is a very serious affair.
So we are enquiring, observing, and following the movement of sorrow. You understand? It is not a fixed thing, sorrow. You have put it in a cage and you are observing it. It is a great movement of life, a movement that has been started from the beginning of time. So that movement we have inherited, and also we have acquired it. So it is this whole movement which we call, name as sorrow, grief, pain, it is part of our life, it is part of our daily, everyday life. If we approach it freely it means you are not escaping from it. If you approach it freely then what is sorrow? It's like the shadow of our life, you can't escape from it. That's the first thing to realize that there is no possibility of escape from sorrow. We have tried it, we have said it's karma, past life, but the sorrow remains in spite of your convenient comfortable explanations. Nor can you suppress it by going to the temples, night clubs, drink, drugs, women or men, whatever you do to escape, you can't run away, you can't escape from this thing, suppress it, deny it or put up with it. When you put up with something like sorrow it destroys your mind. When you put up with the dirt, the squalor of the street you are not sensitive, you mind becomes dull, you become insensitive. But if you rebel against it, if you say, I won't have it, then you begin to be active.
So our theories, concepts and our religion all over the world has made us insensitive, has made us dull. So here is the problem: what is sorrow? Why human beings throughout the ages have never resolved that problem. You understand my question? Why you, who have must have sorrow, grief, psychological pain, hurt, psychologically hurt, this is part of sorrow, why we go on with it? So one asks, is there an end to it? The ending doesn't mean an explanation, which is how am I going to end sorrow, which means you are asking for a solution of sorrow. And you will be satisfied, if the speaker is stupid enough to give a comfortable answer, to which you will naturally say, yes, quite right, I accept that. But the explanation, the answer doesn't solve your sorrow. A new explanation, a new answer, will become the old answer in a couple of days, so that will become the tradition. You are following all this? Please, move with me, if you are willing.
So we are asking what is sorrow. What is the relationship between sorrow and passion? I am not talking - we are not talking about lust. Lust is - you know what it is better than I do. We are asking the etymological meaning, passion and sorrow. When you enquire into the question of passion it comes with the ending of sorrow. You are following all this? Passion means suffering from which arises that passion which is not physical, which is totally the ending of a great burden which man has carried. You understand? Are you following this? Please, sirs, are we meeting each other? Please don't be so mesmerized! You see the word, we are examining the meaning of words, which is passion and sorrow are interrelated etymologically, the root meaning. Now when you suppress, or escape, or try to explain it away, you lose the immense energy that is brought about in passion. You understand? No, no, please verbally understand it first. That is, sorrow, like passion, are words to indicate a state of mind in which there is a great deal of pain, grief, tears, sense of immense loneliness, a sense of isolation. Right? That's how when that takes place you feel great sorrow. Now feeling that sense of great burden, great grief, pain, we don't know how to resolve it. We have tried explanations, causes, we haven't solved it. But not knowing what to do with it we try to run away from it, postpone it, you know all the tricks we play when we want to avoid something. Now if we don't avoid it, and see the full meaning of sorrow, out of that total comprehension, not intellectual comprehension, or verbal comprehension, but the total feeling of that brings about passion. And without passion you can never be free. Yes, sir!
Without passion you can never be creative. You may be creative when you are lustful, but we are not talking about that kind of creation, producing a baby, that's quite easy. But we are talking of something quite different. Which is, most of us have lost this passion because we are not passionate people, nobody is. They are passionate about something or other - a passionate scientist, a passionate writer, a passionate golfer. We are not talking of that kind of passion. A person who observes the movement of sorrow, which is the loss of somebody whom you love, or you think you love, the sense of loneliness, the great amount of shedding of tears, the weeping, the sense of isolation, having no relationship with anybody else. Don't you know all this? When you are completely isolated. And our minds are so trained, so educated that when there is this tremendous crisis in one's life we seek an immediate answer. We try to seek an immediate answer so we never face that crisis. You are following all this? Face it, as you are now, if you are listening, being forced to face it under pressure of the speaker. But if there is no pressure and you face it for yourself, then what is that pain? Is it something that man has inherited from time immemorial? Go into it sirs, go slowly. Like our brains which we have inherited through evolution. The human mind, which is not your mind or my mind, the human mind, is that part of its inheritance? That is, the remembrance from father's father down to the present generation, where man has solved this problem. Or is it self-pity? Which we are excellent at! Or is it the sense of deep abiding unconscious loneliness? Please, sirs, follow all this. I am not talking for my own pleasure. You understand?
So we are asking these questions. So find out sirs, and ladies, if you are interested, whether this loneliness if you have ever known it, if you have ever felt that desperate isolation. And because we have not resolved it that isolation is part of this sorrow. You understand what I am saying? That is, we are self-centred human beings. All our activities are centred in ourselves and we act from there. And this self-centred activity is a process of isolation. You see, that doesn't need explanation. Each person seeking his own fulfillment and ambition, his own pleasure, his own importance and so on and so on, all these are bringing about a self-centred, enclosing, narrow, limited, activity, which ultimately deeply unconsciously brings about this sense of terrible depressing loneliness. And can you face that loneliness? Not run away, just observe it. When you so observe you are bringing all your energy to that perception. You understand what I am saying? And when you bring all your energy to that loneliness then you will find, if you do it, your total energy, in which there is no escaping, no running away, no suppressing, no trying to solve it, but this deep perception which brings total energy, you will find that loneliness is dissipated. And the same thing, if you are caught in the explanations of your sorrow - karma, past life, circumstances, competition, you are not so good as your brother, or your uncle, you know, all the rest of it, this perpetual competition we indulge in, which means comparing, suppressing yourself in order to be like somebody, imitating, conforming - all that also emphasizes the narrowing down of this tremendous energy of the mind to a narrow centre from which inevitably action becomes limited and therefore painful. You are following all this?
And if it is immemorial, handed down from generation to generation, this sorrow, then can the mind break that tradition? That is, to observe that tradition, if it is a tradition. Then with that observation, that perception, is the gathering of all your energy to look.
So out of this perception, observation, staying with a thing, you understand, staying, that is staying non-moving from this sorrow, then out of that comes passion. And with passion goes love. Love is not lust; love is not pleasure; love is not desire. It is the ending of sorrow and the passion that comes with it which is love, compassion.
What's the good of my saying all this, sirs? The speaker, to him it is a reality. It is something that, to him is true, it is not false. He doesn't say anything that is not true to himself. It is not that I want to please you, I am not interested. You can go your way, and I go my way. I am not exploiting you as an audience. I am not relying on one's reputation, and all that nonsense. Because one lives this kind of life, therefore one is terribly honest.
And the next question is: death. The first thing is, to ask oneself, if you are interested, why human beings have excluded death from living. You understand my question? Why human beings from the ancient Egyptians to now, all the civilizations which have existed before, have put death at the end - fifty, ten, thirty, eighty, ninety, whatever age, and never said, why am I, why are we excluding death from living? You understand my question? Please understand the question first. Why? Which means, what is living which doesn't know the ending? You understand my question?
Sir, you understand what is being said? Why have people written so much about death, volumes, about reincarnation, remembrances of the past, the psychologists have mesmerized people and gone into the whole business of previous life and so on and so on. Philosophers, religious people, both Christian and Hindu, and all the so-called religious people, they have written volumes; but nobody has taken the trouble to write about life. You understand? Our daily, iniquitous, immoral, fantastically stupid way we are living. Nobody talks about it. Right? Only we say, you must behave properly.
So we are first enquiring what is living and what is ending? The ending is what we call death. So we are asking: what is living and what is ending? And why we human beings have put the ending as far away from us as possible? You understand my questions, sirs? Right? What is living? What is existence? What is our life? Not super consciousness and all that nonsense, but daily life, what is our life? Is there never - please listen - is there never ending to something in our life? You understand? Ending smoking, if you are a smoker, ending it. If you are a drug addict, ending it. If you are caught in the sexual imaginative pleasure, end it. So what is ending? You understand my question? And what is living? So I am saying to myself, asking, do not living and ending go together? You understand my question? You understand, sir? Are you interested in all this? Not up here, I know you are all very clever at this kind of thing, but I am talking much more deeply, that will affect our life, our daily behaviour, our daily conduct, our daily sense of existence.
So have you ever ended anything without pressure? You understand my question? Anything without finding a cause, analysis, wasting time on it, say, end it. That's what's going to happen when death comes to you. You can't argue with it, say, please give me a few more days. You can't analyse it, you can't discuss with it. I know the Upanishads discuss it, that's in poetic form, but if you are confronted with death consciously, not when you are unconscious, then you are out, but when you are consciously alive to death you can't argue with it. That is, there is the ending, which means the ending of your brain, your heart comes to an end, the circulation stops, and the brain collapses. Which is the ending of what we call living. And when you examine, if you will, your own life, your life, not my life, nor some saint's live, or some guru, or some other imaginary or real rather unevolved people - you accept all this? If you examine your own life, what is your life? A struggle, conflict, pain, sorrow, grief, and this ambition, competition, conformity, following a tradition blindly or accepting it. So that is business, going to an office from morning until night. Do you realize what your life is? That you go to the office from nine until five. Right? And there bullied. What kind of life do you lead? And you will say to that, we can't alter the society in which we live. A very convenient, comfortable answer. That society, you, your grandfathers and mothers, have created it. Right? Through their ambition, through their greed, through their conformity, through their tradition, and all the rest of it, they have created this thing. And so you are part of it, whether you like it or not. And to change it you have to change yourself. When you begin to change yourself, you being to change society.
So when you examine your life very closely, it is really a very sorrowful affair. And you would rather go on with it and say, perhaps I will have a chance next life. If you examine the 'me', the 'I', the ego, the soul, the atman, you know, all that stuff, what is that? You understand my question? Are you following this sirs? You believe in some kind of permanency, don't you? Some kind of entity that will get more and more polished as it goes along through time, until it reaches the highest principle, Brahman, or Nirvana, or Moksha, or whatever you like to call it. So you believe that there is an ego, a self, a higher self, the atman, the soul, the principle, that moves from life to life. Right? Right, don't you? If you are honest. Now what is that? What is that thing that the mind clings to? Right? What is that? Have you examined it? Or you just say, yes, there is this permanent something marvellous, in me. When you examine it very closely, is it not the result of thought? The thought of your ancestors, the thought which has been put in the Upanishads, or the Gita, or some Bible, or some book, the poets that have written the Gita, and they have established that through tradition so that there is in you something that goes on through time. Right? Right sirs? Would you be honest? That's your tradition, handed down. And when you look at it very carefully, impersonally, sanely, you will find inevitably if you are an enquiring mind, it is nothing but the creation of thought. That is you, what are you? Name, a form, educated to have a degree, or not educated, you are a lawyer and all the rest of it, a fisherman - you wouldn't be a fisherman, no, sorry. So you are all that, your sorrows, your griefs, your Brahmin, non-Brahmin, this and that, you are the result of all time. And therefore the result of all thought. Thought is the response of memory, memory is the accumulation of knowledge as experience stored up in the brain. You may accept it, you may not, but scientists and the speaker - the speaker talked about it many, many years ago, and the scientists now are beginning to accept it. So you are that, you are nothing but thought. You don't like it, I know.
So, now watch it, sir. Knowledge can never be complete. That's obvious. Knowledge always goes with ignorance. Knowledge is always in the shadow of ignorance. Therefore any thought springing from knowledge must always be ignorant. Logical, sir. And so thought has created this entity separating itself from the rest of mankind as the 'me', the individual, who will go on. Right? Now your mind, observe it, sir, for god's sake, your mind, your brain, is the result of thousands of years of evolution, both genetically and in memory, tradition, your mind is that. The mind being your brain, your senses, your emotions, all that has grown through so-called evolution. Not 'so-called', evolution. So you are not an individual. Right? Yes, sir, you won't like this. You are part of this vast mind of man. You understand all this sir? Look at it. I know it goes against all your tradition, against your own desires, against your own comfort. But it is a fact. But when you realize the fact you enter into a world that is extraordinary: you are the entire humanity. You understand, sir? Because you suffer, you have agonies, you have doubts, you are hurt, you are ambitious, anxious, uncertain, confused, like the rest of the human beings in the world. You are part of that humanity, you are that humanity. You may be brown, or white, or pink, or blue, or black, you may be tall, or short, you may be an engineer and another a physicist. That's not what we are talking about - the human being inside, his brain.
So please follow all this. Then what is death? You understand my question sir? When you realize the fact, an absolute fact, irrevocable, that you are the rest of mankind, you are mankind, the man who goes fishing, naked, that poor woman sweeping a street, that little girl making a mess in the road, you are all that. You are humanity. This is not an humanitarian idea, it is a fact. If that is so - not 'if', it is so, then what is death? You understand my question? Please sir, move. You are all so... Then what is death? Then is there such a thing as death? You understand what I am about? Come on sirs!
I, born in this country, educated abroad, at various colleges and all the rest of it, name, and certain qualities, like you, and one realizes that your mind, your brain, your feelings, your senses are the essence of humanity, then what is K? You understand? Do you follow what I am saying? Then what is K? Then what is death? If when you realize and end this concept - it is a concept, a conclusion put together by thought that I am special - when that ends, that's what I mean, ending. Then what happens? You have never come to that point, you see.
Sir, when you end something, it doesn't matter what, when you end an attachment, to your wife, to your belief, to your gods, to your guru, to your concept, when you end something, what takes place? Have you ever done it? When you end something the new takes place, doesn't it? Something totally new takes place. Doesn't it, sir? If one has a habit of smoking, and you drop it instantly, what happens? Your body rebels, you go through all that very quickly. Not that I have ever smoked or done all that stuff. It ends. Then you have lifted, the brain has freed itself from a certain burden. If you have ended an attachment, completely ended it, then that tremendous burden of attachment with pain, anxiety, jealousy, all the rest of it, when you end it something totally new is taking place. But you won't do any of that. You will listen, and say, "I quite agree, it sounds very nice, but I am too lazy, I am too caught up in my own tradition, in my own etc., etc." and remain there. This is the game you play all the time, knowing the facts and refusing to face the facts.
So a man whose mind is the universe, the universe of humanity, to him there is no death. You don't get this. Because whatever he is doing he is ending, never carrying.
Then we must talk about meditation. It is seven o'clock, we will go on, if you are not tired. No? You jolly well should be! If you have exercised your minds, your brains, your senses, you must be exhausted. The speaker is not because he is, you know.
What is meditation? And why is it important to meditate? Why have human beings throughout the ages enquired into this? You understand this question sirs? Can we briefly examine, quickly, and set aside completely every form of systems of meditation? Zen, Buddhist meditation, the various types of meditation of the Hindus with their mantras, the repetitions of mantras, you know all that business that goes on, and the Christian form of meditation, the Tibetan form of meditation. They are all based, if you observe it closely, on concepts. Right? Concepts put together by thought. And thought says, I am restless, I am chattering all the time, there must be some time when it is quiet. So we begin with a concept - follow it, sirs - with a concept that it must be quiet, it must be still. So you practise, you follow the system of that person, or that person, that man who says, I know how to meditate, you do this, you do that. And we think he has got something which we want and we are willing to buy what he has, through meditation. Right? I am sorry to be rather... but that is what we do actually.
So if you can see that all those forms are the structure of thought, which they are, then will you end it? That is, no system, no method, no practice, yoga - oh, gosh, you know all the rest of it. Sir, it has been the speaker's misfortune, or fortune, to talk to all the experts about this - Zen, Tibetan, Yogi people, you know, they are all concerned with the control of thought, suppression of thought, following a system, practising day after day, day after day, making themselves into machines. And this is called meditation. Right? Would you acknowledge that? I know you practise meditation, you do puja, but it is all words. And you are like your gods, they are all put together by thought.
So can we see the whole process of that from the great Himalayas, East and West, and all that, and put all that aside? Then what is meditation? You understand what I am asking? Certainly not standing on our head, or sitting in a lotus posture, or whatever it is, not breathing. If you could put all that aside then you will inevitably ask: conscious meditation is not meditation. Right? Conscious, that is, the deliberate process of will, desire, compliance, imitation, practice, all that indicates a conscious effort by thought, by desire, desire with its strong will to achieve a certain result. That is, to have a mind that is absolutely quiet. Right? Now if you do all those things - practise yoga, you know, all that, what have you done to your mind? Don't you see what you have done to your mind? Look at you. You have become machines, you have established a routine. Right, sir? Do wake up for god's sake.
So - follow it carefully - conscious meditation, with all the implications involved which I briefly explained, is no longer meditation. Right? I know. So then what is meditation which is not conscious? You understand my question? Because man throughout the ages has searched for something beyond time. Searched, looked at, enquired, something that is incorruptible, something beyond all experience, beyond all knowledge, outside of all human endeavour. Because human endeavour is the movement of thought in different directions. And thought born of knowledge is very limited. So he said there must be somewhere, something that is not perishable, that is incorruptible, that is timeless, eternal. That seed has been sown in man from time immemorial. You understand sir? And we have got that seed moving all through mankind. And we have never opened, or looked at that seed. We have said what that seed should be. You understand what I am saying? For god's sake move sir. We have said what that seed must do, what its activities are, we clothe it with all kinds of ignoble or noble clothes, but we never said, "This thing which man has started from time immemorial, I wonder if it can ever flower, grow". You understand my question, sirs? That is meditation. That is, to be in a life, daily life, behaviour which is correct, accurate, right, in daily life, where there is no conflict, where there is affection, care - not for your children, care for the world around you; care for your woman, for your man, so that there is no domination of each other, no exploitation of each other. If that isn't laid down as a foundation, you can't move. Do you understand, sirs? What you are trying to do, you neglect all that and try to find some god somewhere. If you don't begin there, what you will end up with is an illusion. The word illusion means to play with something that is not real. The etymological meaning is ludere, to play.
So you are playing with illusions, or rather, you are caught in illusions if you don't have your house in order. And your house is burning, and if you don't begin there, which is bring right behaviour, right order, care, affection, love, compassion, which can only come when there is the ending of sorrow, then you begin to enquire when the mind knows what it means to die, ending everything everyday. Yes, sir! It is too long now, that is, the mind, the brain is registering, it may be quick. I'll show you. The brain is registering, registering in order to live, survive - engineer, scientist, philosopher, whatever it is, carpenter, fisherman, he must register, otherwise he can't be an engineer, but psychologically can we end registering at all? You don't know all these things. What kind of brains have you got? Sir, end your hurt immediately: the hurt which you have carried from childhood, or the hurt which you received from your wife, husband, office, or whatever it is, the hurt inside, to end it immediately. Which is not to register the hurt. That means to pay tremendous attention when the hurt is beginning to come into being.
So meditation can never be conscious, can never be thought out, premeditated. Then you will find very naturally and very easily there is a quality of stillness in the mind. And it is only that enormous sense of stillness and silence, and the brain then is in a vast space, then only truth can come into being. And that's real meditation.
May I sit still for a few minutes, a few seconds?
Madras 6th Public Talk 6th January 1980 'Sorrow, Death and Meditation'
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