Poona, India, 1948
Poona India 6th Public Talk 3rd October, 1948
Perhaps in understanding the question of creativeness, we shall be able to understand what we mean by effort. Is creativeness the outcome of effort, and are we aware in those moments when we are creative? Or, is creativeness a sense of total self-forgetfulness, that sense when there is no turmoil, when one is wholly unaware of the movement of thought, when there is only a complete, full, rich being? Is that state the result of travail, of struggle, of conflict, of effort? I do not know if you have ever noticed that when you do something easily, swiftly, there is no effort, there is complete absence of struggle; but as our lives are mostly a series of battles, conflicts and struggles, we cannot imagine a life, a state of being, in which strife has fully ceased.
Now, to understand the state of being without strife, that state of creative existence, surely one must enquire into the whole problem of effort. That is, at present we live with effort, our whole existence is a series of struggles - struggles with our intimate friends, with our neighbours, with people across the mountains and across the seas. Until we understand this question of effort and its consequences, surely we shall not be able to fathom that creative state which is obviously not the product of effort. The painter, the poet, may make an effort in painting or writing but the impact of the beautiful comes to him only when the struggle has fully ceased. So, we have to enquire into this question of effort, what we mean by effort, by strife, the struggle to become. We mean by effort, the striving to fulfil oneself, to become. something, don't we? I am this, and I want to become that; I am not that, and I must become that. In becoming `that', there is strife, there is battle, conflict, struggle. In this struggle we are concerned inevitably with fulfilment through the gaining of an end; we seek self-fulfilment in an object, in a person, in an idea, and that demands constant battle, struggle, the effort to become, to fulfil. So, we have taken this effort as inevitable; and I wonder if it is inevitable - this struggle to become something? Why is there this struggle? Where there is the desire for fulfillment, in whatever degree and at whatever level, there must be struggle. Fulfilment is the motive, the drive behind the effort; whether it is in the big executive, the housewife, or a poor man, there is this battle to become, to fulfil, going on.
Now, why is there the desire to fulfil oneself? Obviously, the desire to fulfil, to become something, arises when there is awareness of being nothing. Because I am nothing, because I am insufficient, empty, inwardly poor, I struggle to become something; outwardly or inwardly, I struggle to fulfil myself in a person, in a thing, in an idea. So, this struggle to become arises only when there is insufficiency, when there is awareness of a void, of that emptiness within oneself. That is, effort comes into being only when there is awareness; of emptiness. To fill that void is the whole process of our existence. Being aware that we are empty, inwardly poor, we struggle either to collect things outwardly, or to cultivate inward riches. This striving, this struggling, arises from the awareness of insufficiency, and so there is a constant battle to become - which is entirely different from being. There is effort only when there is an escape from that inward void through action, through contemplation, through acquisition, through achievement, through power, and so on. That is our daily existence. I am aware of my insufficiency, my inward poverty, and I struggle to run away from it, or to fill it. This running away, avoiding, or trying to cover up the void, entails struggle, strife, effort.
Now, if one does not make an effort to run away, what happens? One lives with that loneliness, that emptiness; and in accepting that emptiness one will find that there comes a creative state which has nothing to do with strife, with effort. Effort exists only as long as we are trying to avoid that inward loneliness, emptiness; but when we look at it, observe it, when we accept what is without avoidance, we will find there comes a state of being in which all strife ceases. That state of being is creativeness, and it is not the result of strife - though many of us think that struggle is inevitable, and that we must struggle to be creative. It is only when we are creative that there is full, rich happiness; but creativeness does not come into being through effort of any kind, effort being avoidance of what is. But when there is understanding of what is, which is emptiness, inward insufficiency, when one lives with that insufficiency and understands it fully, there comes creative reality, creative intelligence, which alone brings happiness.
So, action as we know it is really reaction, it is a ceaseless becoming, which is the denial, the avoidance of what is; but when there is awareness of emptiness without choice, without condemnation or justification, then in that understanding of what is there is action, and this action is creative being. You will understand this if you are aware of yourself in action. Observe yourself as you are acting, not only outwardly, but see also the movement of your thought and feeling. When you are aware of this movement, you will see that the thought process, which is also feeling and action, is based on an idea of becoming. The idea of becoming arises only when there is a sense of insecurity, and that sense of insecurity comes when one is aware of the inward void. So, if you are aware of that process of thought and feeling, you will see that there is a constant battle going on, an effort to change, to modify, to alter what is. This is the effort to become, and becoming is a direct avoidance of what is. Through self-knowledge, through constant awareness, you will find that strife, battle, the conflict of becoming, leads to pain, to sorrow and ignorance. It is only if you are aware of inward. insufficiency and live with it without escape, accepting it wholly, that you will discover an extraordinary tranquillity, a tranquillity which is not put together, made up, but a tranquillity which comes with understanding of what is. Only in that state of tranquillity is there creative being.
Question: Memory, you say, is incomplete experience. I have a memory and a vivid impression of your previous talks. In what sense is it an incomplete experience? Please explain this idea in all its details.
Krishnamurti: What do we mean by memory? You go to school, and are full of facts, technical knowledge. If you are an engineer, you use the memory of technical knowledge to build a bridge. That is factual memory. There is also psychological memory. You have said something to me, pleasant or unpleasant, and I retain it; and when I next meet you, I meet you with that memory, the memory of what you have said or have not said. So, there are two facets to memory, the psychological and the factual. They are always interrelated, therefore not clear cut. We know that factual memory is essential as a means of livelihood. But is psychological memory essential? And what is the factor which retains the psychological memory? What makes one psychologically remember insult or praise? Why does one retain certain memories and reject others? Obviously, one retains memories which are pleasant, and avoids memories which are unpleasant. If you observe, you will see that painful memories are put aside quicker than the pleasurable ones. And mind is memory, at whatever level, by whatever name you call it; mind is the product of the past, it is founded on the past, which is memory, a conditioned state. Now, with that memory we meet life, we meet a new challenge. The challenge is always new, and our response is always old, because it is the outcome of the past. So, experiencing without memory is one state, and experiencing with memory is another. That is, there is a challenge, which is always new. I meet it with the response, with the condition of the old. So, what happens? I absorb the new, I do not understand it; and the experiencing of the new is conditioned by the past. Therefore, there is a partial understanding of the new, there is never complete understanding. It is only when there is complete understanding of anything that it does not leave the scar of memory.
When there is a challenge, which is ever new, you meet it with the response of the old. The old response conditions the new, and therefore twists it, gives it a bias, and therefore there is no complete understanding of the new; hence the new is absorbed into the old, and therefore strengthens the old. This may seem abstract, but it is not difficult if you go into it a little closely and carefully. The situation in the world at the present time demands a new approach, a new way of tackling the world problem, which is ever new. We are incapable of approaching it because we approach it with our conditioned minds, with national, local, family, and religious prejudices. That is, our previous experiences are acting as a barrier to the understanding of the new challenge, so we go on cultivating and strengthening memory, and therefore we never understand the new, we never meet the challenge fully, completely. It is only when one is able to meet the challenge anew, afresh, without the past, only then does it yield its fruits, its riches.
The questioner says, `I have a memory and a vivid impression of your previous talks. In what sense is it an incomplete experience?' Obviously, it is an incomplete experience if it is merely an impression, a memory. If you understand what has been said, see the truth of it, that truth is not a memory. Truth is not a memory, because truth is ever new, constantly transforming itself. You have a memory of the previous talk. Why? Because you are using the previous talk as a guide, you have not fully understood it. You want to go into it, and unconsciously or consciously it is being maintained. But if you understand something completely, that is, see the truth of something wholly, you will find there is no memory whatsoever. Our education is the cultivation of memory, the strengthening of memory. Your religious practices and rituals, your reading and knowledge, are all the strengthening of memory. What do we mean by that? Why do we hold to memory? I do not know if you have noticed that, as you grow older, you look back to the past, to its joys, to its pains, to its pleasures; and if one is young, one looks to the future. Why are we doing this? Why has memory become so important? For the simple and obvious reason that we do not know how to live wholly, completely in the present. We are using the present as a means to the future, and therefore the present has no significance. We cannot live in the present because we are using the present as a passage to the future. Because I am going to become something, there is never a complete understanding of myself, and to understand myself, what I am exactly now, does not require the cultivation of memory. On the contrary, memory is a hindrance to the understanding of what is. I do not know if you have noticed that a new thought, a new feeling, comes only when the mind is not caught in the net of memory. When there is an interval between two thoughts, between two memories, when that interval can be maintained, then out of that interval a new state of being comes which is no longer memory. We have memories, and we cultivate memory, as a means of continuance. That is, the `me' and the `mine' become very important as long as the cultivation of memory exists; and as most of us are made up of `me' and `mine', memory plays a very important part in our lives. If you had no memory, your property, your family, your ideas, would not be important as such; so, to give strength to `me' and `mine', you cultivate memory. But if you observe, you will see that there is an interval between two thoughts, between two emotions. In that interval, which is not the product of memory, there is an extraordinary freedom from the `me' and the `mine', and that interval is timeless.
Let us look at the problem differently. Surely, memory is time, is it not? That is, memory creates yesterday, today and tomorrow. Memory of yesterday conditions today and therefore shapes tomorrow. That is, the past through the present creates the future. There is a time process going on, which is the will to become. Memory is time, and through time we hope to achieve a result. I am a clerk today, and, given time and opportunity, I will become the manager or the owner. So, I must have time; and with the same mentality we say, `I shall achieve reality, I shall approach God.' Therefore I must have time to realize, which means I must cultivate memory, strengthen memory by practice, by discipline, to be something, to achieve, to gain, which means continuation in time. So, through time we hope to achieve the timeless, through time we hope to gain the eternal. Can you do that? Can you catch the eternal in the net of time, through memory, which is of time? The timeless can be only when memory, which is the `me' and the `mine', ceases. If you see the truth of that - that through time the timeless cannot be understood or received - then we go into the problem of memory. The memory of technical things is essential; but the psychological memory that maintains the self, the `me' and the `mine', that gives identification and self-continuance, is wholly detrimental to life and to reality. When one sees the truth of that, the false drops away, therefore there is no psychological retention of yesterday's experience.
Look, Sirs, you see a lovely sunset, a beautiful tree in a field, and when you first look at it, you enjoy it completely, wholly; but you go back to it with the desire to enjoy it again. What happens when you go back with the desire to enjoy it? There is no enjoyment, because it is the memory of yesterday's sunset that is now making you return, that is pushing, urging you to enjoy. Yesterday there was no memory, only a spontaneous appreciation, a direct response; but today you are desirous of recapturing the experience of yesterday. That is, memory is intervening between you and the sunset; therefore there is no enjoyment, there is no richness, fullness of beauty. Again, you have a friend who said something to you yesterday, an insult or a compliment, and you retain that memory; and with that memory you meet your friend today. You do not really meet your friend - you carry with you the memory of yesterday, which intervenes; and so we go on, surrounding ourselves and our actions with memory, and therefore there is no newness, no freshness. That is why memory makes life weary, dull and empty. We live in antagonism with each other because the `me' and the `mine' are strengthened through memory. Memory comes to life through action in the present; we give life to memory through the present, but when we do not give life to memory, it fades away. So, memory of facts, of technical things, is an obvious necessity, but memory as psychological retention is detrimental to the understanding of life, the communion with each other. Question: You said that when the conscious mind is still, the subconscious projects itself. Is the subconscious a superior entity? Is it not necessary to pour out all that is hidden in the labyrinths of the subconscious in order to decondition oneself? How can one go about it?
Krishnamurti: I wonder how many of us are aware that there is a subconscious, and that there are different layers in our consciousness? I think most of us are aware only of the superficial mind, of the daily activities, the rattling superficial consciousness. We are not aware of the depth, the significance and meaning of the hidden layers; and occasionally, through a dream, through a hint, through an intimation, one is aware that there are other states of being. Most of us are too busy, too occupied with our lives, with amusements, with lustful desires, with our vanities, to be aware of anything but the superficial. Most of us spend our lives in the struggle for power, political or personal, for position, for achievement.
Now, the questioner asks, `Is the subconscious a superior entity?' That is the first point. Is there a superior entity apart from the thought process? Surely, as long as the thought process exists, though it may divide itself up into inferior and superior, there can be no superior entity, no permanent entity apart from that which is transitory. So, we will have to look into this question very carefully and understand the whole significance of consciousness. I have said that when you have a problem and have thought about it until your mind is weary without finding the answer, it often happens that when you sleep on it the answer is found the next morning. While the conscious mind is still, the hidden layers of the unconscious mind are at work on the problem, and when you wake up, you find the answer. Surely, that means that the hidden layers of the mind do not sleep when you go to sleep, but are working all the time. Though the conscious mind may be asleep, the unconscious in its different layers is grappling with that problem, and naturally it projects itself on to the conscious. Now the question is, is that a superior entity? Obviously not. What do you mean by `superior entity'? You mean, do you not?, a spiritual entity, an entity that is beyond time. You are full of thoughts, and an entity that you can think about is surely not a spiritual entity - it is part of thought, therefore it is a child of thought, still within the field of thought. Call it what you will, it is still a product of thought, therefore it is a product of time, and therefore it is not a spiritual entity.
The next point is, `Is it not necessary to pour out all that is hidden in the labyrinths of the subconscious in order to de-condition oneself? How can one go about it?' As I said, consciousness has different layers. First, there is the superficial layer, and below that there is memory, because without memory there is no action. Underneath that there is the desire to be, to become, the desire to fulfil. If you go still deeper, you will find a state of complete negation, of uncertainty, of void. This whole totality is consciousness. Now, as long as there is the desire to be, to become, to achieve, to gain, there must be the strengthening of the many layers of consciousness as the `me' and the `mine', and the emptying of those many layers can come about only when one understands the process of becoming. That is, as long as there is the desire to be, to become, to achieve, memory is strengthened, and from that memory there is action, which only further conditions the mind. I hope you are interested in all this. If not, it does not matter; but I will go on, because some of you may be aware of this problem. Sir, life is not just one layer of consciousness, it is not just one leaf, one branch; life is the whole total process. We must understand the total process before we can understand the beauty of life, its greatness, its pains, its sorrows and its joys. Now,to empty the subconscious, which is to understand the whole state of being, of consciousness, we must see what it is made up of, we must be aware of the various forms of conditioning which are the memories of race, family, group, and so on, the various experiences which are not complete. Now, one can analyze these memories, take each response, each memory, and unravel it, go into it fully and dissolve it; but for that one would need infinite time, patience and care. Surely there must be a different approach to the problem. Anyone who has thought about it at all is familiar with the process of taking up a response, analyzing it, following and dissolving it, and doing that with every response; and if one does not analyze a response fully, or misses something in that analysis, then one goes back and spends long days in this unfruitful process. There must be a different approach to de-conditioning the whole being of memories, so that the mind may be new every moment. How is it to be done? Do you understand the problem? It is this: We are accustomed to meeting life with the old memories, old traditions, old habits; we meet today with yesterday.Now, can one meet today, the present, without the thought of yesterday? Surely, that is a new question, is it not? We know the old method of going step by step, analyzing each response, dissolving it through practice, through discipline, and so on. We see that such a method involves time; and when you use time as a means of desconditioning, obviously it only strengthens the condition. If I use time as a means of freeing myself, in that very process I am becoming conditioned. So, what am I to do? Since it is a new question, I must approach it anew. That is, can one be free immediately, instantaneously? Can there be regeneration without the element of time, which is but memory? I say that regeneration, transformation is now, not tomorrow, and that transformation can come only when there is complete freedom from yesterday. How is one to be free from yesterday? Now, when I put that question. what is happening to your mind - all those who are really following? What is happening to your mind when you see that your mind must be new, that your yesterday must go? When you see the truth of that, what is the state of your mind? Do you understand the question, Sir? That is, if you want to understand a modern painting, you must obviously not approach it with your classical training. If you recognize that as a fact, what happens to your classical training? Your classical training is absent when there is the intention to understand a modern painting - the challenge is new, and you recognize that you cannot understand it through the screen of yesterday. When you see the truth of that, then yesterday is gone, there is complete purgation of yesterday. You must see the truth that yesterday cannot translate the present. It is only truth that de-conditions completely, and to see the truth of what is requires an enormous attention. Since there is no complete attention as long as there is distraction, what do we mean by distraction? You are distracted when there are several interests from among which you choose one interest and fix your mind on it, for then any interest that takes your mind away from the central interest you call distraction. Now, can you choose an interest and concentrate on that one interest? Why do you choose one interest and discard others? You choose one interest because it is more profitable, therefore your choice is based on profit, the desire to gain; and the moment you have a desire to gain, you must resist as a distraction everything that takes your thoughts away from the central interest. Apart from your biological appetites, have you a central interest? I really question that you have a central interest. Therefore, you are not distracted - you are merely living in a state without interest. A man who would understand the truth must give to it his undivided attention, and that undivided attention comes only when there is no choice, and therefore no idea of distraction. There is no such thing as distraction, because life is a movement, and one has to understand this whole movement, not divide it into interests and distractions. Therefore, one has to look at everything to see the truth or falseness of it. When you see the truth of this, it liberates consciousness from yesterday. You can test it out for yourself. To see the truth about nationalism and not be caught up in the arguments pro and con, you will have to go into it and be open to all the intimations of that problem. In being aware of the problem of nationalism without condemnation or justification, in seeing the truth that it is false, you will find there comes a complete freedom from the whole issue. So, it is only the perception of truth that liberates; and to see, to receive truth, there must be the focussing of attention, which means that you must give your heart and mind to see and to understand.
Question: In spite of your emphatic denial of the need of a guru, are you not yourself a guru? What is the difference?
Krishnamurti: Sir, what do you mean by a guru? Why do you need a guru? Whether you make me one or not, I am not making myself a guru to you. That is why a follower is a curse. The follower is the destroyer, the follower is the exploiter. (Laughter.) Do not laugh it away, think about it very earnestly and see the consequence of it. Let us examine this question. Now, what do you mean by a guru? You generally mean, do you not?, one who will lead you to reality. Your guru is not the man of whom you can ask the direction to the station. You would not call the professor a guru, the man who teaches you the piano. Obviously, you mean by the guru one who will lead you to truth, give you a mode of conduct, one who will provide the key or open the door, give you nourishment, sustenance and encouragement - that is, one who will gratify you profoundly. You already know the superficial gratifications, and you want a deeper gratification, a deeper satisfaction, so you turn to someone who will assist you; you seek a guru because you yourself are confused, and you want direction, you want to be told how to act and what to do. So, all these things are involved in this; but by a guru we mean primarily one who will help us to unravel life's problems - not the technical problems, but the more subtle, the hidden, psychological problems.
Now, has truth an abiding place? Has truth a fixed point? Has truth an abode, or is truth a dynamic, living thing, and therefore without a resting place? Truth is in constant movement; but if you say it is a fixed point, then you will have to find a guru who will lead you to it, and the guru becomes necessary as a pointer. That means that both you and the guru must know that truth is there, in a fixed place, like the station. Then you can ask the way, then you can approach the fixed point; and in order to achieve that, you need a guru who will direct and lead you to that fixed thing. But is truth a fixed thing? And if it is fixed, is it true? Also, if you want truth and you go to a guru, you must know what truth is, must you not? When you go to a guru you do not say, `I want to discover reality', on the contrary, you say, `Help me to realize truth'. Therefore, you already have an idea of what it is, you already know its content, its beauty, its loveliness, its fragrance. Do you know what it is? How can a confused man know clarity? He can only know confusion, or think of clarity as the opposite of what is. Is truth the opposite of what is, the opposite of confusion? If you think about truth, surely it is the product of thought, and therefore it is not true; and if the guru can tell you what it is, then he is still within the field of thought, therefore what he tells you is not true. So, when you go to the guru, obviously you are going for gratification, are you not? - even though you may not like that word. You have tried several things, you have tried position, women, money, and they do not satisfy you, they do not give an assured pleasure, a guaranteed permanency; so you say, `I will find God'. That is, you think reality will give you the ultimate peace, the ultimate satisfaction, the ultimate security. You would like truth to be all this; but it may be the most dangerous, devastating thing, it may destroy all your previous values. You are really seeking security, gratification, but you do not call it that - you cover it up by calling it God. Having tried many obvious forms of gratification and grown old, disillusioned, cynical, frustrated, you hope to find fulfilment or satisfaction in God. So, you go to the guru who will give you this satisfaction, and the more he assures you of that satisfaction, the more you worship him. In other words, when you go to the guru, you are not seeking the truth, you are seeking security at a different level, permanency at a different point. But is truth permanency? You do not know, do you? But you dare not say that, because to acknowledge, not merely verbally but actually, that one does not know, is a very devastating experience. But surely, you must be devastated before you can find truth; you must be in that state of uncertainty, complete frustration, without escape; you must be confronted with the void, the emptiness, without an avenue through which you can run away. Then only you will find what is truth. But to speculate, to think about truth, is to deny truth. Your speculations, your thoughts about truth, have no validity: What you think is the product of thought, and thought is memory; and memory is mere identification of oneself with a desired result. So, for the man who is seeking truth, a guru is entirely unnecessary. Truth is not in the distance; truth is near, in what you are thinking and feeling, in your relationship with your family, with your neighbour, with your property and with ideas. To discover truth in some abstract realm is mere ideation, and most of us seek truth this way as a means of escape from life. Life is too much for us, too taxing, too painful, so we want truth away from life Therefore we seek a guru who will help us to escape; and the more he helps us to escape, the more we are attached to that guru.
The questioner asks me, `Are you not yourself a guru?' You can make me one, but I am not a guru. I do not want to be one for the simple reason that there is no path to truth. You cannot discover the path, because there is no path, Truth is a thing that is living, and to a living thing there is no path - it is only, to dead things that there can be a path. Truth being pathless, to discover it you must be adventurous, ready for danger; and do you think a guru will help you to be adventurous, to live in danger? To seek a guru obviously indicates that you are not adventurous, that you are merely seeking a path to reality as a means of security. So, you can make me into a guru if you wish, but it will be your misery, because there is no guru to truth, there is no leader to reality. That reality is an eternal being in the present, not in the future; it is in the immediate now, not in the ultimate tomorrow. To understand that now, that eternity, the mind must be free from time, thought must cease; yet everything that you are doing now is cultivating that thought, thereby conditioning the mind so that there is never a freshness, a newness, there is never a moment that is still, quiet, fla long as the thought process exists, truth cannot be - which does not mean that you must be in a state of complete forgetfulness. You cannot enforce stillness, you cannot make the mind still, you cannot force thought to stop. You must understand the process of thought and go beyond all thought; only then will truth liberate thought from its own process.
So, truth is not for those who are respectable, nor for those who desire self-extension, self-fulfilment. Truth is not for those who are seeking security, permanency; for the permanency they seek is merely the opposite of impermanence. Being caught in the net of time, they seek that which is permanent; but the permanent they seek is not the real, because what they seek is the product of their thought. Therefore, a man who would discover reality must cease to seek - which does not mean that he must be contented with what is. On the contrary, a man who is intent upon the discovery of truth must be inwardly a complete revolutionary. He cannot belong to any class, to any nation, to any group or ideology, to any organized religion; for truth is not in the temple or the church, truth is not to be found in the things made by the hand or by the mind. Truth comes into being only when the things of the mind and of the hand are put aside, and that putting aside of the things of the mind and of the hand is not a matter of time. Truth comes to him who is free of time, who is not using time as a means of self-extension. Time means memory of yesterday, memory of your family, of your race, of your particular character, of the accumulation of your experience which makes up the `me' and the `mine'. As long as the ego exists, the `me' and the `mine', at whatever level it may be, high or low, the Atman or not Atman, it is still within the field of thought. Where thought is, there is the opposite, because thought creates the opposite; and as long as the opposite exists, there cannot be truth. To understand what is, there must be no condemning, no justifying, no blaming; and since our whole structure of being is built upon denial and acceptance, one must become aware of that whole background, Just be aware as I am speaking; for choiceless awareness reveals the truth, and it is the truth that liberates, not your gurus or your systems, not all the pujas and rituals and practices. Through time, through discipline, through denial and acceptance, you cannot find truth, Truth comes into being when the mind is utterly and completely still, and that stillness is not made up, put together; that stillness arises only when there is understanding; and this understanding is not difficult, only it demands your whole attention. Attention is denied when you are merely living in the brain, and not with your whole being.
Question: Is our belief in the theory of reincarnation a help to get over the fear of death?
Krishnamurti: It is seven-thirty - I hope you are not tired. Shall I go on with the question? If you are merely spectators and not the players, if you are merely listening and not experiencing, you are losing an awful lot. It is like going to the well with a glass, a small iota; and if you do not come here with your whole heart, you will go away empty handed. But a man who goes to the well wishing to drink deeply of its waters will find in all I have been saying that truth which refreshes, which helps to renew.
What do you mean by fear and what do you mean by death? I am not quibbling. Why are you afraid of death? Obviously you are afraid of death because you have not fulfilled yourself. You love somebody, and you may lose that person; you are writing a book, and you may die without having finished it; you are building your house, and you may die without completing the job; you want to do something, and death may strike you. What are you afraid of? Obviously you are afraid of going off suddenly, of not fulfilling yourself, of being put an end to. Is it not ending that you are afraid of? We are not discussing death for the moment - we will discuss it presently. We are discussing what we mean by fear. Surely, fear exists in relationship to something. There is fear in relation to your fulfilment. So, the question is, is there fulfilment? You may say that this is a roundabout way of answering the question, a long-winded explanation. But it is not, Sir; life is not a thing to which you can give answers like `yes' and `no'. Life is far more complex more beautiful, far more subtle than that. The man who wants a quick answer had better take a drug, either the drug of belief or the drug of amusement, and then he will have no problems. To understand life one must explore, must discover; and that exploration, that discovery is denied if the mind is tethered to any belief. Then it is impossible to understand this whole problem.
What do we mean by fear? There is fear in relation to something; and that something is self-fulfilment however little or big. Is there such a thing as self-fulfilment? What do we mean by `self'? Let us follow it carefully, and you will see what the self is. Obviously the self, the `me', is a bundle of memories - a bundle of memories which includes the thin I call eternal, permanent. That n physical part of the `me', though I may call it the Atman, is still memo, still within the field of thought. You cannot deny that, can you? If you can think about something, it is still within the field of thought. What thought produces is still the product of itself, therefore it is of time. Surely, the whole of that is the `me', the self, the ego - whether higher or lower, all the divisions are still with+ in the field of thought. Therefore, memory, at whatever level you may like to fix your thought, is still memory. So, the self is a bundle of memories, and nothing more. There is no spiritual entity as the self apart from the `me', because, when you say there is a spiritual entity apart from the `me', it is still the product of thought, therefore it is still within the field of thought, and thought is memory. So, the `you the, me', the self - higher or lower, at whatever point it may be fixed is memory.
Now, as long as there is memory, which is the desire to be, to become, there is always an object of fulfilment; so there is continuation of memory, the `me' and the `mine'. That is, as long as there is self-fulfilment, there is continuation of the `me' and the `mine', therefore there will always be fear. Fear ceases only when there is no continuance of the `me' - the `me' being memory', That is, Sir, to put it differently, as long as I am seeking fulfilment, that very search entails the fear of uncertainty. Therefore I am afraid of death. When I have no desire to fulfil myself, there is no fear. The desire for self-fulfilment ceases when I understand the process of fulfilment. I cannot merely assert that I have desire to fulfil myself - that is mere repetition of a truth, which is a lie. As long as there is the activity of the self, there must be fear of death, fear of non-fulfilment, fear of coming to an end, fear of not continuing. What do we mean by death? Surely, a thing that is used constantly comes to an end; any machine that is constantly used wears out. Similarly, a body, being in constant use, comes to an end through disease, through accident, through age. That is inevitable - it may last a hundred years or ten, but being used, it must wear out. We recognize and accept that, because we see it happening continually. But there is the `me' which is not the body, the `me' which is my accumulated understanding, the things I have done in this `life, the things for which I have labored, the experiences I have gathered, the riches I have stored up - it is not the physical' me', but the psychological `me', which is memory, and which I want to have continued; I do not want it to come to an end. It is really not death, but this coming to an end that we are afraid of. We want continuity. That is, you want your memories to continue with all their riches, their disturbances, their ugliness, their beauty, and so on - the whole of that you want to have continued. So, anyone who assures you of its continuance, you bless, you look up to, and you run away from anyone who says you must understand it. In death it is the psychological ending one is afraid of, is it not? You really do not know what death is. You see bodies being carried away, you see a lifeless thing that was once full of life and activity, and you do not know what is beyond. You see the empty, naked, decaying thing, and you want to know what happens beyond - which means, you want a guarantee of the continuity of your memories. So, you are really not interested in knowing what is beyond, you are not interested in discovering the unknown: what you want is to be assured of the continuity of your memories. You are not interested in death, you are concerned only with the continuity of yourself as memory. It is only when you are interested that you will know what death is; but you are not interested in discovering the significance, the beauty of what lies beyond, you are not interested in the unknown, because you are concerned with the known and the continuity of the known. Surely, the unknown is seen only when there is no fear of it - which means that as long as you cling to the known and desire the known to continue, you can never know the unknown. It is a very significant thing, is it not?, that you have given your life to the known? and not to the unknown. You have written books about death, not about life, because you are concerned with continuity.
Now, have you ever noticed that that which continues has no rebirth, no renewal? A thing that is constantly repeated, that is caught in an endless chain of cause and effect, surely has no regeneration. It merely continues; it is somewhat modified, changed, altered, but it remains essentially the same. That which is continually the same can never be new. That is, Sirs, I want yesterday to continue through today to tomorrow; and that process of yesterday through today to tomorrow, is the `me'. That `me' I want to have continued, and such continuance obviously has no renewal, for that which continues knows the fear of ending. Therefore, he who desires to continue will ever be caught in fear. It is only in the unknown that there is renewal; it is in the unknown that there is creativeness, not in continuity. So, you must enquire into the unknown, but to do that you cannot cling to the continuity of the known; for the `me' and the constant repetition of the `me' falls within the field of time, with its struggles, with its achievements, with its memories. The self, which is a bundle of memories identified as `me', wants to continue; and that which is permanent continuity in time is obviously a deteriorating factor. Only in the unknown is there a renewal, a newness; so you must enquire into the unknown. That is, you must enquire into death as you enquire into life with its relationships, its variety, its depths, its sorrows, its joys. The known is memory and its continuance; and can the known establish a relationship with the unknown? Obviously not. To enquire into the unknown, the mind must become the unknown, You are very familiar with the `me' and the `mine', with your companions, your memory, your religious bodies, your vanities and passions - all these things make up your life. You are superficially well aware of these things, and with that mentality of the known you approach the unknown, you try to establish a relationship between the known and the unknown. So, you have no direct relationship with the unknown, and therefore you are afraid of death.
What do you know of life? Very little. You do not know your relationship to property, to your neighbour, to your wife, to ideas. You know only the superficial things, and you want to continue the superficial things. For God's sake, what a miserable life! Is not continuity a stupid thing? It is a stupid person that wants to continue - no man who understood the rich feelings of life would want continuity. When you understand life, you will find the unknown; for life is the unknown, and death and life are one. There is no division between life and death; it is the foolish and the ignorant who make the division, those who are concerned with their body and with their petty continuity. Such people use the theory of reincarnation as a means of covering up their fear, as a guarantee of their stupid little continuity. It is obvious that thought continues; but surely, a man who is seeking truth is not concerned with thought, for thought does not lead to truth. The theory of the `me' continuing through reincarnation towards truth is a false idea, it is untrue. The `me' is a bundle of memories, which is time, and the mere continuation of time does not lead you to the eternal which is beyond time. The fear of death ceases only when the unknown enters your heart. Life is the unknown, as death is the unknown, as truth is the unknown. Life is the unknown, Sir; but we cling to one small expression of that life, and that which we cling to is merely memory, which is an incomplete thought therefore, that which we cling to is unreal, it has no validity. The mind clings to that empty thing called memory, and memory is the mind, the self, at whatever level you like to c it. So, mind, which is in the field of the known, can never invite the unknown. It is only when there is the unknown, a state of complete uncertainty, that there comes the cessation of fear and with it the perception of reality.
October 3, 1948
Poona, India, 1948
Poona India 6th Public Talk 3rd October, 1948
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