Bombay 5th Public Talk 23rd February 1964
I would like, if I may, to talk over this evening, something rather complex, but yet very simple. We need a great simplicity - not the loincloth simplicity, but of the mind that thinks clearly, simply without any philosophy, without any system. Such a mind is a rare mind; and such a mind is necessary to understand something very complex, something that demands an approach that is not cluttered up, suffocated, by ideas, by words, by symbols, by all the various accumulations that man has gathered together through so many centuries. To go into the problem of sorrow, of time, and that strange phenomenon called `death', one must have, it seems to me, an extraordinarily simple but a very penetrating mind.
When you are faced with something of a tremendous nature, words, dialectical and philosophical theories, opinions have very little value. We are not dealing with theories, with a system of philosophy; but we are dealing directly, in immediate contact with sorrow. And to understand that ever-existing grief one must put away any escape from that fact, any idea or any system of thought; one must come to it, if one can, with a sharpened mind and with an insight that one can have when one is confronted with something that one has to solve. Man has lived for so long, for so many centuries, with sorrow. We have become accustomed to it, we accept it, we philosophize over it, we try to find out explanations, the cause of it, and so on and so on. But we have not resolved it, we have not come to the end of it. Man, who has lived for such a long period of time, has not, except perhaps one or two, really stepped out completely, totally free from this thing called sorrow.
And I would like, if I may, this evening, to explore together, if it is at all possible, to end sorrow. Not that there is an ending and therefore you believe in an ending of sorrow, but actually to take the journey of exploration together, if you are willing with the speaker to go into it - not intellectually or verbally; it has no meaning at all. To say, "I understand intellectually", or "Verbally, I comprehend what you are trying to say" - such statements have no value at all to a man who is really taking the journey into this question of sorrow. It is not that there is an ending or that it must continue; but we see that, unless we solve it, unless we are entirely, deeply, everlastingly free from it, every movement, every thought, every action is within it's shadow, within its darkness; and so, there is never a moment of freedom, of complete well-being, sane and rational, a cup that is full, overflowing, without a breath of sorrow.
To enquire into this thing, we must also keep in mind the question of time, because they are tied together, they are not separate. It is not that I will understand sorrow and then I will be free of time, or in understanding time I shall overcome sorrow, or completely comprehend this extraordinary mystery called `death' - they are interrelated. If you do not end sorrow, you will not end or put a stop to time; and without putting a stop to time, you will not understand the extraordinary quality of death. So they are intimately related, one to the other.
All these talks here are related to one another. You cannot take one part of them and say that you will live with that part. Either you take the whole of it, the totality of all that is being said, or you reject it totally. You cannot take one fragment and live with it, try to comprehend it. You must take the whole. Similarly, if you would go into the whole question of sorrow, you have to take time, sorrow, and this thing called `death'. Man has tried to solve, to overcome through every form of worship, theory, to free the mind from this dread of death, from this extraordinary fear of the unknown. So if you would comprehend the beauty of death, you must also go into the question of time and sorrow, because death is something that is intimately connected with life - not at the end of life; it is not something you put away in the distance and look at it with a dread, with an apprehension, with an agony. Living is dying and dying is living; and one has to understand it - not theoretically; not quote the speaker as though one has understood him. We must together go into it. And I hope we shall have time, this evening, to go into this question of time, sorrow and death.
We all know sorrow. There is the sorrow of a mind that has never fulfilled; that is poor, empty, dull; that has become mechanical, weary; that sees a cloud and does not know the beauty of that cloud; that has never been able to be sensitive, to feel, to comprehend and live. There is the sorrow of not achieving, not becoming, not being. There is the sorrow of disappointment in life. There is the sorrow of incapacity in the awareness of a very small, incapable mind, inefficient, limited, shallow. The sorrow of a mind that knows that it is stupid, dull, heavy; and, do what it will, it is never sharp, clear, tremendously alive - that also breeds sorrow.
There is every kind of sorrow that man can possibly invent or has been through. It is there, persistently, continuously, willingly, or hidden deep down in the recesses of one's own heart which has never been explored, which has never been opened and looked at. There is the unconscious sorrow of man who has lived centuries upon centuries, has never solved this thing, the agony, the despair, the ambition. It is there. And we have never really come into contact with it; we have avoided it; we have run away through various forms, through hopes, through all kinds of intellectual, verbal theories and ideas. We have never directly come into a crisis with it and faced it, as we have never come into a crisis with time. One has to bring time into a crisis, and one has never confronted the whole problem of time.
So one has never gone into this extraordinary thing, this aching business called sorrow; and one cannot go into it if one avoids it. That is the first thing to realize: not to avoid it. We avoid it, either through explanation, through words, through conclusions, through formulas, or through drink, through amusement, through gods, through worship. The mind which wishes really to comprehend and put an end to sorrow, has to stop completely every form of escape. And that is one of our most difficult things, because we have a net of escapes, a complicated net of escapes. The word, `sorrow' is an escape from the actual fact.
Please do listen with your heart and mind - not just verbally; because that will lead you nowhere; you will leave this gathering empty-handed with ashes. If you don't listen with that quality of attention, that is your affair, because we are talking about something that is yours, not mine. This is your problem, you have to deal with it, you have to live with it, you have to go beyond it. So you have to listen with intensity, with passion, with alertness. Don't say, "How am I to be alert, how am I to be passionate?". There is no `how', there is no system; it is like going to a doctor, when you have to be operated on. Then you are directly in contact with the fact that you have to be operated on.. So you have to give your whole being to that decision whether you shall or you shall not be operated on. in the same way, really to confront this `time', to comprehend this thing called `sorrow', every form of escape, the gods, the drinks, the amusements, the radio, everything must come to an end.
Because sorrow is thought and thought is time, you have to understand `time'. There is the time by the watch, as yesterday, today and tomorrow. The sun sets and the sun rises - the physical phenomenon. The bus leaves at a certain time, and the train starts at a certain time - that is the time by the watch, chronological time. Now, is there any other time? Please put to yourself this question: Is there any other time, except chronological time? Time there is, as duration, apart from chronological time, the time by the watch. There is duration, continued existence: I was, I am and I will be. The memories, the experiences, the various anxieties, fears, hopes - all that is there in the field of time as the past. And that past which is psychological, which is memory, that burden of yesterday with all its experiences - I carry it today; memory carries it today, and that memory is identified through thought as the 'the me'. If there were no memory, if there were no identification with that memory from which arises thought, there would be no centre as `the me' that carries this burden from day to day.
So there is time by the watch. And there is psychological time - is that time valid? Is that true time? Is not time that interval between actions? When here is action which is spontaneous, real, actually there is no time. You have forgotten the past, the present and the future, while living in that state of action. But when action is derived from the past, you have introduced time into action. This requires your attention, because we are dealing with an extraordinarily complex problem of action within the field of time and action outside the field of time - not theories; not what the Gita, the Upanishads have said.
When the speaker is talking about action, do not compare, do not say that is what the books have said; then you are not living with the question; you are living with what you have already heard or what somebody else has told you. What somebody has told you may not be true at all, it is not. You have to find it out; and there lies the extraordinary strength, the vitality, the beauty and the originality. You have to be original - not quote what Sankara, Buddha, or anybody else has said.
You have to be original to find this out - not through the speaker. The speaker can only point out and use words. But you, through the act of listening, have to tear the words away and explore; you have to see if it is false or real. And you cannot see if it is false or real, if you have brought along opinions, ideas, suspicions, fears - then you are not moving. What the speaker is doing is to bring time into a crisis. Because we use time as a means of escape. Or we have used time as the only present, the now, and so we make the best of life now, with all the despairs, agonies, anxieties, fears, hopes, joys. We say, "We only live a few years; and let us live with all that making the best of it". That is what we do, and that is what all the philosophers have done. And the people who have invented theories, are deadly frightened of death too. So we are concerned with time. And we say time is the interval between actions. A mind that is in action can be without time. Please follow this. A mind that is in action with an idea, with a motive, with a purpose, with a formula, is caught in time; and therefore that action, being incomplete, gives continuity to time. You know, for us time is not only psychological duration, but also continued existence: that is, I will be that tomorrow or next year. The `will be' is not only conditioned by the environment, by society, but also by the reaction to that conditioning, to that society - that reaction saying to itself that it will be that, that it will reach it ultimately. When one says, "If I am not happy today, if I am not inwardly, deeply, widely, in exhaustively rich, I will be", there is the deception of time. The man who thinks that he will be and is striving after the what will be - for him, the greatest sorrow is time.
Is it possible for the mind to be always in instant action, spontaneously, freely, so that it has never a moment of time? Because time is peripheral thinking. All thinking is on the periphery, on the border - all thinking. Because thought is the response of accumulated memory, experience, knowledge; from that, there is thought which is reaction to the past. Thought can never be original. You may use words, which are of the past, to express the original; but the original is not of time. So, to find the original, the mind must be entirely free of time - psychological time; duration; the idea that `I will be', `I will achieve', `I will become'.
The clerk, the poor man who goes every day, by tube, by bus, to the office, for forty years in a crowded bus, smelly, dirty - his one hope is that one day he will become the Manager. His wife goads him, society pushes him, drives him, to be somebody in this world, with a bigger house, more comfort, more joy. One must have physical joy, comfort. It is absolutely, scientifically possible for all human beings to have it now. But it is not happening because we are so stupid: we have divided ourselves into nationalities, into sovereign governments; we have provincialism, linguistic separateness, so on and so on. This is what is preventing us.
As the clerk wants to become the bank Manager, and the bank Manager wants to be a Director, as the priest wants to become the Archbishop, as the sannyasi wants to become, to reach ultimately something or other, so we approach our life with the same attitude. We have approached everyday living in terms of achievement; so, psychologically, we come to it, saying, "I must be good", "I must do this", "I must become". It is the same mentality, the same ambition; so we introduce time. We never question time. We never say, "Is it so"? Shall I in ten years be happy, intelligent, aware, tremendously, inwardly rich, so that there is only one thing? We have never questioned; we have accepted it as we have accepted everything blindly, stupidly, without any thought, without reason.
So I say time is poison, time is danger, of which you are to be tremendously aware - as living with a tiger. You have to be aware every minute that time is a deadly, poisonous thing, unreal. You are living today; and you cannot live today completely, richly, widely, with an extraordinary sense of beauty and loveliness, if you bring with it all of yesterday. So you have to go into this question of memory.
Memory, knowledge, experience, and all the scientific, technological accumulation as information - all this has vital importance when you are doing something material. In things with which you have to live, there memory must function most efficiently, like an electronic brain. I do not know if you know anything about the electronic brain that man has built. It can do most extraordinary things - it can paint, write poems, translate, even conduct an orchestra. But that electronic brain works on the information that man has fed into it, through association and all the rest of it. And to put a question to that electronic brain, you must use precise words; otherwise, it won't answer you. So there is a whole school now going into, investigating into, the question of action in language - but that is irrelevant for the moment.
So, most of us bring the past into the present, and the present becomes mechanical. You observe your own life and you will see how extraordinarily mechanical it is! You function like a machine, like a rather poor imitation of an electronic brain. Because you have accepted, you have got used to time. Now there is a life out of time when you understand the past, the past being memory and nothing else.
The memory as knowledge, accumulation of experiences, the things that man has gathered for millions of years - that is the past, conscious or unconscious; all the traditions are there. And you come to the present with that, the now , and therefore you are not living at all. You are living with memories, with the dead ashes of yesterday. Do watch yourself. Then, out of the dead ashes of memory, you invent the tomorrow: I will be non-violent one day; I am violent today and I will keep on polishing my lovely violence till, one day, I will be free and be non-violent - which is so infantile, juvenile! You have accepted it, you do not spit on that idea. And there are people who talk such nonsense. You treat them as great people, because you are caught in time, as they are caught in time. They are not liberating you, they are not making you face the fact of time - which is to bring the whole past into the present, as a crisis.
You know what happens when you are in a crisis - an actual crisis, not an invented crisis, not a crisis with words, ideas and theories? When you are actually confronted with a crisis that demands your complete attention - complete attention being attention with your mind, your eyes, your ears, your heart, your nerves, the whole of your being - do you know what happens? Then, there is no past; then, there is nobody to tell you what to do; then, out of that tremendous attention comes spontaneity; then, in that state, there is no time. But the moment you begin to think about the crisis, the moment you begin to `think', all the past comes into action. Thought is the reaction of the past - association, and all the rest of it. And then you have the beginning of time and sorrow.
Therefore when a mind is not really in a state of action but in a state of inaction, from that comes further inaction, which is of time. There are two kinds of inaction. The inaction that time breeds, and the inaction which is the total state of the mind when it is confronted with a tremendous crisis. Out of facing a tremendous crisis, the mind itself is completely inactive - which is, free from all thought - and out of that inaction, there is action; and that is the only action that counts, not the other.
So, one has to understand the nature of time and the meaning of time. By the word `understand' I mean really one has lived with it, gone into it - not accepted any theory, any verbal explanation; and not escaped through the past, but has actually gone into this phenomenon of psychological time. When you go into it, you bring time into a crisis; then that crisis makes you completely attentive, and therefore the mind is in a state of action. The mind is always acting because, then, it is free from that state of the past and the future, which is time. And in that state, when the mind is not concerned with the past or the future, the present has a different meaning. It is not a theory, it is not a state of despair. So the ending of sorrow is the ending of thought, and the ending of thought is the beginning of wisdom. The ending of sorrow is wisdom.
You have really to understand death. By `understand' I mean to live with it - not at the end of your life when you are crippled, diseased, old, when your brain cells cannot function rationally, clearly, sharply, but while you are young, fresh, alive, active. To live with death, you have to understand life, not the life of somebody else but your life - the daily life, your office, your tortures, your miseries, your hopes, the despairs, the wide field of living. If you don't know life, you don't know what death is. Do please listen to what is being said. These are not cryptic sayings which you have to think over tomorrow. You are living now, at this moment, not tomorrow. Therefore you have to listen, not put into memory and think over.
The speaker said just now that, if you do not know what life is, you will never know what death is. And if you do not know what death is, you do not know what living is. So living is intimately connected with death. That which we call living, the everyday existence, is a torture, is a boredom, is a state of anxiety, despair, covered over with bright thought, innumerable masks of civilization. Your life is a petty life of quarrels, of jealousy, of envy. If you don't understand that, if you do not put an end to quarrels, to greed, to sorrow, to all the petty tyrannies of society - all societies are petty - , if you do not understand life, then you are merely a tortured human being, and inevitably death is there waiting at a distance, perhaps ten years or forty years or one hundred years.
So there is the fear of the unknown - fear of the unknown as death, and fear of the unknown as life. Do you know what we mean by life? The waking and sleeping, and that interval between that waking and sleeping, which is darkness, misery, conflict, and endless effort - that is what we call living. We have never said, "Is that living?". We have accepted it, as we have accepted the squalor, the poverty around us, the starvation around us. You have accepted this as life, and this thing you want to continue; and that is why you are frightened of death - the known is better than the unknown. And the known is so petty, so utterly meaningless - the toil, endless till you die. Then you invent a significance to life, a purpose of life and then discuss that.
So we never die to the life of misery, surgically operated - that is, to be aware of it, to face it without any choice, without any condemnation, just to observe it completely, look at it without any verbal, intellectual formulation or any form of escape. When you are so confronted with the life that you live every day, when you are faced with it without any escape, you are in a state of crisis; that state is a state of tremendous passion - I am using that word `passion' not as lust.
Do you know how to die to a little thing effortlessly: to smoking, to any habit, to ideas, to fears? To die effortlessly to fear is to face fear and follow the whole thread of fear - not half-way. For fear is, like sorrow, an unending state for man - fear of loneliness, fear of public opinion, fear of the future, fear of the past, fear of not being, fear of not becoming. When you face fear, you have to go to the very end of it; and you can go to the very end of it, only when there is no choice, when there is no verbal interference. And then you will find that there is an extraordinary sense of isolation, a thing like loneliness; you have to go through that.
So you have to die, die to everyday incidents and experiences and memory, whether they are pleasurable or painful. Because when death comes, you are not going to argue with it, you don't say, "I am going to keep that which is pleasurable, please take away that which is painful". it is going to take away everything. A man who says, "What happens after death? Do you believe in reincarnation? Is there a continuity of the I?" - such a man will never know the nature of death. And if he does not know the meaning and nature of dying while living, he will never know what it is to live.
We do not know what love is. We know pleasure; we know the lust, the pleasure that is derived from that and the fleeting happiness which is shrouded off with thought, with sorrow. We do not know what `to love' means. Love is not a memory. Love is not a word, love is not the continuity of a thing that has given you pleasure. You may have relationship, you may say, "I love my wife; but you don't love. If you love your wife, there is no jealousy, there is no dominance, there is no attachment.
We do not know what love is, because we do not know what beauty is: the beauty of a sunset, the cry of a child, the swift movement of the bird across the sky, all the exquisite colours of a sunset. You are totally unaware, insensitive to all that; therefore, you are also insensitive to life.
So to find out what death is, one has to die every day, to everything that one has gathered, remembered, and passed over. If you have ever died to a pleasure you will know what it is to die actually - not theoretically, verbally, but actually to come to an end of pleasure, voluntarily, easily, without any sense of effort, reward, punishment, motive. If you know how to die to a little thing called pleasure, then you will also know how to die totally to the whole question of the past, to time and to sorrow. When you die every day to everything unhesitatingly, freely, with a full smile and delight in your heart, then you will know what death is.
Death is not something in the distance to be avoided, to be frightened of. it is there, whether you like it or not. It is there like beauty, like love. But we have put it at a distance, and the distance is time. And so we make time into poison. Therefore we neither live completely, totally, with a fulness, with complete intensity and passion, nor do we know what it is to live or to die.
To die is to end continuity: the continuity of a thought, of a pleasure, of an idea, of a problem. In that ending there is the beginning of innocence and therefore the beginning of the new. That which has continuity can never be the new, and therefore that which has continuity can never be love. Please, do understand this.
You need a different world, a different culture, a different society. Therefore you have to die to everything that you have known, so that your mind is made fresh, innocent and young. And in that innocency, in that freshness and youth, there is love. And when there is that love, there is that intensity of life, living. Living then is action: action which is all the time, not a moment of recess, of interval; it is there all the time completely. And to understand that, you have to die, so that the mind is always in a state of the unknown, free from the known. And then you will see that fear, sorrow and the things that have shadowed man thousands upon thousands of years come to an end, and your mind is made fresh by death.
February 23, 1964
Bombay 5th Public Talk 23rd February 1964
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