Freedom From the Known
Freedom From the Known Chapter 9
I AM TEMPTED TO repeat a story about a great disciple going to God and demanding to be taught truth. This poor God says, `My friend, it is such a hot day, please get me a glass of water.' So the disciple goes out and knocks on the door of the first house he comes to and a beautiful young lady opens the door. The disciple falls in love with her and they marry and have several children. Then one day it begins to rain, and keeps on raining, raining, raining - the torrents are swollen, the streets are full, the houses are being washed away. The disciple holds on to his wife and carries his children on his shoulders and as he is being swept away he calls out, 'Lord, please save me', and the Lord says, `Where is that glass of water I asked for?'
It is rather a good story because most of us think in terms of time. Man lives by time. Inventing the future has been a favourite game of escape.
We think that changes in ourselves can come about in time, that order in ourselves can be built up little by little, added to day by day. But time doesn't bring order or peace, so we must stop thinking in terms of gradualness. This means that there is no tomorrow for us to be peaceful in. We have to be orderly on the instant.
When there is real danger time disappears, doesn't it? There is immediate action. But we do not see the danger of many of our problems and therefore we invent time as a means of overcoming them. Time is a deceiver as it doesn't do a thing to help us bring about a change in ourselves. Time is a movement which man has divided into past, present and future, and as long as he divides it he will always be in conflict.
Is learning a matter of time? We have not learnt after all these thousands of years that there is a better way to live than by hating and killing each other. The problem of time is a very important one to understand if we are to resolve this life which we have helped to make as monstrous and meaningless as it is.
The first thing to understand is that we can look at time only with that freshness and innocency of mind which we have already been into. We are confused about our many problems and lost in that confusion. Now if one is lost in a wood, what is the first thing one does? One stops, doesn't one? One stops and looks round. But the more we are confused and lost in life the more we chase around, searching, asking, demanding, begging. So the first thing, if I may suggest it, is that you completely stop inwardly. And when you do stop inwardly, psychologically, your mind becomes very peaceful, very clear. Then you can really look at this question of time.
Problems exist only in time, that is when we meet an issue incompletely. This incomplete coming together with the issue creates the problem. When we meet a challenge partially, fragmentarily, or try to escape from it - that is, when we meet it without complete attention - we bring about a problem. And the problem continues so long as we continue to give it incomplete attention, so long as we hope to solve it one of these days.
Do you know what time is? Not by the watch, not chronological time, but psychological time? It is the interval between idea and action. An idea is for self-protection obviously; it is the idea of being secure. Action is always immediate; it is not of the past or of the future; to act must always be in the present, but action is so dangerous, so uncertain, that we conform to an idea which we hope will give us a certain safety.
Do look at this in yourself. You have an idea of what is right or wrong, or an ideological concept about yourself and society, and according to that idea you are going to act. Therefore the action is in conformity with that idea, approximating to the idea, and hence there is always conflict. There is the idea, the interval and action. And in that interval is the whole field of time. That interval is essentially thought. When you think you will be happy tomorrow, then you have an image of yourself achieving a certain result in time. Thought, through observation, through desire, and the continuity of that desire sustained by further thought, says, `Tomorrow I shall be happy. Tomorrow I shall have success. Tomorrow the world will be a beautiful place.' So thought creates that interval which is time.
Now we are asking, can we put a stop to time? Can we live so completely that there is no tomorrow for thought to think about? Because time is sorrow. That is, yesterday or a thousand yesterday's ago, you loved, or you had a companion who has gone, and that memory remains and you are thinking about that pleasure and that pain - you are looking back, wishing, hoping, regretting, so thought, going over it again and again, breeds this thing we call sorrow and gives continuity to time.
So long as there is this interval of time which has been bred by thought, there must be sorrow, there must be continuity of fear. So one asks oneself can this interval come to an end? If you say, `Will it ever end?', then it is already an idea, something you want to achieve, and therefore you have an interval and you are caught again.
Now take the question of death which is an immense problem to most people. You know death, there it is walking every day by your side. Is it possible to meet it so completely that you do not make a problem of it at all? In order to meet it in such a way all belief, all hope, all fear about it must come to an end, otherwise you are meeting this extraordinary thing with a conclusion, an image, with a premeditated anxiety, and therefore you are meeting it with time.
Time is the interval between the observer and the observed. That is, the observer, you, is afraid to meet this thing called death. You don't know what it means; you have all kinds of hopes and theories about it; you believe in reincarnation or resurrection, or in something called the soul, the atman, a spiritual entity which is timeless and which you call by different names. Now have you found out for yourself whether there is a soul? Or is it an idea that has been handed down to you? Is there something permanent, continuous, which is beyond thought? If thought can think about it, it is within the field of thought and therefore it cannot be permanent because there is nothing permanent within the field of thought. To discover that nothing is permanent is of tremendous importance for only then is the mind free, then you can look, and in that there is great joy.
You cannot be frightened of the unknown because you do not know what the unknown is and so there is nothing to be frightened of. Death is a word, and it is the word, the image, that creates fear. So can you look at death without the image of death? As long as the image exists from which springs thought, thought must always create fear. Then you either rationalize your fear of death and build a resistance against the inevitable or you invent innumerable beliefs to protect you from the fear of death. Hence there is a gap between you and the thing of which you are afraid. In this time-space interval there must be conflict which is fear, anxiety and self-pity. Thought, which breeds the fear of death, says, `Let's postpone it, let's avoid it, keep it as far away as possible, let's not think about it' - but you are thinking about it. When you say, `I won't think about it', you have already thought out how to avoid it. You are frightened of death because you have postponed it.
We have separated living from dying, and the interval between the living and the dying is fear. That interval, that time, is created by fear. Living is our daily torture, daily insult, sorrow and confusion, with occasional opening of a window over enchanted seas. That is what we call living, and we are afraid to die, which is to end this misery. We would rather cling to the known than face the unknown - the known being our house, our furniture, our family, our character, our work, our knowledge, our fame, our loneliness, our gods - that little thing that moves around incessantly within itself with its own limited pattern of embittered existence.
We think that living is always in the present and that dying is something that awaits us at a distant time. But we have never questioned whether this battle of everyday life is living at all. We want to know the truth about reincarnation, we want proof of the survival of the soul, we listen to the assertion of clairvoyants and to the conclusions of psychical research, but we never ask, never, how to live - to live with delight, with enchantment, with beauty every day. We have accepted life as it is with all its agony and despair and have got used to it, and think of death as some- thing to be carefully avoided. But death is extraordinarily like life when we know how to live. You cannot live without dying. You cannot live if you do not die psychologically every minute. This is not an intellectual paradox. To live completely, wholly, every day as if it were a new loveliness, there must be dying to everything of yesterday, otherwise you live mechanically, and a mechanical mind can never know what love is or what freedom is.
Most of us are frightened of dying because we don't know what it means to live. We don't know how to live, therefore we don't know how to die. As long as we are frightened of life we shall be frightened of death. The man who is not frightened of life is not frightened of being completely insecure for he understands that inwardly, psychologically, there is no security. When there is no security there is an endless movement and then life and death are the same. The man who lives without conflict, who lives with beauty and love, is not frightened of death because to love is to die.
If you die to everything you know, including your family, your memory, everything you have felt, then death is a purification, a rejuvenating process; then death brings innocence and it is only the innocent who are passionate, not the people who believe or who want to find out what happens after death.
To find out actually what takes place when you die you must die. This isn't a joke. You must die - not physically but psychologically, inwardly, die to the things you have cherished and to the things you are bitter about. If you have died to one of your pleasures, the smallest or the greatest, naturally, without any enforcement or argument, then you will know what it means to die. To die is to have a mind that is completely empty of itself, empty of its daily longing, pleasure; and agonies. Death is a renewal, a mutation, in which thought does not function at all because thought is old. When there is death there is something totally new. Freedom from the known is death, and then you are living.
Freedom From the Known
Freedom From the Known Chapter 9
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