New Delhi 1959
New Delhi 7th Public Talk 1st March 1959
This evening I think it would bc worth while to talk over the very complex and intricate problem of time and life, and to see in what way they are related to each other. To do this one needs a very precise and penetrating mind, a mind that is not caught up in conclusions, in speculative theories, and is therefore capable of listening, which is really experiencing. But most of us have theories about time, about love, about death, we are full of speculative ideas and are satisfied to remain on the verbal or speculative level. We are like a man who is always ploughing and never sowing. And it seems to me that if one would experience, one must have the capacity to listen with one's whole being, as one does when one is really interested in something. Then, perhaps, listening is experiencing.
Now, to experience something directly, one must have a mind that is tentative, hesitant, that does not start from a conclusion or take a stand. Surely, to unravel a problem like death, or time, or love, it is essential to approach it with a sense of humility, with great hesitation, with a certain tenderness - if one can use that word without sentimentality. It is only then, I think, that we shall be able to experience the truth or the falseness of what is going to be said. One must perceive the false as well as the true, otherwise there is merely acceptance or denial. If one is capable of perceiving what is true and what is false, then experience has an extraordinary significance. It is an immediate response to challenge; there is no question of saying "I will think about it, I will go home and meditate upon it", which actually prevents the immediate response. Without perception there is no immediate response; and perception is really quite simple. One perceives, and that is all. There is no argumentation, no speculation, no system of thought. Either one sees, or one does not see; one comprehends, or one does not comprehend. He who does not comprehend will never come to comprehension by thinking about it, by seeking explanations. To seek explanations is to remain at the verbal, explanatory level. A man who actually experiences something does not seek an explanation. His own perception awakens the explanation.
And so, when we are discussing, talking over together any serious problem, it seems to me that one must have the intelligence, the tenderness to perceive what is false and what is true. Such perception is very difficult for most of us, because our minds are stuffed with so many ideas, cluttered up with so many conclusions, traditions, beliefs, and they are whirlpools of self-contradiction. But I think it is possible to discover for oneself what is false and what is true if one is aware of one's own conditioning and says: "I know I'm conditioned, and I'm not going to let the influences of that background interfere with my perception". Perception comes when there is humility, a sense of hesitancy, of tenderness, not when there is dogmatic assertion or denial, or mere acceptance.
We are going to talk over together, as two individuals who are really concerned, the problem of death, of time, and that extraordinary thing called love. To really comprehend these things, we must feel our way into them as into an unknown realm, a region where the mind has never trodden, and this requires a delicate touch, a sensitive approach. That sensitivity is denied when you have an attitude of assertion or denial, which is obviously immature, the reaction of a thoughtless mind. So whether you are young or old, whether you are a technician with a good job, or a coolie, or a mother with many children, I would suggest that you approach these questions, which concern us all, without seeking an answer; for, as I said, there is no answer, and if you expect an answer at the end of the talk, you will be disappointed. But what you and I can do, as two individuals, is to explore the problem. It is much more important to explore than to discover. What matters is to keep on looking, examining, perceiving, without saying "I have found". The man who has found, has really not found; the man who says he knows, never knows. So it is with an attitude of learning, of feeling it out together, that you and I as two human beings are going to look into the problem.
I do not know if you have ever thought about death, or time, or that state which we call love. But before we begin to inquire into what is death, we must first know what life is - not life at any particular level, not the life of a scientist, or a parliamentarian, or a housewife, or a businessman. These are all included in examining what life is in our own daily existence. Without knowing what our living actually is, we can never find out what is the significance of life. So let us very carefully, advisedly, look into what we call living.
What is our living? What is the life we live from moment to moment, from day to day, from year to year? It is a constant strife, is it not? We ceaselessly struggle to adjust ourselves to society, to our neighbour, to our wife or husband, to the government, to the culture in which we live. There is an endless battle between ourselves and the environment, a constant turmoil of embitterment, routine, drudgery and boredom. We are forced to do things which we cordially dislike, so there is a contradiction, a series of conflicts and associations which strengthen memory. From this memory we act, we function. Most of us are not real human beings, but mere functionaries, and we have no time to think about these things; so we say "I will think about serious things when I retire".
The politician who goes in for government is not concerned with man, he is concerned with policies, systems, status. The writer is concerned with verbal expression, with competing, struggling to get ahead and make a name for himself - and therein lies the seed of his frustration. The man who hasn't arrived wants to arrive, the man who has little longs for more - these and many other conflicts make up the life we know from day to day. There is a passing joy, a love that soon withers, a sensation that becomes routine, a sense of utter boredom; our life is narrow, petty, shallow, and memory as experience overshadows it all. These are obvious facts of our daily existence, and at the end of it there is the inevitable: death. Death is the ending of everything that we have known, everything that we have experienced; and we are frightened of that ending. Fear is related to time therefore projects the known into the future from the background of the past. Death is the unknown; and facing the unknown, the mind seeks the continuity I of all that it has known.
So our life is a series of events with their causes and effects in the field of time. That is, I lived yesterday, with all its pleasures, passing joys, conflicts, sorrows, struggles, and with that burden of yesterday I live today, which obviously colours the mind of today; and this in turn shapes and distorts the mind of tomorrow. We know only this continuity, do we not? I know I lived yesterday; I know that today I am responding inadequately to certain challenges, and therefore suffer; and I know that tomorrow - if nothing happens, if there is no accident, if the sky does not fall on me - I shall carry on in the same pattern: going to the office, continuing with my struggles, my likes and dislikes, having the little pleasures of sex, going to the temple, and so on. Our life is a constant movement in the field of time, which is called continuity. That is all we know.
Have you been observing your own life, your own mind, and not merely listening to my description? If while listening you are watching your own mind, you will see that what is being said is true. You cannot refute, deny, or accept it. It is simply a fact. A little pain, a little pleasure, the vanity of achievement, abiding sorrows, deep frustrations, ambitions that can never be fulfilled, envy, jealousy, the fear of emptiness, loneliness, the fear of destruction - this is our life, the only life we know. We live and function within the field of the known.
Memory is the known. If you had no memory of yesterday and no memory of today, then obviously there would be no memory tomorrow. But the mind is not capable of freeing itself from memory,because it is itself the result of memory, and its functioning is within the field of time. So memory, - the memory of every experience, of every thought, of every reaction - is a state of continuity, and that is what you are. If you say you are the Atman, the permanent soul, or the higher self, it is still within the field of the known, because you are merely repeating what you have been taught. You have read about the Atman and you like the idea it satisfies you, it gives you a certain comfort, because life is transient and you hope there will be something permanent.
That is why the mind creates the concept of a permanent God, a permanent spiritual essence, a permanent state of peace. But all this is still within the field of the known. It is the reaction of the known to the unknown: death. The mind that has continuity is in perpetual fear of death, because death is an ending, the ending of the physical. So the mind says: "I have worked, I have suffered, I have experienced, and there must be a future for all that I have gathered, there must be some form of continuity". If my son dies, I say "He must live still, and I must meet him again". I want to meet him exactly as I knew him, never perceiving that life is a movement, a constant change. My only concern is to perpetuate that which I have known. All knowledge is based on the known. There is no knowledge of the unknown, however much you may speculatively translate the unknown in terms of the known.
The mind is a mechanism which by its very nature produces through memory the sense of its own continuity. This continuous mind knows there is an ending, so it believes in reincarnation, or clings to some other belief that offers hope of self-perpetuation. This is what we do, this is a fact in our everyday experience, is it not?
Now, why are we so frightened of the coming to an end of all the things we have known? What is it that we have known? What do you know except your struggles, your miseries, your little pleasures and vanities, the appalling pettiness of your own thinking - `my wife', `my house', `my children', `my possessions' - , the turmoil and travail of your daily existence? That is all most of us know, and we are frightened to let it go. So time plays an enormous role in our life - not only chronological time as yesterday, today and tomorrow, but also time in the psychological sense of fulfilling oneself, arriving, becoming something. Tomorrow has great significance for us, because tomorrow is the ideal: tomorrow I shall be non-violent, tomorrow I shall have a sense of love, humility, tomorrow I shall achieve greatness, tomorrow I shall reach God, tomorrow I shall find out what is true and know how to live. We are always becoming something within the field of time. The verb `to become' has assumed extraordinary importance. If this verb is wiped away from the mind, there is then only a sense of being, which is timeless. But you cannot experience that state unless you feel out, perceive for yourself the significance of becoming. A man who is becoming is not living, and therefore, he is in constant fear of death. The man who is living is free of becoming, and for him there is no death.
So time is the measure of the mind, and such a mind can function only within its own measure; it cannot function beyond its own measure, which is the measure of man. Within the field of time there is always fear - fear of death, fear of ending, fear of the future, the unknown. I do not know what is going to happen tomorrow; I may fail, I may lose my job, my son may die. I am well today, but tomorrow I may be ill. The very thought of tomorrow is the awakening of fear. I have known illness, I have suffered, and with that memory I live today in fear of tomorrow. So the beginning of fear is the knowledge of time, which is after all the state of a mind that has continuity.
Cause and effect are a continuous process within the field of time. A cause is never static, nor is the effect. What was an effect becomes the cause of still another effect. Follow all this, sirs, see it in your own life. The cause becomes an effect, and the effect becomes a cause. There is no fixed cause with a fixed effect, except perhaps in the case of seeds. An acorn can never become a mango, it will always become an oak. Cause and effect are fixed. But the mind is not fixed, it is not static, and that is the beauty of the mind. In the interval between cause and effect there are various influences at work, subtle pressures and trends which change the effect; and that effect undergoes further changes, it is again shaped and modified in the process of becoming the cause of still another effect. With the mind there is no fixed causation which produces a fixed result.
So one discovers that the mind can change abruptly the moment it perceives the falseness of continuity, in which there is always the fear of death. When the mind is earnestly seeking to understand the whole problem of death, time and love, and is therefore fully aware of the innumerable causes and effects which are pushing it in various directions, it can change suddenly; to morrow it can be totally new, completely transformed. This is true revolution - not the economic or social revolution, but the revolution of the mind that perceives death and time as a continuous process in which there is no resurrec- tion, no renewal. What is continuous cannot be renewed. It is only the mind that has come to an end abruptly, not speculatively, not through discipline or any form of self-hypnosis, but through seeing precisely what is - it is only such a mind that can go beyond the clutches of death.
Sirs, have you ever tried to die to your pleasures and to your sorrows? As a withered leaf falls off a tree and is blown away by the wind, have you ever let your pleasures, your sorrows, your anxieties just drop away and die? Have you ever tried it? Most of us have not, because we want to carry that burden to the end of our life, and beyond. We hate somebody, and we want to keep on hating him; we say he has done us an injustice, or we offer some other explanation, and carry on as before. Or having had a marvellous experience of great delight, great loveliness, we want to live in the memory of it. We also want to live in the state of ambition, which is really the state of envy. After all, ambition is envy. A man who is not envious is not ambitious.
But our society is based on envy, on jealousy, it has sanctified the words `ambition' and `competition'. And is it possible to die to all that? Try dying to your vanity, and you will find it a most extraordinary experience. Don't ask what will happen. Just try it. When death comes, it wipes your mind away. There is no hope; it is a finality, an absolute ending. In the same way, one can die to vanity without explanations, without a motive, without a cause. Try it and you will discover the extraordinary state of a mind that has left everything behind, that has unburdened itself of all the things it has known. If you can die in this way to the continuity of time as memory, then you will be able to meet that extraordinary thing called death, not at the end of your life, not through old age, not through some disease or accident, but while you are living, vitally alert, fully conscious of your whole being. When you have died to your vanity, to your ambition, to your petty demands, then you will discover what death is. And you will find that death is not a thing about which you can hold beliefs or speculate; it is totally the unknown.
But for most of us the unknown is a fearful thing, because we cling to the known. The known is the factor which holds us. I know you and you know me. If I am your wife, you know me, you have lived with me, you have had pleasure from me; you think in terms of `my house', `my wife', `my job', all of which is the Mown, within the field of time. And can you die to all that? If you cannot die to it, what happens to your mind? What happens to the mind which knows continuity? Do you understand the question? If I cannot die psychologically to my house, to my properties, to my wife, to my children, if I cannot free my mind completely from everything I have known, what happens? Obviously one cannot forget the facts of everyday life, the way to one's house, the techniques one has learnt, and so on. But cannot the mind die to the psychological implications of vanity, of power, of position, of prestige, to all the things that it has inwardly held most dear, and which are also part of memory?
Sirs, if you cannot die to all the past and breathe the fragrance of the new, then obviously your mind has become respectable, which is what most of us are. We are respectable in a society which is based on envy, with its false moralities, its imitated virtues, its empty talk of non-violence and peace. A respectable mind is an imitative mind; and what happens to such a mind? Is it a mind at all, or merely a repetitive recording machine? Do think about it, sirs, give your attention to what is being said. Such a mind obviously continues as a recording machine which is essentially not different from the millions of Indians, Chinese, Russians, Americans, or what you will, that make up the society to which it belongs. is this petty, small, limited mind that continues; and you hope to preserve that continuity, you hope to live again, so you believe in reincarnation, in life after death, or in some other form of survival. But it is only the man who perceives the recording machine in operation and dies to that whole process of continuity - it is only such a man that lives anew.
Let us look at it the other way. Are you so very different from your neighbour? You have a different form, a different name, a different job or function, but inwardly are you so very different from the so-called mass? I am afraid you are not. And the ministers, the great of the land, what are they? Strip away their position, their cars, their caps and all the rest they put on, and they are just like you or another: recording machines continuing in the world of time, seeking power, position, struggling, enjoying, suffering. The man who is envious may be driven to the top by his envy, by his desire for position and power, so that in history he lives on; but he is still within the field of time. It is only the mind that is dead to time, dead to the known - it is only such a mind that can find out what love is.
Now, sirs, love is not sentiment, love is not devotion, love is neither carnal nor sacred, neither profane nor pure. It is a state of being, and you cannot divide it. You cannot say "I love one and I do not love the other". Have you ever taken a leaf in your hand and looked at it, a leaf that has just fallen on the dirty road where thousands of people have walked and polluted the ground with their spittle? If you feel that leaf, you will know how to love.
Sirs, don't take notes, experience what is being said, feel your way into all this. Because love is an extraordinary thing, is it not? We have divided it into the love of God and the love of man. To me that is an irreligious thing to do. There is only love.
But a mind that is sentimental, a mind that is jealous, envious, ambitious, a mind that is nationalistic, provincial - such a mind will never know what love is. There is no right and wrong when there is love, for when you have that feeling, then love can do what it will. But that is an extraordinary state of being, because most of us only know continuity in time, the fear of death, and the love which is smothered by jealousy. That is all we know, and we never let go of the known. Holding with one hand to the known, with the other we grope after the unknown. We are not purely materialistic, but neither are we really inquiring into the unknown; so we are miserable human beings, with sorrows that do not pass away and joys that are soon withered by time.
Dying is from moment to moment, and on a mind that is dying no influence leaves its mark. Such a mind offers no soil for experience to take root, and therefore it is always young. But this state of being is possible only when the mind is dying every day to everything it has known, to every experience, to every memory, to every pleasure, to every sorrow. You can never ask how to die, any more than you can ask how to avoid death. The leaf just drops off the tree. When there is dying there is loving. Without dying, love becomes hate, jealousy, and no belief, no temple, no sacred book is going to save you from the fear of death. What liberates the mind from the fear of death is dying from day to day and only then is there the timeless state of love.
March 1, 1959
New Delhi 1959
New Delhi 7th Public Talk 1st March 1959
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