Saanen 8th Public Talk 28th July 1964
Perhaps this morning we could put all our problems aside - our economic problems, our problems of personal relationship, of ill health, and also the many larger problems that surround us, national and international, the problems of war, of starvation, of riots, and so on. Not that we are escaping from them; but if we can put them all aside, for this morning at least, perhaps we shall then be able to approach them differently - with a fresher mind, with keener perception - and thereby tackle them anew, with greater vigour and clarity.
It seems to me that only love can produce the right revolution, and that every other form of revolution - that is, revolution based on economic theories, on social ideologies, and so on - can only bring about further disorder, more confusion and misery. We cannot hope to resolve the basic human problem by reforming and putting together again its many parts. It is only when there is great love that we can have a total outlook and therefore a total action, instead of this partial, fragmentary activity which we now call revolution, and which leads nowhere.
This morning I would like to talk about something that includes the totality of life - something that is not fragmentary, but a total approach to the whole existence of man; and to go into it rather deeply, it seems to me that one must cease to be caught in theories, beliefs, dogmas. Most of us plough incessantly the soil of the mind, but we never seem to sow; we analyze, discuss, tear things to pieces, but we do not understand the whole movement of life.
Now, I think there are three things that we have to understand very deeply if we are to comprehend the whole movement of life. They are: time, sorrow, and death. To understand time, to comprehend the full significance of sorrow, and to abide with death - all this demands the clarity of love. Love is not a theory, nor is it an ideal. Either you love, or you do not love. It cannot be taught. You cannot take lessons in how to love, nor is there a method by the daily practice of which you can come to know what love is. But I think one comes to love naturally, easily, spontaneously, when one really understands the meaning of time, the extraordinary depth of sorrow, and the purity that comes with death. So perhaps we can consider - factually, not theoretically or abstractly - the nature of time, the quality or structure of sorrow, and the extraordinary thing that we call death. These three things are not separate. If we understand time, we shall understand what death is, and we shall understand also what is sorrow. But if we regard time as something apart from sorrow and death, and try to deal with it separately, then our approach will be fragmentary, and therefore we shall never comprehend the extraordinary beauty and vitality of love.
So this morning we are going to deal with time, not as an abstraction, but as an actuality - time being duration, the continuity of existence. There is chronological time, hours and days extending into millions of years; and it is chronological time that has produced the mind with which we function. The mind is a result of time as the continuity of existence, and the perfecting or polishing of the mind through that continuity is called progress. Time is also the psychological duration which thought has created as a means of achievement. We use time to progress, to achieve, to become, to bring about a certain result. For most of us, time is a stepping stone to something far greater - to the development of certain faculties, to the perfecting of a particular technique, to the achievement of an end, a goal, whether praiseworthy or not; so we have come to think that time is necessary to realize what is true, what is God, what is beyond all the travail of man.
Most of us regard time as the period of duration between the present moment and some moment in the future when we shall have achieved, and we use that time to cultivate character, to get rid of a certain habit, to develop a muscle or an outlook. For two thousand years the Christian mind has been conditioned to believe in a Saviour, in hell, in heaven; and in the East a similar conditioning of the mind has been produced over a far longer period. We think that time is necessary for everything that we have to do or understand, therefore time becomes a burden, it becomes a barrier to actual perception; it prevents us from seeing the truth of something immediately, because we think that we must take time over it. We say, "Tomorrow, or in a couple of years, I shall comprehend this thing with extraordinary clarity". The moment we admit time we are cultivating indolence, that peculiar laziness which prevents us from seeing immediately the thing as it actually is.
We think we need time to break through the conditioning which society - with its organized religions, its codes of morality, its dogmas, its arrogance and its competitive spirit - has imposed upon the mind. We think in terms of time because thought is of time. Thought is the response of memory - memory being the background which has been accumulated, inherited, acquired by the race, by the community, by the group, by the family, and by the individual. This background is the outcome of the additive process of the mind, and its accumulation has taken time. For most of us the mind is memory, and whenever there is a challenge, a demand, it is memory that responds. It is like the response of the electronic brain, which functions through association. Thought being the response of memory, it is in its very nature the product of time and the creator of time.
Please, what I am saying is not a theory, it is not something that you have to think about. You don't have to think about it, but rather see it, because it is so. I am not going into all the intricate details, but I have indicated the essential facts, and either you see them, or you don't see them. If you are following what is being said, not just verbally, linguistically, or analytically, but if you actually see it is so, you will realize how time deceives; and then the question is whether time can stop. If we are able to see the whole process of our own activity - see its depth, its shallowness, its beauty, its ugliness - not tomorrow, but immediately, then that very perception is the action which destroys time.
Without understanding time, we cannot understand sorrow. They are not two different things, as we try to make out. Going to the office, being with one's family, procreating children - these are not separate, isolated incidents. On the contrary, they are all profoundly and intimately related to each other; and we cannot see this extraordinary intimacy of relationship if there is not the sensitivity that love brings.
To understand sorrow we have really to understand the nature of time and the structure of thought. Time must come to a stop, otherwise we are merely repeating the information we have accumulated, like an electronic brain. Unless there is an end to time - which means an end to thought - there is mere repetition, adjustment, a continual modification. There is never anything new. We arc glorified electronic brains - a bit more independent, perhaps, but still machine-like in the way we function.
So, to understand the nature of sorrow, and the ending of sorrow, one must understand time; and to understand time is to understand thought. The two are not separate. In understanding time, one comes upon thought; and the understanding of thought is the ending of time, and therefore the ending of sorrow. If that is very clear, then we can look at sorrow, and not worship it, as the Christians do. What we don't understand we either worship or destroy. We put it in a church, in a temple, or in a dark corner of the mind, and hold it in awe; or we kick it, throw it away; or we escape from it. But here we are not doing any of those things. We see that for millennia man has struggled with this problem of sorrow, and that he has not been able to resolve it; so he has become hardened to it, he has accepted it, saying it is an inevitable part of life.
Now, merely to accept sorrow is not only stupid, but it makes for a dull mind. It makes the mind insensitive, brutal, superficial, and therefore life becomes very shoddy, a process of mere work and pleasure. One lives a fragmented existence as a business man, a scientist, an artist, a sentimentalist, a so-called religious person, and so on. But to understand and be free of sorrow, you have to understand time, and thereby understand thought. You cannot deny sorrow, or run away, escape from it through entertainment, through churches, through organized beliefs; nor can you accept and worship it; and not to do any of these things demands a great deal of attention, which is energy.
Sorrow is rooted in self-pity, and to understand sorrow there must first be a ruthless operation on all self-pity. I do not know if you have observed how sorry for yourself you become, for example, when you say, "I am lonely". The moment there is self-pity you have provided the soil in which sorrow takes root. However much you may justify your self-pity, rationalize it, polish it, cover it up with ideas, it is still there, festering deep within you. So a man who would understand sorrow must begin by being free of this brutal, self-centred, egotistic triviality which is self-pity. You may feel self-pity because you have a disease, or because you have lost someone by death, or because you have not fulfilled yourself and are therefore frustrated, dull; but whatever its cause, self-pity is the root of sorrow. And when once you are free of self-pity, you can look at sorrow without either worshipping it, or escaping from it, or giving it a sublime, spiritual significance, such as saying that you must suffer to find God - which is utter nonsense. It is only the dull, stupid mind that puts up with sorrow. So there must be no acceptance of sorrow whatsoever, and no denial of it. When you are free of self-pity, you have deprived sorrow of all the sentimentality, all the emotionalism that springs from self-pit then you are able to look at sorrow with complete attention.
I hope you are actually doing this with me this morning as we go along, and are not just verbally accepting what is being said. Be aware of your own dull acceptance of sorrow, of your rationalizing, your excuses, your self-pity, your sentimentality, your emotional attitude towards sorrow, because all that is a dissipation of energy. To understand sorrow you must give your whole attention to it, and in that attention there is no place for excuses, for sentiment, for rationalization, no place for any self-pity whatsoever.
I hope I am making myself clear when I talk about giving one's whole attention to sorrow. In that attention there is no effort to resolve or to understand sorrow. One is just looking, observing. Any effort to understand, to rationalize, or to escape from sorrow, denies that negative state of complete attention in which this thing called sorrow can be understood.
We are not analyzing, we are not analytically investigating sorrow in order to get rid of it, because that is just another trick of the mind. The mind analyzes sorrow, and then imagines it has understood and is free of sorrow - which is nonsense. You may get rid of one particular kind of sorrow; but sorrow will come up again in another form. We are talking about sorrow as a total thing - about sorrow as such - whether it is yours, or mine, or that of any other human being.
As I have said, to understand sorrow there must be the understanding of time and thought. There must be a choiceless awareness of all the escapes, of all the self-pity, of all the verbalizations, so that the mind becomes completely quiet in front of something which has to be understood. There is then no division between the observer and the thing observed. It is not that you - the observer, the thinker - are in sorrow and are looking at that sorrow, but there is only the state of sorrow. That state of undivided sorrow is necessary, because when you look at sorrow as an observer you create conflict, which dulls the mind and dissipates energy, and therefore there is no attention.
When the mind understands the nature of time and thought, when it has rooted out self-pity, sentiment, emotionalism, and all the rest of it, then thought - which has created all this complexity - comes to an end, and there is no time; therefore you are directly and intimately in contact with that thing which you call sorrow. Sorrow is sustained only when there is an escape from sorrow, a desire to run away from it, to resolve it, or to worship it. But when there is nothing of all that because the mind is directly in contact with sorrow, and is therefore completely silent with regard to it, then you will discover for yourself that the mind is not in sorrow at all. The moment one's mind is completely in contact with the fact of sorrow, that fact itself resolves all the sorrow producing qualities of time and thought. Therefore there is the ending of sorrow.
Now, how are we to understand this thing which we call death, and of which we are so frightened? Man has created many devious ways of dealing with death - by worshipping it, denying it, clinging to innumerable beliefs, and so on. But to understand death, surely you must come to it afresh; because you really do not know anything about death, do you? You may have seen people die, and you have observed in yourself or in others the coming on of old age with its deterioration. You know there is the ending of physical life by old age, by accident, by disease, by murder or suicide, but you do not know death as you know sex, hunger, cruelty, brutality. You do not actually know what it is to die, and until you do, death has no meaning whatsoever. What you are afraid of is an abstraction, something which you do not know. Not knowing the fullness of death, or what its implications are, the mind is frightened of it - frightened of the thought, not of the fact, which it does not know.
Please go into this with me a little bit.
If you died instantly, there would be no time to think about death and be frightened of it. But there is a gap between now and the moment when death will come, and during that interval you have plenty of time to worry, to rationalize. You want to carry over to the next life - if there is a next life - all the anxieties, the desires, the knowledge that you have accumulated, so you invent theories, or you believe in some form of immortality. To you, death is something separate from life. Death is over there, while you are here, occupied with living - driving a car, having sex, feeling hunger, worrying, going to the office, accumulating knowledge, and so on. You don't want to die because you haven't finished writing your book, or you don't yet know how to play the violin very beautifully. So you separate death from life, and you say, "I will understand life now, and presently I will understand death". But the two are not separate - and that is the first thing to understand. Life and death are one, they are intimately related, and you cannot isolate one of them and try to understand it apart from the other. But most of us do that. We separate life into unrelated watertight compartments. If you are an economist, then economics is all that you are concerned with, and you don't know anything about the rest. If you are a doctor whose speciality is the nose and throat, or the heart, you live in that limited field of knowledge for forty years, and that is your heaven when you die.
As I said, to deal with life fragmentarily is to live in constant confusion, contradiction, misery. You have to see the totality of life; and you can see the totality of it only when there is affection, when there is love. Love is the only revolution that will produce order. It is no good acquiring more and more knowledge about mathematics, about medicine, about history, about economics, and then putting all the fragments together - that will not solve a thing. Without love, revolution only leads to the worship of the State, or the worship of an image, or to innumerable tyrannical corruptions and the destruction of man. Similarly, when the mind, because it is frightened, puts death at a distance and separates it from daily living, that separation only breeds more fear, more anxiety, and the multiplication of theories about death. To understand death you have to understand life. But life is not the continuity of thought - and it is this very continuity which has bred all our misery.
So, can the mind bring death from the distance to the immediate? Do you follow? Actually, death is not somewhere far away: it is here and now. It is here when you are talking, when you are enjoying yourself, when you are listening, when you are going to the office. It is here at every minute of life, just as love is. If once you perceive this fact, then you will find that there is no fear of death at all. One is afraid, not of the unknown, but of losing the known. You are afraid of losing your family, of being left alone, without companions; you are afraid of the pain of loneliness, of being without the experiences, the possessions that you have gathered. It is the known that we are afraid to let go of. The known is memory, and to that memory the mind clings. But memory is only a mechanical thing - which the computers are demonstrating very beautifully.
To understand the beauty and the extraordinary nature of death, there must be freedom from the known. In dying to the known there is the beginning of the understanding of death, because then the mind is made fresh, new, and there is no fear; therefore one can enter into that state which is called death. So, from the beginning to the end, life and death are one. The wise man understands time, thought, and sorrow, and only he can understand death. The mind that is dying each minute, never accumulating, never gathering experience, is innocent, and is therefore in a constant state of love.
I wonder if you care to ask questions about this, so that we can go into it in greater detail?
Questioner: Sir, what is the difference between your thought about love and the Christian thought about love?
Krishnamurti: I am afraid I cannot tell you. I am not thinking about love. You cannot think about love; if you do, it is not love. You know, there is a vast difference between sex, and the thought about sex which stimulates the feeling. The mind that is occupied with the mere enjoyment of sex, that thinks about sex, exciting itself by images, by pictures, by thoughts - the quality of such a mind is destructive. But the other thing, the feeling when there is no thought about it, is entirely different. Similarly, you cannot think about love. You can think about love according to the pattern of your memory, or in terms of what you have been told: that it is good, profane, sacred, and so on. But that thinking is not love. Love is neither Christian nor Hindu, neither oriental nor occidental neither yours nor mine. It is only when you get rid of all these ideas of your nationality, of your race, of your religion, and all the rest of it - it is only then that you will know what it is to love.
You see, I have talked this morning about death so that you might really understand this whole thing - not just while you are here in this tent, but throughout the rest of your life - and thereby be free of sorrow, free of fear, and actually know what it means to die. If now, and in the days to come, your mind is not completely aware, innocent, deeply attentive, then listening to words is utterly futile. But if you are aware, deeply attentive, conscious of your own thoughts and feelings; if you are not interpreting what the speaker is saying, but are actually observing yourself as he describes and goes into the problem, then when you leave this tent you will live - live not only with exultation, but with death and with love.
July 28, 1964
Saanen 8th Public Talk 28th July 1964
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