New York 1966
New York 4th Public Talk 3rd October 1966
I would like to talk over something which seems to me to be extraordinarily important. I think a community or a society that has not understood the problem of time, death and love will obviously be very superficial; and a society or a community that is superficial must inevitably deteriorate. I mean by that word "superficial" merely to be contented with outward phenomena, with outward success, with prosperity, having a good time and demanding entertainment. Human beings who are part of that society must inevitably deteriorate, whether they go to a church or to football games. These are just the same. People go to them because they need to be entertained, stimulated. Unless we human beings resolve these fundamental questions, inevitably the mind will deteriorate. The problem is: is it possible to stop this continuous wave of deterioration, not only of the mind and the heart, but also the deterioration which takes place when there is not earnestness, an urgency, a passion. When we talk over this question of time, death and love, I think it is most important to bear in mind that the word, the explanation is not the fact. Most of us are so easily satisfied with explanations; we think we have understood. Most of us who have read a great deal or who have experimented with many things are clever enough to explain anything away. We can give an explanation for almost anything, and the explanation seems to satisfy us, but when we discuss something very seriously, mere satisfaction of verbal explanation seems to me utterly futile, immature. Also, if I may go over it again a little briefly, it is very important how we listen, because most of us do not really listen at all. We listen either with pleasure, with distaste, or with a formula of ideas, a philosophy which we have cultivated, or have learned. Through these screens we listen, interpreting, translating, putting aside what we don't like, keeping what we like, and the act of listening never takes place.
I do not know if you have ever observed, when you are listening to someone whom you have known for many years, with whom you are fairly intimate, that you hardly listen; you already know what he is going to say. Your mind is already made up; you already have certain conclusions, certain images, which prevent actual listening. To listen is an extraordinarily important act. I feel that if you could listen, not only to what is being said by the speaker, but also to everything about your lives, every day - listen to all various noises, listen to the incessant chatter of your friend, your wife or your husband, or to the rumblings of your own mind, the soliloquy that goes on, neither condemning nor justifying, but actually listening - then that listening would bring about in itself an action which is totally different from the action of a very calculated, drilled thought.
Perhaps, this evening, you can so listen, which doesn't mean that you must agree or disagree. On the contrary, to listen the mind must be extraordinarily sensitive, eager, critical, aware of its own functioning, which means that it is in a state of attention, and therefore of passion. Only such a mind can actually listen and go beyond verbal images and conclusions, hopes and fears. Then only is there communication between two people, which is actually - if I may use that word which is so heavily laden and spoiled - love. I hope we can establish that relationship between the speaker and yourselves, so that we can discuss informally this question of time and death.
I do not know if you have ever gone. into the question of death. Most of us are afraid of this thing called death, which is the unknown. We avoid it, put it away; or we have come to certain conclusions, rationalize death, and are satisfied to live the allotted time. To understand something which we don't know, there must obviously be the end of fear. We must understand fear, not the explanation of fear, not all the psychological structure of fear, but the nature of fear.
Our first concern, it seems to me, when we are dealing with deep subjects. and deep realities, should be to approach them with a fresh mind, with a mind that is neither hoping nor in despair, a mind that is capable of observing, facing facts without any tremor, any sense of fear or anxiety. Unless fear is totally resolved, neither suppressing it nor escaping from it, we cannot possibly understand the nature of death. The mind must be completely and entirely free of fear, because a mind that is afraid, that is in despair, or has the fantasy of hope, which is always looking to the future - such a mind is a clouded mind, is a confused mind, is incapable of thinking clearly, except along the line of its trained, drilled, technological knowledge; it will function mechanically there. But a mind that is afraid lives in darkness; a mind that's confused, in despair, in anxiety cannot resolve anything apart from the mechanical process of existence, and I'm afraid that most of us are satisfied to live mechanically. We would rather not deal with deeper subjects, deeper issues, deeper challenges. Is it possible to be free in the whole area of the mind, in what is called the unconscious, as well as in the conscious? As we said the other day, there is no such thing as the unconscious. There is, only this field of consciousness. We can be aware of a particular area of the field, and not be aware of the rest of it. If we are not aware of the rest of it, then we don't understand the whole. area. Unfortunately it has been divided into the conscious and the unconscious; and we play this game between the conscious and the unconscious all the time. It has become the fashion to inquire into the unconscious. Whereas, if we are at all aware of the whole field, there is no need for the unconscious at all; and therefore there is no need for dreams. It is only the mind that is aware of a particular corner of the field and totally unaware of the rest that begins to dream; and then there are all the interpretations of dreams, and all that stuff. If we are aware during the entire day of every thought, every feeling, every motive, every response aware, not interpreting it, not condemning it, not justifying it, but just being aware of the whole process - then we will see that there is no need for dreams at all. Then the mind becomes highly sensitive, active, not made dull.
When we inquire into this question of fear, when we examine it - and I hope we'll do it together this evening - we have to cover the whole area, the whole field, not one particular form of fear, not your particular, favourite fear, or the fear which you are avoiding. Fear, surely, exists only in relationship to something. It doesn't exist by itself. I'm afraid of you; I'm afraid of an idea; I'm afraid my belief will be shattered because of a new idea, and so on. It's in relation to something. It doesn't exist per se, by itself. And to understand the total fear, we must look at it non-fragmentarily, not as a particular, neurotic fear which we have. We must look at it as we look at the total map of the world. Then we can go to the particular. Then we can take in detail and look at the particular road, the particular village we're going to. We must have total comprehension, and that's somewhat arduous, because we have always been thinking in terms of the particular, in fragments.
To contact fear, total fear, requires total attention. By that word "attention" I do not mean concentration. Concentration is the easiest thing to do, but to attend demands your complete energy. To give your complete attention, everything must be at its highest point - your body, your mind, your heart, your nerves. Only then is there attention. With that attention you can look at fear; in that attention there is no fragmentary, broken concentration on a particular subject; you see the whole of it, the totality of fear, its structure, its meaning, its significance, its inwardness. If you xxxgo that far, then you'll see that fear comes to an end, totally, completely, because you are not caught by the word, by the symbol, by the word "fear", which creates fear also, like the word "death" creates its own fear. You become attentive when problems are urgent, when the challenge is immediate. You feel that challenge instantly, come into contact with it completely.
Ordinarily we are never in contact with a problem, with a challenge, with an issue, because, when an issue arises, we already have an answer for it. We already have a conclusion, a verbal, cunning mind which meets that word, that challenge and has already answered the challenge. So there is no contact. To be in contact means to be directly in touch with something; and you cannot come into touch with something directly if there is an idea between.
To come into contact with fear, one has not only to understand the word which stimulates fear, but also to understand how the mind is caught in words, for all our thinking is formulated in words, in symbols. To come directly into contact with fear, one must be free of the verbal structure which the brain, the mind has created. If one wants to come into contact with that, one has to touch it. To touch it is not the word, is not a conclusion; it's an actual fact. If one is cunning, clever, erudite, full of knowledge and intellection, one doesn't touch it at all; there is no direct contact with it.
If you do listen to what is being said in that direct sense, then you will discover the total area of the mind, and the mind will have understood the nature of the word, how the word creates the feeling, and how the image foreshadows what it is afraid of. The verbal, the symbolic, the process of thinking in terms of word, all have come to an end, and you are able to come directly into contact with that thing which you call fear.
As we were saying the other day, we are never in contact with any other human being: our wife or our husband, our children or whoever it may be, because we have images of the husband, the wife, the boss, and so on. These images have relationships with each other, but there is no actual relationship at all. These images are everlastingly in battle with each other. We also have images about fear, about death, about love, and all the deeper issues of life.
To understand the question of time is very important. I am using the word "understand" in the sense of coming directly into contact with something which the mind through thought cannot possibly comprehend. You cannot comprehend love through words, through ideas, through the experiences which you have had. This question of time is important because to understand death you must understand time; and to understand death and time is to know, to understand what love is. Without understanding these three things, these fundamental issues, life has very little meaning. You may go to the office and have plenty of money, but it actually has very little meaning. When life loses its deep significance, then you are satisfied with superficial activity which leads to more confusion and to more sorrow. That's what is actually taking place in the world, not only in this country, but in the whole of Europe, in India and elsewhere.
These questions must be solved by each human being, because a human being is part of society. A human being is not separate from society; he is conditioned by society, which he has created. To create a new society or a new community, the fundamental issues of life must be solved.
When we are talking about time, we do not mean chronological time, time by the watch. That time exists, must exist. If you want to catch a bus, if you want to get to a train or meet an appointment tomorrow, you must have chronological time. But is there a tomorrow, psychologically, which is the time of the mind? Is there psychologically tomorrow, actually? Or is the tomorrow created by thought, because thought sees the impossibility of change, directly, immediately, and invents this process of gradualness? I see for myself, as a human being, that it is terribly important to bring about a radical revolution in my way of life, thinking, feeling, and in my actions, and I say to myself, "I'll take time over it; I'll be different tomorrow, or in a month's time". That is the time we are talking about: the psychological structure of time, of tomorrow, or the future, and in that time we live. Time is the past, the present and the future, not by the watch. I was, yesterday; yesterday operates through today and creates the future. That's a fairly simple thing. I had an experience a year ago that left an imprint on my mind, and the present I translate according to that experience, knowledge, tradition, conditioning, and I create the tomorrow. I'm caught in this circle. This is what we call living; this is what we call time.
Please, I hope you are observing your own minds, and not merely listening to the speaker.
In this process of time, memory is very important: memory of a happy childhood, memory of some deep experience, memory of a pleasure which I've stored up, which I want to repeat tomorrow; and the repetition of the pleasure tomorrow is continued through thought. So thought is time; because if I do not think, psychologically, of tomorrow, there is no tomorrow. Please, this is not oversimplification. To understand something very complex, something that needs deep examination and penetration, you must begin very, very simply; and it is the first step that matters, not the last step.
Thought, which is you - with all its memories, conditioning, ideas, hopes, despair, the utter loneliness of existence - all that is this time. The brain is the result of time chronologically: two million years, and more. It has its own reactions of greed, envy, ambition, jealousy, anxiety. And to understand a timeless state, when time has come to a stop, one must inquire whether the mind can be free totally of all experience, which is of time.
I hope I am not making it complicated. Explanations are complicated, but not the actual fact; and if one is aware, attentive, one sees this process. Life is a continuous process of challenge and response; and every response is conditioned by its past. Every challenge is new, otherwise it is not a challenge, and we're always responding from the past, except on rare occasions which we needn't even discuss. They are so rare that it doesn't much matter. Into the brain every challenge and response as experience is being accumulated; and from that accumulation we act, we think, we feel, we function psychologically, inwardly, inside the skin, as it were, and that is time.
One asks oneself whether it is possible to live so completely that there is neither yesterday, today, nor tomorrow. To understand that and live it, not theoretically but actually, one must examine the structure of memory, of a thought. One has to ask oneself what thinking is. What is thinking, and why should one think? I know it's the habit to think, to reason, to judge, to choose. To do this at a mechanical level is absolutely necessary; otherwise one couldn't function. But is it possible to live from day to day freed from psychological time as yesterday, today and tomorrow? This doesn't mean that one lives in the moment; that's one of our absurd fallacies. What matters is to live now. The now is the result of yesterday: what one has thought, what one has felt, one's memories, hopes, fears, all that has been stored up. Unless one understands that and dissipates it, one can't live in the now.
There is no such thing as the now, by itself, for life is a total movement, an endless movement, which we have divided psychologically into yesterday, today and tomorrow, and hence we have invented the process of gradual achievement for freeing ourselves. It's like a man who smokes or drinks: he'll give it up gradually; he'll take time over it. It's like a man who is violent, but who has the ideal of non-violence. He is pursuing non-violence, and sowing the seeds of violence in the meantime. That's what we actually are doing, which is called evolution. I'm not a fundamentalist, please!
The mind, the brain, the whole structure can only understand the state of mind which has no time at all when it has understood the nature of memory and thought. Then we can face and begin to understand the nature of death. Death now is something in the distance, over there. We turn our backs on it; we run away from it; we have theories about it; we rationalize it; or we have hopes beyond it. In Asia, in India they believe in reincarnation, and that's their hope. This doesn't mean that we have understood the whole beauty of death. The speaker is not being sentimental about death when he uses the word "beauty". The issue involved in a future life is that there is a permanent entity, the soul, something which continues. They have given various names to that in the East and in the West, but in essence it is the same thing: something permanent, something that has a continuity. There is the death of the physical, the organism wearing itself out through strains, stresses, through various misuses, drugs, overindulgence in everything. The mechanism gradually wears out, dies. That's an obvious fact, but hope comes in and says, "There is a continuity. It isn't the end of everything. I've lived, struggled, accumulated, learned, developed a character" - I don't know why one develops a character, which is neither here nor there; character is merely a resistance - " and that permanent entity will continue till it becomes perfect", whatever that may mean.
Is there a permanent entity at all? I know the believers, but the believers are not the speakers of truth. They are merely dogmatists, theologians, or people who are full of fanciful hope. If you examine yourself to find out if there is a thing that is permanent, obviously there is nothing permanent, both outwardly and inwardly. Though each one of us craves security outwardly, we are denying it by our nationalities, by wars. They are denying security, total physical security, in Vietnam, though each side craves security. Is there such a thing as permanent security, except an idea about it? If there is not, and there is no such thing as "there is", then what is it that continues? Is it memory, experiences which are dead, ashes of things that have been? If you believe in reincarnation and its different forms, such as resurrection, then it matters tremendously how you live today, what you believe today, how you act, what you do. Everything matters immensely, because in the next life you are going to pay for it, which is just an avoidance of the real fact of what death is. There is the death of the physical organism; and to find out what is beyond that, can the whole psyche, with all the tendencies, pleasures, idiosyncrasies, memories, experiences, die each day, completely, without argument, without restraint - just die?
Have you ever tried to die to a pleasure, something that you want tremendously, that gives you great satisfaction, delight; without any reason, without any motive, without any argument; just to die to it? If you can, you will know what death means: to empty the mind totally of everything of the past. It can be done; it should be done. That's the only way to live, for love is that, isn't it? Love is not thought. Love is not desire, pleasure. Pleasure, desire continues through thought; and when thought thinks about a particular pleasure, sexual or otherwise, then it seeks to be loved. It's an appetite. An appetite has its own place, but unfortunately there is a great deal of talk about love: in the churches, in books, in cinemas.
If we loved there would be no war. We would educate our children entirely differently, not merely condition them to certain technological knowledge. Then the whole world wouldn't be mad about this thing called sex, as though it had discovered something totally new. We only know love as sexual appetite, with its lusts, demands, frustrations, despairs, jealousies and all the travail of the human mind in what is called love. Love has nothing whatsoever to do with the formula of thought; and it comes into being only when memory as thought, with all its demands and pleasures, comes to an end psychologically. Then love is something entirely different. We cannot talk about it; we cannot write everlasting books about it. Love of God and love of man - this division doesn't exist, but to come to that, we must not only be free from fear, but also there must be a time-ending, and therefore an understanding of life. We can only understand life when we understand death. The thing that we call living is this anxiety, this despair, this sense of guilt, this endless longing, this utter loneliness, this boredom, this constant conflict, this battlefield. In the world of business, in our daily existence at home, on the battlefields all over the world, we are destroying each other - this is what we call living. Actually it is a frightful mess, a deadly affair. When that so-called living comes to an end - and it can only come to an end when one dies to the whole of it, not partially or to certain fragments of it - then one lives. Death and living go together; and for death and life to continue together, there must be dying every day to everything. Then the mind is made fresh, young, innocent. That innocency cannot come through any drug, through any experience. It must be beyond and above all experience. A light to itself does not need any experience.
Questioner: Why were we put here? Why are we alive?
Krishnamurti: Please, as we said the other day, don't let's ask irrelevant questions. What is relevant is how to live, not why we are put here. Obviously, you know how we have come into being: father-mother. But we are here, and we are dying slowly or rapidly, deteriorating, with our prosperity, with our self-centred activities. Is it possible to live in this world, and not in a monastery, not isolating ourselves in some conclusions, beliefs and dogmas, or in some nationality, or in good works? Can one live? That's the real issue.
Questioner: How does one die each day?
Krishnamurti: Is there a method? If there is a method, then the method produces its own end. If I follow a particular method, if you tell me how to die every day and give me a method, step by step, what happens? Do I die actually, or am I practising a certain method of dying? It is very important to understand this. The means is the end; the two are not separate. If the means is mechanical, the end is mechanical. If the means is a way of assuring pleasure, gain, profit, then the end is also that. The means creates its own end, and one has to completely deny that means, or the total means, which is time. So there is no "how" to die.
Sir, look. You have a certain habit: sexual, or a certain habit of drinking, smoking, talking; mannerisms, temperaments. Can you die, can you completely put away, on the instant, smoking, drinking, pleasure? I know there are the methods of how to give up smoking little by little, one by one. There is no ending to that. Ending means finishing it, completely ending it; and that does take place when death actually comes. You don't argue with it.
Can one live so completely each day, each minute, that there is no yesterday or tomorrow? To do this requires a great deal of meditation and inward awareness. It is not a matter of agreeing or disagreeing, or asking how it is to be done. No one is going to tell one whether one has or has not done it. This demands a great deal of energy, insight, understanding, awareness, and the highest quality of sensitivity, which is intelligence. Drugs, LSD and all the rest - not that I have taken them - make one sensitive in a particular corner of that vast field of life. In the rest of the field one is insensitive, dull; and because one becomes highly sensitive in a particular area, seeing colours, visions and having experiences, one thinks that is the whole substance of life. But to understand the totality of life, one must be totally sensitive, both physiologically and psychologically. One thinks that one can be highly sensitive psychologically, but physically brutal, heavy and insensitive. Life is not to be divided into fragments, with each fragment in conflict with the others. We only know this conflict, this endless effort till we die. In the family, in the office, even in the quiet moments of our lives, there is never a moment of silence, a state without effort.
Questioner: The other day you said that the man dying in Vietnam is you. Would you speak further on that?
Krishnamurti: We are not talking of the man dying in Vietnam; we are talking of the man living here, now. The man dying in Vietnam is the result of our life. We do not want peace. We talk about it endlessly, but to have peace, we must live peacefully. That means no competition, no ambition, no division as nationalities, no colour-prejudice. That's what it means to live peacefully. As we don't live peacefully, we have wars in Vietnam, in India, in Russia and elsewhere. Really, we educate our children to die, to be killed, whether in the office, in the family, or on a battlefield; and this we call living. We are supposed to be highly civilized, sophisticated people. Too bad! Sorrow is the lot of us, and to end sorrow, we must end time; we must understand the nature of death. Where there is love, there is no sorrow, for the neighbour, for someone beside you, or ahead of you. Where there is love, there is an ending of sorrow, not the worshipping of sorrow.
Questioner: Sir, if one is not to make any effort, then it must all be a matter of accident whether anything is understood.
Krishnamurti: Why do we make effort? First let's understand it, and not try to find out if we are not to make effort. We are making effort. From the moment we are born till we die, there is effort, struggle. Why? If we rightly understand this struggle psychologically, inwardly, then outwardly existence will have a totally different meaning. We must understand effort, this constant striving. There is an effort when there is contradiction. There is effort when there is comparison: you are better than I, you are much more clever, you have a better position, you're famous, and I am no one, so I must reach you. That's a fact, not a supposition. That is how we function every day of our lives. We worship success. Every magazine is filled with success stories, and from the moment we start going to school till we die, we are comparing, struggling, in incessant conflict, because there is a division, a contradiction between the one who compares and that which he is compared to. Through comparison we think we understand, but actually we don't.
To live without comparison requires tremendous intelligence and sensitivity, because then there is no example, there is no something that should be, no ideal, no hero. We begin with what actually is; and to understand what is, there is no need for comparison. When we compare, we destroy what is. It's like comparing a boy to his elder brother who is very clever; if you do that you destroy the younger boy. That's what we are doing all the time. We are struggling, struggling for what, psychologically? To end violence? To have more experience? To end violence is to come directly into contact with it in yourself, and you cannot come into contact with it if there is an ideal, such as non-violence or peace. This opposite creates conflict, but if you can look at that violence completely, with total attention, then there is no conflict, no striving. It comes to an end. It is these absurd, idiotic ideals which destroy the direct contact with reality.
You can live a life without conflict, which doesn't mean that you become a vegetable. On the contrary, the mind then becomes highly aware, intelligent, full of energy, passion. Conflict dissipates this intelligence.
Questioner: Is there any difference between love and understanding?
Krishnamurti: One word will cover everything; but the danger of one word is that it becomes a jargon. You can use the word "love" or the word "understanding". It doesn't really matter which word you use, because every word is loaded, like God, death, experience, love - heavy with the meaning which people have given to the words. When one realizes that the word "love" is not the actual state, then the word doesn't matter at all. Questioner: The world is so densely populated that I wonder how we can exist without politics and participation in the direction of the community.
Krishnamurti: There is only one political problem, which is the unity of mankind. You cannot have the unity of mankind if there are nationalities, if there are armies; if there is not one government, neither democratic, nor republican, nor labour; until we are concerned with human beings, whether they live in Russia, in India, in China or in England. We have the means of feeding, sheltering and clothing all peoples, now, but we don't do it, and you know the reasons: our nationalities, our religious prejudices and all the rest.
Questioner: Are not technical knowledge and psychological knowledge tied together? Can they be separated?
Krishnamurti: This is a tremendously important point. How is a human being, living in this utter chaos, how can he live supremely intelligently, so that he is a good citizen, not of a particular community, but of the world? The world is not America or Russia or India. How can he live in this world, with such chaos and misery around him? That is the issue. Should he join the communist party, the democratic party, or some other party? There must be action. How shall we act together? With which end shall we begin? Shall we begin from the technological end, or from a totally different end, from an end which is not of time, which is not of class, which is not of any experience? If we can come to grips with that, then we shall solve all our problems.
Questioner: What's the name?
Krishnamurti: Do you think, sir, that a name will be really satisfactory? Call it X, call it God, call it love any name. The name is not the real. Will naming it be sufficient? Thousands of people have named it.
Questioner: Give us a formula. (Laughter.)
Krishnamurti: We have talked about formulas, an ideology. A community based on an ideology is no longer a community. The people battle with each other for position, prestige in that community. We are talking of something entirely different. We said that a new mind is necessary, not a new technique, a new method, a new philosophy or a new drug; and that new mind cannot come into being unless there is a dying to the old, completely, emptying the mind totally of the past. Then you don't want a name; then you are living it; then you know what bliss is. Living in this world with all the chaos round it, it is only the innocent mind that can answer these problems, not the complicated mind.
October 3, 1966
New York 1966
New York 4th Public Talk 3rd October 1966
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