Being with death while living
The shared consciousness of humanity
4th Public Talk, New Delhi
November 13, 1983
We ought to talk over many things this evening. And if one may repeat again, we are thinking together, I'm not telling you what to do, or what to think. But rather that we are together walking a path that is beautiful, full of shade, lovebirds and great tall trees, and a lovely evening with the sun behind you, and the sunset is something most marvellous. And together we are walking down that lane, full of quietness, a great sense of beauty.
One wonders what is beauty. Have we ever considered that question at all? You may see some statue or a picture in a museum or in a house and you say, 'What a marvellous picture that is, that is really a lovely head of the Buddha', or some person. But behind the words, behind the structure of a painting, the shadows, the proportions, and the line (inaudible) what is beauty? Is it in the way you look at it? Is it in the picture? Is it in the face of a person? When you see a marvellous mountain against a blue sky, with great depth of valley and snow-capped peaks, when you look at all that great beauty, for a moment you have forgotten yourself. The mountain is so vast, so extraordinarily lighted by the morning sun, catching the highest peaks, and your whole brain is struck by the grandeur, by the enormity of that sight and for a second you forget all about yourself, you forget all about your worries, you forget your wife, your husband, your children, you country. And you look at that with all your being, without a sense of contradiction, duality - it is there, its splendour. And the absence of the self, the 'me', is for a second put aside by the greatness of that beauty.
So this evening, to come down to earth, we are going together to go into the question of sorrow, death, and we touched yesterday the quality of love, the perfume of it, the strength of it, the immensity of compassion with its great intelligence. And also we are going to talk over this evening if we have time, what is the brain that perceives the true religious spirit, and what is meditation, and if there is something which is utterly, holy, sacred, not made by thought or put together for comfort. We are going to go into all this if we can this evening. They are really not separate things - suffering, compassion, intelligence, the ending of sorrow and meditation and all that is one movement, totally related. They are not separate.
So, can we look at all this, this human existence with all its problems, with all its confusions and misery, with its travail, with its endless poverty, both physical and the inward poverty? To look at all that as a total movement, not fragmented, not broken up, but as a whole, and therefore a way of living in which there is no contradiction, there is no duality, there is no opposition. A way of living that is entirely intrinsic, integral, whole. Is that possible? We will find it if we can look at ourselves not as a dual movement of life but a holistic way of living, which we will go into.
Sorry to make an introduction of this kind but as we entered the tent you look at that moon, very young, new, extraordinarily simple, and I thought one thought, what is the point of talking at all? What is the point of reading books, attending meetings? What is the point of all this existence when we can't look at a simple thing clearly, with great love and affection? A simple thing, to approach life with all its complexity simply, without all the accumulated knowledge of our past, with our traditions, just to look at this vast movement of life simply, and a brain that is not burdened, a brain that is active, alive, full of energy, but with clarity, simplicity. Having said that let's proceed together.
We human beings have suffered a great deal. There have been incessant wars historically speaking. For the last five thousand years there has been practically every year a war. Human beings killing each other, destroying what they have built. Great monuments being destroyed overnight. This has been the history of man - perpetual conflict, war. And through wars man has suffered enormously. How many people have shed tears, their sons, their husbands and their friends maimed for life, with one arm, no legs, blind - man has shed tears endlessly. And we too are shedding tears because our life is rather empty, lonely and we suffer too, all of us. Not only watching the suffering of others but also the grief, the pain, the anxiety of our own life, the poverty of people. Not the poverty of the poor only but also the poverty of our own minds and hearts. And when we begin to discover this enormous poverty in spite of vast information and knowledge, that breeds also great sorrow. There is the sorrow of loneliness, the sorrow brought about by inhumanity to man, the sorrow of losing your own friend, your son, your brother, your mother and so on. And we have carried this sorrow throughout our lives for centuries upon centuries, and we never asked if that sorrow can ever end. And we are asking now, together looking at this sorrow of the world and the sorrow in which one lives, in your own heart, in your own mind, in your own brain, and we are asking whether that sorrow can ever end. Or must man - including woman of course - must always carry throughout the future and the past - can that sorrow ever end?
You know, there is an art in questioning. Like there is an art in painting, an art in friendship, there is an art in love and so on, there is also an art in questioning, doubting. Doubting one's own conclusions, one's own opinions, to question why we tolerate this vast burden of sorrow. Sorrow is both self-pity, sorrow is the feeling of utter loneliness, the sorrow that is brought about through great failures, through comparison, the whole movement of feeling, the sense of lack of relationship with anybody. I am sure you have all felt that at moments but we never go to the very end of it. We rather escape from it, seek some form of comfort, some form of drug that gives us solace.
So if we could this evening not escape, not try to find an answer, not whether sorrow can be conquered but to be aware, to see the full meaning of that word 'sorrow'. Sorrow also means, from the original etymological meaning, passion - not lust - passion. And without passion life becomes rather dull, meaningless. And the ending of sorrow brings that passion. So together we are looking at this word, the content of that word, the significance of that thing called sorrow which man has carried throughout his days of life. To look at it. Not to explain it away, not to find the cause. There are many causes for sorrow. That is fairly simple to find out, the causes of sorrow - the death of a son, the failure of success, not being successful, not being able to fulfil, having no identification and so on, so on - there are many causes for sorrow. But if you are enquiring into the causes of sorrow then you are also preventing yourself from looking at the word, the depth and the beauty and strength of that word. So could we look at that word. Sorrow means grief, pain, anxiety, the desperate loneliness, the meaninglessness of this existence. All that is contained in that word, and more.
So can we look at it, hold it as you would hold a precious jewel, a marvellous piece of sculpture. To hold it, to remain with it, and not in any way allow thought to come and interfere with that actuality. If you can so remain with that, then that very word, the significance of that word is totally ended. But we never stay with anything, you always want to find an end, and so we are always moving away from that very jewel that gives us great vitality, great strength, great passion. Are we walking together? Or you're merely listening to these words and getting emotional about it, romantic, and therefore never looking at that thing, the pain of it, the grief, the emptiness of one's own being. And if one can really completely hold that jewel - it is a great jewel, and man has tried to do everything he can to escape from it. Volumes have been written about it but the books, the explanations, the word, is not the actual. To remain with the actual, then that very attention brings an end to that thing which we call sorrow. Where there is sorrow there cannot be love. Love is not related to any activity of the human brain. Love is something that comes into being when there is no fear, when there is an end to sorrow. Then it becomes, that very love becomes compassion which is passion with its immense intelligence.
Also we ought to talk over together this evening the meaning of death. I am rather bored with all this, aren't you? I am bored with the explanations, because we never capture something quickly, instantly, have an insight into the whole nature of human mind, brain, into our hearts. One depends on explanations, descriptions, what other people have said and so we lose our own integrity, our own perception, insight to look at things as they are and go beyond them. So we ought to talk over together this question of death.
To understand what is death, not only the physical organism coming to an end, the ending, the end of the heart beating, which then doesn't supply blood to the brain and the brain then decays. This whole organism, by wrong usage, accident, some disease, comes to an end, whether we are very young or very old - and that we consider death. And also we never consider what is living - before rather than after. You understand? We are all going to die. That is one absolute certainty, whether you like it or not. We are all going to pop off, 'gathered to your fathers' to use the phrase in the Bible. And we human beings put that as far away as possible from us - don't we? - and so there is duality: living and dying.
Have you ever considered what is duality? If duality, the opposite, exists at all. Are we together in this? We have been brought up, by tradition, by education, by the books, that there is duality, contradiction, man/woman, anger and not being angry, violence and non-violence, and so on. So we have divided the whole of life into duality. Right? Go into it, please. Is there such thing as duality? Is there an opposite, psychologically? Of course there is an opposite between man and woman, between daylight and darkness, sun rising, sunset, you are tall, another is taller, somebody is fair, other is not, one is more learned, other is not - there is that physical duality, the opposites - dark hair, fair hair, the beautiful and the ugly. Now, psychologically, inwardly, is there an opposite? Right? Your tradition says there is. Books have been written about it: it's only the liberated are free from duality - right? - which is such utter nonsense. Sorry. You and I can look at this problem very simply - simply, not with all the complications of philosophers. There is duality outwardly, but inwardly, psychologically, inside the skin at your depth, there is only one thing - anger, and when you say, 'I must not be angry', which becomes duality - right? - the ideal which thought has projected, thought has structured from the pain it has. Right? So there is only that fact, like violence is a fact, non-violence is non-fact. Right? Clear? So why do we give such importance to non-fact, which then becomes the dual, the opposite. You following what I'm Give a little, if you are not too tired, give a little attention to what is being said, because we are caught in this ugly business of duality which means choice, to choose between the two.
So, we are questioning, you and I, whether there is an opposite psychologically, anything at all. There is violence - right? - we are angry, we hate, we dislike. That is a fact. But to invent a non-fact like non-violence, you must like people, and so on and so on, is just unreal - right? - therefore there is only the fact, and fact has no opposite. I wonder if you capture this. So when we live with fact then there is no conflict involved. Vous avez compris (inaudible) I said that in French - sorry! Have you understood anything of this? Because our whole conditioning is based on duality: I am this, I must not be that; I am a coward, I must be brave; I am ignorant - ignorant not about books and all that - ignorant about myself, but I must know myself. You understand? We are caught up in this. And we are saying there is no opposite psychologically at all, actually. The opposite is structured or put together by thought to escape from the actual. I am violent - that's actual, but I have been told, there have been great many people telling me I must be non-violent. So the non-violent is totally unreal, because I am violent. But if I remain with the actuality then I can do something about it, or not do anything about it, but to pretend, that I am pursuing the ideal of non-violence is just like playing games with yourself. While you are pursuing non-violence you are being actually violent. In this country you will see it, for god's sake. So, we are saying there is no psychologically an opposite. There is only 'what is'. And if you understand that then the conflict of duality doesn't exist at all. Right?
So, with that quality of brain that has understood this question of duality, let us look at what is called living and dying. Right? Are you working as hard as the speaker is doing? One wonders, you hear all these things which are facts, and probably you will do nothing about it. Right? We are trying to eliminate altogether this whole conflict between 'what is' and 'what should be'. Then the brain is free and full of energy to face things as they are. Right? So, there is the living and the dying - two opposites. To understand both - the living and the dying - one must approach this question non-dualistically. Right? Do you follow? Are we together in this or not? Yes or no? We will come to that.
What is living? What do you call living? Going to the office from 9 o'clock in the morning to 5 o'clock in the evening every day of your life for the next sixty years, being bossed, being bullied and you bullying somebody else. Or you are a businessman always wanting more and more and more money, expanding, free enterprise, power, chief executive - right? - come home and you quarrel with your wife, sleep with her, beat her up verbally or you may do it actually. And this goes on - the constant struggle, the constant conflict, the utter despair, hopelessness of it all. Right? This is what we call living, whether you live in America, affluent society, where it is hectic, making money, becoming successful - you may one day become the President - and on the other hand there is the church trying to save you, save your soul - whatever that may mean - and you pray, worship, and in your heart of hearts there is fear, despair, anxiety, grief. That is what you call living. Right? This is actuality, isn't it? And you are frightened to leave that because death is coming. Right? One has so deeply identified with this called living, taken roots in that, and you are frightened to end all that. Right? And so you say next life. Next life is the continuity of the same old pattern, only perhaps in a different environment. If you believe in next life then you must live rightly now - right? - morally, ethically, have some sense of humility - if you believe in the next life. But you really don't believe in next life. You talk about it, you write about it, you have volumes about it, but if you actually believe, in the sense, work, then you must live now rightly - right? - because what you are now your future is what you will what you are, your future will be the same - if you don't change now your future is naturally the same. This is logic, is sane.
So, for us death is total ending. The ending of your attachments - right? - ending all that you have collected. You can't take it with you. You may like to have it at the last minute - right? - but you can't possibly take it with you. So - please listen to this - so we have divided life into dying and living, and this division has brought about great fear, and out of that fear we invent all kinds of theories, very comforting, maybe illusory, but it is very comforting, illusions are comfortable, neurotic. So, is it possible, please, I am asking you the question, is it possible as we live, to die to things that we are attached to? Do you understand my question? I am attached to my reputation - god forbid - I am attached to it, and death is coming along because I am getting older, and I am frightened because I am going to lose everything. So can I totally be free to the image, to the reputation that people have given to me? You understand? So that you are dying as you are living. I wonder if you understand this. So, the division between living and dying is not miles apart, it is together. I wonder if you understand this, if you understand the great beauty of it, that each day or each second there is no accumulation, no psychological accumulation, -you have to accumulate clothes, a little money and so on, that's a different matter - but psychologically there is no accumulation as knowledge, as attachment, saying, 'It's mine'. Will you do it? Will you actually do this thing so that this conflict between death and living with all its pain and fear and anxiety comes totally to an end? So that you are the brain is incarnating. You understand? I wonder if you understand all this.
The brain is being reborn afresh so that it has tremendous freedom. The brain, according to scientists - the left side and the right side. The left side is the old, the traditional, and the right part of the brain is the new brain which is capable of thinking new things and so on. So again division. We are saying, to act with the whole brain not the divided brain. I won't go into that for the moment because that leads us somewhere else. It is very interesting if you go into it, not speculatively but actually with your own brain to find out whether the two divisions, the left and the right brain, which are acting differently, but simultaneously, totally, wholly, so the whole brain is active. So that there is no old brain or the new brain. That requires a totally different approach to the question - I won't go into that because we have other things to talk about.
So, when living be with death, so that you are a guest in this world. You understand what I'm saying? That you have no roots anywhere, that you have got a brain that is amazingly alive. Because if you carry all the burdens of yesterday your brain becomes mechanical, dull. If you leave all the memories, psychological memories, hurts, pains, leave them behind, leave them every day, so then it means dying and living are together. In that then there is no fear.
And what happens to the person who doesn't do any of this? You understand my question? A vast number of people here are not going to do a thing about it - I was going to say a damn thing about it, but I won't - not a thing about it. They listen, they'll argue, they'll shake their head, they say, 'Marvellous, marvellous', and do nothing about it. Right? Then what happens to them? No, please, this is being said with great humility, with great compassion and affection. I hear this from you - a way of living, a totally different way of living - you have persuaded me, not only persuaded me, I see the logic of it, the sanity of it, the clarity of it. I see it intellectually. Verbally I have accepted it. And I pursue my own way. I pursue my old day the ways of my life, to which I am accustomed. And I am going to die, and I am frightened, as most people are frightened. Right? So, what is going to happen? Will I be reborn? Will my consciousness accept this way of life, and perhaps next life it will have a better chance. Right? So, is my consciousness, which I have said 'mine', is that consciousness mine at all? No, please don't agree or disagree, for god's sake just look at it. Because that consciousness is the consciousness of humanity, because all human beings throughout the world go through great agonies, sorrow, loneliness, despair, depression, their faith, their gods, like yours.
So we share, each one of us shares this consciousness. So it is not yours. Please, this is - you may not accept it, I am sure you won't accept it, you shouldn't, but you must question it, you must question whether your consciousness is yours, your individual consciousness, or it is shared by all humanity. All humanity goes through what you are going through, in a different environment, in a different ambience. So, you are not actually an individual. You may have a different body from another, you have a better bank account. One may be lame, one may be healthy, outwardly, but inwardly your being is shared by all the rest of humanity. Therefore you are humanity. I wonder if you see this, as that is a reality, it is not a fiction. So, as long as you think you are an individual you are living in illusion, because your consciousness, your life is shared by everybody on this earth. They go to the office from morning till night, bullied, being bullied and bullying, gaining money, power, position, lonely, unhappy, quarrelling, just like you. You may have more power, better position - there are also the others too. So your consciousness is shared by all humanity, and therefore you are not an individual psychologically. So when you put the question: what is going to happen to me when I die, though I don't understand a word of what you are talking about, your consciousness will continue, which is shared by all humanity. Right? You are following this? And that consciousness manifests itself, through Mr Smith, through Mr Iyengar or Mr Sing or somebody or other. And then it says, 'It is mine, I am an individual' - atman and soul and all that stuff.
So there is only a way of living which is totally different. Therefore you are no longer concerned with dying but with living, living which contains, which moves with death. You understand all this? I'll leave it to you. If you don't understand please don't deny it, find out, question, doubt your own individuality. The Communists tried to wipe out individuality, making them think what the top people want them to think - you know what is happening - but they have not wiped out the 'me', the self, the ego which wants power, position. They go to the office like you every day. They compete more than you do, because if you don't compete and succeed, you become a labourer, minor degree and so on - I won't go into all that. So it is possible to live a life psychologically in which there is never a continual recording. You understand? The ending of recording. Oh, you don't understand this. You understand? Say you are flattered or insulted, that is recorded. Now, not to record flattery or insult. Right? That is to have a brain that is free, not burdened by thousand records of thousand days.
And we ought to talk over - we have got a quarter of an hour - we ought to talk over together what is religion. The word 'religion' etymologically has no beginning. They don't know the beginning of that word, but we know what religion means, religion which exists throughout the world - the Christian religion, the Hindu, the Muslim, the Buddhist and so on. That is, accepting a dogma, accepting some fantastic beliefs, some meaningless rituals performed every day of your life. In the Christian Church it is really - when you go to the Roman Catholic, high cardinals performing the mass - it is a beautiful sight. But it is a ritual - repeat, repeat, repeat. And people like repetition. It gives them some kind of satisfaction, a sensation, a stimulation, excitement. And you go to the temples the same way - your sacred temple and the un-sacred temples. Yours is more sacred than the other. You have your faith, your belief, your conditioning as a Hindu, as a Sikh, as a Muslim, as a Buddhist, and this structure is called religion, both outwardly and inwardly. You believe god exists. You have never questioned it. If you do question it, as they have done, you are burnt, as the church did - tortured. You are a heretic, heathen. But to ask what is god, to question, to find out if god exists - are you willing to look at it? It is invented by thought. Don't be shocked. If you have no fear - right? - if you have no conflict, if you are living a life that is tremendously integral, whole, unbroken, then there is no place for god because you yourself have understood the depth, the beauty of the universe and all - I won't go into all that. Because of our fear, because of our anxiety, our loneliness, we have invented this entity. God has not shaped us, we have shaped god. Right? We want somebody to protect us, an outside agency, somebody to save us from our daily monstrous, ugly life. And there are always saviours. Your gurus is a saviour, but he needs also to be saved.
So what is religion? If you banish all that - one must to find out. One must doubt completely the whole thing. If you have the vitality, the strength, to wipe it out, but if you still cling to it and please, tell me about what you think, what you feel, it is like playing a game which has no meaning. So one must question, doubt, wipe away all the structure put together by thought, your scriptures, your everything. Because they are the result of thought - the Bible, the Koran, your own Gita and so on, all of them are written down by thought. You may say they are direct revelation from the horse's mouth - no, sorry, from god - then of course that settles it. But when you question all this, to find out what is the nature of a religious brain, religious mind, there must be freedom to enquire. If you have an hypothesis it must be proved under a microscope or under the clarity your own attention. So to find out if there is something sacred. That is what the intention of all these structures are, but the intention is destroyed by the priests. If a human being, you and I, have the intention, the drive, the energy, the passion to find out if there is something sacred, holy. And to do that there must be no fear, there must be no sense of anxiety, there must be complete freedom. That is meditation. I am going into the word 'meditation' for the moment.
What is meditation? Not how to meditate. The moment you ask how to meditate there are a dozen systems - Zen, Buddhist, Tibetan, Hindu, Christian - you know, a dozen systems tell you how to meditate. You can invent your own system - control, suppress, concentrate - you know the whole game, become aware. What does the word mean? The word, not what you give to that word. The word means to ponder over, to think over. And also that word means to measure. Right? To measure. That is to compare - I am this but I will be that tomorrow. I am progressing. You follow? That's all measurement. So meditation can only be actual, truthful, honest, when there is no fear, no hurt, no anxiety, no sorrow. Otherwise, if you are frightened you can sit down and meditate for the rest of your life, standing on one foot or sitting in a certain posture, but as long as there is the root of fear, how can you meditate? You understand what I'm saying? We said, through meditation, first learn meditation and the other things will disappear. Right? Is that possible, you understand? Then if you learn how to meditate, which means learn a system of meditation, then you apply to your physical or psychological state. That means you have already determined, and through that determination, planning, action takes place, and that you call meditation. Right? So, we are saying meditation can only take place when there is no conscious effort made to meditate. I am afraid it goes against everything you believe. Madame, don't shake your head - would you keep quiet.
How do you come upon that which is sacred? Is there anything sacred? Man has sought throughout the ages something beyond - from the ancient Sumerians till now, from the ancient Egyptians, the ancient nomads, they have always sought - is there? And they worshipped lightning, worshipped the sun, worshipped the tree, worshipped the mother, never finding anything. So can we together this evening discover, or come upon that thing which is most holy? And that can only take place when there is absolute silence, when the brain is absolutely quiet. I don't want to go into the whole nature of the brain and so on because the speaker is not expert about the brain. He has talked to a great many brain specialists, with all their theories and so on. But one can discover for oneself if you are attentive, watchful, watchful of your words, your meaning of the words, never saying one thing and doing anther - if you are watchful all the time you can find out for yourself that the brain has its own natural rhythm. But upon that natural rhythm thought has placed all kinds of things upon it. For us knowledge is tremendously important. To go to the office, to move from here to your house you require knowledge. To write a letter requires knowledge. To do anything physically requires knowledge. If you want to be a good carpenter you must study the wood, the tools, the grain, the quality of the wood and so on and so on. So knowledge becomes extraordinarily important. If you are an administrator for government, knowledge is necessary. But psychological knowledge, the knowledge that you have accumulated about your hurts, about your vanity, your arrogance, your ambition - all that knowledge is you. And with that knowledge we try to find out if there is anything most holy. You can never find out through knowledge because knowledge is limited. It will always be limited, whether physically, technologically or psychologically.
So, the brain must be absolutely quiet. Not through control, not through following some method, system. Not cultivated silence. Silence implies space. I do not know if you have not noticed how little space we have in our brain. It's cluttered up, filled with so many thousands of things, it has very little space. And silence, space there must be, because that which is measurable, that which is unnameable cannot exist or be perceived or seen by a narrow little brain. They are trying, the astrophysicists are trying understand the universe through the telescope. They are discovering the nature of Venus, Saturn, the various gases and all the rest of it. But if you go, take a journey into yourself, emptying all the content which you have collected, go very, very, very deeply, then there is that vast space, that so-called emptiness which is full of energy. In that state alone there is that which is most sacred, most holy.
Sorry to have kept you so long. Right, sirs.