Fragmentation, time and death
Can the human condition change radically?
5th Public Talk, Bombay
February 06, 1982
I would like to, if I may, this evening talk about many things. Perhaps they are interrelated. The speaker doesn't know where to begin. Most of us, the average person, is wasting his life. This awful climate. Most of us waste our lives. We have got a great deal of energy and we are wasting it. We spend our days in the office, in the kitchen, or in digging in a garden, a lawyer's life, or the life of a sannyasi, or the life of an average person seems, at the end of one's life, utterly meaningless - please don't take photographs - without much significance. When one looks back, when one is fifty, or eighty, or ninety, what has one done with one's life? Life has a most extraordinary significance, of great beauty, great suffering, anxiety, accumulating money, working from eight or nine to five for the rest of one's life. At the end of it all, what have we got out of life? Money, sex, the constant conflict of existence, the weariness, the travail, unhappiness, frustrations - that is all we have. Perhaps occasional joy, or you love someone completely, wholly, without any sense of the self, the 'me' and you.
And there seems to be so little justice in the world. Philosophers have talked a great deal about justice. The social workers are talking about justice. The average man wants justice. But is there justice in life at all? You are clever, well placed, good mind, nice looking, you have everything you want. And another has nothing. You are well educated, sophisticated, free to do what you want. Another is a cripple, poor in mind and in heart. You are capable of writing, speaking, a good human being. The other is not. This has been a problem of thinkers, of philosophers. The word 'philosophy' means the love of truth, love of life. And perhaps truth is in life, not away from life, not in books, not in some ideas, but truth is where we are, and how we live that life. And when you look around, life seems so empty, meaningless to most people. And can man ever have justice? Here the speaker is sitting on a platform and you are just listening, that is not just. He has been all over the world, talked, televised and you will never have a chance like that. It is most unfair, it is degrading. And so we are asking if there is any justice in the world at all. You are fair, I am dark. You are bright, aware, sensitive, full of feelings, you love a beautiful sunset, the glory of a moon, the astonishing light on the water, you see all that and I don't. You are reasonable, sane, healthy, another is not. So one asks seriously if there is justice in the world at all.
And before law you are all equal, but some are more equal than others. Others have not sufficient money to employ good lawyers. So there is, apparently observing all this in the world, there is very little justice. Some are born high, others lowly, and where is justice then? It appears there is justice only when there is compassion. And as we pointed out the other day when we met here, compassion is the ending of suffering and that compassion in not born out of any religion or belonging to any cult. You can't be a Hindu with all your superstitions and invented gods and yet be compassionate, you cannot. Compassion, to have compassion there must be freedom, complete, total freedom from all conditioning. Is that possible? The human brain is conditioned after millions of years. That is a fact. And the more we acquire knowledge about all the things of the earth and heaven, it seems we get more and more bogged down. And if there is compassion, with it there is that intelligence, and that intelligence has the vision of justice. You see we have invented the word 'Karma', next life. We are going to go into that question presently. And we think by inventing a word, a system, a something that is to happen in the future, we have solved the problem of justice. Justice begins only when the mind is very clear, when there is compassion. And our brain, which is a very complex instrument, is not yours or the speaker's brain, it is the brain of humanity. Your brain has not developed from when you are born till now. That brain has evolved through endless time. So our consciousness which the brain holds is not personal. This consciousness, as we pointed out earlier, is the ground of all human beings, on which they stand.
And when you observe this consciousness with its content - the beliefs, the dogmas, the theories, the concepts, the fears, the pleasures, the agonies, the loneliness, the depression and despairs, all that is our consciousness. It is not your consciousness, it is not the individual that holds this consciousness. Please, it is logical, look at it sanely, rationally. We are so conditioned to think that it is our brain, mine and yours, that we are separate individuals. We are not. We have been talking about it a great deal. Our brains are so conditioned through education, through religion, that we think we are a separate entity, with separate souls, separate this and that. We are not individuals at all. We are the result of thousands of years of human experience, human endeavour, human struggle. And is it possible for the brain to uncondition itself? We are conditioned, therefore we are never free. As long as I live in a concept, in a conclusion, with certain ideas or ideals, the brain is not free and therefore there is no compassion. Where there is freedom from all conditioning, which is, not being a Hindu, a Christian, a Muslim or a Buddhist, not being caught in any specialization though specialization is necessary, not give one's life entirely to money, as long as the brain is conditioned, which it is now, there is no freedom for man. You cannot ascend as some philosophers and biologists are saying, there is no ascent of man through knowledge. Knowledge is necessary, to drive a car, to do business, to go from here to your home, the accumulation of technological knowledge and all that is necessary. But the psychological knowledge, the knowledge that one has gathered about oneself, through experience, culminating in memory, memory which is the result of external pressures and inward demands.
Please, as we said the other day, and if we may again repeat: this is not a lecture, where you are told what to do, what to think, how to think and so on. This, we are observing together. Not resisting each other, not clinging to our own particular opinions, knowledge and concepts but together looking at the world and ourselves in the world. So it is not a lecture. We are thinking together, not along any particular direction, or coming to any conclusion. But when one observes purely without any barrier, without any impediment, without any prejudice, then that observation itself finds the answer to all our problems. So please bear in mind that we are walking along the same path, looking at the same thing, like two friends talking over their problems amicably, in a friendly spirit, where there is no division between the two of them. Then we can communicate deeply, not merely verbally but non-verbally also, which is much more important. So please, if one may point out, bear that in mind when we are talking over together this evening.
And as we began, our life is broken up, fragmented, divided, it is never whole, we never have holistic observation. We observe from a particular point of view. We are, in ourselves we are broken up. Our life is a contradiction in itself, and therefore there is constant conflict. And we never look at life as a whole, complete, indivisible. The word 'whole' means healthy - to be healthy. And also the word means sanity, and also it means holy - H-O-L-Y. That word has great significance. It is not the various parts getting integrated in our human consciousness. We are always trying to integrate various contradictions but is it possible - we are conversing with each other, we are asking each other: is it possible to look at life as a whole? The suffering, the pleasure, the pain, the tremendous anxiety, loneliness, suffering, going to the office, having a house, babies, sex, not as though they were separate activities, but a holistic movement, a unitary action - is that possible at all? Or must we everlastingly live in fragmentation and therefore ever in conflict?
Is it possible to observe the fragmentation and the identification with those fragments? To observe, not correct, not transcend, not run away from it or suppress it, to observe. Our life is so fragmented, broken up, divided - to look at it, not what to do about it because if you attempt to do 'what to do about it' you are really then acting from a fragment and therefore you are cultivating fragments, divisions. Whereas if one can observe holistically, observe the whole movement of life as one, then conflict not only ceases with its destructive energy but also out of that observation a totally new approach to life comes. We are talking about our daily life, not some philosophy, not some ideas, not some conclusions. We are talking as two people about our lives. Our lives are broken up. I wonder if one is aware of it at all. And if one is aware then one asks: how am I to bring all this together to make a whole? And who is the entity that's to bring all these various parts and integrate them? You are following all this? Who is the entity that is trying to bring all the various, divided fragments together? The entity, is he not also a fragment? Thought is a fragment. Please understand - shall we go into that? Do you see that? Thought itself is a fragment because knowledge is never complete about anything. And knowledge is the result of accumulated memory and thought is the response of that memory and therefore it is limited. And thought can never bring about a holistic observation of life.
So can one observe the fragment, the many fragments that we have, which is our daily life, look at it? You are a professor, or you are a teacher, or you are merely a householder, a sannyasi who renounces the world and goes off - these are fragments of our daily life. And to observe the whole movement of these fragments, their separative ends, separative motives, to observe them all. And we said, also, during these talks, to observe without the observer. The observer is the past, the accumulated memories, remembrances, incidents. He is all that past. That is time. The past is looking at this fragmentation and the past is also the result of other fragmentations. Are you following all this? Are we talking together in all this? So can one observe without time, without the remembrances of the past and without the word? Because the word is the past, the word is not the thing and so we are always looking through words, through explanations, which are a movement of words. So we never have a direct perception. And that direct perception is insight. And that insight transforms the brain cells themselves. Our brain is conditioned through time and functions in knowledge. And it is caught in that cycle. And to bring about a transformation in the very structure of the cells, which scientists are asking, discussing - we have talked with some of the scientists and it is possible to bring about a mutation in the brain cells themselves when there is pure observation of any problem.
And, as we also said the other day, we are masters of time. We have created time. Not the time of the sun and the sunset, not the rising and the waning of the moon, but the psychological time, the inward time that man, that thought has put together. We are masters of that time. Please this is important to understand because we are going to deal with something much more, very complex, which is death. We are going to talk about it presently. And that is why we must understand the nature of time which man has created. Time as hope, time as achievement, psychologically. You need time to learn a skill, you need time to learn a language, you need time to learn certain technological, complex problems, there you need time, there you need knowledge, there you need application. But we are asking why human beings psychologically, inwardly, have created time. Time when I will be good, time when I will be free of violence, time as achieving enlightenment, time as achieving some exalted state of mind, time as meditation. We have invented that time, therefore we are masters of that time. And when we function within the realm of that time we are bringing about a contradiction and hence conflict. Time is conflict. I wonder if you understand all this.
So we are the masters of time - that is really a great discovery if one realises the truth of that: that we are the past, the present and the future, which is time. Time as psychological knowledge. And we have divided life, the living and the dying. We have created a distance between life, that is, our living, the living in our consciousness and the distance as time, which is death. That is, I am living with all my problems and death is something that is to be avoided, postponed, put at a great distance, which is another fragmentation of our life. Right?
We are saying: to observe holistically, as a whole movement of life, which is to live, the living and the dying, the whole of it, that is our life. And we cling to life and avoid, run away, don't even talk about it. So we have fragmented our life, not only superficially, physically, but also we have separated ourselves from death. And what is death? We are going to enquire together into that because that's part of our life.
One may be frightened, one may want to avoid it, one may want to prolong living, and they are doing it, perhaps another fifty years or hundred years you may add to your life but always at the end of it there is that, called death. So we must enquire together: what is living? What is living, which is our consciousness? The consciousness is made up of its content. The content is not different from consciousness. Our consciousness is what you believe, your superstition, your ambition, your greed, your competition, your attachment, your suffering, the depth of loneliness, your gods, the rituals, all that is your consciousness, which is you. And that consciousness is not yours, it is the consciousness of humanity. That is, you are the world and the world is you. Your neighbour suffers, you suffer. Your neighbour goes through most difficult times and you may not, but you also go through difficult times. Your neighbour may fail, be anxious, lonely, and you will go through that too. So you are your consciousness with its content. That content is the ground upon which all humanity stands. Therefore psychologically, inwardly, you are not an individual. Outwardly you may have a different form, you may be pink, yellow, brown, black, purple, whatever it be, tall, short, woman, man, but inwardly, deeply, we are similar. Perhaps with some variations but the similarity is like a string that holds the pearls together.
And in examining our living, which we must, to comprehend what is living, we are asking what is living? Then we can ask what is dying? What is before is more important rather than what happens after death. What happens before, not the last minute. It may be an accident, a disease, old age and the end. Before the end, long before the end, what is living? Is this living travail, conflict, without any relationship with each other? That relationship like two parallel lines running, never meeting except perhaps sexually. This sense of deep inward loneliness and that is what we call living - the conflict, the pain, the anxiety, the agony, the loneliness, and the immense suffering. Going to the office from eight o'clock, nine o'clock, until five o'clock day after day, day after day, month after month, what happens to your brain? And this is what we call living. And to escape from that living, so-called living, you go off to churches, temples, mosques, pray, worship, which is utterly meaningless. Or, if you have money you indulge in extravagance, the extravagance of this country in marriage. You know all the tricks you play to escape from your own consciousness, from your own state of mind. And this is what is called living. And death is the ending, the ending of everything that you know: every attachment, all the money you have accumulated, you can't take it with you, therefore you are frightened. Fear is part of our life. We went into that very deeply the other day. And so whatever you are, however rich, however poor, however highly placed, whatever power you have, whatever kind of politician you are, from the highest politician down to the lowest crook in politics, this is the end, which is called death.
And what is it that is dying? The 'me', the me with all the accumulations that are gathered this life, all the pain, the loneliness, the despair, the tears, the laughter, the suffering, that is me, the words - they are words. The summation of all this is me. I may pretend that I have in me some higher spirit, the atman, the soul, something everlasting which is all put together by thought. And therefore thought is not sacred. So whatever thought invents is not sacred, whether in the church, in the temple, or in the mosque. So this is our life. This is the 'me' that you cling to, are attached. And the ending of that is death. The fear of the known, and the fear of the unknown, because our known is our life, and we are afraid of that life, and we are afraid of death. Have you ever seen a man or a woman frightened of death? Have you ever seen them closely? Death is the total denial of the past, present and the future, which is me. And being frightened of death we think there are other lives to be lived. That is, you believe in reincarnation, some of you, probably most of you do. That is a nice, happy, memory of comfort, invented by people who have not understood what is living. They see living is death, pain, constant conflict, endless misery with occasional flare of a smile, laughter and joy, and they say, 'We will live next life. After death I will meet my wife, my husband, my son, my god'. We have not understood what we are. What are we attached to? Look at it. Please look very closely together, what is it that we are attached to? To what? To money? If you are attached to money, that is you, the money is you. It's like a man attached to old furniture, beautiful 14th century furniture, highly polished, great value, he is attached to that. And that attachment is to furniture, therefore he is furniture. If you are attached to nose and throat specialists, your heaven will be nose and throat. You understand what we are talking about?
So what are you attached to? Your body? If you are really attached to your body you have to look after that body, you have to eat properly, you have to exercise properly, but you don't. You are just attached to the idea of the body - the idea but not the actual instrument. If you are attached to your wife because of your memories, if you are attached to her because of your comfort, this and that, all the trivialities of attachment, death comes and says, 'You are going to be separated'.
So one has to enquire very closely and deeply to what you are attached. Because death says you can't have anything when you die. Please follow this carefully, I am going into it. Your body is cremated or buried, and what have you left? Your sons, for whom you have accumulated a lot of money, which he will misuse anyhow. He will inherit your property, pay taxes and go through all the terrible anxieties of existence - is that what you are attached to? Or, attached to your knowledge - has been a great writer, great poet, painter - to fame. Or you are attached to a word because words play a tremendous part in our life. Just words. Because we never look behind the word, we never see the word is never the thing, the symbol is never the reality.
So as we are the masters of time because we have invented time psychologically, can death, can the brain, the human consciousness, be free of this fear? Freedom, to be free. In the democratic world they are supposed to be free, to say what they want, to think what they like, to do what they like - up to a point. In the totalitarian states they are not free, you can't - you know all the rest of that I don't have to go into it. Here you can do what you like, which you are doing: doing exactly what you want to do, yielding to pressure, yielding to circumstances, but pursuing your desire, what you want to do. Choose, we consider choice - to have choice, freedom - is that freedom, to have choice? Choice to move in this one field of knowledge, psychological knowledge, from one corner to the other - and you consider that freedom. I hope you are understanding all this. So is there freedom from fear of death? That is, as you are masters of time, to live with death, not separate death as something to be avoided, to be postponed, something to put away, but death is part of life. That is, to understand the meaning of ending, to understand the meaning of negation. When you end something, it may be a small habit, end your smoking, drinking - ending. Ending your attachment, ending your belief, negating. When you negate, end, there is something totally new. So while living, can you negate attachment completely? That is, living with death. Death means the ending. You are following all this? You understand? That way there is incarnation, that is something new taking place. The ending is extraordinarily important in life. To understand the depth and the beauty of that word, which is to negate something which is not true. To negate for example your double talk. To negate, if you are a lawyer, and you go to the temple, negate the temple. You understand? So that your brain has this quality of integrity.
So death is an ending and has extraordinary importance in life. Not suicide, not euthanasia; the ending of your attachment, your pride, your antagonism for another, your hatred for another, ending your - oh, so many things you have collected to end. But when you look, as we said, from a holistic view of life, that they are all interrelated, the dying, the living, the agony, the despair, the loneliness and the suffering, they are all one movement. When you see it holistically then there is total freedom from death. Not that the physical body is not going to be destroyed, but the sense of ending and therefore there is no continuity. You understand? The fear is not being able to continue.
And suppose, or when, one human being understands the full significance of death and the depth of that, the vitality, the fullness of that word and what lies behind that word, he is out of that human consciousness. Because human consciousness is what we have described, but the description is not the content. Then what happens to people, to human beings who have not broken away completely from the content of that consciousness? You are following all this? Or is this too much of an evening? Suppose I, a human being, have not understood, or gone into myself, and studied the whole content of my consciousness, and I die, with fear, separation from my family, from my bank account, from my daily ugly routine, what happens to me? I, who have thought I was a separate individual, my consciousness being separate, my soul, atman, all that is separate, what happens to me when I die? Will I still continue this separation as an individual next life? And if I believe in next life, as most of you do, then what matters is how you behave now. Right? Because next life you are going to pay for it. Right? But you don't believe in reincarnation really because you are not behaving now. It is just a trick of the brain to give you some kind of solace, some kind of comfort. If you really believed in it you would have extraordinarily good minds and be a good human being now. But you don't believe in anything really. You only believe, you only want your power, your money, your status, your position, your technique, skill and money, and perhaps sex. That is all you want. And that is what human beings want so you will continue in that state. Not you as an individual but that state of consciousness will continue. And this is life. This is the agony of pleasure and pain of life. But when you understand that life and death are one, they are one when you begin to end in living: end your attachment, end your beliefs, end your antagonisms, your prejudices, your conclusions, end all your gods. Negate all that, then you are living side by side with death, which is the most extraordinary thing to do. Which is, there is neither the past nor the present nor the future, there is only the ending.