Love, living and dying
Can we die to all things gathered?
3rd Public Talk, New York, New York State
April 27, 1974
I think we ought to talk over together this morning the actual life that one leads every day, and what is love, and also we should go into the question of what is death, because they are all related to one another, they are not separate - living, the way of our lives, this thing that we call love and that extraordinary thing that man is so frightened of and has never come face to face with it, directly, that fearful thing that we call death. They are inter-related, they are not separate incidents in the movement of life but rather they are indivisible, a continuous movement. And it would be good if we could spend some time this morning, if you will, to go over these things, sharing together rather than merely listening to a series of words or ideas, but penetrate deeply into these questions.
First of all, what is our living, what is it that we call living? If you look at one's own life, at the extraordinary suffering that one goes through, for casual reasons or for inexplicable incidents and chances, there is a great deal of suffering, not only personal, individual suffering but also the vast suffering of human beings all over the world. And when one considers these things and looks at one's own life - and I hope you will this morning look into your own life - what is it that we call living?
One observes the storms, the crises, that are multiplying in the world, and you have had one recently and I am pretty sure that they are going to increase more and more, not less, the storms, the crises, the economic catastrophes and so on. And we go through these incidents and experiences almost unthinkingly. And our life as it is lived daily, what is it all about? Where is it that we are going? And I think it is very important to understand this question of what is living, not from another but for ourselves find out the ways of our life, the days that we spend in constant strife, the battle, one against the other, the everlasting struggle from the moment we are born until we die, accumulating, losing, frightened, pursuing pleasure, pain, both physical and psychological, the utter empty loneliness of one's own life, the escapes that thought has invented as religion, politics, every form of stimulation, sensation and pleasure. And behind all this there is fear and great anxiety, untold misery. And this is what we call living, with occasional flashes of joy which is uninvited, a feeling of happiness that soon fades into pleasure, and this life which we know pretty well. And this is what we call living, in our own particular lives.
And outwardly there are increasing storms coming. You have the storm of energy or the lack of it, the backward countries which are going to explode with their population and demands, the rich countries which must feed the poor, the hungry of Asia and Africa, and each one is concerned with his own life. He doesn't think beyond his own particular agony, frustration, misery, confusion. And one sees this happening, all throughout the world, wherever you go, it doesn't matter to whom you talk to, this problem is there always.
And as the crises arise more and more, governments are going to take over the activities of human beings. So they are gradually going to control the mind, either authoritarians in the authoritarian, complete totalitarianism and a vague form of control. All this, with all its misery, confusion, is the lot of all of us, the life of most people; probably it is yours. And we don't seem to be able to change either ourselves or outward circumstances. Perhaps it is much more difficult to change the economic structure and the political nature, but perhaps we could, if we apply our minds, our thought, our energies to bring about a change in ourselves, a change which is so immensely necessary, not because the speaker says so but because it is there, all round you, and you may be unwilling to face it, to look at it, to examine it, but it is there, it's part of your life. And unless one transforms oneself completely we are going to have a dreadful time ahead of us. This is not a prophecy, this is what one observes actually going on, things are getting worse, perhaps not in this country so much but in Europe and specially in the East, over-population, lack of food, and the devastation when there is no rain. And those countries are going to demand peacefully or violently that the rich, the affluent people should give and not hold everything to themselves.
And observing this one demands, and I hope you do, what you can do, whether you, whether human beings living in this mad chaos, can change, not through necessity, not through compulsion, not through the demands of another but whether you can change yourself, put away your great consuming selfishness, the pursuit of money though one must have money, demanding more and more and more; and whether you can end your suffering, not only the physical pain but also the inward, unresolved suffering. Because when the mind suffers - I am using we are using the word 'mind' to convey not only the brain but the whole structure of thought, of feeling, of that peculiar sensitive intelligence, all that to the speaker is the mind - and whether the mind can put away suffering, the confusion, the misery, the agony, the anxiety, the fears. All that has created the social outward structure which is utterly immoral. Unless you change basically, deep down in your heart and mind, governments are going to take control of you, which is inevitable. And so can you as a human being, not escaping from this world with all the tears and the agony and the mischief that we create between ourselves, amongst ourselves, can all that end so that we become utterly civilised, capable of bringing about a different social structure. This is the problem that is facing us.
The behaviourists, the philosophers - we are using the word 'philosopher' not the man who is in love with truth but with theories, concepts and formulas and speculative ideas - those philosophers and professors and all that group cannot change us, they may warn us, they may point out the storms and explain the cause of the storms, the crises, the inevitable catastrophe that is going to come upon us but we have to change not according to their pattern but change our own minds and hearts to live totally differently, unselfishly, or enlightened self-concern. Is that possible? Can you seeing all this around you and in yourself, not as an idea, as a concept, or as an intellectual explanation but actually see all this in yourself and seeing the danger of it and so end it? Not to gain some reward or escape from some punishment but do it voluntarily, easily and happily. Can you do this?
That's really the question: can one be choicelessly aware of all that is going on inwardly and outwardly? And that very choiceless attention, if you are at all serious puts an end to it. It's like seeing a danger. When you see a danger you act instantly, there is no psychological or physical hesitation, there is no question of trying, saying to oneself, 'I'll think about it'. When you are confronted with great danger you act rationally, sanely. But we don't seem to see the danger of it, of our life, the way we live. And so explanations have become extraordinarily important. They will tell you the various causes of your behaviour, you attend classes, listen on the television, if there are some serious things on the television, you listen to all this and you are carried away by the explanation, the cause thereof but you remain as you are at the end of it.
So what will make one change? A stimulation? A further rewarding or the fear of punishment? We have been through all that, religions have done that to us, reward and punishment. And we are used to that, we are caught in the habit of that. And can we do anything out of care, out of affection, out of love? And can this take place, this radical psychological revolution without any motive and so we come upon that strange thing called love? Because it appears that when we care, when we are concerned and when we love we act totally unselfishly, then there is generosity, then one is not concerned about oneself. So it becomes important to find out for oneself what love is.
You know, you may listen to all this but if you don't share it, if you don't feel utterly responsible but are merely desiring some kind of stimulation, some kind of intellectual entertainment, or a satisfaction of your own desire then what we are talking about cannot possibly be shared. So what we are talking is not to communicate only through words but if you care, if you are utterly serious, then there is non-verbal communication, and perhaps that communication may alter totally the course of your life.
And so in talking over together as two friends this question of what is love - we use that word so sloppily, that word has been so utterly spoilt, everybody talks about it, the more it becomes common, vulgar, the less there is of it. The dictators, the powerful people, the priests, everybody from the butcher up to the highest power in the land uses that word, like 'god'. And this word existed long before Christianity and the ancient teachers five thousand, six thousand years ago said, 'Don't kill, love, be kind, be generous'. And love, that feeling of compassion, which means passion for all, doesn't seem to be in our hands, in our heart. So it becomes important to find out for ourselves what it means, whether one can really truly live a life of compassion, which is love.
So let us enquire, go into it. Is love pleasure? Is love the pursuit of desire? You have to answer these questions for yourself. But we have made of love as something that gives us pleasure, sexual, the pleasure of money, the pleasure of a position, each person pursuing his own image. And so is love jealousy? Can a mind that is ambitious, greedy, competitive know what love is? He may know pleasure. And in the world outside of us and probably in us too because the outside is the inside, we have made pleasure as sex into something colossal, something enormous, of such urgent importance. Haven't you noticed this? Why? Why pleasure as sex has taken such a predominant place in our lives. Is it because we are intellectually non-entities, intellectually we are second-hand human beings, we are not free there, we imitate, quote endlessly what other people have said, read a great deal and absorb what some intellectuals have written and make it our own. And so intellectually we are slaves. And emotionally we are rather sentimental, romantic. Where there is romanticism and sentimentality there is violence, cruelty, thoughtlessness.
Please do observe all this, don't accept what the speaker is saying, or disagree but just observe. And so our life is second-hand. Individuality means a human being who is indivisible in himself, such a human being who is whole is really an individual. We are not individuals, we are fragmented human beings. Business life is one thing, family life is another, religious life is some distance away and so on. And a fragmented mind must be a second-hand mind. And probably that's why we have made sex into such a colossally important thing in our lives, or rather in your lives.
And so pleasure, which is mechanical - and pleasure is always personal and mechanical - has become extraordinarily vital in our life. Block it and you become violent, angry. And so love surely is not pleasure. And where there is love there is passion. Passion is something different from lust. You can lust after power, lust after more sensations, lust after your own fulfilment, pursue your own appetites. But passion is something entirely different. Passion comes with the understanding of suffering. The word 'passion', the root meaning of that word comes from sorrow. And Christianity has given over this suffering to somebody else. And in Asia they give many explanations for their sorrow but yet they suffer. And as most of us have been through the torture of suffering, for various reasons, self-pity, the loss, the feeling of great loneliness, the insecurity of modern life, the vulgarity of all the things that are going round us. And there is this sorrow. And we have found ways and means of escape from that sorrow.
Now passion, if you will listen kindly, passion comes naturally when you remain with that sorrow without the least movement of escape, without any explanation, neither denying it or accepting it, not treating it as a good thing or bad but just to remain with it. Not as an observer because the observer is part of that sorrow. To remain completely with it without a single movement of thought, then you will see out of that flame of sorrow comes passion. And that passion is compassion, love for all things, for the birds, for the animals, for the trees, for the earth, for human beings, for everyone. But that compassion cannot possibly come into being if you are merely pursuing everlastingly pleasure or avoiding fear.
And when we are talking about fear we come upon this great question of what is death. You know this has been a problem ever since man came. I was we were told some time ago that the Sumarians before the ancient Egyptians, who were the first probably, according to this man, the beginning of civilisation, who lived in Mesopotamia which is now Iraq and all that part. They had this fear of death. And from those days until now we have never been able to solve it, we have never been able to find out what it means to die. Not what is after death, that's rather a silly question. What is after death is what you are now. That's not a very satisfactory answer. And this question of death, we avoid it scrupulously. And when we have to face it we have a thousand explanations - whether there is life after death, or you are by some mysterious process resurrected and sit next to God.
So putting all those absurdities aside, including reincarnation which we will talk about presently if we have time, putting all those aside, what is death? You understand my question? There is old age with all the troubles of old age, death through disease, death through some accident, death through wrong living and there is death for the young and the old. We cannot possibly avoid it, it is always there. Now, knowing that, how do we meet it? Because it is really a very important question, because as we said at the beginning of this talk, living, love and death are interrelated, they are not separate things. If I know how to live it may mean I will know how to die. And if the mind knows the quality of love, and it may be love is as strong as death and it may be that to love one must die. So we must go into this question and share the investigation together.
Questioner: Could you speak louder.
Krishnamurti: Would you mind, if I may point out, ask questions after I have talked.
Q: Speak louder.
K: Oh! Speak louder.
Q: Come closer to the microphone.
K: Come closer to the mike. Zeus! Is that better?
As we were saying, it is an important question to understand, not to avoid it, not to be caught in some explanation or some comforting belief but to really come to grips with it, to really understand the truth of it. Because if we do understand what it means we may be free from the fear of dying.
So what is the meaning of death? You know, to put into words the deep significance of what it means to die one must be prepared to die. And what do you die to? Because when death comes - and I hope you will live a long time - and when death does come what happens? All the things that you hold dear, all your attachments, your knowledge, your appetites, your money, your position, your furniture, your houses, your bank account, everything comes to an end. Doesn't it? You can't take it over, perhaps you would like to. Or you might like to have all this until the last moment. But when that thing comes there is an ending to all that, a total ending, there is no argument, there is no saying, 'Please wait'. There is a complete cutting off of all that you have built, your character, your misery, all the mischief that one has created in the world, the confusion, your attachments, your possession, everything comes to an end. Knowing that, the East has said, we live another life. The East has said, India especially and therefore the rest of the East, said we'll reincarnate, we will be born next life. And when you enquire what it is that is going to be born next life, it is the content of their consciousness. The content of their consciousness is their greed, their envy, their ambition, their position, their money, their quarrels, their attachments, their little furniture, their little knowledge, all that is the content of their consciousness, the 'me'. The 'me' that is identified with the house, with the name, with the property and all the things that man is attached to, that is the consciousness. Consciousness is the content, is its content. Without its content there is no consciousness. Am I making this clear? I hope the speaker is explaining this thing clearly.
Q: What do you mean?
K: What do I mean - I don't mean anything. What do you mean? You mean your consciousness, sir - please listen - your consciousness is what it contains, your anger, your nationality, the civilisation that you have gathered, the knowledge, the attachment, the jealousies, the fears, the agonies, the ambitions, all that which you are is your consciousness. And the content makes up consciousness. That content is the 'me', the 'I', the self, the ego, and that they say in the East will be born next life. That is, if you behave now properly you will have a better life next life. Do you understand? That is their belief. And they don't behave properly now, that's just a belief, a comforting, useless, nonsensical belief. And you have your own particular form of belief. And your content of your consciousness is all that. Please listen to this. And can you die to all that, while living, not at the last moment? Do you understand my question? For example, the speaker's consciousness is all the images, structure, nature of thought, all that is the make-up of this person who is speaking - if he has that content. And when that person dies either there is a continuity of that content or there is a total ending of that. If that content continues it will be the content of the consciousness of humanity, which is greedy, envious, ambitious, unforgiving, you know, all that human beings are right throughout the world. Do you understand? That is, if you as a human being with your consciousness cannot radically change that consciousness you will be caught in the stream of the consciousness of all human beings, which are similar to you. But if when the mind perceives its content, becomes choicelessly aware of the content of this consciousness, and ends it totally, that is, transforms itself completely, dies to everything that it has cultivated, held on to, then there is an incarnation now, there is a new change now. And is that possible? You have understood my question?
Can I die to all the things that I have gathered? Not when my mind is decayed, old, decrepit, senile, unconscious through some disease or accident, but living, vital, clear. Can I die to everything I have known? Every experience, every knowledge, every drive for pleasure and fear - die. So it means, can I, can the mind die every day to everything that it has gathered, then you will see there is totally a different kind of action going on. Then there is innocency. The word 'innocent' means a mind that is incapable of being hurt. And you are not capable of being hurt if you hold on to all your hurts and can you die to all your hurts, voluntarily, easily, without will, drive, strife?
Then from that problem arises, what is immortality? You know this has been the question right through from the beginning of man. The ancient Egyptians said, living is only a means for the preparation of after-life. They have tried everything. And what is immortality? Will you, as a human being live forever? And what are you, you living in America, sitting there in front of the speaker, what are you who desires to be immortal? Because every human being craves after this. Immortality through their books, through their family, through an idea or a concept in which they identify themselves with and so on. What is the state of the mind that has died to itself, to all the things that it has gathered, that has never been hurt because having been hurt it has died to all the hurts? Is not such a mind, which is innocent, fresh, young, clear, is not such a mind immortal, that is, beyond death?
All this, what the speaker has said, becomes utterly meaningless if you don't live it. You know, the speaker doesn't say anything he has not lived, otherwise it would be hypocrisy, a dreadful cheat, it would be an ugly thing. And it is very important for the listener to see if he can live that way, to die to yesterday. You cannot die to the technological knowledge, there that must continue, but to die to your own demands, to your own appetites, to your own ambitions, greed, your antagonisms, your nationalism, to die to all that, to all the things that one has psychologically accumulated every day, then you will see for yourself what it means to die. And then you will find that living is dying, love is also the ending of that which has been.
Would you care to ask questions about what we have been talking?
Q: Sir, could you explain which conscious level or how to observe without the observer but our deep memory
K: Yes, sir, yes, sir. Would you please explain what is the observer and the observed, what is the thinker and the thought, what is the experiencer and the thing he experiences. Is that the question, sir?
Q: On the deep unconscious level.
K: At the deep unconscious level. Would you please explain at the deep unconscious level what is the experiencer and the experience, the observer and the observed and so on. Why at the unconscious level? Has one understood this at the conscious level? Do you understand my question, sir? The conscious level. That is, at the conscious level, at your every day activity, have you observed the difference between the experiencer and the experience? That is, is the experiencer different from the experience? This is an important question because all of us, or rather most of us, want experiences. We crave for spiritual experience, experience, mystical experiences, healing experiences, you know every kind of experience we want. And is the experiencer who experiences different from the experience? You understand my question? I experience - what? - anger. Is anger different from the experiencer? I crave, the experiencer craves for - I don't know - for - what? - some kind of sensuous pleasure, sensuality. Is that experiencer different from the desire for sensual experiences? Or are both the same? Please listen. When you experience something, how do you know what you are experiencing? You only know it when you are able to recognise it. That is, you might experience anger, jealousy, anxiety, the sense of great pleasure of having possessions, you might experience it. That experience must have existed before in order to recognise it, otherwise it is not an experience, is it. Are you following all this? So the experiencer is the experienced. If you seek - as most of you do if you are at all religious, seek God - your experience of God is your projection of God. God hasn't made man in his image but man has made God in his image. You have understood? And so your image you are experiencing, so it is your creation. So there is no difference between the experiencer and the experienced.
Now that is fact. Can you do this consciously? Are you aware of this movement of the experiencer and the experience consciously? When you do, what happens? You have understood my question? When you see for yourself the experiencer is the experienced then what takes place? Why do we want experiences? Because we hope to have further knowledge, further sensations, further intimations of something we don't know. And experiences also act as a means of keeping the mind awake, a challenge, is to make you keep awake, or demand that you keep awake. You have had a challenge thrown at you, the lack of petrol, gas, you have had no gas because the Arabs won't give it to you, you have had that experience. That's a challenge. And that challenge keeps you awake, makes you enquire, find out if you can find other means of energy. That is, a challenge acts as a means of keeping you awake, aware. And when you are aware also that the experiencer is the experienced then what takes place? You understand my question?
That is, one part is, most people's minds are asleep, asleep through propaganda, habit, repetition, conditioning and so on, asleep and a challenge is necessary for such a mind. Such a mind realises that, therefore keeps awake without challenge. And also there is the other part, experiencer is the experienced therefore he is not asking any more experiences because all his experiences are self-projected. Therefore what takes place to a mind that is no longer asleep but is totally awake and is not demanding any experience? What is such a mind? Such a mind is fully awake, totally attentive. Therefore such a mind being a light to itself has no need for experience, for challenge. You have understood?
Now if you have understood all this consciously then what is its relationship, the questioner asks, to the unconscious? Are you all following all this - are you? I hope you are interested in all this. It's your life anyhow. What is the relationship, or what effect has such a truth on the unconscious? Now what is the unconscious? The unconscious, if you observe yourself, not according to some philosopher, analyst, psychologist and all the rest of those people, just observing yourself, your life, what is your unconscious? Can you, can the conscious mind - please do listen to this - can the conscious mind understand or look into the unconscious? Or can the conscious mind just be aware, attentive and in that state of attention the unconscious with all its content, comes out, is exposed. You have understood my question? Some of you understand what I am saying? That is, one sees very clearly a conscious mind cannot uncover the deep layers, it's hidden, there are secret recesses, secret shadows in the unconscious. The unconscious is the racial prejudices, the collective opinions, the family residue, you know, all the past is there, deep down. They cannot be unearthed by the conscious mind, obviously. And the conscious mind goes to sleep, when it goes to sleep when you go to sleep, the unconscious gives its intimations through dreams. Have you noticed, some of you, for yourself, you don't have to go to the professors, the analysts. So your dreams are the continuation of your daily activities, conscious or unconscious. Right? So in that state the unconscious gives its intimation, through symbols and various forms there are scenes taking place. And these dreams have to be interpreted. They can be interpreted as they are occurring. I do not know if you have gone through all this, it is rather interesting if you will. Or you can go to somebody to interpret them which is such a waste of time and money.
So the unconscious with all its content is there, below. And the conscious mind can't reveal, explore, pull it out. What is one to do? As we said the other day, analysis is paralysis - you cannot analyse this. We can go on, we explained why analysis is so utterly futile with regard to sane, rational, reasoning people. It may be useful for the irrational neurotic people, which most of are. Now how is the unconscious to be exposed without effort, without analysis, without the conscious mind, which it cannot, examine that? You have understood my question? You have got your unconscious deep down, with all its secret motives, secret pursuits, the racial, the family, the collective demands and all that is there, stored up - probably that is hell. And how is all that to come out? And is it important for it to come out? You have understood? We think it is terribly important, at least that is what you have been told by all the analysts and the psychologists and all the rest of them. Now I ask myself, must it be explored because I know what it is. It is the racial conditioning, the conditioning born in a certain group, certain family with all its traditions, with all its fears, with all its superstitions, it is all down there. And is it necessary for it to be exposed? Or when the mind is aware, attentive, the interference of the unconscious is immediately seen and put aside? You understand? So that there is no wastage of energy or time in investigating. That is, when the mind is conscious, aware, in that sense of awareness any movement from the deep layers of consciousness, hidden, it shows its head and you can deal with it instantly. And you can deal with it instantly if you don't choose.
That is - oh Lord! You know we think we are free because we can choose. Between this and that, between the various politicians, which are corrupt anyhow and so on and so on and so on, between various gods, various images and various rituals and choose between this and that. Why do you choose? Please find out where choice is necessary and where choice doesn't exist at all. Choice is necessary when I choose between two cars, between two materials for a suit, between two technologies and so on and so on. And psychologically why do I choose at all? What does choice mean in that area? Choice exists only when there is confusion. When there is clarity there is no choice. Right?
So in that choiceless awareness, in that total attention, whatever hints, intimations the unconscious projects itself can be dealt with instantly and ended so that the content of the unconscious is wiped away. You are no longer a Hindu, a Buddhist, nor a Christian. You know, have you ever wondered how the Christians have killed more people than anybody else, how they have destroyed everything with their appetites and the world is imitating them. Now to wipe away all that, to wipe away so that you are free to act as a total, whole, sane, holy human being and that can only take place when you know what love and death and living means.
Q: Would you explain what you meant when you said sentimentality and romanticism are violent?
K: Would you please explain what I mean by sentiment what the speaker means by sentimentality, romanticism and all that.
Q: And violence. You said it was violent.
K: And violence. Haven't you noticed that the sentimental people are very violent? Not the people who have affection, who care, but people who are swayed by opinions, which is really sentimentality, by belief. Now has sentimentality, that is, sentiment, which is emotionalism, has it anything to do with love? And romanticism, the people who rush off to India or to Japan to meditate, they are romantics, aren't they? They think India can give them something because there are a great many so-called holy men there. You know it is one of the easiest things in India to put on a certain robe and go around begging. And that is the tradition established long ago by Brahmins who said, 'A man who gives up the world, his responsibility is to teach people how to live a righteous life, a life of goodness', and they established that tradition many, many centuries ago and now you put on a robe, you can have any kind of mischief in your mind, and you become a holy man doing some kind of tricks. Or you go there to learn some kind of phoney meditation. And all that is romanticism. Anything far away becomes much more pleasant - the next field is greener than yours.
Now sentimentality and romanticism do breed violence. For sentimentality is based on pleasure, romanticism is also a form of pleasure, and when your pleasures are stopped, don't you become violent? Don't you become violent when your ambitions are thwarted? Ambition is a form of sentimentality, not rational thinking.
So love has nothing whatever to do with sentiment, opinion, judgement, justification or romanticism. Which means love has nothing whatever to do with violence. Right, sirs.