The art of living and dying
Time is the enemy of man
3rd Public Talk Bombay
February 11, 1984
May we continue with what we were talking about last time that we met here? We were talking about conflict, whether it is possible to live in this world without problems and conflict. We shall go on talking about that because for most of us life, the daily living, is a series of struggles, conflicts, pain and varieties of anxieties. And we were asking whether it is possible living in this crazy world to live a life in which every kind of problem and conflict doesn't exist. It may sound rather absurd, or even crazy, to think about such thing, to live without a single conflict.
As we were saying the other day all this requires, the enquiry into this question, considerable intelligence, considerable energy, application. Merely to discuss, or have a dialogue between you and the speaker verbally, theoretically has very little meaning. So if we could together this evening - in spite of the crows - could think together, go into this problem whether there is an art of living in which one can live in daily life - not in a theoretical world - in daily life, to live without, psychologically, inwardly, without all the turmoil, the pain of change, and the anxiety involved in that change, whether it is possible to live such a life.
To ask such a question may seem quite incredible because our life from the moment we are born till we die is a series of conflicts, struggles, ambition trying to fulfil itself, and all the pain of existence, with sorrow, pleasure and so on. So if we could go into this question: the art of living daily life. We have many arts: the art of painting, the art of making a marvellous shoe, first-class shoe, and the art of painting, the art of engineering, the art of communication - there are many, many arts. But for most of us, and probably for the rest of the world too, we have never asked this question: the art of living. To find that out - this is a terrible Bombay is rather dirty country, it makes ones eyes water, I am not crying - requires investigation, how to live. Because the art of living is the greatest art, and the most important art, greater than any other, greater than the art of governments, the art of communication, in spite of all that we have never enquired very deeply what is the art of living our daily life, which requires such subtlety, sensitivity, and a great deal of freedom. Because without freedom you cannot find out what is the art of living. The art of living isn't a method, a system, or ask another how to find the art of living, but requires considerable intellectual activity, and also a deep abiding honesty. Very few of us are honest. It is getting worse and worse in the world. We are not honest people. We say one thing, do another, we talk about philosophy, god, all the theories that the ancient Indians have invented, and we are rather good at all that kind of stuff, but the word, the description, the explanation, is not the deed, the action. And that's why there is a great deal of dishonesty. And to enquire into the art of living there must be a fundamental, unshakeable, immutable honesty. Honesty which is not corruptible, which doesn't adjust itself to environment, to demands, to various forms of challenges. It requires a great integrity to find out because we are dealing with a very, very complex problem. It isn't just easy to live a life which is perfectly orderly, without dissipating energy, without living in any kind of illusion or tradition. Tradition, however old, however modern, is merely carrying on the old pattern. And the old pattern cannot possibly adjust itself to the new.
So together, and we mean together, it is not that the speaker is saying something to which you agree or disagree, but together exercising your intellect, your reason, your sanity, if you have sanity, and together looking at this very complex problem. As we said the other day, this is not a lecture, this is not a lecture to give you information, facts, instruct you, to persuade you, to slightly, delicately direct you in a particular direction, not doing any kind of propaganda, to inseminate a new set of ideas. It is not anything of that kind. That would be dishonourable on the part of the speaker when he says it is not that, and he means that. So you are exercising your own brain, your own sense of urgency, demand, to find out if there is a way of living which is totally orderly. So please, if you will, be serious for this evening. You may not be serious for the rest of the year, or the rest of the week, but at least for once in one's life to be totally earnest, to be completely honest with oneself. Then we can together go into this question: what is the art of living.
How are we going to find out? The art. To put everything in its right place, not exaggerating one or the other, not giving one's instinct, one's urges in one direction, and neglecting totally the other. Not trying to fulfil in a particular direction but together you and the speaker are going to find out for ourselves, not that you will be told by the speaker. This is important to understand.
I am sorry, the crows are having fun! They are saying goodnight to each other. (Laughter) They will quieten down when it gets a little darker.
So please, for this evening at least, see how important it is to find out a way of living in which conflict, problems don't exist. Because conflict and problems waste our energy. One has to find out why problems exist. There are mathematical problems, geographical problems and so on - academic problems; we are not talking about those problems. We are talking about the problems of human beings. They are first human beings, afterwards they are scientists, engineers, businessmen - all the rest of it. First they are human beings. But when you give importance to other things you forget that you are a human being. So please, together, let's find out.
The art of living, doesn't it mean to lead a life, a daily life, with tremendous precision, accuracy of order. Order does not mean, does it, conformity, following a pattern set and adjusting yourself to that pattern. We will go into this slowly. Does it not mean that to become fully conscious, aware of one's own disorder - are we aware of that? Or do we think that is merely an environmental difficulty, but inwardly we are perfectly orderly. We are pointing out together that inwardly we live in disorder, in contradiction. That's a fact. Even the greatest saint - they are generally slightly neurotic - even the greatest saints live in disorder, because they are trying to become something all the time. The very becoming - you understand what I mean, I hope we are following each other - becoming: I am this, I will become that. In that endeavour to change 'what is' to 'what should be', there is an interval, a gap in which conflict takes place. And that conflict is the essence of disorder. You have understood what I'm Where there is division - different classes of people, racial divisions, and in ourselves a contradiction, a division: I am this, I must become that, in that there is a division - that very division is the root of disorder. In that there is a contradiction: I am this; I want to be orderly. When I say 'I want to be orderly' I recognise I am in confusion so I attempt to bring about order, so I make a diagram, a sketch of what is order and then I try to follow that. We are saying, if you will kindly listen together, that the very fact is the cause of disorder. Right? Have you understood? Are we together in this a little bit, slightly? Not too much, but just enough.
So, where there is division in us psychologically there must be conflict, and therefore disorder. Now, as long as there is disorder, trying to find order is still disorder. Right? You understand? I am confused. My life is in disorder, I am fragmented, broken up inside, and being confused, out of that confusion I create a pattern, an ideal, a scheme, and I say I am going to live according to that scheme. But the origin of that scheme is born out of my confusion. Right? Clear? So what I have to understand is, why am I confused, why am I disorderly. If I can understand that, then out of that comprehension, perception, order naturally comes without a single effort. That is, if I can find the causation of my confusion, then confusion doesn't exist, then there is order. I wonder if you see this. Are we together in this, a little bit? Are we? Good. When you say 'Yes, sir', do you really mean it? Or it is just verbal assertion - let's get on with it. That is dishonesty. If we don't see things clearly, don't say yes - say 'I don't see it'. Then we can together have a dialogue. But if you say yes, or what your concern is then let's go on.
So please, look at it carefully. We have got a whole hour. And this awareness of confusion - not we should not confused, but the very awareness of confusion brings about the cause of it, the causation. So what is the cause? Do you understand? If I am ill and I go to the doctor, and the doctor, if he is fairly good, says you are eating or doing certain things that upset your whole organism, so he says don't do this, don't do that. So I change. I eat properly. In the same way if we can find the cause, then the effect is changed. And if there is a change in the effect there is change in the cause. Do you understand? Are we together or you asleep? Let's proceed.
So order is only possible when we understand the nature of disorder. And the nature of disorder can be totally wiped out. If I am quarrelling with my wife, or the wife is quarrelling with me, I find out why we are quarrelling. If we like to quarrel, that's a different matter, but if want to stop quarrelling we say, 'Let's talk about it, let's see why we quarrel.' And then we find we are quarrelling about opinions: I want this and you want something different. And thereby we begin to communicate with each other and ultimately come to some point where we both of us agree. So similarly, together, to live a life, the art of living so that it is completely orderly. That is the art of living.
Then, the art of living implies that there should be no fear. Right? Shall we go into it? Are you interested in it? We are saying that the art of living demands that there should be no fear at all - fear of psychological security, fear of death, fear of not becoming something, fear of losing, gaining - you know the whole problem of fear. Shall we talk about it together? Whether it is possible to totally be free completely of fear, because a mind, a brain that is frightened, a brain that is frightened is a dull mind, a mind that is not capable of observing, living. Aren't you all frightened? Be a little honest with it. We are all frightened, inwardly. We will first examine the inner, then we'll look at the outer, not the other way round. You understand? We all want physical security, that's what everybody demands - money, position, safety - security physically. But we never enquire into the security, certainty, inwardly. Because the inward activity shapes the outer, controls the outer. Right? You understand?
So, we are asking, the art of living consists not only having complete order, but also to be totally psychologically, inwardly free of fear. Is that possible? Because we have lived with fear from childhood. Fear of the husband, fear of the wife, fear of not achieving, fear of not fulfilling, fear of not being satisfied - you know the nature of fear, I am sure, all of you. So, we are asking what is the nature and the structure of fear. Ask yourself the question first. What is fear, how does it arise, what is the cause of it, the root cause of it? I may be afraid of darkness, I may be afraid of public opinion, I may be afraid of somebody who is going to beat me up. There are various forms of fear. So shall we deal with the various forms one by one - your particular fear, her particular fear, or my particular fear - or shall we go together and find out the root of it, the cause of it? Right? Which do you want? The various branches of fear, or the very hidden root, hidden nature of fear? You understand? What is the root of fear? Look at your - the speaker is asking you this question, and if you will kindly be honest this evening - you can be dishonest afterwards because that's your nature, that's what you want - but for this evening find out for yourself what is the root of it, what brings all this fear about. Because fear is most destructive. If one lives in an enclosed - a sense of physical nervous tension, feeling small, frightened, you know the feeling of fear, and where there is fear every kind of neurotic action takes place - irrational, pretending to be rational. So it is important to find out for yourself what is the root of it. Or are there many roots of it, or only one single root? Probably you have not thought about this, you are too busy earning money, you are too busy worrying about your states, you haven't probably ever given thought or enquiry to find out if you can live without fear.
Change from 'what is' to 'what should be' is one of the causes of fear. I may not ever arrive there so I am frightened of that too. I am also frightened of what is going on. I am also frightened of the past. Right? So we are trying together - not accepting what the speaker is saying - to find out. That requires honesty, scepticism, not accepting a thing that the speaker is saying, but to see for ourselves the essence and the structure of fear. Right? What is fear? Not what we are afraid about. I am afraid about death - suppose - because I am getting old and I am getting frightened. We are not asking what you are afraid of, but what is fear per se, in itself. You understand? Are you getting tired? All right. So what is fear itself? How does it come about? We will go together into the investigation of it, but you must together share it, not verbally accept it. Then if you verbally accept it, theoretically, or intellectually, at the end of it you are still frightened. And that's a waste of time - your time and the speaker's time. But if you and I, the speaker, can walk together, journey together into the whole nature of fear, and you yourself capture the truth of the cause of fear, then you are free. Unless you want to be frightened for the rest of your life - you may like it, because people do love some kind of fear because that makes them feel at least they have something to hold on to.
What is the past? Please listen, we are talking about fear. What is the past, what is the present, and what is the future? The past is all that you have accumulated as memory, the remembrance of things gone, and the present is the past, modifying itself to the future. Right? This is actual fact. So you are the past memories, past remembrances, past accidents - the whole accumulation of the past. You are that. You are the bundle of memories. That's a fact. If you had no memories you don't exist. So you are that. The past - please listen - is time, isn't it? The past has been gathered through time. I have had an experience, a week ago, that experience has left a memory, and that memory is born from the past experience, which is, when I use the word 'past', it's already time. Right? Agreed? So it's time; the past is time. And also the past is memory, knowledge, experience. Right? Right, sir? The past is experience, knowledge, stored in the brain as memory, and from memory thought arises. This is a fact. So time, which is the past, and also memory which is the past, so time and thought are the same. They are not separate. Right? Are you understanding this? Are we together? A little bit?
So, we are asking, fear is both time and thought. I did something a week ago, which caused fear, I remember that fear, and I want to prevent that happening again. So there is the past incident which caused fear, and it is recorded in the brain as memory. That recording is time. Right? This speech, this talk, is being recorded, this recording is time, between the word and the thing, that is time. I hope you understand all this. And thought is also time, because thought comes into being through memory, through knowledge, through experience, so thought and time are similar, together, they are not separate. Right? And we are saying, asking, is that the root of fear, time and thought - time-thought? That is, I am afraid of death. Right? Death is - I am still young, old, or whatever it is, I am healthy - but death is waiting for me and I am afraid of death. That is, I have put it away from me, but I am still afraid of that. Aren't you all afraid of death? Yes? No? You must be strange people (laughter) if you are not afraid of death.
So fear, the root of fear, is thought-time. Don't say 'How am I to stop time and thought?' If you say 'how', then you demand a system, a method, then you will practise that method which means time. Right? So you are back again in the same old pattern. Have you understood? But if you understand, grasp, have an insight into the nature of fear and the causation of fear, which is thought and time, if you really grasp that, then hold it, don't run away from it. Look - I don't know why I should explain all these things, they are all so simple. But you are all very complicated people, too intellectual, too learned, too experienced, you can never meet anything simply. We'll go into it.
Fear arises from something that has happened before. I have had a toothache, go to the dentist, he heals it, but it has been recorded, the pain has been recorded. Where there is a recording there must be the memory and saying 'I hope it will not happen again tomorrow'. So the pain of yesterday is recorded, then the memory, which is the recording, says 'I hope I won't have it' - the whole process of that is fear. Right? If you understand the principle of it, the fundamental nature of fear, then you can deal with it, but if you are escaping from fear, trying to rationalise it, trying to - say, how am I, tell me, help me to escape from it, then at the end of it, as you are, for the rest of your life you are frightened. Right?
So the root of fear is time-thought. If you understand that - see the beauty of it, the subtlety of it. And the other thing is: people are afraid, as you are, most human beings throughout the world are afraid of death. That's one of the fundamental fears of life. And we all know death is for everybody, for you and the speaker. That's an absolute certainty. Right? You can't escape from that. You might live longer by not wasting your energy, by leading a simple, sane, rational life, but however way you live, death is inevitable. Right? Would you accept that? Not accept - it is a fact. Would you face that fact? You are going to die, so is the speaker. You - who are you? Who are you, sirs, and ladies - who are you? Your money, your position, your capacity, your dishonesty, your confusion, your anxiety, your loneliness, your bank account - you are all that, aren't you? Be simple and honest. It is so.
And we are asking, what is the art of living when we are going to die? It is there, whether you like it not. What is the art of living so that one is not afraid of death? You understand? Let's go into it. Let's go into it, not verbally, not intellectually, not theoretically, but actually so that you know what death means. We are not advocating suicide. There are certain philosophers, the existentialists and others, who say life is a perpetual going up the hill and coming down the hill, pushing up the hill, and after you reach a certain height, coming down. And life, such a life has no meaning, therefore commit suicide. Do you understand? We are not saying that is the way to live. That's not the art of living. But we are asking ourselves, why are we afraid of death. Whether we are young, old, and so on, why is there this torment of which we are so - it may be conscious or unconscious. And the fear of death is also suffering. Right? Suffering in leaving my family, suffering - you know - all the things I have accumulated, and I am leaving all that. So, the art of living is not only to find out how to live our daily life, but also to find out what the significance of death is while living. Right?
What is death? There is the biological, organic, ending through disease, through old age, through accident, through some misfortune - I go down the street, a brick may fall on me by chance and I am killed. So what do we mean by dying? If we can understand that then life and death can live together. You understand? Not death at the end of one's whole when the organism ends, but to live together, to live with death and life. Have you ever asked these questions? Probably not. You ask that question. Put it to yourself, this question: whether it is possible to live, which is the art of living - living, and living with death. Then to find that out you must find out what is living. Right? Which is more important, dying or living, before or after? You understand my question? Most people are concerned after - whether there is reincarnation, all that kind of stuff. But they never ask, which is more important, the living, which is an art, if there is the right living perhaps death is also part of right living. You understand? Not at the end of one's stupid life.
So one must enquire first, what is living. You answer it, sir. We will discuss it, have a dialogue about it, but you have to answer that question for yourself. Which means, what is your life? What's your daily life, which is what your life is, a long series of daily lives. What are those long series of lives? Pain, anxiety, insecurity, uncertainty (laughs). Right? Some kind of illusory devotion to some entity which you have invented, some kind of fanciful, illusory existence, a make-believe life, having faith, having belief - all that is what you are. Right? You are attached to your house, to your money, to your bank, to your wife, children. Right? You are attached. This is your life. Would you contradict that? Would you contradict that? The description, which the speaker has pointed out, that you live a constant struggle, constant effort, comfort, pain, loneliness, sorrow - that's your life. And you are afraid to let that go. And death says, 'My friend, you can't take it with you'. You can't take your money, your family, your knowledge, your beliefs. Right? Death says you have to leave all that behind. Right? Would you agree to that? Or do you deny that? Face it, sirs.
So, the art of living is - need I answer it? You see, you are waiting for me to answer it. Look sir, I am attached to my wife, or to a certain conclusion, I am tremendously attached to it. Now death says to me 'You can't - when I come you have to let go.' Now is it possible for me, living, to let go? Yes, sir! Will you? Will you let go? Absolute silence. Right? I am attached to my furniture, I have polished it, I have looked after it, it's an old piece of furniture, I won't give it away, it's mine. I have lived with it for years, eighty years. It's part of me. When I am attached to that piece of furniture, that furniture is me. I know you laugh, but you won't let that furniture go. So death says to you, 'My friend, you can't take that desk with you.' So can you be totally free, totally free of that attachment to that piece of furniture? You live with that furniture, but totally free of attachment to that. That is death. You understand? So that you are living, living and dying all the time. Oh, you don't see the beauty of it! You don't see the freedom that gives you, the energy, the capacity. Where you are attached there is fear, there is anxiety, uncertainty; uncertainty, fear, causes sorrow.
And to go into the question of sorrow - that's part of life. Every one on earth has suffered, has shed tears. Haven't you shed tears? Your husband doesn't care for you, he uses you and you use him. And you suddenly realise how ugly that is, and you suffer. Man has killed man throughout history in the name of religion, in the name of god, in the name of nationality Right? So man has suffered immensely. And they have never been able to solve that problem; never suffer. Because where there is suffering there is no love. In suffering there is not only self pity, there is also fear of loneliness, of separation, of division, a remorse, guilt - all that is contained in that word. And we have never solved this problem. We put up with it, we shed tears and carry the memory of the son, or the brother, or the wife or the husband for the rest of your life. Is there an end to sorrow? Or must man for ever and ever carry this burden? To find that out is also the art of living. The art of living is to have no fear. And also the art of living is to have no sorrow. So to enquire into that complex problem, why man not only has been inhuman and also cruel to other people, brutal, violent, killing by the millions, thousands, and how many people have shed tears over their sons, or their husbands, or their relations and so on? And we are still carrying on the same old rotten, filthy, brutal way, killing each other.
You are going to have, I believe I saw as we came down, a naval show here. Right? Yes, sir. And you are very proud of your army and your navy, and all that rot. And every country is proud of its own military instruments to kill thousands of people. And you agree, we should not, and you carry on the next day, never enquiring whether it can stop, in yourself violence, why wars exist. Do you realise, sirs, there have been wars for six thousand years - man killing man. The filthiness, the ugliness of it all. And you don't mind. It is happening far away somewhere and you don't mind. But you are preparing for it too.
So that is one of the problems of life, whether it is possible to live without sorrow. What is sorrow? Why, when my son dies - my son, not yours, that's your affair - when my son dies something has broken in me, especially if I am a woman. I have born him in my womb, give birth, and I have nursed him, looked after him, and the pain of all that and the pleasure, the joy of the mother, and then he ends up being killed - for your country, your honour demands that he be killed. You understand all this, don't you? Why do you allow it?
So what is sorrow? Is it that my son, gone, can never return, though I think we'll meet next life, or in heaven or in hell. He is gone. That's a fact. But I carry the memory, I keep his picture round my heart. I live on that memory, shedding tears. I can't forget. It is part of my burden. Don't you know all this? Or am I is the speaker saying something irrelevant? And you have never asked why we suffer. And we have never enquired into sorrow, into suffering, and asked whether it can ever end, not at the end of one's life, but now, today. If you begin to enquire into it, as we are doing now, I hope, what is the cause? Is it self pity? Is it that he was young, fresh, alive? - and gone. Is it that I am attached to him? Face all this, sirs. Is it I am attached to him? And that attachment, what is that attachment? To whom am I attached? To my son? What do I mean, by my son? Be rational, logical. What is my son? I have a picture of him, I have an image of him, I want him to be something. Right? I want him to be something, and he is my son. And I am attached desperately because he will carry on my business, he will be better at getting more money. You know, you are all playing this game, you know it very well. And that's one side. And also I have a certain affection for him. We will not call it love, but we will call it a certain kind of affection. If you loved your son you would have a different kind of education. Right? A different kind of upbringing. Not just follow your footsteps - he is the new generation, and a new generation may be totally different from yours. I hope he is. I want him to be a new generation, of a different type of person than me. Not follow what I have been doing - engineer, businessman, and all that business. But I want him to inherit my money, my possessions, my house - you know the game you are all playing. And when he dies everything goes. That is, my picture of him, my wanting him to be this and that, that has come to an end and I am shocked. And I turn to my nephew, my niece, to someone to carry on the same pattern, because I have lots of money or a single room. Don't you know all this? How cruel all this is. And this is one of the causes of great sorrow.
And death of course is the final sorrow. But if you are living, death and life together, then there is no change. You are incarnating every day as fresh, not you, a new thing is incarnating every day afresh. And in that there is great beauty. That is creation. Not merely painting a picture, building a house and architecture, but living with this death and life. And that gives you - in that there is tremendous freedom. And freedom implies also, the root meaning of that word 'freedom' is also love. Living, the art of living and the art of dying, together. That brings about great love. And love has its own intelligence, not the intelligence of a cunning mind. Intelligence is something outside of the brain. We will talk about that tomorrow.