Time, death and meditation
If you fundamentally change you affect the whole consciousness of man
4th Public Talk, Calcutta
November 28, 1982
This is the last talk. We have been talking about so many things, so many human problems and we ought to consider this evening several things more, seeing what the world is, what is taking place in the world - the corruption, the violence, the total disregard for the people by the politicians, and the gurus have nothing to say any more except repeat some worn-out phrases and slogans. Considering all this, we ought, together, you and the speaker, think together, not agree, not disregard or reject, but together think because thought has built this world. Thought has been responsible for all the miseries of human beings, though it has created, in the world of technology, most extraordinary things. And it seems so utterly urgent and necessary that we should all think together, co-operate together, find out for ourselves because there is no leader any more, there is no politician, no guru. We are utterly totally responsible for ourselves. And so as the crisis is great we ought to be able to think together, and apparently that is one of the most difficult things to do because each one of us has so many opinions, so many conclusions which prevent our coming together. To think together means to put aside all your personal prejudices, bias, opinions and various forms of conclusions which actually prevent communication with each other. If we could, this evening, put all that aside, even for an hour, and think together to find out for ourselves the truth, the actuality of life, to look at it without any bias, not as a communist, Marxist, socialist or belonging to some sect or religion or nationality, but together look very closely at our lives.
Nobody is going to change our lives - no environment, no authority, no book. So we have to look together at ourselves as we are and explore deeper with great depth the meaning of existence, meaning of our lives, the significance of our activities. So please, if one may point out, this is not a lecture; the speaker is not telling you what to do but together, you and the speaker, enter into the realm of thought. Because thought has brought about great technology and also great wars, great misery, great sorrow, and thought has also brought about great hygiene, surgery and all that. So please, together this evening we are going to penetrate into the whole existence of man, not one aspect of it, not as a religious man or a worldly man, as a scholar or as a monk or as a woman or man; but together look at the whole existence of our life: going to the office day after day for the next forty, fifty years and then dying at the end of it, or going to the factory with all that noise, ugliness and the brutality of it all. We should be able to look at this whole existence of our life, of each one's life, to look at it, to observe it, not direct it, not to ask ourselves what is the goal, what should I do. But first to get acquainted, to understand ourselves, to understand what actually we are, why we do certain things; why we belong to this or to that. So it is important that we look at our life.
If you observe closely, our life is fragmented, broken up. Either you are a businessman or a doctor or a surgeon, an engineer; and in your own life, personal life there is always this division between you, however intimate, and another. There is always this division, this struggle, this pain. Of course there is some kind of joy, pleasure, but that is also part of life. Our life, as it is now, is broken up, fragmented and this fragmentation takes place because our thinking is also fragmentary. Our thinking which is the outcome of knowledge, and knowledge is always limited, and knowledge always goes hand in hand with ignorance - there is no complete knowledge about anything - and so our thinking which is born out of our knowledge is always limited, under all circumstances, whether you are a scientist, or a psychologist, or an engineer and so on. So thought, thinking, is limited, circumscribed, and what is limited must inevitably in its action create fragmentation. You are following this? Thought itself is the cause of all division, of all fragmentation, and unless one understands the nature and the structure of thought you cannot go very far. And to go very far you must begin very near, which is you: how you think, what you think. And to discover for yourself that thought always is limited; it can invent god, the immeasurable, the nameless, the supreme, but it is still the product of thought. And so thought is one of the major factors of our conflict, of our misery, or our sorrow. We have gone into it briefly during the other talks, but unless one understands this basically, very deeply, not intellectually, not verbally, or argumentatively, or logically, unless you understand the nature of thinking and then begin to discover for yourself a new instrument, a totally different instrument. Because the only instrument we have now is thought. And thought has created incredible problems, most complex problems, and thought tries to solve those problems, and thereby increases more problems. You must have noticed this, politically, religiously and so on.
So we must find together a new instrument, and that is what we are going into when we talk about death, religion, meditation, and to understand, to discover, to come upon something that is not man-made, that must be something beyond time, beyond all measure. We are going to discover it, we are going to talk about it, communicate with each other. But we must understand the position of thought, the value of thought, the activity which thought brings about in which there is division, there is fragmentation. If this is very clear we can look at our life, at our own personal circumscribed life. Because it is much more important what happens before death rather than what happens after death. Is this clear? We are always enquiring what happens after death but we never enquire what is happening before death, not at the last day or the last minute but the way we live for thirty, forty, fifty years or more and then die.
Time - please listen to all this, if you care to - time is death. Time - we are talking about time which is the inward time, the psychological time - the time that has created the idea of hope. I hope to become something, I hope to become rich, I hope to become a saint, or a spiritual person. Time is a movement, apart from the time by the watch, by the sunset, and so on or the time from one point to another point. Now all that requires time - to learn a language and so on. Now we are saying that time, the inward time, the psychological time of hope, of achievement of that which is, to change it to become something else. All that involves time both physically and psychologically. We are talking about the psychological time, time that is inside the skin as it were - that time is death. To think in terms of time is to bring about division, as we pointed out, fragmentation, and make the future - give the future greater significance than the present.
Are you following all this? Are you following all this a little bit? Yes? When I ask 'yes', you are not encouraging me. Please, you are not encouraging me, I am asking if we are together walking in the same road, in the same lane, perhaps hand in hand, not that you are walking ahead of me or behind me, the speaker, but together we are walking on the same pleasant lane full of shadows, scented air, and the beauty of trees. So when I ask, please, it is only to find out whether we are walking together, thinking together, co-operating together.
As I say - the speaker says, time which is a movement invented by thought - psychological time is invented by thought and thought itself is the product of time, that is, it is the product of time because man has acquired knowledge through long evolution, evolution implies time and when we think in terms of time we divide life, we fragment life. I am a Hindu, you are a Buddhist, I am a Muslim, and you are a Christian and so on. This fragmentation is the result of thought which itself is limited. And psychological time is invented by thought. When you say, I am, I will be, I am this but I will one day be different, that gap between 'what is' and 'what you should be' or what you want to be, is time. When you have such time there must be fragmentation. And life which is being lived now, in that life we have separated death from living. Right? I'll go into it.
As we said we never enquire deeply what happens long before death, what happens to our life. But very few people ask that. They are all concerned with what happens after death - whether you will live, whether you will meet your brother, and so on and so on. But not the long period thirty - forty, fifty years which is far more important than what happens after. So we are together going to examine, observe what our life is. Because if we don't understand that profoundly, then when you meet death - which I hope you won't for a very long time - then you are frightened, then you are totally blind to everything.
So we ought together investigate our life which is lived daily, whether it has any significance at all, whether it has any value, depth, beauty. What is our life, what is your daily life? Perhaps you go to the office from nine to five for the rest of your life. Have you ever thought what a tragedy it is, and working for what? You will say, my responsibility, my duty to my family, I must earn money, therefore I go to the office from nine o'clock till five for the next sixty years. Then you retire, to die. That is one of the factors of our daily existence. There in the office, or in the factory, you are struggling, you are competing, you want to become the manager: the clerk wants to become the executive, the priest wants to become the Bishop and so on. You come home, weary, insulted, bored, and you come home. What do you call home? Just the roof, half a dozen rooms or one room? What is a home? Have you ever thought about all this? What does that word 'home' mean to you? Just to live there, eat, sex, children, quarrelling, discussing, arguing, bullying each other, or withdrawing from it all - becoming a monk, a sannyasi? You can't withdraw from life, you may put on different robes, but life is where you are, what you are. And during these forty, fifty years, there is constant struggle, constant conflict, pain, a little joy, the pursuit of pleasure, and facing the inevitable death. That is our life, to put it in a nutshell. You can't deny it - it is so. Now this is the life of every human being on earth, whether they live in an affluent society or under a dictatorship or in totalitarian states, whether they are Marxist, Leninist or democrats. This is their life - pain, struggle, conflict working from morning till night. Do you know what happens to such human beings, their capacity to think?
How can you think clearly, think as a human being, who is actually the rest of humanity? This is the state of every human being, that is his consciousness. So you are actually the rest of mankind. This is not a logical conclusion, this is a fact. We went into it the other day, because you must understand this fact otherwise you won't understand as we talk about death; furthermore, you won't understand the significance of it. Which is your consciousness with its content; the content is the belief, the dogmas, the name, the form, the pains, anxieties, loneliness, despair, depression, desire, all that is you. All that is what you are, actually. This consciousness is the consciousness of all human beings. This is logical but if you merely reduce it to logic and then conclude then it has no value. But if you feel the depth of it, the extraordinary beauty of it, the strength of it, that you are the rest of mankind. That is a fact and when you feel it in your blood, in your heart, in your mind then you are no longer an individual. I know it is difficult for you to swallow this or even to think about it because you are conditioned to be an individual; but you are not. You may be tall, you may be short or clever and so on, on the peripheral level, on the outside, but inside you are like the rest of mankind.
So if you are the rest of mankind - you are the mankind - then what is your responsibility to man? What is your responsibility to what is happening in the world? Probably you have never asked this question of yourself. You say my responsibility is to my family, to my country. But the idea of your country is just another invention of thought. So please examine your daily life. And when you ask the question, what is your responsibility to the rest of mankind? The rest of mankind is destroying itself. You may live safely in Calcutta - I doubt it. In this filthy city, poverty-ridden country, each one is destroying the other and exploiting and all the rest of it. So you have to find out for yourself what is your responsibility, what is right action in front of all this? You can't escape from it. You may limit yourself to certain immediate responsibilities, but you are a human being who is the rest of mankind, so you are also responsible for mankind. So your consciousness is not yours, it is shared by all human beings living on this earth. They all go through every kind of misery, every kind of suffering - pain, anxiety, despair and the feeling of utter loneliness.
So if you are at all aware of what is happening in the world, then you will have to ask yourself what is your responsibility, what is your action. And as we have not time to go into that, what is right action in front of this - we haven't time, perhaps we will talk about it in Madras and other places and if you are interested, read some rotten book - it will tell you about it.
So now you think you are an individual; you think you are separate from the rest of mankind. And then you ask, what happens to me after I die? Do I not incarnate? So let us examine that very closely. What are you? When you say I want to be born next life, I believe in reincarnation and so on, what is it that is going to be reborn? What are you? Please examine it. Let's examine it together dispassionately. You are the name, the form, the body; you are what you think; you are the result of your education, if you have one. And the education is so rotten, it only conditions you to become some engineer, clerk, or this or that. They don't educate you to understand the whole beauty, the wholeness of life. They only give you a lot of knowledge so that you can act either skilfully or not, in the world. That is not education. That is one part, a very small part of education. Education is the cultivation of the whole human being; the unfoldment, the flowering of a human mind, not crippled by specialisation. Again, we haven't time to go into that. So what are you? Are you a series of words - please listen - a series of ideas, a repetitive memory, a continuity of conviction? That is, all this is a verbal structure. Right?
But you say, 'That is not all, there is something much deeper' - that is what you will say. Now, when you say there is something deeper, god or Atman or whatever you like to call it, the soul, as the Christians do, and you'll call it by another name, when you say, 'I am not all that, I am much more, there is a fragment of light in me', when you say there is something more than mere physical attributes, more than mere conclusions, concepts, beliefs and words, words, words, you say, there is something more beyond, I am more than that; when you say you are more than that, it is also the invention of thought, obviously. So you are put together by thought. Obviously, sirs. You call yourself a Hindu, and another calls himself a Muslim and so on. All the division is the result of thought. So you are actually a series of memories, a series of reactions and responses based on your knowledge, your experience, your quality of mind. That is what you are, which is essentially death. Right? You are living in the past and the past is death. All knowledge is in the past and therefore when you live with knowledge, which is the past, and as the past is over, gone, what are you? Go on, look at yourselves; don't look at me.
Look at yourself as you would look in a mirror. So that is what you are. And you say, 'If I die, I want to incarnate in another life', which is to carry the same thing over to the next life - a lot of words, a lot of experiences, a lot of memories, better house or if you want more money and so on. But if you do believe in a future life, that is next life, then what you do now matters more because next life you will pay for it. This is your conviction. This is what you cling to: a lot of memories which are dead, gone; ideas which are also finished, they are also dead. So your content of your life is what? That is why this country which believes in so many things, so many beliefs, so many superstitions, believes in reincarnation. That is why here there is slow dying.
Now, the question then is, what is death? You understand? Please ask this question, what is death? That is, you are just a vast reservoir of memories, words, pictures, symbols. Your consciousness is the rest of mankind. You are not an individual. What you think, other people think, your thinking is not individual. There is only thinking. So when you realise you are not an individual - you may have a different form, different shape of head, jobs and so on, those are physical peripheral activities - but inwardly you are like the rest of man. So what does death mean then? You understand my question? Are you following this somewhat? Look sir: suppose I am all that, which is a fact - name, form, education, physical responses, psychological reactions, all the inherited racial memories and personal memories, which is all in the past. I am all that and all human beings are that; all human consciousness is that. So what does it mean to die? Ask this question, sir. Now we are living, active. You may be repetitively active, mechanically active, as most people are, but you are active, you have got life, you have got feelings, you have got responses, sensations, and when death comes all that is wiped out. The brain cells themselves, for lack of air and so on and so on, decay. That is what we call death ,which is to end all the things you have held: your jewels, your house, your bank account, your wife, your children, all that is ended, your attachments, that is death. But you want to carry it over to the next life, which is just an idea, wish, fulfilment. So please listen to this: while living to end attachment, for example - because when you die all attachment ends. But can you invite the ending of attachment? You understand this, you are following this? That is, ending is death. So can you, living, vigorous, active, end your attachment, end a particular habit voluntarily, easily, quietly? Because then, where there is an ending, there is a totally different beginning. Not as a human being with all your peculiar ideas and so on - when you end something like attachment, there is a different activity going on. So to incarnate in the present now - you understand this? - that is creative activity. It is up to you sirs, if you want to do all this.
We ought to talk over together what is religion. What is a religious life; what is a religious mind? Shall we go into it, even those of you who have got sannyasi robes and all that. Shall we go into all this? I am not tired, to me this is - never mind what it is to me. The origin of that word, etymologically, is not clear. Originally it meant to bind, b-i-n-d, bind yourself to some higher principle, bind yourself to some noble idea. But even that is discarded now. So the root meaning of that word is not clear. So we can forget the dictionary meaning, which is the common usage of that word. Now, we are going to enquire together what is religion, what is a religious life, what is meditation, and is there anything that has not been touched by thought. The present religions, all throughout the world - do you call those religions? Do you? You are a Hindu, you believe, your religion says this and that, your books, you worship an idol, the Muslim does not, he has his own form of worship. The Christian has his symbol - the rituals, the dogmas, the beliefs, the superstitions, all that - the hierarchical structure of a religious society, right, you follow all this? You call all that religion. Your belief in god: unless you believe in god or some supreme principle it is considered that you are not religious. But your gods have been put together by thought. Right? Because our life is so miserable, so uncertain, so ugly, we say to ourselves there must be something more, something which is protecting, which is giving, which is creative. And so thought creates the idea based on books, tradition, being programmed to believe in god - programmed - that surely is not religion. Do you agree to that? Of course not. But that is not religion: your belief, your worship, going to the temple, to the mosque, to the church, repeating some phrases, utterly totally divorced from daily life.
To understand the daily life, to bring about a radical change in that life, to have a brain that is not superstitious, that is actually facing facts, facing what one is, and going beyond 'what is', that is the beginning of a religious mind, not all the superstition, not the torturing of the body. That is what tradition has done: you cannot come to illumination or god without brutalising, destroying, denying your body. But inside the flame of desire is there, burning. So to understand the whole meaning of daily living, which is the understanding of relationship, relationship with each other, to love, to have that quality of love which is not, 'I love my wife' or some other thing, to have that perfume, that beauty, that flame. That is religion. That is a religious mind. And with that understanding that all religions as they exist now, with their constant repetition of phrases, rituals, genuflecting and so on and so on, is not religion. But to live a life that has no conflict, that has the sense of compassion with love, with intelligence - compassion is intelligence - that is the religious life.
But that is not enough. We have to understand much deeper things, which is, what is meditation? Is it sitting in a certain posture, closing your eyes and repeating some phrases - mantra. The word mantra means, I believe, in Sanskrit, to ponder over, consider, not becoming. You understand? Meditate on that, not becoming, which means - I wonder if you understand this. When you are not becoming, what are you? And also that word mantra, 'ponder over not becoming', and also 'resolve, put away all self-centred activity'. That is the real meaning of that word 'mantra'. Now look what you have done with it. You repeat some words and you call that mantra. So as we said, a religious life is that - not becoming inwardly, anything.
Then we must go much deeper than that. Meditation means, the word means, to ponder over, to think over, according to the dictionary. And we are adding to that, to ponder over, think over and we are adding to that the ending of measurement. I will go into it. You are not tired? Are you really interested in all this? Oh, god, you are not. I wish you were. I wish you would give your life to this, not to what is being said but give your life to find out how to live correctly, truly, orderly, and an orderly life cannot exist without love and compassion. Give your life to that, not to some cult. So what is meditation, not, how to meditate. When you put the 'how', when you use that word 'how', that means give me a system, please tell me what to do, show me the path. So if you can remove that word 'how' altogether from your mind, then look at it: what is meditation? Systems, methods, practices, certain form of discipline, breathing correctly, deeply and so on, is not meditation. It is just you are practising something. Somebody told you if you do this, you will get that. It is an exchange, a market place where the guru sells you something and you practise. So we are going to see what meditation is.
Meditation is not the practice of any system. Because when you practise a system your brain becomes atrophied, becomes dull. It is not alive, active. So if you are really deeply concerned with meditation then there is no system, no method, practising, every day half-an-hour sitting quietly, is not meditation. It may relax you. It is like going to bed, lying down after a good meal. Sorry to make you put it at that level. It is. So if you deny all that, intelligently because you see the absurdity of practising a method because it brings up a routine, your mind is already caught, is mechanical, and you are making it more mechanical, more drugged, more conditioned. Whereas in meditation there must be freedom: freedom from fear - we went into all this. Freedom from envy, greed, sorrow and all the wounds one has received from childhood, psychological wounds and the hurts. One should be free of all that.
So we have to enquire, first, what does it mean to be aware. Three things: what does it mean to be aware; what does it mean to concentrate; and what does it mean to attend? Because this is implied in meditation. To be aware: to be aware, to be conscious of your environment; to be aware how you talk, how you walk, how you eat, what you eat; to be aware how you speak to another, how you treat another; to be aware as you are sitting there, to be aware of your neighbour, the colour, the coat, the way he looks, without criticism, just be aware. That gives you great sensitivity, empathy, so that your body is subtle, sensitive, aware of everything that is going on around you. To be aware without any choice. You understand this? To be aware, see where you are, looking at the speaker, looking all around you without a single choice, just to look, to be aware.
Then concentration. When you concentrate what happens? To control all thought except one thought, which is to concentrate on something - concentrate on a book, concentrate on what you are doing, concentrate, which means, shut off all other thoughts except one thought - to centralise all thinking to a particular point. That is what generally, concentration means. That is, while you are trying to concentrate, all other thoughts are wandering, pushing, coming in and out, and so you build a resistance to every other thought except one thought, or one page, one symbol, one idea, look at it. That is generally what is called concentration. That's clear.
Then attention. Have you ever attended to anything? Give your whole energy, listen totally to another, completely attend, not like a soldier who is drilled to attend but if you understand the nature of awareness, concentration, then attention. To attend completely. If you are attending now completely to what is being said, in that attention there is no centre as the 'me'. You understand this? Are you so attending to what is being said? That is, giving all your energy, your listening, vibrantly alive to attend. If you are, then you will find there is no centre as the 'me' attending. Then when you are attending so deeply the brain becomes quiet, naturally. There is no chattering, there is no control. The idea of controlling thought - who is the controller to control thought, it is another part of thought, isn't it? One part of thought says, I am the witness, I am going to control my thought. The controller is the controlled. You understand all this?
So in meditation there is no controller, there is no activity of will, which is desire. Then the brain, the whole movement of the brain apart from its own activity, which has its own rhythm, becomes utterly quiet, silent. It is not the silence cultivated by thought. It is the silence of intelligence, silence of supreme intelligence. In that silence that which is nameless comes, nameless is. That is sacred, immovable, it's not touched by thought, by endeavour, by effort. It is the way of intelligence which is the way of compassion. Then that which is sacred is everlasting. That is meditation. Such a life is a religious life. In that there is great beauty.