Time, death, space and meditation
Knowing oneself is the beginning of freedom
4th Public Talk, Bombay
January 31, 1979
I believe this is the last meeting. We were going to talk about death and meditation. But before we go into that, we ought to consider time, space and what is considered as evolution.
I would like, if I may, to remind you, that we are thinking together. Not that you listen to a series of ideas, or words, or concepts, but we are together exploring the problem of death, time and what is the quality of a mind that is meditative. And, if one may remind you that the word is not the thing. The word 'tree' is not the actual tree, the word is not the thing; nor the description the described. One can describe the mountain, paint it, but the painting, the description is not the mountain. In exploring a very complex problem, one must have the capacity not only to use the word, the exact meaning of the word according to the dictionary, but also one must have the capacity and the quality of intensity to go beyond the word.
We were talking the other day about the whole process of thinking. We live by thought; the things that have been created by thought - the illusions, the beautiful architecture, the lovely paintings and the enormous development of technological knowledge - all the things that are in the churches, in the temples, in the mosques are created by thought as well as the beliefs, the expectations, the aspirations, the principles, the ideals are all brought together by thought. And thought, as we have explained in the last few talks here, is limited, because it is the outcome of memory, experience and the accumulation of a great deal of knowledge. We live by thought; our actions are based on thought. And we pointed out the other day that thought, time is the root of fear. We went into that, we are not going into that again this afternoon. So thought, the whole process of thinking has no opposite. Thought can create its own opposite.
Madam, why do you come here if you are reading a book?
Q: I am not reading a book.
K: Then please pay attention to what is being said. Look, sirs, ladies, this is a serious thing which we are going to discuss, talk over together. You have to give, if you are interested, and if you are not interested I don't know why you are here - if you are interested, be at least serious for an hour. Because this is not an entertainment, either intellectual, imaginary or speculative. We are concerned with our life - the way we live, the way we think, the way we act. So, if one may ask, please be serious, and if you care to, give your attention to what is being said - not only to what the speaker has to say, but also to what you are thinking.
So as we were saying, thought has no opposite but it can create its own opposite; and therefore thought creating its own opposite brings about conflict. But there is only thinking, though that thinking divides itself into multiple forms, both actual, transitory, illusory and what is being perceived. And thought has put together the whole concepts, conclusions, ideals. So we must consider thought as a material process. Thought has not created nature - the animal, the forest, the rivers, the mountains. But thought has made the chair out of nature. Thought has created illusion, which is also actual. So thought is reality; the things it has created is reality - like this, like the microphone. But thought cannot possibly understand, or even conceive what truth is. So bearing this in mind that thought under no circumstances whatsoever, whatever path thought has laid out, which is illusory, to truth is unreal. There are no paths to truth. It must come when the mind is in a state of quietness which we are going to examine presently.
So, first, we must investigate together - please, I mean by this together - what is time. Time is division - before and after; the past, the present and the future; time by the watch, chronological time, and time as psychological beginning and ending. You are following all this? Please, you have to understand this very, very clearly because meditation, when it is consciously done, deliberately done, is no meditation. We'll go into that. That is why it is very important that at the beginning of our talk together that we understand the nature and the whole structure of time.
Time means movement; time means division - division from here to there; not only physical time, but also psychological time. And physical time is necessary - to acquire knowledge, to work skilfully, to drive a car, to do any technological activity, time is necessary. You can't suddenly become a marvellous flyer, pilot, you have to learn quite slowly, take a year or two and so on. And man, that is thought, psychologically has created time, which is called evolution - psychologically. There is evolution, biological evolution as the baby growing up into adulthood, into a man, and dying. There is that physiological biological growth, which is obvious. You plant a little bush, a tree - a small tree - and it grows into an enormous tree, it takes time. And man, which is the whole movement of thinking, has said there is psychological time; that is one will become something psychologically. If one is angry through time you will be rid of anger. We're questioning, asking if there is any psychological evolution at all.
Please think it out with me, go with me, we are working together. There is obviously biological, physiological time. To put a watch together takes time; to go from here to Delhi takes time. But psychologically, inwardly, inside the skin as it were, is there time at all? We have said there is time, that is, psychologically one is bad, but eventually one becomes good. The idea of growth. Growth implies a continuity.
Please, it may be a little difficult, go into it with me. I'll explain and go very slowly into this. We're conditioned to accept time as a means of psychological evolution - that you, will one day be a marvellous entity, you will one day reach enlightenment, one day you will have great wisdom; and to have wisdom, enlightenment, needs time, psychologically. And therefore you have systems, methods, paths, all that involves the movement of action and time, a continuity. Is this clear? Now, we are asking if that is so. Or it is a total illusion. We have accepted evolution, psychologically in the afterlife, reincarnation, a continuity of what has been, what is and what will be. A series of movements which are not broken up, but a continuity.
I am afraid you have to use your brain. You have to think, and to see the limitation of thinking. So, we are saying, or challenging, questioning, doubting: is there any continuity psychologically? Or thought has said, there is a continuity because it is the outcome of memory. Memory is continuous. And so psychologically we say, 'Yes, I will be better next week, if I do this, this, this'. And time implies not only the cause and the effect, and the effect becoming the cause, so this movement of cause, effect which becomes cause again, is the movement of time. If we don't understand the nature of time we will not be able to capture, or fully comprehend, not intellectually, but deeply, the nature of death. Because while we are young we don't think about death, while even middle-aged we are not very greatly concerned, as the body grows older, the mind becomes more heavy, and the eventual death comes, and there is this movement of time - being young, being adolescent, growing old, and dying, that is the whole movement of time, divided up by various experiences, activities and so on and so on. So time is a factor in our life as a movement of avoiding, running away, or suppressing, or transcending. Are you following all this? Sorry, you have to capture it as I talk, I can't repeat it.
As I said, man has not resolved the problem of death - what is implied in it, what is the nature of it, why man has been so frightened, for a million years, to die. To him, death means the ending. Now we are going to investigate together the whole meaning of death because in that is involved meditation also. Meditation isn't just sitting cross-legged, breathing, keeping your eyes closed and all that business, it involves a very great capacity to investigate, to explore your whole life. If your whole life is in disorder, contradictory, imitative, conforming, and you try to meditate, it has absolutely no meaning. And that's why all of you put on these strange robes, it has no meaning whatsoever. But you won't take off those robes, you will continue.
So we are enquiring into the nature of death. Death is the ending of what we consider living - that is, living which is a continuity, and the ending. The continuity is broken up as time - one is young, one is mature and dies. So this continuity is broken up as time: success, failure - all that is involved. So, first before we ask, what is the meaning of death, we must also enquire into what is the meaning of living. If you don't understand the meaning of living, you won't be able to understand the meaning of dying. Are you following all this? So we are going to enquire first, what is the whole nature of our life, what we call living.
Living means, as we know it daily, the continuation of memory: I have been, I am, I will be. And in this movement which is called living, there is a whole complex of innumerable problems: fear with all its ugliness, anxiety, conflict with each other, greed, ambition, comparing, measuring and hoping for something better. This is our life, our daily life - going to the office from morning till night for the rest of your fifty or sixty years. Just think of the horror of it! And the difference in our relationships based on images. That's obvious. We never treat life as a whole. We've divided life - as the artists and so on and so on. That is our living, that's our actual daily living. And this period of time is considered a means to a further end.
Right? I wonder if you understand all this? Please don't shake your head. Go into it yourself. We call this living. We've never questioned this living; but we've always questioned about death. We've never asked, 'Why do we live this way - with all the anxiety, misery, lack of security, uncertainty, confusion, terrible disorder'. We have never asked why we do this, why we live, but we are terribly curious about death and after. Now we are going to question why we live this way first, because if you don't understand life, you won't understand death.
Our life is in disorder, and we are always trying to put order in our life, obviously. If you are at all aware, intelligent, one tries to bring order. So we have to enquire, what is order. Please don't get bored with this, because all this is a movement in meditation. Your mind is now confused; and a confused mind cannot possibly meditate, it has no meaning. So, what is order? Not your order and my order, what is order? Doesn't order mean freedom? Freedom implies that everything in one's life has been put in its right place, and therefore there is freedom. Please, observe your life, look at your life - not the description I am giving, but actually look at your life, your daily life. When you look at it, obviously you will see how disorderly it is: contradictory, wanting this and not wanting that, wishing this, and not wishing that, desiring this and the opposite of that desire, changing the objects of desire from time to time, this constant struggle, battle and fear and so on - that is our daily life. Now, how will you bring order in this mess, in this chaos? Do you understand my question? Who is to bring order?
And, seeing the hopelessness of it, we turn to authority, the authority of a guru, or some other man or a woman, supposed to be spiritual and we conform to what they say in order to live a peaceful, orderly life. 'Tell me what to do, you know better than I do, I will follow you'. This is the whole authoritarian world of so-called spiritual hierarchy. Because one is confused, one is uncertain, unclear, disorderly, and the guru or the authority says, do this and you will live in order. Probably, and assuredly, the guru himself is in disorder. No, no, you can watch them, you don't have to accept my word, you can see them. One year they dance, next year they have other kinds of tricks and so on and so on and so on. So how do you bring order?
Please listen carefully. Thought being limited, fragmented, and because it is limited and fragmented, it is in itself disorder. Do you see this? So it can't possibly bring order. Thought in itself is disorder, because it is fragmented. That is, a fragment means a thing that is broken up and thought is breaking up all the time, dividing itself - my nation, your nation, your god, my god, your belief, my belief, my guru and your guru and all that nonsense. So thought in itself is divisive, and it is thought that has brought disorder in our life. Because we live on thought, our whole action is based on thought. If you see that, if you see the truth of that, that thought, though it technologically brings about marvellous order - perfect dynamo, the rockets that go to the moon, they must function with perfect precision, that's complete order, but thought inwardly is creating havoc. Because thought in itself is divisive, broken up, so thought cannot bring order: that is a principle, a law. So what will you do? Do you understand my question?
Because if there is no order in one's life, complete, total order, the mind can never be free. And there must be freedom to observe that which is most sacred - if there is something sacred, if there is something immeasurable, beyond words, the mind must be completely free, and that freedom can only come when there is absolute order. This is logic, this is so.
How will the mind, thought, bring order, because it realises that it cannot bring order? Please, are you aware of this? Don't accept what the speaker is saying. Are you aware that thought cannot bring order? Look at the world around you: the wars, the terrors, the class divisions and all the rest of it is the product of thought, and so thought itself is disorder. You won't accept this. So what will bring order?
Order can only come into being when there is pure observation. When the mind observes its own disorder - I wonder if you're following all this, is this getting too much for you? Is this too much for you? Please, I am going to discuss a little bit more into what is meditation and all that, so if you get tired, I'll stop for a while and rest. To observe disorder without any motive. If you have a motive in observation, that very motive brings about disorder. That motive is put together by thought. So that is a factor of distortion because the mind is incapable of observing if there is a motive. That is, I live in disorder, my motive is I want to bring order, because I hope then I will be free and have moksha and all the rest of it. That motive is the movement of time, of desire, and therefore thought brings this motive into action and therefore there is distortion. So can the mind observe the disorder it lives in, without saying 'I must get out of this disorder, I must suppress it, run away from it'? Just to observe. Please do it as we are talking. First be aware of your life as disorder, which it is, and observe it without a single motive, without the interference of thought saying, 'I must get beyond this'.
So we are asking, what is observation? What is the nature of looking, observing? To observe without any reaction to that which you are observing. Are you doing this as we are talking? Or are you all meditating? Are you watching yourself and therefore you see your life in disorder? That observation, if it has a motive, distorts, and therefore creates more conflict. So, can the mind observe very closely, purely, actively the disorder? Just to observe. If you so observe, that very observation, which is total attention, and therefore all the energy is applied in that observation. When there is that great attentive observation, the thing that you are observing undergoes a change. That change is order. So the mind must be entirely, completely in order.
And also we must enquire into what is space. Our minds have no space, because we are occupied all the time, chattering, talking, doing things, you know, everlastingly the brain is in movement, so it is occupied, whether it is occupied with sex, with business, with god, with your guru, with all your dancing, shaking and all that business, it is occupied with something or other. And when you are occupied with something you call it noble or ignoble, but it is still occupation. Therefore your mind never has space. So what will the mind do to have space? Do you understand how important space is? Space implies - if you will listen carefully I will go into it, I don't know if you'll understand, it doesn't matter - space implies emptiness. When there is space, there is emptiness, and therefore in that emptiness there is tremendous energy.
We have explained what desire is, we went into the question of fear, we went into the question of death, pleasure, compassion, sorrow, and we have now said, order. And this order is not continuity, the moment there is continuity, that order becomes disorder, because it involves time. I wonder if you see all this. So now we are going to enquire into, not only what space is, but also what is meditation. What is meditation, not how to meditate. You've been taught, part of your education is, what to think, but not how to think. Now in the same way we are asking: what is meditation? Because that word is terribly loaded, every guru, every man who writes about meditation, adds, adds, adds his own explanations, his own commentaries, his own feelings, adds and then we are the result of all that. We are second-hand human beings - if you realise that, you wouldn't put on any of the robes.
So let's go into it - what is meditation? Why should one meditate? To find that out, stop meditating. To find out what is real meditation, not yours and mine, your type and my type, or X's type, but what is meditation, to find out you can't hold on to some kind of meditation that you have and then enquire. You can't - it's like a donkey being tied to a post. So you have to be free to enquire. First one can see very clearly that it is only a very, very quiet mind that can observe accurately. A quiet mind can observe accurately only, not a disturbed mind. So a quiet mind is absolutely necessary just to observe. But if you say, ask, 'How am I to have such a quiet mind?' you are then asking for a system, for a method, you are going to somebody whom you think has a quiet mind, and ask, 'Please tell me what to do.' And then you are caught in that trap because he will tell you and you will practise - if you are silly enough. And you are caught. But you see the importance of having an absolutely quiet mind. A mind that has no problem. We've gone into that question of problems; as a problem arises, deal with it, finish with it, don't carry on with it the next day. We went into that. So we are saying that a quiet mind implies a mind that has great space; it is not occupied with anything. It is not concerned with experience because the experiencer is the experience. A man who is a light to himself has no experience - he doesn't need experience because he is awake.
So a mind that is absolutely quiet demands a vast sense of space, and it has no attachment to anything. Because the moment you are attached, to your wife, to your family, to your name, to your house, anything, ideals, beliefs, dogmas - they are all the product of thought. So a quiet mind means the ending of this continuity. You understand, sir? So we said - before we go into the question of meditation, I forgot about death, I must go into it.
Death means the ending - that is simple, that's obvious. The ending of what? The ending of your attachment - let us take that as an example. Can you end your attachment immediately, because that is death - right? Suppose I am attached to - what? I don't know - a house, and I see the consequences of being attached - fear, anxiety - or to a person, that's better, jealousy, antagonism, dominance - you know all that follows in attachment. Death says - I can't be attached when I die - so it says, 'End it'. Now can I, can you, end your attachment now? Go on, sir. Work it out. Voluntarily, not compelled, coerced, persuaded. Death does not persuade you, doesn't coerce you. So can you while you are living, end the things that you hold, the most important things psychologically?
When you end this continuity, something totally new happens - it must, inevitable. When you give up - I don't know whatever you give up - easily, happily, some extra-dimensional thing takes place, which is not my reward, it takes place. So death is the ending of that which has had continuity. It is too complex. I won't go into all that now because our time is limited.
Man, throughout the ages, historically, has searched endlessly to find out what happens after death. Volumes have been written on it. And reincarnation is one of the happy inventions, comforting because you've never enquired, what it is that continues. You have accepted reincarnation as a means of improving yourself, becoming nobler, better, eventually reaching godhead, the highest principle, and so on. You have never questioned this continuity because that which continues is mechanical, and that which has an end can begin with something entirely different. So, while living, end the various things that are created - like fear, end it, end your jealousy, your ambition, your greed, everything, bring it to a precise end, so that it has no continuity. That is death, isn't it?
So can you, while living, with all your vigour, end the things that death demands? You can test it out. So while living, you are also dying. Do you understand? Because then there is a totally new thing happening all the time. But if you say, 'Well, I have a future life', or 'I hope there will be', you are lost, you have gone off into something entirely different. I haven't time to go into the question of what it is that continues if we don't end. I am not going to go into that.
From there we can move into what is meditation. We said meditation is a state of mind in which all the things that thought has invented - the illusions, the beliefs, the dogmas, the rituals, the habits, the sexual demands - all that is no longer entering into the mind that is absolutely quiet. Now, is it possible to have such a mind? Do you understand my question? I am going to examine it - we are going to examine it together. We all need a quiet mind, a peaceful mind, an absolutely silent mind without a murmur of thought. Is that possible? Possible means we don't know. If we know already, that knowledge is the remembrance of something of the past, therefore it is not a quiet mind. So we are saying, is it possible to have a mind that is absolutely without a ripple?
We are going to find out. To discover if it is possible, first you must understand the nature of attention. What is the nature of attention, to attend? And what is the nature of inattention, not attending? And what is the nature of concentration? And what is the nature of distraction? You're following all this? What does one mean by concentration? That is what most people try to do - concentrate. You are taught from childhood to concentrate. In school you say, 'Look at your book, don't look out of the window.' What do we mean by concentration, and who is it that is concentrating? Thought has projected an image, or an idea, a concept, or a picture, and on that you concentrate - that means, exclude all other thoughts. But the exclusion becomes impossible because thought itself is divisive. I wonder if you understand this - no, you don't!
So, there is no distraction. Thought says, 'Concentrate on that and any movement away from that is distraction.' But the movement away from it is the movement of thought. Thought says, 'Concentrate', and thought also moves away from it. The moving away from it is distraction. But thought itself is a distraction because it has moved away. You are following all this? Please don't laugh, look at it, this is very, very serious if you want to go into meditation. So there is no distraction because thought itself is a distraction the moment it says, 'I must concentrate'.
And what is attention, and what is not being able to attend? You have been here for over an hour, you are tired at the end of the day, you have listened to a lot of words, and if you have gone into yourself you become rather tired. And you cannot, when you are tired, attend.
I am going purposely slowly, so that you can gradually gather your energy, so we are able to investigate together. So we are saying what is attention and what is inattention. Attention means to attend, to give all your energy to look, to attend, to hear, to absorb, to see. You can only do that for a couple of seconds probably, or a minute, and that attention goes down and there is inattention. You are not completely attentive. Attention demands that you give all your energy, with all your senses, with all your mind and heart, completely attentive. But that intense, active attention cannot be sustained by most people, so inattention comes. But when you are aware of that inattention, that you are not attending, that very perception that you are not attending is attention. Have you got it? What is important is, that there is no conflict in the mind. Never say, 'I was attentive, I know what it means, I want to capture it again' - that whole movement is, if you are aware of it, is attention. You've understood some of this?
Meditation implies the emptiness of consciousness, emptiness of the mind, in which there is no ripple - the ripple being thought. That is possible only when you understand the nature of concentration, with all its resistance, its limitation, and when there is concentration there is distraction, which is still a movement of thought. And meditation implies the ending of thought; because thought has realised itself, its own place, but it has no other place: think only when it is necessary, not otherwise. Do you understand? I wonder if you understand this? If you are thinking all the time, there is no space. So you see that it is necessary to have space. If you are living in a city, where everybody lives in a small place, you begin to quarrel, the violence comes from the lack of space, partly. So there must be space, and there cannot be space if at any time there is occupation. If you understand why the mind is occupied, which is, in occupation it feels secure - the housewife occupied with her cooking or whatever she does, she is occupied and therefore secure, if she is not occupied, she says, 'What am I to do?'-but if you see the truth that occupation prevents space, then when you see the truth of it, then there is no problem. You have space.
The mind, which is all the senses fully operating, not a particular sense, but all the senses at their highest excellence, and if you have no love in your heart, you cannot meditate. There is no meaning to meditation if you don't love. That means care, beauty, a sense of immense compassion, and having space. From that the mind is capable of being absolutely still, without a flutter of thought. If you have gone into it very deeply this can take place by the hour, not for a few minutes, or a few seconds. And in that emptiness which is full of energy there is that which is eternity. Eternity does not mean continuity. It is beyond time, because time has stopped, which is thought has stopped. And in that absolute quietness there is that which is nameless, timeless, measureless.
You can't come to it by any path. There is no path to it. Only when you understand the whole nature of yourself, when you have read the story of yourself from the beginning to the ending of the book, and therefore you have total order in your life, then only you have that extraordinary sense of freedom. And then that which is the most sacred, with all its blessing, comes into being.