Time, suffering and death
Freedom from authority is necessary to find truth
3rd Public Talk, Ojai, California
April 19, 1975
If I may I would like to remind you that this is not an entertainment. It is not something you attend on a lovely morning and forget all about it. It is rather a serious gathering as we are concerned with grave things. And we have been talking the last two times, or the third time that we met here about the necessity and the importance, and the immediacy of the transformation of the human mind. Considering what the world is becoming, degenerate, violent, cruel and somewhat neurotic, if one is serious one is concerned with this problem, whether the mind, which has evolved through time, so heavily conditioned, whether it is at all possible to transform it, not into something else but rather to uncondition that mind so that it is free, because it is in freedom alone that one can learn. And it is freedom that gives perception, that gives insight, that one begins to understand truth.
We have been talking about fear, whether the mind can ever be free of it, we went into that. And also we talked about pleasure and love. This morning, if one may, the speaker would like to talk about time, suffering, and this great question of death. It might be rather morbid on a lovely morning to talk about death, but it is not.
I think one has to understand the totality of all our problems, not try to solve one by one, because all problems are interrelated, there is no one problem separate, isolated from others. And in investigating, in understanding the problem of time, suffering, death, we must understand it as a whole, as a total movement, not something that you take one part of it and try to understand it, or try to find out the depth and the beauty of the thing, but rather take the whole structure, the whole content, and try to find out how to observe the whole. There is no 'how' as we went into that question too. Because the moment you ask 'how', then you are again caught in methods, systems, in the whole movement of time, from here to there.
So we are going to, if one may, consider this whole problem as a unit, not something separate from each other. I do not know if you have ever gone into this question whether time has a stop. Can time ever end? Or is it something that is a continuous movement? Time by the sun is one thing; time psychologically is another. We are bound to the psychological time. We are slaves to that time. And perhaps we are also bound to the sun as yesterday, today and tomorrow. We are going to talk over both issues, both the time by the chronometer, and time as psychological movement. And I think it is very important to understand this question: whether time can ever come to an end. Or, must we be caught both psychologically as well as the time sequence as yesterday, today and tomorrow? Because in understanding the problem of time, one will also understand, go deeply into this question of suffering. And we will also, if we can, understand, not intellectually, that problem of death which man has been trying to solve from time immemorial.
It is important to find out for oneself, not through verbalisation, not through some intellectual, analytical process, but rather find out non-romantically, non-emotionally, non-sentimentally, whether time, to which we are slaves, can ever come to an end and therefore freedom, away from time. The time by the sun, the time as night and day, time as a movement, physical movement from here to there, seems a necessity. Otherwise we couldn't arrange things, we couldn't live reasonably. If we are not clear where we are going physically then we get confused, we get lost. So time chronologically as yesterday, today and tomorrow is necessary for planning, for learning.
We went into this question of learning. There are two types of learning. Learning as a means of acquiring knowledge, that needs time. That learning and knowledge is necessary for actions, if you would act skilfully, efficiently, objectively, that time as a means of learning is essential. I think that is very clear so we will not go more into that question. And also we pointed out the other day that learning has also a different meaning, at least I think so. It has a meaning where time is not involved at all. Time implies accumulation. Time implies a learning, as a sequence to action. Time implies the movement from here to there. In learning there is no ending or a beginning, you're only learning all the time - you understand? So that is a different kind of learning in which there is no accumulation as memory and acting from that memory, which becomes mechanical and if one lives in that field always that is one of the factors of human deterioration. We have talked about that. So we need not go into this question of time, by the watch.
Then there is psychological time. And that has become extraordinarily important. In that is involved hope, ideals, achievement, attachment, gaining and losing, the whole question of a psychological evolution, psychological advancement. That is what we are attacking, not too violently. That is what we are talking about. If one doesn't understand this movement, the psychological movement as time, then time has no ending, and therefore there is no something new taking place, which is not of time. Please as we said, this is not a talk but rather we are sharing this thing together. Unfortunately the speaker has to sit on a platform so that you can see me and I can see you. But sitting on a platform doesn't give him authority, a position, he is not teaching you and you are not learning from him, therefore the relationship as a teacher and a disciple doesn't exist here. That implies authority which is most destructive, in the realm of the spirit. So we are sharing this thing together, we are walking together, perhaps holding hands, being friends, talking over diligently, carefully, with affection, with care, and if you will, with love. So there is that quality of sharing. So if you are not sharing but merely accumulating certain ideas, then there is no possibility of partaking what is being said. I think that is fairly clear. So it is your responsibility to share, not merely hear certain words and draw some conclusions and act according to those conclusions. Then that is sharing something verbally, and that has not very great importance.
So we are asking whether time as a means of psychologically advancing towards a particular principle, towards a particular concept, towards a particular projection of what should be, whether there is such time at all, whether there is a psychological tomorrow at all, and whether time in that sense psychologically can ever come to an end? Please understand this very carefully because in this is implied the whole question of death and suffering. If one doesn't understand this basic problem, the other, the others like love, death, suffering, all that becomes superficial. So we are asking a fundamental question: whether time psychologically can come to an end? Or psychologically time is necessary as a movement towards a particular goal, to a purpose, an achievement and all the rest of it? You have got the question clear?
The psychological entity as the 'me', the 'I', the 'you', the 'we' and 'they', that whole way of thinking on which our society is based, and our relationship with each other, what part does time play in bringing about suffering in that? Whether I as a human being with all my psychological structure and nature has a tomorrow at all? Or is it an invention of thought so that I have a hope, so that I have something towards which I can go to, something which I can cultivate in the future? Cultivation implies a movement in time. So we are asking a question, which is: our conditioning, if one observes your own conditioning, our conditioning is a psychological advance towards what you may call god, or towards enlightenment, or towards a deeper understanding, or towards a fulfilment, all in the future. So we are caught in this network, network of the future, which is, there is light, there is enlightenment, there is something called love, all in the future, to be psychologically achieved. Right? Please if I labour this point it is important because when we go into the much deeper question of death, you have to understand this question of time. That is our conditioning. I need time to learn a language. I need time to learn a technique, I need time to learn how to drive a car. There, time is necessary. But we have taken over psychologically that time. And have projected a future, that I will be good, I will be something. The speaker is questioning the whole of that. Or there is not psychological future, but only the ending of time which is totally now. You understand this?
You see we live either in the past, a remembrance, in all the things of the past, or in the future - I will meet you tomorrow, how happy it will be, and how unfortunate it was that this happened in the past, or how happy I was in the past, and I hope that happiness, that joy, that something celestial will take place tomorrow. So we are always caught in the psychological time as memory of the past, and the hope of the future. That is time as memory, time as hope and we don't know what it is to live totally now. Because now is life, not there or behind. Am I making myself clear, not verbally? If you observe yourself, if you are aware of yourself, this is what is going on all the time in us - the past and the future. In that there is suffering. So I have to find out, the mind has to enquire, examine and find out whether there is a timeless state which is called the now. This has been the haunt, the search of deep persons concerned with life. Which means is love a memory - either as the past or the future, I will love you, or I have loved you. And do I know or understand, or have an insight, or be aware of what love is now? You are following, we are sharing this together? And why do we, as human beings, live in this battle of the past and the future, which is the psychological time? Therefore there is an effort to forget the past, an effort to put away the future and try to live in the present. That is, I want to live in the present. We don't understand what that means but we just immediately react to every reaction that we have, idiotic, rational, stupid or neurotic - doing the thing now, whatever we want, this is what is happening.
And we are asking: as long as man, human beings, the mind, is looking to the future, which means hope, which means a sense of advancement, moving towards the ideal and so on, is that the truth or a reality created by thought? You are following this? Please do follow this. Thought whatever it thinks about is a reality, but is not truth. Reality means the act of thinking about something which then becomes real. That is reality of a hope, reality of a purpose, reality of an ideal, reality of an enlightenment, all are the projections of thought. Therefore thought has made that real. But that reality is not truth. Thought cannot think about truth. Now the truth of finding out a way of living, not a way, of living without the future and without the past. To find that out, which is the truth, thought cannot invent it, then it becomes an illusory reality. You have got it, what I am talking about? I can't keep on repeating this, I want to get on.
So, can the mind uncondition itself from the psychological hurts, images, pleasures of yesterday, and the psychological demands of the future, the hopes, the longings, can that mind, can it uncondition itself and find, see the truth of what it is to live totally now, in the now, and therefore that is the truth?
Now from there let's move to the understanding, and therefore freeing the mind from suffering. This has been also one of the great problems of life, from ancient days, whether the mind can free itself from suffering. Not become in that freedom callous, indifferent, concerned about itself, but in the freedom of suffering there is compassion. A mind that suffers is never compassionate, because the word 'compassion' means passion for everything. And to find that, to come upon that compassion, that sense of total passion, one has to understand this problem of suffering, because all human beings suffer: grief, ache, deep sense of agony of not being, fulfilling, losing, gaining, and the despair of total loneliness. We suffer physically, when we have a great deal of pain, and that can be easily understood and do something about it. The doing of something about it either can pervert, destroy the capacity of the mind, or that suffering need not leave an imprint on the mind. You have understood? I can suffer physically and not let that suffering interfere with the clarity of thought, with the clarity of perception.
If you have gone into the question of that, that I think can be done, should be done, must be done. Because physically we go through a great deal of sickness, whether malnourished, heredity, the social impact on a sensitive body, drink and you know all the things that you indulge in. So there is physical suffering, which can be rationally, sanely dealt with, and see that suffering, that pain, that remembrance of that pain does not affect the mind. That requires an awareness, a sense of watchfulness, a concern, not just to escape from physical pain, but concern to have a mind that is untouched by pain. You understand? Untouched by pain, which means untouched by hurt, because we all hurt from childhood, in schools, at home, in college, in university, in society, in an office, in a factory, we are psychologically being shocked, hurt all the time. That is part of our suffering. And whether the mind can be free from that being hurt. So there is that physical suffering.
Then there is psychological suffering, I love you, you don't love me - whatever that may mean. I am lonely, anxious, fearful, in agony of something I have done and something which I would like to avoid and so on. There is the suffering of losing somebody whom you love - at least you call that love. So there is this personal agony of suffering, and there is the collective suffering. Right? Suffering that is going on in the world, children being killed, mutilated, the wars, endless wars and the preparation for wars. We have built a marvellous civilisation all right, of which you are so terribly proud. So there is that suffering, the personal and the collective human suffering. Now can the mind, you as a human being living in this mad, insane world, be out of that suffering, completely? Not only consciously but deep down so that there is no suffering because when there is suffering there is the personal concern about oneself. This tremendous concern about oneself is one of the factors of degeneracy, self-improvement as it is called, self-fulfilment - am I doing the right thing, am I following the right system to achieve some kind of enlightenment, tell me how to be good - you know this tremendous self-concern which brings about callousness, a neurotic sense of progress - you know all that. So is there an end to suffering? When there is no suffering then only is there the possibility of being compassionate.
So one must find out, delve into this, whether the mind can be free from this ache and grief and sorrow. Which doesn't make the mind empty, dull, stupid, on the contrary. When we suffer psychologically there is always an escape from it, that is our conditioning. I suffer psychologically and I must do something about it, go and talk to an analyst, which is the new priest, go and do - I don't know - go to a church, anything to forget it, escape from it, take a flight away from it. Please follow this. That is a wastage of energy, isn't it? To move away from the fact. The fact is suffering, you suffer, and to run away from it verbally, rationally, romantically, or try to go away from the fact to some kind of entertainment. All that is a wastage of energy which prevents you from looking at it. To look at it and to stay with it, not neurotically, not morbidly; the morbidity, the neuroticism is in the flight, which is to believe in something, to go to somebody, to read a book, to analyse and find out the cause - the cause is there if you look, you don't have to - it is there immediately. So can the mind, which has been so conditioned to escape from suffering, especially in this country, in the Christian world which is to delegate this suffering to somebody else and worship that somebody else. In India they have another way of escape, which they call Karma and all kinds of other things. All that is a wastage of energy and therefore recognising that fact, seeing the truth of that, to remain totally without any movement of thought, which says 'Run away', remain totally with that suffering. If you do, out of that comes passion, because the root meaning of that word passion is linked with suffering.
So then we can go into this question of death. Are you all right? Are we all moving together? Please, not verbally because then it is no fun. Then you can pick up a book and read about it, and, you know, that has no meaning, it is too childish. This again is a tremendous problem. From ancient of days man has tried to find out how to avoid it, how to find immortality, and find out if there is another life, another existence in heaven or in hell - the invention of hell is the fruit of Christianity, and heaven is the permanent abode. Man has always tried to find a comfort, or say, living is the fulfilment in death and beyond. You have seen this in the ancient Egyptians. You know, right through the world this has been one of the major factors of enquiry; either believe in some comfort, in some future, or rationalise the present living and say 'Well, there it is, make the best of it, have a jolly good time; it is rather unfortunate, miserable, but make the best of it and get on with it'. There is the end of it. We have rationalised everything and at the end of it we have found nothing.
So one has to find out, go into this question, not only intellectually, verbally but much more beyond it. What it means to die, what it means to die not when you are diseased, old age and crippled and unconscious and drugged, and all the rest of it, you end up in a hospital, but living, what it means, not committing suicide, I am not proposing that. As we said, time is involved. We, living with all the things involved in existence and death something far away to be avoided, postponed, a distance between the living and the dead, or the dying. And what is it that we call living? And who is it that is living? You are following all this? Please if this is all too much for a morning, you forget it I'll go on. You understand - if you can't follow all this and you get tired, let me talk about it and perhaps something will enter you head.
What is it that we call living? And who is it that is living? The living that you call is this constant travail, this constant effort, the battle that goes on within us silently, verbally or outwardly, the competition, the aggression, the ambition, the struggle, the agony, the pain, the loss, the fear of losing, not gaining, this battle is what we call living, with its passing pleasures, an occasional flash of joy, an occasional ecstasy of something which thought has never captured, or never can produce. But this is our life. And who is it that is living? Who is it that says, 'This is my life, this is I' - who is that entity that is living? To complain that society has made us what we are, therefore change the environment and we'll be changed, and to say, bring about a different outward conditioning which will condition us differently, is one of the factors of the communists, of the people of the world, people who say change all the outward things and man will change. But man has created all this, you have created all this, the misery, the war, the irresponsible butchery that is going on, the national division as the Jew, the Arab, the Hindu, the Muslim, the Christian, you are responsible for this because you think that way. Go to any town, to any village, you will see the Wesleyan, the Baptist - you know - the Catholic, the Protestant - you have created this. And you say 'Well I can't change, it takes too long. Or if I change what of it? I can't change the world.'
So you have to find out who is it that is living this. And why is he living like this, callousness, indifference, why? Or we are educated this way. If you are educated this way, change the education. Why do we support all this in ourselves? So I must find out who is this that is living? This horror, this misery, this confusion, this pain. Is it that entity that is frightened of death, who says, 'I am living, and death is the ending of that living'? You are following? So who is it that is living? Is that living, chaos, mess, confusion, misery, is it different from the 'liver' - not the liver! - but the entity that lives? You are following this? Is this mess, which I call living, is that different from the entity who is afraid of dying? I don't know if you follow this. Is this entity different from that which he has created? Or both are the same? The entity is the living, he is not separate. I wonder if you understand this. So the entity that says that living is me, the chaos, the mess, the confusion, the irresponsibility, the pain, the cruelty, the horrors that are going on, is me, it is not separate from me, I have created that, and what I am frightened of is the dying, which means the ending of that which I have created. You follow?
So what is the meaning of death? There is the physical death, the ending, physical ending. And I am attached in my relationship to you, I depend on you. You are my companion, you have given me pleasure, both biologically, sexually, in different ways, I depend, you fill my life, and I call that love. And I don't want to lose you, therefore I am attached, cling to you. But there is death of you. You understand? You are going to die, as I am going to die some day, but I don't want you to die, you are mine. So there is that suffering in attachment. I can't face that fact. And I want to keep you and I am frightened of losing you, and I am frightened of losing myself. I am frightened of coming to an end myself - myself which has created this misery, this confusion, this mischief, the corruption, all the things that man has done to another man in my relationship.
So what is death? Is the self, which is the 'me', frightened of coming to an end? Coming to an end of all this? As I am frightened, I postpone it. Which is, I avoid it, I run away from it. The running away from it is time. You understand? Now if I don't run away from it what happens? Then the ending of all the things I have done is death. You understand sirs? Therefore the gap, the time interval between the future as death and the present as living, have been brought together. Do you understand? So I know what it means to die, which means totally be free of everything that I have created. Have we understood something?
And there is always the search for immortality. Man wants to be immortal, never asking the question: who is it that is going to be immortal? Does immortality lie in the book I have written? The name, the name in history as a General, as a butcher, or whatever it is? So what is immortality? Which means really to be free, for the mind to be free of the idea of death, of that quality of mind when time has totally ceased. You understand? So all this is implied in the understanding, and in the living, of this whole problem of time, suffering and death - not as separate things but to condense all that into a whole. And then you will see for yourself that suffering brings an extraordinary sense of passion, not lust, not the absurd things that are going under the name of passion. Because out of the ashes of suffering comes this extraordinary passion and with it compassion. And when you have understood very, very deeply, not verbally, not intellectually, the sense of timeless moment, timeless whole, then you have understood what it means to live without this fear of death, and the dying is the living. Right.
Do you want to ask any questions about what we have been talking? Or would you rather sit quietly and observe all this?
Q: Sir, the idea for me has for years been the thinker and the thought as being one. I, perhaps from conditioning, I see the thinker as separate from the thought.
K: Yes, the idea of the thinker and the thought are the same is difficult to grasp, the questioner says. You know the word 'idea', the word, the meaning of that word means to see, to observe. Not what we have made, which is the seeing and drawing an abstraction from it, a conclusion and acting according to that conclusion. Right? That is what we have made the word idea into. The word 'idea' means to see and the seeing is the acting - not acting according to a conclusion. The seeing that there is a precipice is the action. Now the questioner says, it is difficult for me to understand that the thinker is the thought, because, he says, I have been conditioned that way, that the thinker is different from thought. Right, have you understood the question? Is he different? Observe it, don't agree, or disagree, just to look at it. Look at the thinker who says, 'I am thinking' and what he is thinking about.
Let me put it differently. Is the experiencer different from the experience? This is a very important question to understand, because you will see in a minute if you go into it. Because you are all so crazy for experience - divine experience or you know, drug experience and all the rest of it. So you must find out for yourself whether the experiencer, the thinker, the observer are different from the observed, from the experience, from the thought. So we are looking at the experience. Is the experiencer different from the experience? If you have an experience of any kind, what is involved in that experience? First recognition, otherwise you couldn't say, I have had an experience. You understand what I am saying? I have had an experience of god, of Jesus, whatever you like, Krishna, Buddha, whatever. Now how do I know that I have experienced Jesus, unless I have already known Jesus or Krishna, or Buddha or somebody else? You are following this?
So the experience, which I am experiencing, is a projection of my own conditioning which I am experiencing. Right? So the experiencer is not different from the experience. Because he must first recognise it otherwise it is not - you can't say, 'Well I've had a marvellous experience, I adore that experience', because I know the content of that experience otherwise I couldn't enjoy it. You understand all this? So the experiencer is the experience, he may call it what he likes, it is his projection which he is experiencing. A Hindu unfortunately is conditioned by his own gods, by his own priests, by his own culture, and he says, 'I am experiencing that'. That is the projection of his own conditioning. Right? Now go step by step. So the mind says, 'I must have experience', so he projects these experiences and experiences them. And experience apparently is necessary to keep the mind awake: I must have experience otherwise I will go to sleep.
So you think experience will keep the mind awake - right? - of different kinds. Now when you see - please understand this - now when you see that the experiencer is the experience, then the whole problem of the desire to experience comes to an end and therefore the mind in itself is totally alive. So the thinker is the thought.
Right sirs, that is enough, isn't it? Yes sir?
Q: Whatever it is that is sitting there experiencing, is there any kind of me itself?
K: I don't quite follow the question. Will you speak louder sir.
Q: Whatever that’s here, that is creating these outer and inner experiences, is there any kind of a me that is here? An individual?
K: I don't understand your question.
Q: Is there a ‘me’, an ‘I’ of any kind?
K: That is what I have just explained.
Q: He is saying what is the core of the creator of the experience? What is the core of the self? Is there anything in the self?
K: That is what he is asking sir, the same question. Which is: what is the me who divides himself as the outer and the inner? Is that it sir? Or would you put the question: what is the point of accumulating all this knowledge when I am going to die? What is the point of having a good relationship with another when at the end of it I die? What is the point of improving the world, or changing the world, transforming myself when death is next door? So you are saying, I, who is this I - is that it? Is that the question sir?
Q: Is there such a thing as the individual?
K: Is there such a thing as an individual - right. Is there such a thing as the individual - are you an individual?
Q: What about you?
K: I am asking you.
Q: Here and now...
K: Just a minute madam, let us finish this question. Are you an individual? Do you know what that word means?
Q: I realise that I am...
K: I am asking sir, do you know what that word means, indivisible, who is whole; the word 'whole' means healthy, sane and also it means holy, H O L Y. All that is implied in the word 'individual', indivisible, therefore he is whole unbroken, not fragmented. Are you that individual? Or are you the collective and you think that you are the individual? - which is part of the deception of the collective. Go on sir, think it out, watch it.
So the problem is: can the mind observing this fragmented entity, calling itself an individual when it is really the collective, can that mind free itself totally and be whole? And to do that you have to have a mind that can look, not fragmentarily as me and the not me, as an American, Christian, Hindu, Buddhist and all that nonsense, but look at things as they are. Can you look at yourself and see you are the collective, through your education, through your tradition, through everything, you are the collective. And look at it, not try to escape and say 'I must be individual', be with that, look at it with all your attention. Then observe how fragmented you are, with your desires, contradictory desires, self-deception, hypocrisy, wanting, not wanting, violence - you follow - broken up as an artist, as a business man, as a family man, as a factory man. You follow? All that fragmented. Look at it. And as you observe it, as you see it without moving away from it, out of that comes total perception. That is enough sirs.