To live means also to end
Is it possible to bring about a deep psychological revolution in ourselves?
3rd Public Talk, Madras
January 07, 1984
We ought to talk over together a great many things this evening. We should talk over why human beings get hurt, not biologically but psychologically. And that hurt they carry all through their life. And also we ought to talk over together the question of sorrow, whether that sorrow can ever end and the implications that are involved in the ending of sorrow. And also, as it is the last but one talk, we ought also to go into the question of what is death. Because tomorrow, if you are here, and I probably will be here too, we should talk about meditation and if there is anything that is really sacred in life. We'll talk about that tomorrow but today, this evening - it is rather lovely, marvellous clouds, I don't know if you have noticed it - we ought to talk over together, as I said, why human beings from their childhood till they die, carry this burden, this pain of hurt, psychologically, inwardly, and whether it is possible never to be hurt, to have a brain that has never known hurt. You understand?
And as we also said in the last two talks, if you don't mind it being repeated, this is not a lecture, this is not a meeting, a gathering where one speaker instructs others or informs others. We are having a conversation. Two friends sitting in a quiet - under a tree, quietly, happily, relaxed, talking about their daily life, talking about the art of living, which is the greatest art. And neither of them is convincing the other, not doing any kind of propaganda of conviction or make the other yield to a certain argument but two friends who have known each other for some time are talking about their lives, as you and the speaker are doing now. It's a form of dialogue. It's a very complex question the word 'dialogue', a conversation between two people. I pose you a question, put you a question and you reply to that question. And to that reply, the speaker challenges that question, that reply. So, this process of two people talking together and in the process of talking together both of them disappear but only the question and answer remains. You understand? Probably you have never done that kind of conversation, have never had such a dialogue. We are going to try it. That is, you put a question, to that the speaker replies, and you respond to that reply, back and forth till you have exhausted your prejudices and the speaker also exhausts his convictions so that both of us are free and therefore there is no you and the speaker remaining but only the question remains. Have you understood a little bit of this? Probably you have never tried this kind of thing because we are all so full of ready answers.
So we are going into first the art of living. The word 'art' means etymologically join together, join things together. But I think we ought to give a totally different meaning to it. Art is to put everything where it belongs, to put things in their right place. So there is the art of listening, there is the art of learning, there is the art of perception. We are going to go into that briefly. The art of listening, not merely hearing words. The hearing of the words is quite a different process than the art of listening. The art of listening implies you are actually listening, not interpreting, not agreeing, not putting up resistance but listening to what another has to say, so that you are not the translator of what is being said. You don't project your own conclusions, prejudice, opinions, judgments, you are actually listening. And that requires certain attention. And in that attention, you as the listener disappear. You are just listening. If you are listening to those crows and to those birds, you are listening. You don't say, 'That's the noise of the crow calling', you just listen. And when you do so listen so attentively there is neither agreement or non-agreement, you are just in a state of attention. Not only to what the speaker is saying but also listen to your wife and husband, which is much more difficult because you have got used to it, to each other. But fortunately you don't know the speaker, the speaker doesn't know you, so we can both listen without any prejudices, and which implies great sensitivity, to have your senses active so that you are listening so completely, and if one listens so attentively, there is a certain miracle taking place. It's not a listening of one opinion against another opinion or argument against another argument, however reasonable, however crooked, illusory, but a listening in which there is silence.
And there is an art of learning. You don't mind my talking like this? Don't so easily, if I may point out, agree so quickly - as the speaker is talking, do it. Listen to that crow. So you listen with your senses naturally, not just with the hearing of the ear but with all your senses awakened, listen to that. Then you, you don't exist, only the sound. Sound has an extraordinary importance in life. May I go on like this? You don't mind? The sound of the sea, the sound of the voice of your wife or husband, the sound among the leaves, the sound of the waves, the sound of a tree which is very still. This sound has extraordinary importance. And the art of learning is not the accumulation of memory. You go to school, there you are cultivating memory - mathematics, biology, physics and so on, you are being informed, your brain is gathering information, storing knowledge about mathematics or geography, history, whatever you like. And that knowledge remains stored in the brain to be used skilfully or not skilfully in earning a livelihood. So knowledge is static. You can add to it, you can take away from it but the core of it is static. Right? It's not dynamic. That which is dynamic cannot be added or taken away. It is inherently it's dynamic, but knowledge is not. Knowledge is mere accumulation of information, of the result of many experiences stored. That which is kept is not dynamic. That which is moving, like a river, that is dynamic.
So, there is an art of learning. That is, to put everything in its right place. One has to learn mathematics if you want to be an engineer, (inaudible), or a physicist, you must accumulate knowledge - that is necessary. But he is adding to already what he knows. So knowledge gradually becomes static whereas the act of learning, you are moving, never remaining or holding in a same place. I wonder if you - am I conveying something? Are we understanding each other? Do work with me, please, will you? We are working together, you are not just listening to the speaker, you and the speaker are working together, learning together. Not learning, accumulating what the speaker has said and going home and say, 'This is what he said'. That's not learning. Learning is the application now of what is being said and discovering for yourself whether it is true or false. If it is true, act. In the world, theory and action or life has nothing to do with each other. In this country specially. You are full of theories, full of probabilities, possibilities, and say one thing, do another. You know the game you play. So, learning is something that is whole, not fragmented as knowledge is. I wonder if you understand all this. It is a movement as a river with tremendous volume moving, learning. That is the art of learning.
Then there is the art of perception. Perception is different from seeing. Perception is not of time, but the seeing and the translating what has been seen into action involves a certain period of time. Right? I see what I should do and I will do it. The seeing and the doing, there is a gap, interval, which is time. Right? That is simple. Right? I am not saying the speaker is not saying something mysterious. This is what is happening. You see something that should be done and you think about it. You argue, probe whether it is convenient, not convenient, profitable or not profitable, and so on. All that implies an interval of time before action. Right? Whereas perception is seeing and the doing, so that there is no interval between action and perception.
I see, I perceive, that I should not be a Hindu because one of the reasons for being a Hindu is for security purposes and also it is one of the causes of war - nationalism, tribalism is one of the causes of war. So I see that, I perceive it - sorry - I perceive it to be the truth and therefore I am no longer a Hindu. But whereas if I say, why shouldn't I be a Hindu, it is convenient, it gives me a certain sense of security, I must go with the current, I am rather too weak to stand by myself, and so on and so on and so on, in those arguments and escapes you still remain at the end of it a Hindu. Whereas if you see the danger of being a Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, whatever, Christian and so on, the seeing the danger of it, you act instantly. Right? You act instantly when you see a cobra. If a cobra was amongst you now, my goodness, how you would act! So, see what is implied in perceiving, which requires attention, care, watching things to find out. So there is the art of listening, the art of learning and the art of perception. If one lives with this art then life becomes an extraordinary thing, because that requires great sensitivity, care, attention.
So having said all that, let's enquire - enquire because in enquiry you must be free to enquire, but if you are attached to a particular conclusion it is not possible to enquire. Your conclusion then directs your enquiry. Right? So, to enquire there must be freedom. We are going to enquire together why human beings throughout the world get hurt, psychologically, get wounded, carry this burden of pain all their life. And when the brain is hurt it becomes neurotic, psychopathic, lives in all kinds of illusions, superstitions. And most human beings from their childhood are psychologically wounded. Aren't you all wounded? Do be a little honest to yourself. Aren't you wounded? In the schools the teacher says, 'You are not as good as that boy'. That hurts you, doesn't it? Or your mother or your father says, 'You are not as good as your elder brother'. You awaken jealousy, competition, hurt. Right? And those who are hurt deeply, psychologically, inwardly, all their life they have fear, not to be hurt anymore. And so they build a wall round themselves, isolate themselves. Don't you all do this? Are you all people who've never been hurt? Your husband or your wife says something cruel, a passing word, sting you, and that remains recorded in the brain and that hurt breeds all kinds of fears, anxieties, pain. Most people are not aware of all these hurts. If one becomes aware that one is hurt and one sees the consequences of that hurt, then what is it, we are asking, that is hurt? Who is it that is hurt? You are listening I hope, learning. When I say, 'I am hurt by what you said yesterday', who is the 'I' that is hurt? Please, kindly listen to this because it's your life, not the speaker's life, it's your personal life. And we are learning the art of living in which human beings are not hurt at all so that they have a brain which has no hurt at all. Therefore no resistance or - you understand the consequences of not being hurt.
So, who is hurt? You say, 'I am hurt'. The 'I' is the image that I have built about myself. Right? Are we together in this? You have images, haven't you, about yourself? That you are a Christian, you are a Buddhist, you are a Hindu, you are a Muslim, you must be a great man, you are a great man. You have all kinds of images. If you are a professor you've got an image about yourself, if you are a scientist you have an image about yourself, if you are a housekeeper, and so on - you have images. And it is those images that get hurt. And the image is you. Right? Are we clear on this matter? You get hurt because you are the image that you have built about yourself. I sit on a platform, I've sat on a platform all my life, unfortunately. And somebody comes along and says, 'You're an ass. And you think you are a great man, you have got a reputation, you are rather a silly old man'. If I have an image about myself as a great man, that image is going to get hurt. Right? And I say, 'I am hurt'. So is it possible - please listen to this - is it possible not to create images at all? Not to have an image about yourself at all - that you are a great lawyer, that you are a rather shady politician or that you are a religious man - not to have a single image. Have you ever tried it? Because we the brain creates, thought creates these images because in those images there is security. At least thought thinks there is security in these images. Right? And these images get hurt therefore there is no security at all. So is it possible not to have a single image?
The image is the recording process in the brain. You say something to me which is pleasant, it's recorded. And when you say something very friendly you become my friend - recorded. But if you say something not pleasant, you are my enemy. Right? That's recorded. So the recording process goes on all the time in the brain, because if you don't record and depend on that record for security, where are you? You understand my question? Are you following all these questions? If you have no image, where are you? You are nothing. Right? You are absolutely nothing. And because of that fear of being nothing you create images, because all of us want to be something. And so we create images hoping in those images that there is security and one finds in those images, get hurt and therefore security is gone. Now, you have listened to this - listened - and in the listening you have become sensitive to the fact, and you see the truth of it, not the description, not the explanation of it, but you see the fact that you are hurt and you are hurt because you have the image about yourself, and as long as have image it must inevitably get hurt. If you listen to this carefully, attentively, there will be no building of an image at all because you see the truth of it. It's up to you.
We ought to talk over together, or rather listen together, whether it's possible in life, living in the modern world with all the extraordinary things that are going on and all the brutality, the violence, the beastliness of things that we are all doing, is it possible to end sorrow? Mankind has suffered for thousands and thousands of years. We have evolved in suffering. We have had wars for the last five to six thousand years historically, and imagine the number of people killed, wounded, maimed, and all the people who have shed tears. And in our daily life we suffer a great deal. Suffering isn't merely physical. One has a disease, either it gets cured or it doesn't and you put up with it if you can. But sorrow is much deeper than that. Sorrow is remorse, regret, guilt, feeling of guilt, pain, and the feeling of desperate loneliness. Sorrow isn't something that you casually put aside like physical pain if you can, but sorrow is something that is extraordinary. So we are together going to investigate it. It is not the speaker is going to investigate it and you just listen to it but together so that both of us understand the depth, the extraordinary vitality of sorrow, the shock of sorrow, the - (sound of aeroplane) Do you listen to that noise, to the roar of that engine or do you resist it? If you listen to the roar of that engine you will also listen carefully to the speaker because both are sounds.
So sorrow is a very, very complex affair. Sorrow that exists between a wife and between a man and woman. Though they may be married and so on, there is certain intimidation, certain fears. Where there is possession there must be fear. If the wife possesses her husband and the husband possesses the wife, or the woman and the man, in that possession there is fear and sorrow. Sorrow isn't just a passing intermittent shadow on life but it is there always in all of us. And is that sorrow - the pain, the loneliness - please, you are not listening to me and taking notes on a pad or in your mind, in your brain, we are examining together, so you are entirely involved in it because we are talking about your sorrow not my sorrow. And this burden - the pain, the anxiety, the loneliness, the despair, the depression, the guilt, the remorse - all that, all those feelings, all those reactions, contain, hold in that one word. The pain that you can never become the head of something, the pain of your own incapacity, the pain of not being able to do certain things which you want to do, the pain of ignorance. Not the ignorance of books but the pain of ignorance of oneself. All this is sorrow. And also the sorrow when the husband leaves the wife and left the children, the sorrow of divorce and the sorrow of loneliness.
Do you know of loneliness, or is that a strange reaction? We all know what loneliness is. You may be head of some institution or you may have a great many friends, and when you are walking by yourself on the beach or in the wood, you suddenly feel utterly, unrelated to anything, alone, solitude, lonely. All this is contained in that word 'sorrow' - the pain, the grief, the tears and the laughter too. And man has lived with it, is conditioned by it. And after these fifty thousand years which man has come into being, man - which means woman too - man has carried this burden. He may go to temples, he may try to escape from this, pray, worship, but that sorrow is always there. My son dies and I shed tears for the rest of my life. The wife who has left me, or the husband, whom I loved - if you know what love means - and that is enormous pain.
So we are asking, not casually, not merely verbally, but we are asking that question out of our heart, whether that sorrow can ever end. It can end completely. Sorrow - when the ending of sorrow there is passion. That very word 'sorrow' contains that word 'passion'. Where there is sorrow there cannot be passion. Where there is sorrow there cannot be love. Where there is sorrow there is cunning evasion, escape. With the ending of sorrow there is passion, and that passion is love. Where there is suffering you cannot love another. You may pity another. That sorrow is selfpity, selfconcern. But the ending of it. Then you will ask naturally, how is it to end? That's a wrong question if... because then you are asking - the very word 'how' means show me a method, show me a practice, show me what to do. But if we are investigating together, learning together about the whole phenomenon of sorrow, not escaping, not trying to find comfort. When that thing happens - sorrow of a friend whom you have been very friendly with dies with cancer and there is the feeling that he is gone. Now, sorrow is a challenge and it is a shock both biologically and psychologically. My son is gone. It's a shock. And the fact is he's gone, and to hold that sorrow in your hands as you'd hold a beautiful flower so that the whole depth and significance and the strength and the beauty of that, by holding it, not escaping from it, then you will see out of that holding in your hand, as it were, the whole movement, the reaction, then you will see that sorrow becomes something totally different. And then there is love, then there is compassion, and love and compassion have their own intelligence. Not the intelligence of cunning thought, not the intelligence of human beings who can put machinery together to go to the moon. That intelligence is something entirely different. It's outside of the brain because love is not in the brain, love is not thought, and so on - we'll talk about it.
Also we ought to talk over together death. Some of us are getting old, aren't we? Including the speaker. There are a lot of young people here. Death is common to all of us - the old, the young, the about to be born - at the end of our journey death is there, you can't avoid it. That's one definite fact. Think if all the people who have lived in this earth had not died. You understand what I am saying? If all the people who existed before we are, lived, what kind of earth this would be. It's a very complex question. Are you interested in it? Or you say, 'Please don't talk - m morbid subject'. You, my friend, and I, the speaker, are going to die some day - through accident, through disease, through wearing the organism out. And slowly the decaying of the brain, gagaism, forgetting, becoming senile. We are using the word 'senile' scientifically, not as an insult. So, death is waiting. And why is it that all human beings are frightened of it? Please, this is a conversation between you and me and the speaker. Aren't you frightened, scared? If you are honest and if you say look, we are all getting old, terrible war may happen, nuclear war, if there is such a thing, one hopes that there will be no such thing, the earth might cease to exist as it is known. The scientists have written about it. If there is a nuclear war, that's the end of the earth. No demonstrations, nothing is going if the politicians have their way and if you are all nationalists, tribalists, broken up, you are helping that war to come into being. You are responsible for it. Don't escape from that fact. As long as you are a nationalist, belong to different religions, you are inviting this war.
So, death is a great phenomena, like birth. So one asks why have we, living, have put death far from us? Right? You are asking that question. You are living, active - if you call active going to the office every day, struggling, fighting, angry, bitter, cynical - and why is it that we have separated life as a thing and death as something else? Why is there this gap, long years? What is important, the ending or, please, or what? The ending, which is death, which is important? Isn't it important, the living is more important than dying, isn't it? No? Right? You don't seem to react to anything! Most extraordinary phenomena. We are asking seriously - not flippantly, not cynically or just for argument - which is important, living or dying? If you could reply, you'd say living, naturally.
So what is living? What is your living? What's your life? Don't go off to say, 'What is living?' - make a theory of it, speculate and quote somebody or another. What's your life? That's what you call living - your sensory responses, your sexual responses, your fears, going to the office from nine o'clock to five o'clock for the rest of your sixty years. Think of it, the horror of it! And you say, 'Yes, that's my responsibility because I have got children, wife, uncle and aunt I must support'. You know what you all say - struggle, pain, sorrow, pleasure, laughter occasionally, joy occasionally, concerned with yourself - right? - accumulating knowledge, nothing new, nothing fresh, alive. This is your life and to you that's far more important than dying. Face it, sirs, look at it. So, death comes to you, to us, to every living thing, even these marvellous trees, they'll die some day. There is in California tree, sequoia, which is over five thousand years - marvellous tree! Full of age, history, and the beauty of it. That also comes to an end. We are always beginning and ending. Right?
So death is something that is final and ending. But we don't want to end so drastically, finally. So we believe in reincarnation. I will live next life and better chance. I'll become the prime minister next life. I'll be the guru of gurus next life. I'll attain enlightenment next life. Right? So, the organism, biologically there is an ending to it, physical organism. And also, biologically, as a matter of fact, the brain, matter, is also being worn out by constant struggle, constant conflict, degenerating. Knowledge is one of the factors of this deterioration of the brain, because we depend so much on knowledge. We said the art of living is to put things in their right place. You need knowledge to write a letter, to do your business, you need knowledge to go to the temple, the knowledge has created the gods inside the temple, and the mosques and the churches. So one of the factors of the brain becoming old is the accumulation of knowledge. Take, sir, listen to it, find out.
When you say, 'I know my wife', you have already - what have you done? You have never looked at her, you already created the images about her. So, there is death and there is living. The living is also becoming more and more dangerous, more and more painful, more and more uncertain, confusion. This is our life - quarrelling, struggling, anxious, sorrow, pain, remorse, guilt, and so on - this is what we call living. And we say look, dying is the ending of all this. And we say 'I' - there is in me something permanent that will go on, next life. But you never examine what is the 'me', what is the 'self', actually. If you examine it, explore it, question it, doubt it, not accept the old tradition, what are you actually? Face it, sir, don't be nervous. You are your name, your body, your knowledge, your job, your anxiety, your pain - you are all that. You are the words, the picture, the images, and these words, the accumulation of this bundle you want to carry on next life. Is there a next life, as you want it? Or is there no death at all? You don't understand this. We'll talk about it.
To live with death - not commit suicide, I am not talking about that silly stuff - to live with death, death means the ending. You can't take your money with you. You can't take your family with you. You can't take all your wealth with you, your house, your property, your knowledge. Death is coming and wipes away all that because your brain, because it has not enough oxygen, withers. So, is it possible - please listen to this - is it possible to live, always ending? That is, you are attached. You are attached to your wife, you are attached to your money, you are attached to your ideas, conclusions, your ideals, you are terribly attached. And death comes round and says wipe out all that my friend, you are dead. You have to wipe all that out unless you believe in next life. If you believe actually in next life you have to live correctly now. Right? Right, sirs? Because you're going to pay for it next life if you don't do it properly now. But you don't believe in reincarnation actually, it is just a lovely conceptual idea. But if you really believed in it, you will be living a life of tremendous integrity, saying exactly what you mean and doing exactly what you think. But you don't believe in reincarnation. It's just a theory as so many theories you have. You might ask the speaker, 'Do you believe in it?', as you inevitably are going to ask. I have no beliefs, the speaker has no beliefs about anything. Because where there is no fear, where there is no sorrow, there is something totally different, and that has no death. Compassion is not my compassion. Love is not my love. Love is love. Intelligence is not mine or yours, it is intelligence. So where there is the ending of all this, there is the other.
So, you are attached, not to your bank account - don't take that. You are attached to your wife. Can you tell her or him, 'I'm no longer attached to you'? What would happen if you told her or him this? You do it, sir, find out! What would happen? Both of you would get terribly angry or terribly jealous. Or you're attached to somebody else. But death is going to free you from attachment. So while living daily, to end attachment. You understand what I am saying? I'm attached to this house - if I am. I am attached to my reputation - if I am. And to live is to end attachment. And so I'm living and at the same time dying. You understand that? So that the two are never separate. So that implies a movement which is not of time. Love is not of time. Love isn't something put together by thought. Thought is of time. Love is not in the brain. Love is something outside of the brain. And to live means also the ending. If you see the truth of this, not say, 'I will die', 'I will get -unattached', which means nothing, but if you see the truth of it, the depth of it, the beauty of it, the strength of it, then the brain becomes unconditioned. It is not conditioned through attachment. It's conditioned as it is, as your brain is conditioned to be a Hindu, to be a Muslim, to be a Christian, and so on - your brain is conditioned. A condition brain cannot possibly know what love is. It may have sympathy, it may have pity, it may have various expressions of communication, of affection. Love is not sentiment, love is not emotion. It is as strong as death.
And so to live at the highest level, which is freedom, freedom from all the petty things of life. But I have to earn a livelihood. As society is put together, structured, I have to earn a livelihood. I'll do it. But that's not the end as you make it - earn money, power, position. Have you ever considered whether power is evil? Power of the politicians, your power over your children, over your wife and husband, power in any form. The temples have power over you, so the temples are evil. All the Churches are, because they have enormous power over your mind, over your brain. It's like a dictator, like those totalitarian states where you are not allowed to think and act and be a free human being. So, when you understand the whole way of living, the art of living, actually, daily, the art of living, not the theory of living, not the speculation, not the theories and - you know, all that, but the actual living of your daily life. Not to be hurt, to end all sorrow, and to understand and live with death, then life is something of an extraordinary thing that you can never imagine or think out. Life then is something eternal which has no time, no beginning and no end.