What does this life mean?
The quality of energy that will transform man
3rd Public Talk, New Delhi
December 01, 1973
We have been talking over together the world as it is - the violence, the corruption, the pollution and the wars - and our relationship to it. We said that we are the world and the world is us. That's not a mere verbal statement or an idea to be adopted, traditionalised and made dead. It's a fact. As the sun rises and the sun sets, so it is a fact that we are the world and the world is us. And the transformation of the human mind is so utterly important. And we went into that, and we talked the other day about pleasure, fear and all the consequences of this turmoil that one lives.
This evening we should really talk about, or go into together, what does this life mean? Has it any meaning at all? And what is love, the thing that we talk so endlessly about? And what is the meaning, the significance of death? And we are going to talk about that this evening.
First of all, if one may point out, this is not an entertainment of ideas and opinions, this is not a religious amusement or excitement, emotions. We are, I hope, serious people concerned and committed totally to serious things. And if we are at all serious then we shall share together these problems. We mean by sharing, partaking, working together, thinking together, going, investigating together. It is not that you merely listen to a talk, to a series of words, but rather that we are together investigating into this problem, into these problems, which every human being in the world is concerned. So please bear in mind all the time that you and the speaker are sharing together the issues that most human beings have.
The word 'philosophy' means the love of wisdom, the love of truth in daily life. It is not an abstraction. You can traditionalise what another says about truth, and so through tradition destroy truth. That's what you have done in India. You have repeated traditionally, verbally, in various languages and symbols and drama and all the rest of it a series of traditions. And the repetition of those traditions denies totally what truth is. The word 'tradition' means 'to hand over'. And people have educated us in what they think. They have handed to us what they have experienced about reality, about truth. What they have described is not the truth. Description is one thing and the described another. We are caught in the descriptions. When you read your Gita or the Upanishads, they are the expressions of other people. And when you repeat endlessly what others have said, you are merely living a second-hand life. And freedom is lies away from the entanglement of tradition.
I do not know if you have gone into this question of tradition at all. The tradition may be of one day or of ten thousand years. Tradition may be according to some philosopher or some psychologist, or the communist may put it as the continuity of certain ideology, but it's still tradition. And when you live in tradition, as you do, then you will never under any circumstances find what truth is, and therefore you will never find out for yourself if the mind can ever be free from sorrow. And as we are, most of us, second-hand human beings, living on the authority and the say-so of others, accepting the conclusions, the theories, the speculative abstractions, which have become the tradition which is a prison, unless the mind is completely free of those traditions, mind can never come upon this reality, something that cannot possibly be described, something that is timeless.
So, we must understand first how the mind, your mind, lives in habits of tradition and has never found out how to live from moment to moment, fresh, young, innocent, alive. And if we have time this evening, and I hope we shall, go into that. Because freedom is absolutely necessary, not only politically, not only from the tyranny of dictatorship and totalitarianism, not only from ideals, concepts, the acceptance of spiritual authority, but freedom from the most urgent, insistent, continuous sorrow.
So, we should together examine, analyse - not 'analyse', sorry - analysis is paralysis. (Laughter) You laugh, but you will go on analysing. We are together going to investigate our life as it is, our everyday life. Not analyse it but look at it. Analysis implies an analyser and the analysed. Analysis implies time. Analysis implies division. And the analyser is more important than the analysed. Whereas, to perceive, to look, to observe things as they are, which is entirely different from analysing, explaining, forming opinions about 'what is'. So together we are observing, seeing, not abstracting a conclusion from seeing - just seeing. As we said the other day, 'idea' means to see, and perceiving, we draw a conclusion from that, and according to that conclusion we live. Therefore there is never complete action.
So we are together - please bear in mind, it's your life, not my life, your life, the life that you lead every day of your existence. What is that life? Has it any meaning, the way you live? Do look at it. For the first time perhaps, look at your life: the education that you have had, the education in tradition which is to conform to the pattern established by a society, of which you are a part, educated in knowledge, memory and never educated to face the whole existence totally. And you have sought security in jobs, money, position, endless conflict, with an occasional flowering of some ecstatic feeling. Do please look at your own lives; that's what we are talking about. Look at it as it is, not what you think it should be or what psychologists, the religious people, the philosophers, the Gita, the books have said. That has nothing to do with what you are. So don't look through the eyes of others, however great or whatever they are. So look at your life. It's a shoddy life, a trivial life, a life going to the office endlessly till you die - work, work, work. And to escape from that you have entertainments - religious entertainments, political entertainments, following some guru, frightened, miserable, unhappy. That's your life, isn't it, and to escape from that you take drugs, you retreat into a monastery and think by withdrawing you will understand the beauty of truth and the enlightenment and the ecstasy of something that is not put together by thought. You have your problems, not only of money, jobs, but the problem of relationship, which is the very essence of society. Please do listen to this. Nobody will talk to you like this.
Society is based on human relationship. It's a very simple fact. So we not only have misery outside - confusion, chaos, disorder, dirt, squalor, the agony of living with people who have never thought, never lived. You have escaped into words, into descriptions, into temples, mosques, churches. And our deepest, one of our deepest problems is relationship. You cannot live by yourself. You may go off into a mountain, into a cave, but you are still related. So, it is essential to understand relationship, to be related, not only externally to people about you in the neighbourhood, but also to the closest intimate person. So, what is relationship? When you say, it's my wife, my husband, my parent, my children, what do you mean by it? Because it's very important to understand. Please do listen, give your heart to all this. When we say we are related, what do we mean? Because on that all our social structure, moral and intellect, everything is based on relationship. So unless one understands that - your relationship with another - you cannot go very far. You may intellectually amuse yourself but unless you understand very, very, very deeply this problem of relationship, your meditation, your drugs, your temples have no meaning.
I don't know why I talk so passionately about all this. I know why: because I feel tremendously about all this. The speaker feels so urgent, and you don't feel the urgency, the intensity, the passion that you need.
So, what is our relationship to each other? Your relationship to your wife, to your husband, to your children, to your neighbour - that neighbour may be ten thousand miles away. What is your relationship to the corrupt politicians? And what is your relationship to the guru of whom you so obediently follow? Have you ever gone into this? If you have, will you not find that it is based on fear, pleasure, and the image that you have built about another? Right? Please keep it simple. The image that you have built about your wife, your husband, your girl, your boy, the politician, and your guru, your - all the rest of it. The image that you have about yourself, and the image that you have built about another. So there is never relationship, direct relationship, but only the relationship based on image. The image is the memory, the incidents, the pleasures, the fears, the antagonisms, the brutality, the sexual excitement, all that has created the image about the other, and you have an image about yourself: that you are great, that you are small, that you are inferior, that you are noble, that you are god, that you are atman, that you are soul, all the rest of it. Right? You are following all this? It's your life, not my life. We are talking about your existence, daily existence.
And how can there be a relationship with another if that relationship is based on previous conclusions and memories, experiences which have built, which is in essence the image? You understand, sir? You have built an image about me, unfortunately, and you have an image about another. How can you be related to me? That means in contact. How can you see me? How can you understand me? You cannot, because your image, your conclusions. So can the mind - please listen - can the mind, in which is included the brain, the whole movement of thought, both neurologically and psychologically, all that is the mind, can that mind live without image? The image is the tradition. The image that you have built through experience, through knowledge, through various incidents of every day, that image that you have built. Now can the mind be free of that image? If it is not free, there is no love. You may talk about love.
So can the mind, your mind, looking, seeing exactly as it is now, without drawing a conclusion from it, see why it creates an image? It creates an image because in the image is security. 'I know my wife', 'I know my guru', because in the knowledge there is security. You see this? And that knowledge prevents me from looking at you, because you are changing, I am changing, but the image is static. Are we sharing all this? And so our relationship becomes static, dead, meaningless. And it is the tradition of marriage, of possession, domination, the continuous sense of pleasure in sex, all that has built the image, and in that image you are secure - at least you think you are - till the woman or man turns away, and then you have problems, jealousy, anger, hatred, bitterness. And this is your life of conflict day after day, inwardly and outwardly, whether in the factory, in the university or in the bureaucratic world, rather smelly world. And we suffer, we are anxious, agony, torture.
So can the mind be free of image-making? That means - please listen, I'll show it to you; do it - at the moment of injustice, flattery, insult, at the moment of anger, and all that which has built the image, at the moment be totally aware, be attentive. You understand what I am saying? Am I making myself clear? That is, you flatter me or insult me; at that moment be aware of the meaning of that word, the content, the response, the reaction to the word, and not move away, run away, withdraw from the word and the reaction to that word. Do you understand? Are we following each other? That is, when your wife or your husband nags, or whatever they do unfortunately, at that moment be tremendously alert. And you will see when you give your whole attention there is no image-formation because there is no image-maker at that moment. When there is attention there is no centre, the centre being the maker of the image, as the 'me' who is insulted. The 'me' as the image who is insulted disappears, dissolves in the flame of attention. You've understood? Have I made it clear?
So, where there is conflict in relationship, and in that conflict - please listen - in that conflict the 'me' as the image-maker becomes terribly important. Haven't you noticed? When you are quarrelling with somebody, insulting somebody, you, the maker of the image, has become tremendously important. So, I won't go more into it because there are so many things to talk about this evening. So there must be in relationship freedom from images. Don't learn that by heart and compare it to some terrible book, sacred or profane. Just listen to it. See the truth of it for yourself, then it's yours, not somebody else's.
And the next thing is: can the mind be free of sorrow? You know this burden of sorrow has been with us always, through centuries upon centuries. The Christians hand it over to their deity and he bears all the sorrow, and you think by that you will escape from sorrow. In India and elsewhere in the Asiatic world, sorrow is explained away as Karma: what you did in the past life, old boy, you are going to pay for it this life. There are so many explanations and counter-explanations, but the fact remains that you suffer. And apparently there has been no ending to sorrow, because without the ending of sorrow there is no wisdom. The ending of sorrow is the beginning of wisdom. Don't learn it. Don't repeat it. Don't memorise it. You will see what it means. Can sorrow - you know, sorrow of losing somebody, the sorrow of loneliness, the sorrow of a thousand regrets, the sorrow of never being able to fulfil, the sorrow of never being happy, looking at a beautiful sky, the sorrow of never enjoying anything completely, the sorrow that comes when the mind is fragmented in itself, there are a thousand sorrows and no explanations can solve it, and unless you are free from the mind is free from sorrow, never contaminated with sorrow, it cannot possibly come upon that extraordinary thing called love and the beauty of truth.
So our question is: can the mind be free from sorrow? You have sorrows, haven't you, sorrow of losing somebody, sorrow of your being short, not having a beautiful face, not being intelligent, clever, cunning, not having a good corruptible position, not being among the elite of the politicians with their - all that is sorrow. Can the mind be free of it? Then only - please listen - then only goodness can flower. Now, first, you are in sorrow. That is a fact. Can you remain, not run away from that essential fact, to remain with it? You understand? I'll show it to you. My son dies, my brother, my sister, my wife dies. There is a shock. The image has been broken. But I cling to the image I have built about her, and I miss that image and the physical organism, and I am lonely, a little bit confused, lost, frightened, don't know how to deal with things in the house. I am lost and I shed tears, not only for the one that I have lost, but also I shed tears for others. There is not only personal sorrow, but there is the sorrow of the world, sorrow of that man walking in the street who will never, never, ride in an aeroplane, who will never become a minister. Don't laugh. You don't know what a torture all this is. That poor man, one meal a day, never looking at the sky, never having a full meal, never sleeping in clean sheets. There is the sorrow of the world, the sorrow of total ignorance.
So there is this sorrow. Can my mind, without moving away from the fact that I have lost my brother, my son, my wife, the thing I've depended on, can I remain with that fact, never moving an inch away from it? If you can, then you will see that sorrow becomes passion. The very root meaning of 'sorrow' is passion. And if the mind, without a single movement, which is a single movement of thought, remain with that fact that you have lost the thing to which you have been attached, the thing on which you have depended, the human being that has given you pleasure, sex, support, comfort, encouragement, to remain absolutely motionless with that fact. That requires not only a deep, tremendous, inward discipline - not the discipline of conformity or suppression, but seeing the truth of it, the very truth of it is its own discipline. You don't know anything about all this.
So, when the mind is free from sorrow then you can begin to investigate, go into the question of what love is. Do you know what love is? You love your country, don't you? Yes? You love your India, don't you? For which you are willing to kill and be killed. What is India? An idea, isn't it? India doesn't exist. It exists in your mind, in a geographical mark, pink or white or blue or yellow, but India as such doesn't exist at all. And for that idea, which you love, you are willing to kill other people who have different ideas similar to you, and you call that love of your country. You are a lovely generation! And you love your wife, your husband, your girl, your boy - do you? Do you love your children? Yes? You don't you are frightened, aren't you? Do you love your children? If you loved them, you know what you would do? You would give them a different kind of education, education which is not conformity, education that would prepare them for life, not for some beastly job. You would educate them never to kill another. And look what you have done - your children, you have sent them to war to be killed, to be maimed. You have educated them in that tradition, that your country is the greatest, or you love it. What you mean you love is your security, your little house, your little job, your corrupt politician. So you love your children to be killed. You understand? That is the tradition in which you have been brought up.
And when you say you love your wife, do you? Is love pleasure? Do please think over together. Is love pleasure? Is love desire? Is love murder? For most people love is sex - right? - which is pleasure. Or you love, and there is jealousy, there is anger, hatred; all that is included in that word. And is all that love? Or is love something that has nothing whatsoever to do with thought, which is pleasure, which is fear, which is anxiety, which is possession, domination? And you are brought up in this tradition. And how can a mind, a heart that has no love - you understand what we mean by love? Love has no jealousy, love has no country, love has no division as you and me. Don't shake your heads, you don't know what you are doing. And without love how can you perceive the beauty of truth? Golly.
So love is not pleasure. Which doesn't mean that you can't have pleasure, see the beauty of light and sunset, and the beauty of a face, the beauty of a tree, beauty of a sheet of water. But the moment the mind says the pursuit of repetition, which is the sustenance of pleasure, then love comes to an end.
Now we come to something. I don't know if I have time to go into it. We will. This question of death. Please bear in mind that if you don't understand relationship, if there is no love in your heart, compassion, then you will never understand what death is. They all go together, they are not separate. If I have not resolved totally the problem of relationship, on which all societies are based, if I have not come into contact deeply within myself what compassion, love is, I shall never understand what death is. Because they are all together, indivisible. And that is the beauty of death.
You know, it is one of the greatest problems of life. From the ancient of days and times in history, every king and prophet and saints have been frightened. Being frightened, they invented a series of ideas, that you will live with all your goods. As the ancient Egyptians did. You will live next life. There is belief in reincarnation, or there is no belief in reincarnation but one life but you will be resurrected by somebody and you'll live in heaven. Everywhere there is this hope that there is a continuity of the 'me', my soul, my - me, me. There is fear of death through old age, the trials of old age, the disease, the pain, the anxiety, the fear, the unconscious ending of life in some hospital, in an accident, with some fatal disease. And death is always there. So unless you understand this basic problem - please, listen to what I am saying - unless you understand this, your going off into meditation, repeating mantras, doing all kinds of penances, tortures, repeating endlessly the Bhagavad-Gita or your favourite book, they have no meaning at all. Your guru dies and you die. So how will you solve this problem? You understand? Finish with it.
Basically we want security, security outwardly and security inwardly - the house, the furniture, the name, the book, identifying myself with something great or small or petty - that gives a form of security. And inwardly one seeks security in ideas, in the beliefs, in the atman, in the soul - all ideas. You are following all this? All put together by thought, thought which is frightened of coming to an end. And what is 'the me', 'the you' that dies and wishes to continue? Have you ever gone into it? Or we're just too frightened to look at death. What is it that you think will live? Now, are you living now? Do please look at it with your heart. Are you living now? - with your tortures, with your anxieties, shedding tears, if you have any tears at all, hopeless, lost, confused, constantly in battle - that's what you call living, day after day, day after day till you die. And that, this life you don't want to lose, and so you say, 'Please, I would rather have the known, rather than the unknown'. The known is the tradition, is the battle, is the conflict, the misery, the confusion, the agony that human beings go through, if you are at all sensitive. And unfortunately you are not sensitive, therefore you are already dead in your traditions.
So if you are sensitive, alive, watching, this is your life, from the moment you are born till you die, cultured in tradition, never knowing what goodness, beauty, love is. This you know and this you cling to. And this you want repeated next life, only a little modified - better bathrooms, more furniture, better name, better position. And you can only have that better bathroom, better position, more money, if you behave properly now. But you don't behave properly now. So your belief in a future life has no meaning whatsoever. Right? If you have belief in the future life it means that you must behave righteously now. And if you don't behave righteously, what's your life now? Then why do you want to continue it after death? That's all so meaningless. So don't waste your life, live it now. That means to live now you must die every day to everything you know, to your image. You understand? That's all you know, your image, and the image of another - to die to those images, to die to your peculiar ambitions, greeds, envies, your attachments. But you won't. You like to keep them. Therefore you like to live a life of constant conflict.
So when freedom from the known - the known, that's your life, the everyday life - freedom from that is a timeless movement in which there is no death at all. And you will say, 'But there are I have seen my brother, the mediums have told me that my brother, my wife exists'. Haven't you heard all this? That my wife, through a medium, gives me a message. Only my wife and I know, nobody else knows. People have remembered their past lives. You have heard all these things, haven't you? So what is all that? You understand my question? Look, sir, you are caught in the stream of greed, envy, fear, the power of money, the corruption of authority - you live in that world, that is the stream that is carrying you, that is the stream of tradition. And you die in that stream, never losing yourself, walking away from that stream, never putting away from that stream altogether. But you are caught in that stream, and you die in that stream - right? - and your images are in that stream. That is, you are the stream, that river is the image that you have. You are following all this? So when my brother gives me a message, he is giving me from that stream, because I belong to that stream. You understand?
So, sirs, don't waste your life - which you are now wasting. This is the life; one life is good enough. You can make out of that life everything, and you can make of that life what it is now as you are living. And the man who steps out of that river, that stream, is one who has no image about himself or about another. She has no authority, no position, because how can a man who is compassionate have any position, have any authority? So, do be serious in your life. Consider this as the whole of life - the one moment or the ten moments. Which means to know what is the significance of relationship, love and death. Then that is the foundation for meditation. The foundation is the very meditation, which we'll talk about tomorrow if there is time, what it means to meditate.
Questioner: Sir, is seeking of security just like (inaudible) is a basic need of man? Is seeking of security not a natural instinct?
Krishnamurti: Sit down, sir. I understood your question, sir. But don't you think we should take a breath between two - give a little time interval before your question, from what the speaker has been talking about, so that you drink some of the water?
The questioner asks, is it not natural to seek security. Right, sir? You must have security, you must have clothes, food and shelter. Right? Every human being must have it, right through the world, not for the elite, not for the big dog, top people, with their luxury, with properties, possession - everybody in the world, the poorest villager must have food, clothes and shelter. That's a natural demand of every human being. Now see what has happened. That's a natural demand, and is it natural for human beings to divide themselves as Hindus, Buddhists, Christians, Communists, divide their nationalities and fight, destroy each other? - which is preventing food, clothes and shelter to the poor. Right? You want security physically - and everybody must have it - and you are setting about to destroy that security through your national sovereignties - right? - through your army, navy, air, your idealisms, your ideologies. So, your ideologies you think give you security. Right, sir? When I say when you say, 'I am a Hindu', or a Muslim or a Christian, or communist, it gives a certain security - in the world of communism, naturally. If you are in a capitalist world and if you say you are a communist, they throw you out. If you say you are a Hindu in a Muslim world, you have a bad time. Right?
So thought has divided people, and thought cannot give security. Right? Thought can arrange for security; if thought is based on logic, sanity, clarity, if there is compassion, then you can arrange the world where everybody will have food and clothes and shelter. But do you think you will allow it - when you are a Sikh and a Muslim and a Hindu - do you think you will allow it? Do you think your politicians will allow this? Because you are the politicians too, don't forget. They are not just the politicians up there in the corner. So, the very natural demand for security is denied by your ideologies. Do realise this, for god's sake. And only then you can arrange a world where you and I and the poor and the rich and everybody can live happily, sanely, with security.
Q: In the beginning of your lecture, sir, you mentioned that analysis is paralysis, and that we shouldn’t analyse. That in an analysis there is the analyser and the analysed. You exhorted us to perceive, to look. Now in the act of perception, in the act of looking is there not the perceiver and the perceived?
K: I have understood your question, sir. We'd better stop after this question. This is the last question, if you don't mind. Aren't you tired?
K: Mentally? Emotionally? Haven't you worked for an hour and quarter/twenty minutes? It's not that I have worked. Have you worked? Put your heart, your mind, your everything you have to find out how to live. If you have, you must be tired. But you are not, because you play with all these things and you go back to your shoddy little life tomorrow.
The questioner the question is this: you say - forgotten
Q: Analysis is paralysis
K: Analysis is paralysis. I said this. The speaker said that. And he said, also, there is the analyser and the analysed. Please listen to this. This is as important a question as any other question. Paralysis is the factor of analysis. There is the analyser and the analysed, and it takes time to analyse - time, division between the analyser and the analysed, and a total inaction. We are going to examine that. Is the analyser - and the questioner says, you ask us to observe, to watch, to look, and in that observation, in that hearing, in that seeing, is there not the observer, the see-er, the experiencer? Right, sir?
Q: Right, sir.
K: Now, the analyser, is he different from the analysed? I analyse myself. I analyse my anger, my greed, my anxiety. Is the analyser different from the thing he analyses? You understand my question? Or are they both the same? So the analyser is the analysed. Right? We have divided it as the analyser and the analysed because we are not able to solve not only the problem of the analysed but also we think knowledge, which is the very essence of the analyser, will solve the problem. That is, knowledge is the past, knowledge is time, and knowledge or experience we think is going to solve anger. So there is the division as the known and the factor of a new factor, as anger. But still the analyser is the analysed. Is that clear? I am sorry, I can't go much more into it - it is up to you. Then in analysis, if you have gone into it, if you have observed yourself, you will see that to analyse every movement of thought not only needs time, but also every analysis must be complete, otherwise you take over from what you take over what you have not understood, and with that, which is not being understood, you examine the next analysis. Are you following all this? Have you understood, sir?
Q: A little.
K: A little. Look sir, I examine my anger. The analyser examines the analysed, which is anger. Unless the analyser is completely understood, the whole structure of anger, and ends anger, he will carry over - won't he? - the memory, and with that memory he will examine the next incident of anger. So there is never an ending to anger. Therefore there is never a complete ending which is non-action, therefore paralysis. Gosh.
Now, the next thing is, the speaker said: observe, look. Now when you look at yourself and at the world, do you look with the image you have about yourself? Answer, answer it. Of course you do. So when you look at yourself, you look through the screen of your ideas, opinions, judgements, your conditioning, your - all that. That is the screen through which you look. Right? When you look at a Muslim like me, or a communist like me, you look through the prejudice, through the screen of words. Therefore you never look at me. So can you look at yourself or your neighbour or your wife without that screen? Then you are looking. Then you are really in contact. You've understood, sir? Do you give it up?
Q: I understand, sir.
K: You understand it, sir?
Q: I do, yes. Thank you.
K: Now, just a minute, sir. What do you mean by understand?
Q: When you go again to stage one.
K: Sir, look, when you say, 'I understand', it means
Q: That we understand
K: that you have completely understood the factor of analysis. Therefore you will never analyse. Therefore you're seeing without the screen. That is understanding. That is action.