What is at the very root of sorrow?
There is an ending to sorrow when there is no ‘me’
3rd Public Talk, Brockwood Park
September 03, 1977
May we go on with what we were talking about last Sunday? Please let me remind you, if I may once again, this is not an entertainment, or an intellectual affair, but we are concerned with the whole existence of man. Whether a human being can ever be free from his travail, with his efforts, with his anxieties, violence and the brutality, and if there is an end to sorrow. That is what we are going to talk over together this morning: whether there is an ending to sorrow and the whole complex problem of what is death. Because we have already dealt with, or gone into pretty thoroughly the question of fear, pleasure, and also to find out what is love. And before we go into this question of suffering I think we should be able to think together over this problem - think in the sense that both of us together be free from our prejudices, from our convictions, from our beliefs, and investigate together, if that is possible, if you are willing, to go into this enormous problem of what is suffering. Why human beings throughout the ages have maintained and sustained, and put up with suffering. And whether there is an ending to all of that. Because as we said, when there is suffering there is no love: and without love there is no compassion, no clarity. And out of that clarity and compassion comes the skill that is not cultivating the importance of the self. So if we may, we are going together, freely, to investigate this question of suffering.
And one must also be free of all ideologies. Ideologies are dangerous illusions, whether they are political, social, or religious, or personal. Every form of ideology either ends up in totalitarianism, or a religious conditioning, like the Catholic, the Protestant, the Hindu, the Buddhist and so on, and therefore it becomes a much greater burden. So to really go into this enormous question of suffering, and love, and death, one must be free from all ideologies. I wonder if you will be free this morning at least, be free completely of your convictions, be free completely, wholly of any ideal, ideology - what should be, what must be - and your personal convictions. You may have experienced a great deal and perhaps those experiences have led you, or brought about certain definite conclusions, images. But to enquire into this question one must be utterly free of all this, otherwise it leads us to illusion. And I hope we see that clearly and we can proceed from there to enquire why human beings throughout the world suffer and have tolerated this suffering, and whether it is at all possible to end all suffering. Obviously there is biological, physiological suffering, but that suffering distorts the mind if one is not very, very careful. So we are talking about psychological suffering of mankind.
In investigating suffering we are investigating into the suffering of man, because each one of us is the essence of all humanity. I hope that at least one is clear on that point, that you are psychologically, inwardly, deeply like the rest of mankind. They suffer, they go through a great deal of anxiety, uncertainty, confusion, violence, a great sense of grief, loss, loneliness, as all of us do. So there is no division psychologically between us all. So we are the world, psychologically, and the world is us. That is not a conviction, that is not a conclusion, that is not an intellectual theory but an actuality, to be felt, to be realised and to live it.
So in investigating this question of sorrow we are going to investigate not only your personal limited sorrow but also the sorrow of mankind. So please in investigating this don't let us reduce it to a personal thing, because when you see the enormous suffering of mankind, then in the understanding of the enormity of it, the wholeness of it, then our own part has a role in it. So it is not a selfish enquiry: how am I, or you to be free of sorrow. If you make it personal, limited, then we will not understand the full significance of the enormity of sorrow.
In opposition to sorrow there is happiness, like in our consciousness there is the good and the bad. In our consciousness there is sorrow and a sense of happiness. Now we are enquiring not as an opposite to happiness, but sorrow itself. I hope we are somewhat clear on this point. Because the opposites contain each other: if the good is the outcome of the bad, then the good contains the bad. And if sorrow is the opposite of happiness, gladness, enjoyment and so on, all the rest of it, then the enquiry into sorrow has its root in happiness. So we are enquiring into sorrow per se, for itself, not as an opposite to something else. May we go on with this?
Now if I may, we are thinking together. Not that you must accept or reject what the speaker is saying, but rather together, being free of our particular idiosyncrasies, tendencies, conclusions, together investigate. Then it is fun, then it is a movement together. But if you hold on to your particular belief, or prejudice or this or that then we cannot there is no movement of being together. Because the speaker, if he may point out a little bit, has no belief, no conclusions, no theories, no ideologies, so one is free to enquire, to look, to observe. In observing sorrow it is important to understand how one observes. I think this is very, very important. The nature and the movement of observation - how you look at your sorrow. If you are looking at it as though it were different from you then there is a division between you and that which you call sorrow. But is that sorrow different from you? You understand my question? Is the observer of sorrow different from sorrow itself, or the observer is sorrow? It is not he is free from sorrow and then looks at sorrow, or identifies with sorrow, but is not sorrow in the field of the observer, he is sorrow. So the observer becomes the observed. The experiencer is the experienced. The thinker is the thought. There is no division between the observer who says, 'I am sorrow' and divides himself and then tries to do something about sorrow - run away from it, seek comfort, suppress it and all the various means of transcending sorrow. Whereas if the observer is the observed, which is a fact, like when you are angry that anger is not different from you. You are that anger. So you eliminate altogether the division that brings about conflict. You understand? This is really very important to understand, if one may insist on this. Because we are traditionally brought up, educated, to think the observer is something totally different from the observed. He is the analyser therefore he can analyse. But the analyser is the analysed. So that in this perception there is no division between the observer and the observed, between the thinker and the thought. There is no thought without the thinker. If there is no thinker there is no thought. They are one.
So we are investigating together into this question, not something as opposed to pleasure - pain, grief - pleasure opposed to sorrow, but we are investigating sorrow itself. That is, the observer is observed, so he is observing, he is not dictating what sorrow is, he is not telling what sorrow should be, or not be, he is just observing without any choice, without any movement of thought.
Questioner: Thank you.
Krishnamurti: Where are we?
So we are observing the nature and the movement of sorrow. There are various kinds of sorrow - the man that has no work, the man that will always remain poor, the man who will never enjoy clean clothes, fresh bath, as it happens among the poor. There are various kinds of sorrow such as ignorance, the sorrow that you see when children are maltreated, the sorrow when animals are killed, the vivisection and all the rest of it. There is sorrow of war, which affects the whole of mankind. There is sorrow when someone whom you like or love dies. There is the sorrow of failure. There is the sorrow of the desire to fulfil and the failure, the frustration of that. So there are multiple kinds of sorrow. Right? Do we deal with all the multiple expressions of sorrow, or deal with the root of sorrow? You understand my question? Do we take each expression of sorrow - and there are multiple, hundreds of varieties of sorrow, or go to the very root of sorrow? Because if we took the multiple expressions of sorrow there will be no end. But whereas you may trim them, diminish them but they will always remain outside. But if you could look at the multiple branches of sorrow and through that observation go into the very root of sorrow - from the outside go inside - then we can examine what is the root, the cause. And is there a cause for sorrow? And what is sorrow? You understand? May we go on? Please don't be mesmerised by my seriousness, or by my voice, or the way I look. Because to me, personally, it is a very, very serious matter because if you do not end sorrow there is no love in your hearts. You may pity others, you may be troubled by the slaughter that is going on, not only human beings, of whales and baby seals and all the rest of the horrors that human beings perpetrate. So it is very important to find out for yourself through examination, through talking over together whether there is an end to this enormous weight of mankind.
So please we are journeying together into this question. As we said, it is very important to learn how to observe: to learn. That is, not to memorise, because that becomes mechanical, but to learn to observe, not to accumulate - the art of observation, which is to observe without any distortion. And there is distortion only when there is fear, when you say, I must get rid of sorrow. Or when you seek comfort because you are suffering and you hope there is an end to suffering, and that hope gives you a certain sense of comfort. All these factors distort the enquiry into this great question. It requires a peculiar discipline of its own, so the mind is capable of looking at itself. As we talked, whether thought is aware of itself, is your consciousness, aware of its own content. If it is aware of itself then it can move greatly, but if you impose on consciousness its content, saying these are its content and learn about its content then that becomes mechanical. That doesn't lead anywhere.
So we are enquiring into this question of what is sorrow, and whether there is an end to sorrow. What is sorrow? Why does one suffer? Is it that one has lost something that one had? Or there is suffering because you have been promised a reward and that reward has not been given. Because we are traditionally educated through reward and punishment. And we are asking: is there sorrow because you have no rewards, heavenly or earthly - rewards? Does one suffer because of self-pity? Because you have not everything that somebody else has? You are not so bright, clever, intelligent, nice-looking as the other, therefore through comparison is there suffering? Please follow all this. Do you suffer because through comparison, measurement, you suffer? Do you suffer because through imitation you have not been able to achieve that which you are trying to imitate? Is there suffering because you are trying to conform to a pattern and never reaching that pattern fully, completely? So one asks very deeply what is suffering, and why does one suffer?
And also one must be very careful in examination whether the word sorrow itself weighs down on man - the word itself. We have praised sorrow. We have romanticised about sorrow. We have made sorrow into something that is essential in order to find reality. You must go through suffering to find something, to find love, pity, compassion. So we seek through suffering a reward. And does the word suffering, sorrow, does it bring about the feeling of sorrow? Please examine all this as we are going along. Or independent of the word and the stimulation of that word, the reaction of that word, is there sorrow by itself? This is not an intellectual exercise, but in examination you have to ask all these questions. If you are asking it intellectually then you won't go very far. But if it is a matter of tremendous crisis in one's life, as it is, when there is sorrow it is a challenge, and all your energy is brought into being. But we dissipate that energy by running away, comfort, explanations, karma, this that, ten different explanations. So as this is a challenge - which is, what is sorrow? Is there an ending to sorrow? It is a challenge. And either you respond completely to it - and you can only do that when you have no fear, when you are not caught up in the machinery of pleasure, when you are not escaping from it, seeking comfort, but responding to it with all your energy - then that response is the expression of your totality of your energy. Right? Because that sorrow is a tremendous challenge.
In the understanding of the cause of sorrow does sorrow disappear? I may say to myself, I am full of self-pity, and if I can end self-pity there will be no sorrow. So I work at getting rid of it because I see how silly it is, and I try to suppress it and worry about it like a dog does over a bone. And thereby intellectually think I am free from sorrow. But the uncovering the cause of sorrow is not the ending of sorrow. I hope The searching of the cause of sorrow is a wastage of energy; sorrow is there, demanding your tremendous attention. It is a challenge asking you to act. But instead of that we say, let me look at the cause, let me find out, is it this, that or the other? I may be mistaken, let me talk it over with others, or read some book which will tell me what the real cause is. But all this is moving away from the actual act, actual response to that challenge. You understand? So we are asking: what is the root of sorrow? If our mind, which is the movement of thought, is looking into its memory and responding according to that memory, which is according to that previous knowledge, then you are acting not to the challenge, but you are responding from the memory of the past. I wonder if you see this. Please stay with this for a few minutes and you will see the importance of this.
I am in sorrow, my son, my wife or the social condition, the poverty, the brutality of man, brings about a great sorrow in me. And it wants a response, a complete response from me as a human being who represents the totality of humanity - and I mean the totality of humanity. And thought responds to the challenge - thought - and says, I must find out how to respond to it. I have had sorrow before and I know all the meaning, and the suffering, the pain and the anxiety, the loneliness of sorrow, and the remembrance of that, and according to that remembrance I respond. Therefore I am not responding, acting. I am responding from a memory. I wonder if you see that. Therefore it is not actual response. May we go on a little bit? No, please, do this. I hope you are doing this, you are actually seeing the fact that any response to that challenge from memory is no response at all, it is a mere reaction. It is not action, it is a reaction. If you once see that then the question is: what is the root of it all, not the cause? There is a difference between causation, when there is a cause there is an effect. Right? And the effect becomes the cause. Right? There is the cause, from the cause there is an effect, which is the action, that effect becomes the cause for the next action. So it is a chain - cause, effect and that effect becomes the cause to the next effect, and so on. So when the mind is caught in this limited chain - and it is always limited - then your response to that challenge will be very limited. I wonder if you see all this? May I go on? Do we understand a little bit? I hope I am making this clear. If I am not making it clear I will go over it again, ten times in different ways because it is very important, because to act to that challenge without a time interval - the time interval is the response of memory. Are you doing it?
You know what sorrow is - all of us know it, every human being in the world knows what sorrow is. So you know it very well. You may not actually have had any sorrow, but you see around you the enormity of sorrow of mankind - the global sorrow of mankind. And if you respond to that according to your conditioning, according to your memory, you are then caught in an action that is always time-binding. The challenge and response demands no time interval. I wonder if you see this. Therefore it is instant action. So that is what we are enquiring into. That is, what is the root of sorrow? We are not trying to find out the cause but the very substance, the very nature, the very movement of sorrow.
As we said, fear is time. Fear, we said, is the movement of thought, thought as measure. So thought is the response of memory, experience, knowledge, and that thought is limited and so it is a movement in time. So if there is no time there is no fear. You understand this? I am afraid I might die; that is, I might, in the future, I am living now but I might die. So that is time interval. But if there was no time interval at all there is no fear. I wonder if you see this? So in the same way, is the root of sorrow time - time being the movement of thought, time is thought? And if there is no thought at all when you respond to that challenge, is there suffering? I wonder if you see. Am I this is Please, again, let's forget science fiction, and also forget, put away for the time being, your ideas about time, sorrow, fear and all the rest of it, your conclusions, what you have read about sorrow, and reincarnation - everything, forget all that, and begin again as though you knew nothing about sorrow, as though you really - though you suffer - have no answer to it. Then we can begin together. But we are so conditioned to put sorrow on somebody else. Christianity has done that beautifully. Go to church and you see all the suffering in that figure. The Christians have given all their suffering over to somebody. And they think by that they have understood the whole circus of sorrow. And in India and the Asiatic countries they have also another form of evasion - karma - I won't go into all that business. So here we are not doing that. Here we are trying to face the actual movement at the moment of sorrow, and to be completely, choicelessly aware of that thing.
We are asking: is time, which is thought, is that the fundamental issue that makes sorrow flower? I wonder if you understand all this. So we are asking: is thought responsible for suffering? Not only the suffering of others, the brutality of others, the total ignorance of this whole movement of the self, is that the movement of thought - thought being the past? There is no new thought, there is no free thought, there is only thought, which is the response of knowledge as experience, stored up in the brain as memory, and that responds. Now if that is the fact, if that is true: that is, sorrow is the outcome of time and thought; if that is a fact, not a supposition, then you are responding to sorrow without the 'me'. Aren't you? The 'me' is put together by thought - my name, my form, how I look, my qualities, my reactions, all the things I've acquired, is all put together by thought, surely. So that thought is me. Thought is me. So time is me, the self, the ego, the personality, all that is the movement of time as me. When there is no time - you understand? - when you respond to this challenge of suffering and there is no me, is there suffering? I wonder if you see this!
Isn't all sorrow based on me? The individual, the personality, the ego, the self says, 'I suffer', 'I am lonely', 'I am anxious', 'I have lost my son and I put all my energy, love into that one basket and it is gone, and I am lonely' - you follow? - this whole movement, this whole structure is me, is thought. And thought says, I am not only me but I am a superior me. There is something far superior than this thought, which is still the movement of thought.
So there is an ending to sorrow when there is no me. Right? Now we will come back to it a little later if time allows.
Now we are going to talk over together the question of what is death. Again, please, if I may point out, one doesn't know what it means. Right? You can begin with that. You may have speculated about it, you may have read about it, you may have had your own conclusions about it but actually you have never realised what death is - obviously not. So when you are looking at this question of death don't bring in your second-hand knowledge - because we are all of us are second-hand human beings, or third-hand, or umpteenth-hand. So can we look at this problem as though we did not know a thing about it? Then we can find out. But if you come to it with a great deal of knowledge, then you are informing death what it is! Which is so absurd. But whereas if one comes to it totally not knowing then you begin to enquire quite differently. Right? You begin with uncertainty and therefore when there is uncertainty you end up with complete certainty. But we are certain first and end up in doubt. So we are starting, not knowing whether it is a shoddy little affair called death - one has seen a thousand deaths. One has known the death of someone very close to you; or the death of millions through atomic bombs - Hiroshima and all the rest of the horror man has perpetuated on other human beings in the name of peace, in the name of ideologies - they are all ideologies. So doubt, put away every form of ideology, because they are dangerous illusions, political, socialist and so on or the capitalist.
So, without any ideology, without any conclusion, not knowing, we are going together to find out. Which is: what is death? What is the thing that dies? What is the thing that terminates? And also in enquiring one sees, if there is something that is continuous then it becomes mechanical. If there is an ending to everything there is a new beginning. I wonder if you see this. So we are enquiring without fear. And if you are afraid then you cannot possibly find out what the immense thing called death is. It must be the most extraordinary thing.
To find out what is death we must also enquire into not what is after death, but what is before death. Surely that is much more important, isn't it? We never do that. We never enquire what is living. You follow? Death is coming but what is living? Is this living, this enormous suffering, fear, anxiety, sorrow, all the rest of it, is that living? And because we cling to that we are afraid of the other. Right? So before we ask what is death, we must also ask what is living, because if you don't know what is living you won't know what is death. You understand? They must go together apparently. If one can find out what is living, what is the full meaning of living, the totality of living, the wholeness of living because then the brain is capable of understanding the wholeness of death. But we are enquiring into the meaning of death, without enquiring into the meaning of life. You understand? I wonder if you
Now when one asks what is the meaning of life, you immediately have conclusions. You say, it is this, some ideology. Right? You give it a significance according to your conditioning. If you are an idealist - I hope you are not - if you are an idealist you give the ideological significance according to your conditioning, according to your conclusions, according to what you have read, what you've thought, and so on. So is life, living a conclusion, an ideology? You follow? Come on. I hope you are doing this actually, not theoretically because then you will see if you are not giving significance to life, if you are not saying life is this and this and this, or something else, an ideal, then you are free to - you see what happens when you are free of ideologies, then you are free of systems - political, religious, social, the social ideology and so on. So before we enquire into the meaning of what is death, we are asking this: what is living. Is what we are living, living? Our constant struggle with each other? Trying to understand each other? Trying to understand the speaker. (Laughs) You understand? He has said this and what does he mean? Is that living? Is it living according to a book? According to some psychologist?
So if you banish all that totally then we will begin with 'what is'. 'What is' is, our living has become a tremendous torture, a tremendous battle between us, between human beings, man, woman, neighbour, whether he is close or very far. It is a conflict in which there is occasional freedom to look at the blue sky, to see something lovely and enjoy it and be happy for a while. But the cloud of struggle begins soon. And all this we call living - going to the church, doing mass, the mass there, and the traditional repetition, a meaningless repetition, accepting some ideology, some figure - you follow? This is what we call living. And we are so committed to this. Right? We accept it. We are not discontented completely with all that. So discontentment has its significance. Real discontentment, not - I want to play guitar and I must play it till midnight, it doesn't matter whether you sleep or not - that is not discontent - all that is childish stuff. Discontent is a flame and one suppresses it by childish acts, by momentary satisfactions, but discontent when you let it flow, arise, keep it, it burns away everything that is not true.
So can one live a life that is whole, not fragmented, a life in which thought doesn't divide the living, the family, the office. You follow? The church, the god, this and that - it is all divided, broken up. The word 'whole' means healthy, sane and holy, the meaning of that word itself. And we have lost all that. And when death comes we are appalled by it, we are shocked by it. And when it comes, it generally comes for others, not for oneself. When it comes your mind is incapable of meeting it because you have not lived a total life. You understand? I wonder if you understand all this? A life that is whole, complete, true.
In this you also have to enquire: what is beauty? You are interested in all this? I don't know Aren't you tired? As I was saying yesterday, I dig the hole and you are all watching! Is that it? I am digging into the whole structure of human consciousness and if you are not co-operating, digging, enquiring, looking then you will say, 'I am not tired' - at the end of an hour - it must be an hour, isn't it? - obviously you must be terribly worn out because you are not used to this kind of thinking, looking, observing. We lead such superficial lives. So the mind has looked into itself, into its consciousness and has found out, sees the way it lives daily. And if it has not understood very deeply the whole way of living, which is totally different - you understand? - the ending of all tradition, of all habits, all memories, all that, how can you understand what death is? Death comes and with that you cannot argue, you cannot say, 'Wait a few weeks more' - it is there. And can the mind meet it? That is, can the mind meet the end of everything while you are living - you understand? - while you have vitality, energy, full of life, because then you are not wasted in conflicts and worries and all the rest of that stuff, you are full of energy, clarity. And death means the ending of all that you know, of all your attachments, of all your bank accounts, of your this and that, completely end it. That is death. And can the mind meet, while living, such a state? You understand? Then you will understand the full meaning of what death is. If we cling to the idea of me, I must continue - the 'me' is put together by thought, so you are saying me and my consciousness in which there is the higher consciousness, and the supreme consciousness - it is all put together by thought. And thought lives in the known. You understand? Thought is the outcome of the known so if there is not freedom from the known you cannot possibly find out what death is, which is the ending of everything. Both the physical organism with all its ingrained habits and so on, the identification with the body, with the name, with all the memories it has acquired - you cannot carry it over wherever you go to death. It must end. As you cannot carry all your money, so in the same way you have to end everything that you know. That means there is absolute aloneness - not loneliness but aloneness in the sense there is nothing else but that state of mind that is completely whole. Aloneness means all one.
So if you go as far as that, not intellectually but actually, which means no ideologies, political, socialistic - apparently these political ideologies end up in some form of totalitarianism - some form, and when there is no ideology, when there is nothing left to which you are attached, nothing, then that is death. But we are so frightened of this. We say, there must be some kind of continuity.
I don't think there is time to go into this question of what there is, if there is a continuity or not. Human beings want that continuity. What is the point of my living this whole life, of fifty years, sixty or whatever it is, in which I have accumulated a lot of knowledge, a lot of experience, I have changed myself - you follow? -this thing which thought has created, is that all when it ends? Is that the end of everything? So then thought says there must be something more. You follow sirs? Thought says there is something much more. So it has all kinds of comforting ideas. But when thought recognises its own limitation, not imposed limitation, when thought itself is aware of its own time-binding quality, then thought has its right place, where knowledge has its right place - technologically and so on and so on. But it has no place at all in the psychological world. Then when the psyche is totally non-existent, empty, that is death. Then there is a totally different - I mustn't promise! (Laughs) You are all ready for a reward. (Laughter) Got you! I just stopped myself in time! (Laughter) No, you don't see the importance of this. You know our minds are overcrowded, filled with all kinds of knowledge and information, both psychologically as well as physiologically. It is good to have physiological, biological knowledge, outside - the world of technology and so on, but thought has no place in the psychological world. It has no place anywhere else. But thought is always seeking - because it functions in fragmentation - it is always seeking an end. I wonder if you see this. It is always seeking a fragmentary end, something to gain, by doing this I will get that. Therefore when you have the promise of a reward you forget the means. There is only the means, not the end. Right. That is enough. Is that enough for this morning?