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Jiddhu Krishnamurti (1895 - 1986)

Ojai, Wednesday, 16 March, 1983

MAN HAS KILLED man in different states of mind. He has killed him for religious reasons, he has killed him for patriotic reasons, for peace, killed him through organized war. This has been our lot, killing each other endlessly.

`Sir, have you considered this kind of killing, what sorrow has come to man - the immense sorrow of mankind which has gone on through the ages, the tears, the agony, the brutality, the fear of it all? And it is still going on. The world is sick. The politicians, whether left, right, centre, or totalitarian, are not going to bring about peace. Each one of us is responsible, and being responsible we must see that the slaughter comes to an end so that we live on this earth, which is ours, in beauty and peace. It is an immense tragedy which we do not face or want to resolve. We leave it all to the experts; and the danger of experts is as dangerous as a deep precipice or a poisonous snake.

`So leaving all that aside, what is the meaning of death? What to you, sir, does death mean?'

`To me it means that all I have been, all that I am, suddenly comes to an end through some disease, accident or old age. Of course I have read and talked to Asiatics, to Indians, for whom there is a belief in reincarnation. I don't know whether this is true or not, but as far as I can understand, death means the ending of a living thing; the death of a tree, the death of a fish, death of a spider, death of my wife and children, a sudden cutting off, a sudden ending of that which has been living with all its memories, ideas, pain, anxiety, joys, pleasures, seeing the sunset together - all that has come to an end. And the remembrance of all that, not only brings tears but also the realization of one's own inadequacy, one's own loneliness. And the idea of separation from one's wife and children, from the things that one has worked for, cherished, remembered, held on to, the attachments and the pain of attachment - all that and more ceases suddenly. I think we generally mean that; death means that. It is to me the ending.

`There's a picture of my wife and the children on the piano in my cottage by the sea. We used to play the piano together. There is the remembrance of them in the picture on the piano, but the actuality has gone. Remembrance is painful, or remembrance may give one pleasure, but the pleasure is rather fading because sorrow is overriding. All that to me means death.

`We had a very nice Persian cat, a very beautiful thing. And one morning it had gone. It was on the front porch. It must have eaten something - there it was, lifeless, meaningless; it will never purr again. That is death. The ending of a long life, or the ending of a new born baby. I had a small new plant once which promised to grow into a healthy tree. But some thoughtless, unobservant person passed by, trod on it, and it will never be a great tree. That is also a form of death. The ending of a day, a day that has been poor or rich and beautiful, can also be called death. The beginning and the ending.'

`Sir, what is living? From the moment one is born until one dies, what is living? It is very important to understand the way we live - why we live this way after so many centuries. It is up to you, is it not, sir, if it is one constant struggle? Conflict, pain, joy, pleasure, anxiety, loneliness, depression, and working, working, working, labouring for others or for oneself; being self-centred and perhaps occasionally generous, envious, angry, trying to suppress the anger, letting that anger go rampant, and so on. This is what we call living - tears, laughter, sorrow, and the worship of something that we have invented; living with lies, illusions and hatred, the weariness of it all, the boredom, the inanities: this is our life. Not only yours but the life of all human beings on this earth, hoping to escape from it all. This process of worship, agony, fear has gone on from the ancient of days until now - labour, strife, pain, uncertainty, confusion, and joy and laughter. All this is part of our existence.

`The ending of all this is called death. Death puts an end to all our attachments, however superficial or however deep. The attachment of the monk, the sannyasi, the attachment of the housewife, the attachment to one's family, every form of attachment must end with death.

`There are several problems involved in this: one, the question of immortality. Is there such a thing as immortality? That is, that which is not mortal, for mortal implies that which knows death. The immortal is that which is beyond time and is totally unaware of this ending. Is the self, the "me", immortal? Or does it know death? The self can never become immortal. The "me", the I, with all its qualities is put together through time, which is thought; that self can never be immortal. One can invent an idea of immortality, an image, a god, a picture and hold to that and derive comfort from it, but that is not immortality.

`Secondly (this is a little bit more complex): is it possible to live with death? Not morbidly, not in any form of self-destructiveness. Why have we divided death from living? Death is part of our life, it is part of our existence - the dying and the living, and the living and dying. They are inseparable. The envy, the anger, the sorrow, the loneliness, and the pleasure that one has, which we call living, and this thing called death - why separate them? Why keep them miles apart? Yes, miles of time apart. We accept the death of an old man. It is natural. But when a young person dies through some accident or disease, we revolt against it. We say that it is unfair, it shouldn't be. So we are always separating life and death. This is a problem which we should question, understand - or not treat as a problem, but look at, see the inward implications of, not deceptively.

`Another question is the issue of time - the time involved in living, learning, accumulating, acting, doing, and the ending of me as we know it; the time that separates the living from the ending. Where there is separation, division, from here to there, from "what is" to "what should be", time is involved. Sustaining this division between that which is called death and that which is called life, is to me a major factor.

`When there is this division, this separation there is fear. Then there is the effort of overcoming that fear and the search for comfort, satisfaction, for a sense of continuity. (We are talking about the psychological world not the physical world or the technical world.) It is time that has put the self together and it is thought that sustains the ego, the self. If only one could really grasp the significance of time and division, the separation, psychologically, of man against man, race against race, one type of culture against another. This separation, this division, is brought about by thought and time, as living and dying. And to live a life with death means a profound change in our whole outlook on existence. To end attachment without time and motive, that is dying while living.

`Love has no time. It is not my love opposed to your love. Love is never personal; one may love another but when that love is limited, narrowed down to one person, then it ceases to be love. Where there really is love there is no division of time, thought and all the complexities of life, all the misery and confusion, the uncertainties, jealousies, anxieties involved. One has to give a great deal of attention to time and thought. Not that one must live only in the present, which would be utterly meaningless. Time is the past, modified and continuing as the future. It's a continuum and thought holds on, clings to this. It clings to something which it has itself created, put together.

`Another question is: as long as human beings represent the entire humanity - you are the entire humanity, not representing it, just as you are the world and the world is you - what happens when you die? When you or another die, you and the other are the manifestation of that vast stream of human action and reaction, the stream of consciousness, of behaviour and so on: you are of that stream. That stream has conditioned the human mind, the human brain, and as long as we remain conditioned by greed, envy, fear, pleasure, joy and all the rest of it, we are part of this stream. Your organism may end but you are of that stream, as you are, while living, that stream itself. That stream, changing, slow at times, fast at others, deep and shallow, narrowed by both sides of the bank and breaking through the narrowness into a vast volume of water - as long as you are of that stream there is no freedom. There is no freedom from time, from the confusion and the misery of all the accumulated memories and attachments. It is only when there is the ending of that stream, the ending, not you stepping out of it and becoming something else, but the ending of it, only then is there quite a different dimension. That dimension cannot be measured by words. The ending without a motive is the whole significance of dying and living. The roots of heaven are in living and dying.'