Question: Will I reincarnate on earth in a future life?
Krishnamurti: I will explain briefly what is generally meant by reincarnation. The idea is that there is a gap, a division between man and reality, and this division is one of time and of understanding. To arrive at perfection, God or truth, you must go through various experiences till you have accumulated sufficient knowledge, equivalent to reality. This division between ignorance and wisdom is to be bridged only through constant accumulation, learning, which goes on life after life till you arrive at perfection. You who are imperfect now, shall become perfect; for that you must have time and opportunity, which necessitates rebirth. This, briefly, is the theory of reincarnation.
When you talk about the "I", what do you mean by it? You mean the name, the form, certain virtues, idiosyncrasies, prejudices, memories. In other words, the "I" is nothing but many layers of memories, the result of frustration, the limitation of action by environment, which cause incompleteness and sorrow. These many layers of memories, frustrations, become the limited consciousness which you call the "I". So you think that the "I" is to go on through time, becoming more and more perfect. But since that "I" is merely the result of frustration, how can it become perfect? The "I", being a limitation, cannot become perfect. It must ever remain a limitation. The mind must free itself from the cause of frustration now, for wisdom lies ever in the present. Understanding is not to be gained in a future.
Please, this needs careful thought. You want me to give you an assurance that you will live another life, but in that there is no happiness or wisdom. The search for immortality through reincarnation is essentially egotistic, and therefore not true. Your search for immortality is only another form of the desire for the continuance of self-defensive reactions against life and intelligence. Such a craving can only lead to illusion. So what matters is, not whether there is reincarnation, but to realize complete fulfilment in the present. And you can do that only when your mind and heart are no longer protecting themselves against life. The mind is cunning and subtle in its self-defence, and it must discern for itself the illusory nature of self-protection. This means that you must think and act completely anew. You must liberate yourself from the net of false values which environment has imposed upon you. There must be utter nakedness. Then there is immortality, reality.
2nd Public Talk 27th October, 1935