Questioner: You say that life and death are one and the same thing. Please elaborate this startling statement.
Krishnamurti: We know birth and death, existence and non-existence; we are aware of this conflict between the opposites, the desire to live, to continue, and the fear of death, of non-continuance. Our life is held in the pattern of becoming and non-becoming. We may have theories, beliefs and accordingly experience, but they are still within the field of duality, of birth and death.
We think-feel in terms of time, of living, of becoming, or of not becoming, or of death, or of extending this becoming beyond death. The pattern of our thought-feeling moves from the known to the known, from the past to the present, to the future; if there is fear of the future, it clings to the past or to the present. We are held in time and how can we, who think-feel in terms of time, experience the reality of Timelessness, in which life and death are one!
Have you not experienced in moments of great intensity the cessation of time? Such a cessation is generally forced upon one; it is accidental but depending upon our pleasure in it we desire to repeat the experience again. So we become once more prisoners of time. Is it not possible for the mind-heart to stop formulating, to be utterly still and not forced into stillness by an act of will? Will and determination are still self-continuation and so within the field of time. Does not the determination to be, the will to become, imply self-growth, time, which makes for the fear of death?
As the stump of a dead tree in the middle of a stream gathers the floating wreckage so we gather, we cling to our accumulation; thus we and the deathless stream of life are separate. We sit on the dead stump of our accumulation and consider life and death; we do not let go the ever accumulating process and be of the living waters. To be free from accumulation there must be deep self-knowledge, not the superficial knowledge of the few layers of our consciousness. The discovery and the experience of all the layers of consciousness is the beginning of true meditation. In the tranquillity of mind-heart is wisdom and Reality.
Reality is to be experienced, not speculated upon. This experience can only be when the mind-heart ceases to accumulate. Mind-heart does not cease to accumulate through denial or through determination, but only through self-awareness; through self-knowledge the cause of accumulation is discovered. It is experienced only when the conflict of the opposites ceases. Only right thinking, which comes with self-knowledge and right meditation, can bring about the unity of life and death. It is only by dying each day that there can be eternal renewal.
It is difficult to so die if you are in the process of becoming, if you are gathering, sitting on the stump of dead accumulation. You must abandon it, plunge into the ever living waters; you must die each day to the day's gathering, die both to the pleasant and the unpleasant. We cling to the pleasant and let the unpleasant go; so we strengthen in gratification and know death. Without seeking reward, let us abandon our gatherings and then only can there be the immortal. Then life is not opposed to death nor is death a darkening of life.
4th Public Talk 1945