Krishnamurti & the Art of Awakening

Krishnamurti Quote of the Day

Ojai, California | 10th Public Talk 16th July, 1944

Questioner: Is there anything after death or is it the end? Some say there is continuation, others annihilation. What do you say?

Krishnamurti: In this question many things are involved; and as it is complex we will have to go into it, if you wish, deeply and openly. First of all, what do we mean by individuality? For we are not considering death abstractly but the death of an individual, of the particular. Will the individual self with name and form continue, or will he cease to exist? Will he take birth again? Before we can answer this question we must find what makes up individuality. A wrong question has no right answer; only a right question may have an answer. And all questions concerning the deep problems of life have no categorical answer for each one must discover what is true for himself. Truth alone gives freedom.

Is not individuality, though it may have a different form and name, the result of a series of accumulated responses and memories from the past, from yesterday? Each one of us is the result of the past and the past contains the you and the many, the you and the other. You are the result of your father and mother, of all the fathers and mothers; you are the father, the maker of the past, the father of the future. Thus through identifying memory the self is created, the me and the mine; so the self becomes the time-binder. From this arises the question of whether the self continues or is annihilated after death. Only when the self, the becomer and the non-becomer, the creator of the past, the present and the future, the time-binder, is transcended, then only is there that which is deathless, timeless.

In this there is also the question of cause and effect. Are cause and effect separate or is effect within the cause? They flow together, they exist together and they are a joint phenomenon, not to be separated. Though effect may take "time" to come into being, the seed of effect is in the cause, it coexists with the cause. It is no longer cause and effect but a much more subtle, delicate problem to be thought out, to be experienced. Cause-effect becomes the means of restricting, conditioning consciousness and these restrictions produce conflict and sorrow. These restrictions, subtle and inward, must be self-discovered and understood which will ultimately free thought from ignorance and pain.

In this question of birth and death, of continuity and annihilation, is there not implied progress, gradualism? Do not some of us think that gradually, through repeated birth and death, through time, the self-becoming more and more perfect, will ultimately realize supreme bliss? Is the self a permanent entity, a spiritual essence? Is the self not made up, put together and so impermanent? Is not the self a result and so, in itself, not a spiritual essence? Has not the self a continuity through identifying memory, subject to time, and therefore impermanent and transitory? That which is in itself impermanent, put together, a result, how can it reach the causeless, the eternal? That which is the cause of ignorance and sorrow, how can it attain supreme bliss? That which is the product of time, how can it know the timeless?

Realizing the impermanency of the self, there are those who say the permanent is to be found by throwing off the many layers of the self which requires time and so to reincarnate is necessary. The self, the result of craving, the cause of ignorance and sorrow, continues, as we observe; but to understand it and to transcend it we must not think in terms of time. Through time the timeless is not realized. Is not this approach to reality through gradualism, through slow evolutionary process, through birth and death, erroneous? Is it not the rationalization of conditioned thought, of postponement, of laziness and ignorance? This idea of gradualism exists, does it not, because we do not think-feel directly and simply? We choose a satisfactory explanation, a rationalization of our confused and lazy effort. Through conditioned thinking, through postponement can the real be discovered? The self, the cause of ignorance and sorrow, can it gradually through time become perfect? Or through time can the self dissolve itself? That which is in its very nature the cause of ignorance, can it become enlightened? Must it not cease to be before there can be light? Is its cessation a matter of time, a horizontal process, or is enlightenment only possible when thought-feeling abandons this horizontal process of time and so can think-feel vertically, directly? Along this horizontal path of time, of postponement, of ignorance, truth is not; it is to be found vertically at any point along the horizontal process if thought-feeling can step out of it, freeing itself from craving and time. This freedom is not dependent on time but on the intensity of awareness and the fullness of self-knowledge.

Must thought go through the stages of the family, the group, the nation, the internation to come to the realization of human unity? Is it not possible to think-feel directly the human unity, without going through these stages? We are prevented, are we not, by our conditioning? If we rationalize our conditioning and so accept it then we shall never realize human unity so shall have ceaseless wars and terrible disasters. We rationalize our conditioning because it is easier to accept what is, to be lazy, to be thoughtless than vigorously to examine it, to discover what is true. We are afraid to examine for it might reveal hidden fears bring greater conflicts and suffering, force us to pursue actions that might bring uncertainty, insecurity, isolation and so on. So we accept our conditioning, inventing a theory of gradual growth towards ultimate human unity, and force all thought-feeling-action to conform to our gratifying theory.

Similarly do we not gratifyingly accept this theory of gradualism, of evolutionary growth toward perfection? Do we not accept it because it soothes our anxious fear of death, of insecurity, of the unknown? In accepting it conditioning takes place and we become slaves to wrong ideas, to false hopes. We must break through these conditionings not in time, not in the future, but in the ever present. In the present is the Eternal.

Only right thinking can free our thought-feeling from ignorance and sorrow; right thinking is not the result of time but of becoming intensely aware in the present of all conditioning which prevents clarity and understanding.

The realization of that which is immortal, deathless, does not lie along the path of self-continuity, nor is it in its opposite. In the opposites there is conflict but not truth. Through self-awareness and in the clarity of self-knowledge there comes right thinking. The capacity to realize truth is with us. in cultivating right thinking which comes with self-knowledge, thought-feeling unfolds into the real, into the timeless.

I shall be told that I have not answered the question, that I have evaded it, gone round about it. What would you have me say - that there is or that there is not? Is it not more important to know how to discover for yourself what is true than to be told what is? The one will be merely verbal and so of little significance while the other will bring true experience and so is of great importance. But if I assert merely that there is continuity or that there is not, such a statement will only strengthen belief and that is the very thing that stands in the way of the real. What is necessary is to go beyond our narrow beliefs and formulations, our cravings and hopes to experience that which is deathless and timeless.