Question: If reincarnation is a fact in nature, and also the idea that the ego reincarnates until it attains perfection, then doesn't the attainment of perfection or truth involve time?
Krishnamurti: We often ask if reincarnation is a reality, because we can find no intelligent happiness, no fulfilment of the individual in the present. If we are in conflict and misery, and have no opportunity and hope in this life, we crave for a future life of fulfilment free from struggle and pain. This future state of bliss we like to call perfection.
To understand this question we must discover what the ego is. The ego is not something real in itself which, like the worm that goes from leaf to leaf, wanders from one existence to another, gathering experience and learning wisdom, till it reaches the highest, which we imagine to be perfection. That conception is erroneous, it is merely an opinion and not an actuality. The actual process of the "I", the ego, can be discerned in perceiving how through ignorance, tendencies, cravings, it is reformed and its continuity re-established at each moment. The will of craving is perpetuating itself through its own volitional activities. Through this action of ignorance and its self-sustaining process, limitation as consciousness creates its own further limitation and sorrow. In this vicious circle all existence is caught.
Can this limitation, friction, this resistance against the movement of life known as the ego, ever be made perfect? Can craving become perfect? Surely selfishness cannot become nobler, purer selfishness; it must ever remain that which it is. This idea that through time the ego will become perfect is utterly false and erroneous.
Time is the result of those volitional activities of craving which bind and give a sense of continuity to life which is in reality ever in a state of being born, a state that has never been nor ever will be, but one that is ever becoming anew, ever in movement.
The point of vital importance is for each one to discover whether, through ignorance with its volitional activities, the process of the "I" is perpetuating itself or not. If this self-sustained process continues, there cannot be that which is real, true. Only with the cessation of the will of craving with its experiences of wish, is there reality. This beginningless process of the "I" with its self-active limitations cannot be proved. It must be discerned. It is not of faith but of deep comprehension, of integral awareness, of right effort to discern how craving creates its own limitation, and how any action born of craving must further engender friction, resistance and sorrow.
New York City
2nd Public Talk 4th June, 1936