Question: What are your views about the implications of the belief in reincarnation?
Krishanamurti: ... what is it that continues? You, that is, your thinking, your memories, your day to day experiences. I identify myself with my memories, my property, my family, my beliefs and I continue and I want to be sure that that which continues, goes on. Therefore, I do not want to die, yet I know that I am going to die. So, how can I find continuity? Therefore, my problem is not to discover the truth about reincarnation, but to ensure my continuity. What is it which we say continues? What is that to which we hold on so desperately, so fearfully, so anxiously? Are they not memories? Sirs, remove your memories, and where are you? And those memories are given life by constant accumulation and by constant recollection. Memory in itself has no substance, no vitality. The moment I say 'I remember' I am identifying myself with the past. That is, as long as a man who is the result of the past, is concerned with the results of the past, there must be continuity. And what happens to that which continues. Nothing, for it is only a habit. Habit is the only thing that can continue, and to which you give life from time to time. So, the thing which continues is memory, a dead thing to which you give life, which means that through a series of habits, accumulations and idiosyncrasies, the experiences are translated to produce all that you wish to have continued. Moreover, that which continues decays. That which is continuous is non-creative.
So, this is what is principally involved in the question of reincarnation and this is the truth of it; not what a man says about it that it is a fact. If we really go into it, if we are aware of its significance, we will find that, that which is spiritual is timeless and therefore beyond our reach and therefore beyond continuity; for continuity is time - yesterday, today and tomorrow. And the more we cling to that spiritual essence, the more we are really distracted from it by false action, because the timeless cannot be known by the known. You talk about the spiritual essence, which is the I, therefore you must know it, therefore it is not the truth. I am not describing something which is not. Memory by itself is a dead thing. We give it life because it gratifies us. But where there is gratification there must be continuity, and gratification soon ends, but we revive it in another form, and so we keep going. And what is continuous is not immortal, what is continuous does not renew itself. It merely continues as a habit. It is only in renewal that there is creation, there is reality; but only in ending there is renewal, not in continuity. See the trees, they drop their leaves and fresh leaves come. They do not continue. Because we are afraid, we cling to our memories and a man who is living as a continuity is a dead man and I am afraid that is what we are doing.
Public Talk 30th November, 1947