Quote of the Day

Sep 11, 2023
One has to understand this thing called death, of which most of us are so terribly frightened. I feel that a human being who does not understand what living, or dying, or that which we call love, is, is not really a human being at all, he is a frightened entity, like an animal. And the more outwardly we are sophisticated - going to the moon or living under the sea, having marvellous instruments of destruction, or construction - the more inwardly our lives become superficial. And that very superficiality leads to great misery, to greater conflict - perhaps not in the battlefield, but inwardly.

To find out what death is there must be freedom from fear; we are all going to die whether we like it or whether we don't like it; whether the doctors, the scientist can give you ten or fifty years longer, there is always that thing waiting; you can't escape from it; no new hormones, new antibiotics or the various forms of genetics, geriatrics and so on, all that game one plays, will remove that fear - there it is - there is death. And we have separated living from dying. Living, which is our daily torture, daily insult, daily misery - which we call living - with perchance the occasional light, with the occasional opening of a window over enchanted seas, yet the rest of the time a misery, a sorrow, a confusion. That is what we call living; and we are afraid to die, which is to end this misery.

We rather cling to the known than face the unknown, the known being our loneliness, our sorrow, our embittered existence. And as we cannot face that thing called death, we invent all kinds of theories; in the East reincarnation, here resurrection, or whatever it is. If you believe in reincarnation - as millions and millions do in the Orient - implying that you will be born to a next life, the 'you' being a constant, a permanent entity (there is no such thing as permanence, but that doesn't matter) if you believe in reincarnation you must live an extraordinarily intense, clear, virtuous life now, because in the next life you are going to pay for it, the next life will be equally of torture, agony. If you believe this you must live the right kind of life now, not tomorrow; live peacefully, not creating antagonism in another, because the next life will be what you have made of this life. But as nobody wants to bring about such a tremendous revolution in their lives, then reincarnation, or resurrection, or any other form of belief, is just an afternoon virtue, which has no value whatsoever.

If you are really serious, to find out the implications of death, then you have to come into contact with that fact of death, actually come into contact with it - not theoretically, not as something which you have got to face, therefore let's face it, but rather by coming directly into contact with it, by dying. Dying - I mean by that word, coming to the end of all the things that you have known psychologically, your experiences, your pleasures, to die - every day. Otherwise, you will never know what death is; for it is only in the dying that there is something new, not in continuing the old. Most of us are so weighed down by the known, by the yesterday, by the memories, by the 'me', the 'self', which is but a bundle of memories accumulated yesterday, having no actual existence in itself. Die to those memories; actually die to a pleasure without any argument. If you know what it means to die to a pleasure, to something that you have taken great pleasure in - without argument, without postponement, without any sense of resentment, bitterness - that is what is going to happen when you do die. And to die every day, to everything that you have gathered psychologically, is to be totally reborn.

If you do not die in that way, then you have the continual problem of this memory that you have accumulated as the 'me' and the self-centred activity that we indulge in - the thought of 'my' house, 'my' family, 'my' book, 'my' fame, 'my' loneliness - you know, that little entity that moves around incessantly within itself, with its own limited pattern of existence. Will that continue? - you understand? - that is the problem we have. Either one knows how to die every day, and dying actually, the mind is fresh, instant, eager, tremendously alive, or, there is this bundle of memories, of self-centred activity, with all its thoughts, searching for fulfilment, wanting to be somebody, imitating, copying. That whole network of thought - will that continue? - yet that is what we want to continue. We say, at the least, if I haven't fulfilled in this life, perhaps I will in the next. All the desire to fulfil tomorrow, is the next life - I do not know if you understand that - thought centres round the 'me' and it will obviously continue in some form or another; but that way of living is so stupid, it is like a machine that goes on endlessly, well-oiled, with little friction. And this continues to take place when - as we have done - we divide living from dying, for living is dying, (that is the fundamental fact of that word which we are using) you cannot live if you do not die every minute to every instance of psychological knowledge, information, gathering, pleasure - it is only then, perhaps, that we shall understand what love is. 
Talks in Europe 1967 | 3rd Public Talk Paris Read full text