Quote of the Day

Sep 18, 2022
Most of us, whether we are young or old, are scared of death. Though we see the hearse going by every day, we are frightened of death; and where there is fear, there is no comprehension. So to go into the question of death the first, the essential requirement is to be free of fear. And by 'going into it' I mean to live with death not verbally, not intellectually, but actually to see what it feels like to live with something so drastic, so final, with which you cannot argue, with which you cannot bargain. But to do that one must first be free of fear; and that is extraordinarily difficult.

I do not know if you have ever tried to be free of the fear of anything: the fear of public opinion, of losing your job, of being without a belief. If so, you will know that it is extremely difficult to put fear aside completely. Do we actually know fear? Or is there always an interval between the thought process and the actuality? If I am afraid of public opinion, what people say, that fear is merely a thought process, is it not? But when the actual moment arises of facing the fact of what people are saying, in that very moment there is no fear. In total awareness there is no experiencer. I do not know if you have ever tried to be completely aware without any choice, to be wholly perceptive without any borderline to attention. If one is so aware one can see that one is always; running away from the things of which one is afraid, always escaping. And it is this running away from the thing which thought calls fearful that creates fear, that is fear - which means, really, that fear is caused by time and thought.

And what is time? Apart from chronological time by the watch, as the tomorrow, the yesterday, is there time, inwardly, psychologically? Or has thought invented time as a means of attaining, a means of gaining, in order to cover the interval between what is and what should be? The what should be is merely an ideological statement; it has no validity, it is only a theory. The actual, the factual is what is. Face to face with what is there is no fear. One is afraid to know actually what one is, but in really facing what is there is no fear. It is thought, thinking about what is, that creates fear. And thought is a mechanical process, a mechanical response of memory, so the question is, can thought die to itself? Can one die to all the memories, experiences, values, judgments one has gathered?

Have you ever tried to die to something? To die, without argument, without choice, to a pain, or more especially to a pleasure? In dying there is no argument; you cannot argue with death; it is final, absolute. In the same way one must die to a memory, die to a thought, to all the things, the ideas that one has accumulated, gathered. If you have tried it, you will know how extraordinarily difficult it is; how the mind, the brain holds on to a memory, clings to it. To give up something totally, completely, without asking anything in return, needs clear perception, does it not?

So long as there is continuity of thought as time, as pleasure and pain, there must be fear; and where there is fear there is no understanding. I think that is fairly simple and clear. One is afraid of so many things; but if you will take one of those things and die to it completely, then you will find that death is not what you have imagined it to be; it is something entirely different. But we want continuity. We have had experiences, gathered knowledge, accumulated various forms of virtue, built character and so on; and we are afraid that that will come to an end and so we ask, `What will happen to me when death comes?' And that is really the issue. Knowing the inevitability of death we turn to belief in reincarnation, resurrection and all the phantasies involved in belief - which is really a continuity of what you are. And actually, what are you? Pain, hope, despair, various forms of pleasure; bound by time and sorrow. We have a few moments of joy but the rest of our life is empty, shallow, a constant battle, full of travail and misery. That is all we know of life and that is what we want to continue. Our life is a continuity of the known; we move and act from the known to the known; and when the known is destroyed the whole sense of fear arises, fear of facing the unknown. Death is the unknown. So can one die to the known, and face it? That is the issue.
Public Talk 7 Paris, France | September 19, 1961 Read full text