Begin With Uncertainty

From Krishnamurti’s Book MIND WITHOUT MEASURE

It is necessary to talk about suffering and whether there is an end to suffering, and the meaning of death. That is part of our life. We should go also into the question of religion, what is implied in religion, what is a religious mind, and meditation. We will talk over together as two friends who have known each other for some time, not opposing each other, not defending or accusing, but enquiring, probing gently, because one discovers what is true only when there is no certainty. Those who begin with certainty end up in uncertainty. Those who begin with uncertainty, questioning, asking, doubting, probing, those end up with absolute certainty, not relative certainty.

So, what is suffering; can it end? And if there is suffering, can there be love? Human beings throughout the world have suffered incredibly. The last two world wars and the previous 5,000 years in which there have been wars, practically every year, man, woman has shed innumerable tears. Man has suffered and is going on suffering. The poor in this country suffer. There is disease, pain, and the anguish of human existence. Life is not pleasant; life is a turmoil, agony. One becomes more and more aware of all this. One begins to see very clearly that all human beings bear the same burden, share the same sorrow; not a particular sorrow, not the sorrow of one’s son dying or brother dying, or the wife or the husband leaving, but the sorrow which man has accumulated for thousands of years. Your sorrow is the sorrow of mankind, the sorrow of all human beings, whether you live in Russia or China or in this unfortunate country.

We are questioning, asking the causes of sorrow, the pain of sorrow, the grief, the anxiety that comes with sorrow, the utter loneliness of sorrow. Like pleasure, sorrow is narrowed down as mine. When we are concerned with our own particular sorrow, we neglect, we disregard, we are not concerned with the sorrow of mankind, whereas our consciousness is the consciousness of humanity. One must understand this very clearly because, in understanding the nature of our consciousness, what we are, we begin to see that our pain, our loneliness, our depression, our joys, our beliefs, are shared by all humanity. You may believe in one kind of god and he may believe in another kind of god, but belief is common, belief is general, and that is our consciousness. That is what you are. The language you speak, the food you eat, the climate, the clothes, the education, the constant repetition of certain phrases, the loneliness, the ultimate fear of death, is the ground on which all humanity stands. You are the humanity. Your consciousness is not individual. It is the consciousness of all mankind with their myths, superstitions, with their images, fears, and so on. This is important to understand, not intellectually, not verbally, but with your heart, with your mind, because, when we come to the question of what is death, we must first understand the nature of our consciousness, the nature of what we are actually; not what we should be, but what we actually are in daily life. That actuality is shared by each and every human being in the world.

When we are enquiring into the nature of sorrow, we are not discussing your particular, narrow, little pain and agony but the agony of mankind and you actually are mankind. This enquiry is not selfish. This enquiry opens up tremendous possibilities. Kindly listen, find out for yourself the nature of sorrow, why human beings all over the world have gone through tortures, sorrow. What is sorrow and why has not mankind put it off, thrown it off? Please ask this question of yourself. Why must you have some kind of sorrow, some kind of grief, pain, the sorrow of loneliness, though you may be married, have children? You are lonely people. You have separated yourself enormously. When there is a great grief, you realize how lonely you are. We are asking, is one of the causes of sorrow this loneliness? Loneliness is the result of our daily life. Each one of us, from the highest to the lowest, is completely convinced that he is a separate soul, separate entity, and all his activity is self-centred. The daily activity of this self-centredness will inevitably bring about solitude, loneliness, separatism, division. We are asking, is this isolation in our way of thinking, in our way of life, one of the causes of sorrow?

And, is attachment the cause of sorrow? I am attached to my wife, to my son, to my memories, to my beliefs, to my experience. I am attached to that. I believe and I am attached to that belief, and when that belief is questioned, doubted, shaken, there is uncertainty, pain. Is that one of the causes of sorrow? Is it possible to be free of all beliefs, not one particular belief or one particular ideal, but to be totally free of all ideals, all beliefs? Please don’t ask, ‘If one is free of belief and ideals, what do you replace it by?’ That is a wrong question. See the truth that any belief, any ideal, divides people. I believe that god exists or does not exist. I believe in certain ideology – communist, socialist, capitalist, whatever it is, for which I am willing to fight, kill people. We believe because it gives us some sense of security. You may believe in god, as most of you do, because it gives you a sense of protection, guidance, security. The mind has invented, the brain has invented, various forms of security – nationalism, religious figures, and the so-called sacred books. They have all given a certain quality of security. Actually, there is no security at all. It is an illusion. To realize that belief, ideals and so on are very, very destructive, that they separate man from man, and to see the truth of it, is to become intelligent. Only in intelligence there is complete security, not in your beliefs, in your myths and ideals. To discover this intelligence – and that intelligence is not yours or the speaker’s, it is intelligence – is to see the false as false and end the false. To see ‘what is’ actually, not imagine and run away from it but to see actually what we are, and in that exploration there is the awakening of intelligence.

So we are asking, is pain, the anguish, sorrow, brought about by our isolation of mind, of thought, of action? Is sorrow the result of our daily attachment, how we are attached to people? Please wake up to all this, see the truth of all this. Please explore the nature of attachment. It breeds anxiety, fear, pain, jealousy, hatred. All these are the consequences of attachment. You are attached to your wife or to your husband. See the consequences of it. You depend on each other, that dependence gives a form of security. When that person leaves or dies or runs away from you, you are then in pain, in agony, you have suspicion, hatred and sorrow. Don’t you know all this? It is nothing new. This is an everyday fact of life. It may not happen to you, but it is happening to others, millions of others. In their relationship, there is sorrow, fear, agony.

We are asking, is attachment one of the causes of this sorrow? I am attached to my son and he dies, and then I invent various forms of comfort. I never remain with sorrow. To remain, not to escape, not to seek comfort, not to run off to some form of entertainment, religious or otherwise, but to look at it, live with it, understand the nature of it – when you do that, sorrow opens the door to passion. You are not passionate people because you have never understood the nature of sorrow and the ending of sorrow. You have become very dull. You accept anything, accept sorrow, accept fear, you accept being dominated by politicians, by your guru, by all the books and traditions. That means you never want to be free and you are frightened to be free, frightened of the unknown. You invent various forms of consoling, illusory images and hopes.

Now, after saying all this about sorrow, looking at it, when my son dies, I realize how I am attached to him, that I have lost him for ever and remain with that sorrow. Do you understand this? It is like a flower. It blooms, it opens up, and it withers away. It dies at the end of the day. It may die at the end of the week, but it withers away. You must give it an opportunity to flower – the flowering of sorrow and the ending of sorrow. Then you have passion, vitality, energy, drive. Where there is sorrow, there can be no love. A mind, a brain, that is in agony, that is lonely, self-centred, how can it love? Love is not emotional, love is not sentiment, romantic, fanciful, comforting thing. It is tremendously vital, as strong as death. When there is sorrow, love is not. Most human beings in the world suffer and never resolve the problems of suffering. So they do not know what it is to love. We have now reduced love to pleasure, sexual attachment and so on, to various forms of pleasure.

We ought to ask, is love pleasure, is love desire, is love thought? Can love ever be cultivated? Without love, the sense of compassion, the flame of it, the intelligence of it, life has very little meaning. You may invent a purpose for life, perfection, you know all the rest of that business, but without this fundamental beauty of love, life has no meaning. Actually, your life, when you look at it, going to the office every day for the next 50 years, what does it all mean? – bringing little money, little power, breeding children, wrong kind of education and so perpetuating this incredible cruelty in the world. You may read all the books in the world, visit all the museums in the world, listen to talks like this from a different kind of speaker, but if there is not this quality, that extraordinary sense of beauty with its great sensitivity, life has very little meaning. Without this you become more and more mischievous, more and more chaotic in the world. Do you love anybody? Does that love contain jealousy, possessiveness, domination, attachment? Then that is not love. It is just a form of pleasure, entertainment. Where there is sorrow, there cannot be love, and therefore no intelligence. Love has its own intelligence. Compassion has its quality of this pure, unadulterated intelligence.

When there is that, that intelligence operates in this world. That intelligence is not the result of thought; thought is a small affair. When you hear all this, when you see the truth of all this – If you do – does the perfume, the sense, of being completely loving happen, or do you go back to the old routine?

Also we ought to talk over together the question of death. Like love, hate, pain, sorrow and fear, death is part of our life. You may postpone it, you may say I have ten years more to live, but at the end of it there is death waiting. All humanity fears death or rationalizes it away saying that death is inevitable. To understand the depth and the full significance of that extraordinary incident which we call death, you must understand the nature of our own consciousness, the nature of what you are. If you do not understand what you are actually, not descriptively, then death becomes a dreadful thing.

If we are to go into the question of death, we must understand what you are – a name, a form, man or woman, with certain qualities, certain tendencies, idiosyncrasies, desire, pain, anxiety, uncertainty, confusion. Out of this confusion, you invent something permanent – the Absolute, the Brahman or God. But what you actually are, is the movement of thought. That thought may invent the idea that you have got the spark of divinity in you, but it is still the movement of thought. So what are you apart from your physical reactions, differently educated, rich and poor? Actually, when you look at yourself, what are you? Aren’t you all this? If there is something permanent in you, then why seek permanency in something else? Do you understand my question? As we said, begin with uncertainty, begin with not knowing. This is what you are. You know your face when you look in a mirror. Also, inwardly, you are all the struggle, the pain, the conflict, the misery, the confusion. That is what you are actually. That is the state of all human beings. So your consciousness is not yours but is the common ground on which all human beings stand and share. If that is clearly seen, then what is death?

Death is the ending of everything: My pleasures, my memories, my experiences, my attachments, ideals, beliefs – all that end. But we do not like the ending; to us ending is pain. So we begin to invent, search for comfort in reincarnation. Don’t you? You never ask what is it that reincarnates in the next life. What is it that reincarnates – your memories, your experiences, your hopes, a better life, better house? This is what you are now. You are going to incarnate in the next life. If you really, actually, deeply believe, feel that next life you are going to be born, then what you are doing now is all important. What you are doing now, what you think, what you feel, how you react matters enormously because that is going to shape your next life. But you don’t believe. The actuality is your life now and, you are not willing to face it. Death is something to be avoided. You always ask what happens after death. But you have never asked what happens before death, what happens now in your life. What is your life? – working, office, money, pain, striving, climbing the ladder of success. That is your life. And death puts an end to all that. So, is it possible, while living, to end – end your attachment end your belief? To end, the beauty of ending something voluntarily without motive, without pleasure – can you do it?

In ending, there is a new beginning. If you end, there is something, the doors are opened, but you want to be sure before you end that the door will open. So you never end, never end your motive. The understanding of death is to live a life, inwardly ending.

Also now we ought to talk over together religion and meditation. What is religion? What is religion for most of you? – beliefs, rituals. If you are a Christian, you believe in a saviour, in a particular saviour, with all the rituals, with all the marvellous, beautiful architecture inside the churches, the great cathedrals. Have you seen a cathedral performing a mass? It is a great sight, with great beauty, with utter precision, to impress the poor people who believe and do all the rituals, puja, daily, and above all believe in god. That is what you call religion, which has absolutely nothing whatever to do with your daily life. All religions, organized or unorganised, have said, ‘Don’t kill, love someone.’ But you go on killing, you go on worshipping false gods which is your nationalism, your tribalism. So you are killing each other. That is what you all call religion. To find out the nature of a religious mind, you must put away all those childish things. Will you? Of course not. You will go on doing your puja, your ceremonies, become slaves to the priests. Religion has become a form of entertainment. Can you put away all that and not belong to any religion, neither be a Christian, Hindu, Buddhist or Muslim? Leave all that; that is a propaganda of centuries. Like a computer, you are being programmed. When you say, ‘I am a Hindu’, you have been programmed for the last 5,000 years. When you are enquiring into the nature of religion, you must be free from all this. Will you? When there is freedom from all that is false, illusory, then you begin to enquire into what is meditation; not before. A mind in conflict, a brain in struggle, cannot possibly meditate. You may sit down for 20 minutes every day, but if the brain is in conflict, pain, anxiety, loneliness, sorrow, what is the value of your meditation? We are going to enquire into what is the meditation, not how to meditate. You have asked, ‘Tell me how to meditate’, which is to give you a system, a method, a practice. Do you know what practising every day does to your brain? Your brain becomes dull, mechanical, it is tortured, making effort to achieve some silence, some state of experience. That is not meditation. That is just another form of achievement like a politician becoming a minister. In your meditation, you want to achieve illumination, silence. It is the same pattern repeated; only, you call it religious and the other calls it political achievement. There is not much difference.

What is meditation, what does that word mean? If you look up the dictionary, you’ll find it means to ponder over, to be able to think clearly, not with confusion, not with personal objectives, but clearly, to think. It needs clarity. Meditation also means measurement, to measure. We are always measuring, which is comparing – I am this, I will be that, I will be better – which is a form of measurement. The word ‘better’ is measurement. To compare yourself with another is a measurement. When you tell your son or somebody that you must be like your elder brother, that is measurement. We live by measurement; we always compare. That is a fact. Our brain is conditioned to measure – I am this today, I hope I will be different in a year’s time, not physically but psychologically. That is a measurement.

Now, to live without measurement, to be totally, completely, free of all measurement, is part of meditation. Not that ‘I am practising this, I will achieve something in a year’s time.’ That is measurement which is the very nature of one’s egotistic activity. In schools we compare, in universities we compare. We compare ourselves with somebody who is more intelligent, more beautiful physically – there is this constant measurement going on. Either you know it consciously or you are not aware of this movement of measurement. Meditation is the ending of measurement, ending of comparison, completely. See what is implied in it – that there is no psychological mark. Tomorrow is the measurement of what is in time. Do you understand this? So measurement, comparison, and the action of will must end completely. There is no action of will in meditation. Every form, every system, of meditation is an activity of the will. What is will? I will meditate, I will sit down quietly, control myself, narrow down my thoughts and practise – all that is the action of desire, which is the essence of will. In meditation there is no activity of the will. Do you understand the beauty of all this? When there is no measurement, no comparison, no achieving or becoming, there is the silence of the negation of the self. There is no self in meditation. So a mind, a brain, that is in the act of meditation is whole. The whole of life is meditation, not one period of meditation when you meditate. Meditation is the whole movement of living. But you have separated meditation from your life: It is a form of relaxation like taking a drug. If you want to repeat, repeat Coca Cola or any other cola which has the same effect to dull the mind, whereas in meditation, when there is no measurement, when there is no action of the will and mind, the brain is entirely free from all systems. Then there is a great sense of freedom. In that freedom there is absolute order, and that you must have in life. Then, in that state of mind, there is silence, not wanting, desiring to have a quiet mind, but there is freedom from measurement. In that freedom there is absolute order, there is silence.

Then, is there something sacred, not invented by thought? There is nothing sacred in the temple, in the mosque, in the churches. They are all the inventions of thought. When you discard all that, is there something sacred that is nameless, timeless, something that is the outcome of great beauty and total order which begins in our daily life? That is why meditation is the movement of living. If you do not understand the basis of all this that is our life, our everyday reactions or behaviour, your meditation has no meaning whatsoever. You can sit on the banks of the Ganga or some place and do all kinds of tricks with yourself. That is not meditation. Meditation is something that is of daily life. It is your movement of life, and then there is in that movement freedom, order, and out of that flowers great silence. Only when you have come to that point, one finds there is something absolutely sacred.