We Think There Is Security in Continuity

From Krishnamurti’s Book MIND WITHOUT MEASURE

We ought to talk over together the significance of death, about what is religion and meditation. Before going into all that, I wonder if one is aware of what is happening to our minds, to our brain; if one is aware of the extraordinary things that the brain, which is the seat of thought, has brought about. Technologically we have progressed, advanced so rapidly, and psychologically our behaviour, our attitudes, our actions, are more or less un-evolved. We are still aggressive, brutal, cruel, thoughtless, for thousands and thousands of years. Apparently man is still behaving more or less as he behaved 40,000 years ago. If we had that same energy, that same intensity, as one used in the technological world, if we could go very, very deeply into ourselves and go beyond ourselves, the brain has infinite capacity there too. But very few have taken that journey, very few have gone into this question whether the mind, the brain, can ever be totally free, and therefore enquire very deeply, search out what lies beyond, if there is anything beyond thought.

Some of you perhaps have heard of genetic engineering. The genetic experts say that they assume a factor, a creative element, handed out from the father to the offspring, certain tendencies, qualities. They are saying, since man has not changed for thousands of years, they assume that he can be changed through genetic interference. It is a very complex question which we are not going to discuss. But we must understand what is going on, that as human beings have not deeply changed their characteristics, their way of life, their violence, they are hoping through certain chemical process and so on to change the genes, the factors that transmit certain characteristics from the father to the son. Also we should consider what is happening in the computer world. We cannot neglect all this: the genetic engineering and what is happening in the computer world. They are trying to create a mechanical intelligence, ultimate intelligence through the computer which will then think much more rapidly, more accurately, and inform the robots what they should do. This is happening already and they are trying to bring about a machine, a computer, which has ultimate intelligence.

So, there is on one side genetic engineering, on the other the computer acting as human beings, inventing generation after generation of computer, improving, and so on. I won’t go into all that. So what is going to happen to the human mind? What is going to happen to us when the computer can do almost everything that we do? It can meditate, it can invent gods, much better gods than yours, it can inform, educate your children far better than the present teacher, and it will create a great deal of leisure for man. Are you understanding the nature of all this, the significance of all this? That is, what is going to happen to our minds? When the computer and genetic engineering are rapidly advancing, what is going to happen to us? We would have more leisure, the computer plus the robot will do a great many things that we are doing now in our factories, in our offices, and so on. Then man will have more leisure. How will he use that leisure? Please go into this with me for a while. If the computer can out-think you, remember far more than you do, calculate with such astonishing speed and give you leisure, either you pursue the path of pleasure which is entertainment – cinemas, religious entertainments, you know all the industry of entertainment, including the gurus – or psychological search, seeking out inwardly and finding out for oneself a tremendous area that is beyond all thought. These are the only two possibilities left for us – entertainment or delving into the whole structure of the psyche and acting. Now we are asking what is our human mind, our brain. We are going to find out for ourselves.

We first begin by asking what is the significance of death. It is the question of all humanity whether we are very young or very old. What is the meaning, the significance, of the extraordinary thing called death? Yesterday evening, we talked about several things including what is love, compassion; what is the relationship of life which is not only the whole human existence, what is its relationship to love, to death and to the whole search of man for thousands of years to find something that is beyond all thought. We have to understand the meaning of death because we are all going to die. That is absolute certainty. We are so afraid of it or we rationalize it. You say ‘yes’, I accept it, I accept death as I accept pain, as I accept sorrow, as I accept loneliness; I also accept death, which is to submit, to suffer death, to allow the whole of existence of a human being to come to an end, either through disease, through old age or through some incident. We never find out while we are living what it means to die, to understand the depth of it. You are looking at it as an incident of life, as a fact of life, as violence is a fact of life, as hatred is a fact of life. If we are at all reasonable, sane, we must look at this question of death in similar manner, not accept it, not just say it is inevitable or try to find out what lies beyond death, but to observe the nature of dying.

What does death mean to most of us? Surely it means the ending, both organically and biologically, of all the things that we have held here, of all the wounds, pains, sacrifice, resistance, loneliness, despair – all that coming to an end, which means, either there is a continuity of the self, the ‘me’, or the ending of the ‘me’. We said death is an ending. You can believe in reincarnation, as most of you perhaps do. If you do, you have to ask the question, what is it that continues? Is there a continuity or is there constant change – breaking, ending, beginning? If you believe – as most people perhaps in India believe – that you are going to be reborn, then what is it that is going to be reborn? Surely not the physical body, but if you believe in that, it is a continuity of what you are now, continuity of your beliefs, your activities, your greed, and so on, that is the bundle which is the consciousness, which is the self. That self, which is essentially consciousness, is put together by thought, your greed, your envy; your religious beliefs, superstitions, your anger, and so on; all those are the activities of thought. You are the result of a continuous movement of thought. If you believe in reincarnation and all that, you must find out if it is an illusion or a reality. If you are your name, your form, your ideas, your conclusions, your experiences, are they the factors of continuity as the ‘me’ in the next life? What is that ‘me’?

Each one of us, we think, is a separate entity; we think we are so-called individuals. What is that individuality – the name, the form, what you remember, your attitudes, your loneliness, your pain, your anxiety, your chaos, your sorrow and uncertainty? You may live in a nice house or in a small room or a nice flat but you are all that. You are the bank account. When you are attached to a bank account, you are the bank account; when you are attached to a house, you are the house; when you are attached to your body, you are that. You may have lovely furniture, and it may be marvellous furniture, and if you are attached to that, you are that furniture. So you are all that. When you are attached to a chair, to a person, to an idea, to an ideal, to a personal experience, what are the implications of that attachment? Why are you attached, because death says you cannot be attached, that is the end of it. You may believe in the future, but death says you have ended, your attachment is over, your bank account is over, your guru and all your following is over.

So what is it that continues, that is reborn – memories, ideas? Which is what? – something dead, or is there no continuity at all? Think, search out, please. Continuity means that which is going on modifying itself. You are becoming something, and achieving it and wanting more. Continuity implies security, certainty. Are you certain about anything? Is there security in your ideas? We want continuity. We hope to have continuity because, in continuity we think there is security. One has been married for ten years, fifteen years or fifty years, there is certain continuity, but in that continuity there is conflict, misery, unhappiness, all the rest of that. So there is no continuity at all. There is constant change if you are aware of it. Either that can be superficial or a total mutation, change. That which has existed completely undergoes a change. One must find out for oneself what is the truth of this matter. One cannot be convinced by argument, by so-called evidence, and so on. One cannot be convinced of anything. One has to search out, seek and find what is true and what is illusion.

We have lived with this illusion that we are separate entities, whereas if you examine very closely, your consciousness, which is you is shared by all humanity. They suffer as you suffer, they are as uncertain as you are; they are lonely, miserable, confused, anxious, as you are. So your consciousness is not yours. It is the consciousness of all humanity. You are the entire humanity. It is not mere logical conclusion or observation. That is a fact. We have been trained, educated, both religiously and educationally, that we are separate individuals. We are frightened that individuality should come to an end. With such a thought, such concept as an individual, when one approached the question of death, there is immense fear of ending. But if one sees the reality, the truth that you are the rest of mankind, then what is death?

Have you ever enquired what is the nature of ending, not ending to begin something, but ending? That is, you are attached, that is a common fact; attached to your children, attached to your husband, wife, attached to something or other. Death comes along and wipes away that attachment. You cannot carry your money to heaven. You may like to have it till the last moment, but you cannot take it with you, and death says no. So can we, while living understand the nature of attachment with all its fear, jealousy, anxiety, possessive feeling; while living, be free of attachment? While you are alive, to end something voluntarily, easily without any pressure, without any reward or punishment, to end, in that there is great beauty. Then one understands the nature of freedom. In the ending, there is a beginning, something new. There is an ending, and when there is an ending, there is that feeling of total freedom from all the burden that humanity has carried for centuries. You listen to all this, smile, nod your head and agree, but you will go on being attached. That is the easiest way, the most comforting and the most painful, but you will go on. And you call that practical. Whereas, if you understand the nature of ending, you end your ambition in a very, very competitive world, understand the ending of your arrogance, your pride, your status. When this so-called organism ends, the content of consciousness of humanity goes on unless you bring about a radical change in that consciousness, a mutation, so that you are no longer in that stream of selfishness; you are no longer caught, engaged, put in the prison of attachment, uncertainty, and so on. There is a totally different way of living.