Living with death
To find out what is death there must be no distance between death and you who are living with your troubles and all the rest of it; you must understand the significance of death and live with it while you are fairly alert, not completely dead, not quite dead yet. That thing called death is the end of everything that you know. Your body, your mind, your work, your ambitions, the things that you have built up, the things that you want to do, the things that you have not finished, the things that you have been trying to finish – there is an end of all these when death comes. That is the fact: the end. What happens afterwards is quite another matter; that is not important because you will not inquire what happens afterwards if there is no fear. Then death becomes something extraordinary, not sadistically, not abnormally or unhealthily, because death then is something unknown, and there is immense beauty in that which is unknown. These are not just words.
We are talking about dying to the things that your mind clings to.
So to find out the whole significance of death, what it means, to see the immensity of it, not just the stupid, symbolic image of death, this fear of living and the fear of dying must completely cease, not only consciously but also deep down. Our lives being empty we try to give significance to life, meaning to life. We ask, ‘What is the purpose of living?’ because our own lives are shallow, worthless and we think we must have an ideal to live by. It is all nonsense. So fear is the origin of the separation between that fact which you call death and that fact which you call living. What does death mean actually, not theoretically? We are not discussing theoretically, we are not discussing merely to formulate an idea, a concept. We are talking of facts, and if you reduce a fact merely into a theory, it is your own misfortune. You will live with your own shadow of fear and your life will end miserably as it has begun miserably.
So you have to find out how to live with death. Not a method; you cannot have a method to live with something you don’t know. You cannot have that idea and say, ‘Tell me the method and I will practise it and I will live with death.’ That has no meaning. You have to find out what it means to live with something that must be an astonishing thing, actually to see it, actually to feel it – to be aware of this thing called death and of which you are so terribly frightened. What does it mean to live with something which you don’t know? I don’t know if you have ever thought about it at all in that way; probably you have not. All that you have done is, being frightened of it you try to avoid it, you do not look at it. Or you jump to some hopeful ideal or belief and thereby avoid it. But you have really to find out what death means, and whether you can live with it as you would live with your wife or husband, with your children, your job, your anxiety. You live with all these, don’t you? You live with your boredom, your fears. Can you live in the same way with something that you don’t know?
To find out what it means to live, not only with the thing called life but also with death, which is the unknown, to go into it very deeply, we must die to the things that we know. I am talking about psychological knowledge, not of things like your home or office. We are talking about dying to the things that your mind clings to. You know, we want to die to the things which give us pain; we want to die to the insults, but we cling to the flattery. We want to die to the pain but we hold on like grim death to the pleasure. Please observe your own mind. Can you die to that pleasure, not eventually but now? You do not reason with death, you cannot have a prolonged argument with death. You have to die voluntarily to your pleasure, which does not mean that you become harsh, brutal, ugly, like one of the saints – on the contrary, you become highly sensitive; sensitive to beauty, to dirt, to squalor; and being sensitive, you care infinitely.
Life and death are not divided; they are one.
Now, is it possible to die to that which you know about yourself? To die – I am taking a very superficial example – to a habit, to put away a particular habit either of drinking or smoking, having a particular kind of food, or the habit of sex, completely to withdraw from it without an effort, without a struggle, without a conflict. Then you will see that you have left behind the knowledge, the experience, the memories of all the things that you have known and learnt and lived by. And therefore you are no longer afraid, and your mind is astonishingly clear to observe what this extraordinary phenomenon is, of which man has been frightened through millennia, to observe something which you are confronted with, which is of no time, and which in its entirety is the unknown. Only that mind can so observe, which is not afraid and which is therefore free from the known – the known of your anger, your ambitions, your greeds, your petty little pursuits. All these are the known. You have to die to them, to let them go voluntarily, to drop them easily, without any conflict. And it is possible; this is not a theory. Then the mind is rejuvenated, young, innocent, fresh; and therefore it can live with that thing called death. Then you will see that life has an entirely different substance. Then life and death are not divided; they are one, because you are dying every minute of the day in order to live. And you must die every day to live, otherwise you merely carry along the repetition like a gramophone record, repeating, repeating, repeating.
So when you really have the perfume of this thing, in your breath, in your being; not on some rare occasions but every day, waking and sleeping, then you will see for yourself, without somebody telling you, what an extraordinary thing it is to live, with actuality, not with words and symbols, to live with death and therefore to live every minute in a world in which there is not the known, but there is always the freedom from the known. It is only such a mind that can see what is truth, what is beauty and that which is from the everlasting to the everlasting.
Krishnamurti in New Delhi 1963, Talk 5
In many cases, he asks to listen or observe but here he asks to die.
Can someone say “Why he asks us to ‘die’ to things (live with death)”?
What will happen if one fears to die?