We are afraid to die. To end the fear of death we must come into contact with death, not with the image that thought has created about death, but we must actually feel the state. Otherwise there is no end to fear, because the word death creates fear, and we don’t even want to talk about it. Being healthy, normal, with the capacity to reason clearly, to think objectively, to observe, is it possible for us to come into contact with the fact, totally? The organism, through usage, through disease, will eventually die. If we are healthy, we want to find out what death means. It’s not a morbid desire, because perhaps by dying we shall understand living. Living, as it is now, is torture, endless turmoil, a contradiction, and therefore there is conflict, misery, and confusion. The everyday going to the office, the repetition of pleasure, with its pains, the anxiety, the groping, the uncertainty – that’s what we call living. We have become accustomed to that kind of living. We accept it; we grow old with it and die.
To find out what living is as well as to find out what dying is, one must come into contact with death; that is, one must end every day everything one has known. One must end the image that one has built up about oneself, about one’s family, about one’s relationship, the image that one has built through pleasure, through one’s relationship to society, everything. That is what is going to take place when death occurs.
What is age? Is it the number of years you have lived? That is part of age; you were born in such and such a year, and now you are fifteen, forty, or sixty years old. Your body grows old-and so does your mind when it is burdened with all the experiences, miseries, and weariness of life; and such a mind can never discover what is truth. The mind can discover only when it is young, fresh, innocent; but innocence is not a matter of age. It is not only the child that is innocent – he may not be – but the mind that is capable of experiencing without accumulating the residue of experience. The mind must experience, that is inevitable. It must respond to everything – to the river, to the diseased animal, to the dead body being carried away to be burned, to the poor villagers carrying their burdens along the road, to the tortures and miseries of life – otherwise it is already dead; but it must be capable of responding without being held by the experience. It is tradition, the accumulation of experience, the ashes of memory, that make the mind old: The mind that dies every day to the memories of yesterday, to all the joys and sorrows of the past – such a mind is fresh, innocent, it has no age; and without that innocence, whether you are ten or sixty, you will not find God.
If you had only one hour to live, what would you do? Would you not arrange what is necessary outwardly, your affairs, your will, and so on? Would you not call your family and friends together and ask their forgiveness for the harm that you might have done to them, and forgive them for whatever harm they might have done to you? Would you not die completely to the things of the mind, to desires and to the world? And if it can be done for an hour, then it can also be done for the days and years that may remain. Try it and you will find out.
Is it not possible to live in this world without ambition, just being what you are? If you begin to understand what you are without trying to change it, then what you are undergoes a transformation. I think one can live in this world anonymously, completely unknown, without being famous, ambitious, cruel. One can live very happily when no importance is given to the self; and this also is part of right education.
The whole world is worshipping success. You hear stories of how the poor boy studied at night and eventually became a judge, or how he began by selling newspapers and ended up a multimillionaire. You are fed on the glorification of success. With achievement of great success there is also great sorrow; but most of us are caught up in the desire to achieve, and success is much more important to us than the understanding and dissolution of sorrow.
There are many people who will give you of life; they will tell you what the sacred books say. Clever people will go on inventing what the purpose of life is. The political group will have one purpose, the religious group will have an other purpose, and so on and on. So, what is the purpose of life when you yourself are confused? When I am confused, I ask you this question, “What is the purpose of life?” because I hope that through this confusion, I shall find an answer. How can I find a true answer when I am confused? Do you understand? If I am confused, I can only receive an answer that is also confused. If my mind is confused, if my mind is disturbed, if my mind is not beautiful, quiet, whatever answer I receive will be through this screen of confusion, anxiety, and fear; therefore, the answer will be perverted. So, what is important is not to ask, “What is the purpose of life, of existence?” but to clear the confusion that is within you. It is like a blind man who asks, “What is light?” If I tell him what light is, he will listen according to his blindness, according to his darkness; but suppose he is able to see, then he will never ask the question, “What is light?” It is there.
Similarly, if you can clarify the confusion within your self you will find what the purpose of life is; you will not have to ask, you will not have to look for it; all that you have to do is to be free from those causes that bring about confusion.
You see, there is either a revolt within the pattern of society, or a complete revolution outside of society. The complete revolution outside of society is what I call religious revolution. Any revolution that is not religious is within society and is therefore no revolution at all, but only a modified continuation of the old pattern. What is happening throughout the world, I believe. is revolt within society, and this revolt often takes the form of what is called crime. There is bound to be this kind of revolt so long as our education is concerned only with training youth to fit into society – that is, to get a job, to earn money, to be acquisitive, to have more, to conform.
That is what our so-called education everywhere is doing – teaching the young to conform, religiously, morally, economically; so naturally their revolt has no meaning, except that it must be suppressed, reformed, or controlled. Such revolt is still within the framework of society, and therefore it is not creative at all. But through right education we could perhaps bring about a different understanding by helping to free the mind from all conditioning – that is, by encouraging the young to be aware of the many influences which condition the mind and make it conform.
Reformers – political, social, and religious – will only cause more sorrow for man unless man understands the workings of his own mind. In the understanding of the total process of the mind, there is a radical, inward revolution, and from that inward revolution springs the action of true cooperation, which is not cooperation with a pattern, with authority, with somebody who “knows.” When you know how to co-operate because there is this inward revolution, then you will also know when not to cooperate, which is really very important, perhaps more important. We now cooperate with any person who offers a reform, a change, which only perpetuates conflict and misery, but if we can know what it is to have the spirit of cooperation that comes into being with the understanding of the total process of the mind and in which there is freedom from the self, then there is a possibility of creating a new civilization, a totally different world in which there is no acquisitiveness, no envy, no comparison. This is not a theoretical utopia but the actual state of the mind that is constantly inquiring and pursuing that which is true and blessed.
You cannot reconcile creativeness with technical achievement. You may be perfect in playing the piano, and not be creative; you may play the piano most brilliantly, and not be a musician. You may be able to handle color, to put paint on canvas most cleverly, and not be a creative painter. You may create a face, an image out of a stone, because you have learned the technique, and not be a master creator. Creation comes first, not technique, and that is why we are miserable all our lives. We have technique – how to put up a house, how to build a bridge, how to assemble a motor, how to educate our children through a system – we have learned all these techniques, but our hearts and minds are empty. We are first class machines; we know how to operate most beautifully, but we do not love a living thing. You may be a good engineer, you may be a pianist, you may write in a good style in English or Marathi or whatever your language is, but creativeness is not found through technique. If you have something to say, you create your own style, but when you have nothing to say, even if you have a beautiful style, what you write is only the traditional routine, a repetition in new words of the same old thing..
So, having lost the song, we pursue the singer. We learn from the singer the technique of song, but there is no song; and I say the song is essential, the joy of singing is essential. When the joy is there, the technique can be built up from nothing, you will invent your own technique, you won’t have to study elocution or style. When you have, you see, and the very seeing of beauty is an art.
Have you ever thought about it? We want to be famous as a writer, as a poet, as a painter, as a politician, as a singer, or what you will. Why? Because we really don’t love what we are doing. If you loved to sing, or to paint, or to write poems – if you really loved it – you would not be concerned with whether you are famous or not. To want to be famous is tawdry, trivial, stupid, it has no meaning; but, because we don’t love what we are doing, we want to enrich ourselves with fame. Our present education is rotten because it teaches us to love success and not what we are doing. The result has become more important than the action.
You know, it is good to hide your brilliance under a bushel, to be anonymous, to love what you are doing and not to show off. It is good to be kind without a name. That does not make you famous, it does not cause your photograph to appear in the newspapers. Politicians do not come to your door. You are just a creative human being living anonymously, and in that there is richness and great beauty.