Life after Death

by J.Krishnamurti
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I see there are several questions here, and before we go into them may I point out that we seem to live on explanations. You put a question and if there is an answer to it we are either satisfied or dissatisfied, and explanations, descriptions and commentaries are really a lot of words, a lot of theories, and we seem to live on those, on words, and it is like living on ashes. So we are generally starved, if we live on words, both physically, psychologically and intellectually. So, if one may point out this, that we are together going into these questions, and the explanation, if it is merely investigation of words then I am afraid we shan’t get very far.

Question: Is there any survival after death? When man dies full of attachments and regrets, what happens to this residue?

Is there any survival after death? When man dies full of sorrow, attachments, regrets, what happens to this residue?

I don’t quite understand to this residue of what? Is there any survival after death – that is the real question, isn’t it sir? No? You want to talk about death? Shall we go into it? Are you interested in it? Probably not, are you? Are you? You are not interested in death? What a lot of fuss you make when somebody dies close to you. Have you noticed that? Everybody else cries with you, you know what goes on in India when somebody dies, the appalling fuss they make about it. Not it doesn’t happen elsewhere. Let’s go into it.

First of all, do you perceive, do you actually realize that your consciousness is the consciousness of mankind? Realize that? Is that a fact to you? As factual as somebody puts a pin into your arm, you feel the pain of it, is it as actual, not the pain, but the fact? That is, your brain has evolved through time and that brain is the result of a million years, and that brain may be conditioned if it lives in one part of the world – right? – under a different culture, different climate, different – but it is the common brain of mankind. Right? Be quite sure of that. It’s not your individual brain. That brain has inherited various responses – right? – that brain with its gene which is also partly inheritance, partly of time, that is the common factor of mankind. Right? Do you understand this? So it’s not your brain. Thought may say, ‘It is my brain’, thought may say, ‘I am the individual’. Right? That’s our conditioning. Are you an individual? Go into it, sirs. Are you an individual? You have a name, you have a different form, different name, different form, a different face – short, tall, dark, etc., etc. – does that make individuality? Does your belonging to a certain type, or a group, or a community, or a country, does that make you different, or make you an individual? Come on, sir, move.

So what is an individual? An individual is who is not fragmented, but since you are all fragmented you are not individuals. You are the result of the climate, etc., etc., with all its trappings. If that fact is soaked into your blood, that is a fact. You may consider yourself, but that’s merely the expression of thought. Thought is common to all mankind, based on experience, knowledge, memory, stored up in the brain. Right? The brain is the center of all the sensory responses, which is common to all mankind. I don’t know if you are following all this. This is all logical.

So when you say, what happens to me after I die – right, have you understood sir? – that’s what you are interested in, me that is going to die. What is the ‘me’? Your name, how you look, how you are educated, the knowledge – right? – the career, the family tradition, and the religious tradition, the beliefs, the superstitions, the greed, the ambition. Right? Look at it, sir. All the chicanery that goes on, the ideals that you have – all that is you. Right? Which is your consciousness. That consciousness is common to all mankind because they all so greedy, they are all so envious – right? – they are frightened, they want security, they are superstitious, they believe in one kind of god and you believe in another kind of god, some are communists, some are socialists, some are capitalists – right? – so it is all part… you are all that. So that is the common factor that you are the rest of mankind. Right? You may agree, ‘Yes’, you say, ‘yes that’s perfectly right’, but you go on acting as individuals. This is such… That’s what I… So ugly, so hypocritical.

Now, what is it that dies? You follow what I… If my consciousness is the consciousness of mankind, modified, etc., etc., it is my… the consciousness which I think is me is the common consciousness of man – right? – then what happens when I die? The body is burnt, or buried, or burnt up in an accident – what happens? The common consciousness goes on. I wonder if you realize it. Therefore when one sees… there is a perception of that truth, then death has very little meaning. There is no fear of death then. There is fear of death only when I, as an individual, which is the tradition, which the brain has been programmed like a computer, saying, I am an individual, I am an individual, I believe in god, I believe this, I believe that – the computer can do all that. You understand? Can repeat. (Laughs)

So, you see sirs, there is one factor that you miss in all this: love knows no death, compassion knows no death. It’s only the person that doesn’t love or has no compassion is afraid of death. Then you will say, ‘How am I to love?’ Right? How am I to have compassion, as though you can buy it in the market. But if you saw, if you realized that love alone has no death. Sir, that is real illumination – you understand? – that is beyond all wisdom, all words, all kinds of intellectual trappings.

So there are some more questions. It is a quarter to nine. You have heard the speaker on several occasions, probably read something he has written or said – I don’t know why you read books; we live on other people’s ideas. Right? We never read the book which is ourselves. We are the history of mankind. Right? That’s obvious. That book is us. And to read that book carefully, never skipping a word, a page, a chapter, but to read the whole book, and the reading of that book cannot be taught by another: no guru, no savior, no master, no psychologist, no professor, nobody is going to help you read that book. That’s the first thing to realize. That you are to read that book by yourself, which is you; you are that book. To read that. Either you read it slowly, page by page, year after year till you die, therefore you have never read it completely – you understand? – or you read it with one glance, the whole book. And that can be done only when the brain is so sharp, so alert, without any motive, without any direction, alert, awake, in which there is no contradiction, no sense of hypocrisy. Then you can read that book without even looking at it; the book is over. Then you will find out for yourself what lies beyond the book.

Chennai – Question & Answer Meeting 2 – 17.01.1981

Question No.6