Jiddu Krishnamurti on continuity
Question: Is there continuity after death?
Krishnamurti : In this question several things are implied. There is the
idea of immortality, which we think is continuity, the question of what
we mean by death, and whether there is a spiritual essence in each one
of us that will continue in spite of death. So, let us examine this
question, however briefly.
You ask if there is continuity after death. Now, what do we mean by
"continuity"? Continuity obviously implies cause and effect - a series
of incidents or causes which are remembered and which continue. Please,
if I may suggest, let us listen very carefully and think it out
together, and perhaps we shall see something much greater than the mere
desire to continue after death.
Most of us want to continue. To us, life is a series of incidents tied
together by memory. We have experiences which are continually
accumulated, as the memories of childhood, of pleasant things, and the
unpleasant memories are also there, although hidden. This whole process
of cause and effect gives a sense of continuity which is the 'me.' The
'me', the self, is a chain of remembered incidents - whether they are
pleasant or unpleasant is not important. My house, my family, my
experience, my cultivation of virtue, and so on - all that is the 'me';
and you want to know if that 'me' continues after death.
Now, it is obvious that some kind of thought continuity must exist, but
we are not satisfied with that, are we? We want immortality, and we say
that this process of continuity will eventually lead us to immortality.
But will continuity ever lead us to immortality? What is it that
continues? It is memory, is it not? It is a bundle of memories moving
from the past through the present to the future. And can that which
continues ever be free from the net of time?
Surely, only that which comes to an end can renew - not that which has
continuity. That which has continuity can only continue in its own
state; it can be modified, altered, but it is essentially the same all
along. Only for that which comes to an end is there a possibility of
fundamental transformation. So, immortality is not continuity.
Immortality is that state in which time, as continuity of the 'me', has
Is there a spiritual essence in each one of us that will continue? What
is spiritual essence? If there is a spiritual essence, it must obviously
be beyond the field of time, beyond causation; and if the mind can think
about it, or if it has already conceived it, it is obviously the product
of thought, and so within the field of time, and therefore it is not a
We like to think that there is a spiritual essence,
but it is merely an idea, the product of thought, of our conditioning.
When the mind clings to the idea of a spiritual essence, it indicates,
does it not, that we are seeking security, certainty; and it is the
perpetuation of comfort, of security, that we call immortality. As long
as the mind continues in the sense of moving from the known to the
known, there is always the fear of death.
Now, surely, there is another way of living, which is to die each day to
the things of yesterday and not to carry over to tomorrow the things of
today. If in living we can die to the things the mind clings to, then in
that very dying we shall find that there is a life which is not of
memory, which is not of time.
To die in that sense is to understand this
whole process of accumulation, which creates the fear of losing, which
is the cause of the desire to immortalize the 'me' through family,
through property, or through continuity in the hereafter. If we can be
aware of how the mind is constantly seeking certainty, a state in which
there can never be freedom, if we can cease to accumulate inwardly and
not be psychologically concerned about the morrow, which means coming to
an end each day - if we can do this, then there is immortality, that
state in which time is not.
Source - Jiddu
Krishnamurti Fourth Talk in Seattle 1950
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