The Ending Of Sorrow
The Ending Of Sorrow
By J. Krishnamurti /

First of all I would like to remind you if I may, this is not an intellectual entertainment nor some kind of romantic ideological rubbish. We are dealing with our daily life, with our relationship with each other, and also what is happening in the world, and the turmoil, the disorder, the lack of care.

We ought to talk over together this evening why human beings, who have lived for over forty thousand years, why human beings are behaving as they are.

What's happened to them? What's happened to each one of us that we don't lead an orderly sane, balanced life? We have created this society which is immoral, unethical, corrupt, destructive. We have created it; each one of us has contributed to it. And if there is to be a radical change in the social structure we have to begin with ourselves, not with politics, not with Marxism or some kind of retreat from the present. We have to put order in our house first. We are disorderly, violent, confused, lonely, all that. And so please, we are going to talk over together this evening not only what is order, total order, if there is any kind of love, what is compassion, whether sorrow can ever end, the sorrow of human beings right throughout the world. So we are going to talk over together these things.

As we pointed out in the last two talks, this is not a lecture - lecture being, being informed, directed about a particular subject. We are talking over together - you and the speaker - over our problems, amicably, without any resistance, not agreeing but exploring, investigating, seeing why we live such disorderly lives and why we accept things as they are. We are not advocating or talking about physical violence, physical revolution. On the contrary, such revolutions have never produced a good society. We are talking about human behaviour, why he is what he is. We cannot blame the environment; we cannot blame the politicians or the scientists. That is a very easy escape. But what we ought to be concerned with is why we, somewhat intelligent people, somewhat educated people with families, with all the daily work that one goes through, why we lead such disorderly lives. What is disorder? Please, as I said, this is a conversation between you and the speaker. So please take part in it, don't just casually listen, but share in it, partake in our conversation. We cannot talk to such a large group, but you as a human being, you and the speaker can talk over together.

So our question is: what is disorder? A confused mind, a confused life, cannot find what is order because the brain is confused, we are uncertain and to merely search for an order, an orderly life is rather thoughtless, foolish, whereas if we could together find out for ourselves what causes disorder in our life, and so what brings about a society which is utterly disorderly. So please, we are talking over together. You are sharing with the speaker about the problem. It's not that you are merely listening to some ideas, but sharing, partaking in the conversation between us. That must be quite clear from the beginning, that you are as much responsible for what is happening in the world. And we are going to investigate together why we live such disorderly life, and what is our responsibility towards what is happening in the world.

What is disorder? What is the nature and the structure of disorder? There is disorder, isn't there, where there is contradiction: say one thing and do something totally different; think one thing and act quite the opposite. I wonder if one is aware of that. Then there is conflict, disorder, when we are pursuing ideals, whether political ideals, religious ideals or our own projection of what we think we ought to be. That is, where there is division between what is actually going on and try to change that according to a certain pattern, certain ideals, certain attitude and convictions. That is, where there is division between actually what is happening in ourselves and neglecting that and pursuing an ideal, that is one of the causes of disorder. Another cause is to pursue in psychological, so-called inward life, pursue authority: the authority of a book, the authority of a guru, the authority of so-called spiritual people. We accept very easily the authority in our inward life. Of course you have to accept the authority of the scientist, of the technocrat, of the doctor, the surgeon, but inwardly, psychologically, why do we accept authority at all?

Please, this is an important question to ask. We'll come back to it. We are asking what are the causes of disorder. We said pursuing an ideal is disorder, accepting authority of another in the world of spirit, in the world of the mind, inward psychological state. And one of the other causes of disorder is this everlasting attempt to become something, inwardly. So these, perhaps, these and other causes bring about disorder. So we are going to investigate each one of them.

Why do we have ideals at all? There are the political ideals, and in the communist world the theoretician translating Marx or Lenin according to their inclination, their study, their historical search. So we are asking - and I hope you are asking too - why do we have ideals at all? And what is an ideal? The word 'idea', originally the root meaning of that word is 'to observe', 'to see', 'to look' - the word 'idea'. But we have translated it as a projection of a particular concept brought about by thought, and that is the ideal, and the ideal is far more important and the pursuit of that ideal becomes all-consuming when you totally neglect 'what is'; 'what is' is important, not the ideal. We are using the word 'what is' in the sense what is actually happening both outwardly and inwardly.

When we are violent, as most human beings are, to have an ideal of non-violence has no reality, has no validity, but what has validity, reality is the fact that we are violent and to deal with that violence, not in terms of ideals and patterns but to understand the cause or causes of violence. Perhaps in this country the pursuit of non-violence, which is an illusion, has deprived of our energy to look actually at what is going on. I hope we are talking over together this problem. We never look at 'what is'. We want to change what is taking place to something else. This has been the process of centuries upon centuries. The political ideals, the religious ideals, the ideals that one has created for oneself, an end, a goal, and the goal, the end - the ideals become extraordinarily important and not what is actually happening. That is, 'what is' being transformed into 'what should be'. There is the struggle, there is disorder. Whereas if we understand, give our attention to 'what is'; that is, 'what is' is violence, hatred, antagonism, brutality, and to deal with it.

So, we are concerned to discover the causes of disorder. So we are saying one of the major factors in life, which is disorderly, is trying to transform or change 'what is' into 'what should be'. The 'what should be' is totally unreal, but 'what is' is all-important. If I am greedy, to enquire into what is the nature of greed, whether that greed can really have an end or must it continue? But to have the ideal of non-greed seems so utterly nonsensical, and yet we are brought up on this. So to see the illusory nature of 'what is' is the beginning of intelligence.

Then, there is division in us; there is duality, the opposite. Is there an opposite at all? There is opposite as light and darkness, there is tall and short, different ways outside, but basically is there an opposite to greed, to violence? You are following all this I hope. We are asking if there is an opposite. That is, in the world of the psyche, in the world of the spirit, psychologically, is there an opposite at all? We say there is the good and the bad, the good and the evil. I do not know if you have not... if some of you have been to Europe and the various caves there, about thirty thousand, forty thousand years ago man still had this problem. In their painting, there is the evil on the one side in various forms, and there is good on the other, and there is battle between the two. Now we are asking - please think together in this matter, not accept what the speaker is saying, but question, ask, doubt, enquire if there is an opposite at all, apart from the physical side of it, inwardly. Is good - the good - is it the opposite of evil? If it is the opposite then the good has its root in its own opposite. Is this clear? Have I to explain everything? All right, I'll explain. The good and the bad. If evil is the opposite of the good then that evil has a relationship with the good - right? - because it's the opposite. The opposite is put together by thought. Either the good is totally divorced from evil or it is the outcome, the opposite, the invention of thought as the good. Are you following this or not?

So what is the good? Let's enquire into that. What is the good? According to the dictionary, which is the common usage of that word, it means good behaviour, good in the sense, being whole, not fragmented, but having that sense or understanding the nature of wholeness of life, and in that there is no fragmentation as the evil. But if the evil is the outcome of the good, then that evil has a relationship with the good. Right? Are we following this at all with each other? Yes? Good.

So, we are enquiring together if there is an opposite in our life. If there is hate and love, can love have a relationship with hate, with jealousy? If it has a relationship with love then it is not love. Obviously. If I hate someone - I hope I don't - if I hate someone, and at the same time talk about love, it is incompatible - the two don't meet. So we are questioning if there is an opposite at all, but only 'what is'. Where there is an opposite there must be conflict. I hate and also I think I love. The opposite of hate is not love. The opposite of hate is still hate. Right?

So that's one of the factors in our life of disorder: the ideal, the opposite and the acceptance of spiritual, so-called spiritual authority. There is the authority of law, the authority of a government, the authority of a policeman, the authority of a good surgeon. But psychologically, inwardly, why do we accept authority - the authority of the priest, the authority of the book, the authority of a guru - why? When we follow somebody and be guided by somebody, guided what to believe, what not to believe, to accept his system of enlightenment and so on, so on, what is happening to our own brain, to our own inward search? You understand my question? I follow you as my guru - you're not, but I try. You are my guru. You tell me what to do, what to think, what to believe, and the various steps I must take to attain whatever they call enlightenment. And I, rather gullible, wanting to escape from my life, which is disorderly corrupt, insecure, I trust the guru. I give him my life and say, 'I surrender'. I give part of my life in attaining that enlightenment, whatever it is understood to mean. So why, why do I do that? - which you are doing in different forms. Why?

Is it not because I want some kind of security, some kind of assurance that I will have some day some kind of happiness, some kind of release from my daily worries and miseries. The guru gives you an assurance, and you feel satisfied, but you never question the guru, you never doubt what he is saying, you never discuss with him. You accept. That has been the condition of human beings right throughout the world for millions of years. The interpreter between god and you, between that which is holy and you. He assumes he knows it; he assumes he has realised, and he is going to tell you what to do. And you, wanting comfort, security, will accept him without a single doubt. Have you ever talked, discussed with your guru? Have you, if you have one? Never - I am quite sure of it. He wouldn't have it. He would say, 'You know nothing about it; I will tell you'.

Now, to question spiritual authority, whether it is the Christian authority or the spiritual authority of Islam with their book, or you with your guru with his statements, to question, to doubt it, so that you rely entirely on yourself, to be a light to oneself, a light that cannot be lit by another. That requires your questioning, your asking, your demanding, not only the outer, the spiritual authority, but of yourself, why you believe. So that your own mind becomes clear, strong, vital, and so that it has energy for creative activity. But when you follow somebody, your brain becomes dull, routine, mechanical, which is the very destructive nature of the human mind... of human brain.

So please, we are not telling you what to do, but see what you are doing. See why this disorder exists in our life, and when you begin to investigate into that disorder, then out of that disorder comes order. When there is the dissipation of the causes of disorder there is order. Then you don't have to pursue what is order. Order is virtue. Order means freedom. So we have to enquire also into what is freedom. You understand what we have said, that where there is order in our life, total order, that order is virtue and that very order is freedom.

The word 'freedom' is misused by everybody. There is freedom from something, and there is freedom. Freedom from something is not freedom. We will go into that. I am a prisoner, prisoner of my own ideas, of my own theories, of my own concepts and so on - my mind... brain is a prisoner to that, and then freedom is to be free from my prison, to fall into another prison. I free myself from one particular conditioning and unknowingly or unconsciously fall into another condition. So freedom is from something - from anger, from jealousy, from all that; that is not freedom at all. Freedom means to be free, not from something. This requires a great deal of enquiry. Which is, our mind... our brain is conditioned, like a computer as we said the other day. We are programmed, programmed to be a Hindu, programmed to be a Muslim, Christian, and so on. The computer is programmed. So our brains have been programmed for thousands of years, which is our condition. Freedom is not the dissolution of that condition, but the ending of that. Where there is an end to my condition, then only is there freedom. I wonder if you are understanding all this. Am I... are we together in this at all? So without having that freedom there must be disorder. So, the ideal, the opposite, the pursuit of spiritual authority, and accepting the conditioning - we are Hindu, Muslim, and so on - all that brings about disorder. When there is an end to that, there is order. You will say that is impossible: it is impossible not to follow somebody because we are so uncertain, so insecure, and you are willing to follow somebody so easily. Which means your brain is becoming dull, inactive. You may be active physically, but psychologically, inwardly, you cease to be active.

The word 'freedom' is misused by everybody. There is freedom from something, and there is freedom. Freedom from something is not freedom. We will go into that. I am a prisoner, prisoner of my own ideas, of my own theories, of my own concepts and so on - my mind... brain is a prisoner to that, and then freedom is to be free from my prison, to fall into another prison. I free myself from one particular conditioning and unknowingly or unconsciously fall into another condition. So freedom is from something - from anger, from jealousy, from all that; that is not freedom at all. Freedom means to be free, not from something. This requires a great deal of enquiry. Which is, our mind... our brain is conditioned, like a computer as we said the other day. We are programmed, programmed to be a Hindu, programmed to be a Muslim, Christian, and so on. The computer is programmed. So our brains have been programmed for thousands of years, which is our condition. Freedom is not the dissolution of that condition, but the ending of that.

Then we ought to talk over together suffering, whether there is an end of sorrow. When there is an end to sorrow, then only there is love, then only there is compassion. So we are going to enquire together into this question, whether it is possible to end all sorrow. What is sorrow? Grief, pain, the feeling of loneliness, the sense of isolation. So we are enquiring, you and the speaker together, not intellectually or verbally, but to find out for ourselves, for each one of us whether sorrow can ever end. What is the nature of sorrow? How does sorrow, which is pain, tears, a sense of desperate loneliness - what is the cause of it? We are going together, enquire into it. So sir, please share with the speaker. Don't just go to sleep. Enquire with him why human beings from time immemorial have suffered and still are suffering. Not from physical pain, some fatal disease or feeling utterly rejected, but we are talking about the nature of suffering inwardly - the pain, the tears, and the escape from it.

I wonder if you have ever realised, for the last five thousand years there have been wars, killing each other, and how many people have cried, shed tears for those who have been killed, maimed. I was... the speaker once was taken to a hospital by a friend, another doctor, where the war... results of war in the hospital. People had no arms and legs. Some had no eyes. Imagine or look what their mothers must have cried. The pain, the anxiety, the hope - all that constitutes sorrow. And this sorrow has existed in all the days of our life, and we never seem to be free of it, completely ending sorrow. So together, if you will, we'll go into this, because there is an end to sorrow.

Sorrow comes with the loss of somebody, with the death of somebody. My son, I have lost him. There is grief and tears and great sense of loneliness. Then in that state of shock, in that state of pain and anxiety, loneliness, I seek comfort, I want to escape from this agony. Then I escape through every form of entertainment, whether it be drugs, alcohol, the temple, the mosque or the church, I want to escape from this. So I begin to invent all kinds of fanciful concepts. Whereas I have lost him - he is dead, gone, and there is that pain. Can one remain with that pain? Can one look at that pain, hold it? You hold it as a precious jewel, not escape, not suppress, not rationalise, but to look, to look at the sorrow in oneself. Not analysing it, not rationalising it, not seeking the cause of it, but as a vessel holds water so hold this thing called sorrow, the pain. That is, I have lost my son and I am lonely, not to escape from that loneliness, not to suppress it, not to intellectually rationalise it, but to look at that loneliness, understand the depth of it, the nature of it. Loneliness is total isolation which is brought about through our daily activity of selfish ambitions or ideological ambitions, competition, each one out for himself. Those are the attributive causes which bring about loneliness. But if you run away from it you will never solve sorrow.

The very word 'sorrow' has etymologically 'passion', the word 'passion'. Most of us have no passion. We may have lust; we may have ambition; may want to become a rich man. We devote our energies to all that. But that does not bring about passion. Only with the ending of sorrow there is passion. It is that total energy not limited by thought. So it is important to understand the nature of suffering and the ending of it. The ending of it is to hold that sorrow, that pain. Look at it. It's a marvellous thing to know how to hold the pain and look at it, be with it, live with it. Not get bitter, cynical, but to see the nature of sorrow. There is beauty in that sorrow, depth in that sorrow.

So we ought to also talk over together what is love. What does that word mean to you? If you were asked in a drawing room, in your room, what is the meaning of that word to you, what would you answer? You might if you are an intellectual, say, 'What do you mean by that? I love playing golf. I love to read. I love my wife. I love god'. Is that love? Do you love your wife? Do you love your husband? Do you love your friend? So we are enquiring into what is love. This is really very important to enquire, because without love life is empty. You may have all the riches of the earth, you may be a great banker, great scientist, mathematician, great... capable of great technology, but without love you are lost; empty shell.

So together we are going to find out not what love is but what is not love. That is, through negation come to the positive. You understand? Through negating what is not, that very negation is the positive. This is rather... All right. Is jealousy love? Jealousy in which there is attachment, anxiety, in jealousy there is hate - is that love? You are attached to your family. You are attached to your person or an idea or a concept or a conclusion - you are attached. What are the implications of attachment? Suppose I am married; I am attached to my wife. What does it mean? Where there is attachment there is fear. Where there is attachment there is suspicion. Where there is attachment there is possessiveness. Because through attachment to an ideal, to a concept, to a belief, or to a person, when there is attachment, with all the consequences of jealousy, anxiety, hatred, suspicion, surely all that is not love.

So to understand the nature of love, is it possible to be totally free from attachment? Please ask this question of yourself. You are all attached to something or another. Become - if I may suggest most respectfully - become aware of the consequences of that attachment. If you are attached to an ideal you are always on the defensive or aggressive. If you come to a conclusion and to hold on to that conclusion is to end all further enquiry. The communist, the socialist and so on, they have all come to a conclusion, according to Marx, Lenin, and so on - they have stopped. They have brought an end to their thinking capacity, to their enquiry, to their doubt. So, where there is attachment, there must be pain. I am attached to my wife, and she may run away, she might look at another man or she might die. So in attachment there is always fear, there is always anxiety, suspicion, watching. Surely that is not love, is it?

So can one be totally free of all attachment? It's up to you. But when you are attached there is no love, because in that attachment there is fear. Fear is not love. The ambitious man who wants to climb the ladder of success has no love, because he is concerned with himself, with his achievement, with his gathering, the power, the position, the prestige. How can such a man love another? He may have a family, children, but that's all normal, natural to have children; but in that man there is no love. And when you say, 'I love god', or the highest principle, is that love also? That god, that principle, the highest principle, Brahmin, is the result of thought. God is invented by man. I'm sure you won't like this. But you are attached to that concept: god exists. Then you ask, 'Who is the creator of all this misery?' God hasn't created this, has he? If he has, he must be rather an odd god. He must be a strange sadistic god. So most... all the gods in the world are invented by thought.

And to find out what love is, as we said, there must be an end to sorrow, end to attachment, end to everything we have committed to inwardly. Where the self, the ego, the 'me' is, love is not. You hear all this, my friend, you hear all this, and you will walk away from here with the same attachment, with the same convictions, and never enquire further because the more you enquire into all this, the more life becomes dangerous. Because you may have to give up a lot of things naturally, not as self sacrifice - naturally, easily you may have to give up. If you understood the nature of attachment and are free from it, if you tell your wife, 'I am no longer attached to you', she may perhaps throw a brick at you, or saying, 'What nonsense'. So you have to realise that when you see the truth of something, you are standing completely alone. And you may perceive that, and from that you are frightened. You may believe, you may see the truth inwardly of the nature of attachment, but as you don't want to quarrel with your wife or husband, you accept it. So gradually we become hypocrites.

And also we should discuss, if there is time, the nature of intelligence. Compassion has its own intelligence. Love has its own intelligence. We are going to enquire into it, what is intelligence, if you are not tired. Surely it cannot be bought in books. Knowledge is not intelligence. This is... please, may be a little arduous to go into this, so please give your attention, if you are willing. I'm not asking you to force yourself to do something that you don't want to do. Because where there is love, compassion, it has the beauty of its own intelligence. Compassion cannot exist if you are a Hindu, a Catholic, a Protestant, a Buddhist, or a Marxist. Love is not the product of thought. In understanding the nature of love, compassion; which is to deny all that which is not. To see that which is false as false is the beginning of intelligence. To see the truth in the false is the beginning of intelligence. To see the nature of disorder and end it, not carry on day after day, to end it. The ending is the immediate perception, which is intelligence.

So we are enquiring into what is intelligence. Cleverness is not intelligence. Having great deal of knowledge about various subjects - mathematics, history, science, poetry, painting, to be able to paint and all the rest of it, that is not the activity of intelligence. The investigator into the atom, he may have extraordinary capacity of concentration, imagination, probing, questioning, asking, hypothesis after hypothesis, theory after theory - all that is not intelligence. Intelligence is the activity of the wholeness of life, not broken up, fragmentary. And that intelligence is not yours or mine. It doesn't belong to any country, to any people. Like love is not Christian love or Hindu love, and so on. So please enquire into all this, because our life depends on all this. We are unfortunate, miserable people, always in travail, always in conflict. We have accepted it as the way of life. But in enquiring into all this, there is the awakening of that intelligence. When that intelligence is in operation, in action, there is only right action.


Third Public Talk in Calcutta, India

November 1982

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The Ending Of Sorrow