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What Happens After We Die?

A question that most of us might have asked ourselves or others at some time or the other. And, the answers to the question might have oscillated between the grotesque to the convenient. The following is an excerpt from a talk that was given by J. Krishnamurti.

“This question interests all of us, the young and the old, does it not? So, I am going into it rather deeply and I hope you will be good enough to follow not just the words, but the actual experience of what I am going to discuss with you. We all know that death exists, especially the older people, as also the young who observe it. The young say, ‘wait until it comes, and we’ll deal with it’; and as the old are already near death, they have recourse to various forms of consolation. Please follow and apply this to yourselves; do not put it off on somebody else. Because, you know you are going to die, and you have theories around it, don’t you?”

(J Krishnamurti)

“You believe in God, you believe in Resurrection, or in Karma or Reincarnation; you say that you will be born in here or in another world. Or, you rationalise death, saying that death is inevitable, it happens to everybody; the tree withers away, nourishing the soil and a new tree comes up. Or else, you are too occupied with your daily worries, anxieties, jealousies, envies, with your competition and your wealth, to think about death at all. But, it is in your mind, consciously or unconsciously, it is there. First of all, can you be free of the beliefs, the rationalities, or the indifference that you have cultivated towards death? Can you be free of all that now?”

Because, what is important is to enter the house of death while living, while fully conscious, active, in health, and not waiting for the coming of death, which may carry you off instantaneously through an accident, or through a disease that slowly makes you unconscious.

“When death comes, it must be an extraordinary moment which is as vital as living. Now, can I, can you, enter the house of death while living? That is the problem – not whether there is reincarnation, or whether there is another world where you will be reborn, which is all so immature, so infantile. A person who lives never asks, “What is Living?” and has no theories about living. It is only the half-alive that talk about the purpose of life. So, can you and I, while living, conscious, active, with all our capacities, whatever they be, know what death is?”

“And is death then different from living? For most of us, life is a continuation of that what we think is permanent. Our name, our family, our property, the things in which we have a vested interest economically and spiritually, the virtues that we have cultivated, and the things that we have acquired emotionally – all of that we want to continue. And, the moment that we call death is a moment of the unknown; therefore we are frightened, so we try to find a consolation, some kind of comfort; we want to know if there is life after death, and a dozen other things. Those are all irrelevant problems; they are problems for the lazy, for those who do not want to find out what death is while living. So, can you and I find out?”

“What is death? Surely, it is the complete cessation of everything that you have known. If it is not the cessation of everything you have known, it is not death. If you know death already, then you have nothing to be frightened of. But, do you know death? That is, can you while living put an end to this everlasting struggle to find in the impermanent, something that will continue? Can you know the unknowable, the state which we call death, while living? Can you put aside all the descriptions of what happens after death which you have read in books, or which your unconscious desire for comfort dictates, and taste or experience that state, which must be extraordinary, now?”

“If that state can be experienced now, then living and dying are the same. So, can I, who has vast education, knowledge, who has had innumerable experiences, struggles, loves, hates – can that ‘I’ come to an end? For, the ‘I’ is the recorded memory of all that and can that ‘I’ come to an end? Without being brought to an end by an accident, by a disease, can you and I, while sitting here, know that end? Then you will find that you will no longer ask foolish questions about death and continuity – whether there is a world hereafter. Then you will know the answer yourself because that which is unknowable will have come into being. Then, you will put aside the whole rigmarole of reincarnation, and the many fears – the fear of living and the fear of dying, the fear of growing old, and inflicting on others the trouble of looking after you, the fear of loneliness and dependency – will all have come to an end.”

“These are not vain words. It is only when the mind ceases to think in terms of its continuity that the unknowable comes into being.”

Quite simply, Krishnamurti says that by losing the I sense (ego), we start experiencing the non-duality of life and death – or our existence.

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