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Reincarnation and Karma

Jun 11, 1997 01:23 PM
by M K Ramadoss

Here is a view of Krishnaji on the subject of Reincarnation and Karma. Hope
it interests some.




Question: Do you believe in reincarnation and karma?

Krishnamurti: First of all, I have no belief. To me a man who is living like
the waters that are running, that are not stationary, has no belief. It is
only the man who is stationary, that is not living intensely, that has got
principles and beliefs. This does not mean that you should go to the other
extreme, that you should live a sensual life. It points, on the contrary, to
intensity of living. That is just a part of the question.

Now what do we mean by reincarnation? As it is understood, it is the 'I' -
Krishnamurti - because he cannot live fully now, divinely, supremely,
harmoniously, he must come back next life and take another form, and so go
on through a series of lives until he arrives. That is the idea of
reincarnation. Surely, isn't it? At least let the pundits agree. (Laughter)
Now, you want to know if I believe in that or not.

This is not a subtle answer. I want to show you something different. I
neither disbelieve nor believe. Do not think I am a clever man or a humbug,
that I do not answer this question straight. I want to put something quite
differently; then you will see why I am not answering directly, categorically.

What is this thing that we call the 'I'? To me, it is nothing else but the
center of conflict, the center of disharmony. Otherwise we are not conscious
of the 'I'. When we live, when we enjoy, we think deeply and feel
tremendously, harmoniously, we are not thinking of the 'I'. It is only when
we come into conflict that there is a resistance, there is a hindrance and
we become conscious as Krishnamurti. That is, the 'I' is nothing else but
memory which is the result of attachment. If we live a day completely,
supremely, we don't think about it. It is over. But if we live that day
partially, with conflict in which there is resistance, in which there is
toil, then we remember it. So in like manner, where there is conflict, there
is memory, of past or future, which creates the "I". That is, I have certain
experiences, certain reactions, and I meet every experience, I meet life
with those reactions, with those memories. So when I meet life or when I
meet you as an individual, I do so with my memories, with my idiosyncrasies,
with my experiences. I do not meet you fully. Therefore in not meeting you
fully, there is a conflict, and out of that conflict the idea of "I" is
born. If I with a background of a certain color, and you with a background
of a certain other color meet, we never meet fully, we always meet at an
angle, partially. Therefore there is conflict, that conflict creates memory
in me, and the many series of conflicts with the many layers of memories go
to constitute the 'I' otherwise there is no "I". I know you have read the
Bhagavad Gita, the Upanishads, and all the sacred books. I am not being
sarcastic. But please forget all that for the moment, and try to understand
what I am saying. The "I" is nothing else but many layers of memory. When we
say we must be made perfect through time, it means we must perfect conflict,
we must perfect resistance, we must perfect selfishness. Do you see the
significance, the absurdity of it? And so we say, let us have this idea of
reincarnation. That is, we say by perpetuating conflict through many lives,
we shall come to the realization of truth. I am putting it from my point of
view, which is that the 'I' is nothing else but a series of cravings, and
you cannot perfect cravings, you cannot perfect selfishness. You will always
remain selfish. When you ask me, "Do you believe in reincarnation?" it
means, "Do you believe in the perpetuation and postponement of selfishness?"
That is, you say you have not the opportunity now for intensity of living,
so you must have a greater opportunity, a next life to complete that which
you are not doing now. Now, I say, don't look to the future, because the
future is nothing else but the incompleteness of the understanding in the
present. A man who understands has no future. To him the eternity is now.
But the moment he does not understand, he wants a tomorrow.

Now what is it that prevents you from understanding? I am not concerned with
reincarnation, whether or not it is a law or whether it is true. To me it is
unessential. What is essential is to see what prevents you from
understanding completely in the present. Then you see the question quite
differently. What is the good of your telling me that I shall be well fed
next life if I am hungry now? If I am a slave, if I am blind, if I am
suffering, what is the good of your telling me that I shall be happy the
next life? What is the good of your telling me when I see so much injustice
in the world, such monstrous cruelty, that it is reincarnation, because in
my last birth I did a painful thing, therefore I am paying for it? What
value is it? Please don't think I am decrying reincarnation. I am not
talking of reincarnation at all. To me it is unimportant. What is important
is to find out how I can live completely with unity of thinking and feeling
in the present. In that harmony is divinity.

Then, there is-the idea of karma─not what the pundits and the books say─but
I am telling you what I think. Karma is incomplete action in which there is
time. Karma is time in which action is not completed. Do not say this is
what the Bhagavad Gita says. Leave that for the moment. Please try to find
out. If I do not complete an act, then I must have time to complete it. That
time which is conflict is karma. Therefore, karma is nothing else to me but
conflict created through memory, and that conflict is born when mind and
heart have crystallized themselves in conformity. So karma is the same as an
incomplete act, is the same as the idea of 'I', with its memories. So as
long as there is the idea of 'I', which is born out of conflict, there must
be karma; that is, there must be an incomplete act. You see, it is awfully

My mind through tradition, through heredity, through racial customs, habits,
ideals, and so on, is crippled; my heart is smothered and therefore I cannot
complete the act. If my mind is prejudiced, is pursuing an ideal, is
craving, naturally I cannot complete the act, I cannot live wholly; that
-crippled mind creates conflict. Out of that conflict is born memory which I
call 'I'. Don't concern yourself with whether there is reincarnation or not;
you can find in this life the whole significance of living. I say, what
creates time are your mind and heart which are caught up in ideas, ideals,
conformity, consolation, fear and so on. These create conflict which in turn
creates the idea of time. So become aware that your mind is running away in
search of consolation. Do not try to stop yourself from running away, but
become aware that you are running; then you will see how quickly it stops of
its own accord. Do not fight fear; do not try to become courageous at all
when you are afraid─which is another form of fear, only running from this to
that. You have not understood this; therefore, it pursues you to that. Do
not discipline your mind to gain courage, but be conscious, be fully aware
that you are afraid. To become aware is to become aware both with your mind
and heart, not merely with your intellect. What happens when you are fully
aware that you are afraid, when you are so aware with your mind and heart,
you immediately see the cause of what is giving you fear? The moment you
know what is hindering you, it is over, you are free of it.

That is the highest value of spirituality; that is, spiritual, not what
qualities you have and have not─but to be so rich and to live so intensely
in the present without the conflict of the past or the future. Therefore you
will not inquire whether there is reincarnation or not; you are no longer
concerned with time, for the moment you are concerned with time, the moment
you are interested in time, you but prolong and postpone that which can be
completed now.

Karachi, Pakistan. Fourth Public Lecture, Feb. 14, 1933

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