Question: Would you please make a definite statement about the non-existence of reincarnation since increasing `scientific evidence’ is now being accumulated to prove reincarnation is a fact. I am concerned because I see large numbers of people beginning to use this evidence to further strengthen a belief they already have, which enables them to escape problems of living and dying. Is it not your responsibility to be clear, direct and unequivocable on this matter instead of hedging round the issue?
Jiddu Krishnamurti -We will be very definite. The idea of reincarnation existed long before Christianity. It is prevalent almost throughout India and probably in the whole Asiatic world. Firstly: what is it that incarnates; not only incarnates now, but reincarnates again and again? Secondly: the idea of there being scientific evidence that reincarnation is true, is causing people to escape their problems and that causes the questioner concern.
Is he really concerned that people are escaping? They escape through football or going to church. Put aside all this concern about what other people do. We are concerned with the fact, with the truth of reincarnation; and you want a definite answer from the speaker.
What is it that incarnates, is reborn? What is it that is living at this moment, sitting here? What is it that is taking place now to that which is in incarnation?
And when one goes from here, what is it that is actually taking place in our daily life, which is the living movement of incarnation – one’s struggles, one`s appetites, greeds, envies, attachments – all that? Is it that which is going to reincarnate in the next life?
Now those who believe in reincarnation, believe they will be reborn with all that they have now – modified perhaps – and so carry on, life after life. Belief is never alive. But suppose that belief is tremendously alive, then what you are now matters much more than what you will be in a future life.
In the Asiatic world there is the word `karma‘ which means action in life now, in this period, with all its misery, confusion, anger, jealousy, hatred, violence, which may be modified, but will go on to the next life. So there is evidence of remembrance of things past, of a past life. That remembrance is the accumulated `me’, the ego, the personality. That bundle, modified, chastened, polished a little bit, goes on to the next life.
So it is not a question of whether there is reincarnation (I am very definite on this matter, please) but that there is incarnation now; what is far more important than reincarnation, is the ending of this mess, this conflict, now. Then something totally different goes on.
Being unhappy, miserable, sorrow-ridden, one says: “I hope the next life will be better”. That hope for the next life is the postponement of facing the fact now. The speaker has talked a great deal to those who believe in and have lectured and written about reincarnation, endlessly. It is part of their game. I say,”All right, Sirs, you believe in it all.
If you believe, what you do now matters”. But they are not interested in what they do now, they are interested in the future. They do not say: “I believe and I will alter my life so completely that there is no future”. Do not at the end of this say that I am evading this particular question; it is you who are evading it.
I have said that the present life is all-important; if you have understood and gone into it, with all the turmoil of it, the complexity of it – end it, do not carry on with it. Then you enter into a totally different world. I think that is clear, is it not? I am not hedging. You may ask me: “Do you believe in reincarnation?” Right? I do not believe in anything. This is not an evasion I have no belief and it does not mean that I am an atheist, or that I am ungodly. Go into it, see what it means. It means that the mind is free from all the entanglements of belief.
In the literature of ancient India there is a story about death and incarnation. For a Brahmin it is one of the ancient customs and laws, that after collecting worldly wealth he must at the end of five years give up everything and begin again. A certain Brahmin had a son and the son says to him, “You are giving all this away to various people, to whom are you going to give me away; to whom are you sending me?” The father said, “Go away, I am not interested”.
But the boy comes back several times and the father gets angry and says, “I am going to send you to Death” – and being a Brahmin he must keep his word. So he sends him to Death. On his way to Death the boy goes to various teachers and finds that some say there is reincarnation, others say there is not. He goes on searching and eventually he comes to the house of Death.
When he arrives, Death is absent. (A marvellous implication, if you go into it.) Death is absent. The boy waits for three days. On the fourth day, Death appears and apologizes. He apologizes because the boy was a Brahmin; he says, “I am sorry to have kept you waiting and in my regret I will offer you three wishes. You can be the greatest king, have the greatest wealth, or you can be immortal”. The boy says, “I have been to many teachers and they all say different things. What do you say about death and what happens afterwards?” Death says: “I wish I had pupils like you; not concerned about anything except that”. So he begins to tell him about truth, about the state of life in which there is no time