A large dead animal was floating down the river. On it there were several vultures, tearing away at the carcass; they would fight off the other vultures till they had their fill, and only then would they fly away. The others waited on the trees, on the banks, or hovered overhead. The sun had just risen, and there was heavy dew on the grass. The green fields on the other side of the river were misty, and the voices of the peasants carried so clearly across the water. It was a lovely morning, fresh and new. A baby monkey was playing around the mother among the branches. It would race along a branch, leap to the next one and race back again, or jump up and down near the mother. She was bored by these antics, and would come down the tree and go up another. When she began to climb down, the baby would run and cling to her, getting on her back or swinging under her. It had such a small face, with eyes that were full of play and frightened mischief.
How frightened we are of the new, of the unknown! We like to remain enclosed in our daily habits, routines, quarrels and anxieties. We like to think in the same old way, take the same road, see the same faces and have the same worries. We dislike to meet strangers, and when we do we are aloof and distraught. And how frightened we are to encounter an unfamiliar animal! We move within the walls of our own thought; and when we do venture out, it is still within the extension of those walls. We have never an ending, but always nourish the continuous. We carry from day to day the burden of yesterday; our life is one long, continuous movement, and our minds are dull and insensitive.
He could hardly stop weeping. It was not controlled or restrained weeping, but a sobbing that shook his whole body. He was a youngish man, alert with eyes that had seen visions. He was unable to speak for some time; and when at last he did, his voice shook and he would burst into great sobs, unashamed and free.
Presently he said: ‘I haven’t wept at all since the day of my wife’s death. I don’t know what made me cry like that, but it has been a relief. I have wept before, with her when she was alive, and then weeping was as cleansing as laughter; but since her death everything has changed. I used to paint, but now I can’t touch the brushes or look at the things I have done. For the last six months I also have seemed to be dead. We had no children, but she was expecting one; and now she is gone. Even now I can hardly realise it, for we did everything together. She was so beautiful and so good, and what shall I do now? I am sorry to have burst out like that, and God knows what made me do it; but I know it is good to have cried. It will never be the same again, though something has gone out of my life. The other day I picked up the brushes, and they were strangers to me. Before, I didn’t even know I held a brush in my hand; but now it has weight, it is cumbersome. I have often walked to the river, wanting never to come back; but I always did. I couldn’t see people, as her face was always there. I sleep, dream and eat with her, but I know it can never be the same again. I have reasoned about it all, tried to rationalise the event and understand it; but I know she is not there. I dream of her night after night; but I cannot sleep all the time, though I have tried. I dare not touch her things, and the very smell of them drives me almost crazy. I have tried to forget, but do what I will, it can never be the same again. I used to listen to the birds, but now I want to destroy everything. I can’t go on like this. I haven’t seen any of our friends since then, and without her they mean nothing to me. What am I to do?’
We were silent for a long time. Love that turns to sorrow and to hate is not love.
Do we know what love is? Is it love that, when thwarted, becomes fury? Is there love when there is gain and loss?
‘In loving her, all those things ceased to exist. I was completely oblivious of them all, oblivious even of myself. I knew such love, and I still have that love for her; but now I am aware of other things also, of myself, of my sorrow, of the days of my misery.’
How quickly love turns to hate, to jealousy, to sorrow! How deeply we are lost in the smoke, and how distant is that which was so close! Now we are aware of other things, which have suddenly become so much more important. We are now aware that we are lonely, without a companion, without the smile and the familiar sharp word; we are aware of ourselves now, and not only of the other. The other was everything, and we nothing; now the other is not, and we are that ‘which is’. The other is a dream, and the reality is what we are. Was the other ever real, or a dream of our own creation, clothed with the beauty of our own joy which soon fades? The fading is death, and life is what we are. Death cannot always cover life, however much we may desire it; life is stronger than death. The ‘what is’ is stronger than ‘what is not’.
— Excerpt from Commentaries on Living I by Jiddu Krishnamurti