often asked him what happens to an arahant after his death. Someone asked, ‘Does he exist after his death?’ And the Buddha said, ‘No.’ ‘Then can one say he does not exist?’ The Buddha said, ‘No.’ ‘Then he exists and does not exist?’ The Buddha said, ‘No’ ‘Then he does not exist, nor not exist?’ The Buddha said, ‘No, none of those terms “exist” or “does not exist”, “is” or “is not”, can be applied to that state.’ These are called the four kotis, or extremes. And all these terms, which are relative and dualistic, are used only within our knowledge, our experience, within empirical world. But this is beyond that world, therefore you can’t apply any of these words. This question was put repeatedly to the Buddha, and that was his answer. What do you say to this? K: Sir, could we talk over together what is living and what is dying, and what is the state of the mind that is dead, or in the process of dying? Could my putting it that way help to answer the question?
WR: I don’t know.
K: You see, after all, the arahant is known also, I believe, in Hindu thought. Not that I have read any books about this, but I have discussed it with people. Human beings right throughout the world, as far as one can make out, are always inquiring into or having beliefs about death, asking if there life after death, whether there is a continuity. And if there is no continuity what is the point of living at all? Life is such a dreadful affair anyhow, with a lot of trouble, anxiety, fear; so if there is no reward for living properly, correctly, what is the point of being good, kind, noble, and so on? Could we approach your question from that point of view? Or do you want to ask what is the state of a mind that has no self whatsoever?
WR: That’s right, that is the state of an arahant.
K: That is what I want to get at. Could we go into it that way?
WR: I think that is a good approach, because an arahant has no self whatsoever.
K: Is that possible? I am not saying it is or is not, we are inquiring, we are inquiring, proceeding through exploring and finding out, not believing or disbelieving. So what is the self? The name, the form, the body, the organism. The name identifies itself with the body, certain characteristics identifying themselves with the ‘me’—I am strong, I am weak, I have got a good character, I am not bad. So the characteristic, the tendency is identified by thought as the ‘me’. The experiences, the accumulated knowledge, as identified by thought as the ‘me’, and the ‘me’ is that which I possess—my property, my house, my furniture, my wife, my books. All that, the violence, the pleasure, the fear, the agonies, together with the name, the form, constitutes the self. So what is the root of the self? Is the root of the self the acquired experiences? I am inquiring—we are inquiring—into the very root of it, not the mere expressions of it. So the whole process of identification—my house, my name, my possessions, what I will be, the success, the power, the position, the prestige—the process of identification is the essence of the self. If there is no identification, is there the self? You understand sir? So can this identification, which is the movement of thought, come to an end? If thought didn’t say that is my furniture, identifying itself with that, because it gives it pleasure, position, security, there would be no identification. So the root of the self is the movement of thought.
K: So death is the ending of that movement. Or is death a continuity of that movement into the next life? You understand?
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