There Is No Continuity but Memory

It is a new day and the sun won’t be up for an hour or so. It is quite dark and the trees are silent, waiting for the dawn and the sun to rise behind the hills. There ought to be a prayer for dawn. It comes so slowly, penetrating the whole world. And here in this quiet secluded house, surrounded by orange trees and a few flowers, it is extraordinarily quiet. There are no birds as yet singing their morning song. The world is asleep, at least in this part of the world, far from all civilization, from the noise, the brutality, the vulgarity and the talk of politicians.

Slowly, with great patience, the dawn begins in the deep silence of the night. It was broken by the mourning dove and the hoot of an owl. There are several owls here, they were calling to each other. And the hills and the trees are beginning to awaken. In silence the dawn begins, it gets lighter and lighter, and the dew is on the leaf and the sun is just climbing over the hill. The first rays of the sun are caught in those tall trees, in that old oak that has been there for a very, very long time. And the mourning dove begins with its soft mournful call. Across the road, across the orange trees, there is a peacock calling. Even in this part of the world there are peacocks, at least there are a few of them. And the day has begun. It is a wonderful day. It is so new, so fresh, so alive and full of beauty. It is a new day without any past remembrances, without the call of another.

There is great wonder when one looks at all the beauties – those bright oranges with the dark leaves, and the few flowers, bright in their glory. One wonders at this extraordinary light which only this part of the world seems to have. One wonders as one looks at the creation which seems to have no beginning and no end – a creation not by cunning thought, but the creation of a new morning. This morning it is as it has never been before, so bright, so clear. And the blue hills are looking down. It is the creation of a new day as it has never been before.

There is a squirrel with a long bushy tail, quivering and shy in the old pepper tree which has lost many branches; it is getting very old. It must have seen many storms, as the oak has in its old age, quiet, with a great dignity. It is a new morning, full of an ancient life; it has no time, no problems. It exists and that in itself is a miracle. It is a new morning without any memory. All the past days are over, gone, and the voice of the mourning dove comes across the valley, and the sun is now over the hill, covering the earth. And it too has no yesterday. The trees in the sun and the flowers have no time. It is the miracle of a new day.

‘We want continuity,’ said the man. ‘Continuity is part of our life. Continuity of generation after generation, of tradition, of the things we have known and remembered. We crave continuity and we must have it. Otherwise what are we? Continuity is in the very roots of our being. To be is to continue. Death may come, there may be an end to many things but there is always the continuity. We go back to find our roots, our identity. If one has kept one’s beginning as a family, probably one can trace it, generation after generation for many centuries, if one is interested in that kind of thing. The continuity of the worship of God, the continuity of ideologies, the continuity of opinions, values, judgements, conclusions – there is a continuity in all the things one has remembered. There is a continuity from the moment we are born until we die, with all the experiences, all the knowledge that man has acquired. Is it an illusion?’

‘What has continuity? That oak, probably two hundred years old, has a continuity until it dies or is chopped down by man. And what is this continuity which man wants, craves for? The name, the form, the bank account, the things remembered? Memory has a continuity, remembrances of that which has been. The whole psyche is memory and nothing else. We attribute to the psyche a great many things – qualities, virtues, ignoble deeds, and the exercise of many clever acts in the outer and the inner world. And if one examines diligently, without any bias or conclusion, one begins to see that our whole existence with the vast network of memories, remembrances, the things that have happened before, all have continuity. And we cling to that desperately.’

The squirrel has come back. It has been away for a couple of hours; now it is back on the branch nibbling at something, watching, listening, extraordinarily alert and aware, alive, quivering with excitement. It comes and goes without telling you where it is going and when it is coming back. And as the day is getting warmer, the dove and the birds have gone. There are a few pigeons flying from one place to another in a group. You can hear their wings beating in the air. There used to be a fox here – one hasn’t seen it for a long time. Probably it has gone away for ever. There are too many people about. There are plenty of rodents but people are dangerous. And this is a shy little squirrel and wayward as the swallow.

Although there is no continuity except memory, is there in the whole human being, in the brain, a place, a spot, an area small or vast, where memory doesn’t exist at all, which memory has never touched? It is a remarkable thing to look at all this, to feel your way sanely, rationally, see the complexity and the intricacies of memory, and its continuity which is, after all, knowledge. Knowledge is always in the past, knowledge is the past. The past is vast accumulated memory as tradition. And when you have trodden that path diligently, sanely, you must inevitably ask: is there an area in the human brain, or in the very nature and structure of a human being, not merely in the outer world of his activities but inwardly, deep in the vast quiet recesses of his own brain, something that is not the outcome of memory, not the movement of a continuity?

The hills and the trees, the meadows and the groves, will continue as long as the earth exists unless man in his cruelty and despair destroys it all. The stream, the spring, from which it comes, have a continuity, but one never asks whether the hills and beyond the hills have their own continuity.

If there is no continuity what is there? There is nothing. One is afraid to be nothing. Nothing means not a thing – nothing put together by thought, nothing put together by memory, remembrances, nothing that you can put into words and then measure. There is most certainly, definitely, an area where the past doesn’t cast a shadow, where time, the past or the future or the present, has no meaning. We have always tried to measure with words something that we don’t know. What we do not know we try to understand and give it words and make it into a continuous noise. And so we clog our brain which is already clogged with past vents, experiences, knowledge. We think knowledge is psychologically of great importance, but it is not. You can’t ascend through knowledge; there must be an end to knowledge for the new to be. New is a word for something which has never been before. And that area cannot be understood or grasped by words or symbols: it is there beyond all remembrances.