A Deep Abiding Mutation of the Psyche

It is the second day of a spring morning. It’s lovely. It is extraordinarily beautiful here. It rained last night heavily and everything is again washed clean and all the leaves are shining bright in the sunlight. There is a scent in the air of many flowers and the sky is blue, dotted with passing clouds. The beauty of such a morning is timeless. It isn’t this morning: it is the morning of the whole world. It is the morning of a thousand yesterdays. It is the morning that one hopes will continue, will last endlessly. It is a morning that is full of soft sunlight, sparkling, clear, and the air is so pure here, fairly high up the valley. The orange trees and the bright yellow oranges have been washed clean and they are shining as though it was the first morning of their birth. The earth is heavy with the rain and there is snow on the high mountains. It is really a timeless morning.

Across the valley the far mountains enclosing this valley are eager for the sun, for it has been a cold night, and all the rocks and the pebbles and the little stream seem to be aware and full of life.

You sit quietly far from everything and look at the blue sky, feel the whole earth, the purity and the loveliness of everything that lives and moves on this earth – except man of course. Man is what he is now after many thousands of centuries of time. And he will go on perhaps in the same manner; what he is now is what he will be tomorrow and a thousand tomorrows. Time, evolution, has brought him to what he is now. The future is what he is unless, of course, there is a deep abiding mutation of his whole psyche.

Time has become extraordinarily important to man, to all of us – time to learn, time to have a skill, time to become and time to die, time both outwardly in the physical world and time in the psychological world. It is necessary to have time to learn a language, to learn how to drive, to learn how to speak, to acquire knowledge. If you had no time you couldn’t put things together to bring about a house; you must have time to lay brick upon brick. You must have time to go from here to where you want to go. Time is an extraordinary factor in our life – to acquire, to dispense, to be healed, to write a simple letter. And we seem to think we need psychological time, the time of what has been, modified now and continuing in the future. Time is the past, the present and the future. Man inwardly pins his hope on time; hope is time, the future, the endless tomorrows, time to become inwardly – one is ‘this’, one will become ‘that’. The becoming, as in the physical world, from the little operator to the big operator, from the nonentity to the highest in some profession – to become.

We think we need time to change from ‘this’ to ‘that’. The very words ‘change’ and ‘hope’ intrinsically imply time. One can understand that time is necessary to travel, to reach a port, to reach land after a long flight to the desired place. The desired place is the future. That is fairly obvious and time is necessary in that realm of achieving, gaining, becoming proficient in some profession, in a career that demands training. There, time seems not only necessary but must exist. And in the world of the psyche this same movement, this becoming, is extended. But is there psychological becoming at all? We never question that. We have accepted it as natural. The religions, the evolutionary books, have informed us that we need time to change from ‘what is’ to ‘what should be’. The distance covered is time. And we have accepted that there is a certain pleasure and pain in becoming non-violent when one is violent, that to achieve the ideal needs an enormous amount of time. And we have followed this pattern all the days of our life, blindly, never questioning. We don’t doubt. We follow the old traditional pattern. And perhaps that is one of the miseries of man – the hope of fulfilment, and the pain that that fulfilment, that hope, is not achieved, is not come by easily.

Is there actually time in the psychological world – that is, to change that which is to something totally different? Why do ideals, ideologies, whether political or religious, exist at all? Is it not one of the divisive concepts of man that has brought about conflict? After all, the ideologies, the left, right or centre, are put together by study, by the activity of thought, weighing, judging, and coming to a conclusion, and so shutting the door on all fuller enquiry. Ideologies have existed perhaps as long as man can remember. They are like belief or faith that separate man from man. And this separation comes about through time. The ‘me’, the I, the ego, the person, from the family to the group, to the tribe, to the nation. One wonders if the tribal divisions can ever be bridged over. Man has tried to unify nations, which are really glorified tribalism. You cannot unify nations. They will always remain separate. Evolution has separate groups. We maintain wars, religious and otherwise. And time will not change this. Knowledge, experience, definite conclusions, will never bring about that global comprehension, global relationship, a global mind.

So the question is: is there a possibility of bringing about a change in ‘what is’, the actuality, totally disregarding the movement of time? Is there a possibility of changing violence – not by becoming non-violent, that is merely the opposite of ‘what is’? The opposite of ‘what is’ is merely another movement of thought. Our question is: can envy, with all its implications, be changed without time being involved at all, knowing that the word change itself implies time – not even transformed, for the very word transform means to move from one form to another form – but to radically end envy without time?

Time is thought. Time is the past. Time is motive. Without any motive can there be – and we will use the word – change? Does not the very word motive already imply a direction, a conclusion? And when there is a motive there is actually no change at all. Desire is again a rather complex thing, complex in its structure. Desire to bring about a change, or the will to change, becomes the motive and therefore that motive distorts that which has to be changed, that which has to end. The ending has no time.

Clouds are slowly gathering around the mountain, clouds are moving to blot out the sun and probably it will rain again, as yesterday. For here in this part of the world it is the season of rain. It never rains in the summer time; when it is hot and dry, this valley is desert. Beyond the hills the desert lies out there, open, endless and bleak. And at other times it is very beautiful, so vast in its space. The very vastness of it makes it a desert. When the spring disappears it gets hotter and hotter and the trees seem to wither and the flowers have gone and the dry heat makes all things clean again.

‘Why do you say, sir, that time is unnecessary for change?’

‘Let us together find out what is the truth of the matter, not accepting what one has said, or disagreeing, but together have a dialogue to explore into this matter. One is trained to believe and it is the tradition that time is necessary for change. That is correct, is it not? Time is used to become from what one is to something greater, to something more. We are not talking about the physical time, the time necessary to gain a physical skill, but rather we are considering whether the psyche can become more than what it is, better than what it is, reach a higher state of consciousness. That is the whole movement of measurement, comparison. Together we are asking, are we not, what does change imply? We live in disorder, confused, uncertain, reacting against this and for that. We are seeking reward and avoiding punishment. We want to be secure, yet everything we do seems to bring about insecurity. This, and more, brings about disorder in our daily life. You can’t be disordered in business, for example, or negligent. You have to be precise, think clearly, logically. But we do not carry that same attitude into the psychological world. We have this constant urge to move away from “what is”, to become something other than the understanding of “what is”, to avoid the causes of disorder.’

‘That I understand,’ the questioner said. ‘We do escape from “what is”. We never consider carefully, diligently, what is going on, what is happening now in each one of us. We do try to suppress or transcend “what is”. If we have a great deal of pain, psychologically, inwardly, we never look at it carefully. We want immediately to erase it, to find some consolation. And always there is this struggle to reach a state where there is no pain, where there is no disorder. But the very attempt to bring about order seems to increase disorder, or bring about other problems.’

‘I do not know if you have noticed that when the politicians try to resolve one problem, that very resolution multiplies other problems. This again is going on all the time.’

‘Are you saying, sir, that time is not a factor of change? I can vaguely comprehend this but I am not quite sure I really understand it. You are saying in fact that if I have a motive for change, that very motive becomes a hindrance to change, because that motive is my desire, my urge to move away from that which is unpleasant or disturbing to something much more satisfactory, which will give me greater happiness. So a motive or a cause has already dictated, or shaped the end, the psychological end. This I understand. I am getting a glimmer of what you are saying. I am beginning to feel the implication of change without time.’

‘So let us ask the question: is there a timeless perception of that “which is”? That is, to look at, to observe “what is” without the past, without all the accumulated memories, the names, the words, the reactions – to look at that feeling, at that reaction, which we call, let us say, envy. To observe this feeling without the actor, the actor who is all the remembrance of things that have happened before.

‘Time is not merely the rising of the sun and the setting, or yesterday, today and tomorrow. Time is much more complicated, more intricate, subtle. And really to understand the nature and the depth of time one has to meditate upon whether time has a stop – not fictitious time nor the imagination that conjures up so many fantastic, romantic probabilities – but whether time, really, actually, in the field of the psyche, can ever come to an end? That is really the question. One can analyse the nature of time, investigate it, and try to find out whether the continuity of the psyche is a reality or the desperate hope of man to cling to something that will give him some sort of security, comfort. Does time have its roots in heaven? When you look at the heavens, the planets and the unimaginable number of stars, can that universe be understood by the time-bound quality of the mind? Is time necessary to grasp, to understand, the whole movement of the cosmos and of the human being – to see instantly that which is always true?

‘One should really, if one may point out, hold it in your mind, not think about it, but just observe the whole movement of time, which is really the movement of thought. Thought and time are not two different things, two different movements, actions. Time is thought and thought is time. Is there, to put it differently, the actual ending of thought? That is, the ending of knowledge? Knowledge is time, thought is time, and we are asking whether this accumulating process of knowledge, gathering more and more information, pursuing more and more the intricacies of existence, can end? Can thought, which is after all the essence of the psyche, the fears, the pleasures, the anxieties, the loneliness, the sorrow and the concept of the I – I as separate from another – this self-centred activity of selfishness, can all that come to an end? When death comes there is the ending of all that. But we are not talking about death, the final ending, but whether we can actually perceive that thought, time, have an ending.

‘Knowledge after all is the accumulation through time of various experiences, the recording of various incidents, happenings, and so on; this recording is naturally stored in the brain, this recording is the essence of time. Can we find out when recording is necessary, and whether psychological recording is necessary at all? It is not dividing the necessary knowledge and skill, but beginning to understand the nature of recording, why human beings record and from that recording react and act. When one is insulted or psychologically hurt by a word, by a gesture, by an action, why should that hurt be recorded? Is it possible not to record the flattery or the insult so that the psyche is never cluttered up, so that it has vast space, and the psyche that we are conscious of as the “me”, which again is put together by thought and time, comes to an end? We are always afraid of something that we have never seen, perceived – something not experienced. You can’t experience truth. To experience there must be the experiencer. The experiencer is the result of time, accumulated memory, knowledge and so on.

‘As we said at the beginning, time demands quick, watchful, attentive understanding. In our daily life can we exist without the concept of the future? Not concept – forgive me, not the word concept – but can one live without time, inwardly? The roots of heaven are not in time and thought.’

‘Sir, what you say has actually, in daily life, become a reality. Your various statements about time and thought seem now, while I am listening to you, so simple, so clear, and perhaps for a second or two there is the ending and stopping of time. But when I go back to my ordinary routine, the weariness and the boredom of it all, even pleasure becomes rather wearisome – when I go back I will pick up the old threads. It seems so extraordinarily difficult to let go of the threads and look, without reaction, at the way of time. But I am beginning to understand (and I hope it is not only verbally) that there is a possibility of not recording, if I may use your word. I realize I am the record. I have been programmed to be this or that. One can see that fairly easily and perhaps put all that aside. But the ending of thought and the intricacies of time need a great deal of observation, a great deal of investigation. But who is to investigate, for the investigator himself is the result of time? I catch something. You are really saying; just watch without any reaction, give total attention to the ordinary things of life and there discover the possibility of ending time and thought. Thank you indeed for this interesting talk.’