Krishnamurti on The Future

Episode Notes

‘If there is no future, because the future and the past are now, then what is action?’

This week’s episode on The Future has five sections.

The first extract (2:44) is from the third question and answer meeting in Saanen 1982, titled ‘What is the future of mankind?’

The second extract (9:25) is from Krishnamurti’s third talk in Saanen 1976, titled ‘Is there such thing as tomorrow?’

The third extract (19:26) is from the second question and answer meeting at Brockwood Park in 1984, titled ‘The future is now’.

The fourth extract (39:39) is from Krishnamurti’s first talk in Saanen 1984, titled ‘Action without a future’.

The final extract in this episode (1:01:14) is from the fourth talk in Bombay 1983, titled ‘There are only two possibilities left for us’.

Part 1

What Is the Future of Mankind?

Question: What is the future of mankind?

Krishnamurti: It is a very good question. What is the future of you? What is you, who are mankind, what is your future? As we now are living, which has been the continuity of the past, continuity of wars, hatreds, divisions, the ugliness that is going on, the brutality – everything, if humanity continues that way – and that is you – there is very little chance of survival. Obviously. If every country in the world is preparing for war – – and they are: the unenlightened countries are buying armaments from the enlightened countries, those who are highly civilised like Britain, France, America and so on, they are supplying armaments right and left, to everybody, because in industry it is becoming necessary to supply arms – their economy depends on it. So the continuity of war and destruction is guaranteed.

And what is the future of all of us? Not only of us, but of the coming generation, your children? It is really a very frightening world. You may talk about all the rest of the things we have talked about – gurus and followers and all that silly stuff – but this is a tremendous problem. If we go on as we are going on, we are bound to end up in a catastrophe of some kind or other. And if you accept that, it is all right. If that is what you want, it is perfectly all right. But if you say that is totally wrong, it is totally unholy to kill another, for whatever cause, for whatever reason – for your honour, for whatever reason, to kill another is the denial of the most holy. (Dog barks) That dog agrees!

So what is one to do? It is really a very serious question. What are you going to do? Because whatever we do is going to supply, help armaments. And the politicians know all this. And the politicians’ function is to keep isolation going: ‘My country first.’ They have no global relationship. They have no idea of that: that we can only exist on this earth when we treat the earth as ours, all of ours, not British, French, German and all the rest of it.

Now, you perhaps and we realise this. Then will it affect the whole consciousness of mankind if you and I really, deeply do not belong to any group, to any nation, to any sect? Will that affect the whole of the world? Of course, if all of us in this hall, in this tent, really felt this, naturally it would affect the whole of consciousness, even of the politicians.

Krishnamurti in Saanen 1982, Question and Answer Meeting 3

Part 2

Is There Such Thing as Tomorrow?

You see a beautiful house, a beautiful woman, a nice man, you see the hills and the glory of the earth. When you observe, there is tremendous sensation if you are at all watching. And then thought comes along and says, ‘Yes, how marvellous!’ From that begins the image-making, the picture-making, the imagination. Now, is it possible to have this complete sensation, which is normal, healthy, sane, and not let thought seep in? When thought seeps in, you have the projection of tomorrow. I don’t know if you see that. You see something extraordinarily beautiful, and all your senses are awake. Then thought comes along and says, ‘I must have it tomorrow’ – which is the image-making, the pleasure, the delight of something beautiful. Thought has taken over, created an image, and therefore there is tomorrow. So the ‘tomorrow’ is the process of time, which is thought. So in the psyche, there is only sensation, no tomorrow.

I wonder if you see this. This a little bit complex. Let me explain it more.

We live in the hope of tomorrow. Tomorrow to us is tremendously important, as yesterday, the images of yesterday – all that is as important, the past, as tomorrow. So we live in the past, and tomorrow becomes tremendously significant. So psychologically we are saying: what is tomorrow? There is tomorrow, which is Friday – we have to do certain things. But psychologically we are asking: what is tomorrow? Tomorrow is the directive. Please do see the beauty of this. Tomorrow is the directive, the end, the goal, and so tomorrow psychologically assumes a great significance. And psychologically, inwardly, the tomorrow is the movement of thought in time; movement of thought as a material process in time. Tomorrow is a measurement. Where there is a measurement, there must be illusion.

Oh, come on! I am afraid you don’t see all this.

Look, measurement means comparing, doesn’t it? I am not so beautiful as you are. I am not so intelligent as you are. I want to be as intelligent as you are – which is measurement. Comparison is measurement. So thought is a process of comparison. So thought is measurement. Which is, the directive from ‘what is’ to ‘what should be’.

Now, is there such thing as tomorrow in the psychological world? If I live with tomorrow then it is a mechanistic process because thought has created tomorrow psychologically. That may be an illusion altogether. So I must, as a human being, find out because that is the pattern, that is conditioning, that is the accepted norm of existence – which may be totally absurd. I am concerned as a human being with radical transformation, and we are examining the will, the will in action. And will in action means tomorrow, the directive. And is there such thing as tomorrow, psychologically, apart from biologically, physically?

I need time; there is tomorrow. If I need to learn a language, if I have to learn to drive a car, and so on and so on. So is there a tomorrow? There is no tomorrow when there is only sensation, and no image and no thought.

I wonder if you capture it? Do you get it?

You see people, especially so-called religious people, the monks throughout the world, have said, ‘Sensation is totally wrong; control it because sensation leads to desire, and desire means the woman or the man. God cannot accept a man who has desire’ – you know, you have heard all this stuff put in different words. ‘Therefore suppress desire, therefore control all your sensations because if you don’t, you are in the devil’s hands.’ So we are saying something quite opposite, which is, sensation is natural. Sensation must exist – does exist; it is a fact. If you don’t have your sensations fully alert, you are paralysed. You may be paralysed because we have learned the art of suppression.

So there are all your sensations. When the sensations meet the movement of thought, then there is tomorrow because thought is a fragment. Thought is a fragment because it is based on yesterday’s memory. Thought is never whole. So sensation totally is whole; therefore there is no tomorrow.

Do you understand all this? No, don’t agree with me – please do it. See what happens when you do look at those hills, at anything. Look at it with all your senses fully awakened – senses, not only your brain or mind because mind is part of the sensations – with all your sensations. Then you will see thought comes along, and the image making begins, and tomorrow will happen. But when there is only complete sensation, without the movement of thought, there is only now, no tomorrow.

Krishnamurti in Saanen 1976, Talk 3

Part 3

The Future Is Now

Question: Would you enlarge on what you mean by saying that the future is now? Is it that the seeds of the future are contained in the present, or that the future already fully exists on a different time scale?

Krishnamurti: We certainly vary our questions, don’t we! This is a very complicated question, like all human problems.

Apart from scientific fiction and the theories which the scientists have about time as a series of movements and so on, apart from the demand that the future be comfortable, safe and happy, and all the rest of it, what is time? Can we go into this together? Together – not just I speak, the speaker says something and you agree and throw it out. This requires really very serious inquiry.

What is time? You can see time as a movement from point to point. To go from here to your house, to your home, there is a distance to be covered which will take time. That is obvious. And also time is the whole movement of the past, in which is implied all the traditions, accumulated traditions handed down from one generation to another – their knowledge, their books, how to play the violin and so on – the whole movement of this enormous past is there, of which we are. We are the past. The past being memories. You are the whole movement of memory now. That is a fact. So you are a bundle of memories. Whether you like it or not, that is a fact. Without those memories, pleasant, unpleasant, remarkable, satisfying, fulfilling – all those memories are in the present – and without those memories, you would not exist. You may exist as a vegetable. No, probably trees have their own way of responding, but we won’t go into that.

So you are, we are, each one of us is memories. Which is the whole process of accumulation of knowledge, responses, reactions, judgements, condemnation, acceptance, and so on – this whole process which has brought about, not only biologically, subjectively – is what we are now. We are, after forty, fifty thousand years, all those centuries, that vast sense of time, is now. Because you are that. That is clear, isn’t it? And that is the future if there is no break. That is simple, surely.

A very simple example: tribalism has existed from the beginning of time. ‘I belong to that tribe.’ It still exists in Africa, and it exists in every country, glorified as nationalism. It is still tribalism. And that tribalism is dividing people, holding on to one’s beliefs and all the rest of it. So, that is, the whole accumulation of a group or a tribe or a nation or a community, is the past. And if you consider after fifty thousand years of human existence on this marvellous earth, we are about the same. Psychologically, subjectively, inwardly, we are still very, very, very primitive. You may pick up a telephone and talk to the other end of the world, but what you say is still rather primitive. Either it is business, or cursing somebody, or talking to somebody and saying, ‘Darling, how are you?’ It is the same process that has been going on. Much more difficult in past centuries, and now it can be done in a second.

So the past is now, is what we are, and what we are after forty thousand years. How extraordinarily that time has not changed us. Be honest to oneself. We have made so-called progress technologically, immense progress, incredible, but inwardly we are somewhat very, very little, on the frills perhaps, but at the core we are barbarous, primitive, killing each other, and all the rest of it.

So time – please listen – has not changed us. Do we see this? So evolution has not changed the psyche. On the contrary, it is making it more and more strong. The psyche being the whole accumulation of memories – racial, national, tribal, religious divisions. The ancient Sumerians, the ancient Hindus – they never called them Hindus but it doesn’t matter – and the Egyptians, and from those forty or fifty thousand years, we are still, after evolving, primitive.

Time is going on. Time is a movement. So the future is what we are now. We will have wars. Now we know how to kill millions of people at one drop. We hate each other, we compete with each other, we are angry with each other, seeking sexual fulfilment, or different forms of fulfilment. They have done this, and we are still at it. And the future is still what we are now. So the future is now – not the seeds of it but the actuality of it.

So is it possible to radically change all that? Not allowing time at all. You understand my question? Time has not changed us. Evolution has not changed us. Different organisations have not changed us. Different religions have not changed us. Suffering has not changed us. And we say time will help us to change. I am coming to that. Give me a little time! A little time!

So we are saying, if one looks to time, that is tomorrow, to bring about a change, then it is a futile hope. That is clear. Therefore you have to inquire: what is change? Is change in terms of the future? Is change something from that, which is to something else? Please go into it. I am this, I will be that. ‘I will be that’ means future, brought about by desire, which is the essence of will. Desire is the essence of will. So you say, ‘I will do something later,’ ‘I will change gradually,’ ‘I hope to become noble,’ ‘I will get rid of my opinions’ – you follow? All that implies that you are looking to time to change. So we are asking: what is change in which there is no time? The moment I say to myself, ‘I will change,’ I have already admitted the future. ‘I will become,’ ‘I will change,’ ‘I will flower,’ ‘I will love’ – all that admits time, and time has not changed us. We have evolved for fifty thousand years and that vast space and experience has no deep effect on us at all.

So is there a total ending of something which has been, now? You understand what I am saying? Wait – suppose I am greedy – you know what that means; of course everybody does – greedy, envious – perhaps envy is a better word. I am envious. I can rationalise it, say it is natural, it is cultural, it is part of the commercial process of gaining and losing – production, and all that stuff. So I can say, ‘I am greedy’ – and man has been greedy from the beginning of time. And time has not changed me at all. Through greed we have created this appalling society, both commercially and through envy, which is comparison. We have destroyed each other. This is a fact. And can that envy end instantly, not ‘I will, gradually…’? You understand my question? Have I made the question clear? Is there an ending – ending – and not a continuity? A continuity implies time.

So can one not allow time at all to enter into the world of change? That change means ending. Ending, not knowing what will happen because what might happen is still hope, time and so on. Is it possible to end envy instantly, completely, so that it never exists anymore? Yes sir! That is why it is very important to understand the nature of time.

Time is a movement, like thought. And time is necessary to learn a language, to acquire a skill. Time is necessary to go to the moon. Time is necessary to put a warship together, or a dynamo or a motor. But psychologically, subjectively, if we think in terms of time and change, there will be never change. See what is happening: you have had the League of Nations at one time, now you have United Nations. Another blow up will be another kind of… another United Nations, but the same process, reorganising the same misery in different forms.

So is it possible not to have tomorrow? To look at life, to live with that life which has no tomorrow at all.

Krishnamurti at Brockwood Park in 1984, Question and Answer Meeting 2

Part 4

Action Without a Future

So when we realise all time is now – what a marvellous truth – then what is action? What is our present action? We must begin with the actual to find out what real action is, which has no future.

What is our present action? Action, the doing, is either based on memory, the past – memory which has been accumulated through various experiments, experiences, so the past dictates action – or the future dictates the action, the ideal, the theoretical concept of the communists, dialecticism, you know, all that. So action is according to the past memories, past remembrances, past hates, past dislikes, past prejudices, past personal attitudes. That is all the past. According to that past, there is action, whether in the scientific world or in the psychological world. Action in the scientific world is invention. Do you understand? Are we together in all this, or am I going off by myself?

There is a collection of top scientists in a certain place, Los Alamos in New Mexico in America. They invited the speaker to talk to them. There were seven hundred top scientists of America creating all the things for war. They asked: what is creation in science? You understand? What is creation in science? I said there is no creation in science, there is only invention. We will go into that apart, but what the speaker wants to explain is that the past is so formidable, so strong that it guides, controls, shapes our action. Or you have a future ideal, future theories, and you act according to those theories as approximatingly as possible. Past memories and the future theories, ideals, concepts, dogmas, faith. So action is based on these two principles. Clear? Of course, this is simple. But when one realises that all action is now, there is no future action. Because the future is now.

I must go over it. If that is not clear that all time is now, contained in the now… You agreed two minutes ago – at least you shook your heads, some of you, indicating that you were following. You saw the fact of it. Now if there is no future, because the future is now and the past is now, then what is action? We said action as we know it now is based on the past – memories, regrets, guilt, experience, which is all knowledge, or the future, the ideal, the concepts, theories, faiths – you act according to that. So you are acting according to the past or to the future. But the past and the future are now. So what is action?

You understand my question? Please don’t give up – you have to exercise your brain, your intellect, your energy to find out, your passion to find out.

What is action? What is action when all time is now? What is your answer? What is your deep, truthful answer? When the brain – listen to it – when the brain is conditioned to act according to the past or to the future, and when the truth is all time, is now, therefore there is no future, but now. The future is contained in the now, and the past is contained in the now. So what is action?

I can tell you, but you see you are waiting for me to tell you. Too bad – you are not really going into it. You are waiting for somebody to explain all this. Suppose there was nobody to explain to you, what would you do? You have seen the truth of something – the truth that all time, the past, the future, is in the now. You see it. And you meet a man who says, ‘Look, what is action?’ and leaves you. And you have to find out because when once you have seen the truth that all time is now, that truth will never leave you. You understand? It is like a thorn, like an arrow in your body that will not be extracted, pulled out. So you have to answer it. And you won’t answer it because you are incapable of answering it, because your brain is conditioned to the past action, action according to the past, or according to the future. So one has to tackle that problem first: whether the brain can be free from the past.

Careful now. I need memory to function in the world. To go to my office, to work in the laboratory or in a factory, or some skill, I need a great deal of time, a great deal of knowledge. There, there is a becoming there: I don’t know but I will know. That same movement is extended, that same thought is extended into the psychological world. I am this, I will be that. Now you perhaps have seen for yourself very clearly, the truth that all time is now. And the speaker says: find out what is action. Your action has been according to the past memories, past training, past experience, which has conditioned the brain, and also conditioned the brain to the future idea, ideal, concept: I must be, and so on. Can the brain be free of these two?

You understand? Are you following all this? You understand my question?

Can the brain, which has been conditioned to act according to past memories, or thought has projected a concept, an ideal, a theory, according to which you are acting. The brain is conditioned that way. Can the brain be free of that? Otherwise you will never find out what action now is. I can, or somebody can explain it, but it won’t be the depth of your own understanding. I’ll explain it. I’ll go into it. This will be a verbal explanation, naturally – it won’t be something you yourself have discovered, and therefore truth and therefore live according to it.

We have to inquire into what is perception, seeing, perceiving. One perceives the fact actually that all time is now. That is a fact, irrevocable fact. No other clever man comes along and says, ‘It is not like that.’ If what you have discovered is truth, then you can meet any challenge. You won’t be bowled over.

Questioner: I don’t know the answer but I can feel…

Krishnamurti: Listen, you can ask your question, write it down and we will answer it. Not now. I hope you don’t mind.

What is action, which is totally independent of the past and the future? What is action which is not dependent on the past or the future? Is there an action which is so complete now, not fragmented? That is my action. Human action is based on the past or the future, therefore it is fragmented. It is broken up. So we are asking: is there an action which is totally free of fragmentation? I don’t know if you see the beauty of the question itself. Therefore there is… the speaker says there is such an action. And that action is to see the seeing is the doing. There is no interval of time between the seeing, perceiving, understanding and the doing. The understanding, perceiving, the seeing, is action itself.

Say for instance – I am working so hard, come on! – one perceives very clearly, objectively, without any bias, that all organised religions throughout the world, all of them are based on superstition, faith, belief, tradition. Obviously. With their various forms of rituals, dresses, fancy dresses, and so on and so on and so on, you see that is put together by thought. Whether the ancient thought or present thought, it is put together by thought. Therefore as thought being limited, it must be limited. Because thought – I will briefly explain it to you – thought is the outcome of memory. Memory is part of knowledge. Knowledge is the outcome of experience. There is no complete knowledge. In the scientific world they are adding knowledge, bit by bit by bit. A thousand people, or a hundred thousand people are adding to it, day after day, day after day. Therefore ‘the more’ is limited. So experience is limited. The experience of a man who says, ‘I have reached God,’ is limited.

So knowledge, whether now or in the future, is limited. Therefore thought is limited. So anything that thought has put together both externally or inwardly is limited. So action based on thought is limited. Get it? Hear it for the first time for God’s sake. All action, if it is based on thought, will always be limited. Therefore that which is limited must invariably create conflict. If I am thinking about myself all day long, as most people do, it is a very small affair – ‘I must practise, I must meditate, I must not do this, I must not do that, I must seek, I must have no conflict, I must meditate’ – it is all very self-centred activity and therefore it is very limited.

So thought is limited. Is there an action which is not based on thought? Thought is the past – all the memories, all the tradition, all that. And thought also has projected the future, the ideal, the communist theories. It is still limited. So if we are acting according to the past or the future, it is still limited, therefore breeding enormous conflict and confusion. Obviously. So is there an action which is not based on the past or the future, because all time is now? Is there an action which is so complete now? Which means, seeing something clearly is to act instantly.

I see very clearly, the speaker sees very clearly to belong to any organisation, especially spiritual organisations, is utterly detrimental, limited, therefore don’t belong to anything. Yes sirs. Because to belong to something gives us security. We want to feel safe. The guru knows, I don’t, therefore I will follow him. It is a form of self deception, insecurity. So one perceives that – and instant action. The whole thing – you are free of the whole so-called spiritual leadership. That requires – you understand, it is not strength but mere perception of seeing ‘what is’.

Krishnamurti in Saanen 1984, Talk 1

Part 5

There Are Only Two Possibilities Left for Us

Some of you perhaps have heard of genetic engineering. That is, man has not progressed, evolved to the same extent as the technological efforts. So the genetic experts say that they assume a factor, a creative element handed down from father to offspring, certain tendencies, qualities. This is what is called in part of the beginning of engineering, genetic engineering – they are saying since man, you, have not changed fundamentally for thousands of years, perhaps – and they assume – man can be changed through genetic interference. We are putting it very, very briefly. It is a very complex question which we are not going to discuss, but we must understand what is going on. That as human beings have not deeply changed their characteristics, their way of life, their violence, they are hoping through certain chemicals and so on to change the genes. The factors of that create certain characteristics, from the father to the son.

And also we should consider what is happening in the computer world. We cannot neglect all this – the genetic engineering and what is happening in the computer world. They are trying, perhaps successfully, or not, to create a mechanical intelligence, ultimate intelligence through the computer which will then think much more rapidly, more accurately and inform to the robots what they should do. This is happening already. And they are trying, as we have talked to others about this matter, they are trying to bring about a machine, a computer which has ultimate intelligence.

So there is on the one side, genetic engineering; on the other the computer taking, acting, as human beings, inventing generation after generation of computer, improving and so on – I won’t go into all that.

So what is going to happen to the human mind? You understand? What is going to happen to us when the computer can do almost everything that we do? It can meditate, it can invent gods, much better gods than yours, it can inform, educate your children far better than the present teachers and educators, and it will create a great deal of leisure for man.

One has seen in Japan on a television, a computer instructing a robot how to build a car, and the robot made some mistake. The whole machinery stopped and the computer told him what went wrong, and the computer did the right thing, and the whole thing started again. You are understanding the nature of all this, the significance of all this? That is, what is going to happen to our minds when the computer and genetic engineering are rapidly advancing? What is going to happen to us? We will have more leisure – the computer plus the robot will do a great many things that we are doing now in factories, in offices and so on. Then man will have leisure. And how will he use that leisure? You understand? Please go into this with me for a while. If the computer can outthink you, remember far more than you do, calculate with such astonishing speed, and gives you leisure, either you pursue the path of pleasure which is entertainment – cinema, religious entertainments, you know, all the industry of entertainment, including gurus – and either entertainment or psychological search, seek out inwardly and find out for oneself a tremendous area that is beyond all thought. These are the only two possibilities left for us: entertainment or delving into the whole structure of the psyche and acting.

Krishnamurti in Bombay 1983, Talk 4

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