Krishnamurti on Time
This week’s episode on Time has four sections.
The first extract (2:10) is from Krishnamurti’s first talk in Rajghat 1984, titled ‘The future is now’.
The second extract (12:30) is from the third talk in Ojai 1980, titled ‘Your consciousness is the essence of time’.
The third extract (28:36) is from the forth talk at Brockwood 1973, titled ‘Thought is time as movement’.
The final extract this week (51:19) is from the sixth talk in Saanen 1978, titled ‘When you understand death, time has come to an end’.
The Future Is Now
Time is yesterday, time is now, time is the future. So time is a movement from the past to the present to the future. So time is a series of movements. So, evolution is time. And we have lived on this earth for 50,000 years as homo sapiens, man, and during that long duration of 50,000 years, we have been what we have in the past now, slightly modified. They were selfish then, we are selfish now. Right? You don’t think about all this. So, what is the past?
What is the past? All your memories, isn’t it? All that you have acquired, all that you have felt, all the things that have hurt you, biologically as well as psychologically. The past is memory, isn’t it? You are quite sure? The past is your father, your mother, your grandmother, your grandfather, up and up and up (or down and down, if you like.) The past is all that accumulated memory, of whole race, the community, the family, someone in the family – it’s all that memory, which includes tradition, knowledge, practice, skill and all that. That is the past. And what is the present? Is not the present modified past? No? You don’t think so? Tell me what the present is.
Q: Memory is the past.
K: Yes, modified. I said that. The past meeting the present, the challenge, modifies itself – right? – or controls the present and goes on. So the past modifies itself in the present and goes on. So the past goes on modifying itself all the time, but it is still the past. Right? No? The past modifying itself becomes the future. The future therefore is now, because the past, modified itself, is the future. So the future is now. No?
Look, one is envious, you might modify… Suppose I am envious because you have a better house, better car, better position – I am envious of you and I struggle with it. And tomorrow I will still be envious. No? Unless I change now, tomorrow is still envy. Right? So tomorrow is now unless I change.
Q: Change is possible in the present.
K: Only in the present, not in the future.
Q: Because the past is gone then, it is not in our hands.
K: Sir, you are the past, aren’t you? You have been to college or university or something or other – all your skill. If you are a first-class carpenter – not you, sirs; you all are bureaucrats or business people or something or other – if I want to be a good carpenter, I apprentice myself to a master carpenter, and I have to learn the quality of the wood, the grain, the beauty of the wood, and I have to learn how to use the instruments I have on the wood. That is acquiring knowledge, which becomes memory, and I am a carpenter then. As you, as a businessman or government official, accumulate. So you are the past. There is no difficulty in this; I don’t know why you are resisting it. You may think you are God – that is all right also. That is also past. That is part of your tradition. So you are the past. And that past meets this challenge which I am challenging you now, and says ‘yes, maybe, maybe’. And tomorrow you will be like this unless you change now. So the future is now.
Q: How do I know the future? I don’t know whether I will be envious tomorrow or not, I don’t know.
K: You will be, unless you have an accident. You are going home. You have your things at home. That is just a theory. You will be here tomorrow unless you have an accident – I hope you don’t. But you know the future because what you are now is the future. Of course. I know you don’t like this. The future is in the present. Right? I am envious now and I will be envious tomorrow. Tomorrow is the future, and if I am envious now I will be envious tomorrow. But if I stop envy… Therefore tomorrow is now. For God’s sake, see this. So is it possible to end envy now? You don’t think about these things.
I am violent now, as most human beings are violent. We talk about peace and all that blah, all that nonsense, but human beings are very violent. It is so. There is no question about it. Now, non-violence is in the future. Because you are violent now, therefore, non-violence has no meaning. Can you stop violence now? If you don’t stop it now, tomorrow you will be violent. So tomorrow is now. So is it possible to end time, which is tomorrow, now? I am violent – if I cannot end violence instantly now, I will be violent tomorrow, slightly modified, but I will still be violent. And humanity has said, we’ll gradually become less violent – which is nonsense. Are you surprised at this? So can you end everything now?
Say you are attached, as you are, attached to your belief, to your gods, to your family – attached, you know, holding on. If you are attached today, you will be attached tomorrow, naturally. Unless death comes and says, ‘Sorry, old boy, that’s the end of it.’ I know you believe in reincarnation; that is a different matter. But even death comes and says, ‘Sorry, you can’t carry things with you. You have to drop it.’ And so, can you drop attachment now, be utterly free of attachment, to your belief, to your gods, to everything you are attached to? Otherwise tomorrow you will still be attached. So change is not through gradation, through gradual time. Change is instant, immediate. That is freedom; not to achieve freedom next life or two years later.
This requires a great deal of application to your daily life. Therefore your ideas, your theories, your ideals have no meaning. You believe in non-violence, don’t you, but you are terribly violent people. So what does belief in an ideal matter at all? It has no meaning. What has meaning is what you are now, and that can be changed instantly. Not tomorrow, because tomorrow is now.
Krishnamurti at Rajghat 1984, Talk 1
Your Consciousness Is the Essence of Time
Thought is movement in time. Thought is based on memory, which is the past; the past, with all its conclusions, ideas, beliefs, images. From that past, the present. The past meets the present and the future. There’s a constant modification going on. That is time. There is not only chronological time by the watch, night and day, but also there is psychological time. ‘I will be.’ When you say, ‘I will be,’ that is time. ‘I must become something.’ That is time. I am not good but I will be good. That is time. And time is also thought. Time as day and night, time when you have to catch the bus, time to acquire knowledge, time to learn a language, time to acquire any kind of technological knowledge to act skilfully to earn a livelihood – all that requires time. Psychologically, inwardly, we also have this idea of time: I am not but I will be. I am confused, I will go to an analyst who will help me. Time. So, psychologically we have cultivated this idea of time.
So time is a movement from here to there. Psychologically also it is a movement from here to there. So thought is time. This is important to understand because our brain is the essence of time and we have functioned psychologically in that pattern. I will have pleasure. I remember being happy, having a marvellous experience, this or that, and I must have more. This constant becoming is time. Now we’re asking, is that an actuality or a fiction, an illusion, psychologically? (Are you getting tired? This is too much, probably, all this.)
We are saying time is necessary in the acquisition of knowledge of various kinds. Now, is time necessary to end something, psychologically? That is, psychologically I have fear. Most human beings have fear, and they have had this fear psychologically probably from the very beginning of time, from the very beginning of psychological time. And we haven’t resolved it. Not only are we frightened of physical pain and so on, but psychologically also we have great fears, of getting hurt, getting bruised, wounded, psychologically, because from childhood we have been hurt, and so on. So our brain functions in time, and so it has never resolved any of the problems. If I say to myself, ‘I will get over my fear,’ actually what takes place is that I’m still frightened at the end of it. I exercise will; I control it, escape from it, and so on and so on, and so I never… human beings have never resolved this problem of fear. And we are saying, as long as we think in patterns of time, psychologically, fear will continue. So, we are asking: can this thing called fear be ended immediately?
Now let me take another example. Fear is rather a complex problem which we’ll go into in another talk. Take for instance dependence, psychological dependence. Human beings have cultivated this because they are afraid to be alone, they are afraid to be lonely, they want comfort, they feel sustained if they depend on somebody. Because in themselves they are insufficient, psychologically, therefore clinging to somebody, or to a religious image, or a personal image and so on, clinging to somebody.
Now, that has been the pattern of the human mind, cultivated through time. The consequences of dependence are fear, anxiety, jealousy, hatred, antagonism – all that follows. In that pattern we have lived. Now, to end that pattern immediately is the question, because the moment you admit time, ‘I will end it,’ you have admitted moving away from the fact. Right? The fact is that one is dependent. Now, without admitting time, ‘I will get over it,’ end it, immediately, you have broken the pattern of time.
Are you are following this? Are you working as hard as I am working for you? That is, observe how you are dependent on another psychologically. All the remembrance, all the pictures, the images and so on – dependent. And our brain has been used to the pattern of time because it has grown with time. So it has exercised an act of will – ‘I will’ – and that means avoiding the fact. Now, when one understands, not intellectually or verbally but actually sees the fact, how the brain works in time and therefore never resolves, and you see the urgency of not depending, it is ended. When you end something, a new thing begins.
Are we thinking together or are you merely listening to the talk of a speaker and then saying, ‘Yes, I don’t quite understand what he’s talking about; he talks about this and that’? Which means you really are not thinking about the problem, which is your problem, the problem of humanity, the problem which is to bring about a totally different kind of society.
So is it possible to end your antagonism, your hatred, your jealousy, immediately, so that the brain has broken the pattern and can think and act and look and observe totally differently? I wonder if you get this. This is meditation, not all the phoney stuff that has been talked about. To meditate, which means to observe how your mind operates, not what the psychologists have told you how your mind works – Freud and all the rest of the gang – but to observe for yourself because you are responsible for yourself, for your body, for your mind, for your thoughts. So can you observe the whole content of your consciousness? You understand? Am I making this too difficult, sirs? I don’t know, would you tell me a little bit? Am I making this too difficult? Your consciousness is full of the things that thought has created. Right? Your anxieties, your beliefs, your gods, your saviours, your Krishna’s – you follow? All that has been created by thought. So your consciousness is the essence of time. By gosh, do you get it? And we are living, functioning, acting in that. And therefore there is never a radical, psychological change. And therefore society can never be good. Goodness is not the opposite of bad. Right? If it is, it is not good. Love is not the opposite of hate. Right? If it is, it is still hate.
Krishnamurti in Ojai 1980, Talk 3
Thought Is Time as Movement
Unless time has a stop, the mind cannot perceive anything sacred, anything new. So we must inquire whether thought has any relationship to time, and what time is, because it is very important.
There is obviously the time by the watch, yesterday, today and tomorrow. Going from here to there, planning to do certain things, learning a language, learning how to drive a car, to do any technological work, you must have time. You must have time to do yoga properly. You know what that word means, which you all practise? Some of you do, I see you doing some crazy things under the trees (Laughter) – do you know what that word means? It means to join – yoking together, yoking an ox, two oxen – to join. I am sure it means something entirely different because they have translated as joining the body and the soul, the Atman, the higher self, and the lower self, and to do that you must do proper breathing, exercises – you know all that business. A false conception of division and then the joining – you understand? And it may mean really a sense of total harmony.
So we are investigating what time is, because without understanding that, if the mind is not free of time, it cannot possibly look into something which is timeless, which may be sacred. So the mind must clearly understand what time is. All this is meditation – you understand? – not just one part, the whole of this morning’s talk is the movement in meditation. What is time, apart from chronological time? Time is movement, from here to there, psychologically, as well as physically from here to that house. So the movement between this and that is time. The space between this and that, the covering of that is time, the movement to that is time. So all movement is time: physically, going from here to Paris, New York, or wherever you will, requires time, and also psychologically to change ‘what is’, into ‘what should be’ requires time, the movement – at least we think so. So time is movement in space, created by thought as ‘this’ and achieving ‘that’. Thought then is time; thought is movement in time. Does this mean anything to any of you? We are journeying together? I’ll go on, I won’t ask anymore.
Please, this requires tremendous attention, care, a sense of non-personal, non-pleasurable… where desire doesn’t enter into it at all. That requires great care, and that care brings its own order, which is its own discipline.
So thought is movement between ‘what is’ and ‘what should be’. Thought is time to cover that space, and as long as there is the division between ‘this’ and ‘that’ psychologically, the movement is time of thought. So thought is time as movement. Right? And is there time as movement – as thought – when there is only observation of ‘what is’? Which is, the observation as the observer and the observed; not as the observer and the observed but only the observation, without the movement of going beyond ‘what is’. Are you getting this? It is very important for the mind to understand this because thought can create the most marvellous images of that which is sacred and holy, which all religions have done. All religions are based on thought. All religions are the organisation of thought, in belief, in dogma, in ritual. So unless there is complete understanding of this thought as time and movement, the mind cannot possibly go beyond itself.
As we said, we are trained, educated, drilled into changing ‘what is’ into ‘what should be’ – the ideal. And the word ‘ideal’ comes from the word ‘idea’ which means to see. Only that, not draw an abstraction from what you see, but actually remain with what you see. So we are trained to change ‘what is’ into ‘what should be’. That training is the movement of thought to cover the space between ‘what is’ and ‘what should be’, and that takes time. That whole movement of thought in space is the time necessary to change ‘what is’ into ‘what should be’. The observer is the observed, therefore there is nothing to change. Because there is only ‘what is’.
The observer doesn’t know what to do with ‘what is’, therefore he tries various methods to change ‘what is’, controls ‘what is’, tries to suppress actually ‘what is’, but the observer is the observed, the ‘what is’ is the observer, like anger, jealousy. Jealousy is also the observer. There isn’t jealousy separate from the observer – both are one. So when there is no movement to change ‘what is’, movement as thought in time, when thought perceives that there is no possibility of changing ‘what is’, then that which is ‘what is’ ceases entirely because the observer is the observed. You go into this very deeply, you will see yourself. It is really quite simple.
I dislike someone, so the dislike is different from me and the ‘you’. The entity that dislikes is dislike itself, it is not separate, and when thought says, ‘I must get over my dislike,’ then it is movement in time to get over that which actually is, which is created by thought. So the observer, the entity and the thing called dislike are the same, therefore there is complete immobility. Which is not the immobility of staticism. It is completely motionless, therefore completely silent.
So time as movement, time as thought, achieving a result, has come totally to an end, therefore action is instantaneous. So the mind has laid the foundation and is free from disorder. Therefore there is the flowering and the beauty of virtue. That is the basis. And in that foundation is the relationship between you and another; in that relationship there is no activity of image; there is only relationship, not the image adjusting itself to the other image. And there is only ‘what is’, not the changing of ‘what is’. The changing of ‘what is’, or transforming of ‘what is’, is the movement of thought in time.
Then, when you have come to that point, the mind and the brain cells also become totally still. The brain which holds the memories, experiences and knowledge can and must function in the field of the known. But now the mind, that brain, is free from the activity of time and thought. Then the mind is completely still. All this takes place without effort. All this must take place without any sense of discipline or control – all that belongs to disorder.
You know, what we are saying is something that is totally different from what your gurus say, your masters, your Zen philosophy and all that; because in this there is no authority, there is no following another. Because if you follow somebody you are not only destroying yourself but also the other. Therefore a religious mind has no authority whatsoever. But it has got intelligence and it applies that intelligence. In the world of action there is the authority of the doctor, the scientist, the man who teaches you how to drive. Otherwise, there is no authority, there is no guru.
So the mind then – if you have gone as deeply as that – then the mind having established order in relationship – and that order is virtue – then understanding the whole complex disorder of our lives, of our daily lives, and in the comprehension, in the awareness of that disorder in which there is no choice, out of that comes the beauty of virtue, which is not cultivated, which is not brought about by thought. Therefore that virtue is love and order, and if the mind has established that with deep roots, which is immovable, unchangeable, then you can inquire into this whole movement of time, as we somewhat did. Then the mind is completely still. There is no observer, there is no experiencer, there is no thinker.
And, coming to that point, there are various forms of sensory and extra sensory perceptions, clairvoyance, healing – all kinds of things take place – but they are all secondary issues. And a mind that is really concerned in the discovery of what is truth, what is sacred, will never touch all that, because they are secondary issues.
So the mind then is free to observe. Then there is that thing which man has sought through centuries – the unnameable, the timeless – and no description, no verbal expression of it. The image that is created by thought completely and utterly ceases – there is no entity that wants to express it in words. The mind, your mind can only discover, or come upon it, when you have this strange thing called love and compassion – not only for your neighbour but to the animal, to the trees, to everything. Then such a mind itself becomes sacred.
Krishnamurti at Brockwood Park 1973, Talk 4
When You Understand Death, Time Has Come to an End
So if we end the way we are living, then there is a totally different beginning. Not ‘I’ begin totally differently, because when you left attachment completely there was no ‘I’ beginning, there was a state of total freedom from a particular thing, and in that freedom there was a great sense of release, a great sense of freedom, a totally new beginning without the anchors of attachment.
So can you end what you call the living – the worries, the problems – ending the problem, never to carry it a single minute over, because if you have a problem and you carry it over, over and over and over, day after day for another year, that deteriorates the brain. So we are asking if you end the way one lives now there is a new beginning without the ‘me’. And then death has no meaning. Then you don’t ask what happens after your life. Right? Because you have ended the thing that you call living, which is me, with all my problems, my anxieties, my worries, my pride. Will you do it? Or say, ‘Yes, it is a marvellous idea,’ and carry on your daily, monotonous, useless life?
When you understand the full meaning of death and the ending of what it signifies, time as such has come to an end. I am just talking to myself, unless you do it. Time in the sense of non-movement of thought. And this whole inquiry is really a profound meditation – not sitting cross-legged and doing all kinds of silly stuff – because then in the total ending, creation takes place. Then there is really an extraordinary sense of tremendous passion and energy, which is not a reward.
Krishnamurti in Saanen 1978, Talk 6