Sydney 6th Public Talk 26th November, 1955
I would like this evening to discuss the problem of time, for if we could really understand this problem I think it would answer many of our questions and probably put a stop totally to this endless desire to find, this urge to discover what is true. To me the search for truth through time has no meaning, and if we could understand the desire, the drive to find, then perhaps we should be able to look at the problem of time in a different way altogether.
We think that there is a gap or an interval between what is and what should be, between the ugly and the beautiful, and that time is necessary to achieve that which is beautiful, that which is true; so our endeavour, our everlasting search is to find a way to bridge this gap. We pursue gurus, teachers, we control ourselves, we accept the most fantastic ideas, all in the hope of bridging the gap, and we think that a system of meditation or the practice of discipline is necessary in order to arrive at that which is the absolute, the real, the true. This is what I would like to go into, and I hope you will discuss it with me after I have talked a little.
Now, we accept this process, do we not? All the religious teachers and the sacred books prescribe it, and all religious endeavour is based on it: I am this, and I must become that. But this process may be entirely false. There may be no gap at all, it may be purely a mental one, a totally unreal division created by the mind in its desire to arrive somewhere, and I think it is very important to understand this. We assume that truth must be achieved through time, through various forms of effort, but this assumption may be utterly illusory, and I think it is. It may be that all we have to do is to perceive the illusion of it, to see, not as a philosophical idea but as a factual reality, that there is no arriving through time, that there is no becoming but only being, and that we cannot be if there is any attempt to achieve an end. To understand, to perceive that, whatever that other state is, it cannot be found or realized through time, we must be capable of thinking very simply and directly, and it seems to me for most of us this is the difficulty. We are so used to making effort to achieve through practice, through discipline, through a process of time, that it has never occurred to us that this effort may be an illusion.
Now, this evening can we think of this problem entirely differently, and not be concerned with the "how"? Can we look at it as though there were no gurus, no teachers, no disciplines, no systems of yoga, and all the rest of it? Can we wipe away all these things and perhaps see directly that which may be called truth, God, or love?
One of our difficulties is that we have accepted this idea that we must make effort through time to achieve, to become, to arrive. Has this idea any reality, or is it merely an illusion? I know that the teachers, the swamis, the yogis, the various philosophers and preachers, have maintained that effort is necessary, the right kind of effort, the right kind of discipline, because they all have an idea, as we also have, that there is a gap between ourselves and reality; or they have said reality is in us, and having accepted it we ask, "How am I to get to that reality?"
So, can we put aside all assumption, all conception of an end to be achieved through effort, through time? If that whole process is seen to be false, then is there not a state of being, a direct, instantaneous perception without any intermediary? This is not to hypnotize oneself, it is not to say, "I am in that state", which has no meaning at all and is merely the outcome of assumptions and traditions.
Can we go into this problem together?
Questioner: Is physical effort also illusory?
Krishnamurti: What do you think, sir?
Questioner: What do you mean by time? Krishnamurti: Please, just a minute. May I suggest that we listen to each other and not merely be occupied with our own particular question. This gentleman asked if physical effort is also illusory. Need he ask that question? If we did not make an effort physically, what would happen? It is obvious, is it not? So, either he was asking the question sarcastically, or he was really inquiring where physical effort ceases and the other thing begins in which there is no effort at all.
Psychologically we are making effort, are we not? Our whole desire is to be something psychologically We want to be virtuous, inwardly peaceful, we want a mind that is silent, a richness of life. That being our psychological urge we consider it essential to make tremendous inward effort, so we become very serious about this effort. If a person makes such an effort and maintains it constantly, if he conforms to an ideal, to a goal, to the so-called purpose of life, and so on, we call him virtuous; but I wonder if such a person is virtuous at all, or is merely pursuing a glorified projection of his own desire?
Now, if one could understand this psychological urge to become, then perhaps physical effort would have quite a different meaning. At present there is conflict between the psychological urge in one direction and physical effort in another. Many of us go to the office every day and are perfectly bored with the whole thing, because psychologically we want to be something else. If there were no psychological urge to be something, then perhaps there would be an integration, a totally different approach to physical activity.
What were you saying, sir?
Questioner: I was interested to find out what you mean by time.
Krishnamurti: Chronological time is obvious; it exists, it is a fact. But I am using this word "time" in the psychological sense, the time which is necessary to close the gap between me and that which I want to be, to cover the distance which the mind has created between me and that which is God, truth, or what you will. Though the mind has invented this psychological time and insists that it is necessary in order to practise various forms of discipline, in order to achieve bliss, heaven, and all the rest of it, I am questioning - and I hope you are also questioning - its validity, I am asking whether or not it is an illusion.
If there were not effort to arrive, to achieve, to become, we are afraid that we would stagnate, vegetate, are we not? But would we? Are we not deteriorating now in making this effort to become something? The actual fact is that through effort, through time we are trying to bridge the gap between what is and what should be, which creates a constant battle within ourselves, and this whole process is based on fear, on imitation, not on direct perception or understanding.
So, one of our difficulties is that the mind, which is obviously the result of time, has invented this gap which perpetuates desire, the will to be something; and seeing that desire is part of the process we try to be desireless, so again there is this effort to be, to become.
Now, I am questioning this whole issue, which we have accepted and according to which we live. To me this way of living has no meaning. There is a state in which there is direct perception without effort, and it is effort that is preventing the coming into being of that state. But if you say, "How am I to live without psychological effort?", then you have not understood the problem at all. The "how" again introduces the problem of time. You may perhaps feel that it is necessary to live with- out effort, that it is the true way to live, and the mind immediately asks, "How am I to achieve that state?" So you are again caught in the process of time.
I do not know if it has happened to you, but there are moments of complete cessation of all effort to be something, and in that state one finds an extraordinary richness of life, a fullness of love. It is not some faraway illusory ideal, but an actuality which is perceived directly, not through time.
You see, this opens up another issue. Is knowledge necessary to that perception? To build a bridge I must have the "know-how", I must be able properly to evaluate certain facts, and so on. If I know how to read I can turn to any book which gives the required facts, but what we do is to accumulate knowledge psychologically. We pursue the various teachers, the wise people, the sages, the saints, the swamis and yogis, hoping that by accumulating knowledge, by gathering virtue, we shall be able to bridge this gap. But is there not a different kind of release, a freedom, not from anything or towards anything, but a freedom in which to be?
Is this all too abstract?
Questioner: We are already free if we realize that we are one with God.
Krishnamurti: Please, sir, that is an assumption, is it not? The mind assumes in order to arrive. A conclusion helps one to struggle towards that conclusion. Whether we say, "I am one with God", or "I am merely the product of environment", it is an assumption according to, which we try to live, You see, that is what I mean by knowledge. You may say, "I am one with life", but what significance has it? This whole layer of assumptions, gathered through one's own effort or from the effort of others, may be totally wrong; so why should one assume anything? Which does not mean that one must have an empty mind.
Questioner: Is there not in all this a certain fear of desire itself?
Krishnamurti: Is there fear of having desire? Let us go into this a little bit. What is fear? Surely, fear comes only in the movement away from what is. I am this and I do not like it, or I do not want you to find out about it, so I am moving away from it. The moving away from it is fear. There is desire, the desire to be rich and a hundred other desires. In fulfilling or in not fulfilling desire there is conflict, there is fear, there is frustration, agony, so we want to avoid the pain which desire brings but hold on to the things of desire which are pleasurable. This is what we try to do, is it not? We want to hold the pleasure which desire brings and avoid the pain which desire also brings. So our conflict is in accepting or clutching the one while avoiding the other, and when we ask, "How am I to be free of sorrow, how am I to be perpetually happy and at peace?", it is essentially the same problem.
Questioner: Sir, will you tell us what is a better method to attain oneness beyond the mind?
Krishnamurti: Please, you are not listening to what I am saying. This desire to be one with everything is the same problem as wanting to be successful in the world, is it not? Instead of saying, "I want to have money and how am I to get it?" you say, "I want to realize God, or truth, or oneness, and how am I to do it?" Now, both are on the same level, one is not superior to or more spiritual than the other, because both have the same motive. Do please listen to this. One thing you call worldly, the other you call unworldly, spiritual, but if you examine the motive, it is essentially the same. The man who pursues money may look up to the man who says, "I want to be spiritual, I want to achieve God", because wanting to be spiritual is considered virtuous, but if you go into this matter seriously you will see that the two pursuits are intrinsically the same. The man who wants a drink and the man who wants God are essentially the same, because they both want something. One goes to the pub and gets a drink immediately, while the other has this time interval, but there is no fundamental difference between them.
This is very serious, it is not a laughing matter. We are all caught in the same struggle. And is it possible to have this extraordinary sense of completeness, of reality, this fullness of love, not tomorrow, not through time, but now? Can there be direct perception, which means awakening to all the false thinking, to the pursuit of the "how" and seeing it as false?
Questioner: Sir, is not time necessary to this perception?
Krishnamurti: Is not time necessary to perceive what is? You see, we all assume this, it is the accepted thing, and this is what I have been questioning. Sirs, this is not a matter of "yes" or "no", of saying "You go your way and I go mine." It is not at all like that. We are trying to understand the problem, we are trying to go into it very deeply. We are not making any assumption, any dogmatic or authoritarian assertion, but are trying to feel out this problem, and we can feel it out only when the heart is not obstinate. You may investigate, but if you are obstinate, that obstinacy prejudices your investigation.
The lady says she feels time is necessary. Why? Do you understand what we mean by time? Not chronological time, but the time created by desire, by our psychological intentions and pursuits. You say that time is necessary to realize truth, and you have accepted it as the inevitable process. But someone comes along and says this process may be unnecessary, it may be utterly false, illusory, so let us find out why you think it is necessary.
Questioner: I think time is necessary for the realization of freedom.
Krishnamurti: Sir, please go into it slowly, deeply, and you will see. Why do we think time is necessary? Is it not because we regard truth as being over there while we are here, so we say this distance, this gap must be covered through time? That is one of the reasons, is it not? The ideal, the what should be is over there, and to arrive at that I must have time, time being the process which will bridge the gap. Are you following all this?
Questioner: No, sir, not quite.
Krishnamurti: Let me put it differently. Where there is the desire to become, psychologically there must be time. As long as I have an ambition, either for worldly things or for the so-called spiritual things, to fulfil that ambition I must have time, must I not? If I want to be rich I must have time. If I want to be good, if I want to realize truth, God, or what you will, I must also have time. Is this a fact or not? It seems such an obvious thing. Surely that is what we are all doing, it is what is actually taking place.
Questioner: Nothing happens without time. Krishnamurti: Sir, this is really a very complex problem, it needs deep investigation, not mere assertions which we reject or accept. That has no value.
Questioner: The mind is free of time altogether, is it not?
Krishnamurti: Is it? Is that not an assumption?
Sirs, what is it we are talking about? What are we trying to find out? You see, we are all suffering, we are living in relationship, which is pain, an endless conflict with society or with another. There is confusion, and a vast conditioning of the mind is going on through so-called education, through the inculcation of various religious and political doctrines; Communism, like Catholicism, completely binds the mind, and the other religions are doing the same thing in a minor form. Seeing the extraordinary discontent of man, his unfathomable loneliness, his sorrow, his struggle, being aware of all this, not just theoretically but actually, one wants to find out if there is not a different way of living altogether. Have you ever asked yourself this question? Have you asked yourself whether a saviour, a teacher, a guru, or a discipline is necessary? Will these things rid man of all sorrow, not ten years later, but now?
Questioner: Time is the crux of the problem, and to me time seems inevitable.
Krishnamurti: It is not a matter of how it seems to you or to me. A hungry man does not think in terms of time, does he: He says, "I am hungry, feed me." But I am afraid most of us are not hungry, so we have invented this thing called time, time in which to arrive. We see this whole process of human misery, conflict, degradation, travail and we want to find a way out of it, or a method to change it, which again implies time. But there may be a totally different state of being which will resolve all this turmoil, and which is not a theoretical abstraction, a mere verbalization or imitation.
Questioner: Why does love appear to be a burden?
Krishnamurti: Is that what we are discussing? Sirs, please, if we can understand at least this one thing, then all these talks will have been worth while and you will not have wasted your time coming here in spite of the rain. Can we really see that there is no teacher, no guru, no discipline, that the guru, the discipline, the method exist only because of the division between what is and what should be? If the mind can perceive the illusion of this whole process, then there is freedom; not freedom to be something or freedom from something, but just freedom.
Questioner: We are not ideal beings. We must learn to love.
Krishnamurti: Sir, is love, goodness, or beauty something to be achieved through effort? Let us think about it simply, shall we? If I am violent, if I hate, how am I to have love in my heart? Will one have love through effort, through time, through saying, "I must practise love, I must be kind to people"? If you have not got love today, through practice will you get it next week or next year? Will this bring about love? Or does love come into being only when the maker of effort ceases, that is, when there is no longer the entity who says, "I am evil and I must be- come good"? The very cognition that "I am evil" and the desire to be good are similar, because they spring from the same source, which is the "me". And can this "me" who says, "I am evil and must be good" come to an end immediately, not through time? This means not being anything, not trying to become something or nothing. If one can really see this, which is a simple fact, have direct perception of it, then everything else is delusion. Then one will find that the desire to make this state permanent is also an illusion, because effort is involved in that desire. If one understands deeply the whole desire for permanency, the urge to continue, sees the illusion of it, then there is quite a different state which is not the opposite.
So, can we have direct perception without introducing time? Surely, this is the only revolution. There is no revolution through time, through this misery of perpetually wanting to be something. That is what every seeker is doing. He is caught in the prison of sorrow, and he keeps on pushing, widening and decorating that prison; but he is still in prison because psychologically he is pursuing the desire to be, to become something. And is it not possible to see the truth of this and so be nothing? It is not a matter of saying, "I must be nothing", and then asking how to be nothing, which is all so grotesque, childish and immature, but of seeing the fact directly, not through time.
Questioner: There is a famous saying, "Be still and know God."
Krishnamurti: You see, that is one of the extraordinary things in life: you have read so much that you are full of other people's knowledge. Someone has said, "Be still and know God", and then the problem arises, how am I to be still? So you are back again in the old game. Be still, full stop. And you can be really still, not verbally but totally, completely, only when you understand this whole process of becoming, when you see as illusion that which now is a reality to you because you have been brought up on it, you have accepted it, and all your endeavour goes towards it. When you see this process of becoming as illusion, the other is, but not as the opposite. It is something entirely different.
Surely, this is not a matter of acceptance. You cannot possibly accept what I am saying. If you do, it has no meaning at all. This demands a direct perception independent of everybody, a complete breaking away from all the traditions, the gurus, the teachers, the systems of yoga, from all the complications of trying to be, to become something. Only then will you find freedom, not to be or to become, which is all self-fulfilment and therefore sorrow, but freedom in which there is love, reality, something which cannot be measured by the mind.
November 26, 1955
Sydney 6th Public Talk 26th November, 1955
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