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The First and Last Freedom

The First and Last Freedom Chapter 20 'Time and Transformation'

I WOULD LIKE TO TALK a little about what is time, because I think the enrichment, the beauty and significance of that which is timeless, of that which is true, can be experienced only when we understand the whole process of time. After all, we are seeking, each in his own way, a sense of happiness, of enrichment. Surely a life that has significance, the riches of true happiness, is not of time. Like love, such a life is timeless; and to understand that which is timeless, we must not approach it through time but rather understand time. We must not utilize time as a means of attaining, realizing, apprehending the timeless. That is what we are doing most of our lives: spending time in trying to grasp that which is timeless, so it is important to understand what we mean by time, because I think it is possible to be free of time. It is very important to understand time as a whole and not partially.

It is interesting to realize that our lives are mostly spent in time - time, not in the sense of chronological sequence, of minutes, hours, days and years, but in the sense of psychological memory. We live by time, we are the result of time. Our minds are the product of many yesterdays and the present is merely the passage of the past to the future. Our minds, our activities, our being, are founded on time; without time we cannot think, because thought is the result of time, thought is the product of many yesterdays and there is no thought without memory. Memory is time; for there are two kinds of time, the chronological and the psychological. There is time as yesterday by the watch and as yesterday by memory. You cannot reject chronological time; it would be absurd - you would miss your train. But is there really any time at all apart from chronological time? Obviously there is time as yesterday but is there time as the mind thinks of it? Is there time apart from the mind? Surely time, psychological time, is the product of the mind. Without the foundation of thought there is no time - time merely being memory as yesterday in conjunction with today, which moulds tomorrow. That is, memory of yesterday's experience in response to the present is creating the future - which is still the process of thought, a path of the mind. The thought process brings about psychological progress in time but is it real, as real as chronological time? And can we use that time which is of the mind as a means of understanding the eternal, the timeless? As I said, happiness is not of yesterday, happiness is not the product of time, happiness is always in the present, a timeless state. I do not know if you have noticed that when you have ecstasy, a creative joy, a series of bright clouds surrounded by dark clouds, in that moment there is no time: there is only the immediate present. The mind, coming in after the experiencing in the present, remembers and wishes to continue it, gathering more and more of itself, thereby creating time. So time is created by the `more; time is acquisition and time is also detachment, which is still an acquisition of the mind. Therefore merely disciplining the mind in time, conditioning thought within the framework of time, which is memory, surely does not reveal that which is timeless.

Is transformation a matter of time? Most of us are accustomed to think that time is necessary for transformation: I am something, and to change what I am into what I should be requires time. I am greedy, with greed's results of confusion, antagonism, conflict, and misery; to bring about the transformation, which is non-greed, we think time is necessary. That is to say time is considered as a means of evolving something greater, of becoming something. The problem is this: One is violent, greedy, envious, angry, vicious or passionate. To transform what is, is time necessary? First of all, why do we want to change what is, or bring about a transformation? Why? Because what we are dissatisfies us; it creates conflict, disturbance, and, disliking that state, we want something better, something nobler, more idealistic. Therefore we desire transformation because there is pain, discomfort, conflict. Is conflict overcome by time ? If you say it will be overcome by time, you are still in conflict. You may say it will take twenty days or twenty years to get rid of conflict, to change what you are, but during that time you are still in conflict and therefore time does not bring about transformation. When we use time as a means of acquiring a quality, a virtue or a state of being, we are merely postponing or avoiding what is; and I think it is important to understand this point. greed or violence causes pain, disturbance in the world of our relationship with another, which is society; and being conscious of this state of disturbance, which we term greed or violence, we say to ourselves, "I will get out of it in time. I will practise non-violence, I will practise non-envy, I will practise peace." Now, you want to practise non-violence because violence is a state of disturbance, conflict, and you think that in time you will gain non-violence and overcome the conflict. What is actually happening? Being in a state of conflict you want to achieve a state in which there is no conflict. Now is that state of no conflict the result of time, of a duration? Obviously not; because, while you are achieving a state of non-violence, you are still being violent and are therefore still in conflict.

Our problem is, can a conflict, a disturbance, be overcome in a period of time, whether it be days, years or lives? What happens when you say, "I am going to practise non-violence during a certain period of time"? The very practice indicates that you are in conflict, does it not? You would not practise if you were not resisting conflict; you say the resistance to conflict is necessary in order to overcome conflict and for that resistance you must have time. But the very resistance to conflict is itself a form of conflict. You are spending your energy in resisting conflict in the form of what you call greed, envy or violence but your mind is still in conflict, so it is important to see the falseness of the process of depending on time as a means of overcoming violence and thereby be free of that process. Then you are able to be what you are: a psychological disturbance which is violence itself.

To understand anything, any human or scientific problem, what is important, what is essential? A quiet mind, is it not?, a mind that is intent on understanding. It is not a mind that is exclusive, that is trying to concentrate - which again is an effort of resistance. If I really want to understand something, there is immediately a quiet state of mind. When you want to listen to music or look at a picture which you love, which you have a feeling for, what is the state of your mind? Immediately there is a quietness, is there not? When you are listening to music, your mind does not wander all over the place; you are listening. Similarly, when you want to understand conflict, you are no longer depending on time at all; you are simply confronted with what is, which is conflict. Then immediately there comes a quietness, a stillness of mind. When you no longer depend on time as a means of transforming what is because you see the falseness of that process, then you are confronted with what is, and as you are interested to understand what is, naturally you have a quiet mind. In that alert yet passive state of mind there is understanding. So long as the mind is in conflict, blaming, resisting, condemning, there can be no understanding. If I want to understand you, I must not condemn you, obviously. It is that quiet mind, that still mind, which brings about transformation. When the mind is no longer resisting, no longer avoiding, no longer discarding or blaming what is but is simply passively aware, then in that passivity of the mind you will find, if you really go into the problem, that there comes a transformation.

Revolution is only possible now, not in the future; regeneration is today, not tomorrow. If you will experiment with what I have been saying, you will find that there is immediate regeneration, a newness, a quality of freshness; because the mind is always still when it is interested, when it desires or has the intention to understand. The difficulty with most of us is that we have not the intention to understand, because we are afraid that, if we understood, it might bring about a revolutionary action in our life and therefore we resist. It is the defence mechanism that is at work when we use time or an ideal as a means of gradual transformation.

Thus regeneration is only possible in the present, not in the future, not tomorrow. A man who relies on time as a means through which he can gain happiness or realize truth or God is merely deceiving himself; he is living in ignorance and therefore in conflict. A man who sees that time is not the way out of our difficulty and who is therefore free from the false, such a man naturally has the intention to understand; therefore his mind is quiet spontaneously, without compulsion, without practice. When the mind is still, tranquil, not seeking any answer or any solution, neither resisting nor avoiding - it is only then that there can be a regeneration, because then the mind is capable of perceiving what is true; and it is truth that liberates, not your effort to be free.

The First and Last Freedom

The First and Last Freedom Chapter 20 'Time and Transformation'

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