The Future Is Now
Discussion With Buddhists, Varanasi
The Future Is Now Chapter 2 9th November 1985 2nd Discussion with Buddhists Varanasi
Krishnamurti (K): Is there something sacred, something long-lasting, and not conditioned by commerce? Is there something in India, in this part of the world?
First Participant (P1: There is certainly something in this country which is not influenced by external factors.
K: That was not my question. Is there something here which does not exist anywhere else - not influenced, not corrupted, not made ugly by all the circus that goes on in the name of religion? Is there something already here, for which - if it exists - one has to give one's whole mind and heart - to preserve? You understand, sir?
P1: I cannot say, because in some sense I have not experienced this in a tangible way; nor can I say whether other people have. But my study of ancient texts gives me a certain certitude that there is something which can be experienced in a clear way.
K: I'm asking, Panditji, if there is something enduring, which is not bound by time, evolution and all that. It must be very, very sacred. And if it exists, then one must give one's life to it, protect it, give vitality to it - not by doctrines and knowledge, but by the feeling of it, the depth of it, the beauty of it, the enormous strength of it. That's what I'm asking.
P1: We desire to find such a thing, but have not been able to do so. And our experience is such that we find ourselves tangled in many theories, in many traditions, many systems. Occasionally we hear a clear voice that speaks about this in a compelling way. That voice comes from you, but we are in some way unable to reach it. The whole phenomenon is like some huge fair with a lot different chaotic voices offering solutions.
K: You're not answering my question: is there or is there not? Not tradition, not a kind of historical process of ancient culture diminishing, being destroyed by commercialism, but the great impetus which was set going by some power, some intelligence? That power, that intelligence - does it exist now? I'm repeating the same thing in different words.
P2: If I have to answer your question, then I would say that what you're talking about - that thing - is life.
K: I'm asking a very simple question; don't complicate it. India exploded over the whole of Asia, like Greece exploded over the whole of Western culture. I'm not talking about India geographically, but as part of the world. It spread like wildfire. And it had the tremendous energy of something original something enormous; it had the power to move things. Does that exist here, or is it all in abeyance? Does it exist at all now?
P3: I don't know, sir. I think it exists.
K: Why? Why do you think that?
P3: Sometimes it appears, but not usually.
K: It's like a breath of fresh air. If that air is constantly flowing, it's always fresh.
P3: It is always flowing, it is always fresh, but the contact with persons is not always there.
K: I understand that, but it's not good enough. P2: Why do you want to connect it geographically with this part of the world?
K: Geographically - I'll tell you. All ancients, as far as I understand, worshipped mountains. The gods came from there for the Greeks; and for the ancient Sumerians, again the mountains, the sense of something holy there. Then you come to the Himalayas - it's all in the Dakshinamurti Stotra. The monks lived there, meditated there. Is it there still, or is it being commercialized?
P3: It is there, it cannot be commercialized. The commercialization is something else.
K: Is it there?
K: Why do you say yes?
P3: Because it is there. It is...
K: Sir, you are there, physically. I can theorize how the body is constructed, but you are still there - to touch, to feel, to see, to actually see you are sitting there. Is there such a thing?
P3: Yes, it is there, actually there. It is there.
K: It is no good telling me, `It is there, it is there.' If it is there, why has this part of the world been so corrupt, so appalling? You don't realize what I'm saying.
P3: From the beginning I am saying that it is there, but the relationship, the contact, with the masses...
K: I'm not talking about the masses. It's you, you...
P3: With the persons...
K: With you...
P3: It is diminished. K: Why has it decreased, why has it diminished, why has it become something small?
P3: People are not interested.
K: So what does that mean?
P3: They're more interested in commerce.
K: Yes. So it's gone. That doesn't matter. Let's leave that question. Or is it this tremendous self-interest - self-interest in the form of knowledge, in the form of Buddhism, Hinduism? It is all basically self-interest. And that self-interest is increasing tremendously in the world, and that is the door which shuts the other out. You understand?
Sir, some time ago three very clever people - they were scientists - came to Brockwood, and we were talking. They are trying to find artificial intelligence. If they can find that, then we are all gone. Your knowledge, your Vedas, your Upanishads and your Geeta - everything is gone, because the machine can repeat it much better than you and I can ever do.
P1: The question which you just posed presents a wonderful opportunity to ask a counter question. And the counter question is: What you say appeals to us, but how are we, in today's society, going to find it, experience it, and share it?
K: You can't experience it. To experience it there must be an experiencer. He has had a thousand experiences; he adds another to it - that's my whole point. It's not an experience; it's not something that I and you experience. It's there like electricity. I can admire it, worship it, but it's there.
P1: Human beings have only one gift, that is the ability to experience, and you are snatching that away. After that what are we to hold on to?
K: I'm not snatching anything away, but I see that experience is a very small affair. I experience; then what? Experience gives you knowledge of how to climb a mountain. We depend on experience, but that thing can't be experienced. You can't experience water; it is there. I can experience sex; I can experience something hitting me; I can experience somebody praising me.
P4: Water is there, but I only know it through experience of it.
K: You only know because you perceive it. You know the quality of it; you float on it; but all that is part of your knowledge of it.
P2: But if I had no knowledge, I wouldn't have any experience.
K: What you call experience is based on sensory perception. And our sensory perceptions are partial, never complete. Now, to observe with all your senses alert - that's not an experience. Sir, I look at that piece of cloth and say it's red, because I've been conditioned to call it red. If you'd been conditioned to call it purple, you'd call it purple. The brain is always conditioned by our experience, by our sensory responses - how to argue, how to deny and all the rest of it.
If I happen to be a Catholic my whole attitude towards religion is Jesus, Virgin Mary and all the rest of it. You are a Hindu or Buddhist - sorry, I'm not comparing - and everything is from that conditioning. Therefore, when you say experience, or you must learn this or do that, it's all from a brain which has become small, conditioned.
P3: We again come to that point we discussed. We understand about conditioning, self-interest, and so on. There is the possibility of moving away, and then we just stop there.
K: Why, sir?
P3: Or should I say that the moving away is not absolutely possible? K: Or remain where you are - you understand? - and not move away. Remain where you are and see what happens. That is, sir, you never stay whole, abide with what is.
P3: Yes, that is obvious.
K: Wait, sir, wait, wait. We never stay there. We're always moving, moving. Right? I am this, I will be that - it's a movement away from what is.
P3: Either we stay where it is, or stay out of the movement.
K: What is the movement?
P3: Change, force...
K: Then we have to understand what is time, the movement in time.
K: We have to enquire what is time - that which we live daily: time as past, time as present, time as future. So what is time? You understand, sir? It requires a lot of time to learn Sanskrit, to enquire into the earliest doctrines, various literatures - what the ancients said, what the Buddha said, what Nagarjuna said, and so on. To learn a skill requires time, to cover a distance from here to there requires time. Everything we do requires time. Then we must inquire: What is time?
P4: Time is the means of achieving.
K: Yes, success, failure, acquiring a skill, learning a language, writing a letter, covering a distance from here to there and so on. To us that is time. What is time?
P4: It's a movement in the mind, a subtle, incessant movement of the mind.
K: Then what is the brain? What is the mind? Don't invent. Look at it. What is the brain? P5: It's very difficult to make out the difference between the brain and the mind. The involuntary, almost incessant way of thoughts pouring into unknown stimuli, is what accounts for time.
K: No, sir, you are not listening. There's time by the clock: to cover a distance, to learn a language, it requires time. And also we have lived on this earth for two and a half million years. There's been a tremendous evolution, which is time. What do you mean by time?
P4: All that you've just mentioned is physical time. But the real problem of time seems to hinge on how it works within the psyche. There is something unresolved that we want to resolve.
K: Sir, before we talk of the mind, if I may humbly suggest, what is the brain?
P4: The brain is possibly the physical base or biological structure of the mind.
K: The brain is the centre of all our action, centre of all our sensory responses; it is the centre of all thinking, inside the skull. What is the quality of the brain that is asking the question: what is time? How do you receive the question?
P1: We have understood after discussing with you that it is only total attention that will bring about a total transformation. That's where the problem begins.
K: Would you mind if I say something? Time is the past, time is now; and the now is controlled by the past, shaped by the past. And the future is a modification of the present. I'm putting it dreadfully simply. So the future is now. Therefore the question is: If all time is contained in the now, all time - past, present and future - then what do we mean by change?
P1: The word `change' does not have any meaning. K: No, wait. The now contains all time. If that's a fact - a fact, not a theory, not some kind of speculative conclusion - that all time is contained in the now, this is the future, this is the present. There is no movement towards or for. There is no movement. Movement implies time, right? So there is no change. Change becomes idiotic. Then I am what I am: I am greedy, and I say yes.
P1: There is a wide difference between you and us; we may be saying the same thing.
K: Oh, no, no. I don't admit anything of the kind.
P1: You are saying that all time is now. I also say the same thing: All time is now. But my saying and your saying are two totally different things.
P4: Because he says it from logic and speculation.
K: That's it. That means time is operating.
P1: How can we remove this difficulty?
P4: Panditji, answer the question: How can we break this stream in which we flow?
P1: The stream is broken through logic. There is a big gulf between you and us. I understand what you're saying speculatively. The problem is: How do we remove this gulf? Because, we have reached a certain meeting, in the sense of understanding.
K: I'll tell you. No, I'll show you. Please, I'm not a guru. Is this a fact? - time is now; all time is contained in now, at this second. Really, this is a most extraordinary thing: to see that the future, the past, is now. Is that a fact - not an idea of the fact?
P4: There are two things: perceiving and conceiving. Now I am conceiving, not perceiving. K: So what's the point of it?
P4: No point, but I would like to go on from here - from conception to perception.
K: Conception is not a fact.
P4: Conception is not a fact; perception is a fact, and we are all caught up in conception, in time. The simultaneity of conception and time has to be broken. One has to get away from...
K: Who gets away?
P4: I mean, for perception to operate.
K: The very word `operation' means time.
P6: Just a minute. If I may come in at this point and say one thing: If all time is in the now, then there is nothing else.
K: Which means what?
P6: That you stop looking.
K: Now you're already preconceiving.
P6: I'm not preconceiving. If all time is now...
K: That may be the most extraordinary thing, if you go into it. That may be the essence of compassion. That may be the essence of amazing, undefinable intelligence. You can't say all time is now if it isn't a reality. The other things don't matter. I don't know if I am making myself clear.
Sir, if all time is contained in the now, there's no movement. What I do now, I'll do tomorrow. So tomorrow is now. What am I to do if the future - tomorrow - is now? I'm greedy, envious, and I'll be envious tomorrow. Is there a possibility of ending that greed instantly?
P1: That is very difficult.
K: It's not difficult at all. I see that if I am greedy today, envious today, tomorrow I'll be greedy and envious unless something happens now. It is very important that something happen now. So can I change, mutate, now?
There is a movement which is not of time if there is a radical mutation. You understand, sir? Two and a half million years ago we were barbarous. We are still barbarous; wanting power, position, killing each other, envious, comparing, all that. You've put me this challenge: All time is now. I have no escape points, I've no gates through which I can escape from this central fact. I say to myself: My god, if I don't change now, tomorrow will be the same, or a thousand tomorrows. So, is it possible for me to totally mutate now? I say yes.
P4: Can you tell us how?
K: Not how, sir. The moment you say how, you are already in the process of time: I tell you this, this, this, and you say I will do this, this to get to that. You can't get it because you are what you are now.
P6: That means that in the listening to that statement of yours, `All time is now`, there is a quality of acquisitiveness.
K: Of course.
P6: So the listening has to be purified.
K: So, sir, there is no knowledge, there is no meditation, there is no discipline. Everything stops. May I put the question differently? Suppose for instance I know I'm going to die. There is a time interval between now and death: that is, I will die on the first of January. (I'm not actually going to die on the first of January!) Doctors have told me say, that I have terminal cancer and I can't survive the first of January. So I've got a couple of months to die. If all time is now, I am dying. So I don't have time; I don't want time. So death is now. Can the human brain live with death all the time? You understand? I'm going to die - that's certain. And I say, For god's sake wait a minute. But if I realize the fact that all time is now - that means death and living are together; they are never separate. So knowledge is dividing me - knowledge that I'm going to die at the end of January - and I get frightened; I say, Please, please, wait, wait, wait, I've got to leave a will, I've got to do this, I've to do that. But if I live with death, I'm doing it all the time; that is, I draw up my will. I'm dying now, that means I'm living. I'm living and death is next door; there's no divorce or separation between living and dying.
Can you do this, sir, or is it impossible? That means death says, `You can't take anything with you.' Your knowledge, your books, your wife and children, your money, your character, your vanity, all that you've built up for yourself - everything goes at the end with death. You may say there's a possibility you'll reincarnate. But I'm asking you: Can you live now without the least attachment to anything? Why postpone this - which is attachment - until the sickbed? Be free of attachment now.
P6: May we sit silently with you?
P1: You had started the discussion with the question: What is this thing, and, is there this thing in this country? Is this that thing?
K: (nods, then after a long silence) See, it's not difficult. It's so simple. I don't want personally any reputation; I don't want a sense of `I know and you don't know.' By nature I'm a very humble man, very shy, respectful, gentle. So what do you want? You understand, sir? If you can start at that level... Right. That's enough. Let me tell you a joke.
There were three holy men in the Himalayas - of course, it has to be the Himalayas! Ten years pass, one of them says: `Oh, what a lovely evening this is!' Another ten years pass and the other man says, `I hope it will rain.' Another ten years pass and the third man says: `I wish you two would be quiet.'
The Future Is Now
Discussion With Buddhists, Varanasi
The Future Is Now Chapter 2 9th November 1985 2nd Discussion with Buddhists Varanasi
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