QUESTION 24 'ON TIME'
Question: Can the past dissolve all at once, or does it invariably need time ?
Krishnamurti: We are the result of the past. Our thought is founded upon yesterday and many thousand yesterdays. We are the result of time, and our responses, our present attitudes, are the cumulative effect of many thousand moments, incidents and experiences. So the past is, for the majority of us, the present, which is a fact which cannot be denied. You, your thoughts, your actions, your responses, are the result of the past. Now the questioner wants to know if that past can be wiped out immediately, which means not in time but immediately wiped out; or does this cumulative past require time for the mind to be freed in the present? It is important to understand the question, which is this: As each one of us is the result of the past, with a background of innumerable influences, constantly varying, constantly changing, is it possible to wipe out that background without going through the process of time?
What is the past? What do we mean by the past? Surely we do not mean the chronological past. We mean, surely, the accumulated experiences, the accumulated responses, memories, traditions, knowledge, the subconscious storehouse of innumerable thoughts, feelings, influences and responses. With that background, it is not possible to understand reality, because reality must be of no time: it is timeless. So one cannot understand the timeless with a mind which is the outcome of time. The questioner wants to know if it is possible to free the mind, or for the mind, which is the result of time, to cease to be immediately; or must one go through a long series of examinations and analyses and so free the mind from its background. The mind is the background; the mind is the result of time; the mind is the past, the mind is not the future. It can project itself into the future and the mind uses the present as a passage into the future, so it is still - whatever it does, whatever its activity, its future activity, its present activity, its past activity - in the net of time. Is it possible for the mind to cease completely, for the thought process to come to an end? Now there are obviously many layers to the mind; what we call consciousness has many layers, each layer interrelated with the other layer, each layer dependent on the other, interacting; our whole consciousness is not only experiencing but also naming or terming and storing up as memory. That is the whole process of consciousness, is it not ?
When we talk about consciousness, do we not mean the experiencing, the naming or the terming of that experience and thereby storing up that experience in memory? All this, at different levels, is consciousness. Can the mind, which is the result of time, go through the process of analysis, step by step, in order to free itself from the background or is it possible to be free entirely from time and look at reality directly?
To be free of the background, many of the analysts say that you must examine every response, every complex, every hindrance, every blockage, which obviously implies a process of time. This means the analyser must understand what he is analysing and he must not misinterpret what he analyses. If he mistranslates what he analyses it will lead him to wrong conclusions and therefore establish another background. The analyser must be capable of analysing his thoughts and feelings without the slightest deviation; and he must not miss one step in his analysis, because to take a wrong step, to draw a wrong conclusion, is to re-establish a background along a different line, on a different level. This problem also arises: Is the analyser different from what he analyses? Are not the analyser and the thing that is analysed a joint phenomenon?
Surely the experiencer and the experience are a joint phenomenon; they are not two separate processes, so first of all let us see the difficulty of analysing. It is almost impossible to analyse the whole content of our consciousness and thereby be free through that process. After all, who is the analyser? The analyser is not different, though he may think he is different, from that which he is analysing. He may separate himself from that which he analyses but the analyser is part of that which he analyses. I have a thought, I have a feeling - say, for example, I am angry. The person who analyses anger is still part of anger and therefore the analyser as well as the analysed are a joint phenomenon, they are not two separate forces or processes. So the difficulty of analysing ourselves, unfolding, looking at ourselves page after page, watching every reaction, every response, is incalculably difficult and long. Therefore that is not the way to free ourselves from the background, is it? There must be a much simpler, a more direct way, and that is what you and I are going to find out. In order to find out we must discard that which is false and not hold on to it. So analysis is not the way, and we must be free of the process of analysis.
Then what have you left? You are only used to analysis, are you not? The observer observing - the observer and the observed being a joint phenomenon - the observer trying to analyse that which he observes will not free him from his background. If that is so, and it is, you abandon that process, do you not? If you see that it is a false way, if you realize not merely verbally but actually that it is a false process, then what happens to your analysis? You stop analysing, do you not? Then what have you left? Watch it, follow it, and you will see how rapidly and swiftly one can be free from the background. If that is not the way, what else have you left? What is the state of the mind which is accustomed to analysis, to probing, looking into, dissecting, drawing conclusions and so on? If that process has stopped, what is the state of your mind?
You say that the mind is blank. Proceed further into that blank mind. In other words, when you discard what is known as being false, what has happened to your mind? After all, what have you discarded? You have discarded the false process which is the outcome of a background. Is that not so? With one blow, as it were, you have discarded the whole thing. Therefore your mind, when you discard the analytical process with all its implications and see it as false, is freed from yesterday and therefore is capable of looking directly, without; going through the process of time, and thereby discarding the background immediately.
To put the whole question differently, thought is the result of time, is it not? Thought is the result of environment, of social and religious influences, which is all part of time. Now, can thought be free of time? That is, thought which is the result of time, can it stop and be free from the process of time? Thought can be controlled, shaped; but the control of thought is still within the field of time and so our difficulty is: How can a mind that is the result of time, of many thousand yesterdays, be instantaneously free of this complex background? You can be free of it, not tomorrow but in the present, in the now. That can be done only when you realize that which is false; and the false is obviously the analytical process and that is the only thing we have. When the analytical process completely stops, not through enforcement but through understanding the inevitable falseness of that process, then you will find that your mind is completely dissociated from the past - which does not mean that you do not recognize the past but that your mind has no direct communion with the past. So it can free itself from the past immediately, now, and this dissociation from the past, this complete freedom from yesterday, not chronologically but psychologically, is possible; and that is the only way to understand reality.
To put it very simply, when you want to understand something, what is the state of your mind? When you want to understand your child, when you want to understand somebody, something that someone is saying, what is the state of your mind? You are not analysing, criticizing, judging what the other is saying; you are listening, are you not? Your mind is in a state where the thought process is not active but is very alert. That alertness is not of time, is it? You are merely being alert, passively receptive and yet fully aware; and it is only in this state that there is understanding. When the mind is agitated, questioning, worrying, dissecting, analysing, there is no understanding. When there is the intensity to understand, the mind is obviously tranquil. This, of course, you have to experiment with, not take my word for it, but you can see that the more and more you analyse, the less and less you understand. You may understand certain events, certain experiences, but the whole content of consciousness cannot be emptied through the analytical process. It can be emptied only when you see the falseness of the approach through analysis. When you see the false as the false, then you begin to see what is true; and it is truth that is going to liberate you from the background.