Psychological time is dangerous
3rd Public Talk, Bombay
January 31, 1981
If we could this evening find out for ourselves how our brains are so crowded, weighed down with so many problems, with so many issues, and there is a challenge which every human being, at least those who are aware of the world condition, not only in this country but also what is happening the world over. It is important one feels that we should start with a clean slate, if that is possible, to free the brain, or brain or thought can free itself, from various accumulated beliefs, concepts, ideals and the superstitions we have about religion. If it is at all possible to cleanse the brain of all the burdens it has carried, through so many, many centuries, millennia. Because as we perceived, as we discussed the other day, last weekend here, our brains are gradually becoming atrophied, that is, withering, because most of us follow a set pattern, a particular way of thinking, a particular formula, a way that is constantly narrowing down our activity of the brain. I think this observable if you have gone into the matter. If you keep an arm in a sling, the arm withers after a long time. If you keep your eyes closed for a number of days or months, the eyes become almost blind. So every organ that is not used becomes atrophied, that is an obvious fact. And the biggest organ that we have is the brain. It translates all our sensory reactions either into pleasure or pain, reward or punishment. And as our senses are becoming more and more atrophied so our brain is becoming more and more so.
Because we are never aware of the beauty of the earth, the beauty of a tree, the squalor around us, the dirt, the filth, the corruption, lack of integrity and so on. We are not even aware, watchful, see or hear; so gradually our brain which is the central factor, which is the very essence of our being, that is being gradually made dull, stupid and atrophied. This is observable. And the question then is, if you are at all serious and want to go into this problem deeply, the question is: is it possible to awaken the brain so that it acts completely, wholly. That is, if you are trained as an engineer, you are only using one part of the brain, if you are a businessman, again a very narrow part of this extraordinary thing called the brain, if you are a scientist it is equally so, an artist or various types of activities which have been narrowed down. So is it possible for the human brain to become acutely alert, clear, sensitive, and is it possible for each one of us, if you are at all concerned with the problems of the world and problems of our own individual or personal relationships, it becomes extraordinarily necessary that we understand, not only the nature of our thought, how thought arises, but also whether it is possible to be free of all the burdens that man has carried for millions and millions of years. That's what we are going to talk over together this evening.
As we said the other day, if one may repeat it again, this is not a gathering for entertainment, to be entertained either intellectually, emotionally or to be stimulated by the speaker. If you are stimulated by the speaker, then it is merely another form of drug. But if we can think together, observe together, listen together then there will be no question of being influenced, stimulated or in any way persuading you to either accept or reject. So we are together exploring, investigating why the brain, our brain, each one, why it has become so extraordinarily dull, so insensitive. So if we can take the journey together we will explore it.
I wonder why you are here, why you have come, what reason, what motive; why you take the trouble to come and listen to a speaker who totally contradicts everything that you hold dear - your religion, your relationship, your beliefs, your dogmas, your rituals and so on. So the speaker is not persuading you to follow him; he is not your guru, he is not trying to convince you of any issue or any answer to any problem. So we are together, please bear this in mind, that we are together co-operating in the investigation why we human beings have become so dull, otherwise you wouldn't be here. Right?
The question is, first, why do we have beliefs, dogmas, opinions, conclusions, why? Are we aware, know, conscious that we have innumerable beliefs? And if you examine those beliefs, will you not find out that beliefs divide man? Right? The Hindus, what they believe, the Christians, what they believe and have faith in, the Muslims, the Buddhists, every human being has some kind of belief - how to live properly, what is the correct action, what should be the relationship, what is right action and so on and on. Why do we carry these beliefs, what is their value, if they have any? Is it that in having beliefs we find security in them? Right? Are you following all this, I hope. Don't go to sleep at the end of the day. Probably you have been working all day, and come here, sit under the shade of a tree and listen rather casually, without any deep interest, and perhaps you will catch one or two ideas and go home with them. So they will have no value.
So please have the goodness and see the importance that we human beings are gradually losing all that is absolutely necessary. So first we are asking each other why human beings right through the world have accepted doctrines; have, through the authority of the church, of the book, of the guru, accepted beliefs which may not be true at all, which may have no value at all, which promise but that promise is never fulfilled. So one should very carefully examine this cluster of beliefs that man carries with him wherever he goes. As you observe, any form of doctrine, either political or religious, must inevitably separate man against man and therefore bring about conflict. Conflict has become part of our nature. We accept conflict not only in personal relationship but also conflict in ourselves, and conflict in any form must not only wear down the brain with all its sensitivity but also conflict wastes our energy. So one must find out why we human beings live in perpetual conflict. Right?
You are in conflict, obviously - you have problems. Can the conflicts end, because any machinery that is working in friction must wear itself out; a piston engine if it is not oiled properly, running smoothly will very soon wear itself out. Similarly our brain will wear itself out and become gradually dull if it lives in perpetual conflict. Right? Are we following each other? Now we are asking whether such conflict can end. What is conflict? Conflict exists when there is opposition, when there is resistance and also conflict exists when you accept, obey. Right? Does all this mean anything to you? Do you really want to find out if you can end conflict in your relationship, in your action, in your thought? In everything that we do, there seems to be a great deal of friction and is it possible to live a life without a single conflict? Man has always sought this - to live a life without conflict, so he invents a belief without any truth behind that belief and in that belief he hopes to end conflict. Or he hopes to end conflict by obeying, being told what to do, conforming to a pattern. Why is man, you, doing all this all the time? Essentially is it not that we are seeking security? Right? Each human being is seeking security. Right?
I feel I have no contact with the audience. Why? You understand my question? If you and I were sitting in a room together, talking about these things, we would establish a communication very quickly. Is it that we don't communicate with each other, or the speaker is not communicating with you with regard to what he wants to say, or you are not interested in what is being said. You are probably here in the hope that your personal problems will be solved. If we understand that the personal problem is the world problem, it is not only yours, but every human being has the same problems - envy, anxiety, uncertainty, sorrow, lack of love and so on. Every human being right throughout the world has these problems. So if you are merely considering only the solution of your own problems, or trying to save your own particular soul, please realise that there is no such thing as personal salvation. Please realise we are concerned with the human being, a human being who represents all, is the whole of mankind; that is very difficult to accept or see for most people that you are like the rest of mankind who are in trouble, who are confused, who want to be led, who believe in so many things. Neither politics nor religion, nor any guru has solved all this. They will give you escapes, entertainment, but we human beings wherever we live have to solve the problems that arise, not in time, but immediately. You understand now the question, please?
So are we in communication with each other? May I ask this? Are you following what the speaker is saying? Sir, do we realise that the world, the human world is in great danger? Do we realise that we are in great crisis, which is not going to be solved by any particular theory, or any book or any philosophy or any psychologist, political, religious and so on? We have to face these problems ourselves; we have to be able to stand alone, not depend on anybody, including the speaker. Do we realise this, that man throughout the ages has depended on some priest, on some ideal, on some philosopher and so on? Always looked outside to be led, to be controlled, to be cajoled, to be persuaded. And we here, this evening, are trying, are communicating with each other so that we can understand our problems. To understand the problem is not to find an answer for it. Please I'll go slowly into the matter. Each one of us has a problem: sexual, drink, business, or if you are inclined so-called religious problems - how to meditate, what is meditation, who is the right guru to go to, you know all the games we play. So we are saying if you want to resolve a problem, one has not to try to find an answer to the problem, please listen, not try to find an answer to the problem, because the answer is in the problem itself. Have we communicated that?
If one has a problem of violence the answer is not non-violence but the understanding of violence itself. Right? What is violence? Violence is not only anger, hate, envy, imitation, conformity, all those are contradictions that bring about in oneself violence. In looking at that and not escaping from violence, you understand? That is, if we are violent, we are trained, educated, conditioned to be either non-violent, which is to escape from the actual fact or we suppress it. Or we try to indulge in it. So either we escape, indulge or suppress. Escape means to project an idea called non-violence and pursue that. When you are pursuing that you are still violent. Right? So that is an escape from the fact of violence, and if you suppress violence, it is still there. Or if you try to indulge in violence it brings about a great many other problems. So is it possible to look at violence without escaping, suppressing or indulging, just to observe what is violence. You understand the speaker, what he is saying? Or are we so conditioned, so programmed or to use a modern phrase, so wired, that we cannot possibly understand what is happening to us?
So the question is: can you end violence, not take time over it, immediately? You will do so only when you don't run away from it. When you don't suppress it, when you don't indulge in it, that is, to remain with the feeling of violence, not introduce any other factor, you have understood it? If you are envious, jealous, it is the same process. All that involves time, to suppress it, to indulge, to run away from it involves time. During that period or interval there are various other factors that come into it, therefore you never solve the problem. Right? Whereas if you are actually facing the problem, not try to solve it, but look at it, hold it, then you will see that as we said, how you approach a problem is all important, because the problem holds the answer, not away from the problem. Right? Will you do that, or we are so conditioned, the response is so quick - run away and all that? So can you observe the fact and slow down the whole process of reaction? You have understood?
Now, is it possible for each one of us to have a brain - because the brain is the only instrument we have, because in the brain are all the nervous, sensory responses translated as pain, pleasure, reward and so on and can that brain become extraordinarily alert, even though we are living in a world where you have to work, where you have a career and so on. You understand my question now? I don't think you are getting my point.
Look sirs, what do you want? What would you like me to talk about? What is it each one of you want? Now just a minute. I can't give you money, I can't give you a job; I can't lead you to heaven, to your salvation, so what can the speaker do? All that he can do is point out certain factors, certain incidents, experiences that are detrimental to human existence; like nationalism is a great danger; like communalism is a great danger; a small community opposed to the global existence is a great danger, and any religion that does not liberate man is an extraordinary danger. Your books, so-called sacred books, if they don't help you to be free they are worthless. So can we together help each other to be free: free from fear, free from sorrow, anxiety so that we shall have some kind of peace in the world, have love in the world. Can we do this together? Or, is this impossible? You understand my question? Would you like the speaker to talk about the ending of sorrow? Would you like the speaker to convey to you a way of living which is totally different from the way we are living now? Or is it possible that we together can bring about a totally different society? And that is possible only if our relationships are correct, if our actions are right.
So shall we go into the question of what is right action? Shall we? Right action that will be right under all circumstances, wherever you live, whatever the environment, however limited your activity is, can we find out together what is right action? Because it is very important. So let's find out together the two words, the meaning of those two words, right and action. Right? When we use the word 'right' it means whole, not fragmented, not broken up, an action that is complete, an action in which there are no regrets, does not bring in any kind of disturbance; 'right' which means a movement that is constantly whole, precise, accurate under all circumstances. And action means, the doing, the doing, not having done or will do. Right? You are following this? So action means the doing, right action means an action which is whole, which is immediate. Is this clear? We have explained those two words. Now what is our action, actual action now? It is based on an ideal, or on a memory or an action that you should do, so our action is always building - the becoming. Right? I wonder if you understand that. If we have a motive for an action, that action is essentially inaction because in that action you are continually building, becoming and therefore you are only concerned in becoming, not in action. Right? So we are now going to find out for ourselves what is right action.
Because if you can really understand this for yourself, you will have solved enormous number of problems. Our whole life is a becoming. Right? If you are a clerk you want to become a manager; if you are a manager you want to become the super manager and so on. You want to climb the ladder, in the business world, or in the political world, and it is the same thing in the religious world. In the religious world it is you are practising, following certain dictums, certain concepts, ideas, you are again becoming, constantly achieving. So our life is actually, if you observe it, a constant process of becoming. In that becoming time is involved. Right? I am this, I will be that, that involves a movement from here to there which is a psychological distance as well as physical distance. You understand? You need time to move from here to go to your home, you cover that distance which is time. There, it is necessary because you live far away or nearby. Both, if you live far away or nearby that involves time. Psychologically, inwardly you say to yourself, I am this, but I will become that. There is a distance between what you are and what you want to be, which involves time. In that time you are becoming something. Right? That is clear. So our life is always a becoming and in that becoming there is action. Right? So action is never complete. Right? I wonder if you see this. When you are allowing time in action that time indicates that you are moving from one point to another point. So your action will inevitably be limited and therefore any action that is limited will bring about greater conflict. That is clear. Right?
So is there an action which doesn't involve time? Right, sir? You have understood? At last somebody I can talk to! Sir, please see the importance of this. There is biological time, the growth from the infant, there is psychological time and there is time by the watch which is day and night. So there are these three types of time: biological time, you can't do anything about it unless you have taken drugs and the rest of it and your babies will be deformed and so on and so on but in the very genes time is involved. Right? That is to help to grow, from childhood to become boy, old age, time is necessary there. And time is necessary to go from here to your house. Time we think is necessary in bringing about right action: I will learn what is right action and in that learning - to learn implies time. You understand? You are getting all this? So is there an action which does not involve time, which means, is there an action which is not controlled by the idea of becoming? Is that all right? May I go on with it? I will go on, it is up to you. Please see the importance of what is involved in time, psychological time. That is, I am angry, I will take time to get over my anger. That is how our brain functions; it has been trained through millennia to function that way. That is, also you find that illumination or enlightenment needs time, life after life, following a system, following a meditation, obeying, that all involves time. Right?
And we are saying time is danger. Psychological time is danger because it prevents you from acting. If I am violent, if I say I will be non-violent, you have taken time, in that time you are not free from violence, you are being violent. Right? So if you understand the nature of time there will be immediate action. That is, there is the ending of violence immediately. Have you understood this, or gone off again? Is that all right? I would like to go on strike too! Please let us understand the question of time, it is very important because we think we need time to change; we think we need time to grow, evolve - time means that. That is, what we are and what we should be. Right? This is our constant, continuous tradition, our conditioning. Now we are pointing out that time, psychological time, not biological time or time by the watch, but psychological time, that is, admitting tomorrow, that is, tomorrow may be a hundred days ahead, but the idea that time is necessary to change from 'what is' to 'what should be'. Right? Right sir? So we are saying, that is one of the most dangerous factors in life, to admit time in action. Now wait a minute. I need time to learn a language; I need time to have an engineering degree; if I want to be a computer expert I have to study, go into it, it takes time; it takes time to go from here to your house. You see how our brain is working, please follow all this. We need time physically to go from here to over there. We need time to learn a language, we need time to become an expert in anything - to be a good carpenter, you need time.
So our whole brain is working with the concept of time. Right? Our whole way of life is to become something. And the becoming is the most dangerous factor in action. I wonder if you understand this? You see, sirs, we have never enquired whether it is possible not to have tomorrow. You understand? Not to have future - the future is the becoming. Right? And we have never enquired into what is being. We have accepted the tradition, the conditioning, that all life is becoming. You plant a tree, a seed, it becomes a plant, that takes time. So that same movement is accepted in the psychological world. Right? We are questioning that. We are saying any form of psychological becoming, not only prevents the actual action, but it is an illusion. There is no psychological tomorrow, but thought has created the idea of becoming, and thought has projected the tomorrow. You understand? Not that there is not tomorrow, there is tomorrow, you have got to get up tomorrow morning, but the idea that psychologically, inwardly, I will become something. I will ultimately find heaven, I will find illumination, enlightenment, life after life, if I live rightly I will have my reward. You follow? Time is necessary for a plant to grow, and we also think time is necessary to become something.
Now, in that becoming are all our problems: I must be better, I must be good, I must love more, or I am greedy for money, and I keep pursuing money, money, money. So you see what is happening? The brain is the result of time; it has evolved from the ape to the present time. It has grown through experience, knowledge, memory, thought and action. Now see what is happening? Experience, knowledge, memory, action, to acquire knowledge requires time. I wonder if you are following all this.
So we are asking: what is right action. It cannot be in the field of time. I can't learn about right action. If I learn about right action that learning takes time. Right? If you catch the full meaning of it immediately then out of that immediate perception is action, which is not involved in time. I wonder if you get this. I will go into it more deeply.
As the speaker said, time is danger. Either you perceive directly and act directly now, or if you say, I will think over it - what you have said and see if you are correct or wrong, right or wrong, then you have taken time, whereas if you say to yourself, let me listen very carefully to what he is saying, which means you are paying attention to what is being said - that attention has no time. You are following this? You attend, you listen, not, you will listen, or if you listen and interpret what is being said, that takes time, or if you are translating what you hear with what you already know, that takes time. So can you listen so completely that you catch immediately the significance of time. I will go into it again. Scientists, specially the computer experts, have realised that what thought can do, or has done, the computers can do. This is a fact. What thought can do, the computer can do it much faster, much more accurately and extraordinary things the computer can do. You understand? What thought can do, the computer can do. Then they are asking: what is intelligence then? You follow? If the computer can do what thought can do, what is man's relationship, what is man? Now the computer, please listen to this, the computer is programmed by a human being and the computer can never be free from knowledge - it is based on knowledge. Right? Human beings can be free from knowledge. That is the only difference. The freeing from knowledge is not time. If you allow time, the computer can do that. I don't know if you are following all this.
So the computer, whose very existence is invented by thought, and thought is the result of memory, knowledge, experience and that experience, knowledge, memory, thought, all that the computer can do. So man is the only one who can free himself from the known. The computer can't. The known is time. I wonder if you understand all this. To acquire knowledge needs time. Right? Wait, I'll begin: to know oneself you think you need time. Right? To know myself is the book of mankind. Right? I am mankind. There is the book which is the history of man, and I think to read that book I need time. I have to understand why I have reactions, why I have accumulated memories, why this and that. So to read that book we think, which is self-knowledge, needs time. I need time to know myself. Right sirs? That is, I need to know myself which is the whole structure of knowledge. Right? To know myself I think I need time, which is, I am going to learn about myself, which is, I am going to learn a language which needs time, and to learn about myself I think I need time. You see, we are applying the same principle to learning a language, to learn about myself or yourself. Right? So we think time is necessary. Now the scientists are saying you can put in the brain an instrument which will teach you a language overnight. Follow all this. And I don't need time there. I wonder if you are following all this. We think we need time to become.
So we are asking, is right action, please listen to this, does right action imply no time? I am going to show you something, I will point out something. Our actions are based on memory; our actions are based on experience, knowledge, memory, thought, action. That is the chain in which we live, from which we act. And that process is a movement in time. Now we are pointing out something, which is, to see this movement of time, knowledge, experience, knowledge, memory, action and then repeat that same pattern, that is time and as we have lived in that process we are caught by it, we are conditioned by it. Now to act means the doing now, not tomorrow, or have acted. Action means the doing, the doing without time. That is action. So if you have a problem, not to carry that problem overnight, not to allow time to solve the problem. Time will never solve the problem. You understand? Not to burden your mind with problems, psychological problems. If you are a technician you know you have a brain, you have been trained to solve the problem, that is simple. But now you are being so conditioned by time, that is, acquiring knowledge and acting from knowledge, acting from that which you have learnt. Now we are saying, see this movement: experience, knowledge, memory, thought, action, see that fact. That is a fact, see it, see it in the sense be aware of it and if you see that very clearly, your perception then is without time and therefore action in which time is not involved at all. I will show you.
Most people are hurt, psychologically they are hurt from childhood. Right? In school you are compared, you are compared with somebody else who is brighter, all the rest of it and you get hurt. This hurt is carried through school, college, university, or you get hurt psychologically, inwardly by somebody, by a word, by a gesture, by a look. Right? We are all of us, most human beings, psychologically are hurt. What is hurt, please listen, is the image that you have built about yourself. That is clear. That is hurt. And as long as you have an image, you are going to be hurt, or flattered, it is the same thing, whether you are flattered or hurt it is the same thing, two sides of the same coin. That's a fact. Most human beings are hurt and they carry that throughout life and that hurt results in more and more withdrawal, fear, resistance, avoidance, isolation. Right? You see all that, you see all that. That is, you have listened, you see the reason, see the logic of it, you have comprehended it intellectually, but which means you have only understood the verbal meaning of it but you don't actually see the truth of it. Right? The truth, that as long as you are hurt, and that hurt is the image you have about yourself created by your society, by your family, by you education and so on and so on, there is that image you have built, like the politician, he builds an image about himself: wanting power, position and all the rest of it, and somebody comes along and puts a pin in your image and you get hurt. Now do you see that fact or is it merely an idea? You understand the difference?
You hear verbally what is being said, you listen to it and when you are listening you have made an abstraction of it which becomes an idea and you are pursuing the idea and not the actuality. Right? Do you see the actual fact that you have an image about yourself? If you do, and that is a fact, that image is going to be hurt. Right? You can't escape from it. It is there. Now do you completely realise that as long as you have an image about yourself you are going to be hurt. Right? Do you see that as a fact? If you see that as a fact then you can enquire who created it? Thought, experience, education, family, tradition and so on, all that goes to create the image. Right? And you see the truth that as long as you have an image you are going to be hurt with all its consequences. If you see the truth of it, that is, if you see, if you perceive the actual fact, then the image disappears instantly, immediately. Have you understood this? But if you say, how am I to get rid of the image, what is the method I have to get rid of the image, show me the way, I will practise it, in all that you are allowing time and therefore you are perpetuating the image. Whereas if you see the fact, the truth that as long as you have an image about anything you are going to be hurt. That is, the seeing of the truth is the ending of the image. That is, seeing the fact is all important. Perception and immediate action. Got it? Have you understood this simple thing? It is not simple, but...
So sirs, we human beings have problems. As I said, one of the problems is conflict, conflict between 'what is' and 'what should be'. That is a conflict. And belief in any form, psychologically, which gives a certain kind of security is detrimental for man. If you see conflict is a danger, a fact, look at it, see all the consequences of it, then see it as a fact and don't move away from that fact, then the very perception of it is the ending of it. That is why one has to understand the enormous complexity of time. Even if you understand it intellectually, that is, the function of the intellect is to reason, discern, choose, weigh, balance and so on. That is the function of the intellect and what has been said, if you understand it intellectually, has no value, it's just a verbal communication. But if you really understand, that is, to see actually that you are greedy, envious, see it, and if you say, I must not be greedy, then you are wandering away from it, but if you stay with greed, see it instantly, and the very perception is the action of ending envy. Are you doing it, or you are just verbally accepting all this? You understand?
So sirs, as we said, we are walking together to explore our human brain, our human life, everyday life with all its conflicts, illusions and so on. And we think time will solve all these problems - next life. Time is the greatest enemy you can possibly have because time prevents action, action which is whole, complete, not divided so that it does not leave a mark as regret. So if you have listened very carefully, seen it for yourself, then you will understand that freedom from time is the greatest enlightenment.