Here we have Jiddu Krishnamurti talking about ‘the now’. Many of you will have heard of Eckhart Tolle’s book ‘The Power of Now’, but less people seem to be aware of how influenced by J. Krishnamurti Eckhart Tolle’s teachings are. In fact Eckhart Tolle has spoken about this several times, eg. Eckhart Tolle says in an interview:
I feel actually that the work I do is a coming together of the teaching “stream,” if you want to call it that, of [J.] Krishnamurti and Ramana Maharshi. They seem very, very dissimilar, but I feel that in my teaching the two merge into one. It is the heart of Ramana Maharshi, and Krishnamurti’s ability to see the false, as such and point out how it works. So Krishnamurti and Ramana Maharshi, I love them deeply. I feel completely at One with them. And it is a continuation of the teaching.
In another interview Eckhart Tolle writes:
Two spiritual teachers that I feel closely connected to, although I’ve never met them in person, are [J.] Krishnamurti and Ramana Maharshi. Their teachings seem very dissimilar at first. Krishnamurti taught mainly in negative terms just like the Buddha. By this I mean that he didn’t give you any inspiring words, ideas or concepts to believe in. He would tell you to investigate the workings of your own mind, in the same way that the Buddha taught us to investigate how suffering arises and by discovering the roots of suffering in our own minds arrive at a state of consciousness that he described as “the end of suffering.” Whereas Ramana Maharshi would often point to that which lies beyond the realm of thinking, a dimension of consciousness he called the self.
So here below is an excerpt from ‘The Only Revolution’ (Click here to download The Only Revolution by J Krishnamurti as a PDF file) by Jiddu Krishnamurti in which he writes about time and ‘the now’, with my comments interspersed in red italics:
Is there – apart from the clock – time at all? We accept so many things; obedience has been so instilled into us that acceptance seems natural. But is there time at all, apart from the many yesterdays? Is time a continuity as yesterday, today and tomorrow, and is there time without yesterday? What gives to the thousand yesterdays a continuity?
Tom: Krishnamurti, like Eckhart Tolle, often differentiates between ‘time by the clock’ (or chronological time) as opposed to psychological time (ie. how the mind perceives itself as existing in a continuity of time which starts from the past, which proceeds into the future).
A cause brings its effect, and the effect in turn becomes the cause; there is no division between them, it is one movement. This movement we call time, and with this movement, in our eyes and in our hearts, we see everything. We see with the eyes of time, and translate the present in terms of the past; and this translation meets the tomorrow. This is the chain of time.
Tom: we can see that Krishnamurti is writing of how the mind sees through this lens or filter of time and interprets everything through this distorting lens.
Thought, caught in this process, asks the question: “What is time?” This very enquiry is of the machinery of time. So the enquiry has no meaning, for thought is time. The yesterday has produced thought and so thought divides space as yesterday, today and tomorrow. Or it says: “There is only the present”, forgetting that the present itself is the outcome of yesterday.
Our consciousness is made up of this chain of time, and within its borders we are asking: “What is time? And, if there is no time, what happens to yesterday?” Such questions are within the field of time, and there is no answer to a question put by thought about time.
Tom: Krishnamurti is stating that thought is a result of the past, ie. memories and concepts of things that were, and it is this thought that is asking the question. As this thought is itself the movement of psychological time, it cannot answer this question ‘what is time?’ and ‘what happens if there is no psychological time?’.
Or is there no tomorrow and no yesterday, but only the now? This question is not put by thought. It is put when the structure and nature of time is seen but with the eyes of thought.
Is there actually tomorrow? Of course there is if I have to catch a train; but inwardly, is there the tomorrow of pain and pleasure, or of achievement? Or is there only the now, which is not related to yesterday?
Tom: Here we can see Krishnamurti expand upon the difference between ‘time by the clock’, which is purely a practical things, and ‘psychological time’, which implies striving and seeking pleasure and achievement for the ‘me’. Basically, ‘psychological time’ is referring to the movement of the ego or idea of a separate ‘me’ entity.
In the following paragraphs Krishnamurti will seemingly make a few ‘jumps’ without really explaining how he got there, but you will see he is pointing to an immediate and direct perception of ‘what is’, without the mediating distorting lens of psychological time or thought or memory, ie. without the ego (as I have defined it above), which Krishnamurti here calls ‘yesterday’. See if you can follow him:
Time has a stop only when thought has a stop. It is at the moment of stopping that the now is. This now is not an idea, it is an actual fact, but only when the whole mechanism of thought has come to an end. The feeling of now is entirely different from the word, which is of time.
So do not let us be caught in the words yesterday, today and tomorrow. The realization of the now exists only in freedom, and freedom is not the cultivation of thought.
Then the question arises: “What is the action of the now?” We only know action which is of time and memory and the interval between yesterday and the present. In this interval or space all the confusion and the conflict begin.
What we are really asking is: If there is no interval at all, what is action? The conscious mind might say: “I did something spontaneously”, but actually this is not so; there is no such thing as spontaneity because the mind is conditioned.
The actual is the only fact; the actual is the now, and, unable to meet it, thought builds images about it. The interval between the image and what is, is the misery which thought has created.
To see what is without yesterday, is the now. The now is the silence of yesterday.
Tom: Does Krishnamurti mean that we don’t remember what happened yesterday and that we do not plan for tomorrow? No, he is not referring to ‘time by the clock’, ie. practical affairs that involve chronological time. By ‘yesterday’ he is referring to psychological time, ie. the remembrance of past hurts and pleasures that make a mark on our psyche, and we then interpret the present moment in order to recreate past pleasures or avoid past hurts, and this is the distorting view of psychological time or egoic desire, which Krishnamurti also here calls ‘thought’.
When this is immediately seen clearly, we are no longer trying to get anywhere. Then we are with ‘what is‘. This immediate or direct seeing itself is not the effect or outcome of the egoic mind – we cannot ‘try to see’ this, as this would be more ego, more trying to get somewhere nice. No, simply when this is all seen, then we are with what is already – no, we are not even with what is – there is only what is. Simple, direct, transcendent-immanent, beyond words.
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Simple, powerful and straight to the point!
Question: I cannot say it is all clear to me. Is the world that is seen, felt and sensed by us in so many ways something like a dream, an illusion?
Sri Ramana Maharshi: There is no alternative for you but to accept the world as unreal, if you are seeking the Truth and the Truth alone.
Question: Why so?
Sri Ramana Maharshi: For the simple reason that unless you give up the idea that the world is real, your mind will always be after it. If you take the appearance to be real you will never know the Real itself, although it is the Real alone that exists. This point is illustrated by the analogy of the ‘snake in the rope’. As long as you see the snake you cannot see the rope as such. The non-existent snake becomes real to you, while the real rope seems wholly non-existent as such.
Question: It is easy to accept tentatively that the world is not ultimately real, but it is hard to have the conviction that it is really unreal.
Sri Ramana Maharshi: Even so is your dream world real while you are dreaming. So long as the dream lasts, everything you see, feel, etc., therein is real.
Question: Is then the world nothing better than a dream?
Sri Ramana Maharshi: What is wrong with the sense of reality you have while you are dreaming? You may be dreaming of something quite impossible, for instance, of having a happy chat with a dead person. Just for a moment you may doubt in the dream saying to yourself, ‘Was he not dead?’, but somehow your mind reconciles itself to the dream vision, and the person is as good as alive for the purposes of the dream.
In other words, the dream as a dream does not permit you to doubt its reality. Even so, you are unable to doubt the reality of the world of your wakeful experience. How can the mind which has itself created the world accept it as unreal? That is the significance of the comparison made between the world of wakeful experience and the dream world. Both are but creations of the mind and so long as the mind is engrossed in either, it finds itself unable to deny the reality of the dream world while dreaming and of the waking world while awake.
If, on the contrary, you withdraw your mind completely from the world and turn it within and abide thus, that is, if you keep awake always to the Self, which is the substratum of all experience, you will find the world, of which alone you are now aware, just as unreal as the world in which you lived in your dream.
The above excerpt was taken from Maharshi’s Gospel
From the Introduction of the above book:
Like Krishna and Buddha, Christ did not preach a mere ethical or social gospel hut an uncompromisingly spiritual one. He declared that God can be seen, that divine perfection can be achieved.
In order that men might attain this supreme goal of existence, he taught the renunciation of worldliness, the contemplation of God, and the purification of the heart through the love of God.
These simple and profound truths, stated repeatedly in the Sermon on the Mount, constitute its underlying theme, as I shall try to show in the pages to follow.
From the back cover:
‘The Sermon on the Mount According to Vedanta’ is a spiritual document of the most profound significance and importance. Swami Prabhavananda, a leading modern exponent of the ancient Hindu religion of Vedanta, is a member of a Vedantic Order that pays equal respect to the teachings of Christ. His early training and subsequent years of meditation provide a background for an interpretation of the Sermon on the Mount that offers rare, two-fold enlightenment to the Western reader.
On the one hand, the author provides new illumination of the vital core truths of Christianity. On the other, he eloquently reveals the basis and meaning of Vedanta.
His work achieves a magnificent reconciliation of Eastern and Western thought – a supreme embodiment of a vision that truly see all things as part of the One within the universal scheme of being.