What is time to you? Do you think of time? Are you aware of time?
Can one think of time at all except in the chronological sense? We can use time as a means, but in itself it has little meaning, has it not? Time as an abstraction is a mere speculation, and all speculation is vain. We use time as a means of achievement, tangible or psychological. Time is needed to go to the station, but most of us use time as a means to a psychological end, and the ends are many. We are aware of time when there is an impediment to our achievement, or when there is the interval of becoming successful. Time is the space between ‘what is’ and what might, should, or will be. The beginning going towards the end is time.
‘Is there no other time? What about the scientific implications of time-space?’
There is chronological and there is psychological time. The chronological is necessary, and it is there; but the other is quite a different matter. Cause-effect is said to be a time process, not only physically but also psychologically. It is considered that the interval between cause and effect is time; but is there an interval? The cause and the effect of a disease may be separated by time, which is again chronological; but is there an interval between psychological cause and effect? Is not cause-effect a single process? There is no interval between cause and effect. Today is the effect of yesterday and the cause of tomorrow; it is one movement, a continuous flowing. There is no separation, no distinct line between cause and effect; but inwardly we separate them in order to become, to achieve.
I am this, and I shall become that. To become that I need time — chronological time used for psychological purposes. I am ignorant, but I shall become wise. Ignorance becoming wise is only progressive ignorance; for ignorance can never become wise, any more than greed can ever become non-greed. Ignorance is the very process of becoming.
Is not thought the product of time? Knowledge is the continuation of time. Time is continuation. Experience is knowledge, and time is the continuation of experience as memory. Time as continuation is an abstraction, and speculation is ignorance. Experience is memory, the mind. The mind is the machine of time. The mind is the past.
Thought is ever of the past; the past is the continuation of knowledge. Knowledge is ever of the past; knowledge is never out of time, but always in time and of time. This continuation of memory, knowledge, is consciousness. Experience is always in the past; it is the past. This past in conjunction with the present is moving to the future; the future is the past, modified perhaps, but still the past. This whole process is thought, the mind. Thought cannot function in any field other than that of time. Thought may speculate upon the timeless, but it will be its own projection. All speculation is ignorance.
‘Then why do you even mention the timeless? Can the timeless ever be known? Can it ever be recognised as the timeless?’
Recognition implies the experiencer, and the experiencer is always of time. To recognise something, thought must have experienced it; and if it has experienced it, then it is the known. The known is not the timeless, surely. The known is always within the net of time.
Thought cannot know the timeless; it is not a further acquisition, a further achievement; there is no going towards it. It is a state of being in which thought, time, is not.
‘What value has it?’
None at all. It is not marketable. It cannot be weighed for a purpose. Its worth is unknown.
‘But what part does it play in life?’
If life is thought, then none at all. We want to gain it as a source of peace and happiness, as a shield against all trouble, or as a means of uniting people. It cannot be used for any purpose. Purpose implies means to an end, and so we are back again with the process of thought.
Mind cannot formulate the timeless, shape it to its own end; it cannot be used. Life has meaning only when the timeless is; otherwise life is sorrow, conflict and pain. Thought cannot solve any human problem, for thought itself is the problem. The ending of knowledge is the beginning of wisdom. Wisdom is not of time, it is not the continuation of experience, knowledge. Life in time is confusion and misery; but when that ‘which is’ is the timeless, there is bliss.
Excerpt from Commentaries on Living I by Jiddu Krishnamurti