Questioner: The present is an unmitigated tragic horror. Why do you insist that in the present is the Eternal?
Krishnamurti: The present is conflict and sorrow, with an occasional flash of passing joy. The present weaves back and forth into the past and into the future, and so the present is restless. The present is the result of the past, our being is founded upon it. How can you understand the past save through its result, the present? You cannot dig into the past by any other instrument than the one you have, which is the present. The present is the doorway to the past and if you wish, to the future. What you are is the result of the past, of yesterday, and to understand yesterday you must begin with today. To understand yourself, you must begin with yourself as you are today.
Without comprehending the present which is rooted in the past, you will have no understanding. The present misery of man is understood when through the door of the present he is able to be aware of the causes that have produced it. You cannot brush aside the present in trying to understand the past but only through awareness of the present does the past begin to unfold itself. The present is tragic and bloody; surely not by denying it, not by justifying it will we understand it. We have to face it as it is and uncover the causes that have brought about the present. How you regard the present, how your mind is conditioned to it, will reveal the process of the past; if you are prejudiced, nationalistic, if you hate, what you are now will pervert your understanding of the past; your passion, ill will and ignorance, what you are now, will corrupt your understanding of the causes that have led to the present. In understanding yourself, as you are now, the roll of the past unfolds itself.
The present is of the highest importance; the present, however tragic and painful, is the only door to Reality. The future is the continuance of the past through the present; through understanding the present is the future transformed. The present is the only time for understanding for it extends into yesterday and into tomorrow. The present is the whole of time; in the seed of the present is the past and the future; the past is the present and the future is the present. The present is the Eternal, the Timeless. But we regard the present, the now, as a passage to the past or to the future; in the process of becoming, the present is a means to an end and thereby loses its immense significance. The becoming creates continuity, everlastingness, but it is not the Timeless, the Eternal. Craving to become weaves the pattern of time. Have you not experienced in moments of great ecstasy the cessation of time; there is no past, no future but an intense awareness, a timeless present? Having experienced such a state greed begins its activities and re-creates time, recalling, reviving, looking to the future for further experience, rearranging the pattern of time to capture the Timeless. Thus greed, the becoming, holds thought-feeling in the bondage of time.
So be aware of the present, however sorrowful or pleasant; then it will unfold itself as a time process and if thought-feeling can follow its subtle and devious ways and transcend them, then that very extensional awareness is the timeless present. Look only to the present, neither to the past nor to the future, for love is the present, the Timeless.
4th Public Talk 1945