The conditioning of the past breaks down
in the fullness of silence.
My Comment: This portion of “The Urgency of Change” by Krishnamurti leads us to the point where the churning of the mind subsides. He points to the dynamic of the mind imagining itself separate from its own movement as judgement, evaluation, liking, disliking etc. and how this movement of separating oneself from ‘what is’ perpetuates the past.
We can see how he is describing with other terms what in yoga is called ‘the modifications of the mind’ or in zen the ‘mind formations’. The Sanskrit term used is VRTTI. The endpoint of yoga is citta-vrtti-nirodha, which is when these mind modifications come to rest on their own because they implode due to their realization they lack any substance whatsoever. That is a longer topic of its own, but this excerpt below gives us some valuable pointers on how this dynamic plays out. Enjoy!
Questioner: I can look at something objectively….
Krishnamurti: But you, who are the observer, are the past trying to look at itself. You can objectify yourself only as an image which you have put together through the years in every form of relationship, and so the “you” which you objectify is memory and imagination, the past. You are trying to look at yourself as though you were a different entity from the one who is looking, but you are the past, with its old judgements, evaluations and so on.
The action of the past is looking at the memory of the past. Therefore there is never relief from the past. The continuous examination of the past by the past perpetuates the past; this is the very action of the past, and this is the very essence of tradition.
Questioner: Then what action is possible? If I am the past – and I can see that I am – then whatever I do to chisel away the past is adding to it. So I am left helpless! What can I do? I can’t pray because the invention of a god is again the action of the past. I can’t look to another, for the other is also the creation of my despair. I can’t run away from it all because at the end of it I am still there with my past. I can’t identify myself with some image which is not of the past because that image is my own projection too. Seeing all this, I am really left helpless, and in despair.
Krishnamurti: Why do you call it helplessness and despair? Aren’t you translating what you see as the past into an emotional anxiety because you cannot achieve a certain result? in so doing you are again making the past act. Now, can you look at all this movement of the past, with all its traditions, without wanting to be free of it, change it, modify it or run away from it – simply observe it without any reaction?
Questioner: But as we have been saying all through this conversation, how can I observe the past if I am the past? I can’t look at it at all!
Krishnamurti: Can you look at yourself, who are the past, without any movement of thought, which is the past? If you can look without thinking, evaluating, liking, disliking, judging, then there is a looking with eyes that are not touched by the past. It is to look in silence, without the noise of thought. In this silence there is neither the observer nor the thing which he is looking at as the past.
Questioner: Are you saying that when you look without evaluation or judgement the past has disappeared? But it hasn’t – there are still the thousands of thoughts and actions and all the pettiness which were rampant only a moment ago. I look at them and they are still there. How can you say that the past has disappeared? It may momentarily have stopped acting….
Krishnamurti: When the mind is silent that silence is a new dimension, and when there is any rampant pettiness it is instantly dissolved, because the mind has now a different quality of energy which is not the energy engendered by the past. This is what matters: to have that energy that dispels the carrying over of the past. The carrying over of the past is a different kind of energy.
The silence wipes the other out, the greater absorbs the lesser and remains untouched. It is like the sea, receiving the dirty river and remaining pure. This is what matters. It is only this energy that can wipe away the past. Either there is silence or the noise of the past. In this silence the noise ceases and the new is this silence. It is not that you are made new. This silence is infinite and the past is limited. The conditioning of the past breaks down in the fullness of silence.
source: Krishnamurti, The Urgency of Change, pp. 107 – 109