(from J Krishnamurti’s Inward Revolution)
The first step is the last step. The first step is the step of clear perception, and that clear act of clear perception is the last act. When you see danger, a serpent, that very perception is complete action. We said the first step is the last step. The first step is to perceive–perceive what you are thinking, perceive your ambition, perceive your anxiety, your loneliness, your despair, the extraordinary sense of sorrow. Perceive it without any condemnation, justification, without wishing it to be different, just perceive it as it is. When you perceive it as it is, then there is a totally different kind of action taking place, and that action is the final action. That is, when you perceive something as being false or as being true, that perception is the final action, which is the final step.
Now, listen to this, I perceive the falseness of following somebody else’s instructions–Krishna, Buddha, Christ, it doesn’t matter who it is. There is the perception of the truth that following somebody is utterly false. Your reason, your logic, and everything points out how absurd it is to follow somebody. Now, that perception is the final step; when you have perceived, you leave it, forget it, because the next minute you have to perceive anew, which is again the final step. Because if you don’t drop what you have learned, what you have perceived, then there is a continuity of the movement of thought. The movement and the continuity of thought is time. And when the mind is caught in the movement of time, it is in bondage.
So one of the major problems is whether the mind can be free of the past; the past regrets, the past pleasures, the past memories, remembrances, incidents, and experiences, all the things that one has built up. The past is also the “me.” The “me” is the past. Thought gives continuity to something that has been perceived clearly. Not being able to put it aside, it gives it a continuity which becomes the means of perpetuating thought. You have had a happy incident yesterday. You don’t forget it; you don’t drop it. You take it with you; you think about it. The very thinking about something that is of the past gives continuity to the past. Therefore there is no ending to the past. But if you have the most, extraordinary, happy incident, see it, perceive it, and completely end it, not carry it over, then there is no continuity as the past which thought has built. Therefore every step is the last step.
So we have to go into the question of whether thought, which is giving continuity to memory–memory is the past–can ever come to an end. That is part of meditation. It is part of a total mutation of the brain cells themselves. If there is continuity of the movement of thought it is a repetition of the old, because thought is memory; thought is the response of memory; thought is experience; thought is knowledge.
Inner Life Exercise