When Time Is Linear, Cycle Is Lost and What Is Natural Is Forgotten
“The western attitude is time-obsessed. There are reasons behind it. Why did time become linear in the West? Because the concept of rebirth never became prevalent. Pythagoras introduced it, but then it was lost; Jesus hinted about it; he talked indirectly about it. He never talked directly, he indicated it. But it could not be understood.
The concept of rebirth is the reason why the East could conceive of history in a circular dimension. If you are to be reborn again and again there will be birth and death — then birth will follow and again there will be death.
“It will be a repetition. But if there is only life — birth followed by death, but death not followed by birth — then birth becomes absolute, death becomes absolute. Neither will come again. That is why time became so important in the West, and the West became time-obsessed.
“These are all related things: history, time, tension. Why has the West become so tense about time? Not a single moment is to be lost because once lost, you cannot find it again; it cannot be reclaimed. The East is at ease. Nothing is lost, everything can be reclaimed. You cannot lose it even if you try. Things will come back. Death will be followed by birth again, you will be young again. Everything will come back, will return to itself.
“This seems more natural. Every movement is circular — it may be of an atomic particle or it may be of a great star.
Everything moves in a circle; there is no movement that is linear. Einstein talks of a limitless circular space. Even space is circular. Not only are things circular, but even nothingness, the vacuum itself, is circular.
“Even the movement of a vacuum is circular. In fact, that which is not circular cannot move: movement is circular.
“The whole of nature moves in a circle. Summer follows again in the same course; each season comes and goes and is followed in repetitive progress. Time cannot be different. Time is nothing but a medium of movement.
“You become aware of time because of movement. We cannot conceive of movement without time. Time means a sequence between moving events: something is followed by something else. This passage occurs in time. Since everything is moving in a circle, the passage of time cannot be non-circular.
“History is an awareness of time: its events and their position in a particular framework — the framework of linear movement. People in the East became aware of linear time and of history, only when the East came in contact with the West. Then the East felt that it was lacking something. We have no history at all; we cannot create any history. Anyone can say that Buddha is mythological and we cannot prove that he is not. Anyone can say that Rama is just a story, a myth. We cannot say that he is not because we have not maintained any record of when he lived. Where is the proof?
We were not aware that any proof is needed. We became aware of it only when we came in contact with the West. We came to know that they have everything recorded; they have exact proofs. Only then, India began to write its history.
“But still, a historic sense is not there. It cannot be, because with a circular time concept, history cannot exist. With an infinite opening toward the future, with an infinite possibility of repetition, a historic sense cannot exist. With the concept that death is just temporary — just a phase and not the end — history cannot exist. History can exist only with the concept of absolute death.
“Then, each moment becomes significant. You have to live it, otherwise it will be lost. Tension follows; you cannot be relaxed. The West can never be relaxed unless its time concept changes. How can you be relaxed when a moment is going, passing, and it will not come back? And the paradox is that the more obsessed you become with time, the more tense you become and the less you can live each moment.
“The more obsessed you are with time, the more you will write history and the less you will live it. History, as it exists — and it cannot exist otherwise — this history, this historic attitude, can never confront those phenomena that are beyond time. Even life is beyond time. It passes through time, but is always beyond. It is like a lotus leaf: always in water, but still beyond water, untouched by it. Life is like that. And the deeper life becomes, the more lotus leaf-like it is. Always touching somewhere, but never touched. Always in touch with time, but always beyond time. Untouched, virgin.”
To continue reading and see all available formats of this talk:
Osho, The Eternal Quest, Talk #1 – Religion: Knowing Through Feeling