Bahauddin Shah once gave an address on the principles and practices of the Sufis. A certain man who thought that he was clever and could benefit from criticizing him, said, “If only this man would say something new! That is my only criticism.”
Bahauddin heard of this and invited the critic to dinner. “I hope that you will approve of my lamb stew,” he said. When he had taken the first mouthful, the guest jumped up, shouting, “You are trying to poison me – this isn’t lamb stew!”
“But it is,” said Bahauddin, “though since you don’t like old recipes, I have tried something new. This contains lamb all right, but there is a good dash of mustard, honey and emetic in it as well.”
Truth is. Truth simply is. It is neither old nor new. It is eternal, it has no reference to time at all; it is beyond time. That is the meaning of the eternal. Eternal does not mean forever, because forever has a reference to time; eternal does not mean permanent, because permanency has a reference to time. Eternal simply means timeless. It is.
Truth is never past and never future. It knows only one tense, the present. Truth knows only one time, now – which is not time at all; but it is timelessness. And truth knows only one space, here – which is not space at all; it is transcendence of space. Truth is always now-here. Truth has no history. History belongs to the world of lies. Politics has history, religion has no history.
This is the first thing to be understood: that truth cannot be old and cannot be new either. If truth can be new then one day it will become old. Whatsoever is new today will be old tomorrow. Truth is never old, hence it can never be new.
Truth is equivalent to existence. In a way, it can be said that it is as old as the mountains, and as new as this morning’s dewdrops – but that is only a way of saying. What is being said is that truth is eternal.
But there are people who are very much interested in the old. They are past-oriented. They believe in something only if it is very old. The older it is, they think, the better it is. All that is old is gold for them. They go on trying to prove that their scripture is the oldest scripture in the world, their religion the most ancient.
There is another group of people who think the new is always better than the old because it is new. It is more evolved, more improved, more refined.
These are the two kinds of people; both go on missing the truth. One is past-oriented, the other is future-oriented; and truth exists now, neither in the past nor in the future.
Before we can enter into this small parable you will have to understand something about time, because basically it is a question of understanding time and its process.
Time moves in a horizontal line from past to future. Time’s movement is linear; hence it is shallow, it can’t have any depth. One moment is followed by another moment and so on, so forth. Before you can catch hold of the moment it is already gone, so you cannot move into depth. You cannot dive in time; you can only float, you can only swim. It is very thin, it has no depth. It is horizontal.