They have observed that rats have a four-minute range of thinking. They can think four minutes into the future and they can think four minutes back into the past. Beyond four minutes there is nothing for them. Their range of thinking is that much. There are other animals whose range is twelve hours. Monkeys have a range of twenty-four hours. So the world that was twenty-four hours before drops from their consciousness, and the world that may be twenty-four hours ahead is not. So their mind has a twenty-four-hour limit; it cannot go deep.
Man has a very wide range. From childhood to death, the whole life is his range. And those who are more sensitive, for them the range is still greater. They can remember their past lives and they can probe beyond this life into the future. With this range depth is gained, but also suffering.
If a rat cannot go beyond four minutes, to suffer for the future is impossible, to suffer for the past is impossible. Within these four minutes the whole world exists. So if there was pain four minutes before, it has disappeared; no memory can be maintained. If there is fear four minutes ahead, it cannot be thought about, it cannot be contemplated, it cannot be perceived. It is not.
With man, suffering deepens because mind can move to the past and can conceive of the future. Not only that: the mind can feel someone else suffering also. Animals cannot feel this. Higher animals have certain glimpses which lower animals cannot feel. With lower animals, if some member of the group dies they just forget about it. They will move on. Death is not a problem. Neither can they conceive of their own death, nor can they conceive that something has happened to some member of their group. It is impossible. It is as if it is not. But man conceives, feels, contemplates his own suffering and also others’ suffering.
And the more sensitive a mind is, the more sympathy can even become empathy. You are in deep pain – I feel that you are in pain. I understand. I am sympathetic. But if my mind is even more keen, more sensitive, I may begin to feel the same pain. Then it is empathy.
Ramakrishna was crossing the Ganges one day in a boat and suddenly he began to scream and cry, “Don’t beat me!”
No one was beating him. All those who were present with him were his disciples, devoted disciples. They said, “What are you saying? Who is beating you? Who can beat you?”
And tears were coming down from his eyes and he was weeping and he was crying, “Don’t beat me!” They were all puzzled.
And then Ramakrishna showed them: just on the other bank one man was being beaten by a crowd. And then he showed his back – his back had been beaten. And when they reached to the other shore, they went to the man who had been beaten there. They saw his back. They were just wonderstruck. It was a miracle: the same marks on his back as on Ramakrishna’s back.