2. Ten Insights
The dialogues between Krishnamurti and David Bohm do not deal just with daily mundane issues. They do not offer you simple advice about how to live a happy life but help us solve the fundaments of how to be a human being. When that is clear, you need no advice.
Krishnamurti had often talked to intellectuals and scientists, but in Bohm he found a partner who could follow his train of thought, ask the correct questions, make a contribution and hold the intensity for a long time. As a top scientist Bohm was familiar with probing into new territories and eager for innovative solutions.
Three things make these dialogues exceptional: the method used, the issues discussed and the solutions given. A notable dimension to these dialogues comes from their time span of 25 years.
The special feature of the method used comes from its participative nature. Questions put are so complex that answering them requires total attention and fierce intensity also from the listener.
It is totally inadequate to listen and make opinions for or against. Every single question must be put to yourself and understood so that you feel it in your guts. Verbal acceptance is self-deception and leads to superficial replicating of other people's ideas.
Therefore, the goal of these dialogues is not to have a verbal agreement but to share the actuality beyond words, to see together something that is the same to all of us.
The condition of such a state is that we not only agree, but actually see the answer in our mind.
Following a conversation we are accustomed to agree or disagree, weigh the words read or heard, make conclusions. Instead of having a dialogue and learn something new together we are in debate and defend our old views or adopt the suggestion made by someone whom we think is smarter than we are.
Real sharing is possible only if we start from 'not knowing'. Knowledge is a burden in understanding reality and it blocks open investigation and prevents fresh insight.
In listening deeply our mind stays alert, energetic and creative. It is curious, whole in a healthy manner. This quality produces the ecstasy of learning together.
The dialogues give an incredible view into human nature. The men not only suggest the cause for the awful state of our consciousness, but also propose a solution, a way out of this mess: eliminate everything that is not true. What a request!
Many issues in the dialogues embrace the world: truth, reality, the ground of existence, mind and brain, the self, consciousness and time, love, compassion, meditation, mystery, universe and cosmic order. I wonder if anybody else has before or after tried to cover all this and manage to put it into words.
Of course, various versions of so-called truth have been offered, but there is no agreement about it.
Krishnamurti and Bohm had some obvious advantages. Krishnamurti had been pumped full of theosophical doctrines and Bohm had the latest upgrade of radical findings in modern physics. Neither of them were satisfied with these, but continued their tour beyond them.
The solution is simple, but to find it we have to remove many small and a few large blocks out of our way. The first big block is about the self and the second is about time. When these two are clear, we are quite far away, if not "there".
Ten immense insights
There are many radical insights that challenge us to rethink our present world view.
To me the ten key issues are: the cause of human problems, the role of thinking, individuality, human conditioning, division, time, psychological evolution, attention, awareness and the essence of existence.
1. Human problems: Human problems are solved one by one as they come up.
2. The role of thinking: Thinking helps us to get rid of our psychological problems.
3. Individuality: We are unique personalities and separate individuals.
4. Human conditioning: We can modify, not eliminate our human conditioning.
5. Division: The world is divided and consists of separate parts.
6. Time: Living is a process in time from the past to the future.
7. Psychological evolution: To become better we need time, will and ideals.
8. Attention and awareness: There is an objective reality outside of us.
9. Mental authority: We need mental help and guides in our inner issues.
10. Essence of existence: All-important is what you believe in, think, feel and do.
1. Human problems: Human problems have one root and they can be solved all at once.
2. The role of thinking: Thinking is the cause of disorder and it prevents seeing.
3. Individuality: We are not individuals, the ego is an image created by thought.
4. Human conditioning: We can eliminate psychological conditioning.
5. Division: Dividing the world is the cause of inward and outward conflict.
6. Time: Psychological time is the enemy of man.
7. Psychological evolution: There is no psychological evolution or becoming.
8. Attention and awareness: The observer and the observed are one indivisible movement.
9. Mental authority: Nobody can help us to know ourself or see the truth.
10. Essence of existence: The essence of existence is beyond thinking and acting.
1. Human problems have one common root.
Our human problems are so diverse that it may seem almost ridiculous to suggest, as Krishnamurti does, that they could all be solved in the blink of an eye. And yes, the task is impossible if we take each problem and seek a solution one by one.
We must take a totally different view.
Krishnamurti says that all problems have a common factor, a root cause, one stem. They are all connected to each other. This realisation is the first insight.
To understand it, we must delve deeper than we have ever done and instead of scattering our energy here and there we must focus on seeing the one central thing at the back of our mind.
Bohm likes to use the analogy of a polluted river. We can either clean the dirty water endlessly or eliminate the cause of pollution upstream. In the case of our mind the root cause is in our thinking, but not in what we think, but in how we think. Bohm puts it: we must focus not on the content but on the process of thinking.
We are wasting our time in seeking answers to the wrong questions. We get lost in wandering in a strange territory without a proper map. Instead of running faster it is wise to stop and not go further before we know the right route.
The first thing is not to see what we think but to be aware that we are thinking.
This leads to the second insight; the role of thinking in our life.
2. Thinking is not the solution, it is the cause of human disorder.
As opposed to what thinking is usually regarded as being, Krishnamurti argues that thought does not help but prevents us from seeing the facts of life.
In watching something there are two things happening: what actually takes place is one and what we think of it is another.
What happens is what happens. What we think of it has as many variations as there are watchers. Life seems to happen outside of us, but the essential part of it happens in fact inside of us, in our consciousness.
This causes our drama and tragedy: we live in our own worlds. We think it is real, but it is made up of our thoughts and is true only to us.
The unfortunate consequence of this is that there seems to be nothing that we totally agree about. As long as we worship thinking and keep it on a pedestal, we will never get rid of this net of problems.
The third insight is a tough one, because it is against our common sense perception about ourselves. It is the belief that the ego is real.
3. We are not individuals.
We feel there is somebody inside our body, a self, an ego, a person that is different and separate from other persons. We come to this conclusion when we watch our lives, look into a mirror or see other people: I am here and they are there. I think I have my own thoughts and the others think theirs. So we have good reasons to suppose that we are separate individuals.
To deny the separateness of physical body would be stupid and neurotic. But is there psychological separateness? If yes, how does it come about and why do we stubbornly think it is real?
Our logic is this: I know that I am real, because I think. I remember what I was and did yesterday and I know what I experience today. I like some people, some not. I see, feel and react in my personal way. I am me!
Yet there is one problem with my ego. Nobody has seen it or can show where it is. I can see and smell my body or feel the presence of others, but that is only the external, physical side.
Of course, I feel I am more than my body! But what exactly is the ego and where is it? Is it in the brain, in the body, around the body or everywhere?
Our gut feeling is that there is something inside us controlling and looking at our thinking. We feel that there is an observer in me observing my thoughts. When I say 'I think', it means that I feel that there is an 'I' doing thinking, reacting to my own thoughts.
From this we conclude that the ego is real. It is definitely something far more than my thoughts and mental moods. I am very real! And because I am, you are and all others are. The world is full of separate egos.
But have we ever asked, why we are so certain about this? And would I exist if I didn't think? The answer is quite clear.
To Krishnamurti the ego is only an idea based on experiences, memory and knowledge. To him the image of an individual is a fatal mistake, a mixture of misunderstanding, wrong conditioning and unjustified self-importance. What a pill to swallow!
We have identified ourselves with some things and thoughts and call them ours. All thoughts come from someone or something outside us. We collected them in a thousand yesterdays, chose what we like and rejected many. There is nothing original in our thoughts.
We watch the world through the filters of our conditioned brain and make an image of it. We see and sense separate objects in interaction and think that the world is built that way.
It simply is not true. Our senses fool us. Actually, we are not separate egos: we are inseparable entities in the flow of the world.
The inevitable and unhappy result of our individual outlook on life is that we no longer live in the same world. Each one of us lives in a world made by our own mind and shaped by our own past.
Thus we not only live in different worlds but also in the past world of memories and recollections, and we project our version of future based on that.
These inwardly separate worlds do not meet except outwardly - and not always happily. Still worse is that they even cannot meet. Our bodies can touch, but our thoughts cannot.
On the contrary, they collide all the time causing nuisance or even severe battles between and among people. We can think alike, but as long as there are two separate thoughts, there is no meeting of minds.
The world where everyone lives in an isolated box is a severely divided world. There are many kinds of divisions: geographical, racial, sociological, religious, political, educational. Add to that: each one of us is also inwardly divided into many pieces.
We may get used to these divisions and perhaps see no possibility to get rid of them although we see many appalling consequences of them: endless conflicts, hatred, many forms of violence, cruelty, fear, insecurity, loneliness.
The basis of these divisions is the idea of individuality, supporting the idea of separate selves fighting for their space and rights in a world that consists of matter and mind, things and thoughts.
There are few or no important matters that we people actually and totally agree about and share globally. On a personal level our daily actions are based on images, opinions and beliefs. When we meet someone who has different views on life, we either oppose, quarrel, tolerate or run away.
Seven billion different worldviews on one small planet brings a great number of problems, especially when everybody thinks he is right and a good human with good intentions while all others are more or less wrong, misguided or just bad people.
Which of us is right? Only those who see the world as it is and not through their 'individual' ideas and ideals. But can anybody actually live like that? Aren´t we all conditioned to a mindset based on personal experiences and knowledge?
Furthermore, we might quite rightly ask, what is the world actually?
Is there and can there even be a common ground or truth that we can agree about?
We can only find that out by looking at the world without our inward filters and concepts, but we hardly ever do so. We don't even try but instead of trying we stick to our ideas as stubbornly as everybody else. Many people seem to be even proud of their prejudices and narrow-minded views!
According to Bohm and Krishnamurti, the problem is that we do not realize that our actions are based on images and what this means in our relationships. We feel we are dealing with facts also when we are stuck in images.
Only a small part of our images are based on facts, and we are unable to separate which part. This is due to thinking. We mistakenly think that our thoughts reflect or interpret the world more or less as it is. It does not.
The interpretation takes place in the brain. We define and classify our perceptions in a nanosecond and react unconsciously before we even notice that we have reacted. Our reactions are based on our knowledge and experiences, not the fact.
This leads us to the fourth insight about human conditioning and its nature.
4. We can and must eliminate psychological conditioning.
There is a vast agreement that the human mind is conditioned and that humanity is fragmented into billions of bits. But we disagree on what we should do about this.
Many people feel that little or nothing can be done. They say that we can change the conditioning slowly.
Krishnamurti and Bohm propose a radical alternative. They say that we must release mankind from psychological conditioning and it happen will immediately, without us actively doing a thing about it.
When we see what conditioning is doing to us, the inevitable consequence of this perception is that the conditioning falls away like an autumn leaf and we will start to behave in a totally different way. The trouble is that we don't see.
The partial way in which we have tried to solve our problems has not solved them and never will. On the contrary, it effectively prevents us from finding solutions. The only solution is a state of insight, where our mind naturally frees itself from conditioning. Then we will start to live in direct contact with the facts and 'float in the stream of life'.
The fifth insight is about seeing our habit of dividing the world.
5. The world is one whole, not fragmented.
For practical reasons we must sometimes divide reality into some limited areas, but when we apply it to everything we end up with a world of conflicts.
Division is a cunning trick of thinking. When we separate two things in our thoughts, we start to act as if they were actually separate. We fail to see the connection, the link between them.
One example of a division we cling to is individuality. It is based on a materialistic view of reality.
To Krishnamurti and Bohm, thought is a material process and the source of division. It is the very nature of thought to divide. There can be no holistic thought.
The trouble with division is that it creates conflict. The whole is never in conflict; only parts of it can be. Ending division means the ending of conflict.
The sixth insight has to do with time. It is a deeply rooted belief in our mind that everything in the cosmos - including us - is moving in time. There are some processes that do that but not all.
6. Psychological time is the enemy of man.
After seeing that the separate 'me' is only an image created by thinking, there is still one tough myth to be resolved: that of time. According to Krishnamurti, time is the real enemy and to get rid of it is a prerequisite for freedom.
Chronological time - time by the clock - is necessary, but the continuation created by our mind is the basic element of all our troubles. Time brings fear, sorrow and desire into our mind. Without time we would be free of all these.
Imagine a world without fear, sorrow and vain desires. What a paradise it would be!
To Krishnamurti time and thought go together. The perception of time is an outcome of thinking. Without thinking there is no time, and also the other way around: without time there is no thought needed, except functionally.
It is quite easy to understand the logic of this.
Time consists of the past, this moment and the future. Time is a movement from the past to the future. In between there is the present in which we are actually living.
The past is what we have collected into our memory. It is stored up in our brain and this storage is available if needed.
In this thinking about our thousand yesterdays, we have a feeling that there is time moving, but actually, it is of course not so. The only movement is in our brain. Everything is happening now and if there is no thinking, the now is timeless.
Based on our past memories we project our future. We know what we have done and plan what we will do. That is just fine.
Problems arise when this idea of time is brought into our psyche. Then we create this thing we call the 'me' and assume that it is living in time. There was a 'me' yesterday, there is a 'me' right now and there will be a 'me' tomorrow.
Only one of these three is actual: there is a 'me' right now. But what is the 'me' actually in the now?
The past 'me' is limited by our experiences, knowledge and memory. The future 'me' is a dream based on hopes and desires or a nightmare based on our fears. Usually it is all these: we hope for the best and are afraid that the worst will happen.
This movement in time we call living. Krishnamurti challenges this narrow view vigorously. There is more to life than this shallow affair, he says, much more than this. To perceive it one must end time, stop the process we have adopted.
There are powerful forces in our way. Our lives are anchored in time, continuance and causality. Time is our curse, but we regard it as our only hope. We believe that whatever we are now, there is a possibility to be better in the future. We must trust, believe and work for our ideals to come true. This is the beginning self-deception.
The seventh insight is that of becoming. The idea of mental progress is to Krishnamurti a primitive and vain form of self-deception. To him the only thing that matters is what we are and do now.
7. There is no psychological evolution.
When we cannot deal with psychological facts, we create an ideal. Pursuing that ideal means living in perpetual conflict. We need time to become what we want to be, so we are no longer living in the now.
To end time means to stay with the facts of life from moment to moment. Doing that, we are free of time and thought and get rid of conflicts and psychological problems. When there is no becoming, there is only timeless flow.
The eight insight is very fundamental. It is a sentence that was very important for both Krishnamurti and Bohm.
8. The observer and the observed are one movement.
To be aware of reality and to go beyond thought, thinking must remain in its proper place and not twist facts according to the program of our conditioning.
Attention means seeing and listening to everything around us with an open mind. In pure attention there is no me, time, division or becoming, no observer different from the observed.
Living with facts is the essence of attention and awareness. No illusion, no memory, no hope, just to be absorbed by the beauty of everything. It is a state of no problems.
The last two insights are closely related. After meeting many obstacles in understanding oneself and going beyond thought, many people give up hope of finding the way and turn to others for help. A big mistake! It is easy to find comforting thoughts from others whom we have appointed as an authority and to fill our life with spiritual gymnastics. But this only further confuses the mind and the confused mind can never choose correctly.
The ninth insight is freedom from all authority, including that of our own.
9. Nobody can help us see the truth.
If we want to see the truth, we must say goodbye to all mental guides. It is okay to ask the way when you are lost, but nobody knows the truth. They may know their version of truth. Truth is a living thing that we cannot hold in our mind. It is at the same time everywhere and nowhere.
When we actually realize that nobody can show us the light, we have to be a light to ourselves. Then the door is wide open for the tenth insight.
The last, tenth insight is like a resume and goes far beyond what we can ever grasp:
10. The essence of existence is beyond thinking and acting.
We are programmed to think that what we believe in, think, feel and do is all important. That is the content of our consciousness.
Only a free mind is able to enter the world beyond limits and see into the dimension that Krishnamurti calls what is and Bohm refers to as the implicate order. We cannot touch it with thought, but our thoughts are influenced by it when they are in order.
For what is to be, thought must come to an end. There must be insight and intelligence that are not produced by thought. That brings about a new order in the mind and that is the solution to human chaos.
As long as we worship thinking and keep it on a pedestal there will be conflict and disorder in our minds and in the world. The insight that thought is not the solution, but the very tool of destruction is a shock to the brain. It does not want to see this. And perhaps it even cannot see it in the same way as we usually see things and thoughts.
We are invited to share a dialogue about our life and find out whether we can live in an intelligent and coherent manner. If we can actually share our life and mind, we will go beyond our certainties and convictions and enter the limitless.
The ten insights mentioned here are not to be seen as steps in the path to freedom. Nor are they tasks to do. They clean the table and empty the content of consciousness so that it changes to something totally different. The crazy paradox is that only an empty mind is full, filled with existence.