7. Are we willing to change?


The next year, in May 1976, the duo became a trio, when psychoanalyst David Shainberg joined the crew. An intense and enjoyable session of seven dialogues was held in four days in a cosy setting at Brockwood Park.

Passionately vibrant, Krishnamurti challenges Shainberg with difficult questions and pulls the answers from him without losing his grip. Bohm is excellent and takes care of the logicality in their dialogue. He easily follows K's reasoning and patiently explains K's sometimes unclear wording.

We are served with a charged and easy-to-follow package that inspires the listener to think about his life and the destiny of all of us in a fresh and thorough way. In seven hours they manage to address many issues, but actually there is one question: Can human beings change?

The whole series was published in a book The Wholeness of Life and is available on DVD titled Transformation of Man with a 10-minute introduction, absolutely worth watching.

It is thrilling to watch this series of deep, moving and personally challenging conversations. The intensity of the participants gives depth to the spoken words.

The introduction of the participants was recorded after the last meeting, so everybody knew what was discussed. Bohm and Shainberg told who they are and how they got involved in K and his teachings.

Bohm starts telling how he got acquainted with Krishnamurti. He says he has always been interested in what are called the deeper questions, the nature of time and space and matter, causality and what is behind all of this. He found that very few of his colleagues shared his interest.

David Shainberg tells he is a practicing psychiatrist in New York City and read K as early as the late forties. Especially of interest also to him was the question of the observer and the observed. In the medical school he tried to understand the difference between what K said and what western psychiatry and psychology were communicating. It only took some five years before he really started to use K's teachings in his work, greatly due to discussion with his friend David Bohm.

"In psychiatry all theories deal with fragmentation and the relationships between fragments. They do not have any understanding of the holistic action. Most theories analyse and break things down and break things into pieces which collaborate with the very problems that our patients present us with."

Krishnamurti's work has helped Shainberg to see that the relationship between the observer and the observed is very important in the very patient-doctor situation, and that the very theories about mind are part of the very problem.

Then K is asked, How can the viewer best share in the dialogues and get the most from this experience?

K's fine words about taking things seriously and his strong reference to sharing melted my mind when I first heard them in 1977, and still do light me up.

"I think it all depends how serious you are. How serious in the sense of how deeply you want to go into these questions, which is after all your life. We are not discussing theoretically some abstract hypotheses, we are dealing with actual daily life of every human being. We are dealing with the actual facts of fear, pleasure, sorrow, death and if there is anything sacred in life, because if you don't find something real, something that is true, life has very little meaning.

If you are really serious to go into these matters with care, with attention, with affection, then you can share a great deal. You have to do this right through your life, every day of your life. If you care to find out how to live properly, what is right relationship between human beings, then you will share completely what we discuss."

Life is more than me

First dialogue at Brockwood Park 17 May 1976

Krishnamurti begins the series by asking, What is the most important thing we can talk about together?

Shainberg says he was very impressed when K once conveyed that it is important to realise that life comes first and not thought and work. He has also noticed that most people live second-hand lives.

Bohm wants to discuss the question of wholeness of life. K suggests that they would talk about both, not speculating theoretically but very practically and factually.

We can easily see that most people are very fragmented and not whole, and that they are not aware of it. We assume that we look at the world holistically, but actually we see ourselves and our lives through a small hole and interpret everything according to our likings.

Many seem to feel that there is nothing wrong with being fragmented: it is what we are!

We become aware of our fragmentation when something goes wrong in our life. When we have unfulfilled or opposing desires and we don't get what we want and we feel dissatisfied. Or we may feel that the world is not what we want it to be and feel disappointed.

We are aware of our fragments only in patches, here and there. And we don't see the root cause of our fragmentation. Actually we do not see that there is a root cause.

If we feel and say that we are fragmented, it is because there is a centre inside us, an ego that is aware of the fragments. That very same centre is the cause of fragmentation and that same centre tries to bring about integration and wholeness.

Without the ego there would be no fragmentation, but our ego does not see it, because we have separated ourselves from our thinking.

The trouble begins when one fragment claims to be whole and makes itself more important than other fragments. When it wants to control or lead other fragments, there is conflict between fragments.

Besides this inward conflict there is outward conflict between us and other people. I may think I am important, but other people do not see my excellence and it bothers me. They often feel the same about me.

The whole world is broken into a trillion pieces and all these pieces think they are important. Our lives depend on these fragments.

We have two ways to realize what fragments are about. Either we do not see them at all or we see them only intellectually. We assume that fragmentation is due to outward facts, but fail to see that the root of it is in our thinking. Fragments are because we make and hold them.

The root of fragmentation is our desire for biological as well as psychological security. In order to feel safe I want to belong to some group, sect or organisation. That is, of course, only an illusion of safety, but I don't see it or I don't mind, because I want and must feel safe and secure.

The need for physical security is built into our body. We must have food, clothes and shelter. But that is prevented because we want to be psychologically secure and we belong to groups that fight with each other.

"If there were no nationalities, no ideological groups, we would have everything we want. That is prevented because I am a Hindu, you are an Arab, he is Russian", K argues.

The basic source of this process is knowledge. Knowledge is the past, but seems to be in the present. We are imposing this partial knowledge on the whole and hope that through knowledge we will overcome fragmentation. That is, of course, an illusion.

Knowledge has a place in driving a car or learning a language, but when it is used psychologically, it assumes to understand the whole. Of course we don't usually explicitly think that we understand the whole, but we implicitly assume so.

This is seen in our dealing with other people. We meet others with fixed thoughts about what I am and what is the other. We are very partially open to the new. Any human being is immensely beyond what we can really know about him or her. The image based on past experiences does not tell everything of that person.

Knowledge spills from practical things into the psychological field, because to us psychological security is even more important that biological security. We seek security in knowledge, ideas, pictures, images, conclusions. They don't produce but prevent biological security for us and our children. We are ready to kill others because what we think of him or her or them.

So the' me' becomes the essence of my life: my position, my happiness, my house, my god, my wife. We build our lives on identification with ideas and become second hand people having no actual contact to reality.

Lost in concepts

Second dialogue at Brockwood Park 18 May 1976

The first session ended in a statement; we try to find our security in the 'me', but that is a delusion. The second meeting continues with this issue.

We take for granted that there is psychological security. If we fail to feel safe, we may collapse.

It is our fundamental longing to feel safe and know that life goes on, even after death.

Our security lies in the hope that some day we will reach what we want or dream to have. Empirically we know that these hopes for security are often false, because everything is in flux, changing. But we don't want to face the hard fact that there is no security in life, no permanency, no stability psychologically. In this way we build our existence on beliefs.

Bohm gives two examples.

"If I could really believe that after dying I would go to heaven and be quite sure of it, I could be very secure anywhere and not matter what happens. I don't have to worry, because this is temporary trouble and all is going to be good. Or if I am a Communist, I know that we are going through a lot of troubles but it is all worthwhile and in the end all will be right."

There is security in the anticipation that everything will be good in the future, in the projected belief or comforting concept. We are focusing on life to become good. This may seem a healthy reaction to having had so many disappointments and sufferings in the past.

These are vain and false hopes. We cannot count on our feelings, on our health, on money, on anyone, on anything. Anything might happen. We may any minute lose everything we have and sooner or later that will happen. There is no security in reality.

What is wrong with beliefs, hopes and ideals?

Firstly, they are an escape from reality. We are unable to act correctly if we are not living in reality. Secondly, because of them we are in constant conflict.

If we build our life on ideas and images, it is impossible to have healthy relationship to others. As long as there is a sense of self, we act fragmentarily.

Once again we are asked why ideas have become so fantastically real to us, more real than marbles and hills. Why do we keep on building our lives on something that is not real and which brings endless conflict and suffering into our lives?

Once again the answer is that we want to and must have a feeling of order in our lives. We must feel safe to be able to live.

To forget our uncertainty, we fill our days with various activities, keeping ourselves busy. In being occupied there is a mechanical order, but it will satisfy us only for a little while. Soon we get bored and go after entertainment.

The occupied brain tends to go into disorder and there is no way to prevent that. We may take a pill but the problem is waiting at the background to take us over.

The brain finds order in a mechanical process, in being occupied. But why don't we see that this mechanical order is essentially disorder, delusory and dangerous? We want to hold on to our beliefs and hope that others will leave us alone. But life won't leave us alone.

The only way out of this mechanical mindset is to stop it instantly. That means that the past meets the present and ends there. Then a totally different thing takes place.

As K puts it: "If I meet you with my memories, I don't meet you. You might have changed. If I am completely aware of this movement, then it stops and I meet you as though for the first time."

Still crazy after all these years

Third dialogue at Brockwood Park 18 May 1976

There have been various suggestions for solving the human problems, but the same old game is going on. Why do we human beings live the way we do? This opens the third meeting.

Looking at this panorama of horror many people become cynical and start to think that one person cannot do anything about it: human nature is like this and it cannot be changed.

Many things have been tried, but it has not been guided by an understanding of human nature. Marxists say that human nature can be improved, but only after the whole economic and political system has been altered.

But we will not succeed unless we see the root. The ego wants to change itself, it can't, and all attempts are doomed to fail.

So, we can try to find somebody to help us to bring balance to our life. The disorder creates the need for authority - or actually the impression that we need authority.

If we see this, we reject all authority and begin to become sane. We have now much more energy and can concentrate on finding out, investigating. If we don't turn to anyone, it gives us a tremendous sense of integrity.

As a human being we may realise that we are neurotic in the sense that we have conclusions and beliefs. Can we look at the nature of the belief without the word so

that thought is aware of itself? If thought can be so aware, it undergoes a radical change.

Thought is not a fixed thing; it is a process that can change in perception. The very observation changes the object in the same way as the quantum theory shows that observation through a microscope affects the object, that the object cannot be known without the act of observation affecting it. In psychotherapy the act of being with the patient changes both. In the same way the awareness of thoughts moving stops irrelevant thoughts.

To live you must leave

Fourth dialogue at Brockwood Park 19 May 1976

One reason why human beings have not changed may be that if we would actually transform our conditioning, we might find ourselves in a genuine insecurity, not an imagined one. If we reject society, society will reject us. The common logic goes: if you don't think like us, you are against us.

So we are really frightened of not belonging to a group or a herd. We would rather cling to the known misery than enter a world we don't know. Belonging to a group gives us safety. If we get transformed, we are left alone and empirically we don't want that.

To be free we must eliminate identification with a group and step out of confusion and disorder that belonging brings. Yet, we don't dare to liberate ourselves, because of fear of being alone. So we would rather stay in our little pond than face isolation.

In a primitive tribe the worst punishment was to be banished from the group. We are afraid of being thrown out of the group, afraid that we are not accepted by other people. That may be one more reason why we don't change.

Another reason is that we are heavily conditioned to accept things as they are. Because we feel uncertain, we accept an easy answer from another; believe what an authority tells us.

Religions have said that this world is transient and there is a better one, aspire to that. Communists said that there is no next world; let's make the best of this one. Whom do we choose to believe? On what grounds?

It seems that we don't fully realize our own role in this confusion. We tend to look at problems being out there, existing independently of us. We tend to attribute the chaos to something outside of ourselves.

Or the alternative is that we blame ourselves. In both cases we think that there is an 'I' separate from our thinking. It 'takes care of thinking'. Thought thinks and acts as if it is an independent agent and is not in charge of what it is doing.

We have divided our thinking into two entities: thinker and thinking. After having realized they both are part of our thinking process, a click happens in our mind. The question is then not, Why don't we change, it is, Why thinking does not stop but goes on endlessly?

If the movement of thought stops, there is no me, no fear, no sorrow left. Something new takes place, something we have never looked at, seen or experienced. When we remain totally with the fact, then we have an energy which is extraordinary.

Two rails never meet

Fifth dialogue at Brockwood Park 19 May 1976

Krishnamurti starts the fifth dialogue asking Shainberg, why do we divide consciousness and who invented the unconscious? To K, the division between the conscious and unconscious, hidden and open, is not real, it is only an invention of a fragmented mind.

Once the division is made, it becomes real and affects our thinking. Yet the most influential factor is not the line between the hidden and open part of our mind but the whole process of how our mind works.

All grown-up people have an image about themselves and it is that image that gets hurt. The value of everything depends on this self-image being right. If we never made any images, we would never get hurt. There would be nothing that could get hurt or be hurt. It would be like putting a pin in the air.

If I have an image of myself and others, my relationships are between two images, and they are not real. So there is no real relationship, because the image is the dominant factor. It may be active all the time, but when we pass a critical point, the image takes over. It is like being tied to a rope. As soon as we reach the limits of that rope we see that we are stuck.

If we have an image, we don't see the person actually. We see only a fragment and want to keep the person within the confines of that fragment. Society is doing this to every human being. Every culture around us is creating images about us.

Image-making is one of the contents of our consciousness and it may be the major machinery that is operating. It is possible to stop this process which destroys all relationship.

There is no possibility of real caring for somebody as long as the image-making process is going on. If it does not stop, we are going to destroy each other and this lovely earth where we are meant to live happily, look at heavens and be happy about it.

Our consciousness is filled with images. As long as this is the case, there will be no peace and no love in the world. If one remains with this fact and does not let thought interfere, there is a transformation in the mind.

Occupied by acute matters

Sixth dialogue at Brockwood Park 20 May 1976

In the sixth session K asks Bohm: What will change man? What will bring about a radical transformation in the total consciousness of man? What is the energy or the drive that is lacking?

Bohm advises us to start from daily relationship in the office, factory, golf course and at home, watch the images moving in our mind. We must realize right relationship is of the greatest importance.

Therefore, we are willing to give up certain wasting of our energy like drinking, smoking, endless chattering, crawling from pub to pub. If we don't have the energy, everything will go to pieces and we will create such havoc around us.

It must also be clear that nobody can do it for us. We have to do it by ourselves. Whatever somebody else does won't really affect our relationship.

Thirdly, our relationship must be free from image. Any form of image we have about others prevents the beauty of relationship. If we have an image, we either expect another to act according to our image or we try to change him.

Most of us are not serious. We want an easy life. We don't have time to listen to a serious talk even for two minutes. We have our plans and acute interests. If we are not in the mood to listen, we ask to come back when we have time.

The major part of consciousness is the self-image. We are mostly occupied by it. Our images are all centred on the self. All images are aimed to make the self feel right, correct. The self is regarded as all important. That gives it tremendous energy.

Now we are asked to be free of the self, to empty consciousness and stop image-making. If we ask how to do it, it is still the 'me' foremost asking for means to change itself.

The 'me' is the result of my past: my personal memories, experiences, and recollections. I am the past and from the past I project the future.

The whole point of image is that it imitates an actual fact. We get the feeling that I am factual in the same way as a mountain or a chair is a fact. It is not. Reality is only thought which is the past. There is no thinker without thought. If there is no experiencer there is no experience.

Sensing the sacred

Seventh dialogue at Brockwood Park 20 May 1976

In the last session K takes the lead.

"After this morning you have left me completely without any future, without any past, without any image. So I have been left with a sense of a blank wall. I have rejected all systems, all gurus and all systems of meditation, because I have understood the meaning of the meditator in the meditation. But I still have not solved the problem of sorrow, of what it means to love a human being and what is compassion. And you have not shown me what death is."

If the self is only an image, what is it that dies in death? Ending of an image is nothing much, like turning off a television. Death must have much greater significance. Image-making is like a wave on the surface of this stream of human suffering, it is a very 'shallow affair'.

There is this constant flow of image-making. When we die, image-making does not stop, but goes on manifesting in other people if we still have an image in the moment of death. These images don't originate in one brain, but they are in some sense universal. They manifest in people as they are born, K says.

Death opens up or brings about a sense of enormous, endless energy which has no beginning and no end, a life that has infinite depth. The image-maker and the 'thought-maker' are blocking this energy.

Beyond our images there is this universal sorrow in which man has lived for millions of years. It is much more than pain or losing someone you loved. It is much

more than the sum of all the sorrow of different people. The individual sorrow is self-pity, but there is much deeper sorrow, which is universal. The perception of that sorrow is compassion.

Seeing this tremendous ignorance of man, this sorrow of man living like this, one wants to do something. That is the energy of compassion. A man in sorrow can never have that. To penetrate into this the mind must be completely silent. That silence is not the product of control nor brought about through will.

"In that silence there is the sense of something beyond time, thought, death. There is something beyond compassion. That is sacred and it cannot be examined. That may be the origin of everything, of man, matter and nature."

To come to this point one must empty the content of one's consciousness. To do that one must be burning to find out the truth, not be caught in words.

To talk about life and the sacred can be a process of just clever argumentation, expressing ideas and opinions or deeply penetrating meditation. To share this means to go beyond the words. Then there is no sharing, there is only being in that dimension.

The whole series and especially the last two discussions point to something immense that cannot be explained but can be felt.