8. The potent powers of our mind
David Bohm and David Shainberg arranged many meetings where Krishnamurti held discussions with scientists. Some were successes but not all.
Bohm was present but not very active in three discussions in June 1978 with two Buddhist scholars Walpola Rahula and Irmgard Schloegl. Once again he could clarify some seeming differences.
Why we compare?
First discussion at Brockwood Park 22 June 1978
Doctor Rahula starts the first session saying that K is teaching quite the same that Buddha taught 2500 years earlier, but in different idioms. He lists identical points in the teachings: existence of god, suffering, desire, reality, authorities and awareness. Rahula finds nothing in K's teachings that is different from what the Buddha preached.
K is very frank but not grumpy, asking: "Why do you compare? What is the necessity of comparing? Does the gamut of so-called sacred books help man at all? Has knowledge the liberating quality of the mind?"
Rahula says that knowledge conditions man, but it is not completely unnecessary, because man need a boat to cross the river.
"All knowledge disappears the moment you see the truth."
But can knowledge ever free the mind or does it prevent the liberation by strengthening the ego?
"Can the mind burdened with knowledge see truth? Most minds are filled and crippled with knowledge. Why should one accumulate knowledge and then abandon it?" K asks.
All religious traditions are caught up in evolution of the self and so they are strengthening the self, not freeing us. They condition us to live in ideas and illusions.
Bohm asks whether Rahula accepts that he is conditioned. He says he accepts it. Bohm asks how one knows that? There are two options: either by observing people we come to the conclusion that all human beings are conditioned or one sees it directly in oneself.
If we base our acceptance on outward observation, it is merely a conclusion and not a fact. But if we directly see our own conditioning, we can understand that we are not different from our own conditioning.
What follows is incoherent verbalization of concepts and their content, jumping from one theme to another. Rahula thinks what K is saying also conditions men but K does not believe that is happening. Sincere enquiring cannot condition mind, only conceptualization does so. Why do we make everything into a concept? Because we are not able to keep ourselves in facts.
Thinking dualistically is to K the sordid invention of philosophers and intellectuals. When we are not able to deal with facts, we invent an idea. That is one form of escape, running away.
Our minds are full of words and with words we look at everything. If we can look without the past remembrance, we don't need an idea of becoming something else.
The idea of evolution from bad to good which religions have adopted leads us to live in a corridor of opposites. To zen scholar Schloegl 'this channel of opposites is a humanizing factor'. K does of course not agree and gives a familiar example:
When we notice that are greedy, we want to get rid of greed. To do that takes time. This means that everything becomes relative, because we invent in our mind an opposite to what is actually happening.
"The question is after all how to be free of greed now, not eventually. I am not interested what happens in next life or tomorrow. I want to be free of sorrow and pain now. Can I look at them, condemning without words?" K asks.
"Can I look at that tree, woman, man or heaven without the word? If someone comes along and wants to help me in looking, then I am lost."
Within me, without me
Second discussion at Brockwood Park 23 June 1978
In the second session Rahula wants to ask three questions to Krishnamurti, but only one is dealt with. He wants to know, what happens to a liberated man when he dies? When this was asked from Buddha, he answered that it is not possible to answer in dualistic terms.
K answers by asking: What is living?, and Is there a state of a mind that is dead or dying?
First K wants to investigate: What is the self, the 'me'? It consists of everything we identify ourselves with: the name, the body, experiences, fears, pain, characters, joys, inspiration, troubles, furniture, property and beliefs.
"Can identification end? Identification is the movement of thought and death is the ending of that movement or continuation of it in the next life."
A liberated man does not wait until death collects him, but he dies to everything known while living. So it is irrelevant to think over what happens in death. What is essential is what we do while living, with our lives. Are we ready to let conditioning go or not, and do we think it is possible or even desired? Is there a state of mind without the 'me'?
Bohm asks, how do we listen to that question? Do we listen through our previous ideas and what we know or do we listen openly?
"It seems there is a tendency to listen through the word. Identification is going on while one thinks one is listening."
Identification makes thought do all the wrong things. When the self is not and we don't identify ourselves with anything, it means death while living. There are sensations of course, blood circulating, breathing, brain working, but no sense of 'me'.
"Is that love? Do we love a woman or man, child, sky, stone or a stray cat when we are not identifying? I am asking this as another human being."
We must see that the 'me' is born of identification. We must see it as we see a dangerous animal.
The fact is that we are taught to identify with our family, friends, country, god, experiences, hurts, hopes, dreams, kings and queens. All this we call the self. To die to all that dependence means that our mind is in a totally different state.
Free will or no choice?
Third discussion at Brockwood Park 23 June 1978
The third discussion starts with speculations about free will and choice. Is there free will at all? Why do we think it is so important? Apart from material things in reality, why do we choose at all?
K wants to investigate if there is action that is not based on ideals, desire or will. Most of our actions have a motive. Identification is usually behind a motive. Bohm wants to ask why human beings identify. K takes a simple example:
We see a beautiful lake. The joy of seeing it awakens thinking. We identify with the sensation. We perhaps want to build a house there. A pleasurable feeling has become a memory and does not give up even if we wanted to do so. If we don't get the house we get disappointed.
"Thought seems to have fallen into a trap because it innocently remembered pleasure and made it important. Doing so, the brain starts to act irrationally", Bohm explains.
Can this process of identification be stopped? How can you look at yourself without a motive? Only by seeing the facts without time and thought.
In these three discussions it becomes clear how difficult it is to talk about things when you 'know'. Instead of actual facts we start to talk about words and concepts out of context. K tries persistently to keep Buddha away, but does not succeed. What actually matters is what we are. To understand what is we don't need interpreters but a straight view.
The brain is more than a computer
Discussion at Ojai 1 April 1981
Krishnamurti often talked about the threat of computers to the human mind. He said he had discussed this with several experts and they all were more or less certain that since computers can perform many similar functions as thought, they will 'outstrip man'.
Bohm joined K and computer specialist Asit Chandmal and they had a dialogue in Ojai on April 1981. It was published in the book Questioning Krishnamurti in 1996.
K starts by asking, What will happen to man after computers learn how to solve economic and social problems, correct itself and perhaps discover new things?
Bohm does not believe that computers can ever solve economic or political problems, simply because these are so tightly connected to psychological problems.
The computer is programmed according to certain assumptions and it can do many things but not everything which thought is doing.
"The human brain is able to change the assumptions when we find they are not working."
Chandmal insists that the human brain has limitations but Bohm questions that. People may work in terms of fixed assumptions but there is no reason why they must do so, except out of habit or tradition. When one sees that an assumption is not working, you can see the contradiction and change the assumption.
Computers are effective in mechanical tasks and formal logic, but there will always be new situations where any set of assumptions fail to be consistent.
"The computer is a sort of tremendous simplification of the human brain. The human brain is infinite, the computer is finite."
K brings the words insight and intelligence into the discussion. Neither of them is mechanical. Chandmal says that they both are very rare. There are not many Einsteins or Beethovens in the world.
"I think the rarity is irrelevant", Bohm argues. "People tend to be caught in the mechanical, but the fact that it is rare does not make it less significant."
People have made fixed assumptions about the world and think they are true. Intelligence does not make such assumptions but reads between the lines. It gathers information but does not put it into fixed categories as thought does and computer does.
"It seems to me that man 'became a computer' and then made another computer", Bohm says.
Human beings have the capacity for insight, but a computer is programmed by a limited human mind. It is vital to find and use that capacity of insight. The wrong question to ask would be if we personally have an insight or not. The right question is: does the mechanical process of thinking ever stop? It may stop when one is tired or because of lack of oxygen, but that is not insight.
In finding insight it is essential to observe the state of our mind when we ask that question. If we want insight just to solve our problems, we are on the wrong track. We must be in a state of not-knowing, not-wanting, not-expecting and focus on understanding only.
We want to understand or feel the contours, the smell of insight. Our mind can be free of the mechanical. The computer cannot.
Insight is perception without an analytical process. With logic we cannot come to insight. If we start with logic, we start with the fixed assumptions that are fundamentally wrong. When we start from insight, we start from something new. Insight changes the basis on which we reason.
Master of own time
Discussion at Brockwood Park 12 February 1982
English physicist and molecular biologist, Professor Maurice Wilkins, attended the scientist sessions, but also has one discussion with Krishnamurti and Bohm in February 1982 about thinking together and mastering one's inward time.
Wilkins was a colleague of Bohm from London University, a Nobel Prize laureate in 1962 for his work on determining the structure of DNA.
Krishnamurti starts by stating that it is quite difficult for people to think together, not about something specific but have the capacity to go into something deeply. People stick to their opinions and that prevents them from co-operating. It is difficult to examine freely, if everybody is quite certain about his view.
"If we wanted to have peace in the world, we would have the two sides ready to discuss without fixed opinions", Bohm says.
It is not only politicians who don't think together. Wilkins argues that ordinary citizens must overcome their sense of helplessness and stop blaming the leaders. Hierarchical society conditions us to feel helpless.
Bohm thinks it is not the right order to begin from others. K agrees and wonders why we miss passion. Why are we so lukewarm? We want power and pleasure, but perhaps never had passion for doing correct and good things.
K tells that he had just been in India. People there seek solutions but can't find them because seeking does not solve the problems. The approach to the problem is utterly important. First, we must see that the problem is not out there but we are the problem of the world.
The vast majority of people are concerned with immediacy. They want bread first. And the leisure class uses their leisure to amuse and entertain themselves.
"There is a door open for me to escape from all this horror - not escape, but to understand this whole business. How will you help me?" K asks.
Deep understanding of time is necessary. Could we be masters of our inward time? Inward time is the interval between thinking and doing. If we could shorten it or make it disappear totally, 'what is' would become all important and we could give our whole energy to it.
K questions the whole issue of thought dominating my life.
"When I love I don't have to think. Love is compre-hensive in the sense whole. Thought destroys the quality and beauty of relationship'.
All religions have turned love to mean something we feel for a particular object, idea or symbol. But that is not real love, it is a sensation only. As long as there is a self, there is no love.
To love somebody wanting nothing from her or him is marvellous. That is freedom. To be free we must die every day to everything we have gathered. If we can't do this, we are slaves and not masters of our time.
First discussion at Ojai 16 April 1982
In April 1982 K and Bohm sat with biologist Rupert Sheldrake and psychiatrist John Hidley and had four sessions about the nature of the mind. K begins on a heavy note:
"Self-centred activity is the very source of disorder. The egotistic attitude towards life, the sense of individual, emphasis on individual happiness and salvation is the origin of all disorder inside and outside."
Hidley is not sure. He admits that it creates the symptoms but is it justified to say that it is the source.
"Psychiatrists and psychologists look at this that the problem is to have an adequate self, defining normality so that the self is functioning sufficiently."
To K that means furthering more misery. Bohm feels that their purpose is that a properly organized self could get together with other properly organized selves and make an orderly society.
As a biologist Sheldrake thinks that the context is broader. There is disorder in nature, too. Animals are suffering and there are conflicts between forces of nature, between animals, even in the plant world when they compete for light.
Bohm opposes. The phenomena described are not disorder or at least they are different from disorder in consciousness. Hidley has seen there is suffering in all people in different amounts, but it is not obvious that it is necessary.
K questions: Must human beings inevitably live in agony and suffer? Physical suffering is obvious, but we can forget it if we don't give it continuity in thought.
Sheldrake insists that we inherit the pecking order and selfish activity from animals.
"There has always been wars and conflicts and there always will be. The most we could do is to try to minimize the effects or make them livable with."
K wants to enquire: Is it possible to change this conditioning? It means we have to change ourselves, not the society as communists tried to do.
Bohm clarifies that K talks about a fundamental change and not just a superficial transfer of the object of aggression.
Then K asks Hidley what he, as a psychiatrist, tries to do: free people from conditioning or accept and modify it? When he answers: to modify, K wants to know why. Hidley explains:
"Conditioning is seen as biological and therefore fixed. A person is born with a certain temperament. It is not clear to therapists that the problem can be dealt with as a whole but as particulars."
Psychologists are concerned with solving individual problems, they do not think about human suffering as a whole and they feel there is nothing wrong with that.
But K puts more pressure on Hidley: "So you are emphasizing his particular suffering and so sustaining it. You are helping me to be more selfish, self-concerned, self-committed!"
Hidley says that he can help the patient to be less self-concerned but admits that he leaves the self intact.
Bohm points out that people generally try to improve the self and that a certain amount of self-centredness is normal.
To K this means that we are only modifying selfishness and that is very irrational and impractical. Hearing this most people shut their ears and don't want to listen.
There may be few that want to investigate this deeper and find out if there is a way out of selfish outlook.
The first thing is to make the relationship with life right. If that is not right, how can we find out something that is immensely beyond all this?
We must be honest and not be satisfied with explanations or knowledge about ourselves. We must go beyond the 'me' and not depend on anybody. To do that we must explore dependence.
We depend because we want security and we think we get it from ideas, principles, faith, dogmas, house, furniture and wife or husband. If we don't find security in one sect we continue seeking.
From animal to human
Second discussion at Ojai 17 April 1982
In the next session Hidley asks Bohm about his comment about biological conditioning and psychological security.
"In the higher animals there is some memory, but in man memory becomes very significant. Animals forget bad experiences, but people may have quarrels between two groups for hundreds of years. Memory by itself would not cause any trouble, but it produces fear, anger and all sorts of disturbances. Most animals cannot form an image of the other animals, but man can remember an insult and revenge the vendetta in families over many centuries."
Biological facts are not a serious problem, but when we begin to think about bad incidents, it is very difficult to stop.
The purpose of thinking is to give us security and avoid suffering. We are looking for thoughts that would give us good feelings, but some memories are very disturbing and haunt us. Then we decide that it is more important to feel better than to find out what is true. We adopt a wrong way of feeling good and try to force our mind into a comfortable mood.
We know it does not work. There is no working way to force our feelings. Our thoughts take the place of reality and there is a good deal of self-deception there.
One threat to our mental mood is the feeling of being hurt. Psychological hurts cause us to do all kinds of neurotic actions. We are hurt because we have an image of ourselves as being a great human, but somebody tells us that we are idiots. We have invested many feelings and emotions in our image. It feels very real but it is only a symbol. A symbol is never actual.
The essence of our image is identification with something greater. We identify with our nation, family, house, furniture, gods, ideas, ideologies, beliefs, roots. We build this image, because inwardly we feel insufficient.
In doing this we build a wall around ourselves and feel lonely and isolated. We are not satisfied and we want more. So we start the process of becoming something or being more. That means escaping from 'what is' through time.
Sheldrake says that identification is a biological fact. Deer go in flocks and bees have hives. We are social animals, too, and we must protect members of our families and rush to defend them. It is our reciprocal obligation to help others.
K asks to stretch it further to communities and nations and see what happens: "We are killing each other in the name of security. That is damned stupid!"
Sheldrake defends his standpoint by saying that we have not killed each other. There are more people than ever been before. K does not buy this. To him isolation is something that prevents security.
Clear the confused mind!
Third discussion at Ojai 17 April 1982
The third meeting is about the need for security. We can see that identification and isolation are destroying us, but yet we continue. The way we seek security is not working.
The ego is unstable. That may be one reason why there is in us this anxiety for security. The self is in a state of movement and when we feel uncertain and impermanent, we invent something permanent. We create the idea of God.
K is almost harsh: "To be secure is really a disgusting desire. To be secure in what? About what? Personally I never thought about security. I need food, clothes and shelter, but I don't want security."
The demand for security rises because our existence is based on dualistic division: we think we are different from the content of our consciousness.
Many people disagree because they have not gone into it.
We create the division when we try to act upon fear, anger, violence, desire or suffering. We create the conflict and keep it up by thinking. All these disturbances block our mind and shrink us.
When we are afraid or in deep sorrow we cannot think or act rationally. We have no tools to clear up the chaos we made. We try to do something because we don't realize that we are the chaos!
"To realize that is total attention. Then the chaos in consciousness does not exist anymore. It is only inattention that creates the problems", K says.
"I listen not only with the sensual ear but with the other ear. In attention there is no centre."
We do not listen because we like our dependencies more than we want to use the chance to be free.
Healthy mind is whole
Fourth discussion at Ojai 18 April 1982
Krishnamurti starts the fourth discussion by pointing out the difference between analysis and observation. In analysis there is an analyser observing something that he thinks is separate from him. The division is made by thought and thought continues creating conflict. If this is understood deeply, psychological problems end.
Then there are no separate individuals. We have established a right kind of relationship to all people.
Sheldrake says it is easy to have a good relationship with people we know, but 'how about the enemies like Russians whom we have never met'.
K asks, Who is an enemy to us? One who disagrees with us, with whom we have definitive ideological differences? This kind of phrasing is tribalism!
"We are human beings, not labels! We represent all humanity. We are like the rest. If hundreds of us all over the world really had a non-tribalistic attitude towards life, we would be acting like a light in the midst of darkness. But we don't."
In spite of the mess in the world nobody seems to want to go deeply into all of this. We feel we don't have time for this, but we have time for everything we regard as important. We say this is too difficult, not practical, as though all that we are doing is practical. Is fighting or endless entertaining oneself very practical?
Even in a neurotic world it is possible to have a healthy, whole and holy mind. To have that the mind must be free, not attached, not confused, groping, floundering, demanding, asking.
"We are so superficial and it seems to satisfy us. We are educated to be cruel to each other", K says.
"A healthy mind is without any conflict. Then it is a holistic mind. And then there is a possibility of that which is sacred to be."