1. What comes in, when you come in?
In January 28th 1985, a group of wealthy superstars went to AMA studios in Hollywood to record a song in order to raise money for starving people in Africa. They were greeted by a sign pinned to the studio door. It read, "Please check your egos at the door".
The producer, Quincy Jones, had put it up to prohibit pompous behaviour in the studio. Later he said that his fear was in vain, nobody came there to boost their egos. All were happy to work with their own heroes.
The single We are the World sold over 20 million copies, raised 10 million dollars and saved many lives. Yet, it did not succeed in changing the whole world.
The lyrics by Michael Jackson are touching: people are dying, it is time to lend a helping hand to life.
According to the second verse, we can't go on pretending that someone, somewhere will make a change.
Oh yes, we can. It is easy to pretend that we are the world, God's big family. We can give money to the starving people but it is not enough.
If we really felt that we are the world, we would not let our leaders spend billions to 'defend' our nation. We would call no-one our enemies just because they were born in another country or believe in other truths. We could not be violent and cruel to people who look, act or think differently.
In helping others we can save our own lives.
If we were the world, we would work together to resolve the human suffering. We would know that, as the song lyrics accurately testify, in helping others we would save our own lives, too. We would see that the root of the crisis is not outside of us, but that we all carry the same virus in our consciousness.
The song uses beautiful words in appealing to "send your heart" to the starving people. It is a nice gesture but people dying of hunger want more than our sympathy.
It would mean a great deal if we in the so-called first world would stop this madness and hypocrisy. It is not enough to say or sing 'We are the world'. It is time to feel it. To do that, we must change our mindset that is destroying life on planet earth.
This is the last call! Experts are not discussing if our actions destroy the world but when and how it will happen. Why do we not hear and listen to them?
Quincy Jones hit the nail on the head with his sign. If we want to do something, we must start from checking our own little egos.
Who do you think you are?
What happens when you enter a room full of people? Who do you see, how do you feel, what do you think or expect to experience? What do other people see, feel, think or expect to experience? If everybody is asked afterwards what happened, all the stories would differ because they all had a different experience.
Everybody in the room is on an ego trip. They live their own life and happen to share a brief moment together.
When I enter a room, it is my identity that enters.
When I enter a room, it is my identity that enters: my memories, joys, hopes, dreams, traumas, fears, images, opinions, my theories of how things work. I call all of that the self but actually it is an image of myself which has two roles: I as a subject and 'me' as an object.
'I' is the one who sees, acts, does, wants, experiences, chooses - and thinks. It is the active agent, the doer, the thinker, the observer, the one in charge, orchestrates the show.
The 'me' is the one to whom everything happens. It is an object, the person that other people see and meet. It is different from the person that I feel I am. Very often we feel that others do not even care about the 'real me', whatever that may mean, they are more or less using me for their own purposes. I do not mind because I do exactly the same.
My identity is a combination of these two, the "I" as a subject and the "me" as an object. It defines my place in the world. Without our identity, you and I have no place on earth.
The notion of identity is not coherent. Yet, our whole life is built on identity. We get hurt and are shaken if someone attacks our identity. If you insult me, I don't ask if you are right. I insult you back and it may help for a while.
We use an enormous amount of energy in trying to avoid being hurt. It is a very important part of our life strategy. We do anything to prevent it but do not succeed. We carry our hurts with us everywhere we go and cannot hide them.
Our life strategy is to find a meaning.
Fundamentally, our life is about finding a meaning. If we don't have it, we will search desperately for it. We may find it in doing or being: social activities, having power, or entertainment. All through life we want to love and feel loved. Love is the essence of our life experience. It is the meaning of our life.
Identity is a trap
In meeting other people we don't really meet them, we meet the images we have about them. When A meets B, it is a meeting of four images.
When I talk with you, my self-image talks to my image of you and your self-image listens to your image of me. No wonder it is difficult to understand other people.
To us, our image is very real. It is what we are. Whatever the image is, it is easy to hurt it. The bigger the ego is, the easier it is to find a way to hurt it.
Life built on images is narrow and limited. Whatever your life is, there could be more or less of anything. You have money but could have more. You are happy but could be happier. You are good but hope to be better tomorrow.
Identity is a trap set by our thoughts.
The identity is a trap. Our thoughts set it for us. We absorbed our identity from our culture and do not have the understanding and the courage to question its validity.
In fact, we do not want to question it because it makes us feel uneasy. We would rather believe the experts who advise us to 'accept yourself as you are'. Not very much better is the request to know yourself. In both, we assume that there is someone who accepts or knows the one that he or she is watching.
New physics led Bohm to question the concept of self as an entity living in space and time. Perhaps we made the whole thing up in our imagination, dividing the mind into two parts.
Our ego does not like to hear this. First, it gets confused, then irritated and perhaps a bit hurt. Then it starts to plan how to escape the bold accusation. It denies it, fights back, wants proof or runs away.
It may try to eliminate the evidence or attack the messenger. It does anything to avoid seeing the fact.
Our ego-system is built on false assumptions.
To Bohm, our ego-system is built on two false assumptions that lead to serious self-deception. Our first mistake is the idea of a separate self and the second is our misconception of time as a linear process. These two together produce incoherent action on the personal scale and on the world scale. They are the root cause of the world mess.
There is a hint of hope to change the ego-system. When something absolutely extraordinary happens, the little self vanishes and there is a totally different movement, beyond thinking and time.
We may take for granted that something is actually happening in the universe. However, nobody can know everything that happens right now and how it affects us. We don't even know what happens in our own body. Our heart beats, hair grows and hormones hum day and night without asking or telling us. Our mind records events and feelings and remembers things that we have already forgotten or never even noticed.
We assume more than we know.
We live on two levels. Level one is what happens. Level two is what we think is happening. Which is more important to us? Which decides what we do?
If we had asked David Bohm, he might have answered that all we know is the information we get through our senses but this is not the whole world. What we think is only an abstraction, a picture painted by our self.
The important point is that they are two different worlds. We live in both, the world of facts and the world of thoughts. And we make mistakes in judging which is which.
Everything is enfolded in everything.
To Bohm, the world is way beyond our thinking. It is hidden from our senses but we can sense it because everything is enfolded in everything.
This also means that everything matters. Yet, we are not aware of the whole. In fact, we cannot be. We are only aware of our thoughts about things and incidents. That is a very small and limited view. That is what we react to, not the facts but our thoughts about them.
It would be good enough if we realized that we don't see. But instead, we think we see, we feel we see, we know we see.
Our tragedy is that we don't see how thinking prevents us from seeing the world correctly. We prefer to fool ourselves rather than face the unpleasant facts.
We have developed many escapes from the ugly world. That may be one reason why we have not solved our problems.
We need thinking. It makes us human beings, different from animals. The world we see is mainly made by thoughts: buildings and cars, music, art, science, theatre. We need thinking in writing, planning, living and loving, but thinking creates many things we don't want and are not good for us, like violence, hate, inequality, pollution, poverty, corruption, prejudices, fears, and anxiety. Thinking also builds the ego and our images of other people. It creates conflicts and the attempts to solve them.
Our mind is programmed to seek pleasure and to avoid pain. When we suffer, our ego shouts: do something! It tries to find the cause of suffering and get rid of it. It blames either itself, others, or both.
We don't see that in all cases we are fighting against our own creations. Thinking created the 'I' and all other images.
For centuries our worldview has been materialistic and dualistic. We believe that the universe is made of mind and matter. We see objects moving in space and time and interacting outwardly. Our body is one of those objects, different and separate from the world. One hundred years ago the new physics proved this view fatally false, but it could not explain how the universe actually works.
The universe is beyond matter and senses.
For 50 years Bohm tried to solve this mystery. Perhaps he finally did. For sure, he offered an inspiring alternative to the ego-centric worldview that is terrorizing our minds now.
Bohm turned our worldview upside down and said that the fundamental order in the universe is movement, in which the invisible directs the visible. According to the materialistic view, the visible is, in fact, everything there is.
Bohm called this invisible world the implicate order. To me, it is one of the most beautiful concepts in the history of science. It shows not only how human conflicts and mental disorder arise but also offers the potential tools to solve them. There is one condition: you must first find out what the concept of implicate order means.
There is no separation in the implicate order. The universe is undivided movement without limits. All limitations come from the mind, from the part we call thinking. They are imagined, but to us they are true.
Bohm published his theory of implicate order in 1980. It was a huge effort that took 40 years and another 12 years to finalize just before his death in 1992.
Bohm was very inspired by many physicists and philosophers. There was one strange figure who influenced his thinking enormously. An Indian-born sage, Krishnamurti happened to say exactly the same puzzling sentence that the great Niels Bohr said about quantum reality: "The observer is the observed."
The observer is the observed.
For Bohr, this sentence summarizes his quantum observations. To Krishnamurti, it was a personal insight born from his life-changing experiences in the 1920s, when he felt that the separation between him and the world vanished.
This insight may be a key in solving the mystery of life. It could perhaps connect us directly with the world, and make the mind whole.
For two decades Bohm had worked on this puzzle when he heard Krishnamurti speak in May 1961 in London. The talks inspired a shift in his mind. He realized that there might be a way out of our manmade chaos.
The two men met and discussed regularly for 25 years, sharing a common interest in seeing life as it is. Many of their discussions were recorded and most of them are published in books, audio, and video.
They saw how the human mind is conditioned to thinking and time. To Bohm and Krishnamurti the essence of existence is a movement beyond thinking and time. To liberate the mind from these two traps would allow us to live and love without mental limits.
There is a world where egos cannot enter.
To summarize their message: there is a world where egos cannot enter. Thinking cannot take us there. We cannot find it, yet the mystery is available for everybody. Being aware is all we need to understand life.
Manifesting the mystery
To solve our common problems, we must understand the role of thinking in a new way, and clean our worldview of false assumptions. Thinking in a new way will transform our basic views about the world.
Our materialistic, mechanistic and dualistic worldview has led to conflict, corruption, and self-deception. To lead a good life and avoid destruction we must urgently update the way we use our mind.
The world we know and study in science is very important to us. It is a world of objects, people, animals, trees, plants, buildings, cars, roads, phones, furniture, but also opinions, images, dreams, concepts, values, will, choice, joy, hate, pain, and fear.
There is always more to know.
This world can be measured and put into words or numbers. We know more and more about it, but there is always more to know. We call it reality because for us it is very real.
It feels also very personal. It is 'my world'. This is the world which causes all the fights between us. Bohm calls it the explicate world. I call it World 2.
World 1 is the universe we live in. It is exactly the same for all of us but we see it differently. And we all think that our way is more or less the right way.
We may feel or sense that there is something beyond our grasp. We sense it as beauty, harmony, peace, happiness, bliss, but we cannot get hold of it. It is like the wind moving the leaves of the tree or creating waves on the sea. We see the effect only, not the wind.
This world is and will always remain a mystery to us. We can never know it.
Thinking defines our personal reactions to things and incidents. Mind is our link between the two worlds: what happens (world 1) and what we think (world 2).
That link is now broken. We broke it when we began to think that thoughts are all there is. That happened a long time ago, but we keep on stubbornly repeating the mistake generation after generation.
We could perhaps fix the broken link, if we could find the cause of this breakage and see that the two seemingly different worlds are one whole.
The wasted century
One hundred years ago the new physics shook the very foundation of our old worldview. We have wasted one century in adapting to the new view, and we still miss the essentials.
Perhaps we don't understand what these radical findings mean. One reason might be that they seem to be against 'common sense'.
In investigating this puzzle David Bohm asked, Why don't we see that the world is made of separate parts?
Because thinking fragments the world. His next question was: Why does it do so?
After years of pondering it, he came to the conclusion that thinking is a conditioned reflex. It works like an automated program that reacts according to its limited content. In the same way that our foot moves when you hit the knee, our thought moves when we see something.
It took 20 years before Bohm realized that thinking is the cause of human problems. We must ask, can we change this reflex?
To find out how we must go back to the very beginning.