3. Towards a new kind of mind
Our ways to face and escape a world in crisis are various. If we want to do something, one way is to pick one small, sublime or fashionable issue and fight for that. Most people feel that world scale issues are not their problem; they concentrate on finding their own happy corner and shut the door behind them.
Religions have had a monopoly in explaining the world and people in it. Religious books and traditions offered a sound ground to build a worldview. The first ancient philosophers and much later science challenged the churches in a serious way. Reason and logic were believed to be able to explain what the universe is and what our place here is.
Since the 17th century, the mechanistic worldview took a strong hold in our minds due to new theories in physics and biology. Many natural scientists believed that soon the world could be understood and explained. They were not right.
In the beginning of 20th century, two revolutionary theories shook the foundations of the mechanistic world view: Albert Einstein with published his theory of relativity and at the same time Max Planck and Niels Bohr started to develop ideas that were to become the body of quantum theory.
According to quantum physics, atoms are not what they were thought to be. There is no solid material inside them. Particles are energy and fields. They are so connected that it is impossible to see them as separate.
The new ideas were literally inexplicable. They were weird, abstract and against senses and common sense. There was one big problem: they were contradictory. Both of them simply couldn't be true.
As a young physicist, David Bohm was puzzled by the confusion raised by these irrevocable contradictions. Bohm felt troubled that there was no common view of what existence is about.
He got interested in general philosophical questions related to physics. He felt that there was a parallel between what consciousness is and what matter is. The movement we see outside is essential to what we feel inside.
Bohm was especially inspired by the work of Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel and William James, but meeting an Indian born sage Jiddu Krishnamurti changed his life and thinking.
The rocky road
David Bohm was born in America in the small town of Wilkes-Barre in Pennsylvania on 20th December 1917. He graduated from Pennsylvania State University in 1939.
In the war years, Robert J. Oppenheimer asked Bohm to join the Manhattan Project team in Los Alamos. Their top-secret mission was to make the atom bomb. However, the state authorities rejected Bohm's participation in the project because of his sympathies with communism.
After the war Bohm was asked to move to Princeton University where he befriended and worked with Albert Einstein. Besides science, Einstein was also interested in human and social issues.
Bohm's interest in communism produced the biggest trauma of his life. He was exiled from his home country because he refused to testify against his colleagues in the McCarthy trials.
Later he was cleared of all charges, but Princeton University refused to renew his contract, in spite of strong support from Professor Einstein.
After four years in Brazil and two years in Israel, Bohm moved to Bristol and then to the Bircbeck College of London University where he spent 26 years of his life. For 25 academic years from 1961 to 1987 he was the professor of theoretical physics. He worked until his death in October 1992.
Bohm revealed his hand already in his first book on quantum theory in 1951, called Quantum Theory. He writes that "there is no reason to divide the world into different parts. One should start from the supposition that the whole universe is an undivided whole and is in perpetual change".
The same idea refined into a theory was published in 1980 in a book Wholeness and the Implicate Order. Bohm suggests that reality consists of two different orders. The explicate order is known to us from classical physics. Yet the other is the essential part from which everything manifest unfolds. Bohm calls it the implicate order.
We think and see the world consisting of separate particles and fields, but according to the quantum view everything is fundamentally connected to everything and cannot be independent of its surroundings.
It has taken years before these discoveries started to affect our way of seeing reality. Our human way of seeing and emphasizing details leads to wrong interpretations and conflicts in all areas of life. The true nature of things can become revealed only when they are examined in living situation.
We don´t do this, because we have divided the world into thousands of pieces that we see as separate and slowly changing. In science and politics fragmentation and inertia can be seen very clearly, but it also exists in all areas of our lives. We have grown so accustomed to it that we cannot see it and its consequences.
The mechanistic and fragmentary way of life is powered by not only our education and long traditions, but also by our daily perceptions, which emphasize the idea of individual existence.
One possible way out could be to investigate how our perception makes the images of reality.
In describing the reality, old theories supposed that the observer and the observed are two different things: there is somebody looking at something. They affect each other, but are they really separate?
The quantum physics says they are two sides of the same coin, one movement. This led Bohm to study human assumptions and beliefs. Instead of studying the outside world, he asked, why do we think the way we think?
Bohm became convinced that the essence of the universe can not to be seen by physics. It has to be searched from the mind, especially from philosophy, psychology and even religion. This was an abomination to the majority of physicists.
To find the missing link Bohm needed a seer. He found one when he met Krishnamurti.
Meeting of minds
Bohm started reading material outside his own field, putting questions like: What is truth and reality? Why are we here on earth? Is there something beyond our mind? The interest was perhaps both professional and personal due to his difficult personal life experiences.
In 1959, Bohm's wife Saral found a book in the public library in Bristol. The book was The First and Last Freedom by Krishnamurti. Browsing through it she saw the phrase: "The observer is the observed". She thought that might be of interest to her husband. And it surely was.
Bohm gorged himself on the book, and borrowed other books by the same author. Unfortunately, the Bristol library had only a few.
He wrote to the American publisher asking about the writer and received a letter suggesting that he get in touch with the Krishnamurti organization in England. He was told that in May 1961 Krishnamurti would give a series of talks in London.
There were 12 talks for 150 people invited to Kenneth Black Memory Hall in Wimbledon. This happens to be the first Krishnamurti talks that were totally recorded.
Bohm went to the talks and found the speaker to be a fine-boned man dressed in a Savile Row suit. The tone and style of talking gave an impression that this is the very first time he put forward these questions. Yet he was very assertive and emphatic.
In Bohm's biography Infinite Potential, F. David Peat gets poetic in describing the impression Krishnamurti made:
"His features were handsome and delicate, a face that lit up in animation as he spoke, hands gracefully employed to emphasize his words, eyes at one moment soft and compassionate and, at the next, burning with passion. He would invite his audience to suggest a topic and then tentatively, like a connoisseur handling an exceptional piece of porcelain, gently turning it in his hands, commenting on its beauty, pointing out singular features, inviting his audience to participate in his enjoyment rather than offering a dogmatic opinion."
In talking, Krishnamurti lured the listeners to join him on a journey. He investigated human problems with such passion and intensity that listeners were drawn to the edge, to face the facts as they are. He also asked people to suspend their need to act so that something totally different could come into existence.
In the first London talk, Krishnamurti proclaimed that 'a fundamental inward revolution is necessary.' To 'meet life as a whole, one must have a totally different mind'.
After the talk, Bohm felt an urgent need to speak with Krishnamurti. A meeting was arranged at the house in Wimbledon where Krishnamurti was staying.
Bohm did not know too much about the remarkable life of Krishnamurti. He was interested in what he said about consciousness and the mechanism in which the thinker separates himself from thinking and assumes to be an independent entity.
At their first encounter the two men sat for a long time in silence, but according to Bohm there was no annoying tension in the situation.
Saral Bohm broke the silence, suggesting that Bohm would tell about his work to Krishnamurti, who listened attentively and seemed to grasp the spirit of what Bohm said.
Bohm felt there was intense communication and openness with no holding back, similar to that which he had experienced in talking to Einstein many times. When Bohm used the word totality, Krishnamurti grabbed the physicist by the arm saying, "That's it, that's it. Totality."
The meeting was everything Bohm dreamed of and it led to a long and fruitful collaboration.
A path to a pathless land
The story of Jiddu Krishnamurti is in many ways exceptional. He was born in May 1895 in India and died in Ojai, California in February 1986 at the high age of 90 years. His life was in many ways unique and without fear of exaggerating can be called an astonishing story.
The leaders of the Theosophical Society believed that Krishnamurti was the one that would be the next World Teacher, the reincarnation of a spiritual master called Lord Maitreya.
Thousands of theosophists believed that this boy was to raise humanity to the next step of spiritual understanding. In the early 1920s, he was appointed to be the head of the association that had over 30 000 members.
Krishnamurti felt uneasy about his messianic role and the worship appointed to him. In August 1929 he dissolved the organization made for 'his becoming'. In the famous speech in Ommen, Holland, he declared that from then on his only concern was to set man absolutely, unconditionally free.
"I maintain that truth is a pathless land, and you cannot approach it by any path whatsoever, by any religion, by any sect.
Truth cannot be organized. It is impossible to organize a belief. If you do, it becomes dead. No organization can lead man to spirituality. I have only one purpose: to make man free, to urge him towards freedom, to help him to break away from all limitations, for that alone will give him eternal happiness, will give him the unconditioned realization of the self.
I desire those who seek to understand me to be free; not to follow me, not to make out of me a cage which will become a religion, a sect. Rather should they be free from all fears - from the fear of religion, from the fear of salvation, from the fear of spirituality, from the fear of love, from the fear of death, from the fear of life itself.
I want to set man free, rejoicing as the bird in the clear sky, unburdened, independent, ecstatic in that freedom. Organizations cannot make you free. No man from outside can make you free. My only concern is to set men absolutely, unconditionally free."
After leaving the association, Krishnamurti gave talks in India, Europe and America, wrote books and founded schools. The hundreds of talks and many of the discussions he held have been documented accurately, first in shorthand, then on audio and from the end of the seventies on video.
Preservation and publication is organized by Krishnamurti Foundations in three continents: Krishnamurti Foundation Trust in England, KFA in America and KFI in India.
Words are letters
The essence of his teachings did not change much during the 57 public years. Krishnamurti did not want to forward a doctrine or pattern, but urged us to think for ourselves. He warned about adopting another man's truth and being infatuated by words. As the word 'food' does not feed us, words are only letters without meaning, whatever they refer to.
In writing Krishnamurti's biography Mary Lutyens asked him, What is the essence of his teachings?
He gave a written answer that was published in the third part of the biography, The Open Door.
"The core of teaching is contained in the statement he made in 1929 when he said, "Truth is a pathless land".
Man cannot come to it through any organization, through any creed, through any dogma, priest or ritual, not through any philosophical knowledge or psychological technique. He has to find it through the mirror of relationship, through the understanding of the contents of his own mind, through observation and not
through intellectual analysis or introspective dissection.
Man has built in himself images as a fence of security-religious, political, personal. These manifest as symbols, ideas, beliefs. The burden of these images dominates man's thinking, his relationships, and his daily life. These images are the causes of our problems for they divide man from man. His perception of life is shaped by the concepts already established in his mind.
The content of his consciousness is his entire existence. The individuality is the name, the form and superficial culture he acquires from tradition and environment. The uniqueness of man does not lie in the superficial but in complete freedom from the content of his consciousness, which is common to all humanity. So he is not an individual.
Freedom is not a reaction; freedom is not choice. It is man's pretence that because he has choice he is free. Freedom is pure observation without direction, without fear of punishment and reward. Freedom is without motive; freedom is not at the end of the evolution of man but lies in the first step of his existence.
In observation one begins to discover the lack of freedom. Freedom is found in the choiceless awareness of our daily existence and activity.
Thought is time. Thought is born of experience and knowledge, which are inseparable from time and the past. Time is the psychological enemy of man. Our action is based on knowledge and therefore time, so man is always a slave to the past.
Thought is ever limited and so we live in constant conflict and struggle.
There is no psychological evolution. When man becomes aware of the movement of his own thoughts, he will see the division between the thinker and thought, the observer and the observed, the experiencer and the experience.
He will discover that this division is an illusion. Then only is there pure observation which is insight without any shadow of the past, or of time. This timeless insight brings about a deep, radical mutation in the mind.
Total negation is the essence of the positive. When there is negation of all those things that thought has brought about psychologically, only then is there love, which is compassion and intelligence.
Many are annoyed that Krishnamurti does not usually give a clear answer, but puts questions. That is pedagogically justified, almost ingenious, but it works only when the question causes the movement of thought and not just pacifies the brain to wait for an answer.
In his books, Krishnamurti deals with the same big issues as in the dialogues with Bohm. His wish was that people would have a chance to listen to his message as authentically as possible, without interpretation.
His teachings are presented in over one hundred books and they have been widely translated. Usually books are edited from public talks, discussions with individuals or small groups.
One exception is Krishnamurti's Notebook which he wrote himself 1961 and two other notebooks that he dictated to a tape recorder, Krishnamurti Journal 1982 and Krishnamurti to Himself - his Last Journal publishedin 1987.
The life of Krishnamurti is documented in detail. The biography of Mary Lutyens was published in three volumes. The first volume The Years of Awakening tells about his life till 1933, The Years of Fulfilment from 1933 to 1980 and The Open Door the last years.
Many others have written also about Krishnamurti. Some of the books are very personal. Krishnamurti's personal assistant Mary Zimbalist has also published a comprehensive account about the last decades of Krishnamurti's life that she spent with him. They are available on the net, called In the Presence of Krishnamurti.
Bohm's influence can be seen in how Krishnamurti expresses himself, but also in the contents. Time and thought started to come up in the seventies and with them some essential concepts in Krishnamurti's philosophy.
Intelligence is one of them, not referring to any kind of clever thinking, but something that one grasps immediately. Another word, insight, means deep understanding without thinking.
The meaning of the word mind changed in Krishnamurti's teachings after he and Bohm talked about it in 1980. Before that it was almost a synonym to the word consciousness, but in a dialogue in April 1980 'mind' referred to something that goes much beyond consciousness. In free meditation, mind can expand so that it covers the whole universe.
Bohm supposes that it was his influence that made Krishnamurti understand the value of words. Careless use of words can mislead and eventually distort things.
Krishnamurti did not appreciate knowledge or scientists very much. Bohm was an exception to this.
It took 20 years of friendship before he started to call his dear friend David. It was always Doctor Bohm, not because of formality but out of appreciation.
Many people regard Krishnamurti as an enlightened master, others consider him to be a nearly totalitarian character. To me the most important thing is the exceptional message, but the man is also very interesting, one of a kind.
Time after time Krishnamurti tried to say that it is not important what he, we or others think or say. It is much more important to ask, what is true?
To discover that, one has to learn to listen and watch everything as it is, without a single thought.
Krishnamurti tried to show us that we don't really listen. We think and may feel we listen, but we actually make conclusions, like or dislike, agree or disagree, react without even noticing it. These reactions are based on personal experiences, not listening to what is actually expressed.
Two worlds, one mind
In their many dialogues, Krishnamurti and Bohm shared a common interest in penetrating deeply to the recesses of our mind. Thanks to recordings we have a chance to join this inspiring tour that may solve the challenge we have to face in order to survive.
Even before meeting Krishnamurti, Bohm felt that science may not produce the solution to fundamental human questions. Knowing more is not the answer.
After reading Krishnamurti's books, parts clicked in his head. He realized that the outward chaos is not due to the outward structures of the world, but that its root is in the mind that is functioning incoherently.
The world does not always work as we expect or hope it should. And when something unexpected happens, we react in personal ways. Some fall into depression, some get frustrated, some become phlegmatic. There are always those who don't mind the disappointments for very long and go on without delay.
Bohm realized that we are blind to the process of the mind. We make interpretations we are not aware of and tend to draw lines where they should not be and see limits that are not true. The bigger our problems become, the more helpless we feel in front of them.
The nature of the inward change Krishnamurti refers to, is verbally expressed in the diaries he wrote in nine months from June 1961 to March 1962. They were published 15 years after they had been written, in the book called Krishnamurti's Notebook. The text in the original edition is from three diaries but the fourth was found and published in 2003.
The states of consciousness Krishnamurti goes through experiences show that he either has an exceptionally direct communion with something profound or his imagination is quite vivid.
In describing what he feels, he uses words like otherness, benediction, presence, sense of intensity and immensity.
On September 13th he wrote:
It was a strange day yesterday. That otherness was there all day, on the short walk, while resting and very intensely during the talk. It was persistently there most of the night, and this morning, waking early, after little sleep, it continued. Strangely the body becomes very quiet, very still, and motionless every inch of it is very alive and sensitive.
There is a danger that one starts to create imaginary and untrue states of mind. Mary Lutyens assures in the foreword of the book that Krishnamurti's states were not hallucinations caused by drugs, fasting, epilepsy or spiritual practices. They were perhaps part of the process that had begun in the twenties.
It is important that we don't let these states become a goal of life or even make them significant experiences. They are and must be as natural as rain and sun that come and go independently of our will and wants.
With Bohm, Krishnamurti had a chance to penetrate the mysteries of life and mind beyond the superficial bourgeois indifference. They had to invent new meanings to old words in order to awaken the human potential, to dust the brain cells from their worn out routines.
Bohm was neither the first nor the last intellectual that became interested in Krishnamurti's ideas. As a scientist, he was able to follow complex developments. From the very beginning it was clear to both that there was a possibility to go very, very deep and find something totally original.
Dialogues in brief
Krishnamurti and Bohm first met in May 1961 and ever since they had discussions regularly in London, in California and in Switzerland where Krishnamurti held his yearly gatherings.
The first entry in the Krishnamurti Foundation archives is a recording made on 19th August 1964. It is recently published.
Next year in Gstaad, Switzerland they had a series of six dialogues about thinking process and intellect, the nature of consciousness. Bohm was only one of a group of people, but he was the one that could follow Krishnamurti's lines of thinking and even challenge him.
In probing into the question of reality and its relationship to thinking they had to establish new words to explain why we human beings behave in this monstrous way and what could make us love.
The October 1972 discussion introduced Bohm to the readers of Krishnamurti's books. It presented two very important concepts: intelligence and insight. They have served ever since as precious tools in operating beyond thinking.
In a comprehensive series of 12 discussions in 1975 Bohm suggests to differentiate between reality and actuality, the first pointing to everything that we can think about - including illusions - and the second referring to what is actually happening and is never distorted by conditioned thought.
The seven dialogues with David Shainberg in 1976 is an intensive four-day session with depth and beauty.
It captures our mind to investigate relationships and penetrates into a world where image-making and fragmenting of images are not possible.
In June 1978, Bohm attended three discussions with two Buddhist scholars. Krishnamurti did not want to compare his and Buddha's teachings but wanted to start and stay in the level of daily life. Bohm is rather passive but could once again clarify the apparent differences in participants' thinking.
The 15 dialogues in Ojai and England in 1980 were the highlights of these series of meetings. To free the mind from its self-created darkness, we need an insight into the energy that is beyond thought, time and matter.
The next year there was only one discussion a few months before Bohm had a heart bypass operation in June 1981. They talked with computer expert Asit Chandmal in Ojai about what will happen to mankind when computers take over.
An old friend of Bohm, Nobel laureate Maurice Wilkins, joined the crew in February 1982 for one discussion about thinking together and mastering one's inward time.
Two months later, there was a foursome with English biologist Rupert Sheldrake and American psychiatrist JohnHidley. The central topic in four one-hour sessions in Ojai was the nature of the mind. Krishnamurti is more than persistent in showing what is wrong with our prevailing world view and how it could be changed.
The last two dialogues were held in 1983 about the future of humanity. The message is grim: if man does not change, there is no future for this species.
Bohm had a minor contribution in a scientists' conference at Brockwood Park in 1974 and 1975 and in the Krishnamurti Foundation members' meeting in 1977.
In the following chapters, I report some of the essential points in these historical meetings. It is not possible to convey the passion shared in these meetings, but thanks to audio and video recording we still have an authentic possibility to attend them.
In my summary I have used only the original tapes, not the edited texts. A list of dialogues with dates, main topics and active participants is enclosed. They are all available, being a veritable treasure chest worth opening.
It is not important where to start and what to listen to. The only thing that matters is how one listens. It is not what is said but what it means. The real meaning is not in the words said, it is in life.
For the sake of fluency I have referred to Krishnamurti the same way as he used to call himself: simply 'K'.