5. Seeing all as it is
It took ten years before the next series of dialogues took place. In the archives there are five "lunchtime conversations" in June 1967 but they are unpublished.
The reason for this pause may be that the end of the Sixties and early Seventies both men were busy organizing new foundations and Brockwood Park School in England.
A precious jewel is one discussion from 1972 about intelligence. It became one of the key concepts in Krishnamurti's teachings and it was an important element in the yet to come discussions about mind.
Read between the lines
Conversation at Brockwood Park 7 October 1972
David Bohm opens the conversation by telling that he likes to look up the meaning of words in an etymologic dictionary, which says that the word intelligence comes from two words: inter and legere and means 'to read between the lines', the meaning of it. It also means mental alertness.
"Thought is like the information in a book and intelligence has to read it to see what it means. This is very different from what people have in mind when they measure intelligence."
Intelligence is not something a learned and bright person has in solving logic problems; it is a must-have ability for everyone. We all have potential for it and we all need it in daily living.
K often used this word in his talks emphasizing that intelligence has nothing to do with thought. Thinking takes place in the 'old brain'. Our thoughts are products of a physical and electrochemical process, strictly material, concrete and mundane; nothing abstract or spiritual as often is suggested.
Intelligence gives meaning to words and feelings. True meaning can never be produced by thinking, because thoughts are mechanical and measurable but intelligence is neither.
K argues that there can be no intelligence, when we are thinking. So the cessation of thought is a prerequisite for the awakening of intelligence: for intelligence to operate, thinking must stop. That is almost the opposite of how we usually see intelligence.
Bohm points out that our conditioning is based on the idea of living in time. Time is the essence of our existence, which is perhaps even a stronger conditioning than the idea of observer being different from the observed.
Thought functions in time, but intelligence is out of time. Yet there is a relationship between them. Intelligence can 'read' thought but thought cannot interpret intelligence. It can perhaps move intelligently or unintelligently but it requires intelligence to recognize an unintelligent thought.
Bohm says that intelligence cannot be dependent on conditions yet it cannot operate if the brain is not healthy. So in one sense it is, however, dependent on the brain. Yet the brain is only an instrument of intelligence or tool for it. Thought is "the pointer which points beyond the domain of time". Without intelligence thought is barren and has no value.
Intelligence can operate only when the brain is quiet but there is no way to make it quiet. There seems to be an insurmountable hindrance there. And as thought has unfortunately conquered the world and intellect dominates it, there is very little space left for intelligence to operate.
Bohm asks, Why does intelligence allow thought to take dominance? K answers:
"Thought must have security, it is seeking security in all its movement, but the idea of security doesn't exist in intelligence. Intelligence itself is secure, but thought is seeking pleasure, comfort and physical security. The whole western world is based on measure and the eastern world used thought to go beyond the material world but used thought and therefore was caught in thought."
Physical security is, of course, necessary. In our animal background there is an instinctive response to pleasure and security. We want them and when we don't get them, thought takes over but does not see what it is doing. Then we create a world of illusion, miasma, and confusion leaving no opportunity for intelligence.
Thought cannot produce security nor sustain happiness, because it is always functioning in measurement, comparison and conflict. It is bound to produce fear, sorrow and destruction.
Thought is responsible for this terrible chaos in the world, because it is advocating fragmented action, not activity of wholeness.
Nationalism is one frightening example of a product of thinking. Seeing the falseness of it would be intelligence. But, sadly, thought can never be controlled or dominated by intelligence, it moves on its own.
As long as we are dominated by thought, we are functioning in measurement, comparison and conflict, and there is no chance for intelligence to act.
Bohm reckons that religious people have perhaps used the word god as a metaphor for intelligence. This concept was born from primitive fear of nature, and gradually there grew the idea that there is a super-father. Trust God, have faith, then God will operate through you, they said.
The image of God being so total overrides rationality and produces absolutely unintelligent behaviour, disharmony and chaos. Millions of people have been killed in the name of God.
The same game is in politics. In their limited framework, they fight for their own unintelligent purposes and are unaware of or don't mind the consequences. There is no intelligence there.
Is there a common source of intelligence and thought and can thought find it? Both of them are forms of energy but thought is confused, polluted, dividing and fragmenting itself. Intelligence is not polluted. It cannot divide itself as my intelligence and your intelligence, because it is common to everyone.
When one realises that it is important to be free of the mechanism of thought, we either try to control it, subjugate it or abandons it. All that is still the operation of thought and seeing all that in one glance is insight.
Insight takes place when we listen not only to the words but to the meaning. The seeing changes us, not the verbalization, but "listening with ears that hear much deeper". That is the way to break a conditioning, a habit, an image. The conscious level of the brain resists this. It is hard, clever, subtle and brittle. It can never be intelligent, have an insight. Intelligence can act on thought, but paradoxically not when we are thinking.
There is a common source to thought and intelligence. If we find it, there is no me and you. To see it there must be freedom. As long as we are caught in thought, we are not free to see. Thought can never touch the source, because the limited instrument can never hold the immeasurable.
Shrinking in thinking
First conversation at Brockwood Park 18 May 1975
Three years later Krishnamurti and Bohm met in England twelve times from May to October talking about truth, reality and actuality, limits of thought, perception, insight, attention and awareness.
Three of the twelve discussions were published in 1977 in Truth and Actuality, five of them in 1999 in the book The Limits of Thought and four of them only on audio.
In the first dialogue, the relationship between consciousness, reality and truth was explored.
Are these three eternally divorced and are all these mere projections of thinking? If thought didn´t operate, would there be any reality? If yes, what would it be like?
It may sound like giving boring definitions to abstract concepts, but actually it laid an important foundation for future dialogues. If this is missed, the rest is missed, too.
Consciousness is defined consisting of everything we can think: not only our thoughts but also our feelings, desire, will and reactions make the content of our consciousness.
Reality is all we can think and are conscious of, including also things that exist independently of thinking like nature, stars and cosmos.
"Reality is something reflected in consciousness", Bohm says. "But truth goes beyond it, because reality is always conditioned. Illusions are real, but they are not true."
For instance, Christ is real in the minds of people who believe in him, but not to one who has never even heard of him. The image is real also in the sense that it affects how people act, so it is very factual and actual, but it is not true in the fundamental way, because it is made up by thinking.
Our reality may be reasonable, rational, logical, sane and wise, or it can be irrational belief or most stupid self-deception that causes pain and chaos to us and others. Usually it is both.
Therefore, it is essential to see but difficult to understand that everything we can think about is neither true nor factual. It is thought-made reality that causes all our trouble.
Thusly, if we want to have a healthy mind, we must see the difference between reality and truth. The content of our consciousness may have a counterpart in reality or not. Bohm says it would be more apt to say that our thoughts are either correct or incorrect. They are correct, if the counterpart exists.
All would be fine, if thought remains in its place, but insidiously it becomes the equivalent of truth. When something is real to us, we see it as a thing which stands independently of thought.
Bohm tries to explain:
"If you are walking on a dark road and see something, first you feel it is real and you react, next moment you realize that is was imagined. The fact is the actual act but our reaction is based on what we think to be true."
Reality is anything thought, which either reflects or projects, but which is not the same as truth. The two are eternally separated. We can never come from reality to truth. The picture that our brain makes from reality is vague, illusory and an inferior model of the actual world. To regard it as truth could be considered amusing, if it did not have such serious impact in our lives.
Thought is a force that leaves unfortunate tracks when it romps in reality.
The wallpaper is created by thought; it is real, not imagined. If you hit me, it is also very real, not imagined. But all reality is determined by conditions and all things in our reality influence all other things directly or indirectly. Subsequently, reality can be seen as a movement of thought.
Because we see everything filtered through our own experience and background, our reality can never be totally independent of us. A tree has a relatively independent existence but it is our consciousness that makes an image of it.
The actual world is not an opinion. Bohm suggests using the word actuality about everything that is actually happening and the word reality about everything that is produced and conditioned by thought.
If a man is sane and healthy, his thoughts and consciousness are true and reflect quite accurately what is actually happening in the world. His reality is very different from the reality of one who is irrational, neurotic and perhaps insane.
Sane and insane persons do not use the same kind of energy. The vitality of the ego comes from contra-dictions. It creates its own energy. When we have opposing desires, we fight to fulfil them. Usually we don't realise why we have to do something, we just do and do and do...
The energy of truth is operating when we realize that we cannot come from reality to truth. That is where meditation comes in. Meditation is generally seen as moving from one reality to another but it is really seeing what is.
At the end of this discussion Krishnamurti is so excited that he suggests that they should meet every weekend.
Let the facts act
Second conversation at Brockwood Park 24 May 1975
Living the truth is the key issue in the next meeting. The action of reality must be entirely different from the action of truth which is unrelated to the past and out of time.
We know action based on memory and hope, but can we ever live in the present? That means to live with what is and let the truth operate. That is possible only if we perceive reality as it actually is and let the facts act.
There must be no thoughts interpreting happenings and there can be no division between the observer and the observed, one part of reality watching the other part. If we cannot find this indivisible action, we will always live in time, in conflict and in sorrow.
Seeing actuality is not possible without total freedom. And seeing is acting, we act like we see. So we do not see first and then do.
Seeing the truth can only take place in nothingness, which is pure energy. In nothingness there are no things. It is no-thing-ness. Reality is some-thing, nothingness means no-thing-ness.
"The action of nothingness which is intelligence in the field of reality, operates in reality without distortion", K puts it.
To be free we must not be concerned about truth but focus on reality and its distortions. We don´t know the truth. We only know consciousness which is filled with knowledge and experiences, absorbed by itself and incapable of seeing anything as it is.
Instead of seeking truth we must see that we distort things all the time and resist facts. If we see and don't get frightened, we have energy to push the false aside.
In our consciousness there is such fully distorted content that one life is not enough to clear it all. Luckily there is a shortcut.
If we feel separate from other people or from nature, we will not have compassion. When thought operates in me dividing the world into mine and not mine, there is duality and love cannot live in that.
When there is the perception of the whole, then we love other people without excluding anybody. There is no dependency and attempt to own the one we love.
For truth to be, there must be space in the mind. Space is the freedom of nothingness, because as soon as there is a thing, the mind is not free.
There is no space in the mind crowded with thoughts. It is controlled by environment, occupied, and filled with problems that distort the mind.
Thought without the quality of seeing is a distorting factor.
Thought contains two factors: it reacts and it reflects. Immediate reactions make things feel so real. Thought usually reacts so fast that we do not realise it is thought reflecting things. The thing we know enters into what we see and we lose track of the reflection and then it becomes an illusion.
When our mind discards all distortions, thought has only a rational function and something totally different starts to happen.
A drum vibrates to the emptiness
Third conversation at Brockwood Park 31 May 1975
Insight is the topic of the third session. How does insight take place? What is the quality of the mind into which thought does not enter?
Ordinary thinking is dominated by words, which raise images and images raise other words. Words carry feelings and feelings make us act or prevent us from acting.
Bohm proposes that there might also be non-verbal thinking, but K opposes this. To him, thinking is nothing but responses of memory.
Bohm does not give up. He is apt to distinguish two ways of using words and images. One is the thought-based process in which the word produces the associated image and together they produce an action.
In the other kind of thinking, words are used only in communicating insight or the data leading to it. Bohm remembers K's simile "like a drum vibrating from the emptiness within" and admits that the word non-verbal is a bit misleading.
K is ready to admit that when thought is used to express the insight, it is of a different quality than thought running on its own.
Both agree that insight in itself can never be the process of organised thought, but thought can communicate not only the insight, but also some of the data which leads us to have an insight.
According to Bohm, thought seems in some indirect way to almost reject insight. Is there any action that would break through this rejection? Thought cannot do it, but intense insight might break through this rejection. Seeing something with passion might break the pattern of thought.
Many are expecting a path marked out in the field of reality, but it must be "an empty house, have no inhabitants". In our personal reality we seek security both physiologically and psychologically. But there is no security: nobody is safe in the realm of things where everything fades sooner or later.
Realizing this, we either get frightened and invent security and permanency or have an insight into the wholeness of consciousness. K says ambiguously: "In nothingness there is complete security and stability'.
At first this may sound implausible but after thinking it over we might get the insight and see the truth in it. Of course, there is no way to prove it and no guarantee that it is true, but insight brings peace to the restless.
Insight does not take care of our need for physical security, but it changes our view of reality, freeing us from a lot of confusion. There would be no wars between nations if people were not nationalistic. There would be at least considerably less violence if we had no beliefs and fanatic convictions.
All our life we are fighting economically, socially, religiously. If we feel secure inwardly, our activity in the world would be intelligent and more harmonious.
Seeing is doing
Fourth conversation at Brockwood Park 14 June 1975
The next issues are desire, goodness and beauty.
K and Bohm first investigate why desire has become such an extraordinarily important issue in our life. Do we desire simply because we are missing something?
Bohm finds an interesting link between desire and beliefs. Craving or longing for something comes from a sense of lacking something; so does belief, which stems from feeling empty.
"We believe what we desire to believe. The whole story of belief, hope and despair is in desire", Bohm concludes.
We long for abstract things but also very concrete ones. Some are realistic and can come true, some are not. Some are self-centred, some general. When we for instance see the ugly state of our society, we hope to make it better, although there is no guarantee.
The essential question is, why do we long for something? What is the drive behind our wanting to do something? K sees five phases in this process.
Desire usually springs from perception. We see something wonderful. Then there is contact and sensation. We touch or make an image in our mind.
When thought enters, desire is born. We want to get something which is in our imagination, which is not real. The final, fifth step is action.
If there is no thinking, there is only action from perception. Then perception itself is action where no desire is needed. Desire for pleasure may be one way to try to cover our inward emptiness. This urge may rise because we are unable to see beauty around us. When we don't experience it, we must imagine it.
The essence of beauty, love or goodness cannot be created by thinking. Thinking can imagine or express them but not create them.
"When we die to all things thought has created, there is nothingness. I know nothing about it, I can´t even imagine it. The purity of beauty, goodness and truth is in nothingness", K says.
"There is a one-way connection from nothingness to things, not from things to nothingness", K puts it.
In nothingness there is no measurement, there is nothing to be measured. Thought operates in the area of measures, it cannot perceive nothingness.
It must end, or as K puts it, "die to the reality", die to all the things of measurement, of movement, of time. There is ending with no motive. It is not done because of reward but without any hidden agenda.
The measured good, beautiful things and correct actions are in reality but the purity of beauty, goodness and truth are in nothingness. It is something totally different from my daily relationships with its images.
Crooked like a cork screw
Fifth conversation at Brockwood Park 22 June 1975
We know that thought is "crooked like a cork screw" - as K puts it - and because of its divided nature causes us conflicts. Because consciousness is in constant movement, it has never found energy which is not contradictory.
Thought may never see the futile nature of its own movement. If it did, it would be an intellectual comprehension expressed in words, not an actual fact perceived. Seeing this can be within consciousness or outside it. If it is inside, it is thought and means contradiction, and thoughts are always contradictory.
"Truth is not within the field of consciousness. If it were, it would be your truth or my truth, but not the truth", Krishnamurti points out.
Whatever we believe in, in our consciousness there is not a single part that is not created by thought. All fragments of our thoughts are related to each other directly or indirectly. Thought can never see itself as a whole.
If thought thinks it sees, it does not see! The only way to see the whole is that thought comes to an end, stops moving in time. Then seeing does not happen with thought.
For this to be, there has to be a certain kind of awareness and attention. Awareness is much more than concentration on something. In awareness there is no choice. Attention is 'stretching toward' something more, but it is not thought or memory. Attention comes to absolute nothingness which is the summation of energy. It is beyond the human energy.
Then quite surprisingly Bohm asks K: "Have you gone through discovering all this or were you this way all your life?"
"I'm afraid so", K answers, referring to the latter option. "From childhood I was ill and not capable of receiving mentally. Nothing penetrated me deeply", K answers, but quickly adds: "But I'm not saying that I am unconditioned, it would be silly on my part to say it!"
Bohm asks how then does this perception beyond attention come about. Illness cannot, of course, be the answer, because many other children are ill and don't see this.
K thinks that sensitive awareness is needed here.
"One must be sensitive not only to one's desires, but to environment and to other people. In awareness the movement of thought comes to an end. From that choiceless awareness there is affection, care and sense of deep communication awakened."
But it is not enough. In attention there is the quality of love, communication that is not verbal. And even that is not enough. The consciousness must be empty of its content and then there is this sense of non-being, nothingness. There is in K's words "nothing created by thought, by circumstances, by temperament, imagination, tendency or capacity".
In nothingness there is no movement of thought, yet it has its own movement as energy. The movement we know is in time but this is something else, beyond our imagination.
Goodness has no relationship to thought or to evil. Evil will go on as long as there is thought.
"Could you put it like this; while thought is going on it would not be possible to consider a solution of the problems?" Bohm asks.
K is excited: "Exactly. It is a tremendous revelation. That is the beauty of this. I listen and it is revealed, because I have paid attention to you. I am full of this extraordinary statement. I don't know how it will operate. I don't know how I will live. I have seen this thing and it will operate. It will do something, I don't have to do anything. Before I was accustomed to doing something but now it operates, because truth has its own vitality."
Step out of your stable
Sixth conversation at Brockwood Park 28 June 1975
In the sixth discussion the two men talk about unawareness, ignorance and mistakes versus the action of truth being total and free from memory.
Bohm says there are two types of unawareness. First is the simple failure to be aware because we don't know enough or we are given wrong information. The analogy of this is a computer that is programmed wrongly and it makes mistakes although it operates according to its set rules.
The second type of unawareness is due to thought's systematic tendency to suppress awareness. We ignore something because we want to be comfortable and not disturb our mental equilibrium.
We are afraid that everything will go to pieces if we are aware of everything. To protect ourselves we 'stay in our own stable' and don't even want to see.
It is rather hard to distinguish whether doing something foolish is due to lack of right information or some subtle form of ignorance.
Truth cannot manifest itself where there is unawareness and ignorance. When truth operates thought is not present, because the action of mere memory is inherently twisted. But the action of perception is instantaneous and no memory is necessary. It perceives without the perceiver.
The action of truth is and must be total. In that state of integrity one sees the truth in the false.
Then Bohm tells that he had just read a 'quite interesting' biography of Krishnamurti, the book by Mary Lutyens called The Years of Awakening. It tells the story about the mental transformation beginning in the 1920's, which caused a fundamental change in Krishnamurti's perception about reality.
K doubts whether there was a moment of transformation in him. It was rather a long process that started in August 1922. Something very crucial happened, when his brother Nitya died in November 1925. He did not escape the suffering but "faced the actuality of death and that freed him from the reality of thought".
Remembering his life 50 years later, K says he was never actually conditioned by the theosophical beliefs pumped into him, he was "in the peripheral state repeating things which were told to him".
In the so called process K suffered from long periods of terrific pain but he says it must not be linked to the actual transformation process in the mind. However, physical pain brings about a certain quality of energy.
This young man discovered something new and that new something became part of human consciousness. When it was stated aloud, others could carry on with that newness in their own lives.
A totally new kind of energy was released. It was not the energy of thought. That energy comes about if one does not escape suffering through any means. His very suffering brings about a great energy. The energy of truth and the energy of reality are two unrelated things. The first is universal, the latter rather personal.
In talking about these energies K says his body becomes a little tense and he has to leave the room. After coming back he explains:
"You see, there is something much more than all this. Would you accept the word mystery? There is something which you cannot talk about. This does not mean that it doesn't exist. When you touch that mystery, things are totally different. Thought can never touch that."
Many people may disagree but in the world of thought and reality there is no mystery. Some of us have a desire to experience and create mysteries.
In science the original impulse was, according to Bohm, to penetrate into the mystery and reveal it but it has been diverted and scientists began to think they can finally explain everything. The essence of existence is and will be unexplained.
"I think to a certain extent the ego works on a sort of parody of this mystery, making itself so mysterious", Bohm says.
The sense of mystery is almost gone for many reasons. Our illusion of knowing is one reason. We want to understand and explain everything, but it is impossible, because thoughts are limited and they are the only instrument for explanation. We still keep cherishing the idea that we can finally know everything.
As a child many of us have had a sense of mystery, but lose our contact to nature and seldom watch the stars at night or dive into the depths of the ocean.
Bohm says: "Anything in the field of reality can be explained. We can penetrate more deeply and broadly, but the essence is not explained."
The truth about the mystery makes the mind completely silent. When the mind is aware and silent, the truth of that mystery is. That total silence opens the door to completely other dimension.
Meeting the mystery
Seventh conversation at Brockwood Park 18 July 1975
Bohm starts the next session quoting Einstein, who said the most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science.
What is the state of mind that participates in something mysterious? What is the nature of that participation? What are the necessary things for that to happen?
K says that first one must have a very sensitive body. Also the mind must not be emotional, sentimental or neurotic. It must have a tendency to quick insight, immediate comprehension and not be satisfied with mere explanations.
In addition to this, there must be psychological clarity. Clarity is needed especially in seeing the nature of thought. Thought is used in seeing the mountain, the microphone and the 'me'.
These three differ in their nature. The mountain is independent of thinking; it is there although we don't think of it. So is the microphone, but unlike a mountain it is created by man, designed and made by thought.
The ego represents a third kind of product of thought. It is made by our thinking and unlike mountain and microphone, would not be if we did not think about it. It cannot be seen with eyes, but in our mind's world it is very real.
We think that the centre of ourselves is an objective reality, something separate and distinct, independent of thought. We have a strong gut feeling of the centre living and moving in time. The 'me' has been, is now something and will be something else.
In this stream of movement we exist. We attribute our experiences to this centre and hope for the best and are afraid of the worst. Thought not only creates, but also defines and determines the centre. It sustains the sense of the independent 'me' and is trapped in this idea.
After creating the centre, we cannot avoid attributing pain and suffering to it.
Thought cannot comprehend or be aware of the whole. It may pretend so, but the limited can never enter limitless. The ego lives in a small room and imagines what is outside.
Our tradition is long and unambiguous: the ego has an independent reality. It is handed down to us both verbally and verified by our own experience.
To Krishnamurti, this whole idea of ego is absurd and disastrous. He is one of the few who is so absolutely convinced about it. He thought that it is much easier for other people to understand this after he has had this insight.
He used the analogy that Columbus discovering America is easy to grasp, but according to Bohm this is too simplified a picture of how the change in our consciousness actually happens. Our own consciousness does not necessarily change because someone has undergone a change.
The mystery of life is something that cannot be shown or taught to another person. There is nobody who can make it be true for us. In science it is a different case, because we can learn from knowledge. Einstein made a discovery and others may modify it.
But the mystery of life is something we cannot get from anybody. We cannot analyse it. If we pick a flower and tear it to pieces, there is no flower anymore. To explore the mystery one must be free of desire, motives, will and suffering, the whole structure of ego.
Stream gone wrong
Eight conversation at Brockwood Park 25 July 1975
The eighth discussion starts with a written question from a friend of Bohm, American psychiatrist David Shainberg. He wants to know, is thought being aware of its own fragmentation, also fragmented?
To answer that we have to realise first that thought is fragmented and an imitation of this thing perceived. It reflects the content of memory and selects some things and leaves something essential out. It cannot reflect anything as it actually is.
We have given colossal importance to thinking and do not realise how mechanical and fundamentally limited it is. The total perception of this reveals the truth. This perception acts in reality. In perception, thought undergoes a change. That perception changes the brain cells.
Total perception is a big shock to the brain, something absolutely new. Thought has no means to deal with this insight. To avoid the shock it has developed different ways to prevent it from taking place. Desperately it holds to a fixed form, tries to stay in a groove in order to feel itself safe. It creates a world of its own, but it can never be safe or satisfied there.
Unfortunately, thought has no reason to suspect that its own creations are not a prime thing in life. It builds an imaginary structure that it calls the ego. This image is the geometric centre of its mental operations and that determines everything in our life. We think in terms of centres and watch the world through it.
There is an analogy in physics.
"One of the basic theories in physics has been that the world is made of atoms. Each atom is a centre which is connected to all other atoms. The opposite view is that there is a continuous field and no centre", Bohm describes.
Physically we are forced to function from a centre, act in space and time, but psychologically there is only an image imitating to be a centre.
Then we make another mistake. We think that the centre is separate from our thinking. Doing this we divide consciousness into two: here is the observer I call the 'me' and there are all things I observe.
This leads us to make a third mistake. If I think I am separate from others, then they must be separate from me. Therefore my entire world is fragmented endlessly, shattered into fragments. Then, according to Bohm, I start to separate things that are not separate and put together things that are different.
"When something is going wrong in the stream of human thought, we attribute it to somebody, but it is going wrong in thought and it is in everybody. There is no such thing as my thought and your thought."
We usually attribute the 'right' idea to our own centre and the 'wrong' idea to that of others. Therefore there is no compassion and we start to fight.
"To see that it is one thought process and you cannot attribute this to a particular person, that is compassion."
Healing the damaged brain
Ninth conversation at Brockwood Park 6 August 1975
Bohm starts the next episode stating that as brain is a material process, it is constituted of matter and conditioned over the ages by heredity, tradition and environment. We have been "conditioned to self-deception that constitutes a subtle kind of brain damage".
Damage is due to our brain being overloaded with thoughts, by the self, by fear and sorrow and also by tradition. Damaged brain cells will produce thought that is inherently distorted.
K says the distortion and damage is seen very clearly in the old cultures like India. Their beliefs are unshakeable. Tradition conditions the brain to a certain very fixed view of reality. The same structure is in the west, although the forms of beliefs are different.
These beliefs are sustained and nourished by the damaged brain. We don´t recognize this damage and attribute it to something else. We blame either external circumstances or others. The brain begins to treat thought as a reality independent of thought not realising that it is observing itself.
Can the brain ever recover from this damage and heal itself? Maybe it can, but it has not happened for many reasons. We are first of all not even interested in this. Secondly, we don't really see the damage in the brain.
It may be that our brains are already too much damaged to be healed. One of the tricks of the damaged brain is to say it cannot be healed and there is nothing that can be done socially, morally, artistically.
We won't know if we don't even give it a try. If the damage is very deep, perhaps it cannot be healed. But there may be a part of the brain and consciousness that is not touched and damaged by tradition and culture. K is absolutely certain that there is. The damaged brain has no access to the infinite.
"The very listening to that which is beyond thought heals the brain. Out of that there can be a new man and a new society."
The process revisited
Tenth conversation at Brockwood Park 27 September 1975
The next meeting continues with the issue of K´s personal process. Bohm says he finds the analogy of Columbus finding America misleading, because it suggests that transformation would be easy. A better analogy perhaps would be that of Newton and Einstein in physics. Newton made discoveries and Einstein went further. Partly Einstein built on Newton's ideas, but also Einstein had to deny a great deal of what Newton had proposed.
Krishnamurti assures that he does not know what happened to him in the process. When he thought it over, his conclusion was that he cannot be sure about it and does not want to even speculate about it.
According to his own testimony, the so-called process was still taking place in the seventies, but only when K felt completely relaxed and was in a quiet environment. He emphasized that he does not do anything to hinder or invite the process. K describes:
"I wake up in the middle of the night meditating. It is a peculiar form of meditation, because it is totally unimaginative, something pre-unmeditated. I can´t imagine such a state. It is something out of the ordinary, without being abnormal."
This process brings with sensitivity. K says he can read other people´s thoughts but he does not want to do that because it is like reading private letters. Also he has done a great deal of healing.
In K's process there was intense pain. Usually people try to escape and avoid pain, but K did not do this. He stayed with the pain and it was transformed to something else.
Then Bohm asks about the role of the so-called Masters. K tells that he was a rather vague, moronic, uncertain boy. He was told something and he repeated it like a child who was told fairytales. Theosophists made the Masters materialistic telling how they lived, what their names were and how they were dressed.
There is of course something 'in the air' and everybody can feel it. Constant killing and evil may somehow be recorded in the environment. But so is goodness. In an ancient temple there is quite a different atmosphere.
According to K, theosophists assigned goodness to the Masters and evil to those who are basically selfish. That is too simplified and misguiding, if it is taken literally, although it is not mere speculation. If one is after truth, one must not create stories, but be ready to face the actualities. If we have had a glimpse of the truth and try to resist or escape, that movement brings about suffering and starts to act like a poison, like a thorn in the flesh. It is poking at us all the time.
To stay with the suffering is what is needed. If we don't escape and just stay with what is, a miracle takes place. To resist and escape keeps us suffering endlessly.
Can wisdom be learnt?
Eleventh conversation at Brockwood Park 24 October 1975
The first issues in the eleventh discussion are the difference between wisdom and intelligence and can wisdom be learned.
Wisdom is possible only when one perceives the limitation of thought and sees it operating in a limited area. By definition, wise is a man who 'is able to take sound judgments', but that is only an outward manifestation of wisdom.
Without seeing the whole there can be no wisdom. Actually the word wisdom has the same root as video, to see. Seeing the whole is truth is the precondition for real wisdom.
To many people wisdom comes from accumulating a great deal of knowledge, but Bohm says quite the contrary: all limits come from thought and knowledge and they prevent wisdom.
"A thoughtful man is not a wise man, nor is he an intelligent man", K states, meaning something else than is usually meant with the word thoughtful.
Wisdom means the ability to deal with every step of the seeing and not act from memory or knowledge. Only those who perceive the truth can bring order in the world. Truth operating in the brain clears that brain. When it is clear, it can operate in order.
Bohm says that seeing the truth dissolves the mist of reality in the brain.
Twelfth conversation at Brockwood Park 18 May 1975
The last session in this series deals with self-delusion. The brain engages in self-deception, when we imagine we are something we are not. The root of it is the selfish and self-centred movement we have adopted.
We act from a centre inside of ourself, an imaginary mental creature, which is actively controlling our functions. This image seems to have a factual content and a practical function. Why has it become so important to act from this image centre?
To answer this, we have to understand desire. Desire works entirely through fancy and imagination. We seek comfort and consolation in images and symbols in trying to feel a little better.
Desire is the bedrock of the ego. When I desire, I am. Desire seems to be solid and firm, not easy to break up. It is a fast and violent process filling our consciousness.
Is it possible to eliminate desire? It is the ground on which all of our civilisation seems to be based.
How are we to explode this tremendous rock which is supporting the whole society?
It is in the very structure of our brain cells to desire to be happy, to get rid of fear, to go after what we want. How can the brain which is conditioned to desire uncondition itself and get rid of desire? What happens to the brain if there is no desire?
Firstly, it will have all the energy it has wasted on desire. This means that there is no self-deception, no striving, and no achievement. There is no content in consciousness.
If we do this and have a brain that has no desire, what is our relationship to the world of reality? We would affect the world in a profound way.
As long as there is desire, there is deception and therefore no solution to the problems of society or the individual. A man who is without desire affects the total consciousness of human beings.
The last ten minutes of the twelfth discussion are absolutely stunning. K asks most politely how Bohm reacted to the question: "Can the brain be totally without desire?"
"It is hard to remember because that question was put implicitly, but it sort of opens up the brain in some way", he answers dryly.
It is not in our tradition to put such a question, at least explicitly. We have tried to control it without succeeding. Our mind is in a state where it tries to find its place without succeeding. When seeking ends, the mind is what it is.
Then K tells us that the intensity of the movement without desire seems to affect his brain deeply, especially in the evenings and nights. There is something called 'otherness' in Krishnamurti's Notebook. It "purifies the brain".
In that state even a common word like compassion may have a tremendous vitality and sense of mystery. It feels timeless, never the same and is therefore an extraordinary mystery.