9. Future in the now
The last published sessions between K and Bohm took place in June 1983 in England. They discussed the future of humanity. This time Bohm takes the role of a curious questioner rather than an investigator. He asks questions as if on behalf of those who don't understand or believe what K is saying.
That does not bother K. He keeps his course and answers patiently. There is no reason for us to suspect that K and Bohm disagree in the conclusions. They think alike about the problem and its solution.
The discussions were videotaped in colour and stereo sound. For reasons unknown to me, the little book The Future of Humanity - two Dialogues between J Krishnamurti/David Bohm was published after K's death in 1986.
In a short foreword, Bohm writes that the two dialogues are profoundly affected by the 15 sessions held three years earlier and provide important additional insights into the human problems and make reading the book easier and therefore it might serve as an introduction to The Ending of Time.
The starting point for their discussions was the question of the future of humanity. To Bohm it is "of vital concern, because modern science and technology has opened up immense possibilities of destruction.
The ultimate origin of this situation is in the generally confused mentality of mankind, which has not changed basically throughout the whole of recorded history. It was essential to inquire deeply into the root of this difficulty if there is ever to be a possibility that humanity will be diverted from its present very dangerous course."
Once again it is stated that the problem is not in the world, it is in us, in our brain that is heavily conditioned. We have not been ready and able to 'change the irrational and self-destructive programme in which the brain seems to be helplessly caught up'.
Krishnamurti does not, however, regard our limitations as inevitable. He says that mind is essentially free of distorting bias, and insight arising in proper undirected attention can change the cells of the brain and remove the destructive conditioning. It is "crucially important to give to this question the same intensity of energy that we generally give to other vital activities of life".
Bohm is quite optimistic about the possibility of profound change in human beings by insight:
"Modern research into the brain and nervous system gives considerable support to Krishnamurti's statement that insight may change the brain cells. It is well known that there are substances in the body, the hormones and the neurotransmitters, that fundamentally affect the entire functioning of the brain and nervous system. These substances respond, from moment to moment, to what a person knows, thinks, and to what all this means to him.
The brain cells and their functioning are profoundly affected by knowledge and thought, especially when these give rise to strong feelings and passions. It is thus quite plausible that insight, which must arise in a state of great mental energy and passion, could change the brain cells in an even more profound way."
Life is a live broadcast
First discussion at Brockwood Park 11 June 1983
Krishnamurti starts the dialogue by saying that the world has become tremendously dangerous. Terrorists, wars, national and racial divisions, religious separation, economic and ecological crisis make the future look very grim, depressing, dangerous and uncertain to both the present and the coming generations.
To find the solution, according to Bohm, we must stand back from our personal problems and urgent needs and take a much wider view.
We must first understand that our future is in the now, in the way we are living. Our big mistake is to think in terms of evolution. In the material world there is of course growing and becoming, progress or decay, being more or less. The species have evolved to what they are now and an acorn will grow into an oak. Physically the movement in time is a valid and natural process.
Psychological progress is something we made up, invented. It is real only because we think it is real. Our psyche is our past, a recollection of things we have experienced and adopted. So our future is determined by our past. We can do some modifications, choose differently, but it all happens in an area limited by our past. We can of course learn more and something new, but it is still restricted. We can never know everything.
We need knowledge in practical matters, but in the area of the psyche it is misleading. Thought stays in the same small circle, creating its own world. It divides the world in parts and concludes that they are separate.
It is quite all right and usually harmless to divide the material world. I am different from a tree or a table. My body is unique; otherwise it would be difficult to recognize that I am me. The difficulties start when I identify myself to some ideas or experiences and make them important. When I feel that I am better than you, I start a dangerous process leading to undesired effects.
Thought is necessary in science, art, culture, technology, communication, travel, medicine and surgery, but the sense of separation it creates is an illusion that has created a colossal mess in the world. We are so used to live in conflict that we don't even think of living without conflict. Is it even possible to live without conflict?
It is when there is no image, no psychological attributes of self, no judgments, conclusions, opinions, just to perceive the totality of this movement instantly without words, reactions or memories entering into our perception.
Only then we can have peace on earth. Thought will never bring about peace. When we operate from memory we are not very different from a computer.
Intelligence is free from programming; it has nothing to do with memory and experience. To understand intelligence, we must be free from suffering. As long as suffering, fear and pursuit of pleasure exist, there cannot be love and intelligence.
To be free from suffering means the ending of me. It is not my suffering; suffering is common to all mankind. We have not ended it because we treat it as personal. Suffering is part of our common consciousness. I am the world, I am my brother's keeper.
Many religions have said this, but they don't live it in their hearts. Religions have prevented us from understanding "I am the world" because they all have their particular beliefs and gods.
People are living in the world of dreams and that is not related to the world of being awake. But we cannot be compassionate if we are caught in belief systems and ideologies.
Terminate the tyranny of thought!
Second discussion at Brockwood Park 11 June 1983
Most psychologists according to Krishnamurti are not really concerned with the future of mankind; they rather only try to conform individuals to the present society. We must actually dissipate the conditioning in our consciousness, not modify it when it is not good enough. Psychological evolution will not lead to changed consciousness.
To change consciousness, it is important to separate the brain and the mind. Materialists say that mind is just a function of the brain. Another view is that they are two different things.
To K they are two different things but there is a contact between them. We can see by observing the activity of our own brain that it is like a computer that has been programmed and remembers. It is conditioned by past generations, by the society, by the newspapers and all the activities from the outside. It is made to conform to a certain pattern, lives entirely on the past, modifies itself in the present and goes on.
Some of the conditioning is useful and necessary, but the conditioning that determines the psyche may be even harmful. Giving importance to the self is creating great damage in the world.
The constant assertion of the self conditions the brain to an illusion that the self is real. Seeing the consequences of the illusion that the self is real raises the question: can the conditioning be dissipated physically and chemically, neurophysiologically?
At first sight it seems unlikely. Not too much seems to have happened in us. We really don't know the right answer. We can and must do what we feel is the right thing to do. There is no other way.
We must first understand that the fundamental change does not happen in time. The scientists who are trying to do it physically and chemically are still caught in time.
Secondly, we must see that the brain is acting in time. It is conditioned and not free to enquire in an unbiased way. And it must be free; otherwise it is caught in its own ideas.
The mind is not subject to the conditioning of the brain. The mind is not located inside the body or in the brain.
To change the brain, insight is needed. Insight is an activity of the mind, not the brain. Insight changes the brain cells. Then the brain is an instrument of the mind.
The conditioning occupies all capacities of the brain. It is operating in a very small area, running on its own programme like a computer. The brain should really be responding to the mind, but it cannot unless it is free from thought.
There can be no compassion as long as that conditioned programme dominates the brain. Compassion and intelligence come from beyond the brain. They can only exist when the brain is quiet.
That quietness is the natural outcome of understanding one's own conditioning. Then the mind can function through the brain.
Meditation is needed for the brain to be aware of the mind. The word generally means that there is a meditator meditating, but meditation really takes place when the brain is quiet.
All conscious doing is the activity of thought. If I consciously meditate I am making the brain conform to a series of patterns. Conscious activity to control thought is not freedom. There must be attention without the attempt to be present. In attention the self is not. Attention is undirected.
The programmed brain has no space and silence, because it is concerned with itself. When it is quiet there is insight and intelligence.
Practically everything mankind is doing or has tried to do is based on thought. But thought can never change the brain cells. Our instrument of action is worn out. In fact, it was never adequate.
Seeing the truth that thought has created terrible chaos in its activity, both externally and inwardly, we must seriously ask: is there an ending to all this?
If thought cannot end it, what will? What is the new instrument that will put an end to all this misery?
Is there a way to communicate this subtle and very complex issue to a person that is steeped in tradition?
Scientists and politicians won't listen to this, nor will the idealists, the totalitarians or the deeply dogmatic religious people listen. The rich man won't listen and the poor man wants bread first. They all have come to some conclusions. And all this must affect mankind.
The new instrument is intelligence. It is working in the mind but affects the brain. When the brain is quiet, the self is not. Then there is beauty, silence, space and intelligence born out of immense compassion.