David Bohm & Krishnamurti

3 — Bohm & Krishnamurti by Mary Cadogan and Mary Lutyens 

David Bohm & Krishnamurti by Mary Cadogan

We all know that David Bohm throughout his deeply inquiring life became associated with many distinguished people from widely different backgrounds. His relationship with Krishnamurti, which spanned more than two decades, has been described by David Peat as ‘the most significant encounter of Bohm’s life.’ It was seen by many, to put it crudely, as an association of a man of God with a man of science. Certainly it was an inspiring friendship between a leading spiritual teacher and a pre-eminent physicist. It was a mutual exploration which took them both to the edge of the known and, fortunately, gave us verbal explanations of what generally cannot be put into words.

In the Krishnamurti Foundation’s archives at Brockwood Park, there are more than 100 recordings (some audio and some video) of Krishnamurti and Bohm (sometimes with others) in dialogues and conversations. Some of these have been published in book form, notably The Ending of Time, The Future of Humanity and The Limits of Thought. Later on I’ll say more about how each affected the other’s language and discoveries but first I would like to mention a few things gleaned in my own relationship with Krishnamurti and with Dave and Saral Bohm.

I knew Krishnamurti (Krishnaji) from the early 1950s and worked for his organizations from 1957. Dave’s advent into what we might call the Krishnamurti world in the early 1960s was a joyous business. His eagerness for truth and his friendly accessibility to everyone were much remarked and appreciated. My husband Alex and I soon numbered Dave and Saral amongst our close friends and, despite Dave’s seriousness and shyness, he was easy to be with. We shared a lot of laughter as well as earnest explorations into what lies beyond thought.

In dialogues with Bohm, Krishnaji too found different and more precise ways of expression.

Dave always showed great warmth and generosity of spirit. As an example of this I should mention my then small daughter, Teresa, who at the time had difficulty with mathematics. My husband was frequently called upon to help her with maths homework, but I suddenly realised that for a week or two this had not been happening. When I asked her why she wasn’t consulting Alex she said very happily, ‘Oh I don’t need to bother Dad. I’ve been phoning David Bohm and he’s helped me. He’s really good at maths, you know!’ I think this is a delightful instance of Dave’s kindness, accessibility and patience. Nothing was too much trouble for him, even clarifying the mysteries of algebra and geometry for an 8 year-old.

In 1961 Dave’s reading of Krishnamurti’s The First and Last Freedom had opened for him a gateway to what lies beyond thought. Dave said that what especially sparked off his intention to meet Krishnaji was K’s deep insight into the question of the observer and the observed, something that had for some time been close to the centre of his own work as a theoretical physicist. He had felt that to go much further in science he needed not only a new language but a new maths and an entire new order in physics. Contact with Krishnaji gave him a new language which allowed his work to broaden and deepen.

At Krishnamurti’s large public talks, questions were invited but most of his listeners seemed unable to ask what Krishnaji regarded as “the right questions”, so the discussion or dialogue element was often disappointing. Of course Krishnaji would allow no compromises or retreats into escapes, clichés and safe responses. In the 1960s it appeared that no one in the West, and very few in the East, could initiate and sustain a dialogue with Krishnamurti. Dave did so, on many occasions and over several years, and Krishnaji relished their meetings and discussions. Some were held privately, and others with an audience.

Krishnaji’s meditation had ‘reached the source of all energy’

David Bohm’s and Krishnaji’s impact on one another was strong, particularly on the language each used. Dave felt that contact with Krishnaji had given him a new language, and there is no doubt that in dialogues with Dave, Krishnaji too found different and more precise ways of expression, particularly in areas where definitions are usually very difficult, some might say impossible. In their dialogues Krishnamurti conveyed a direct awareness of the universal ground (the beyond thought source of all energy). Dave not only nudged Krishnaji to clarify his teachings but was able at times, as David Peat puts it, ‘to enter into and remain with the “untalkable”.’

In particular, the 1980 series of dialogues between them, published in 1984 as The Ending of Time, probes the implications of the inward journey to the source of creation. These dialogues took place soon after Krishnaji’s meditation had, in his words ‘reached the source of all energy’ and he had the perception that there was nothing beyond this: it was ‘the ultimate, the beginning and ending and the absolute’. In the dialogues between Krishnaji and Dave it is referred to as “the ground”. Many people throughout the world then and since have found this exploration tremendously meaningful.

From a talk given in London in 2009 at the conference Infinite Potential: The Legacy of David Bohm

David Bohm & Krishnamurti by Mary Lutyens

It is as a result of his conversations with David Bohm, which have been going on at intervals for over ten years, that K has come to talk more and more about the ending of thought. He has been excited and stimulated by his discussions with Bohm in which he feels that a bridge has been opened between the scientific and religious minds. It is a new approach to his teaching, what might be called an intellectual rather than an intuitive approach, and as such it appeals to many who have studied Krishnamurti for years as well as to those who come new to him. There is a good deal of semantic play from Bohm in these conversations and of giving dictionary derivations of words. To know that the word communicate is based on the Latin commun meaning common and the suffix ic which is similar to fic, meaning to make or to do, i.e. to make something common, though interesting in itself, does not necessarily help us to communicate or receive communication, any more than to know the derivation of the word intelligence awakens intelligence.

Since Krishnamurti has been talking to Professor Bohm he has changed his meaning of one important word (though not invariably) and this may lead to confusion. The word is reality. To give an example, in a Saanen talk of 1971 Krishnamurti had said:

If one really wants to find out about God, what God is, whether there is such a thing, something which is not nameable… if that is the main interest of your life, that very interest does bring order. This means that to find that reality one must live differently, deeply differently. There must be austerity without hardness, there must be tremendous love. And love cannot exist if there is fear, or if the mind is pursuing pleasure. So to find that Reality one must understand oneself.

Now, in talking to David Bohm, reality has become antithetic to, instead of synonymic with, the unknown, with God, with ‘something which is not nameable’: ‘Anything that thought thinks about, whether unreasonably or reasonably, is a reality. Reality, I say, has nothing to do with truth.’ Reality is the chair we sit on, the pen we hold, the clothes we wear, the pain we feel as well as ‘part of the conditioned mind’. Bohm has told Krishnamurti that reality comes from res, a thing, a fact. This of course is the correct meaning. Children ask, ‘Is it real?’ meaning ‘Can it happen to me?’, but for years Krishnamurti has used the word in its other sense, and he still slips into using it sometimes as he did formerly, to mean ultimate truth.

How far this kind of intellectual semantic discourse helps to bring about the object of K’s teaching, a complete transformation of the human psyche, must be a matter of temperament. One has to have the mental equipment to grasp it and be thrilled and enlivened by it. It would certainly attract those who are not inspired by Krishnamurti’s poetic mysticism. Others may find their receptiveness more readily quickened by reading as a prelude to his teaching one of his simple descriptions of nature such as the following:

The evening sun was on the new grass and there was splendour in every blade. The spring leaves were just overhead, so delicate that when you touched them you did not feel them … It was a beautiful evening, full of that strange glory which is the heart of spring. You stood there without a thought, feeling every tree and every blade of grass, and hearing that bus, loaded with people, passing by.

One of the many remarkable things about K is the equal ease with which he talks to a Swami or a Western scientist, an industrial millionaire or a Prime Minister. He has discoursed on meditation with the Dalai Lama and would have no apprehension in conversing with any of the world’s great philosophers, yet he is undoubtedly a shy, diffident man who shuns ordinary conversation, has read very little, and that little forgotten, and who has no intellectual pretensions. The answer to this anomaly is, I think, that he perceives some truth as clearly as he can see his own hand. No counter-argument can disturb such a clear vision. While others discuss and argue about the theory of X, Krishnamurti actually holds X like an apple in his hand.

From the book The Years of Fulfilment, a Biography by Mary Lutyens — Purchase Here

In 1980, David Bohm went to stay at Ojai with his wife and started holding discussions with him. His latest book, Wholeness and the Implicate Order, published in the summer of 1980, propounding a revolutionary theory of physics in accordance with K’s teaching of the wholeness of life, was to be widely recognised for its scientific discoveries. He had attended nearly all K’s talks in Europe and California since 1961 and they had already had many discussions together, but during this 1980 visit eight dialogues took place between them in April. These, together with five others which took place at Brockwood Park in June, were published under the title The Ending of Time. This has proved to be one of Krishnamurti’s most successful publications. To some people this book reads like a thriller; others find it hard going. It is a conversation with quick questions and responses and does not therefore lend itself to quotation. It deals with the ending of thought as well as the ending of time, that is, psychological time and thought which are the past. All that we have learnt, all that we are, the whole content of our consciousness, is the past stored in our memory as thought, and the cluttering up of the brain with the past means that there is no true insight because everything is seen through a cloud of thought which must always be limited by the self. The past as thought, memory, must go for the new to be. ‘That emptying of the past, which is anger, jealousy, beliefs, dogmas, attachments, etc. must be done,’ Krishnamurti says. ‘If that is not emptied, if any part of that exists, it will inevitably lead to illusion brought by desire, by hope, by wanting security.’

‘Is it really possible’, K asks, ‘for time to end, the whole idea of time as the past, chronologically, so that there is no tomorrow at all? There is the feeling, the actual reality, psychologically, of having no tomorrow. I think that is the healthiest way of living, which doesn’t mean that I become irresponsible. That would be too childish.’ In going into this question K and David Bohm speak of the ground of all being, which is the beginning and ending of everything, and of the necessity for mankind to touch this ground if life is to have real significance.

If the brain remains in self-created darkness it wears itself out with the resulting conflict. Can such a brain ever renew itself? Can the deterioration of the brain cells and senility be prevented? Krishnamurti suggests that through insight it is possible for the brain to change physically and act in an orderly way which leads to a healing of the damage caused by all the years of wrong-functioning.

In the Foreword to a booklet of two dialogues between Krishnamurti and David Bohm of a later date, Bohm illuminates this:

It is worth remarking that modern research into the brain and nervous system actually gives considerable support to Krishnamurti’s statement that insight may change the brain cells. Thus, for example, it is now well known that there are important substances in the body, the hormones and the neurotransmitters, that fundamentally affect the entire functioning of the brain and the nervous system. These substances respond, from moment to moment, to what a person knows, to what he thinks, and to what all this means to him. It is by now fairly well established that in this way the brain cells and their functioning are profoundly affected by knowledge and passions. It is thus quite plausible that insight, which must arise in a state of mental energy and passion, could change the brain cells in an even more profound way.

From the book The Open Door, a Biography by Mary Lutyens — Purchase Here

Krishnamurti & David Bohm

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