Cosmic Order

From Krishnamurti’s Book THE ENDING OF TIME

Krishnamurti: We left off the other day by saying that when the mind is totally empty of all the things that thought has put there, then real meditation begins. But I would like to go more deeply into that matter, to go back a bit, and find out if the mind, the brain, can ever be free from all illusion and forms of deception. Also whether it can have its own order – an order not introduced by thought, effort or any endeavour to put things in their proper place. And also, however much damaged the brain is by shock and all kinds of situations, whether it can heal itself completely.

So first let’s begin by asking if there is an order which is not made by man or by thought – which is not the result of calculated order out of disturbance, and therefore still part of the old conditioning?

David Bohm: Are you referring to the mind? I mean, you can say the order of nature exists on its own.

K: The order of nature is order.

DB: Yes, it is not made by man.

K: But I am not talking of such. I am not sure that it is that kind of order. Is there cosmic order?

DB: Well, that is still the same thing, in a sense, because the word ‘cosmos’ means order, but the whole order, which includes the order of the universe and the order of the mind.

K: Yes. What I am trying to find out is whether there is order which man can never possibly conceive?

DB: Well, how are we going to discuss it?

K: I don’t know. What is order?

NARAYAN: There is mathematical order, the highest kind of order known to any discipline.

K: Would the mathematicians agree that mathematics is complete order?

N: Yes, mathematics itself is order.

DB: I think it depends on the mathematician. But there is a well-known mathematician called Von Neumann who defined mathematics as the relationship of relationships. Really he meant, by relationship, order. It is order working within the field of order itself, rather than working on some object.

K: Yes, that is what I am trying to get at.

DB: So the most creative mathematicians are having a perception of this, which may be called pure order; but of course it is limited, because it has to be expressed mathematically, in terms of formulae or equations.

K: Of course. Is order part of disorder, as we know it?

DB: What we mean by disorder is another question. It is not possible to give a coherent definition of disorder, because it violates order. Anything that actually happens has an order, but you can call a certain thing disorder if you like.

K: Are you saying that anything that happens is order?

DB: Has an order. If the body is not functioning rightly, even if cancer is growing, there is a certain order in the cancer cell; it is just growing according to a different pattern, which tends to break down the body. Nevertheless the whole thing has a certain kind of order.

K: Yes, yes.

DB: It has not violated the laws of nature, although relative to some context you could say it is disorder, because, if we are talking of the health of the body, then the cancer is called disorder. But in itself…

K: Cancer has its own order.

DB: Yes, but it is not compatible with the order of the growth of the body.

K: Quite. So what do we mean by order? Is there such a thing as order?

DB: Order is a perception; we can’t get hold of order.

N: I think that generally when we refer to order it is in relation to a framework, or in relation to a certain field. Order always has that connotation. But when you say the order of order, as in the study of mathematics, we are going away from this limited approach to it.

DB: You see most mathematics start with the order of the numbers, like , , , , and build on that, in a hierarchy. But you can see what is meant by the order of the numbers. There is for example a series of relationships which are constant. In the order of the numbers, you have the simplest example of order.

N: And a new order was created with the discovery of zero! Are mathematical order and the order in nature, part of a bigger field? Or are these localized forms?

K: You see the brain, the mind, is so contradictory, so bruised, that it can’t find order.

DB: Yes, but what kind of order does it want?

K: It wants an order in which it will be safe, in which it won’t be bruised, be shocked, or feel physical and psychological pain.

DB: The whole point of order and mathematics is not to have contradiction.

K: But the brain is in contradiction.

DB: And something has gone wrong.

K: Yes, we have said that the brain took a wrong turn.

DB: You see, if the body is growing wrongly we have a cancer cell, which means two contradictory orders – one being the growth of the cancer, and the other the order of the body.

K: Yes. But can the mind, the brain, be totally free of all organized order?

DB: You mean by organized order, a fixed or imposed pattern?

K: Yes. Imposed or self-imposed. We are trying to investigate whether the brain can ever be free from all impositions, pressures, wounds, bruises and trivialities of existence which are pushing it in different directions. If it cannot, meditation has no meaning.

DB: You could go further, and say that probably life has no meaning if you cannot free it of all that.

K: No, I wouldn’t say that life has no meaning.

DB: The pattern goes on indefinitely.

K: If it goes on as it has done, indefinitely, for millennia, life has no meaning. But I think there is a meaning and to find out, the brain must be totally free.

DB: What is the source of what we call disorder? It is like a cancer going on inside the brain, moving in a way which is not compatible with the health of the brain.

K: Yes.

DB: It grows as time goes on, it increases from one generation to another.

K: Each generation repeats the same pattern.

DB: It tends to accumulate through tradition with every generation.

K: How is this set, accumulated pattern, to end, to be broken through?

DB: Could we ask another question? Why does the brain provide the soil for this stuff to grow on?

K: It may be merely tradition or habit.

DB: But why does the brain stay in that?

K: It feels safe. It is afraid of something new taking place, because in the old tradition it finds refuge.

DB: Then we have to question why the brain deceives itself. This pattern involves the fact that the brain deceives itself about disorder. It doesn’t seem able to see it clearly.

N: In my mind there is intelligence behind order which makes use of it. I have a certain purpose for which I create an order, and when the purpose is over I set aside that order or pattern. So order has an intelligence which works it out. That is the usual connotation. But you are referring to something else.

K: I am asking whether this pattern of generations can be broken, and why the brain has accepted that pattern in spite of all its conflicts and misery.

N: I am saying the same thing in a different way. When an order has served its purpose, can it then be put aside?

K: Apparently it can’t. We are speaking psychologically. It can’t. The brain goes on, repeating fears, sorrow, miseries. Is it so heavily conditioned that it cannot see its way out of it, because, by constant repetition, the brain has become dull?

N: The momentum of repetition is there?

K: Yes. That momentum makes the mind mechanical. And in that sluggishness it takes refuge and says, ‘It’s all right, I can go on. That’s what most human beings do.

DB: That is part of the disorder. To think in that way is a manifestation of disorder.

K: Of course.

N: Do you connect order with intelligence? Or is order something that exists on its own?

DB: Intelligence involves order; it requires the perception of order in an orderly way, without contradiction. But I think that, in the terms of this discussion, we ourselves don’t create this; we don’t impose this order, but rather it is natural.

K: Yes. I am the ordinary man. I see that I am caught. My whole way of living and thinking is out of this enormous length of time. Time is my whole existence. In the past, which cannot be changed, I take refuge. Right?

DB: Well I think that if we were to talk to the so-called ordinary man, we would find he doesn’t really understand that time is something that happens to him.

K: I am saying an ordinary man can see, after talking over with another, that his whole existence is based on time. And the mind takes refuge in time – in the past.

DB: What does that mean exactly? How does it take refuge?

K: Because the past cannot be changed.

DB: Yes, but people also think of the future. It is common to think that the future can change. The Communists have said, give up the past, we are going to change the future.

K: But we can’t give up the past, even if we think we can.

DB: Then if even those who try not to take refuge in the past, can’t give it up, it seems that whatever we do, we are stuck.

K: So the next step is, why does the brain accept this way of living? Why doesn’t it break it down? Is it through laziness or that in breaking it down it has no hope?

DB: That is still the same question, of going from past to future.

K: Of course. So what is the brain to do? This is applicable to most people, isn’t it?

DB: We haven’t understood why, when people see that their behaviour is disorderly or irrational, they try to give up the past, but find they cannot.

K: Wait, Sir. If I give up the past, I have no existence. If I give up all my remembrances, I have nothing; I am nothing.

DB: I think some people like the Marxists would look at it a little differently. Marx said that it is necessary to transform the conditions of human society and that this will remove the past.

K: But it has not done so. It cannot be done.

DB: That is because when man tries to transform it he still works from the past.

K: Yes, that’s what I am saying.

DB: If you say, don’t depend on the past at all, then, as you have asked, what are we going to do?

K: I am nothing: is that the reason why we cannot possibly give up the past? Because my existence, my way of thinking, my life, everything, is from the past. And if you say, wipe that out, what have I left?

DB: I think you could say that obviously we have to keep certain things from the past, like useful knowledge.

K: Yes, we have been through all that.

DB: But you could ask, suppose we keep that useful part of the past, and wipe out all aspects of the past which are contradictory?

K: Which are all psychologically contradictory. Then what is left? Just going to the office? There is nothing. Is that the reason why we cannot give it up?

DB: There is still a contradiction in that, because if you say, ‘what is left’, you are still asking from the past.

K: Of course.

DB: Are you simply saying that when people talk of giving up the past, they are just not doing it, but merely turning this into another question which avoids the issue?

K: Because my whole being is the past; it has changed or been modified, but its roots are in the past.

DB: Now if you said, ‘All right, give all that up and in the future you will have something quite different, and better’, would people then be attracted to this?

K: But ‘better’ is still from the past.

DB: But people want to be assured of at least something.

K: That is just it. There is nothing. The ordinary human being wants something to which he can cling.

DB: He may feel, not that he is clinging to the past, but reaching for something.

K: If I reach something it is still the past.

DB: Yes, it has its roots in the past, but that is not often obvious, because people say it is a big, new revolutionary situation.

K: As long as I have my roots in the past there cannot be order.

DB: Because the past is pervaded with disorder.

K: Yes. And is my mind, my brain, willing to see that there is absolutely nothing if I give up the past?

DB: And nothing to reach for.

K: Nothing. There is no movement. Sometimes people dangle a carrot in front of me and, foolishly, I follow it. But I see that there are really no carrots, no rewards or punishments. Then how is this past to be dissolved? Because otherwise I am still living in the field of time that is man-made. So what shall I do? Am I willing to face absolute emptiness?

DB: What will you tell somebody who is not willing to face this?

K: I am not bothered. If somebody says that he can’t do all this, I say, ‘Well, carry on’.

But I am willing to let my past go completely. Which means there is no effort or reward; nothing. And the brain is willing to face this extraordinary and totally new state of existing in nothingness. That is appallingly frightening.

DB: Even these words will have their meaning rooted in the past.

K: Of course. We have understood that; the word is not the thing. The mind says it is willing to do that, to face this absolute emptiness, because it has seen for itself that all the places where it has taken refuge are illusions…

DB: I think this leaves out something that you brought up earlier – the question of the damage of scars to the brain.

K: That is just it.

DB: The brain that isn’t damaged could possibly let go the past fairly readily.

K: Look, can I discover what has caused damage to the brain? Surely one of the factors is strong, sustained emotions, like hatred.

DB: probably a flash of emotion doesn’t do so much damage, but people sustain it.

K: Of course. Hatred, anger and violence not only shock but wound the brain. Right?

DB: And getting excessively excited.

K: Of course; and drugs, etc. The natural response doesn’t damage the brain. Now the brain is damaged; suppose it has been damaged through anger?

DB: You could even say that nerves probably get connected up in the wrong way, and that the connections are too fixed. I think there is evidence that these things will actually change the structure.

K: Yes, and can we have an insight into the whole nature of disturbance, so that the insight changes the cells of the brain which have been wounded?

DB: Well, possibly it would start them healing.

K: All right. That healing must be immediate.

DB: It may take time in the sense that, if wrong connections hade been made, it is going to take time to redistribute the material. The beginning of it, it seems to me, is immediate.

K: All right. Can I do that? I have listened to ‘X’, I have carefully read, I have thought about all this, and I see that anger, violence, hatred – any excessive emotion – bruises the brain. And insight into this whole business brings about a mutation in the cells. It is so. Also the nerves – the adjustments, will be as rapid as possible.

DB: Something happens with cancer cells. Sometimes the cancer suddenly stops growing, and it goes the other way, for some reason that is unknown. But a change must have taken place in those cells.

K: Could it be that the brain cells change fundamentally, and the cancer process stops?

DB: Yes. Fundamentally it stops, and begins to dismantle.

K: Dismantle, yes that is it.

N: You are saying that insight sets into motion the right kind of connections, and stops the wrong connections?

DB: And it even dismantles the wrong connections.

N: So a beginning is made, and it is made now.

DB: At one moment.

K: That is the insight.

N: But there is no time involved, because the right movement has started now.

There is another thing which I want to ask about the past: for most people, the past means pleasure.

K: Not only pleasure but the remembrance of everything.

N: One starts disliking pleasure only when it becomes stale, or leads to difficulties. One wants pleasure all the time.

K: Of course.

N: It is sometimes difficult to distinguish between pleasure and the staleness or the difficulties that it brings.

K: Pleasure is always the past; there is no pleasure at the moment it is happening. That comes in later, when it is remembered. So the remembrance is the past. But I am willing to face nothingness which means to wipe out all that!

N: But I am saying that the human being, even though he understands what you are saying, is held back in this field.

K: Because he is not willing to face this emptiness. Pleasure is not compassion. pleasure is not love, pleasure has no place in compassion. But perhaps if there is this mutation, compassion is stronger than pleasure.

DB: Even the perception of order may be stronger than pleasure. If people are really concerned with something, the pleasure plays no role at that moment.

N: But what happens to a man in whom pleasure is dominant?

K: We have already discussed this. As long as he is unwilling to face this extraordinary emptiness, he will keep on with the old pattern.

DB: You see, we have to say that this man had a damaged brain too. It is brain damage which causes this emphasis on pleasure, as well as the fear and the anger.

K: But the damaged brain is healed when there is insight.

DB: Yes. But I think many people who would understand that hate and anger are products of the damaged brain would find it hard to see that pleasure also is the product of the damaged brain.

K: Oh, yes, but of course it is.

DB: Can we say there is a true enjoyment, which is not the product of the damaged brain, which is confused with pleasure.?

N: If pleasure gives rise to anger, anger is part of the damaged brain.

K: And also the demand for pleasure.

So do you have an insight into how very destructive the past is to the brain? Can the brain itself see, have an insight into this, and move out of it?

N: You are saying that the beginning of order comes from insight?

K: Obviously. Let’s work from there.

N: May I put it in a different way? Is it possible to gather a certain amount of order in a pattern sense, artificially, so that it gives rise to a certain amount of insight?

K: Ah! You cannot find truth through the false.

N: I am asking it purposefully because many people seem to lack the energy that is required for insight.

K: You are tremendously keen to earn a livelihood, to earn money, to do anything in which you are really interested. If you are interested vitally in this transformation, etc., you have the energy.

May we go on? I, as a human being, have seen that this insight has wiped away the past, and the brain is willing to live in nothingness. Right? We have come to this point several times from different directions. Now let’s go on. Now there isn’t a thing put there by thought. There is no movement of thought, except factual knowledge which has its own place. But talking psychologically, there is no movement in the mind or of thought. There is absolutely nothing.

DB: You mean no feeling either? You see, the movement of thought and feeling is together.

K: Wait a minute. What do you mean here by feeling?

DB: Well, usually people might say, all right, there is no thought, but they have various feelings.

K: Of course we have feelings.

DB: These are sensations. And also there are the inner feelings.

K: Inner feelings of what?

DB: It is hard to describe them. Those that can easily be described are obviously the wrong kind, such as anger and fear.

K: Is compassion a feeling?

DB: probably not.

K: No, it is not a feeling.

DB: Though people may say they feel compassionate! Even the very word suggests it is a form of feeling. Compassion has in it the word ‘passion’, which is feeling. This is a difficult question. We could perhaps question what we usually recognize as feelings?

K: Let’s go into that a little bit. What do we mean by feelings? Sensations?

DB: Well, people don’t usually mean that. You see, sensations are connected with the body.

K: So you are talking of feelings which are not of the body?

DB: Yes, or which – in the old days – would have been described as of the soul.

K: The soul, of course. That is an easy escape but it means nothing.

DB: No.

K: What are the inner feelings? pleasure?

DB: Well, in so far as you could label it, that description would not be valid.

K: So what is valid? The non-verbal state?

DB: It may be a non-verbal state… something analogous to a feeling which isn’t fixed, that can’t be named.

N: You are saying it is not feeling, it is similar to feeling, but it is not fixed?

DB: Yes. I am just considering that that could exist if we say that there is no thought. I am trying to clarify this.

K: Yes, there is no thought.

DB: What does that really mean?

K: What it really means is, thought is movement, thought is time. Right? In that emptiness there is not time or thought.

DB: Yes, and perhaps no sense of the existence of an entity inside.

K: Absolutely, of course. The existence of the entity is the bundle of memories, the past.

DB: But that existence is not only thought thinking about it, but also the feeling that it is there; you get a sort of feeling inside.

K: A feeling, yes. There is no being. There is nothing. If there is a feeling of the being continuing…

DB: Yes, even though it doesn’t seem possible to verbalize this… It would be a state without desire. How can we know if this state is real, is genuine?

K: That is what I am asking. How do we know, or realize that this is so? In other words, do you want proof of it?

N: Not proof, but communication of that state.

K: Now wait a minute. Suppose someone has this peculiar compassion, how can he communicate it Lo me, if I am living in pleasure and all that? He can’t!

N: No, but I am prepared to listen to him.

K: Prepared to listen, but how deeply? The man says there is no being. And one’s whole life has been this becoming. And, in that state, he says there is no being at all. In other words, there is no ‘me’. Right? Now you say, ‘Show it to me’. It can be shown only through certain qualities that it has, certain actions. What are the actions of a mind that is totally empty of being? Actions at what level? Actions in the physical world?

N: Partly.

K: Mostly that. All right, this man has got this sense of emptiness, and there is no being. He is not acting from self-centred interests. His actions are in the world of daily living, and you can judge whether he is a hypocrite, whether he says something and contradicts it the next moment, or whether he is actually living this compassion and not just saying, ‘I feel compassionate’.

DB: But if one is not doing the same, one can’t tell.

K: That’s right. That is what I am saying.

N: We can’t judge him.

K: You can’t. So how can he convey to us in words that peculiar quality of mind? He can describe, go round it, but he can’t give the essence of it. Dr. Bohm, for example, could discuss with Einstein; they were on the same level. And he and I can discuss. If one has this sense of not being, of emptiness, the other can go very close, but can never enter that mind unless he has it!

N: Is there any way of communicating, for one who is open, but not through words?

K: We are talking of compassion. It is not, ‘I feel compassionate’. That is altogether wrong. You see, in daily life such a mind acts without the ‘me’, without the ‘ego’. Therefore it might make a mistake, but it corrects immediately; it is not carrying that mistake.

N: It is not stuck.

K: Not stuck. But we must be very careful here not to find an excuse for wrong!

So we come to that point that we discussed earlier; what then is meditation? Right? For the man who is becoming, meditation has no meaning whatsoever. That is a tremendous statement. When there is not this being or becoming, what is meditation? It must be totally unconscious, totally uninvited.

DB: Do you mean, without conscious intention?

K: Yes, I think that is right. Would you say – I hope this doesn’t sound silly – that the universe, the cosmic order, is in meditation?

DB: Well, if it is alive, then we would have to look at it that way.

K: No, no. It is in a state of meditation.

DB: Yes.

K: I think that is right. I stick to that.

DB: We should try to go further into what is meditation. What is it doing?

N: If you say that the universe is in meditation, is the expression of it order? What order can we discern which would indicate cosmic or universal meditation?

K: The sunrise and sunset; all the stars, the planets are order. The whole thing is in perfect order.

DB: We have to connect this with meditation. According to the dictionary, the meaning of meditation is to reflect, to turn something over in the mind, and to pay close attention.

K: And also to measure.

DB: That is a further meaning, but it is to weigh, to ponder, it means, measure, in the sense of weighing.

K: Weighing, that’s it. ponder, think over, and so on.

DB: To weigh the significance of something. Now is that what you mean?

K: No.

DB: Then why do you use the word?

N: I am told that, in English, contemplation has a different connotation from meditation. Contemplation implies a deeper state of mind.

DB: It is hard to know. The word ‘contemplate’ comes from the word ‘temple’, really.

K: Yes, that’s right.

DB: Its basic meaning is, to create an open space.

K: Is that an open space between God and me?

DB: That is the way the word arose.

K: Quite.

N: The Sanskrit word ‘dhyans’ doesn’t have the same connotation as meditation.

K: No.

N: Because meditation has the overtones of measurement, and probably, in an oblique way, that measurement is order.

K: No, I don’t want to bring in order – let’s leave the word ‘order’ out. We have been through that, and beaten it to death!

DB: Why do you use the word ‘meditation’?

K: Don’t let’s use it.

DB: Let’s find out what you really mean here.

K: Would you say, a state of infinity? A measureless state?

DB: Yes.

K: There is no division of any kind. You see we are giving lots of descriptions, but it is not that.

DB: Yes, but is there any sense of the mind being in some way aware of itself?

Is that what you are trying to say? At other times you have said that the mind is emptying itself of content.

K: What are you trying to get at?

DB: I am asking whether it is not only infinite, but if something more is involved?

K: Oh, much more.

DB: We said that content is the past which is making disorder. Then you could say that this emptying of content in some sense is constantly cleaning up the past. Would you agree to that?

K: No, no.

DB: When you say the mind is emptying itself of content…

K: Has emptied itself.

DB: All right, then. When the past is cleaned up, then you say that is meditation.

K: That is meditation; no, contemplation…

N: Just a beginning.

K: Beginning?

N: The emptying of the past.

K: That emptying of the past, which is anger, jealousy, beliefs, dogmas, attachments, etc., must be done. If that is not emptied, if any part of that exists, it will inevitably lead to illusion. The brain or the mind must be totally free of all illusion, illusion brought by desire, by hope, by wanting security, and all that.

DB: Are you saying that when this is done, it opens the door to something broader, deeper?

K: Yes. Otherwise life has no meaning; it is just repeating this pattern.

N: What exactly did you mean when you said that the universe is meditation?

K: I feel that way, yes.

DB: Could we say first of all that the universe is not actually governed by its past? You see, the universe creates certain forms which are relatively constant, so that people who look at it superficially only see that, and it seems then to be determined from the past.

K: Yes, it is not governed by the past. It is creative, moving.

DB: And then this movement is order.

K: Would you, as a scientist, accept such a thing?

DB: Well as a matter of fact I would!

K: Are we both crazy? Let’s put the question another way: is it really possible 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.

DB: It is merely a question of physical time, which is a certain part of natural order.

K: Of course; that is understood.

DB: The question is whether we have a sense of experiencing past and future or whether we are free of that sense.

K: I am asking you, as a scientist, is the universe based on time?

DB: I would say no, but you see the general way…

K: That is all I want. You say no! And can the brain, which has evolved in time.?

DB: Well, has it evolved in time? Rather it has become entangled in time. Because the brain is part of the universe, which we say is not based on time.

K: I agree.

DB: thought has entangled the brain in time.

K: All right. Can that entanglement be unravelled, freed, so that the universe is the mind? You follow? If the universe is not of time, can the mind, which has been entangled in time, unravel itself and so be the universe? You follow what I am trying to say?

DB: Yes.

K: That is order.

DB: That is order. And would you say that it is meditation?

K: That is it. I would call that meditation, not in the ordinary, dictionary sense of pondering, and all that, but a state of meditation in which there is no element of the past.

DB: You say the mind is disentangling itself from time, and also really disentangling the brain from time?

K: Yes, would you accept that?

DB: Yes.

K: As a theory?

DB: Yes, as a proposal.

K: No, I don’t want it as a proposal.

DB: What do you mean by theory?

K: Theory – when somebody comes along and says, this is real meditation.

DB: All right.

K: Wait. Somebody says, one can live this way; life has an extraordinary meaning in it, full of compassion, etc., and every act in the physical world can be corrected immediately, and so on. Would you, as a scientist, accept such a state, or say that the man who talks of it is cuckoo?

DB: No, I wouldn’t say that. I feel it is perfectly possible; it is quite compatible with anything that I know about nature.

K: Oh, then that’s all right. So one is not an unbalanced cuckoo! Of course putting all this into words is not the thing. Right? That is understood. But can it be communicated to another? Now can s me of us get to this, so that we can communicate it, actually?