The Ending of Psychological Knowledge

From Krishnamurti’s Book THE ENDING OF TIME

Krishnamurti: What makes the mind always follow a certain pattern? Always seeking? If it lets go of one pattern it picks up another; it keeps on functioning all the time like that. One can give explanations why it does so – for protection, for safety, from indifference, certain amount of callousness, a disregard of one’s own flowering, etc.

But it is really very important to explore deeply why our minds are always operating in a certain direction.

We said that one comes, after going through travail, investigation, and insight, to a blank wall. And that blank wall can only wither away, or be broken down, when there is love and intelligence. Before we go into that, I would like to ask why human beings, however intelligent, however learned, however philosophical and religious, always fall into this groove of pattern seeking.

David Bohm: Well, I think the groove is inherent in the nature of the accumulated knowledge.

K: Are you saying then that knowledge must invariably create a groove?

DB: Perhaps it is not inevitable but it seems to develop this way in mankind, if we are referring to psychological knowledge, that is to say…

K: Obviously we are talking of that. But why does the mind not become aware of it – see the danger of this mechanical repetition, and the fact that there is nothing new in it? See how we keep on doing it?

DB: It seems to me that the groove, or the accumulated knowledge, seems to have a significance far beyond what its significance is. If we say that we have knowledge of some object, like the microphone, that has some limited significance. But knowledge about the nation to which you belong seems to have immense significance.

K: Yes. So is this attribution of significance the cause of the narrowing down of the mind?

DB: Because this knowledge seems to have a tremendous value beyond all other values, it makes the mind stick to that. It seems the most important thing in the world.

K: In India, there is this philosophy that knowledge must end – you know it, of course, the Vedanta. But apparently very, very, few people do end knowledge and talk from freedom.

DB: You see, knowledge generally seems to be extremely important, even when a person may say verbally that it should end…

K: You mean I am so stupid that I don’t see that this psychological knowledge has very little significance, and so my mind clings to it?

DB: I wouldn’t quite put it that a person is that stupid, but rather say that his knowledge stupefies the brain.

K: Stupefied, all right. But the brain doesn’t seem to extricate itself.

DB: It is already so stupefied that it can’t see what it is doing.

K: So what shall it do? I have been watching for many years people attempting to become free from certain things. This is the root of it, you understand? This psychological accumulation which becomes psychological knowledge. And so it divides, and all kinds of things happen around it and within it. And yet the mind refuses to let go.

DB: Yes.

K: Why? Is that because there is safety or security in it?

DB: That is part of it, but I think in some way that knowledge has taken on the significance of the absolute, instead of being relative.

K: I understand all that, but you are not answering my question. I am an ordinary man, I realize all this, and the limited significance of knowledge at different levels, but deeper down inside one, this accumulated knowledge is very destructive.

DB: The knowledge deceives the mind, so that the person is not normally aware that it is destructive. Once this process gets started, the mind is not in a state where it is able to look at it because it is avoiding the question. There is a tremendous defensive mechanism or escape from looking at the whole issue.

K: Why?

DB: Because it seems that something extremely precious might be at stake.

K: One is strangely intelligent, capable or skilled in other directions but here, where the root is of all this trouble, why don’t we comprehend what is happening? What prevents the mind from doing this?

DB: Once importance has been given to knowledge, there is a mechanical process that resists intelligence.

K: So what shall I do? I realize I must let go the accumulated, psychological knowledge – which is divisive, destructive and petty – but I can’t. Is this because of lack of energy?

DB: Not primarily, though the energy is being dissipated by the process.

K: Having dissipated a great deal of energy, I haven’t the energy to grapple with this?

DB: The energy would come back quickly if we could understand this. I don’t think that is the main point.

K: No. So what shall I do, realizing that this knowledge is inevitably forming a groove in which I live? How am I to break it down?

DB: Well, I am not sure that it is generally clear to people that this knowledge does all that; or that the knowledge is knowledge. You see, it may seem to be some ‘being’, the ‘self’, and ‘me’. This knowledge creates the ‘me’, and the ‘me’ is the experience as an entity, which seems not to be knowledge but some real being.

K: Are you saying that this ‘being’ is different from knowledge?

DB: It appears to be; it feigns a difference.

K: But is it?

DB: It isn’t, but the illusion has great power.

K: That has been our conditioning.

DB: Yes. Now the question is, how do we get through that to break down the groove, because it creates the imitation, or a pretension, of a state of being?

K: That is the real point, you see. This is man’s central movement. It seems so utterly hopeless. And realizing the hopelessness I sit down and say I can’t do anything. But if I apply my mind to it, the question arises, is it possible to function without psychological knowledge in this world? I am rather concerned about it; it seems the basic issue that man must resolve, all over the world.

DB: That is right. But you may discuss with somebody, who thinks it seems reasonable. But perhaps his status is threatened, and we have to say that that is psychological knowledge. It doesn’t seem to him that it is knowledge, but something more. And he doesn’t see that his knowledge of his status is behind the trouble. At first sight knowledge seems to be something passive, which you could use if you wanted to, and which you could just put aside if you wished, which is the way it should be.

K: I understand all that.

DB: But then the moment comes when knowledge no longer appears to be knowledge.

K: The politicians and the people in power wouldn’t listen to this. And neither would the so-called religious people. It is only the people who are discontented, who feel they have lost everything, who will listen. But they don’t always listen so that it is a real burning thing.

How does one go about this? Say, for instance, I have left Catholicism and Protestantism, and all that. Also I have a career and I know that it is necessary to have knowledge there. Now I see how important it is not to be caught in the process of psychological knowledge, and yet I can’t let it go. It is always dodging me; I am playing tricks with it. It is like hide and seek. All right! We said that is the wall I have to break down. No, not I – that is the wall that has to be broken down. And we have said that this wall can be broken down through love and intelligence. Aren’t we asking something enormously difficult?

DB: It is difficult.

K: I am this side of the wall, and you are asking me to have that love and intelligence which will destroy it. But I don’t know what that love is, what that intelligence is, because I am caught in this, on this other side of the wall. I realize logically, sanely, that what you are saying is accurate, true, logical, and I see the importance of it, but the wall is so strong and dominant and powerful that I can’t get beyond it. We said the other day that the wall could be broken down through insight – if insight does not become translated into an idea.

DB: Yes.

K: When insight is discussed, there is the danger of our making an abstraction of it; which means we move away from the fact, and the abstraction becomes all important. Which means, again, knowledge.

DB: Yes, the activity of knowledge.

K: So we are back again!

DB: I think the general difficulty is that knowledge is not just sitting there as a form of information, but is extremely active, meeting and shaping every moment according to past knowledge. So even when we raise this issue, knowledge is all the time waiting, and then acting. Our whole tradition is that knowledge is not active but passive. But it is really active, although people don’t generally think of it that way. They think it is just sitting there.

K: It is waiting.

DB: Waiting to act, you see. And whatever we try to do about it, knowledge is already acting. By the time we realize that this is the problem, it has already acted.

K: Yes. But do I realize it as a problem, or as an idea which I must carry out? You see the difference?

DB: Knowledge automatically turns everything into an idea, which we must carry out. That is the whole way it is built.

K: The whole way we have lived.

DB: Knowledge can’t do anything else.

K: How are we to break that, even for a second?

DB: It seems to me that if you could see, observe, be aware – if knowledge could be aware of itself at work… The point is that knowledge seems to work unawares, simply waiting, and then acting, by which time it has disrupted the order of the brain.

K: I am very concerned about this because wherever I go this is what is happening. It is something that has to be resolved. Would you say the capacity to listen is far more important than any of this, than any explanations, or logic?

DB: It comes to the same problem.

K: No, no. It doesn’t. I want to see if there is a possibility that when I listen completely to what you are saying, the wall has broken down. You understand? Is there – I am trying to find out, Sir – I am an ordinary man and you are telling me all this, and I realize what you are saying is so. I am really deeply involved in what you are saying, but somehow the flame isn’t lit; all the fuel is there, but the fire is not. So what shall I do? This is my everlasting cry!

DB: The brain has the capacity to listen; we have to question whether the ordinary man is so full of opinions that he can’t listen.

K: You can’t listen with opinions; you might just as well be dead.

DB: I think knowledge has all sorts of defences. Is it possible for, say, the ordinary man to have this perception? That is really what you are asking, isn’t it?

K: Yes. But there must be a communication between you and that man, something so strong that the very act of his listening to you, and you communicating with him, operates.

DB: Yes, then you have to break through his opinions, through the whole structure.

K: Of course. That is why this man has come here – for that. He has finished with all the churches and doctrines. He realizes that what has been said here is true. When you communicate with him, your communication is strong and real, because you are not speaking from knowledge or opinions. A free human being is trying to communicate with this ordinary man. Now can he listen with that intensity which you, the communicator, are giving him? He wants to listen to somebody who is telling the truth, and in the very telling of it, something is taking place in him. Because he is so ardently listening, this happens.

It is rather like you as a scientist, telling one of your students something. You are telling him about something which must be enormously important, because you have given your life to it. And has given up much just to come here. Is it the fault of the communicator that the listener does not receive it instantly? Or is the listener incapable of hearing it?

DB: Well, if he is incapable of listening, then nothing can be done. But let’s say there is somebody who comes along who has got through some of these defences, although there are others that he is not aware of – that is something less simple than what you have described.

K: I feel it is dreadfully simple somehow. If one could listen with all one’s being, the brain would not be caught in the groove. You see, generally, in communication, you are telling me something and I am absorbing it, but there is an interval between you telling and my absorbing.

DB: Yes.

K: And that interval is the danger. If I don’t absolutely absorb, listen with all my being, it is finished. Is listening difficult because in this there is no shadow of pleasure? You are not offering any pleasure, any gratification. You are saying this is so; take it. But my mind is so involved in pleasure that it won’t listen to anything that is not completely satisfactory or pleasurable.

I realize too the danger of that. Of seeking satisfaction and pleasure, so I put that aside too. There is no pleasure, no reward, no punishment. In listening, there is only pure observation.

So we come to the point, is pure observation, which is actually listening, love? I think it is.

Again, if you state this, then my mind says ‘Give it to me. Tell me what to do.’ But when I ask you to tell me what to do, I am back in the field of knowledge. It is so instantaneous. So I refuse to ask you what to do. Then where am I? You have referred to perception without any motive or direction. Pure perception is love. And in that perception love is intelligence. They are not three separate things, they are all one thing. You pointed all this out very carefully, step by step, and I have come to that point that I have a feeling for it. But it goes away so quickly. Then the question begins, ‘How am I to get it back?’ Again, the remembrance of it, which is knowledge, blocks.

DB: What you are saying is that every time there is a communication, knowledge begins to work in many different forms.

K: So you see it is enormously difficult to be free of knowledge.

DB: We could ask, why doesn’t knowledge wait until it is needed?

K: That means to be psychologically free of knowledge, but, when the need arises, to act from freedom, not from knowledge.

DB: But knowledge comes in to inform your action, although it is not the source.

K: That is freedom from knowledge. And being free, it is from freedom and not from knowledge that one communicates. That is, from emptiness there is communication. When we use words, they are the outcome of knowledge, but they are from that state of complete freedom. Now, suppose I, as an ordinary human being, have come to that point where there is this freedom, and from it communication takes place – will you, as an eminent scientist, communicate with me without any barrier? You follow what I am saying?

DB: Yes. There is this freedom from knowledge when knowledge is seen to be information. But ordinarily it seems more than information, and knowledge itself does not see that knowledge is not free.

K: It is never free. And if I am going to understand myself, I must be free to look.

How will you communicate with me, who have come to a certain point where I am burning to receive what you are saying, so completely that psychological knowledge is finished? Or am I fooling myself about being in that state?

DB: Well, that is the question: knowledge is constantly deceiving itself.

K: So is my mind always deceiving itself? Then what shall I do? Let’s come back to that.

DB: Again I think the answer is to listen.

K: Why don’t we listen? Why don’t we immediately understand this thing? One can give all the superficial reasons why – old age, conditioning, laziness, and so on.

DB: But is it possible to give the deep reason for it?

K: I think it is that the knowledge which is the ‘me’ is so tremendously strong as an idea.

DB: Yes, that is why I tried to say that the idea has tremendous significance and meaning. For example, suppose you have the idea of God; this takes on a tremendous power.

K: Or if I have the idea that I am British, or French, it gives me great energy.

DB: And so it creates a state of the body which seems the very being of the self Now the person doesn’t experience it as mere knowledge…

K: Yes, but are we going round and round and round? It seems like it.

DB: Well, I was wondering if there is anything that could be communicated about that overwhelming power that seems to come with knowledge…

K: …and with identification.

DB: That seems to be something that would be worth looking into.

K: Now what is the root meaning of ‘identification’?

DB: Always the same.

K: Always the same, that’s right. That’s right! There is nothing new under the sun.

DB: You say the self is always the same. It tries to be always the same in essence, if not in detail.

K: Yes, yes.

DB: I think this is the thing that goes wrong with knowledge. It attempts to be involved with what is always the same, so it sticks, you see. Knowledge itself tries to find what is permanent and perfect. I mean, even independent of any of us. It is like building it into the cells.

K: From this arises the question, is it possible to attend diligently? I am using ‘diligence’ in the sense of being accurate.

DB: Actually it means to take pains.

K: Of course. To take pains, take the whole of it. There must be some other way round all this intellectual business. We have exercised a great deal of it and that intellectual capacity has led to the blank wall. I approach it from every direction, but eventually the wall is there, which is the ‘me’, with my knowledge, my prejudice, and all the rest of it. And the ‘me’ then says, ‘I must do something about it. Which is still the ‘me’.

DB: The ‘me’ wants always to be constant, but at the same time it tries to change.

K: To put on a different coat. It is always the same. So the mind which is functioning with the ‘me’ is always the same mind. Good Lord, you see, we are back again!

We have tried everything – fasting, every kind of discipline – to get rid of the ‘me’ with all its knowledge and illusions. One tries to identify with something else, which is the same thing. One then comes back to the fundamental question, what will make the blank wall totally disappear? I think this is only possible when the man who is blocked can give total attention to what the free man is saying. There is no other means to break down the wall – not the intellect, not the emotions, nor anything else. When somebody who has gone beyond the wall, who has broken it down, says, ‘Listen, for God’s sake listen,’ and I listen to him with my mind empty, then it is finished. You know what I am saying? I have no sense of hoping for anything to happen, or anything to come back, or concern with the future. The mind is empty, and therefore listening. It is finished.

For a scientist to discover something new, he must have a certain emptiness from which there will be a different perception.

DB: Yes, but only in the sense that usually the question is limited, and so the mind may be empty with regard to that particular question, allowing the discovery of an insight in that area. But we are not questioning this particular area. We are questioning the whole of knowledge.

K: It is most extraordinary when you go into it.

DB: And you were saying the end of knowledge is the Vedanta.

K: That is the real answer.

DB: But generally people feel they must keep knowledge in one area to be able to question it in another. You see it might worry people to ask, with what knowledge do I question the whole of knowledge?

K: Yes. With what knowledge do I question my knowledge? Quite.

DB: In a way, we do have knowledge, because we have seen that this whole structure of psychological knowledge makes no sense, that it is inconsistent and has no meaning.

K: From that emptiness that we were talking of, is there a ground or a source from which all things begin? Matter, human beings, their capacities, their idiocies – does the whole movement start from there?

DB: We could consider that. But let’s try to clarify it a little. We have the emptiness.

K: Yes, emptiness in which there is no movement of thought as psychological knowledge. And therefore no psychological time.

DB: Though we still have the time of the watch…

K: Yes, but we have gone beyond that; don’t let’s go back to it. There is no psychological time, no movement of thought. And is that emptiness the beginning of all movement?

DB: Well, would you say the emptiness is the ground?

K: That is what I am asking. Let’s go slowly into this.

DB: Earlier on, we were saying that there is the emptiness, and beyond that is the ground.

K: I know, I know. Let’s discuss this further.