David Bohm: I think that most psychologists evidently want the human being to conform to this society, but I think some are thinking of going beyond that to transform the consciousness of mankind.
K: Can the consciousness of mankind be changed through time? That is one of the questions we should discuss.
DB: I think that what came out of our previous discussions was that with regard to consciousness, time is not relevant, that it is a kind of illusion. We discussed the illusion of becoming.
K: Yes, we are saying that the evolution of consciousness is a fallacy.
DB: As through time, yes. Though physical evolution is not.
K: Can we put it this way, much more simply? There is no psychological evolution or evolution of the psyche.
DB: Yes, and since the future of humanity depends on the psyche, it seems then that its future is not going to be determined through actions in time. And that leaves us with the question of what we will do.
K: Now let’s proceed from there. Shouldn’t we first distinguish between the brain and the mind?
DB: Well, that distinction has been made, but it is not clear. Of course, there are several views. One view is to say the mind is just a function of the brain—that is the materialist view. There is another view that the mind and brain are two different things.
K: Yes, I think they are two different things.
DB: But there must be…
K: …contact between the two. A relationship between the two.
DB: Yes, we don’t necessarily imply any separation of the two.
K: No. First, let’s see the brain. I am really not an expert on the structure of the brain and all that kind of thing. But one can see within one, observe from the activity of one’s own brain, that it is really like a computer that has been programmed and remembers.
DB: Well, certainly a large part of its activity is that way, but one is not certain that all of it is that way.
K: No. And it is conditioned. Conditioned by past generations, by society, by the media, by all the activities and pressures from the outside. It is conditioned.
DB: Yes. Now, what do you mean by this conditioning?
K: The brain is programmed. It is made to conform to a certain pattern. It lives entirely on the past, modifying itself with the present, and going on.
DB: We have agreed that some of this conditioning is useful and necessary.
K: Of course.
DB: But the conditioning which determines the self, the psyche, that is the conditioning you are talking about. That may not only be unnecessary but harmful.
K: Yes. The emphasis on the psyche, giving importance to the self, is causing great damage in the world, because it is separative. Therefore it is constantly in conflict not only within itself, but also with society, with the family, and so on.
DB: Yes. And it is also in conflict with nature.
K: With nature, with the whole universe.
DB: We have said that the conflict arose because of division arising because thought is limited. Being based on this conditioning, knowledge and memory, it is limited.
K: Yes. And experience is limited. Therefore knowledge, memory and thought are limited. Thought is limited, and the very structure and nature of the psyche is the movement of thought.
K: In time.
DB: Yes. Now, I would like to ask a question. You have referred to the movement of thought, but it doesn’t seem clear to me what is moving. You see, if I talk of the movement of my hand, that is a real movement. It is clear what is meant. But when we now discuss the movement of thought, it seems we are discussing something that is a kind of illusion, because you have said becoming is the movement of thought.
K: That is what I meant, the movement in becoming.
DB: But what you are saying is that in some way that movement is illusory, aren’t you?
K: Yes, of course.
DB: It is rather like the movement on the screen projected from the camera. We say there are no objects moving across the screen, that the only real movement is the turning of the projector. Now, can we say there is a real movement in the brain which is projecting all this, which is the conditioning?
K: That is what we want to find out. Let’s discuss that a bit. We both agree, or see, that the brain is conditioned.
DB: Really what we mean by that is that it has been impressed physically and chemically.
K: And genetically, as well as psychologically.
DB: What is the difference between physically and psychologically?
K: Psychologically, the brain is centred in the self, right?
K: And the constant assertion of the self is its movement, conditioning, an illusion.
DB: But there is some real movement happening inside. The brain, for example, is doing something. It has been conditioned physically and chemically. And something is happening physically and chemically when we are thinking of the self.
K: Are you asking whether the brain and the self are two different things?
DB: No, I am saying that the self is the result of conditioning the brain.
K: Yes. And the self is conditioning the brain.
DB: But does the self exist?
DB: But the conditioning of the brain, as I see it, is its involvement with an illusion which we call the self.
K: That’s right. Can that conditioning be dissipated? That’s the question.
DB: It really has to be dissipated in some physical, chemical and neurophysiological sense.
DB: Now, the first reaction of any scientific person would be that it looks unlikely that we could dissipate it by the sort of thing we are doing. Some scientists might feel that maybe we will discover drugs or new genetic changes or deep knowledge of the structure of the brain. In that way, we could perhaps hope to do something. I think that idea might be current among some people.
K: Will that change human behaviour?
DB: Well, why not? I think some people believe it might.
K: Wait a minute. That is the whole point. It might, which means in the future.
DB: Yes, it would take time to discover all this.
K: In the meantime, man is destroying himself.
DB: Well, they might hope that he will manage to do it in time. They could also criticise what we are doing here, asking what good it can do. You see, it doesn’t seem to affect anybody, and certainly not in time to make a big difference.
K: We two are very clear about it. In what way does it affect humanity?
DB: Will it really affect mankind in time to save…
K: Certainly not. Obviously not.
DB: Then why should we be doing it?
K: Because this is the right thing to do. Independently. It has nothing to do with reward and punishment.
DB: Nor with goals. You do the right thing even though we don’t know what the outcome will be?
K: That’s right.
DB: Are you saying there is no other way?
K: We are saying that there is no other way, that’s right.
DB: We should make that clear. For example, some psychologists would feel that by inquiring into this sort of thing, we could bring about an evolutionary transformation of consciousness.
K: We come back to the point that through time we hope to change consciousness. We question that.
DB: We have questioned that and are saying that through time we are all caught inevitably in becoming and illusion, and we will not know what we are doing.
K: That’s right.
DB: Now, could we say the same thing would hold even for those scientists who are trying to do it physically, chemically or structurally, that they are still caught in this, and through time they are caught in trying to become better?
K: Yes, the experimentalists and the psychologists are trying to become something.
DB: Yes, though it may not seem obvious at first. It may seem that they are just disinterested scientists, unbiased observers working on the problem. But underneath you feel there is the desire to become better on the part of the person who is inquiring in that way.
K: To become, of course.
DB: They are not free of that.
K: That is just it.
DB: And that desire will give rise to self-deception and illusion, and so on.
K: So where are we now? Any form of becoming is an illusion, and becoming implies time for the psyche to change. But we are saying time is not necessary.
DB: Yes, that ties up with the other question of the mind and the brain. The brain is clearly activity in time, as a complex physical and chemical process.
K: I think the mind is separate from the brain.
DB: What does it mean, separate? Are they in contact?
K: Separate in the sense that the brain is conditioned and the mind is not.
DB: Well, let’s say the mind has a certain independence of the brain. Even if the brain is conditioned…
K: …the other is not.
DB: It need not be conditioned. Now, what makes you say that?
K: As long as the brain is conditioned, it is not free. And the mind is free.
DB: Yes, that is what you are saying. The brain not being free means it is not free to inquire in an unbiased way.
K: I will go into it. Let’s inquire. What is freedom? Freedom to inquire, as you point out, freedom to investigate. It is only in freedom there is deep insight.
DB: Yes, that’s clear, because if you are not free to inquire, or if you are biased, then you are limited, in an arbitrary way.
K: So as long as the brain is conditioned, its relationship to the mind is limited.
DB: Yes, now we have the relationship of the brain to the mind, and also the other way round.
K: The mind being free has a relationship to the brain.
DB: We are saying the mind is free, in some sense, that it is not subject to the conditioning of the brain.
DB: Now, what is the nature of the mind? Is the mind located inside the body, or is it in the brain?
K: No, it is nothing to do with the body or the brain.
DB: Has it to do with space or time?
K: Space. Now, wait a minute! It has to do with space and silence. These are the two factors of the…
DB: But not time, right?
K: Not time. Time belongs to the brain.
DB: You say space and silence. Now, what kind of space? It is not the space in which we see life moving.
K: No, space. Let’s look at it around the other way. Thought can invent space.
DB: We have the space that we see and, in addition, thought can invent all kinds of space.
K: Space from here to there.
DB: Yes, the space through which we move physically.
K: Space also between two sounds.
DB: Space between two sounds is called the interval.
K: Yes, the interval between two sounds, two notes, two thoughts.
K: Space between two people.
DB: Space between walls.
K: And so on. But that kind of space is not the space of the mind.
DB: You are saying that it is not limited?
K: That’s right. But I didn’t want to use the word ‘limited’.
DB: But it is implied. That kind of space is not in the nature of being bounded by something.
K: No, it is not bounded by the psyche.
DB: But is it bounded by anything?
K: No. So can the brain, with all its cells conditioned, can those cells radically change?
DB: It is not certain that all the cells are conditioned. Some people think that only a small percentage of the cells are being used and the others are inactive, dormant.
K: Hardly used at all, or just touched occasionally.
DB: Just touched occasionally. But those cells that are conditioned, evidently dominate consciousness now.
K: Yes, can those cells be changed? We are saying that they can, through insight. Insight being out of time, and not the result of remembrance, intuition, desire or hope. It is nothing to do with time and thought.
DB: Yes. Now, is insight of the mind? Is it of the nature of mind, an activity of mind?
DB: Therefore you are saying mind can act in the matter of the brain.
DB: This point, how mind is able to act in matter, is a difficult one.
K: It is able to act on the brain. For instance, take any crisis or problem. The root meaning of ‘problem’ is something thrown at you. And we meet it with the remembrance of the past, with a bias, and so on. Therefore the problem multiplies itself. You may solve one problem, but in the very solution of that particular problem, other problems arise, as happens in politics and so on. Now, to approach the problem, or to have perception of it without past memories and thoughts interfering or projecting…
DB: That implies perception also is of the mind.
K: Yes, that’s right.
DB: Are you saying that the brain is a kind of instrument of the mind?
K: An instrument of the mind when the brain is not self-centred.
DB: Yes, all the conditioning may be thought of as the brain exciting itself and keeping itself going just from that program. This occupies all its capacities.
K: All our days, yes.
DB: The brain is rather like a radio receiver which can generate its own noise but would not pick up a signal.
K: Not quite. Let’s go into this a little bit. Experience is always limited, right? I may blow up that experience into something fantastic and then set up shop to sell my experience, but that experience is limited. Knowledge is always limited, and this knowledge is operating in the brain. This knowledge is the brain. And thought is also part of the brain, and thought is limited. So the brain is operating in a very, very small area.
DB: Yes. What prevents it from operating in a broader area? In an unlimited area?
DB: Thought. But the brain, it seems to me, is running on its own, from its own program.
K: Yes, like a computer.
DB: Now, essentially, what you are asking is that the brain should really be responding to the mind.
K: It can only respond if it is free from the limited—from thought, which is limited.
DB: Yes, so the program then does not dominate it. We are still going to need that program.
K: Of course. We need it for…
DB: …for many things. Yes.
Is intelligence from the mind?
K: Yes. Intelligence is the mind.
DB: Is the mind.
K: We must go into something else because compassion is related to intelligence. There is no intelligence without compassion. And compassion can only be when there is love, which is completely free from all remembrances, jealousies and all that kind of thing.
DB: Are compassion and love also of the mind?
K: Of the mind. You see, you cannot be compassionate if you are attached to any experience or ideal.
DB: Yes, that is again the program that is holding us.
K: Yes. For instance, people go to poverty-ridden countries and work, work, work. And they call that compassion. But they are attached or tied to a particular form of religious belief, and therefore that is merely pity or sympathy. It is not compassion.
DB: Yes, I understand that we have here two things which can be somewhat independent. There is the brain and the mind, though they make contact. Now we are saying that intelligence and compassion come from beyond the brain. So now I would like to go into the question of how they are making contact.
K: Contact can only exist between the mind and the brain when the brain is quiet.
DB: Yes, that is the condition, the requirement for making it. The brain has got to be quiet.
K: And that quiet is not a trained quietness. It is not a self-conscious, meditative desire for silence. It is a natural outcome of understanding one’s conditioning.
DB: And if the brain is quiet, you could say it can listen to something deeper, right?
K: Deeper—that’s right. Then if it is quiet, it is related to the mind. Then the mind can function through the brain.
DB: Now, I think it would help if we could see with regard to the brain, whether it has any activity which is beyond thought. For example, one could ask if awareness is part of the function of the brain.
K: As long as it is awareness in which there is no choice—not I am aware, and in that awareness I choose.
DB: I think that may cause difficulty. What is wrong with choice?
K: Choice means confusion.
DB: That is not obvious just from the word itself.
K: Of course, you have to choose between two things.
DB: I could choose whether I will buy one thing or another.
K: Yes, I can choose between this table and that table.
DB: I choose the colour when I buy the table. That need not be confused.
K: There is nothing wrong, no confusion there.
DB: But it seems that choice with regard to the psyche is where the confusion is.
K: That is all we are talking about—the psyche that chooses.
DB: That chooses to become.
K: Yes, chooses to become. And choice also exists where there is confusion.
DB: Are you saying that out of confusion, the psyche makes a choice to become one thing or another? Being confused, it tries to become something better?
K: And choice implies a duality.
DB: Yes, but now it seems, at first sight, you have introduced another duality: the mind and the brain.
K: No, that is not a duality.
DB: That is important to get clear. What is the difference?
K: Let’s take a very simple example. Human beings are violent, and non-violence has been projected by thought. That is duality—the fact and the non-fact.
DB: You are saying there is a duality between a fact and some mere projection the mind makes.
K: The ideal and the fact.
DB: The ideal is unreal, and the fact is real.
K: That’s it. The ideal is not actual.
DB: Yes. Now, you are saying the division of those two is duality. Why do you give it that name?
K: Because they are divided.
DB: Well, at least they appear to be divided.
K: Divided, and we are struggling with that. For instance, the totalitarian communist ideals and democratic ideals are the outcome of thought, which is limited. And this is creating havoc in the world.
DB: So there is a division which has been brought in. But I think we were discussing in terms of dividing something which cannot be divided, of trying to divide the psyche.
K: That’s right. Violence cannot be divided into non-violence.
DB: Yes. And the psyche cannot be divided into violence and non-violence.
K: It is what it is.
DB: It is what it is. So if it is violent, it cannot be divided into violent and non-violent parts.
K: That’s right. So can we remain with what is, not with what should be, what must be and not invent ideals and all the rest of that?
DB: Yes, but could we return to the question of the mind and the brain? We are saying that is not a division.
K: Oh no, that is not a division.
DB: They are in contact.
K: We said there is contact between the mind and the brain when the brain is silent and has space.
DB: Yes, so we are saying that although they are in contact and not divided at all, the mind can still have a certain independence of the conditioning of the brain.
K: Let’s be very careful here. Suppose my brain is conditioned, for example, programmed as a Hindu, and my life and actions are conditioned by the idea that I am a Hindu. Mind obviously has no relationship with that conditioning.
DB: You are using the word ‘mind’, not ‘my mind’.
K: Mind—it is not mine.
DB: It is universal or general.
K: Yes. And it is not my brain either.
DB: No, but there is a particular brain, this brain or that brain. Would you say there is a particular mind?
DB: Now, that is an important difference. You are saying mind is universal.
K: Mind is universal—if you can use that ugly word.
DB: Unlimited and undivided.
K: It is unpolluted, not polluted by thought.
DB: For most people, there will be difficulty in saying how we know anything about this mind. I only know of my mind, is the first feeling.
K: You cannot call it your mind. You only have your brain, which is conditioned. You cannot say, ‘It is my mind.’
DB: Yes, but whatever is going on inside I feel is mine, and is very different from what is going on inside somebody else.
K: No, I question whether it is different.
DB: At least it seems different.
K: Yes. I question whether it is different, that which is going on inside me as a human being and you as another human being. We both go through problems, suffering, fear, anxiety, loneliness, and so on. We have our dogmas, beliefs and superstitions. And everybody has this.
DB: Well, we say it is all very similar, but it still seems as if each one of us is isolated from the other.
K: By thought. My thought has created the belief that I am different from you because my body is different from yours and my face is different from yours. We extend that difference into the psychological area.
DB: So now we are saying that division is perhaps an illusion.
K: No, not perhaps—it is.
DB: All right, it is an illusion. Although it is not obvious when one first looks at it.
K: Of course.
DB: In reality, even the brain is not divided, because we are saying that we are all not only basically similar but really connected. And then we say beyond all that is mind, which has no division at all.
K: It is unconditioned.
DB: Yes, it would seem to imply that insofar as a person feels they are a separate being, they have very little contact with mind.
K: Absolutely. Quite right.
DB: No mind.
K: That is why it is very important to understand not the mind but my conditioning. And then whether my conditioning, human conditioning, can ever be dissolved. That is the real issue.
DB: Yes. I still want to understand the meaning of what is being said. We have a mind that is universal; that is in some kind of space, you say. Or is it its own space?
K: It is not in me or in my brain.
DB: But it has a space.
K: It lives in space and silence.
DB: It lives in a space and silence, but it is the space of the mind. It is not a space like this space.
K: No. That is why we said a space that is not invented by thought.
DB: Yes. Is it possible then to perceive this space when the brain is silent, to be in contact with it?
K: Not perceive. Let’s see. You are asking whether the mind can be perceived by the brain.
DB: Or at least the brain somehow be aware… an awareness, a sense of it.
K: We are saying yes. Through meditation. You may not like to use that word.
DB: I don’t mind.
K: You see, the difficulty is that when we use the word ‘meditation’, it is generally understood to mean that there is a meditator meditating. Meditation is really an unconscious process, not a conscious process.
DB: But how can you say meditation takes place if it is unconscious?
K: It is taking place when the brain is quiet.
DB: Well, you mean by consciousness all the movement of thought? Feeling, desire, will and all that goes with it?
DB: But there is still a kind of awareness, isn’t there?
K: Oh yes. It depends what you call awareness. Awareness of what?
DB: I don’t know. Possibly awareness of something deeper.
K: You see, again, when you use the word ‘deeper’ it is a measurement. I wouldn’t use that.
DB: Well, let’s not use that. But there is a kind of unconsciousness which we are simply not aware of at all. A person may be unconscious of some of his problems or conflicts.
K: Let’s go at it a bit more. If I do something consciously, it is the activity of thought.
DB: Yes, it is thought reflecting on itself.
K: Right, it is the activity of thought. Now, if one consciously meditates, practises, does all that—which I call nonsense—one is making the brain conform to another series of patterns.
DB: Yes, it is more becoming.
K: More becoming—that’s right.
DB: You are trying to become better.
K: There is no illumination by becoming.
DB: But it seems very difficult to communicate something which is not conscious.
K: That’s it. That’s the difficulty. Let’s put it this way. Conscious meditation, conscious activity to control thought, to free oneself from conditioning, is not freedom.
DB: Yes, I think that is clear, but it becomes very unclear how to communicate something else.
K: Wait a minute. Say you want to tell me what lies beyond thought.
DB: Or when thought is silent.
K: Quiet, silent—what words would you use?
DB: I suggested the word ‘awareness’. What about ‘attention’?
K: Attention for me is better. Would you say that in attention there is no centre as the ‘me’?
DB: Well, not in the kind of attention to which you are referring. There is the usual kind, where we pay attention because of what interests us.
K: Attention is not concentration.
DB: No, we are discussing a kind of attention without the ‘me’ being present, and which is not the activity of conditioning.
K: Not the activity of thought. In attention, thought has no place.
DB: Yes, but could we say more? What do you mean by attention? Would the derivation of the word be of any use? It means stretching the mind. Would that help?
K: No. Would it help if we say effort and concentration are not attention? When I make an effort to attend, it is not attention. Attention can come into being only when the self is not.
DB: Yes, but that is going to get us in a circle because we are starting when the self is.
K: No, let’s go back to the word ‘meditation.’ As long as there is measurement, which is becoming, there is no meditation. Let’s put it that way.
DB: Yes. We can discuss that which is not meditation.
K: That’s right. Through negation, the other is.
DB: Because if we succeed in negating the whole activity of what meditation is not, meditation will be there.
K: Yes, that’s right. That is very clear. As long as there is measurement, which is becoming, which is the process of thought, meditation or silence cannot be.
DB: Is this undirected attention of the mind?
K: Attention is of the mind.
DB: And it contacts the brain?
K: Yes. As long as the brain is silent, the other has contact.
DB: This true attention has contact with the brain when the brain is silent.
K: Silent, and has space.
DB: What is this space?
K: The brain has no space now because it is concerned with itself. It is programmed; it is self-centred and limited.
DB: Yes. The mind is in its space, and you are saying that the brain also has its space? Limited space.
K: Of course. Thought has limited space.
DB: But when thought is absent, does the brain have its space?
K: Yes. The brain has space.
K: No. It is mind only that has unlimited space. My brain can be quiet over a problem which I have thought about, and I suddenly say, ‘I won’t think any more about it,’ and there is a certain amount of space. In that space, you solve the problem.
DB: Yes, if the brain is silent, is not thinking of a problem, then the space is still limited, but it is open to…
K: …to the other.
DB: To the attention. Would you say that through attention or in attention, the mind is contacting the brain?
K: Yes, when the brain is not inattentive.
DB: So, what happens to the brain?
K: What happens to the brain? Which is to act. Wait, let’s get it clear. We said intelligence is born out of compassion and love. That intelligence operates when the brain is quiet.
DB: Yes. Does it operate through attention?
K: Of course, of course.
DB: So attention seems to be the contact.
K: Naturally. We have also said that attention can be only when the self is not.
DB: Yes. Now, you say love and compassion are of the ground, and out of this comes intelligence through attention.
K: Yes, through attention, intelligence functions through the brain.
DB: So let’s say there are two questions. What is the nature of this intelligence? And the second is, what does it do to the brain?
K: Yes, let’s see. That is, we must again approach it negatively. Love is not jealousy. Love is not personal, but it can be personal.
DB: Then it is not what you are talking about.
K: Yes. Love is not my country or your country, or ‘I love my God.’ It is not that.
DB: Well, if it is from universal mind…
K: That is why I say love has no relationship to thought.
DB: Yes, and it does not start or originate in a particular brain.
K: Yes, it is not my love. When there is love, out of it there is compassion and intelligence.
DB: Is this intelligence able to understand deeply?
K: No, not understand.
DB: What does it do? Does it perceive?
K: Through perception, it acts.
DB: Yes, but perception of what?
K: Now, let’s discuss perception. There can be perception only when it is not tinged by thought. When there is no interference from the movement of thought, there is perception, which is direct insight into a problem or into human complexity.
DB: Yes. Now, this perception originates in the mind?
K: Does the perception originate in the mind? Let’s look at it. Yes. When the brain is quiet.
DB: We have used the words ‘perception’ and ‘intelligence’. How are they related, or what is their difference?
K: The difference between perception and intelligence?
DB: So we are saying intelligence is perception.
K: Yes, that’s right.
DB: Intelligence is perception of what is, right? And through attention, there is contact.
K: Let’s take a problem and look at it, then it will probably be easier to understand. Take the problem of suffering. Human beings have suffered endlessly, through wars, through every kind of disease, and through wrong relationship with each other. Now, can that end?
DB: I would say the difficulty of ending it is that it is of the program. We are conditioned to this whole thing, physically and chemically.
K: Yes, and that has been going on for centuries.
DB: Yes, so it is very deep.
K: Very, very deep. Now, can that suffering end?
DB: It cannot end by an action of the brain.
K: By thought.
DB: Because the brain is caught in suffering and it cannot take action to end its own suffering.
K: Of course it cannot. Thought has created it, and that is why thought cannot end it.
DB: Yes, thought has created it, and anyway it is unable to get hold of it.
K: Thought has created wars, misery and confusion. Thought has become prominent in human relationship.
DB: Yes. I think people might agree with that, but still think just as thought can do bad things, it can do good things.
K: No, it is thought, limited.
DB: Thought cannot get hold of this suffering. That is, this suffering being in the physical and chemical conditioning of the brain, thought has no way of even knowing what it is. I don’t know, by thinking, what is going on inside me. I can’t change the suffering inside because thinking will not show me what it is. Now, you are saying intelligence and perception do.
K: We are asking whether suffering can end. That is a problem.
DB: Yes, and it is clear that thinking cannot end it.
K: Thought cannot do it. That is the point. If I have an insight into it…
DB: Yes. Now, this insight will be through the action of the mind, through intelligence, and attention.
K: When there is that insight, intelligence wipes away suffering.
DB: You are saying, therefore, that there is a contact from mind to matter which removes the whole physical and chemical structure that keeps us suffering.
K: That’s right. In that ending, there is a mutation in the brain cells.
DB: Yes, and that mutation wipes out the whole structure that makes you suffer.
K: Yes. It is as if I have been going along in a certain tradition: I suddenly change that tradition, and there is a change in the whole brain. I had been going north; now it goes east.
DB: This is a radical notion from the point of view of traditional ideas in science because if we accept that mind is different from matter, people will find it hard to say mind would actually…
K: Mind, after all, is… would you put it that mind is pure energy?
DB: Well, we could put it that way, but matter is energy too.
K: But matter is limited. Thought is limited.
DB: Yes, but are we saying that the pure energy of mind is able to reach into the limited energy of matter?
K: Yes, that’s right. And change the limitation.
DB: Yes, to remove some of the limitation.
K: When there is a deep issue, problem or challenge which you are facing.
DB: We could also add that all the traditional ways of trying to do this cannot work because…
K: They have not worked.
DB: Well, that is not enough—we have to say why, because people might still hope it could, but actually it cannot.
K: It cannot.
DB: Because thought cannot get at its own physical and chemical basis in the cells, and do anything about those cells.
K: Yes, we have said that very clearly. Thought cannot bring about a change in itself.
DB: And yet practically everything that mankind has been trying to do is based on thought. There is a limited area where that is all right, but we cannot do anything about the future of man from that usual approach.
K: When one listens to the politicians, who are so very active in the world and create problem after problem, to them thought and ideals are the most important things.
DB: Well, generally speaking, nobody knows of anything else.
K: Exactly. We are saying that the old instrument, which is thought, is worn out, except in certain areas.
DB: And it was never adequate except in those areas. As far back as history goes, man has always been in trouble.
K: Man has always been in trouble, in turmoil, in fear. We must not reduce all this to an intellectual argument. But as human beings, facing all the confusion of the world, can there be a solution to all this?
DB: That comes back to the question I would like to repeat. It seems there are a few people who are talking about it, and think perhaps they know, perhaps meditate, and so on, but how is that going to affect this vast current of mankind?
K: Probably very little. But will it affect that? It might or it might not. But then one puts the question: What is the use of it?
DB: Yes, that is the point. I think there is an instinctive feeling that makes one put that question.
K: Yes, but I think that is a wrong question.
DB: You see, the first instinct is to say, ‘What can we do to stop this tremendous catastrophe?’
K: Yes. But if each one of us, whoever listens, sees the truth that thought in its activity externally and inwardly has created a terrible mess, great suffering, then one must inevitably ask if there is an ending to all this. If thought cannot end it, what will? What is the new instrument that will put an end to this misery? There is a new instrument, which is the mind, which is intelligence. But the difficulty is that people won’t listen to all this. The scientists and laypeople have come to definite conclusions, and they won’t listen.
DB: Yes. Well, that is what I had in mind when I said that a few people don’t seem to have much effect.
K: Of course. Though I think a few people, whether good or bad, have changed the world. Hitler did.
DB: He didn’t change it fundamentally.
K: No, he changed the world superficially, if you like. The revolution of the communists changed it, but they have gone back to the same old pattern. Physical revolution has never changed the human psychological state.
DB: Do you think a certain number of brains coming in contact with mind in this way will be able to have an effect on mankind, which is beyond just the immediate obvious effect of their communication?
K: Yes, that’s right. That’s right.
DB: I mean, obviously whoever does this may communicate in the ordinary way, and it will have a small effect, but there is a possibility of something entirely different.
K: How do you—I have often thought about this—how do you convey this rather subtle and very complex issue someone who is steeped in tradition, who is conditioned and won’t even take time to listen and consider?
DB: Yes, that is the question. You could say this conditioning cannot be absolute, cannot be an absolute block, or else there would be no way out at all. The conditioning may be thought to have some sort of permeability. Is it possible that every person has something they can listen to if it could be found?
K: If one has a little patience. Perhaps it is like a wave in the world that might catch somebody. I think it is a wrong question to ask whether it affects mankind.
DB: Yes. That brings in time, and that is becoming. It again brings about in the psyche the process of becoming.
K: Yes. But if you say… It must affect mankind.
DB: Well, are you proposing that it affects mankind through the mind directly, rather than through…
K: Yes. It may not show immediately in action.
DB: You are taking very seriously what you said, that the mind is universal and is not located in our ordinary space.
K: Yes, but there is a danger in saying that the mind is universal. That is what some people say of the mind, and it has become a tradition.
DB: You can turn it into an idea, of course.
K: That is the danger of it.
DB: Yes. Really the question is to come directly in contact with this to make it real.
K: That’s it. We can only come into contact with it when the self is not. To put it very simply: when the self is not, there is beauty, silence, space. Then that intelligence which is born of compassion operates through the brain. It is very simple.
DB: Yes. Would it be worth discussing the self, since the self is so widely active?
K: That is our long tradition of many, many centuries.
DB: Is there some aspect of meditation which can be helpful here when the self is acting? Suppose a person says, ‘I am caught in the self, but I want to get out.’
K: That is very simple. Is the observer different from the observed?
DB: Well, suppose we say it appears to be different—then what?
K: Is that an idea or an actuality?
DB: What do you mean?
K: Actuality is when there is no division between the thinker and the thought.
DB: Yes, but suppose I say ordinarily one feels the observer is different from the observed. Say we begin there.
K: We will begin there. I’ll show you. Look at it. Are you different from your anger, envy and suffering? You are not.
DB: At first sight, it appears that I am, that I might try to control it.
K: Not control it; you are that.
DB: Yes, but how will I see that I am that?
K: You are your name. You are your form, body. You are all the reactions and actions. You are the belief, fear, suffering and pleasure. You are all that.
DB: Yes, but the first experience is that I am here first and that those are properties of me. They are qualities which I can either have or not have. I might be angry or not angry; I might have this belief or that belief.
K: Yes, contradictory. You are all that.
DB: But it is not obvious. When you say I am that, do you mean that I am that and cannot be otherwise?
K: No. At present, you are that. It can be totally otherwise.
DB: All right. So I am all that. Rather than saying, as I usually do, that I am looking at those qualities, and feel that I am not angry but an unbiased observer looking at anger, you are telling me that this unbiased observer is the same as the anger at which he is looking.
K: Of course. Just as I analyse myself and the analyser is the analysed.
DB: Yes. He is biased by what he analyses.
DB: So if I watch anger for a while, I can see that I am very biased by the anger. So at some stage, I say I am one with that anger?
K: No, not ‘I am one with it’—I am it.
DB: Anger and I are the same.
K: Yes. The observer is the observed. And when there is that actuality, you have eliminated conflict altogether. Conflict exists when I am separate from my quality.
DB: Yes, that is because if I believe myself to be separate, I can try to change it. But since I am that, it is not trying to change itself and remain itself at the same time, right?
K: Yes, that’s right. When the quality is me, the division has ended.
DB: Yes, when I see that the quality is me, there is no point in trying to change it.
K: What happened before, when the quality is not me, is conflict, suppression, escape, and so on, which is a waste of energy. When that quality is me, all that energy which had been wasted is there to look, observe.
DB: But why does it make such a difference to have that quality being me?
K: It makes a difference when there is no division between the quality and me.
DB: Yes, well, when there is no perception of a difference…
K: That’s right. Put it that way.
DB: …then the mind does not try to fight itself.
K: Yes, yes. It is so.
DB: If there is an illusion of a difference, the brain is compelled to fight against itself.
K: Yes, that’s right.
DB: On the other hand, when there is no illusion of a difference, the brain just stops fighting.
K: And therefore you have tremendous energy.
DB: So the brain’s natural energy is released?
K: Yes. And energy means attention.
DB: Yes. Well, the energy of the brain allows for attention…
K: …for that thing to dissolve.
DB: Yes, but wait a minute. We said before that attention was a contact of the mind and the brain.
DB: So the brain must be in a state of high energy to allow that contact.
K: That’s right.
DB: A brain which is low energy cannot allow that contact.
K: Of course not. Most of us are low energy because we are so conditioned.
DB: Essentially, you are saying that this is the way to start.
K: Yes, start simply. Start with what is, what I am. Self-knowledge is so important. It is not an accumulative process of knowledge, which then looks; it is a constant learning about oneself.
DB: Yes, if you call it self-knowledge, then it is not knowledge of the kind we talked about before, which is conditioning.
K: That’s right. Knowledge conditions.
DB: You are saying self-knowledge of this kind is not conditioning. But why do you call it knowledge? Is it a different kind of knowledge?
K: Self-knowledge, which is to know and to comprehend, to understand oneself—oneself is such a subtle, complex, living thing.
DB: Essentially knowing yourself in the very moment in which things are happening.
K: Yes, to know what is happening.
DB: Rather than store it up in memory.
K: Of course. And through reactions, I begin to discover what I am.