The Immediacy of Perception


Krishnamurti: Consciousness is used to the process of time; my consciousness thinks in terms of gradualness, my consciousness is practice and through practice to achieve, which is time. My consciousness is a process of time. Now I am asking that consciousness, can it go beyond this? Can we, who are caught in the movement of time, go beyond time? That question, consciousness cannot answer.

Consciousness does not know what it means, because it can only think in terms of time and when questioned whether this process can end in which there is no time, it cannot answer, can it? Now as consciousness cannot answer the question, we say let us see what is awareness and investigate whether that awareness can bring about a timeless state? But this brings in new elements. What is awareness? Is it within the field of time, is it outside the field of time? Now what is awareness? Is there in awareness any choice, explanation, justification, or condemnation? Or is there the observer, the chooser? And if there is, is that awareness? So is there an awareness in which there is no observer at all?

Obviously. I am aware of that lamp and I do not have to choose when I am aware of that lamp. Is there an awareness in which the observer is totally absent? Not a continuous state of awareness in which the observer is absent, which again is a fallacious statement.

A: The word is swarupa shunyata. The observer becomes empty. He is stripped.

K: Now is that awareness to be cultivated which implies time? How does this awareness come into being in which there is no observer? Are we meeting each other? How is this awareness to come about? Is it the result of time? If it is, then it is part of consciousness in which choice exists. And you say awareness is not choice. It is observation in which there is no observer.

Now how is that to come about without consciousness interfering? Or does it come out of consciousness? Does it flower out of consciousness? Or is it free of consciousness?

D: It is free of consciousness.

P: I want to ask two things. Does it come about when I ask the question ‘Who am I?’

K: All the traditionalists have asked that question.

P: But it is an essential question. When I really try to investigate the source of the ego itself, that is the one question. Or does awareness come about when one tries to discover the observer?

K: No. The moment you try, you are in time.

P: It is a question of language, of semantics. You can strip at any point. Where is the observer? We are taking for granted that the observer ‘is’.

K: Let us begin slowly. One sees what consciousness is. Any movement within that field, any movement is still a process of time. It may try to be or not to be, it may try to go beyond, it may try to invent something beyond consciousness, but it is still part of time. So I am stuck.

P: I want to use words which are not your words. So I have rejected all your words. I have to use my own instruments. What is the element in me which seems to me the most potent and powerful: It is the sense of the ‘I’.

K: Which is the past.

P: I will not use your language. It is very interesting not to use your language. I say the most potent thing is the sense of the ‘I’? Now can there be a perception of the ‘I’?

F: That is a wrong question. I will tell you why. You ask can I perceive the ‘I’? Now the ‘I’ is nothing but an insatiable hunger for experience.

K: P began by asking ‘who am I?’ Is the ‘me’, the ‘I’ an action of consciousness?

P: So I say let us look, let us investigate.

K: When I ask myself ‘who am I?’, is that the central factor in consciousness?

P: It seems so. And then I say let me see the ‘I’, let me find it, perceive it, touch it.

K: So you are asking, is this central factor perceivable sensorily? Is the central factor tactable, to be felt, to be tasted? Or is that central factor, the ‘I’, something which the senses have invented.

P: That comes later. First of all, I see whether it is tactable.

K: When I have asked the question, ‘who am I?’, one must also question who is investigating, who is asking the question ‘who am I?’.

P: I do not ask that question. I have asked that question over and over again. I have discussed awareness endlessly. I leave it, because the one thing which you have said is, do not accept one word which is not your own. I start looking. Is this ‘I’ which is the central core of myself, is it tactable? I observe it in the surface layers, in the depth layers of my consciousness, in the hidden darkness and as I unfold it what takes place is a light within, an explosion, an extension within. Another factor that operates is that which has been exclusive becomes inclusive. So far I have been exclusive, now the world movement flows in.

K: We see that.

P: And I find this is not something which can be touched, perceived. What can be perceived is that which has been, which is a manifestation of this ‘I’. I see I had a thought of this ‘I’’ in action, but it is already over. Then I explore – from where does thought emerge? Can I find the springs of thought? Or where does thought go? Can I pursue a thought? How far can I go with a thought? How far can I hold a thought? Can thought be held in consciousness? These are tangible things which I think the individual has to completely feel for himself.

K: We have gone through this. I thought we had done all this.

F: I say all this is awareness.

K: Let us be simple. When I ask ‘who am I?’, who is asking the question? And one finds on investigation that the ‘I’ is not observable, touchable, hearable, and so on. And so, is the ‘I’ within the field of the senses? Or have the senses created the ‘I’?

P: The very fact that it is not within the field of the senses……

K: Do not move away from that. Is it not also within the field of the senses? We jump too quickly. Is perceiving a visual perception or something else? D: We are going into the nature of awareness. Now how does awareness arise?

P: I want to put aside everything Krishnaji has said and I find that the very enquiry, that the very investigation into the ‘I’ creates light, intelligence.

K: You are saying, the very enquiry brings about awareness. Obviously I did not say it did not.

P: And in the enquiry one can only use certain instruments which are the senses. Whether the enquiry is outside or within, the only instruments which can be used are the senses, because that is all we know – the seeing, listening, feeling – and the field is illuminated. The field of the without and the field of the within is illuminated. Now in this state of illumination, you suddenly find that there has been a thought, but that it is already over.

K: Thought exists in the field of relationship and observation. It does not exist by itself. It exists in observing relationship – the lamp.

P: In this, if you ask is there a partial or total stripping, the question is irrelevant. It has no meaning.

K: Wait a minute. I am not sure. Is perception partial? I have investigated through the senses, the senses creating the ‘I’, investigating the ‘I’. The activity brings a lightness, clarity. Not entire clarity, but some clarity.

P: I will not use the word some clarity, but clarity.

K: It brings clarity. We will stick to that. Is that clarity expandable?

P: The nature of seeing is such, I can see here, and I can see there, depending on the power of the eye.

K: We said perception is not only visual but also non-visual. We said perception is that which illuminates.

P: Here I would like to ask something. You have said that seeing is not only visual but non-visual. What is the nature of this non-visual seeing?

K: It is non-visual which is non-thinkable. It does not pertain to the word. It does not pertain to thought. That is all. Is visual perception non-verbal perception? The non-visual perception is the perception without the meaning, the expression, the thought. Is there a perception without thought? Now proceed.

P: And that also is not such a difficult thing. I see there is such perception. Now that perception can see close, can see far.

K: Wait. Perception. We are talking only of perception. Not the duration, length, size or breadth of perception, but perception which is non-visual which is not deep perception or shallow perception. Shallow perception or deep perception comes only when thought interferes.

P: Now in that is there partial stripping or total stripping? We started with that.

K: When there is non-verbal perception, what are you asking? What are you asking further?

F: She is asking, in every perception, there is the non-verbal element of mere perception. Then there is the psychological superimposition. The stripping refers only to the psychological superimposition. Is there a state of mind in which superimposition does not occur and there is no stripping?

P: That is right. Perception is perception. We are asking is there a perception in which stripping is not necessary?

K: There is no such thing as an everlasting perception.

P: Is it identical with what you call intelligence?

K: I do not know. Why are you asking that?

P: Because it is timeless.

K: Timeless means timeless. Why do you ask? Is perception which is non-verbal, is it not also non-time, non-thought? If you have answered this question you have answered that.

F: There is the momentary time of the ‘now’. And there is another timeless in which one moves and lives.

K: I do not understand what you say.

F: Still, perception can be sensory.

K: Now is there perception that is non-verbal and therefore not pertaining to thought? Then what is the question? A mind that is perceiving is not asking this question, it is perceiving. And each perception is perception. It is not carrying over perception. Where does the question of stripping or not stripping arise?

P: I say even in perception which is not linked with thought, perception is never carried into another thought. I see that lamp. The seeing has not been carried. Thought is only being carried.

K: That is obvious. My consciousness is my mind, is my brain cells, is the result of my sensory perceptions. That is my consciousness. That is all consciousness. That consciousness is the result of time, evolution, growth. It is expandable, contractible and so on. And thought is part of that. Now somebody comes along and asks ‘who am I?’. Is the ‘I’ the permanent entity in this consciousness?

D: It cannot be.

K: This ‘I’ – is it consciousness?

D: It is not permanent.

K: Consciousness is heritage. Of course it is.

F: We are mixing the concept of consciousness with the experience of consciousness.

K: This is very clear. ‘I’ is that consciousness.

P: ‘I’ has a great reality for me till I investigate.

K: Of course. The fact is after looking, observing, I see I am the whole of this consciousness. This is not a verbal statement. I am all that. I am the heritage. And is that ‘I’ touchable, observable? Can it be felt, twisted? Is it the result of perception, of heritage?

F: It is not the result. It is the inherited.

K: And then she asks who is that ‘I’? Is that ‘I’ part of consciousness, part of thought? I say yes. Thought is part of it. Thought is the ‘I’, except where thought is functioning technologically, where there is no ‘I’. The moment you move away from the scientific field, you come to the ‘I’ which is part of the biological heritage.

F: The ‘I’ is the centre of perception, a working centre of perception, an ad hoc centre and the other is an effective centre.

K: Be simple. We see consciousness is the ‘I’. The whole of that field is the ‘I’. In the field, the ‘I’ is the centre.

P: I want to put aside everything and tackle it in a new way. I see that the most important element in me is the ‘I’. Now what is the ‘I’? What is its nature? One investigates that and in the very process of observation there is clarity.

K: Full stop.

P: Clarity being not eternal.,….

K: But it can pick it up again.

P: I say, maybe.

K: Because I have an idea that perception is whole.

P: Is it a question which legitimately arises in this state?

K: In the state of perception it does not arise. It only arises, exists when I ask, is this process eternal, everlasting?

P: And what would you say?

K: You are being asked. Answer. Wait. You have to answer this question. At the moment of perception the question does not arise. The next moment I do not perceive so clearly.

P: If I am alert to see that I am not perceiving so clearly, I will investigate that.

K: So what am I doing? There is perception. That is all.

P: The doorway is in the question. The ‘key’ of the doorway is in that question.

K: Let us be simple about this. There is perception. In that perception there is no question of duration. There is only perception. The next minute I do not see clearly. There is no clear perception. It is muddled. There is investigation of pollution and so clarity. Right? And again perception; move again; cover and uncover – and this goes on. This is going on.

F: Is it a movement of time?

P: A very interesting thing takes place. The very nature of this awareness is that it operates on the ‘other’.

K: What do you mean by the ‘other’?

P: Inattention.

K: Wait. Attention and inattention. Then be aware of inattention which becomes attention. This balancing is going on all the time.

P: I observe the very nature of attention. It has its own action on inattention. Now if I make a statement ‘it lessens inattention’ it would be an incorrect thing for me to say. The only thing I can observe is that there is an action of attention on inattention.

K: Does that action on inattention wipe away inattention so that inattention does not come again?

D: It is attentive to the inattentive.

P: I am going further than being attentive to the inattentive. I say the nature of this attention is such that it operates on the brain cells. I am very very hesitant when I say this. It is the nature of attention to operate on the brain cells. That which is dormant in the brain-cells – which re-emerges when it is exposed to attention, the very nature of the dormancy undergoes a change. I would like this area to be investigated.

K: Let us begin again. Awareness – if there is choice in that awareness we are back again in consciousness. Awareness is non-verbal. Awareness has no relationship to thought. That awareness we call attention. What takes place when there is inattention: there is inattention. Why do you mix the two? I am inattentive; there is no attention; that is all. In that inattention there are certain actions going on. And those activities bring further misery, confusion, trouble. So I say to myself, I must be attentive all the time so as to prevent this disturbance taking place and I say I have to cultivate attention and therefore that very cultivation becomes inattention. The seeing of that inattention brings attention.

Attention affects the brain cells. Look what has happened. There is attention, and then inattention. In inattention there is confusion, misery, and all the rest of it. Now what takes place?

D: Dispelling of inattention has gone down in the unconscious.

P: Is it not really that you can do nothing about it?

K: I agree P – hold on a minute. Do not say there is nothing. We will find out. We are investigating. There is attention and there is inattention. in inattention everything is confusion. Why do I want to put the two together? When there is the urge to put the two together, then there is an action of will which is choice. I prefer attention; I do not prefer inattention – so I am back again in the field of consciousness.

So what is the action where the two are never brought together? I want to explore it a little bit. When there is attention, thought as memory does not operate. There is no thinking process in attention. There is only attention. I am only aware that I have been inattentive when the action produces discomfort, misery or danger. Then I say to myself, I have been inattentive and as attention has left a mark on the brain I am concerned with the misery which inattention has brought about. Then in investigating that misery, attention comes again leaving no mark. So what is taking place? Actually what is taking place? Each time there is inattention there is quick, instant perception of inattention. Therefore perception is not of duration, of time. Perception and attention leave no mark. The immediacy of perception is always taking place.