Thought’s Limits


P: Krishnaji, at one level, your teaching is very materialistic because it refuses to accept anything which does not have a referent. It is based on ‘what is’. You have even gone so far as to say that consciousness is the brain cells and that nothing else exists. And that thought is matter, and nothing else exists.

Now in terms of this, what is your attitude to God?

Krishnamurti: I do not know what you mean by materialistic and God?

P: You have said, thought is matter, the brain cells themselves are consciousness. Now these are material things, measurable, and in that sense yours would be part of a materialistic position, in the tradition of the ‘Lokayatas’. In terms of your teaching what place has God? Is God matter?

Krishnamurti: Do you understand clearly the word ‘material’?

P: Material is that which is measurable.

F: There is no such thing as the material, ‘P’.

P: Brain is matter.

F: No, it is energy. Everything is energy but that energy is not observable. You can only see the effects of energy which you call matter. The effects of energy appear as matter.

D: When she says matter, she probably means energy. Energy and matter are convertible, but still measurable.

Krishnamurti: That is, you are saying matter is energy and energy is matter. You cannot divide them to say this is pure energy and this is pure matter.

D: The material is the expression or appearance of energy.

F: What we call matter is nothing but energy. It is only energy as apprehended by the senses of perception. There is no such thing as matter. It is only a way of talking.

D: Energy is E equal to MC squared.

P: You see Krishnaji, if we go into any aspect of your teaching, it is based on that which is observable. The instruments of hearing, of seeing, are within the field of sensory apprehension. Even though you may talk of not naming, that which is observable is through the instruments of seeing, listening. The instruments of the senses are the only instruments we have with which to observe.

Krishnamurti: We know sensory seeing, sensory hearing, sensory touching and the intellect which is part of the whole structure. Now what is the question?

P: In that sense, the teaching is materialistic as opposed to the metaphysical. Your position is a materialistic position.

F: If you want to stick to facts, the only instrument we have is the brain. Now, is the brain everything or is it an instrument in the hands of somebody else? If you say there is only brain, it will be a materialistic position. If you say the instrument is materialistic then the teaching is not materialistic.

P: The Tantric position and the ancient alchemist position are in one sense similar to Krishnaji’s position. Everything has to be observed. There is nothing that has to be accepted that has not been seen with the eyes of the seer. Seeing this I now ask, ‘what is your view of God’. I feel it is a very legitimate question.

F: Can you explain what God is?

Krishnamurti: What do you mean by God? We have explained energy and matter and now you ask what we mean by God? I never use the word ‘God’ to indicate something which is not God. What thought has invented is not God. If it is invented by thought, it is still within the field of time, within the field of the material.

P: Thought says I cannot go further.

Krishnamurti: But it may invent God because it cannot go further. Thought knows its limitations. Therefore, knowing its limitations, it tries to invent the limitless which it calls God. That is the position.

P: When thought sees its limitations, it is still aware of an existence beyond itself.

Krishnamurti: Thought has invented it. It can only go beyond when thought comes to an end.

P: Seeing the limitations of thought is not the knowing of thought.

Krishnamurti: So we must go into the knowing of thought and not God.

D: When thought sees its own limitation, it practically debunks it.

Krishnamurti: When you say limitation, does thought realize it is limited or does the thinker realize that thought is limited? You see the point. Or does the thinker who is the product of thought realize it?

P: Why do you draw the distinction?

Krishnamurti: Thought has created the thinker. If thought did not exist, there would be no thinker. Does the thinker, observing the limitations, say ‘I am limited’ or does thought itself realize its limitations which are two different positions. Let us be clear in all this. We are exploring. There are the two – the thought and thinker. The thinker, observing thought, sees through reasoning which is the material, which is energy, that energy is limited. In the realm of thought, the thinker thinks this.

D: When the thinker says thought is limited, both the thought and the thinker become question-marks.

Krishnamurti: No, not yet. Thought is memory, thought is the response of knowledge. Thought has brought about this thing called the thinker. The thinker then becomes separate from thought; at least it thinks it is separate from thought. The thinker, looking at reasoning, at the intellect, at the capacity to rationalize, sees that it is very very limited. Therefore, the thinker condemns reason; the thinker says thought is very limited, which is condemnation. Then he says there must be something more than thought, something beyond this limited field. That is what we are doing. We are taking things as they are. Does the thinker think that thought is limited or does thought itself realize it is limited? I do not know if you see the difference.

F: Thought is prior to the thinker.

P: Thought can end. Thought can never feel it is limited. Thought can end – through what reason, do not ask. There is no real reason but thought can end. But how does thought feel it is limited?

Krishnamurti: That is my point. Does the thinker see he is limited or does thought say, I cannot go any further? You see the point?

F: Why do you separate the thinker from the thought? There are many thoughts out of which the thinker is also another thought. The thinker is the guide, helper, censor; he is the most dominant thing.

Krishnamurti: Thought has gone through all this and established a centre from which there is the observer, and the observer looking at thought says thought is limited.

D: In fact, it can only say ‘I do not know’.

Krishnamurti: It does not say that. You are introducing a non-observable fact. First of all, thought is the response of knowledge, thought has not yet realized that it is very limited. What it has done in order to have security, is to put together various thoughts which have become the observer, the thinker, the experiencer. Then we are asking the question: Does the thinker realize that it is limited, or thought itself realizes it is limited? The two are entirely different.

F: We know only a state of thinker thinking thought.

Krishnamurti: That is all we know. Therefore, the thinker invariably says we must go beyond thought; therefore it questions: Can one kill the mind? Does God exist?

F: You are giving existence to the thinker instead of thought.

Krishnamurti: The thinker is modifying, adding. The thinker is not a permanent entity as thought is not permanent, but the thinker is adjusting, modifying.

This is important. I may be mistaken. It is important to find out whether the thinker sees it is limited or whether thought as idea – idea being organized thought – thinks it is limited. Now, who says it? If the thinker says it is limited, then the thinker says there must be something more. Then the thinker says there must be God, there must be something beyond thinking. Right? If thought itself realizes it cannot go beyond its own tether, beyond its own rooted brain cells, the brain cells as the material, as the root of thinking; if thought realizes that, then what takes place?

P: You see, Sir, that is the whole point. If you were to leave your teaching at this point, I would understand. If you were to leave it at this point, that thought itself sees this, the brain cells themselves see it and leave it, then there is a total consistency and logic; but you are always moving, going beyond this and you cannot use any words. Thereafter call it what you like, but the feeling of God is introduced.

Krishnamurti: I won’t accept the word ‘God’.

P: You take us by reason, by logic to a point. You do not leave it there.

Krishnamurti: Of course not.

P: That is the real paradox.

Krishnamurti: I refuse to accept it as a paradox.

F: The material of something and the meaning cannot be interchanged. ‘P’ is mixing up the two.

Krishnamurti: It is fairly simple what she says: The thinker and the thought – we can see the whole logic of that, of what you say, but you do not leave it there. You push it further.

P: Into an abstraction. I say that thought and the thinker being essentially one, man has separated them for his own safety, permanency, security. We are asking the question whether the thinker thinks thought is limited and therefore posits something beyond, because he must have security; or does thought say that whatever movement however subtle, however obvious, reasonable, thought is still limited. But K does not say that. K goes further into abstractions.

Krishnamurti: I realize that thought and the thinker are very very limited and I do not stop there. To do so would be a purely materialistic philosophy. That is what many intellectuals in the east and west have come to. But they are always tethered, and being tethered, they expand but remain tied to a pole which is their experience, their belief. Now, if I can answer the question – does thought itself realize the limitations of itself, then what takes place? Knowing thought is energy, thought is memory, thought is the past, thought is time, suffering, then what takes place? It realizes that any movement of thought is consciousness, is the content of consciousness, and without the content there is no consciousness. Now what takes place? Is that observable or not? I do not invent God.

P: I do not say that. I never said you invent God. I say up to this point your position is material, rational, logical; suddenly you introduce another element.

Krishnamurti: No. Look at it. Thought itself realizes – not the thinker who thinks it cannot and therefore posits super-consciousness, a higher self, God or whatever it will – but thought itself realizes that any movement it makes is within the field of time. Then what happens? Then thought becomes completely silent – this is an observable, testable fact. The silence is not the result of discipline. Then what happens?

P: Sir, let me ask you a question. In that state the registering of all noise goes on, the machine which registers, what is that thing?

Krishnamurti: The brain.

P: The brain is the material. So this registering goes on.

Krishnamurti: It goes on all the time, whether I am conscious or unconscious.

P: You may not name it but the sense of existence goes on.

Krishnamurti: No, you are using the word ‘existence’ but recording goes on. I want to make the difference here.

P: Let us not move away. It is not that all existence is wiped out. It would be if thought ends.

Krishnamurti: On the contrary.

P: Existence; the sense of existence ‘is’.

Krishnamurti: Life goes on but without the ‘me’ as the observer. Life goes on, the registration goes on, memory goes on, but the ‘me’ which thought has brought about, which is the content of consciousness, that ‘me’ disappears; obviously because that ‘me’ is the limited. Therefore thought as the ‘me’ says ‘I am limited’. It does not mean the body does not go on, but the centre, which is the activity as the self, as the ‘me’, is not. Again that is logical because thought says I am limited. I will not create the ‘me’ which is further limitation. It realizes it and it drops away.

P: Having said that thought creating the ‘me’ is the limitation……

Krishnamurti: Thought creating the ‘me’ and the ‘me’ realizing it is limited and therefore the ‘me’ is not.

F: When this happens, why should I name what is going on as thought at all?

Krishnamurti: I am not naming anything. I realize that thought is the response of the past.

The ‘me’ is made up of various additions of thought which have created the ‘me’, which is the past. The ‘me’ is the past. The ‘me’ projects the future. Now the whole phenomenon is a very small affair. That is all. Now what is the next question?

F: What has the state of this hopelessness to do with God?

Krishnamurti: It is not a state of hopelessness. On the contrary, you have introduced the quality of hopelessness because thought has said it cannot go beyond itself and therefore it is in despair. Thought realizes that whatever movement it makes it is still within the field of time, whether it calls it despair, fulfilment, pleasure, fear.

F: So the realization of the limitations is a state of despair.

Krishnamurti: No, you are introducing despair. I am only saying despair is part of thought. Hope is part of thought and that thought says any movement I make, whether it is despair, pleasure, fear, attachment, detachment, is a movement of thought. When thought realizes all this is a movement of itself in different forms, it stops. Now let us proceed further.

P: I want to ask you a question. You said existence goes on without the ‘me’. What or who proceeds further?

Krishnamurti: We have moved away from the word ‘God’.

P: If my using the word ‘God’ is very much within the field of thought, I have put it aside. Now I am moving with that. Therefore I am saying if thought as the ‘me’ has ended, what is the instrument of investigation?

Krishnamurti: We have come to a point where there is no movement of thought. Investigating into itself so profoundly as we are doing now, so completely, so logically, thought has ended. It is now asking what is the new factor that comes into being which is going to investigate or what is the new instrument of investigation. What is the instrument? It is not the old instrument. Right? The intellect, its sharpness of thought, the quality of thought, the objectivity, thought that has created tremendous confusion; all that has been denied.

P: Thought is word and meaning. If in consciousness, there is movement where there is no word and meaning, there is something else operating. What is this?

Krishnamurti: We have said thought is the past, thought is the word, thought is meaning, thought is the result of suffering. And thought says I have tried to investigate and my investigation has led me to see my own limitations. Now what is the next question? What is investigation then? If you see clearly the limitations, then what is happening?

P: Only the seeing.

Krishnamurti: No, seeing is visual and the sensory seeing depends on the word, the meaning.

P: After what we have said, there is only seeing which operates.

Krishnamurti: I want to be clear. The seeing with sensory perception, you say, is there. We have gone beyond that.

P: When you use the word seeing, is it a state where all the instruments are functioning?

Krishnamurti: Absolutely.

P: If there is one instrument functioning at a time, then it is tethered to thought. When there is seeing and no listening, it is tethered to thought. But when all the sensory instruments are functioning, then there is nothing to be tethered to. That is the only thing one can know. That is existence. Otherwise there would be death.

Krishnamurti: We agree, then what is the next question? What is perception then? What is investigation there? What is there to investigate? What is there to explore? Right? What have you to say; you have all become silent?

P: When thought has come to an end there is nothing more to investigate.

Krishnamurti: When thought comes to an end, then what more is there to investigate? Then who is the investigator? And what is the result of investigation? Now which is it? What is there to investigate, or who is the instrument or what is the instrument that investigates?

P: One has always regarded investigation as moving towards a point.

Krishnamurti: Is it a forward movement?

P: We are trying to investigate God, truth, but as thought has ended, there is no point towards which there can be movement.

Krishnamurti: Go slow; do not say anything categorically. All that you can say is that there is no movement, no forward movement. Forward movement implies thought and time. That is all I am trying to get at. When you really deny that, you deny movement, outward or inward, then what takes place? Now begins an investigation of a totally different kind.

First of all, the mind, the brain realizes it wants order, security, safety to function sanely, happily, easily. That is its basic demand. Now the brain realizes that any movement from itself is within the field of time and therefore, within the field of thought; then is there a movement at all? Or is there a totally different kind of movement, qualitatively different, which is not related to time, to process, to the forward or backward movements?

Now we are asking, is there any other movement? Is there something which is not related to time? Any movement as far as the brain is concerned, is within the field of time, outwardly or inwardly. I see that. The brain realizes that though it may think that it is extended infinitely, it is still very small. Now, is there a movement which is not related to thought? This question is put by the brain, not by some super-entity. The brain realizes that any movement in time is sorrow. So it abstains from any movement, naturally. Then it is asking itself if there is any other movement which it really does not know, which it has never tasted?

That means one has to go back to the question of energy. There is human energy and cosmic energy. We have separated energy as human and cosmic. I have always been looking at human energy as separate, limited, incomplete within its limited field. Now the battle is over. Do you follow what I mean? Do you see it? I have always regarded the movement of energy as being within the limited field and separated it from cosmic, universal energy. Now thought has realized its limitation and therefore, human energy has become something entirely different. The division – the cosmic and the human – is created by thought. The division ceases and another factor has entered. To a mind which is not centred within itself, there is no division. Then what is there to investigate or what is the instrument of investigation? There is investigation but not the investigation to which I am used – the exercising of intellect, of reason, and all the rest of it. And this investigation is not intuition. Now, the brain realizes that in itself there is no division. Therefore, the brain is not divided in itself as cosmic, human, sexual, scientific, business. Energy has no division.

Then what takes place? We started by asking if thought is materialistic? Thought is material, because brain is matter; thought is the result of the material; thought may be abstract but it is the result of the material. Obviously it is. Few have gone beyond.

F: The meaning of the body is consciousness; literally what is the meaning of existence?

Krishnamurti: What is the meaning of this room? Let us begin. Emptiness, because emptiness is created by the four walls and in that emptiness, I can put a chair and use the room.

F: The room has meaning because ‘P’ lives there.

Krishnamurti: Furnishes, lives, fears, hopes, quarrels.

F: What is consciousness and you say the content, but I am asking more. What is the meaning, not the description?

D: The question of meaning is only for meaning.

Krishnamurti: ‘F’ means something more. The meaning of my existence. None at all……

F: Is there no question of your wanting to have meaning? What is the meaning of Krishnamurti? Can you negate the self? Then you are guillotined. The individual within, the censor, existence, consciousness, body; there is the more – the abstract soul; ultimately a soul around which everything impinges. Can you negate that?

Krishnamurti: The soul is the ‘me’.

P: It is that which is the difficulty. There is a validity in ‘F’s question because the self is the most difficult thing to negate. If you attempt to negate the ‘ego’ and the self you never will. But if you proceed as we have just done, that is all that is necessary.

F: What is the meaning of all this? Why should the ‘me’ end? The meaning of the atoms is organism, the meaning of organism is consciousness. Why should it stop there?

Krishnamurti: It does not stop there. It stops there only when thought realizes its limitations. Let us come back. What is the instrument that is going to investigate, in which there is no separation, in which there is no investigator and the investigated? I see thought has really no meaning. It has meaning only within its small field. Now it asks what there is to discover – not as a discoverer discovering something.

What is the movement which is neither inward nor outward? Is it death? Is it the total negation of everything? Then what takes place? What is investigation? When thought ends, we include everything in it; we include the meaning, consciousness, the content of consciousness, despair, failure, success. It is all within that field. When that ends, then what takes place? The brain exists, the recording – the part which is registering. The registering goes on. It must go on, otherwise, it would become insane, but there is the whole, which is totally quiet. Thought is no more involved. Thought does not enter into that field at all. Thought enters into a very small field of the brain.

P: It is a fact that we use only a millionth part of our brain.

Krishnamurti: There is the other part.

F: There is no reason to suppose that the remnants of the brain which are not used, can become anything more than other parts of consciousness.

Krishnamurti: No, do look at it.

F: Even biologically, you are not correct. The size of the brain which is usable, determines the extent of consciousness If you use more, consciousness will be greater.

Krishnamurti: The old brain is very limited. The entire brain is the new which has not been used. The entire quality of the brain is new; thought which is limited, functions in a limited field. The old brain is not active because the limited has ceased.

P: You know what you are saying? If you see a little part of the brain as limited, limitation ends.

Krishnamurti: No, limitation goes on.

P: But because it does not take over the whole part, nor limit itself to itself the rest of the brain, which is not used, becomes operable. Then this is again a totally materialist position.

Krishnamurti: Agreed. Carry on further.

P: That is all, there is nothing more to discuss.

F: I have an objection. Even if the entire brain is used fully, it will still only be consciousness; it will be a tremendously enlarged consciousness.

Krishnamurti: Depending if there is a centre.

D: If there is a centre, then you are not using the other.

F: We have been operating only within the limited. Now if you move into the other, how do you know that that consciousness has not a focalizing tendency?

Krishnamurti: Focalizing takes place when thought operates as pain, despair, success, when thought operates as the ‘me’. When the ‘me’ is silent, where is consciousness?

F: After that, it all becomes conjecture. You presume the only factor that can project the centre is disappointment, hurt. Thought is limited. And therefore, it projects itself. Why should focalization depend upon limitation?

Krishnamurti: Focalization takes place when thought is functioning.

P: If thought ceases with its meaning and word, if thought ceases, whatever becomes operable is not recognizable as word and meaning.

F: You are becoming very narrow. I am still legitimately questioning the point that frustration is the only point of focalization.

Krishnamurti: I included everything, not only frustration but everything in the field of time. Now I see that the brain cells have operated in a very small field and that small field with its limited energy has created all the mischief. The old brain becomes quiet. What we have called quietness is limitation becoming quiet. The noise of that has ended and that is the silence of limitation. When thought realizes that, then the brain itself, the whole brain, becomes quiet.

P: Yet it registers.

Krishnamurti: Of course. Noise is going on.

P: Existence continues.

Krishnamurti: Existence without any continuance. Then what? The whole brain becomes quiet, not the limited part.

F: It is the same thing to us.

P: If you do not know the other, and the other is not operable, what becomes quiet for us is only limitation.

Krishnamurti: Therefore, that quietness is not quietness.

P: This is something new which you are introducing.

D: What makes you say we are not using the whole brain?

F: I am saying my total brain is functioning but I am not conscious because I am enclosing myself within the limited field.

Krishnamurti: Please stop first the movement of thought, then see what happens.

D: When the movement of thought stops, things happen on their own and then is the enquiry of what happens necessary?

P: I want to ask one question here. You have said that the ending of the limitation of ‘me’ as thought, is not silence.

Krishnamurti: That is the beauty of it.

P: Let me get the feeling of it. Please say it again.

Krishnamurti: I said when thought with its limitations says it is silent, it is not silent. Silence is when the total quality of the brain is still; the total thing, not just part of it.

F: Why should the total brain become silent?

Krishnamurti: The total brain has always been quiet. What I have called silence is the ending of the ‘me; the thought which is rattling around. The rattling around is thought. The chattering around has stopped completely. When the chattering comes to an end, then there is a feeling of silence but that is not silence. Silence is when the total mind, the brain, though registering, is completely quiet, because energy is quiet. It may explode but the basis of energy is quiet. (Pause)

Now, there is passion only when sorrow has no movement. Have you understood what I have said? Sorrow is energy. When there is sorrow there is the movement of escape by understanding it, by suppressing it, but when there is no movement at all in sorrow there is an explosion into passion. Now the same thing takes place when there is no movement – outward or inward; when there is no movement of silence which the limited ‘me’ has created for itself in order to achieve something more. When there is absolute silent, total silence, therefore no movement of any kind, when it is completely quiet, there is a totally different kind of explosion which is…

P: Which is God.

Krishnamurti: I refuse to use the word ‘God’ but this state is not an invention. It is not a thing put together by cunning thought because thought is completely without movement. That is why it is important to explore thought and not the ‘other’.