Krishnamurti with David Bohm, 1972
David Bohm has been described as one of the most significant theoretical physicists of the 20th century and was a fellow of the royal society. He worked with Einstein at the Institute for Advanced Study, and on the Manhattan Project with Oppenheimer. Later he pioneered research into quantum physics and models of the brain, being increasingly interested in consciousness, order and thought. Bohm’s books include Wholeness and the Implicate Order, Science, Order and Creativity, and Causation and Chance in Modern Physics.
This relatively early conversation between Bohm and Krishnamurti centres around the relationship between thought and intelligence. Thought is mechanical, measurable, a movement in time. Is intelligence mechanical and of time? Does intelligence use thought? Thought is a pointer; without intelligence the pointer has no value. Politically, religiously and psychologically thought has created a world of tremendous contradiction and fragmentation. Can life be guided by intelligence and lived in harmony? The desire for intelligence has created the image of God. Thought must be completely still for the awakening of intelligence. You come upon it when you see the whole. The quality of a mind that sees the whole is not touched by thought. Therefore there is perception and insight.
David Bohm: I thought I would just say a few things I’ve been thinking about intelligence and we could go on from there. You see, I always like to look up the meaning of a word and its origin. It is very interesting. The origin is interlegere which means ‘to read between’ as in legible. It seems to me that you could say that thought is like the information in a book and that intelligence has to read it, read the meaning of it. I think this gives a rather good notion of intelligence.
Krishnamurti: To read between the lines.
Bohm: Yes, to see what it means. There is also another meaning given in the dictionary which is: mental alertness.
Krishnamurti: Yes, mental alertness.
Bohm: Well, and of course this is very different from what people talk about usually when they measure intelligence. Now, considering many of the things you have said, and some of the excerpts that George has made, you could say intelligence is not thought. You said thought takes place in the old brain, it is a physical process taking place, electrochemically. And it has been amply proved by science that all thought is essentially a physical, chemical, electrical process. Then we could say intelligence is not of the same order, it is not of the order of time at all.
Bohm: Yes, intelligence reads this thought, sees the meaning of it. I thought we could start on this question, there is one more point, you said that it is essential for the old brain to see its limits, so that it stays within its limits and doesn’t make trouble. Of course thought tends to keep on worrying a question unless it is really deeply seen that this question has no meaning, thought may tend to keep on at it. Now I think one of the questions which arises is something like this: if you say thought is physical, then the mind or intelligence or whatever you want to call it, seems different, it is of a different order. Would you say that there is a real difference between the physical and intelligence?
Krishnamurti: Yes. Are we saying this, sir, that thought is matter? Let us put it for the moment.
Bohm: Matter? I would rather call it a material process.
Krishnamurti: All right; thought is a material process, and what is the relationship between that and intelligence? Isn’t that it?
Bohm: And it raises many questions which would be important for science.
Krishnamurti: Yes. Is intelligence the product of thought?
Bohm: Well, I think that we can take for granted, that it is not.
Krishnamurti: It is not. Why, why do we take it for granted it’s not?
Bohm: Simply because thought is mechanical.
Krishnamurti: Thought is mechanical, that is right.
Bohm: And intelligence is not.
Krishnamurti: So thought is measurable, intelligence is not. And how does it happen that this intelligence comes into existence? If thought has no relationship with intelligence, then is the cessation of thought the awakening of intelligence? Or is it that intelligence, being independent of thought, and therefore not of time, exists always?
Bohm: That raises many difficult questions.
Krishnamurti: I know.
Bohm: So I would like to put this in a framework of thinking, how one would connect whatever we are saying to any scientific views that may exist!
Krishnamurti: Yes, sir.
Bohm: Either to show that it fits or doesn’t fit. So you say intelligence may be there always.
Krishnamurti: I am asking – is it there always?
Bohm: It may or may not be. Or it is possible that something interferes with intelligence.
Krishnamurti: You see, I think the Buddhists, and the Hindus, if I am right, have the theory that – the ancient Hindus – the theory that intelligence, or Brahman, exists always and is covered over by illusion, by matter, by idiocy, by all kinds of mischievous things created by thought. I don’t know if they would go as far as that.
Bohm: Well, yes; we don’t actually see the eternal existence of intelligence.
Krishnamurti: They say peel this off, that thing is there. So their assumption is that it existed always.
Bohm: But there is a difficulty in that, in the word ‘always’.
Krishnamurti: Yes, I know.
Bohm: Because ‘always’ implies time.
Krishnamurti: That is right.
Bohm: And that is just the trouble. Time is thought – I would like to put it that thought is of the order of time, or perhaps it is the other way round, that time is of the order of thought. In other words thought has invented time, and in fact thought is time. The way I see it is something like this, that thought may sweep over the whole of time in one moment, but then it is always changing without noticing that it is changing physically – for physical reasons, that is.
Bohm: Not rational reasons.
Krishnamurti: Rational and irrational reasons, yes.
Bohm: The reasons do not have to do with something total, but they have to do with some physical movement in the brain; therefore…
Krishnamurti: …depending on environment and all kinds of things.
Bohm: So as thought changes with time its meaning is no longer consistent, it becomes contradictory, it changes in an arbitrary way.
Krishnamurti: Yes, I’ll follow that.
Bohm: Then you begin to think, everything is changing, I change, everything changes, but then one begins to think ‘I am in time’. And time is extended, it becomes vast, the past before I was, further and further back and also forward in the future, and you begin to say time is the essence of all, time conquers everything. First the child may think, ‘I am eternal’, then he begins to understand that he is in time. The general view that we get to is that time is the essence of existence, which I think is not only the common-sense view but also most of the scientific view. This is very hard to give up because it is an intense conditioning. It is stronger even than the conditioning of the observer and the observed.
Krishnamurti: Yes, quite. Are we saying that thought is time, thought is measurable, thought can be changed, modified, expanded? And intelligence is of a different quality altogether?
Bohm: That’s right, different order, different quality. And I get an impression of this sort with regard to time: if we think of the past and the future, we think of the past as becoming the future; but then you can see that that can’t be, that’s just thought, and that one gets the impression that past and future are present together and there is movement in another way; that the whole pattern is moving.
Krishnamurti: The whole pattern is moving.
Bohm: But I can’t picture how it moves. In other words it is moving in a perpendicular direction to the direction between past and future. That whole movement, at first sight I begin to think that movement is in another time.
Krishnamurti: Quite, quite.
Bohm: But that gets you back in the paradox.
Krishnamurti: Yes, that is it, isn’t it, sir? Is intelligence out of time and therefore it’s not related to thought, which is a movement of time?
Bohm: But still thought must be related to it.
Krishnamurti: Is it?
Bohm: You say it is totally unrelated, is it?
Krishnamurti: I am asking. I think it is unrelated.
Bohm: Unrelated. But at first sight it seems there is some relation in the sense you distinguish between intelligent thought and unintelligent thought.
Krishnamurti: Yes, but that requires intelligence to recognise unintelligent thought.
Bohm: But when intelligence reads thought, what is the relation?
Krishnamurti: Let us go slowly…
Bohm: And does thought respond to intelligence? Doesn’t thought change?
Krishnamurti: Let us be simple. Thought is time. Thought is movement in time. Thought is measurable and thought functions in the field of time, all moving, changing, transforming. Is intelligence within the field of time?
Bohm: Well, we’ve seen that in one sense it can’t be. But the thing is not clear. First of all, thought is mechanical.
Krishnamurti: Thought is mechanical, that is clear.
Bohm: Secondly, in some sense there is a movement which is of a different time.
Krishnamurti: Thought is mechanical; being mechanical it can move in different directions and all the rest of it. Is intelligence mechanical? Let’s put it that way.
Bohm: I would like to ask the question, what does mechanicalness mean?
Krishnamurti: All right: repetitive, measurable, comparative.
Bohm: I would say also dependent.
Krishnamurti: Dependent, yes.
Bohm: Intelligence – let us get it clear – in some sense intelligence cannot be dependent on any condition for its truth. But it seems that in some sense intelligence doesn’t operate, let’s say, if the brain is not healthy.
Bohm: So in that sense intelligence seems to depend on the brain.
Krishnamurti: Or is it the quietness of the brain?
Bohm: All right, it depends on the quietness of the brain.
Krishnamurti: Not on the activity of the brain.
Bohm: There is still some relation between intelligence and the brain that we are discussing.
Krishnamurti: Yes, yes, yes.
Bohm: I understand this because we once discussed this question before many, many years ago, when I raised the idea that in physics you could use a measuring instrument in two ways, the positive and the negative. Like an electric current, you can measure the current by the swing of the instrument, or you can use it in what is called the Wheatstone bridge, where the reading you look for is a null reading; a null reading indicates harmony, balance of the two sides as it were. So if you are using the instrument negatively, then the non-functioning of the instrument is the sign that it is working right.
Krishnamurti: Yes, yes, yes.
Bohm: Could we say the brain may have used thought positively to make an image of the world…
Krishnamurti: …which is the function of thought, one of the functions.
Bohm: The other function of thought is negative, which is to indicate non-harmony.
Krishnamurti: Yes, non-harmony. Let us proceed from there. Is intelligence dependent on the brain – we come to that point. Or, when we use the word ‘dependent’ what do we mean by that?
Bohm: It has several possible meanings. There may be simple mechanical dependence. But there is another kind: that one can’t exist without the other. If I say, ‘I depend on food to exist’, it doesn’t mean that everything I think is determined by what I eat.
Krishnamurti: Yes, quite. (laughs)
Bohm: Suppose I propose that intelligence depends for its existence on this brain, which can indicate non-harmony, but the brain does not have anything to do with the content of intelligence.
Krishnamurti: So if the brain is not harmonious, can intelligence function?
Bohm: That is the question.
Krishnamurti: That is what we are saying. It cannot function if the brain is hurt.
Bohm: But if intelligence doesn’t function, is there intelligence? It seems there wouldn’t be. Therefore intelligence requires the brain to exist.
Krishnamurti: But it’s only an instrument.
Bohm: Which indicates disharmony or harmony.
Krishnamurti: But it is not the creator of the other.
Bohm: No, no, no.
Krishnamurti: Is it? Wait, let us go slowly into this.
Bohm: It doesn’t create intelligence but it is an instrument which helps intelligence to function.
Krishnamurti: That’s it. Now if the brain is functioning within the field of time, up and down, negatively, positively, in any way, in that movement, or through that movement of time can intelligence operate? Or that instrument must be quiet for intelligence to operate.
Bohm: Yes. I would put it possibly slightly differently. The quietness of the instrument is the operation of intelligence.
Krishnamurti: Yes, the quietness, that is right. The two are not separate.
Bohm: They are one and the same. The non-quietness of the instrument is the failure of the intelligence.
Krishnamurti: That is right.
Bohm: But I think it would be useful to go back into questions which tend to be raised in the whole of scientific and philosophical thinking. Then we would ask the question: is there some sense in which intelligence exists independently or beyond matter? You see as some people have thought that mind and matter have some separate kind of existence. That’s one question that comes up. It may not be relevant, but I think the question should be considered one way or another in order to help to make the mind quiet. The consideration of questions that cannot be clearly answered is one of the things that disturbs the mind.
Krishnamurti: But you see, sir, when you say, will thought help the awakening of intelligence? When you put it that way it means that, doesn’t it? Thought and matter and the exercise of thought and the movement of thought, or thought saying to itself, ‘I will be quiet in order for the awakening of intelligence’. Any movement of thought is time – any movement, because it is measurable, it is functioning positively or negatively, harmoniously, or disharmoniously, in this field. And realising that, thought may say unconsciously, or unknowingly, that ‘I would be quiet in order to have that’, then that is still within the field of time.
Bohm: Yes. It is still projecting.
Krishnamurti: It is projecting it to capture it. So from that, how does this take place, this intelligence? Not ‘how’, when does it awaken?
Bohm: But once again the question is in time.
Krishnamurti: That is why I don’t want to use the words ‘when’, ‘how’.
Bohm: You can’t even ask, are there conditions for it to awaken, you can only say the condition for it to awaken is the non-operation of thought.
Bohm: But that is the same as its awakening, it is not merely its condition.
Bohm: It seems that we came to an agreement to talk about condition as a form of thought.
Krishnamurti: Yes. Let us agree, any movement of thought in any direction, vertical, horizontal, or in action or non-action, is still in time – any movement of thought.
Krishnamurti: Then what is the relationship of that movement to this intelligence which is not a movement, which is not of time, which is not the product of thought, and so on and so on? Where can the two meet?
Bohm: They don’t meet. But there is still some relation.
Krishnamurti: That is what we are trying to find out. Or is there any relationship at all, first? One thinks there is a relationship, one hopes there is a relationship, one projects a relationship. Is there a relationship at all?
Bohm: That depends, what do you mean by relationship?
Krishnamurti: Relationship: being in contact with, recognition, a feeling of being in touch with it.
Bohm: Well, the word relationship might mean something else as well.
Krishnamurti: What other meaning has it?
Bohm: For example there is a parallel, isn’t there? The harmony of the two. That is, two things may be related without contact, but by simply being in harmony.
Krishnamurti: Does harmony mean a movement of both in the same direction?
Bohm: It might also mean in some way keeping in the same order.
Krishnamurti: In the same order: same order, same direction, same depth, same intensity – all that is harmony. But can thought ever be harmonious – thought as movement – you understand, sir? – not static thought, thought as movement?
Bohm: I understand. There is that thought which you abstract as static, in geometry let us say, that may have some harmony; but thought as it actually moves is always contradictory.
Krishnamurti: Therefore it has no harmony in itself. But intelligence has harmony in itself.
Bohm: I think I see the source of the confusion. We have the static products of thought that seem to have a certain relative harmony.
Krishnamurti: Yes, of course.
Bohm: But that harmony is really the result of intelligence, at least it seems so to me. Let’s say in mathematics we may get a certain relative harmony of the product of thought, even though the actual movement of thought of a mathematician is not necessarily in harmony, generally won’t be in harmony. Now that harmony which appears in mathematics is the result of intelligence, isn’t it?
Krishnamurti: Proceed, sir. I would like to…
Bohm: It is not perfect harmony because every form of mathematics has been proved to have some limit; that is why I call it only relative.
Krishnamurti: Yes, quite.
Bohm: But we want to go further and say that not so much thought but the action. There is another phase of the question of time which is the action which we actually do in general, in which we also seem to need time, that is chronological time. And that action at least should be in harmony, it seems to me.
Krishnamurti: As we say, sir, can thought in its movement, or thought is movement, in that movement is there harmony? If there is, then it has relationship with the other. If there is no harmony and therefore it is contradiction, change, and all the rest of it – thought, then it has no relationship with the other.
Bohm: Then would you say that we could do entirely without thought?
Krishnamurti: I would put it round the other way. Intelligence uses thought.
Bohm: All right. But how can it use something which is disharmonious?
Krishnamurti: In the sense, expression, communication, using thought which is contradictory, which is not harmonious, to create things in the world.
Bohm: But still, there must be in some other sense, a harmony in what is done with thought, in what you just described.
Krishnamurti: Let us go slowly in this. Sir, can we first put into words, negatively or positively, what is intelligence, what is not intelligence? Or is that impossible because words are thought, time, measure and all the rest of it?
Bohm: We can’t put it in words. We are trying to point. Could we say that thought can function as the pointer to intelligence, and then its contradiction doesn’t matter.
Krishnamurti: That is right. That is right, that’s right.
Bohm: Because we are not using it for its content, or its meaning, but rather as a pointer which points beyond the domain of time.
Krishnamurti: That’s right. So thought is a pointer. The content is intelligence.
Bohm: The content to which it points.
Krishnamurti: Yes. Can we put this thing entirely differently, may we? Thought is barren.
Bohm: Yes, barren when it moves by itself, yes.
Krishnamurti: Which is mechanical and all the rest of it. Thought is a pointer, but without intelligence the pointer has no value.
Bohm: Could we say that intelligence reads the pointer? If the pointer has nobody to see it then the pointer doesn’t point.
Krishnamurti: (laughs) Quite. So intelligence is necessary. Without that this has no meaning at all.
Bohm: But could we say now that thought without intelligence points in a very confused way?
Krishnamurti: Yes, confused, in irrelevant ways.
Bohm: Irrelevant, meaningless and so on. Then with intelligence it begins to point in another way. But then somehow thought and intelligence seem to fuse in a common function.
Krishnamurti: Yes. So we are asking: what is action in relationship to intelligence? Right?
Krishnamurti: What is action in relation to intelligence, and in the carrying out of that action thought is necessary.
Bohm: Yes; well, thought is necessary and this thought points obviously towards matter. But it seems to point both ways, towards intelligence. One of the questions which always comes up is: should we say that intelligence and matter are merely a distinction of the same thing, or are they different? Are they really separate? It seems that there ought to be a distinction in the same thing.
Krishnamurti: I think they are separate, they are distinct.
Bohm: They are distinct, but are they actually separate?
Krishnamurti: What do you mean by that word ‘separate’? Not related, not connected, with no common source?
Bohm: Yes. Do they have a common source?
Krishnamurti: That is just it. Thought, matter and intelligence, have they a common source? (Long pause.) I think they have, bound to have.
Bohm: Otherwise there could be no harmony, of course.
Krishnamurti: Bound to have, but you see thought has conquered the world. You understand? – conquered.
Bohm: Dominates the world.
Krishnamurti: Thought, the intellect, that dominates the world. And therefore intelligence has very little place here. When one thing dominates, the other must be subservient.
Bohm: One could always ask, I don’t know if it is relevant, how that came about.
Krishnamurti: Ah, that is fairly simple.
Bohm: What would you say?
Krishnamurti: I would say thought must have security; it is seeking security in all its movement.
Krishnamurti: But intelligence is not seeking security. It has no security. The idea of security doesn’t exist in intelligence. Intelligence itself is secure, not, ‘It seeks security’.
Bohm: Yes, but one could also consider this question: how did it come about that intelligence allowed itself to be dominated?
Krishnamurti: Oh, that is again fairly clear. Pleasure, comfort, physical security, first of all physical security: security in relationship, security in action, security…
Bohm: But that is a kind of illusion of security.
Krishnamurti: That’s illusion of security, of course.
Bohm: In a way you could say thought got out of hand and ceased to allow itself to be ordered, within the general order by intelligence; it ceased to stay in harmony with intelligence, and began to move on its own accord.
Krishnamurti: Of its own accord.
Bohm: Seeking security and pleasure and so on.
Krishnamurti: As we were saying the other day when we were talking, the whole Western world is based on measure; and the Eastern world tried to go beyond that. But they used thought to go beyond it.
Bohm: Tried to anyway.
Krishnamurti: Tried to go beyond the measure by exercising thought; and therefore they were caught in thought. Now security, physical security, is necessary and therefore physical existence, physical pleasures, physical well-being became tremendously important.
Bohm: Yes, I was thinking about that a little. If you went back to the animal, then this instinctive response towards pleasure and security would be right. But now when thought comes in, it can produce, it dazzles the instinct and produces all sorts of glamour, more pleasure, more security. And the instincts are not intelligent enough to deal with the complexity of thought, therefore thought went wrong, because it excited the instincts and the instincts demanded more.
Krishnamurti: Quite, quite. So thought really created a world of illusion, miasma, confusion, and put away intelligence.
Bohm: Well, as we said before, that made the brain very chaotic and noisy and intelligence is the silence of the brain; therefore the noisy brain is not intelligent.
Krishnamurti: The noisy brain is not intelligent, quite right! (laughs)
Bohm: Well, that more or less explains the origin of the thing. Now, where were we?
Krishnamurti: We are trying to find out what is the relationship in action, of thought and intelligence. Because everything is action or inaction. And what is the relationship of all that to intelligence? Thought does produce chaotic action, fragmentary action.
Bohm: At present that is, when it is not ordered by intelligence.
Krishnamurti: Of course. And it is not ordered by intelligence in the way we all live.
Bohm: That is because of what we have just said.
Krishnamurti: It is fragmented activity, therefore it is not an activity of a wholeness. The activity of wholeness is intelligence.
Bohm: But intelligence also has to understand the activity of thought.
Krishnamurti: Yes, yes, we said that.
Bohm: Now would you say that when intelligence understands the activity of thought, then thought is different in its operation?
Krishnamurti: Yes, obviously. That is, if thought has created nationalism as a means of security and when one sees the fallacy of it, the seeing of the fallacy of it is intelligence and thought then creates a different kind of world in which nationalism doesn’t exist.
Krishnamurti: And therefore division, conflict, war and all the rest.
Bohm: That is very clear. Intelligence sees the falseness of what is going on. Now that falseness stops. When thought is free of this falseness it is different. Then it begins to be a parallel to intelligence.
Krishnamurti: That is right.
Bohm: That is, it begins to carry out the implications of intelligence.
Krishnamurti: Therefore thought has a place.
Bohm: That is very interesting because you could say thought is never actually controlled or dominated by intelligence, thought always moves on its own.
Bohm: But in the light of intelligence, when the falseness is seen, then thought moves parallel or in harmony with intelligence.
Krishnamurti: That is right.
Bohm: But thought never has anything that forces it to do anything. But then that would suggest that intelligence and thought have this common origin or substance, and that they are two ways of calling attention to a greater whole.
Krishnamurti: Yes. Sir, one can see politically, religiously, psychologically, how thought has created a world of tremendous contradiction, fragmentation, and the intelligence that is the product of this confusion tries to bring order in this confusion, not the intelligence which sees the falseness of this. I don’t know if I am making myself clear. You see, I can be terribly intelligent though I am chaotic.
Bohm: Well, in some ways.
Krishnamurti: That is what is happening in the world.
Bohm: I suppose it is rather hard to understand that at this moment, but you could say that in some limited sphere it seems that intelligence is able to operate, but outside it doesn’t.
Krishnamurti: After all, sir, isn’t it we are, after all, concerned with living, not with theories, not theories of insight and so on. But one is concerned with a life in which intelligence operates. Intelligence which is not of time, which is not of measure, which is not the product or the movement of thought, or the order of thought. Now a human being wants to live a different kind of life. He is dominated by thought, his thought is always functioning in measurement, in comparison, in conflict. He says, ‘How am I to be free of all this in order to be intelligent?’ ‘How can the ‘me’, how can ‘I’ be the instrument of this intelligence?’
Bohm: Obviously it can’t be.
Krishnamurti: That is just it!
Bohm: Because this thought with time is the essence of unintelligence.
Krishnamurti: But I am thinking in terms of that all the time.
Bohm: Yes. Thought is projecting some sort of phantasy of what intelligence is, and trying to achieve it.
Krishnamurti: Therefore I would say that thought must be completely still for the awakening of that. There can’t be a movement of thought and yet the awakening of that.
Bohm: That is clear on one level. We consider that thought actually is mechanical and this may be seen on one level, but still the mechanism continues.
Krishnamurti: Continues, yes…
Bohm: …through instincts and pleasure and fear and so on. The intelligence therefore has to come to grips with this question of the pleasure, the fear, the desire, which make thought continue.
Bohm: And you see there is always this trap, which is to form a concept or image of it, which is partial.
Krishnamurti: Of course, of course. You see as a human being I would be concerned only with this. I know how confused, contradictory, disharmonious one’s life is. Is it possible to change that so that intelligence can function in my life, so that I live without disharmony, so that the pointer, the direction is guided by intelligence? You see, sir, that is why the religious people, instead of using the word intelligence, have used the word god.
Bohm: What is the advantage of that?
Krishnamurti: I don’t know what the advantage is.
Bohm: No, but why did they use such a word?
Krishnamurti: Because it came from primitive fear, fear of thunder, fear of nature, and gradually out of that grew the idea that there is a super-father.
Bohm: But that is still the brain functioning.
Krishnamurti: Of course, of course, I am just saying that. They said trust god, have faith in god, then god will operate through you.
Bohm: It is a sort of metaphor, if you said god is intelligence. But most people didn’t take it as a metaphor.
Krishnamurti: Of course not, that’s a terrific image!
Bohm: Yes. You could say that if god means that which is immeasurable, beyond thought then…
Krishnamurti: …it is unnameable, it is immeasurable, therefore don’t have an image.
Bohm: Then that will operate within the measurable.
Krishnamurti: Yes. What I am trying to convey is, that the desire for this intelligence, through time, has created this image of god. And the image of god, Jesus, Krishna, or whatever it is, by having faith in that – which is still the movement of thought – I hope that way there will be harmony in my life.
Bohm: And this sort of image because it is so total produces an overriding desire, urge; that is, it overrides rationality.
Krishnamurti: It overrides rationality, everything.
Krishnamurti: You heard the other day what the archbishops and bishops were saying – it sounded so ridiculous – that only Jesus matters, nothing else matters.
Bohm: But it is the same movement whereby pleasure overrides rationality.
Krishnamurti: Of course, of course. Fear and pleasure.
Bohm: They override; then everything goes, no proportion can be established.
Krishnamurti: Yes, what I am trying to say is you see, the whole world is conditioned this way.
Bohm: Yes, but the question is, I think you have hinted at: what is this world which is conditioned this way? If we take this world as objectively existent, then we have fallen into the same trap.
Krishnamurti: Of course, of course, of course.
Bohm: That is, the whole world is the result of this way of thinking, it is both the cause and the effect of this way of thinking.
Krishnamurti: That is right.
Bohm: And this way of thinking is disharmony and chaos, unintelligence and so on.
Krishnamurti: I was listening to the Labour Conference at Blackpool. It was very interesting, how clever, some of them very, very serious, double talk and all that. They are thinking in terms of Labour party and Conservative party. They don’t say, ‘Look, let’s all of us get together and see what is the best thing, the most marvellous thing for human beings.’
Bohm: They are not capable…
Krishnamurti: That is just it, but they are exercising their intelligence!
Bohm: Well, in that limited framework. That is what our trouble has always been, that people have developed technology and weapons and various things in terms of some limited intelligence, which is serving highly unintelligent purposes.
Krishnamurti: Yes, that is just it, quite..
Bohm: For thousands of years that has been going on. Then of course I think reaction tends to arise like this, that this is all much too big.
Bohm: In other words it is a vast thing, over time and space.
Krishnamurti: But it is really very simple, you know, extraordinarily simple, this sense of harmony. Because it is so simple it can function in the most complex field.
Sir, let us go back. If we say the source is common to both thought and intelligence.
Bohm: Yes, we got that far.
Krishnamurti: What is that source?
Bohm: Well that would be beyond me.
Krishnamurti: Wait a minute, sir. Let’s see if we can see, what is that source? They generally attribute it to some philosophical concept, or they say that source is god – I am just using that word for the moment – or Jehovah or Brahman, it doesn’t matter. That source is the common, is the central movement which divides itself into matter and intelligence. But that is just a verbal statement, it is just an idea, which is still thought. Therefore you can’t find it through thought.
Bohm: But then that would raise the question: if you find it then what are ‘you’?
Krishnamurti: ‘You’ don’t exist. ‘You’ can’t exist when you are asking what is the source! ‘You’ are time, movement, environmental influence – you are all that.
Bohm: Yes, I see that in that question the whole of this division is put aside.
Krishnamurti: Absolutely. That is the point, isn’t it?
Bohm: There is no time, no….
Krishnamurti: But yet we say, ‘Look, I am not going to exercise thought. ‘When the ‘me’ enters there is division: so deliberately understanding the whole of this, what we have been talking about, I put away the ‘me’ altogether.
Bohm: But that sounds like a contradiction.
Krishnamurti: I know. I’m just using that ‘put away’, that. ‘I’ can’t put it away. It takes place. Then what is the source? Can it ever be named? Say for instance the Jewish religious feeling is that it is not nameable: you don’t name it, you can’t talk about it, you can’t touch it. You can only look. And the Hindus and others say the same thing in different words and the Christians have tripped themselves up over this word Jesus, and their image, they have never gone to the source of it.
Bohm: That is a very complex question because it might be that they were trying to synthesise several philosophies.
Krishnamurti: Yes, of course. Because after all Christianity came out of Judea.
Bohm: And Greece and Asia.
Krishnamurti: Of course, they’re related. The other day a whole group of Arabs, on television, were marching, I forget where; and another group, later on, from Israel was marching. I said, look, only the head-dress – you follow, sir? They’re Arabic, which is the outcome of Hebrew, and they have divided up. It is so appalling!
Bohm: Yes, I mean if you watch the people on television in Lebanon, you could easily say they were just like Jews.
Krishnamurti: After all they are all the Semitic type, and all the rest of it. There it is. We see this. Now I want to get at this: what is the source? Can thought find it? And thought is born from that source; and intelligence is also born from that source. It is like two streams moving in different directions.
Bohm: Would you say matter is also born from that source more generally?
Krishnamurti: Of course.
Bohm: I mean the whole universe. But then the source is beyond the universe.
Krishnamurti: Of course. It must be, otherwise. . . Now what is that? Could we put it this way, sir? Thought is energy, so is intelligence.
Bohm: So is matter.
Krishnamurti: Thought, matter, the mechanical, is energy. Intelligence is also energy. Thought is confused, polluted, dividing itself, fragmenting itself.
Bohm: Yes, it is multiple.
Krishnamurti: And this is not. This is not polluted. It cannot divide itself as ‘my intelligence’ and ‘your intelligence’. It is intelligence, it is not divisible. Now it has sprung from a source of energy which has divided itself.
Bohm: Why has it divided itself?
Krishnamurti: Because for physical reasons, for comfort, for existence, you know all the rest of it.
Bohm: To maintain physical existence. So a part of intelligence has been changed in such a way as to help to maintain physical existence.
Bohm: It has developed in a certain way.
Krishnamurti: And gone on in that way. Both are energy. So there is only one energy.
Bohm: Yes, they are different forms of energy.
Krishnamurti: Of energy.
Bohm: I was saying that although it is on a much more limited scale there are many analogies to this. In physics you can say light is ordinarily a very complex wave motion, infinitely complex, but in the laser it can be made to move all together in a very simple and harmonious way.
Krishnamurti: Yes. I was reading about that. What monstrous things they are going to produce with this.
Bohm: Yes, using it destructively.
Krishnamurti: Yes, you see sir? There it is.
Bohm: Thought may get something good but then it always gets used in a broader way that is destructive.
Krishnamurti: So there is only energy, which is the source.
Bohm: Would you say energy is a kind of movement?
Krishnamurti: No, it is energy. The moment it is a movement it goes off into this, into the field of thought.
Bohm: We have to get it clear, this notion of energy. I have also looked up this word, it’s an old English word. You see, it is based on the notion of work; energy means, ‘To work within.’
Krishnamurti: Work within, yes.
Bohm: But now you say there is an energy, it works, but no movement, is that it?
Krishnamurti: Yes. I was thinking about it yesterday – not thinking – I realised the source is there, uncontaminated, non-movement, untouched by thought, it is there. From that these two are born. Why are they born at all?
Bohm: One was necessary for survival.
Krishnamurti: That is all. In survival this has been denied, or put aside in its totality, in its wholeness. What I am trying to get at is this, sir: I want to find out, as a human being living in this world with all the chaos and suffering, and all the rest of it, can the human mind touch that source in which the two divisions don’t exist? And because it has touched this source, because it has no division, it can operate without the sense of division. I don’t know if I am conveying this?
Bohm: But how is it possible for the human mind not to touch the source?
Krishnamurti: How to touch it.
Bohm: Why is it that it does not touch the source?
Krishnamurti: Because we are consumed by thought, by the cleverness of thought, by the movement of thought. All their gods, their meditations, their silence, everything is there.
Bohm: Yes. I think this brings us to the question of life and death then, because that is one of the things which gets in the way. This is also related to survival obviously.
Krishnamurti: Because of thought and its field of security, its desire for security, it has created death as something separate from itself.
Bohm: Yes, that may be the key point.
Krishnamurti: That’s it. I was coming to it. That is what we were talking about yesterday morning to the students.
Bohm: If you think it over, you look at it this way. Thought has constructed itself as an instrument for survival, not to die. Now therefore…
Krishnamurti: Therefore what it has done, it has created immortality in Jesus, or this or that.
Bohm: But thought cannot possibly contemplate its own death.
Krishnamurti: Of course, of course, of course.
Bohm: So if it tries to do so, it always projects something else, some other broader point from which it seems to look at it. If anybody tries to imagine that he is dead, then he is still imagining that he is alive and looking at himself as dead. You can always complicate that in all sorts of theories and religion and so on; but it seems to be built into thought that it cannot possibly consider death properly.
Krishnamurti: It cannot. It means ending itself.
Bohm: But you see, that is very interesting. Suppose we take the death of the body, which we see outwardly; the organism dies, it loses its energy and therefore it falls apart.
Krishnamurti: It is really that the body is the instrument of the energy.
Bohm: So let us say the energy ceases to imbue the body and therefore the body no longer has any wholeness. You could say that thought also, the energy in some ways goes to thought, as to the body. Would that make sense?
Krishnamurti: What, sir, I don’t…
Bohm: When thought is going then somehow energy is being given to thought as well.
Krishnamurti: Yes, that’s right, yes, that’s right.
Bohm: You and other people often use the phrase: ‘The mind dies to the whole of thought’. That way of putting it is at first puzzling, because at first you would think it was thought that should die.
Krishnamurti: Quite, quite.
Bohm: But now you are saying that it is the mind that dies, or the energy that dies to thought. The nearest I can see what that means is that when thought is working it is invested with a certain energy by the mind or the intelligence; and when thought is no longer relevant, then the energy goes and thought is like a dead organism.
Krishnamurti: That is right.
Bohm: Now it is very hard for the mind to accept this, because it seems that the comparison between thought and the organism is so poor, because thought is so insubstantial and the organism is substantial.
Krishnamurti: Very substantial, quite. (laughs)
Bohm: So the death of the organism seems something far more than the death of thought. Now this is a point that is not clear. Would you say that in the death of thought we have the essence of the death of the organism as well?
Bohm: Although it is on a small scale, as it were, it is of the same nature?
Krishnamurti: Yes. You see, sir, wait a minute. As we said, there is energy in both, and thought in its movement has created this energy, is this energy, and thought cannot see itself die.
Bohm: It has no way of imagining, or projecting, or conceiving its own death.
Krishnamurti: Therefore it escapes from death.
Bohm: Well, it gives the illusion.
Krishnamurti: Illusion of course, illusion of death and all the rest of it. And it has created the illusion of immortality or a state beyond death, a projection of its own desire for its own continuity.
Bohm: Well, that is one thing, that thought may have begun by desiring the continuity of the organism.
Krishnamurti: Yes, that is right, and then gone beyond it.
Bohm: Gone beyond that, to desire its own continuity. That was the mistake, that was where it went wrong.
Krishnamurti: Yes, went wrong. It saw the organism as itself.
Bohm: It felt itself to be an extension, not merely an extension, but the essence of the organism. At first thought is merely functioning in the organism and then thought begins to present itself as the essence of the organism.
Krishnamurti: That’s right.
Bohm: Then thought begins to desire its own immortality.
Krishnamurti: And thought knows itself, is very well aware that it is not immortal.
Bohm: It knows it only outwardly, though. I mean, it knows it as an outward fact.
Krishnamurti: Therefore it creates immortality in pictures, images.
I listen to all this as an outsider and I say to myself, ‘This is perfectly true, so clear, logical, sane; we see it very clearly, both psychologically and physically’. Now my next question, observing all this, is: can the mind keep the purity of the original source? The original pristine clarity of that energy which is not touched by the corruption of thought, by thought at all? I don’t know if I am conveying it?
Bohm: The question is clearer.
Krishnamurti: If the question is clear, can the mind do it? Can the mind ever discover that?
Bohm: What is the mind?
Krishnamurti: The mind now we say is organism, thought, the brain with all its memories, experiences and all that, which is all time. And the mind says, ‘Can I come to this?’ It cannot. Then I say to myself, ‘As it cannot, I will be quiet’. You see the tricks it has played.
Krishnamurti: I will learn how to be quiet; I will learn how to meditate in order to be quiet. I see the importance of having a mind that is free of time, free of the mechanism of thought, I will control it, subjugate it, put away thought from it. But it is still the operation of thought. That is very clear. Then what is it to do? Because a human being who just lives in this disharmony, he must enquire into this. And that is what we are doing. As we begin to enquire into it, or in enquiring, we come to this source. Is it a perception, an insight, and that insight has nothing whatsoever to do with thought? Is insight the result of thought? The conclusion of an insight is thought, but insight itself is not thought. So I have got a key to it. Then what is insight? Can I invite it, cultivate it?
Bohm: You can’t do any of that. But there is a kind of energy that is needed.
Krishnamurti: That is just it. I can’t do anything. When I cultivate it, it is desire. When I say I will do this or that, it is the same. So insight is not the product of thought. It is not in the order of thought. Now, how does one come upon this insight? (Pause) We have come upon it because we denied all this.
Bohm: Yes, it is there. You can never answer that question, how you come upon anything.
Krishnamurti: No. I think it is fairly clear, sir. You do come upon it when you see the whole thing. So insight is the perception of the whole. A fragment cannot see this, but the ‘I’ that sees the fragments and so the ‘I’ seeing the fragments sees the whole. And the quality of a mind that sees the whole is not touched by thought and therefore there is perception, there is insight.
Bohm: Perhaps we will go over that more slowly. We see all the fragments: could we say that the actual energy, activity, which sees those fragments is whole?
Krishnamurti: Yes, yes.
Bohm: We don’t manage ever to see the whole because…
Krishnamurti: …we are educated, and all the rest of it.
Bohm: But I mean, we wouldn’t anyway see the whole as something. But rather, the wholeness is the freedom in seeing all the fragments.
Krishnamurti: That is right, sir. Freedom to see. The freedom doesn’t exist when there are fragments.
Bohm: Yes, but that makes a paradox.
Krishnamurti: Of course.
Bohm: But the whole does not start from the fragments.
Krishnamurti: No, of course not.
Bohm: Once the whole operates then there are no fragments.
Krishnamurti: No, of course not.
Bohm: So the paradox comes from supposing that the fragments are independently real, that they exist independently of thought. Then you would say, if I suppose that the fragments are there independently of me and my thought, and then I must somehow do something about them – that would be a paradox. But now the whole starts from the insight that these fragments are in a way nothing. That is the way it seems to me. They are not substantial realities. They are very insubstantial.
Krishnamurti: Insubstantial, yes.
Bohm: And therefore they don’t prevent wholeness.
Bohm: You see, one of the things that often causes confusion is that, when you put it in thought, it seems that you are presented with the fragments as real, substantial realities. Then you have to see them, and then you say, as long as the fragments are there, there is no wholeness and you can’t see them.
Krishnamurti: Quite. (laughs)
Bohm: But that all comes back then to the one thing, to the one source.
Krishnamurti: I am sure, sir, really serious people have asked this question. They have asked it and tried to find an answer through thought.
Bohm: Yes, well, it seems natural.
Krishnamurti: Natural, obviously, and they never saw that they were caught in thought.
Bohm: That is always the trouble. Everybody gets into this trouble: that he seems to be looking at everything, at his problems, saying, ‘Those are my problems, I am looking’. But that looking is only thinking, but it is confused with looking. One of the confusions that arises is that if you say, don’t think but look, that person feels I’m already looking.
Krishnamurti: Yes, quite, quite, quite. (laughs) So you see, this question has been put a long time ago and they say, ‘All right, then I must control thought, I must subjugate thought and I must make my mind quiet then it becomes whole, then I can see the parts, fragments, and then I’ll touch the source’. But it is still the operation of thought all the time.
Bohm: Yes, that means the operation of thought is unconscious for the most part and therefore one doesn’t know it is going on. We may say consciously we have realised that all this has to be changed, it has to be different or something.
Krishnamurti: But the unconscious is still going on. Can you talk to my unconscious, knowing my conscious brain is going to resist you? Because you are telling me something which is revolutionary, you are telling me something which shatters all my whole house which I have built so carefully, and I won’t listen to you. You follow? My instinctive reactions push you away. So you realise that and say, ‘Look, all right, old friend, just don’t bother to listen to me that way. I am going to talk to your unconscious. I am going to talk to your unconscious and make that unconscious see that whatever movement it does is still within the field of time and so on, so on, so on’. So your conscious mind is never in operation. When it operates it must inevitably resist, or say, ‘I will accept’, therefore it creates a conflict in itself, and all the rest of it. So can you talk to my unconscious?
Bohm: You can always ask how.
Krishnamurti: No, no. You tell me first, ‘Look, old boy, don’t resist, don’t think about, look at that tree, listen, but I am going to talk to you’. (laughs) It sounds funny, but you follow what I mean. I am going to talk to you. We two are communicating with each other without the conscious mind listening. I don’t know if I am…
Bohm: Well, more or less.
Krishnamurti: I think this is what takes place really, sir. When you were talking to me – I was noticing it – I was not listening to your words so much. I was listening to you. I was open to you, not to your words, because I know, you’ve explained, I have looked in the dictionaries and all the rest of it. I said, all right, leave all that, I am listening to you, not to the words which you have used, but to the meaning, to the inward quality of your feeling which wants to tell me something.
Bohm: I understand.
Krishnamurti: That changes me, not all this verbalisation. So can you talk to me about my idiocy, my illusion, my peculiar tendencies, without the conscious mind interfering and saying, ‘Please don’t touch it, leave me alone!’ You know, they’ve – of course you know about it – they have tried subliminal propaganda in advertising, quickly, so that you don’t really pay attention, but your unconscious does, so you buy that particular soap! We are not doing that, that would be deadly. You are telling me, look at the tree, or the cloud, or that picture on that wall, forget, don’t listen to me with your conscious ears but listen to me with the ears that hear much deeper. That is how I listened to you this morning because I am terribly interested in the source, as you are. You follow, sir?
Bohm: I understand, yes.
Krishnamurti: And I say, by Jove, we will come to that, I caught on to it, we will come to that, and I am really interested in that one thing. And this all would be explainable, easily understood – but to come to that thing together, feel it together! You follow? I think that is the way to break a conditioning, a habit, an image which I have cultivated. You talk to me about it at a level where the conscious mind is not totally interested. It sounds silly, but you understand what I am saying, sir?
Say for instance I have a conditioning; you can point it out a dozen times, argue, see the fallacy of it, the illusoriness, the stupidity. I still go on. I resist it, I say no, it’s as it should be, what shall I do in this world if I don’t… and all the rest of it. But you see the truth that as long as the mind is conditioned there must be conflict and all the rest of it. So you penetrate or push aside my resistance and get to that, get the unconscious to listen to you, because the unconscious is much more subtle, much quicker. It may be frightened, but it sees the danger of fear much quicker than the conscious mind does. As when I was walking in California high in the mountains, I was looking at birds and trees and watching other things, and I heard a rattler and I jumped. It was the unconscious that made the body jump; because I saw the rattler when I jumped, it was two or three feet away, it could have struck me very easily. If the conscious brain had been operating it would have taken several seconds.
Bohm: Then to reach the unconscious you have to have an action which doesn’t directly appeal to the conscious.
Krishnamurti: Yes. I think that is affection, that is love. When you talk to my waking consciousness, it is hard, clever, subtle, brittle. And you penetrate that, say, all right, keep your own beastly little stuff, and you penetrate it with your look, with your affection, with all that feeling you have. That operates, not anything else.
Krishnamurti at Brockwood Park, 7 October 1972