Krishnamurti with with David Bohm, 1981
David Bohm’s contact with Krishnamurti began in the early 60s and continued into the 80s. Their dialogues are far-reaching and profound. Over 30 audios or videos are available on our YouTube channel, and are published in the books Truth and Actuality, The Transformation of Man, and The Ending of Time.
Recorded in 1981 in Ojai, California, this conversation explores the sacred, with Krishnamurti saying that there is a sacred origin which gives one tremendous passion and energy. He asks: is anyone willing to totally abandon everything that thought has created, including the ‘me’? Is it possible to live a daily life in the modern world without any identification? How am I to educate myself to have no shocks of any kind? Only a brain free from shocks can find the origin. The brain must be always in a state of movement without identification, like a river. Then it cannot be shocked.
Krishnamurti: What would you like he and I discuss? I would like to find out why humanity has lost, it appears to me, a total lack of… or they have no feeling for something sacred. Why? I mean, that… one may not like that word sacred – something far greater than all the structure and all the complexity of thought. What religions have put out is not sacred. If there is not that feeling I think humanity is lost. That’s what my…
David Bohm: (Inaudible)
K: I feel that very strongly.
DB: Yes. Well, on the other hand most people are satisfied to stay in this more limited realm.
K: Yes, of course. But that doesn’t answer the question. They are pleasure seeking, limited; they would prefer unreality to reality; they would prefer something artificial and not go very deep. There are all the obvious signs of all that.
DB: I think, you know, one has to go further; say, some people feel they are more serious; like if we saw this shuttle ship which has just landed, see, people have put a lot of energy and devotion into that and they may…
K: They have.
DB: …they may feel that that to them is what… you know, that that order and structure is…
K: I know. Thousands of people have cooperated to produce an excellent thing.
DB: Yes; now, what would be your feeling about that?
K: Oh, that’s not sacred; good God.
DB: Yes, no, but I mean, nobody says it’s sacred, but people feel that that might be one of their purpose in life. They say that people who worked on that project could feel… (inaudible).
K: I don’t see much difference between those people who have put together the spaceship and those who have put together the computers or the motor car or the aeroplane. I don’t see much difference between all that. Is it – I’m just inquiring – is it those religions that are dominated by a book, like the Bible, the Koran…
DB: Well, but even… (inaudible).
K: …as they are predominant in the world, and therefore bigotry, narrowness and intolerance? Whereas in India, for example – I’m only pointing out – they have got several books they consider sacred, so you can play with them all.
DB: Yes, but it doesn’t seem to make much difference.
K: Not much difference, that’s what I…
K: Of course not. So why?
DB: Well, I think that if we follow historically that these religions have pre-empted the field of the sacred, up to a point and then people began to turn against them because they were corrupt and they weren’t working; and you had the more… the age of reason during the… in Europe during the 18th century; it gave rise to science and technology and to… (inaudible).
K: Industrialisation has… industry…
DB: Yes. That has… science, technology and industry have absorbed people’s minds and there was the period when people thought progress, indefinite progress, would be possible.
K: Yes, yes, Victorian. Yes, I know.
DB: And much of this remains, you see. So I think people feel that the whole notion of the sacred leads nowhere, many people feel; you know, they have more or less given it up.
K: Why should it lead anywhere?
DB: No, but… or at least it doesn’t have… Well, let’s try to put it differently – that they feel it doesn’t have anything in it, you see, that…
K: Quite, quite. Quite. It has no really monetary value or it doesn’t bring a profit and it doesn’t …
DB: Well, they say it doesn’t bring happiness or it doesn’t bring…
K: Yes, yes, yes.
DB: As the whole spirit of the age has developed that way…
K: But did it exist before?
DB: Well, that I don’t know, but people at least thought it existed; I mean, they believed in religion and they gave their religion high value, and some people felt that there was something sacred. We don’t know, but some people may have had it. But people in general were ready to say that religion or the sacred was important but now the whole situation has changed.
K: Totally changed; quite.
DB: Except for those who want to go back to it.
K: Of course, that’s (inaudible). So is this rather futile subject to discuss?
DB: Well, I don’t know, but I’m trying to say that that’s why people are not really very taken with the question or, you know, that nobody… I mean, if you want to, say, to discuss the sacred, see, the point is first of all to make it clear. Now, what is it? How do we… what does it mean? Since you say that religions don’t have it. Right?
K: No, of course not; that we can brush aside. Surely, it begins with the self not being important.
DB: The what?
K: The self, the me.
K: It must begin there, mustn’t it? This colossal egotism, the importance of the sense of freedom: ‘I must do what I want to do’, and this self-centredness which is becoming more and more.
DB: Yes. Now, usually people make a distinction between the sacred and the worldly, you see, the… You would have to say that the… what is worldly is to put the self first – right? – that… you see?
K: I didn’t quite follow.
DB: You see, if people say there is the holy, the sacred, and the worldly; the sacred and the secular.
K: Sacred and secular, yes.
DB: And the secular is regarded as the affairs, ordinary affairs of the world which are run by thought. Right?
K: I know; I know.
DB: Now, one has to establish a connection and saying why are they egotistic – you see? – why are they self-centred? Right?
K: Oh, I think that’s fairly simple.
DB: Because at first it seems, you see, there are people in the world who cooperate, for example, to produce these things we discussed, but not everybody sees immediately that the question of the sacred is the question of self-centredness, you see.
K: Yes; yes. I’m just… I’m asking whether it is… because we are all becoming more and more self-centred and therefore losing the other, and what is one to do?
DB: You see, just to clear it up a little bit. You see, if you take the communist, for example; see, their original purpose was against this self-centredness too, like Karl Marx. He was saying we must have a society which is human, which is not self-centred and where…
K: Oh, that’s just a theory.
DB: Yes, all right, but then it’s important to see what is the difference. You see, that… but he was saying that the religious view was just a theory, you see.
K: Of course. This is also a theory.
DB: Yes. So let’s try to look at it to say that many people have felt that self-centredness was not the way to live and they tried religion or they tried communism or something. Now, see, can we focus on what really is involved?
K: Oh, I think that’s fairly simple, isn’t it? The identification of the self with the non-self, the state, Jesus or… is still self-centred activity.
DB: Yes, but even Marx would have agreed with you there; he said the state must wither away, you see.
K: But… of course.
DB: But it won’t, you see.
K: It won’t.
DB: I mean, see, in some way he was overlooking something about human… the human nature.
K: Which is, the psychological structure of human…
DB: Yes, that’s the key question.
K: That is the real thing…
DB: That’s the thing which they have mostly overlooked. Right?
DB: Freud looked at it but possibly he didn’t go very deeply.
K: Deeply; no. What is one to do? I feel personally very strongly about it. I may be… it may be an illusion, it may be something… thought has projected that there is something sacred and so on. But when one examined it very closely and very carefully, one knows deeply that there is something beyond all this thought – right? – which is sacred. For myself I feel that very strongly.
DB: Yes, but is it… but I don’t know that it’s commonly felt, you see. People don’t commonly feel that there is something.
K: No, of course not.
K: Now, if a man feels that, and there is this society going down the hill, human beings are becoming more and more confused, violent and so on, what is he to do? As a scientist you must see that too. You may not call it sacred; you may use another word to indicate what I’m talking about.
DB: Yes, well…
K: And what would you do? As a scientist, to you personally, if I may ask, since you have examined matter and you’ve gone into all that, if you felt or realised there is something immense, something infinite, how would you help another to bring this about?
K: Apparently moment we… we can only cooperate, thousands of us together, to build a space shuttle. Right?
DB: Well, yes; I think that the reason that cooperation is possible is that there is a well-organised structure of thought which is highly orderly.
K: Yes, highly orderly.
DB: Which really is correct; I mean, not just invented but…
K: No, no, it’s correct. We agree.
DB: Yes, and people have confidence in it and they are ready to learn that it’s not a fixed structure, it’s open and they can learn more, and there’s enough confidence in it so that people can… (inaudible).
K: So are you saying that there is no confidence in the other?
DB: No, I think people have no confidence at all in the other.
K: At all?
DB: No. They can’t trust their lives to that. You see, they will trust their life to the shuttle, you see.
K: (Laughs) Quite. Suppose one is greatly concerned with what is happening in the world, and concerned about the psychological deterioration, and it’s only in cooperation to end psychological deterioration, and also one sees the danger in cooperation, because then… (inaudible) about an idea, about a project, about an end to be gained, an end to be achieved and so on and so on. One sees the danger of that peculiar type of cooperation. One inevitably comes to the point: what is a human begin who feels about this very issue passionately, what is he to do? Just talk endlessly? That doesn’t do anything. There is somebody in India who does so-called miracles, and I was told if he stood for parliament… for political… he would become… probably go beyond Mrs Gandhi, because he’s so damn popular.
K: Because he reckons he is God. To them that is sacred, which is sheer nonsense, of course. I wonder if… (inaudible) beating a dead horse.
DB: Well, the question is, you know, how is one to have cooperation on this question, you see?
K: I see the danger of it too.
DB: It’s dangerous because people have done it…
K: Yes, yes. So is it it’s only possible for one or two people? (Inaudible)… so ridiculous.
DB: You see, there are several barriers, you see. One barrier is that there is a general belief among many of the people who are concerned that by rational thought alone, these… we can do something, you know, that people will have confidence and they might take the success of the shuttle as an example and saying that we should solve our human problems by rational thought also. Right?
K: Are all human problems settled by the shuttle? (Laughs)
DB: No, but some people feel that way that a similar… You see, you can read the journals, scientific journals and see that… they say if we get enough knowledge of human beings then we will do as well with human problems as we did with the shuttle, you see.
K: Shuttle; quite; quite (laughs).
DB: So everything will work perfectly.
DB: Some people feel that way.
K: …I was wondering about that too this morning when I heard it that human beings will say all our problems will be solved by the computer.
DB: Well, I think not just by the computer but by learning, by gaining more and more knowledge about the human being; the computer would be a help, but, you see, I think the attitude is not so simple as to let the computer do it, but to say that we… well, it’s open-ended, we can keep on learning.
K: Learning what?
DB: About human nature. You see, we learned about the way matter moves. Right?
DB: And we could get the thing to work.
K: But human nature is very simple. What is there to learn more and more and more?
DB: Well, people… well, they’re not convinced that it’s so simple; it seems very complicated; you know, that such complicated problems arise between human beings and, you know, it’s so difficult, there’s… you know, there’s difficulties in education, there’s so much crime, there’s so much violence, there’s so much unhappiness and people can’t work together. So there are some people who feel that if we knew more about how people functioned, the brain or else, you know, the mind function, that we could eventually make things work better. I’ve read several articles recently with that view in mind. Right? So I think that’s one of the barriers, that some of the people who are interested already… who might be interested, already believe that this other approach is the right one, you see; that they don’t see any reason why you want to bring in the sacred, you see. How will you talk to such a person?
K: I wouldn’t talk to them about sacred.
DB: What would you say?
K: I would say the ending of selfishness.
DB: All right, yes. Well, they might say by studying human beings more carefully, scientifically, we would find out, you know, what makes them selfish.
K: Oh… (laughs) I think that’s fairly simple, sir.
DB: Well, what would you say to that?
K: What makes them selfish?
DB: Right. Well, how would you go about that?
K: It gives them great pleasure. Though it has its problems, being self-centred gives them… there’s a certain sense of importance, certain sense of security and so on and so on and so on. That’s fairly simple. I don’t have to investigate tremendously into that.
DB: Well, I think people would say how could we establish right human relationships, you see, accepting that the people want pleasure. Right?
K: Yes. People want pleasure.
DB: Yes, and, now, some scientists would say let’s try to find a way for people to have pleasure without creating this chaos, you see?
K: (Laughs) Oh, I see, quite; quite. Let’s have pleasure. Let’s pursue pleasure.
DB: A reasonable amount… reasonable pleasure.
K: Reasonable pleasure without creating chaos in the world.
DB: Yes. I think many people are thinking that way, you know, that they would hope to do that.
K: Are they really?
DB: Yes, I think so. They would hope to create a reasonably happy life saying not just pleasure, but, you know, the relationships and a certain amount of pleasure and not too much pain. They would say by bringing… by understanding what it is between people that makes all the trouble, we could get rid of it. Just as we got rid of troubles in other areas, got rid of disease or got rid of… we may hope to get rid of cancer.
K: Cancer… I understand all that. So is it a matter of pleasurable relationship without the pain of relationship?
DB: Yes, or some… even something deeper than pleasure, but trying by means of rational knowledge to bring order into human relationship, you see; even perhaps having something more than pleasure… (inaudible).
K: Rational order in relationship is not giving importance to oneself.
DB: Yes. I’m not sure they would all accept that. They would say to give the right order… the right importance to yourself; not too much. Right? But, see, I’m trying to say if you were trying to communicate with people, these are the kind of confused questions you get into.
K: I know this, sir. We are quite familiar with all this.
DB: Yes, and if you just communicate directly and talk about the sacred and getting rid of selfishness then only a very few people are going to listen.
K: Yes, I know this. Does it matter?
DB: Well, I don’t know but in some way there has to be a change to prevent this… catastrophe. You see, we are in very great danger…
K: I know this; we all know this.
DB: …because of technology. You see, if we were at the level of people hitting each other with clubs it wouldn’t be so dangerous.
K: No (laughs). Now they’ve got guns.
DB: Much worse; you know, the hydrogen bombs, you see.
K: Yes, of course, hydrogen bomb and all the rest of it. And we all know this.
DB: And, you see, somehow there… it seems we feel the need for something to happen that would at least deflect this catastrophe and giving people time to… in some way giving the… for something else to happen. Right?
K: And… (inaudible) has not solved the problem.
DB: No, but if we annihilate our civilisation now, then all possibility would vanish for a long time. If we, say, have a nuclear war now…
K: I… do you really think there will be a nuclear war?
DB: It’s not impossible. You see, people can’t control this, and you saw already that certain computer errors made people believe that possibly there was an attack. You know, they checked the computer and so on, but it’s very close, you know. It isn’t so bad yet, but you know the general prognosis for East/West relations is not good. Right?
K: Look, sir, we know all this.
K: You and I have talked a great deal about all this, and generally fairly informed people know all this. Right? They all also know all the psychological complexities, and the psychologists and all the others are trying to understand human nature. And the brain specialists, as you… we talked, they also are examining the nature of the brain, etc., etc.
DB: They have theories and some believe that maybe they could do something that would make people better. Right?
K: Yes, better. Operate on them or whatever it is.
DB: Or change… make a drug.
K: Yes, take a drug and so on. In the meantime, if there is any meantime, man is destroying himself. Right? That’s all I’m talking about.
DB: Yes. Now, well, there is certainly among many people a feeling that things are going downhill and not merely the danger of nuclear war, but a general…
K: General decay.
DB: …general decay in civilisation.
K: Yes; yes. And this decay, I mean, can that be stopped?
K: Apparently, no drugs, no technological advancement, no psychological investigation into the whole nature of man hasn’t done that either, nor worshiping an external… – no, not an external – worshipping something that thought has created – that hasn’t solved the problem. Politicians can’t solve the problem… So what is a man to do? Man, that is, an ordinary, average man who has… knows all about this.
DB: Well, I was wondering if it’s possible for a creative impulse, you see, like… I think… see, there’s a man called Toynbee who some time ago said…
K: Toynbee, yes.
DB: …that great civilisations have started from early impulses that were highly creative and they flowered and then decayed.
K: Yes, I know.
DB: Now, would it be possible that something would…
K: That’s what I… to me that feeling of sacredness is the origin of this.
DB: Yes. Yes, you feel that way but how can you communicate that that is really…?
K: I don’t think it can be communicated through argument, through words, through analysis, through all that. I think it can be communicated if both of us are really inquiring into it. We know all the decay and all… Let’s forget all that for the moment. If you and I could investigate or explore what it is that is really sacred. Because if that is the origin, that gives one the tremendous passion and energy. That is the new thing, new culture and so on. How would you and I explore this? Not go back over and over again, technology – you know? – religions have failed, every man and so on and so on. Let’s put aside all that. We know that very well. We are quite familiar with all that. How would I explore it? Or it’s not a matter of exploration at all. Because… is it merely a matter of feeling? It can’t be.
DB: A feeling?
K: Feeling. That’s very dangerous.
DB: It can be deceptive. Right?
K: Ah, we know… Deception, dishonesty, illusion, and the desire involved in it, and so on and so on. We can brush that also aside. Which… we are taking drastic steps already. How does this thing flower? You see, they have said be silent, contemplate, meditate… give up – you know? – all that. That hasn’t worked either.
DB: Well, it seems that in some periods of man’s history there was a kind of natural feeling of that kind which began to flower…
DB: …and that it can gradually began to decay later. And there is a sort of a vigour in the early civilisations.
K: Oh yes.
DB: But what is that sort of vigour, energy?
K: I should think that. I don’t think it’s… it belongs to one person. You follow what I mean? If several of us had this feeling which is… would have tremendous energy and passion and all the rest of it, but apparently we don’t. So I’m just… been wondering what is one to do? If you had that passion and that sense of infinite… something sacred, how would you tell me about it so that I would have instantly the same flame that is behind it? That’s really a question; not allowing time and all that stuff; that just… that doesn’t enter into it. I think time is the enemy of man, whether it is slow time or… etc. (Inaudible)… we talk about time, but…
DB: Well, you see, it seems to me that thought becomes fixed in certain patterns or certain limits and then the vigour, the energy is gone because people… no-one feels that it’s possible to go outside of that. Now…
K: I know that. We have talked about insight, which is not of time and all that. We understand all that, either intellectually or we feel there is such a thing, but that is not the answer. I wonder, suppose X feels this thing very strongly – is it possible to pass it on to another?
DB: To pass it?
K: To say… give it to another or communicate it so profoundly that he captures it, it is in him. You know what I mean? You see, there are so many explanations: the scientific explanations, psychological explanations, technological and so on, why man has come to this point. And I… all right, that’s understood. I don’t want to go back into all that, go into minute details of explanations. This has become wearisome. What is one to do?
You can’t go back to tradition; you can’t go back to the Buddhist and the ancient Hindu idea of Bodhisattva, taking a vow – you know? – all that business. (Inaudible)… another of those myths that man creates and we’re caught in that. Go beyond all that. Is anyone willing to go beyond all that? Total abandonment of everything that thought has really created, including computer and including the spaceship (laughs); and including thought which has created the me – is anybody willing to go beyond all that? That is the real problem. You see, what is happening, as far as I’ve been able to observe – I may be wrong – we are so terribly satisfied with explanations. You know what I mean? The brain specialist giving information why we are like this and somebody else… and this information may be also a danger.
DB: Yes, well, that’s a point, you see, one could discuss because one may say, ‘Okay, we have to go beyond the thought of the me or the thought that gives rise to the me,’ but it’s not so clear what you mean, why we should have to go beyond any other form of thought. Or whether the other form of thought is not part of…
K: Oh, no. Ah, that’s the danger of it, of course.
K: First of all, can that… one had to… can thought stop? I mean, we know thought can operate in the… as a computer and the spaceship and all the rest of… (inaudible), but we’re not talking about that kind of… that movement of thought.
DB: Well, the thought of the me… you’re talking of the thought that generates the me…
DB: …the consciousness of the me. Right?
DB: And also that… as long as that is there, the other kind of thought cannot bring order to the me. You see, that’s the real question, that…
K: Yes, yes, yes. Thought cannot bring order because thought itself is limited, finite, and its actions must be limited, and so on and so on. It’s so clear. Is it that human beings are incapable, basically, of letting go the self?
DB: Well, that’s a question; there’s no way to answer; I mean, it’s a… to know that.
DB: There’s no way to know the answer to that, I mean…
K: Apparently they have not done it.
DB: That’s… Yes, but it doesn’t follow from that that it’s basically impossible, I mean… (inaudible) always a first time. You know, you cannot… (inaudible) from what has happened… you know, what is absolutely necessary.
K: No, it has just happened only very, very… to very few people.
DB: Yes, well, I mean, we’ll say it’s extremely difficult, that’s very unlikely but it doesn’t show it’s impossible.
K: All right, if you say… all right. It may be possible.
DB: It may be possible.
K: But apparently it…
DB: It hasn’t happened.
K: …happened (laughs).
DB: Now… because, you know, the me obviously is dominating the whole consciousness. You see, if you ask to abandon the me, then… while the me dominates consciousness, it’s not so clear what is asked to come about. Right?
K: Of course not. Of course not.
DB: But… (inaudible) could say that, you see, there is a kind of thought which runs on its own – you know? – without insight, which we call the me, and that is basically memory, you see.
K: Of course.
DB: Now, but it doesn’t seem to be memory only because it presents itself as much more – you know? – as some kind of real existence of the me – you know? – and of the whole… and of being truth.
K: Does it?
DB: That’s the way it seems, you see, that the thought of the me seems to be truth, you see. This is the way it looks when… (inaudible).
K: The me is true, of course.
K: The me is very real.
DB: It’s real and it seems real and it seems that the thought about it is true, you see.
K: Yes, yes, yes. But that me is the cause of all this mischief.
DB: Yes. But if the me were there, in the sense which it seems to be, there would be nothing you could do about it. I mean, if it were real and true, then we could say what can we do about it?
K: I see. (Laughs) No, no.
DB: Only if something… if in some way it’s an illusion is there is any possibility…
K: It is an illusion.
DB: Yes. Now, why do you say it’s an illusion?
K: Oh, we’ve been there.
DB: Yes, but you see, it doesn’t seem to be an illusion to people who are caught in it, you see. This is the difficulty, that it is not obviously an illusion. You see, if you… if the magician does a trick and when he shows you how the trick is done, you know it’s an illusion. Right? But here it’s not obvious that it’s an illusion.
K: Why isn’t it obvious? Because we are so attached to it?
DB: Yes, but…
K: You see, we can explain again. We can go into all that. But that doesn’t lead anywhere after that explanation.
DB: Well, I think that what happens is that the memory is, you know, it may be an explanation, but the memory is so active that there is no chance for anything else to happen.
K: Yes, sir, that comes to the same thing.
K: At the end… after that saying, memory is the real cause of this, all right; so how am I to end memory? And they have tried, they are taking drugs.
Is it that it’s only possible for the few?
DB: Well, I wouldn’t know. I mean, how can you tell?
K: Because very few people are willing to let go the self. I mean, in the deepest sense of the word. Not translate it or transmute it or identify it with something greater. I don’t mean all that.
DB: Yes, well, it’s equally… you could say that very few are able to… I mean, if you say ‘willing,’ it seems to be a matter of choice. Right?
K: Yes. If one if one can do it, actually do it, not theoretically or – you know? – all that.
DB: Well, that’s certainly been true so far, that very few are able and even… I mean, and not very many even want to do it.
K: Of course, of course, that’s…
DB: Even among those who was want to do it very few are able. Right?
K: So gradually reduce to it to the very, very, very few, which seems not right either. So one throws up one’s hands and say humanity is lost, and one says… one retires into the Himalayas into some monastery and that’s the end of it. That isn’t right either. I think… doesn’t it all reduce to… – again it becomes an explanation, words – that there is no compassion? (Inaudible)
DB: Well, it comes to the same thing, you see, that…
K: Same thing.
Suppose you had it, you have this sense of immense, infinite sacredness, infinite timeless existence, state or whatever the word is, could you communicate it to me? Not verbally, because that… You have explained, explained, explained. Could you by your very presence transform my consciousness? You know what I’m talking…? Is that possible? They say it’s possible. But it is… their possibility, as far as I’ve been observed, it is very, very limited. The vision of Christ, the vision of Krishna – you know? – all that business.
I… personally I don’t feel it is hopeless. I don’t… one doesn’t feel discouraged, all that silly things. It has to be… it has to take place in people.
DB: Well, what do you mean by ‘has to’?
K: I mean… (laughs).
DB: You mean that it’s going to or that it will?
K: It must.
DB: But I mean, are you saying it’s going to happen?
K: After sixty years I don’t know.
DB: I mean, if you say it has to in the sense that order is required for happiness or order… (inaudible). You see, it seems to me that if you could communicate the unreality of this centre, you see. (Inaudible)… that the centre appears or… to be extremely, as we were saying, real and solid and then you are saying, well, the centre has to go, that it’s not really there and so on. And I’m saying that… it doesn’t… (inaudible).
K: But, David, don’t you feel this?
DB: Yes, but I’m saying it doesn’t communicate with that confidence that you say…
K: I mean… (laughs) You are a scientist, you have examined, and so on and so on, don’t you personally – I’m using the word feel; it’s not the right word – that there is something not invented by thought, not something illusory, not something conjured up and so on, something absolutely incorruptible, something… – you know – like that?
DB: Yes. I feel also that generally speaking you could think that the brain has been damaged in some way.
K: Oh, yes. Obviously it’s been damaged.
DB: Somebody once told me that they had a theory about… epilepsy might be due to some early brain damage of a few cells and it goes off into some complicated movement.
K: Yes, yes, yes.
DB: Now, and, see, there’s an interesting thing about epilepsy that somebody has made… he’s put probes into the brain with a radio transmitter…
K: Yes, yes.
DB: … (inaudible) into a computer. Now, you can detect the epileptic fit starting… (inaudible) the computer and it feeds an impulse back to stop it.
K: Stop; quite. Quite.
DB: So I wonder if the self isn’t something like that, that it starts to build up…
K: Oh, of course. It starts to build up.
DB: …like this epileptic fit, but it doesn’t go so far as to destroy consciousness altogether and…
K: Now, all right, you’ve given me that explanation and I’m stuck there.
K: (Inaudible) explanations have done nothing.
DB: Yes… One question is whether you can give attention… it’s possible to attend to this build-up, you know, as… instead of the computer attending to it and stopping it, is it possible the brain can give attention to its own…?
K: Of course it can.
DB: Yes, well, that seems to be the key to it, that… You see, what happens is that this thing starts to take over in a way that the person is no more conscious of than the epileptic, you see.
K: Quite, quite, quite.
DB: And… but if he gives attention he doesn’t need the computer to stop it.
DB: But no computer would stop the ego (laughs).
K: (Laughs) No computer, no, no.
DB: But this… you know, how people having lived in this chaotic world from birth, the brain has been damaged, you see.
K: I think it has been damaged by belief.
DB: Belief and similar…
K: There’s many other things.
DB: Many similar things and shocks that people have had and…
K: Yes, shock, pain.
DB: You know, one can see… they say that if people go through shocks like death of somebody or divorce or various things, it produces a very serious disorder.
K: Yes sir, yes sir, I know.
DB: And… now…
K: I mean, is there – no, this is a different question, perhaps – can the brain ever be in a state of not being shocked?
DB: Well, yes, I’m sure it can if there is this attention and, you know, to… which doesn’t allow it to develop. It’s exactly what was done by the computer to stop the epileptic fit before it got started.
K: Quite, quite.
DB: But I think it’s all very similar, but, of course, the brain can observe itself with far greater subtlety than a computer can.
K: See, that means all human brains have been damaged.
DB: Yes, I think so; in fact, I feel sure of that. Generally speaking they are damaged, you see.
K: Yes, yes. They’ve all belief; they’ve all had emotional shocks, divorce, war, suffering.
DB: Yes, and you can see the people who’ve gone through concentration camps have been… you know, you can tell something has happened to the brain, you see.
K: I know, I know. So…
DB: Now, the brain has to heal itself and…
K: That means time…
DB: No, because, you see, I think… I said… we discussed before and said the brain is infinite.
K: Yes. All right, if the brain is infinite…
DB: Maybe it’s infinite. Right?
K: …and it has been shocked, and a shocked brain cannot apprehend or understand the infinite, then what happens to the brain, to the human being who has lived and dies in great shocks, beliefs, and all the rest of it? Poor chap, he is… You follow?
DB: Yes, well, again it comes to the notion that if some few have not been shocked so badly.
K: Yes, exactly. Most human beings are terribly shocked, wounded. I don’t… Such a brain, can it be healed? Or can we educate ourselves not to be shocked? Not by taking drugs and, you know, all that stuff, resisting and be completely enclosed. I don’t mean that.
DB: Well, I understand that. There are two questions. One is not to be shocked. And the other… what about the shocks that already have been done, you see?
K: Already had.
DB: (Inaudible)… happened and now, would the one… if you understood what it was not to be shocked, would that also help heal the shocks which are there?
K: I think it would.
DB: Yes, that’s an important point.
K: That is the important point.
DB: You see, that…
K: I think the person… if we talked about a brain which is not… which can never be shocked, if one can understand that, I think the shocked brain would be healed.
DB: It would heal the shocks which are already there, you see…
DB: …because it wouldn’t be shocked by whatever is recorded in the brain.
DB: I think that’s the principle, that if the brain is not shocked, is free of shocking, then it cannot be shocked by the recordings of memory.
K: Yes, that’s right; that’s right.
DB: By the very bad memories.
K: First of all, why does the brain get shocked?
DB: Yes. Because, in a way, it’s not alert, you know; it’s not ready for what happens. Right? It’s not set up to deal with what happens.
K: Is not only set up what’s not to happen, but culture may have destroyed it.
DB: Well, that’s one reason it’s not set… ready, because culture has produced fixed ideas – right? – fixed beliefs. Right?
K: I mean, the whole…
DB: You know, fixed habits. You see, if a person has a fixed habit of thinking or action, then he’s not ready for the unexpected – right? – it comes and it shocks him. He’s confidently moving along in his accustomed way and something else happens that overturns everything and he’s… (inaudible)…
K: Of course, of course.
DB: …and then the brain damages itself.
K: Are we saying that if we talked about or emphasised, educate ourselves to that quality of a brain that is not capable of being shocked…
K: …then those brains which have been shocked, their damage would disappear, because they understand the other?
DB: Yes, well, if…
K: I think that is right.
DB: Yes, that’s true, that if the brain is able to meet any shock; you see, the danger of memory is that it will produce shocks again and again…
K: Of course, of course, of course.
DB: …because you don’t know how to meet them, you see, but if you know how to meet the shock then the memory shock is no different from the shock… the original. Right?
K: We go back again to the question of not registering, not recording shocks. Not recording the death of my son.
DB: Yes, well, that’s… (inaudible).
K: That sounds dreadful.
DB: Yes, it’s hard to see that.
K: Of course, of course.
DB: (Inaudible)… we say that this happens and we know it happens, but what does it mean to record it, you see? This is…
K: Oh, we can go into all that.
DB: Yes; that how do you prevent recording is not very clear. You see, it seems that the brain is set up to record all… everything that happens.
K: I know. Not to record is to stay with that which is happening, without any movement away from it.
DB: Well, that’s not clear, the connection, you see. For example, in walking through this room you register where the furniture is and so on.
K: Of course… understand.
DB: That doesn’t seem to cause any trouble.
K: No, no.
DB: Now, there are some things you register, which are emotional shocks and they are entirely different. Right? So…
K: It’s… death, psychological demand for security, psychological sense of having no fear and so on and so on. Those are the factors that create damage.
DB: Yes, they are very intense factors. Right?
DB: They overload the brain. They destroy the cells.
K: The memory of them…
DB: Overloads the brain.
K: Brain, yes.
DB: That’s what I mean, that if they are recorded, then when the record is replayed and replayed again and again, it gets stronger each time it’s replayed, it’s recorded again…
K: Of course.
DB: …so it becomes very strong and then begins to damage of the brain. Right? It’s like a piece of electronic equipment, it’s overloaded, it can be damaged.
K: Damaged, quite.
DB: Now, see, in terms of the computers, they would say that the hardware can be damaged when the thing is overloaded like that.
DB: But the brain is able to heal its hardware whereas in the computer you should get another part to replace it. And if you say let’s not record, we must not record these emotional events. Right?
K: Yes. I don’t think it functions that way.
K: That ‘Don’t let’s record.’
DB: All right, let’s see how it functions. Right?
K: I don’t think… if one sees the truth or have an insight in not recording, it’s finished. See, back again we come to it.
DB: Well… But what is the nature of this insight, I mean…?
K: (Laughs) We know it. It has nothing to do with time, memory… It has to do with entirely with perception, without the observer and so on.
DB: Yes, well, I mean, the essence of the thing is to say… see, to make it at least plausible, to say that there is no point to recording this emotional event. It has no… you know, there is no reason to. At first sight it seems you should record… You see, our culture says you should record it.
K: Of course, of course.
DB: And they say…
K: And then live with it.
DB: If you don’t show grief when somebody dies, they say something is wrong, and so on. So they say you should record it.
K: Of course. Loyalty and, you know, all the rest of it comes into it.
DB: So… and there’s a great deal of… (inaudible) now… but to a certain extent it would help to question all these cultural factors.
K: You see, we have said just now, if we could educate ourselves – in quotes – not to be shocked, either we become very hard…
DB: Well, we don’t mean that…
K: I don’t mean that; of course, of course; that’s too… Then we say: How am I to educate myself to have no shocks of any kind?
DB: Well, I think I would begin by questioning the thoughts which make me accept the notion that I should record these shocks, you see; that I’ve had a great deal of conditioning to that effect.
K: Of course, sir, we’ll…
DB: Yes, but I know, for example, I can remember, you see, when I was young, you see, I was led… educated to believe that if I hurt my… you know, if anything happens to the body it must become very disturbed and shocked, so, you know, because my parents would become that way too – right? – (inaudible).
K: Yes, yes, yes.
DB: And then I remember once I cut off a large part of my finger nail and I was very worried and my uncle came and he was very matter of fact and he just by his very manner he communicated to me that…
K: That’s not important.
DB: …there is no point to it… worrying about it and all the fear disappeared, you see.
K: Quite, quite, quite.
DB: And I could see at that moment that fear was not necessary.
K: Ah, you see, sir, physical fear of bodily hurt is one thing. That’s fairly simple and fairly easy.
DB: Yes, but the principle is similar.
K: Similar, but psychologically not to record.
DB: But it’s the same principle.
K: It’s the same principle but it’s not possible with people.
DB: Well, I think that once… it may be possible if people could see that the principle is the same, you see. Right? Because people also… our culture make a big division between the psychological and the physical.
K: Of course, of course… we are back in the same old…
How is one to cultivate shock-proof brain?
DB: (Inaudible)… it can’t be cultivated; it requires insight. You know, I think that if you had education… you see, the teachers, if they had this, could communicate it to the pupils by their very manner of dealing with things, you see, as I found my uncle did. You see, the children would pick this up, but the important point is to get it started. Right?
K: It’s not to pay too much attention to getting hurt.
DB: Yes. But I think once you have some people who are not paying much attention to it, others start to learn it; you know, that they see it too – right? – they get insight too. Right?
K: But out whole culture is to pay attention.
DB: Yes. Well, at some stage you have to question the culture. Right? I mean, can’t we…?
K: That’s what we are trying to do now.
K: Not trying, we are doing it now. I’m asking myself if my brain is wounded in any way. Probably I’ve had many shocks, but somehow they have not been recorded. Or I may be deceiving myself, but I don’t think I am.
DB: But I think that the notion of not recording almost stands by itself independent of whatever may happen to you; I mean, it makes too much… it makes sense, you see.
K: Sense, yes.
DB: That one can see that the minute you start to record it and then it replays and…
DB: …it comes back and builds up, you see. And such things happen in electronic equipment. They call it feedback. Say that the… there’s some simple electrochemical error that starts to take place that starts to damage the brain, you see.
K: No. What is the factor that will prevent the brain being damaged?
DB: Well, not to allow the shock to build up, you see.
K: All right, not to build up.
DB: And that means not recording it.
K: That means not recording. All right. Wait, wait, let’s stop there a minute. Is it possible not to record?
DB: Well, that means to stop the activity of memory, you see, to make it subside. Right?
K: Or is there some other factor? Is it – I don’t want to use these words – is it not to be identified?
K: With the body, with the form.
DB: Or with the mind. Right?
K: Or with the mind, or with the incident that’s…
DB: Or the feelings. Right?
K: …taking place which is hurting; not to identify yourself with it.
DB: Yes, well, if you say you’re not identified with the feelings of the body or of the mind. Right?
K: Yes, I’m saying that.
DB: Yes. Now, would you say – well, we should clear this up a little bit – you say, ‘I am not identified’; does that mean that I am there but free of it, you see?
K: You are not there.
DB: Well, that’s important. Because when you say I’m not identified, it still leaves me there, you see.
K: Of course, of course, of course.
DB: But there’s no identification…
K: At all.
DB: It is not identified by thought. Right?
K: That’s why, sir, that’s what is important in this. A sense of no fulfilment, no identification, the lack of identify – you know? – roots and all that kind of thing.
DB: Yes, well, that’s… you know, that’s part of our culture, you see.
K: And that’s what I’m saying.
DB: Identity means, you know, literally being always the same, you see, that…
K: (Laughs) Yes, yes.
DB: …that this is always necessary. You see, if you say, I’m the body, I’m always the body, you see.
K: Of course, of course.
DB: And without it there’s no me. Right? Now, you see, let’s look at… there’s a tremendous recording of… we not only recorded shocks and pain and so on, but we have also recorded the notion or the necessity of identifying. Right?
K: Of course, of course.
DB: That’s also part of the…
K: (Laughs) Part of the…
DB: So, therefore…
K: Why does one identify with a nation, with this, that, the other thing? Why? Of… obviously it gives you security, it gives you a sense of permanency, and it gives you… you have roots somewhere. And we are cutting at the very root of it (laughs). Next question: Can one live daily life without any identification – with a profession, with a belief, with… so that the brain is never shocked? I think it is possible; of course.
DB: Yes, it’s identification that holds the brain in a fixed rut, which makes it unable to meet something new and it gets shocked. Right?
K: Yes, of course. So I’m asking: is it possible to live in the modern world, a daily life, without any identification? Of course, the average man says, ‘What nonsense are you talking about,’ and all the rest of it, but a serious man who has gone into all this pretty thoroughly, when he puts that question to himself, of course he can.
DB: What makes you say ‘Of course he can’?
K: Either it’s a personal fact, or an acceptance of an idea which has become a fact.
DB: What do you mean ‘has become a fact’?
K: I can accept some idea and work at it, say I’m that, but I’m not… that we can brush it aside completely. I… it is possible. Of course it’s possible. A soldier who goes to war and… he has no identity there at that moment. He has… because he has no responsibility.
DB: Well, I’m… it’s not clear, you know. It may mean he may… they often have fear and so on, you see…
K: Of course. No, but a feeling that – you know? – he is not himself, because he’s consumed with this urge to kill.
DB: Well, you say he has no personal identity…
K: Yes, personal…
DB: At least it’s overridden at that moment.
K: Yes, at that moment. That’s what I’m saying. And also when a missionary goes through all these… goes through terrible periods and so on, he is… for him the person… the identity doesn’t exist, but his identity… he has identified himself with Jesus or with X, Y.
DB: Yes, well, you know, the point is that the whole movement of memory, no identification would… has to stop, you know… (inaudible).
K: Ah, that’s just it, sir. I don’t think they see the beauty of it, the beauty of non-being identified. It doesn’t mean one lives anonymously (laughs).
DB: It’s not fixed to…
DB: You are not fixed to anything.
DB: You see, because to identify you would have to be always the same and… (inaudible).
K: Of course, of course.
DB: Now, if something changes then you’re ready for it, you’re able to meet it because your mind is not fixed on the past.
DB: So it doesn’t get shocked; I mean, I think…
K: Which means to have a quality of brain that has never identified itself with anything, and therefore incapable of getting hurt, but also some other factor there is in that. If it is infinite, as it is, then time doesn’t exist, and therefore the person doesn’t exist. You see, the illusion that I am, because I’m identified.
DB: Now, let’s get it more clear, you see. I am because…You begin to identify because of time, because you say, ‘I must be always the same.’ Right?
K: Yes, that’s what I’m saying.
DB: So you have already presupposed time in order to identify.
K: That’s right.
DB: If you are not identified, then what? Then you don’t have to presuppose time. Right?
K: Time, that’s right.
DB: You see, I think the trap of identification comes when people say… begin to think about time in the future and they see insecurity and then they try to think, ‘I’m always the same, secure, I overcome time.’
K: Quite, quite.
DB: But if you don’t bring in time then….
K: Therefore death has a different meaning.
DB: Yes, what would you say to that? What does it mean?
K: Death has no meaning then. If I identified myself with this body, with all the memories and shocks and all the rest of it, the brain damaged, then death becomes a terrible shock. It’s another shock.
DB: Yes, the biggest one.
K: Terrible one. But if there is no identification at all, and therefore no… a brain which cannot be shocked, death is nothing. Death has no meaning really, actually. My God, we’re going too far. We’ll have to go…
DB: Well, suppose we go back to the question of time, you see, which man has somehow taken up time which is useful, and extended it into the psychological domain.
K: Of course.
DB: And, now, that has caused a lot of his misery because he sees the future and he’s afraid what’s going to happen; things can get worse – right? – I can be hurt. Right?
K: I understand. Would anybody listen to this?
DB: Well, possibly so. I don’t know. You see, it’s very hard…
K: Sir, just imagine this. Anybody who is in business, any priest, the Pope, the ordinary man who is full of his ‘My house, my property, my wife, my business’, all that being repeated over and over and over again for million years, would he even listen to this, or he’s already so damaged that only, as you were saying, epileptic fit and… (inaudible)?
DB: And the computer removes the epileptic fit because it stops it from developing. Right? But this is too complex for a computer.
K: Quite, quite (laughs). I can’t go to the computer and say, ‘Clean my brain, please.’ (Laughs)
DB: Well, what I…
K: Very interesting, sir. To have a brain that has never known a shock. It’s marvellous; there’s great depth in this. I must work it out.
DB: I think that, you know, one has to be careful. Not… see, that brings in time, in some sense, this ‘never’. You see, that…
K: I mean, never…
DB: I mean, the brain which…
K: Has not been shocked.
DB: Yes, it is a non-shocked brain. That doesn’t mean that it may… that if it has been shocked that shock has gone – right? – as if it has never been. Right?
K: Of course.
K: No, a brain that is not capable of being shocked.
DB: Yes, well, a brain that cannot be shocked.
K: Shocked, yes.
DB: And therefore any shocks that it once may have had or… as if they had never been – right? – because it cannot be shocked by past shocks.
K: Yes. You see, one may have had a shock or one has a shock and one says, ‘I’ll cut it out,’ but that’s not it. I’ll go and… I’ll shut it out by thinking about something else.
DB: You see, I think that this computer analogy is interesting, because what it does is it makes a movement which prevents the shock from… the fit from developing. So the slightest sign that it’s starting to move toward a fit, the computer makes a movement and it turns it the other way.
K: (Laughs) Yes; quite.
DB: So the thing is ironed out, as they say. Now, the point is that before the brain is shocked, there’s an alertness, awareness which… as it were, already deals with that, so it doesn’t build up, it doesn’t register, as you said.
K: But I can’t carry a computer about with me all my life (laughs).
DB: No, but the brain is infinite, it already has this. The brain has the supercomputer in it already. Right?
K: Do scientists accept the brain is infinite?
DB: Probably not, you see, except maybe a few, but…
K: You see, there we are.
DB: Well, I mean, it depends on this, that the brain is potentially capable of doing this, you see.
K: Yes, yes.
DB: And if you say the brain is finite then there will always be something that goes beyond what it can do. Right?
K: Are we asking to be not shocked, to be totally attentive?
DB: Well, that’s what this computer is doing with the fit. Right?
K: Of course, of course.
DB: It’s paying careful attention to exactly how the electric currents are going. I mean, you see, it’s not verbal; it’s not at the verbal level but at another level.
K: Yes, yes. What time is it?
DB: I’ve got five minutes to six.
K: Five o’clock?
DB: Five to six.
K: See, a brain that is free from shocks, it’s only such a brain can find what the… the origin of all that.
You see, they have… the ancient Hindus have said, ‘Don’t identify yourself with the body, don’t identify yourself with your house, with your wife, but identify yourself with God.’ You know the whole cycle of it.
DB: Yes, well, what about Buddha who said, ‘Everything changes; there is no identity.’
K: Change, of course. Buddha said that. But… he has said it, but now, of course… I mean, they worship Buddha as a permanent… (laughs)
DB: Yes, he’s permanent (laughs).
K: Moment you say, ‘I’m a Buddhist,’ it’s finished. Have you got a brain which is not shocked? (Laughs) Very interesting question, that. I think we’d better stop, don’t you?
That means, sir, brain must be always in a state of movement without any identification, and then it cannot be shocked. A river can’t be shocked.
K: A river; it’s moving.
DB: Well, that’s true, you see; you can sort of break a piece of rock…
DB: I say a piece of rock can be shattered by a shock but the river not (laughs).
K: No, of course not. A river can’t. We’d better stop, sir.
Krishnamurti in Ojai, 14 April 1981