The Future of Humanity with David Bohm 2
The second and final part of The Future Of Humanity explores whether there is evolution of consciousness. Can the consciousness of mankind be changed through time? Is psychological conditioning centred in the self? Can our conditioned brain cells change? The pair then inquire into the relationship between the mind and the brain, suggesting that as long as the brain is conditioned, its relationship to the mind is limited. The then look at perception and intelligence.
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. His books include Wholeness and the Implicate Order, Science, Order and Creativity, and Causation and Chance in Modern Physics. 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 1983, The Future of Humanity represents Bohm’s and Krishnamurti’s final dialogues together.
Krishnamurti: Sir, last time we were talking about the future of man. All the psychologists, as far as I can understand, are they really concerned with the future of man? Or are they concerned with the human being conforming to the present society, or going beyond that?
David Bohm: Well I think that most psychologists evidently want the human being to conform to this society, but I think some psychologists, some of whom will be listening to us, are thinking of going beyond that to transform the consciousness of mankind.
JK: Can the consciousness of mankind be changed through time? That is one of the questions we should discuss this evening.
DB: Yes. We have discussed it actually last time and I think that what came out was that with regard to consciousness time is not relevant, that it is a kind of illusion. We discussed the illusion of becoming.
JK: Yes, we are saying, aren’t we, let’s be clear, that the evolution of consciousness is a fallacy.
DB: As through time, right, through time, though physical evolution is not.
JK: Can we put it this way, much more simply: there is no psychological evolution, or the evolution of the psyche?
DB: Yes. And since the future of mankind depends on the psyche it seems then that the future of mankind is not going to be determined through actions in time.
JK: Time, that’s right.
DB: And then that left us the question: what will we do?
JK: Now let’s proceed from there. Shouldn’t we first distinguish between the brain and the mind?
DB: Yes, well that distinction has been made and it is not clear. Now of course there are several views. One view is to say that the mind is just a function of the brain – that is the materialists’ view. There is another view which says mind and brain are two different things.
JK: Yes, I think they are two different things.
DB: But there must be…
JK: …a contact between the two.
JK: A relationship between the two.
DB: A relation, we don’t necessarily imply any separation of the two.
JK: No, first let’s see the brain. I am really not an expert on the structure of the brain and all that kind of thing. But one can see within one, one can observe one’s own activity of the brain, that it is really like a computer that has been programmed and remembers.
DB: Well, certainly a large part of the activity is that way, but one is not certain that all of it is that way.
JK: No. And it is conditioned.
JK: Conditioned by past generations, by the society, by the newspapers, by the magazines, by all the activities and pressures from the outside. It is conditioned.
DB: Yes, now what do you mean by this conditioning? You see, what does it…
JK: It is programmed; it is made to conform to a certain pattern, lives entirely on the past, modifying itself with the present and going on.
DB: Yes, now we have agreed that some of this conditioning is useful and necessary.
JK: Of course. We discussed that last time.
DB: Yes and now – but the conditioning which determines the self, you know, which determines the…
JK: …the psyche.
DB: …the psyche – you call it the psyche.
JK: Let’s call it for the moment the psyche.
DB: The psyche.
JK: The self.
DB: The self, the psyche, that conditioning is what you are talking about. That may not only be unnecessary but harmful.
JK: Yes. That’s what we were discussing too.
JK: The emphasis on the psyche, as we are doing now, and giving importance to the self, is creating great damage in the world because it is separative and it is – therefore it is constantly in conflict, not only within itself and with the society, with the family and so on and so on.
DB: Yes. And it is also in conflict with nature.
JK: With nature, with the whole universe – if you can call it.
DB: I think we discussed last time that the conflict arose because…
JK: …of division…
DB: …the division arising because thought is limited…
JK: …thought is limited. That’s right.
DB: Being based on this conditioning, on this knowledge and memory, it is limited.
JK: Limited, yes. And experience is limited, therefore knowledge is limited, memory and thought. Thought is limited. And the very structure and the nature of the psyche is the movement of thought.
JK: In time.
DB: Yes. Now I would like to ask a question. When you discussed the movement of thought, it doesn’t seem clear to me what is moving. You see I discussed the movement of my hand, that is a real movement. It is clear what is meant. But now when I discuss the movement of thought it seems to me we are discussing something which is a kind of illusion because you have said becoming is the movement of thought.
JK: Becoming is, entirely.
DB: Therefore if you say…
JK: That is what I mean, the movement in becoming.
DB: But that movement you are saying is in some way illusory, aren’t you?
JK: Yes, of course, of course.
DB: It is rather like the movement on the screen which is projected from the…
JK: …from the screen, from the camera…
DB: …from the camera. We say that there are no objects moving across the screen but the only real movement is the turning of the projector. Now can we say that there is a real movement in the brain which is projecting all this, which is the conditioning?
JK: Sir, that is what I want to find out. Let’s discuss that a bit. We both agree, or see, that the brain is conditioned.
DB: We mean by that that really it has been impressed physically.
JK: Physically as well as…
DB: And chemically…
JK: …genetically as well as psychologically.
DB: Well, what is the difference of physically and psychologically?
JK: Psychologically it is centred in the self – right?
JK: And the constant assertion of the self is the movement, is the conditioning.
DB: Yes, but in so far as we experience it that is an illusion-right?
JK: We said that that is an illusion.
DB: But there is some real movement happening inside, say the brain, for example, is doing something. It has been conditioned physically and chemically…
JK: …chemically, yes.
DB: And something is happening physically and chemically when we are thinking of the self – right?
JK: Are you saying, are you asking rather: the brain and the self are two different things?
DB: No, I am saying the self is the result of conditioning the brain.
JK: Yes. The self is conditioning the brain.
DB: Yes. But does the self exist, you see?
JK: No, no.
DB: But the conditioning of the brain, as I see it, is involving with an illusion which we call the self.
JK: That’s right. That’s right. Can that conditioning be dissipated?
JK: That’s the whole question.
DB: It really has to be dissipated in some physical and chemical and neurophysiological sense.
DB: Now the first reaction of any scientific person would be that it looks unlikely that we could dissipate it by the sort of thing we are doing. You see some scientists might feel that maybe we will discover drugs or new genetic changes or deep knowledge of the structure of the brain. In that way we could perhaps hope to do something. I think that idea might be current among some people.
JK: Will that change the human behaviour?
DB: Well why not? You see I think some people believe it might.
JK: Wait a minute, that is the whole point. It might, which means in the future.
DB: Yes. It would take time to discover all this.
JK: To discover all this. In the meantime man is going to destroy himself.
DB: Well they might hope that he will manage to do it in time, you see. (Both laugh) Because they could also criticise what we are doing, the same point saying what good can it do? You see it doesn’t seem to affect anybody and certainly not in time to make a big difference. You see that is a question that would arise. Suppose for the sake of argument…
JK: …we two are very clear about it, in what way it affects humanity.
DB: Now will it affect mankind in time to really save…
JK: Certainly not. Obviously not.
DB: Then why should we be doing it?
JK: Because this is the right thing to do.
JK: Independently. It has nothing to do with reward and punishment.
DB: Nor with goals.
DB: You do the right thing even though we don’t know what the outcome will be – right?
JK: That’s right.
DB: Are you saying that there is no other way – right?
JK: We are saying that there is no other way, that’s right.
DB: Yes, well we should make that clear enough. For example some psychologists would feel that by enquiring into this sort of thing we could bring about an evolutionary transformation of consciousness – right?
JK: We come back to that point that through time we hope to change consciousness. We question that.
DB: We have questioned that and are saying that time will inevitably involve – we are all caught in becoming and illusion and we will not know what we are doing.
JK: That’s right. That’s right.
DB: Now could we say the same thing would hold even for those scientists who are trying to do it physically and chemically or some structurally, that they themselves are still caught in this and through time they are caught in trying to become better?
JK: Yes, that’s right. That’s right. (laughs)
DB: They will not know what they are doing really.
JK: Both experimentalists and the psychologists and ourselves, they are all trying to become something.
DB: Yes, though it may not seem obvious at first. It may seem that they are really just disinterested, or unbiased observers, you know, working on the problem, but underneath you feel there is the desire to become better on the part of the person who is doing it.
JK: To become, of course, of course.
DB: He is not free of that.
JK: That is just it. They are not free of that.
DB: And that desire will give rise to self-deception and illusion, and so on.
JK: So where are we now? That any form of becoming is an illusion, and becoming implies time. Time for the psyche to change. We are saying time is not necessary.
DB: Yes, now that ties up with the other question of the mind and the brain. You see the brain clearly is to be understood as an activity in time, as a physical chemical complex process.
JK: I think the mind is separate from the brain.
DB: Well what does it mean separate? That is it is in contact.
JK: Separate in the sense the brain is conditioned and the mind is not.
DB: Well let’s say the mind has a certain independence of the brain is what you are saying, that even if the brain is conditioned…
JK: …the other is not.
DB: It need not be…
DB: Now how – on what basis do you say that?
JK: No, let’s begin not on what basis do I say that.
DB: Well, what makes you say it, right?
JK: As long as one’s brain, or the brain is conditioned, it is not free.
JK: And the mind is free.
DB: Yes, that is what you are saying. Now you see the brain not being free means it is not free to enquire in an unbiased way.
JK: I will go into it. Let’s enquire what is freedom.
JK: Freedom to enquire, as you point out, freedom to investigate, and it is only in freedom there is deep insight.
DB: Yes, that’s clear because if you are not free to enquire – or if you are biased then you are limited.
DB: In an arbitrary way.
JK: So as long as the brain is conditioned its relationship to the mind is limited.
DB: Yes, now we have the relationship of the brain to the mind, and also the other way round.
JK: Yes, yes. But the mind being free has a relationship to the brain.
DB: Yes. Now we say the mind is free in some sense, not subject to the conditioning of the brain.
DB: Now one could ask a question: what is the nature of the mind? For example I could ask is the mind located inside the body, or is it in the brain?
JK: No, it is nothing to do with the body or the brain.
DB: Has it to do with space or time?
JK: Space – just a minute – space – now wait a minute. It has to do with space and silence. These are the two factors of the…
DB: But not time, right?
JK: Not time. Time belongs to the brain.
DB: Now what is this space and silence, now what kind of space? It is not the space in which we see life moving.
JK: No, space. Let’s look round at it the other way. Thought can invent space.
DB: Well, in addition we have the space that we see and thought can invent all kinds of space.
JK: And space from here to there.
DB: Yes, the space through which we move physically.
JK: Space also between two noises.
DB: Between two sounds.
JK: Two sounds.
DB: Well that is the interval, they call it the interval. That would be called the interval between two sounds.
JK: Yes, interval between two noises.
DB: Two noises, eh.
JK: Two thoughts.
DB: Two thoughts.
JK: Two notes.
JK: Space between two people.
DB: Space between the walls.
JK: And so on. But that kind of space is not the space of the mind.
DB: You say it is not limited, but it is not an interval.
JK: That’s right. I didn’t want to use the word limited.
DB: But I mean it is implied, it is not in the nature of being bounded by something.
JK: No, it is not bounded by the psyche.
DB: By the psyche. But is it bounded by anything?
DB: No, now the psyche you say is bounded because we have said it is limited and so on. Right, no?
JK: So can the brain, that is what I want to find out, discuss rather, talk over – can the brain, with all its cells conditioned, can those cells radically change?
DB: Yes, well we’ve often discussed this, it is not certain that all the cells are conditioned. For example some people think that only some, or a small part of the cells are being used, and the others are just rather being inactive, dormant.
JK: Used at all, or just touched occasionally.
DB: Just touched occasionally. But those cells that are conditioned, whatever they may be, evidently dominate consciousness now – right?
JK: Yes, can those cells be changed?
JK: We are saying that they can, through insight.
DB: Yes, now…
JK: Insight being out of time, it is not the result of remembrance; it is not an intuition, or desire, or hope, it is nothing to do with any time and thought.
DB: Yes, now you say insight, is it of the mind, is it of the nature of mind – right? – activity of mind?
DB: Therefore you are saying mind can act in the matter of the brain.
JK: Yes, we said that earlier.
DB: Yes but we have to… but you see this is a difficult point, you see, how mind is able to act in matter.
JK: It is able to act on the brain, say for instance, take any crisis, or any problem. Problem – the root meaning of it is, as you know, is something thrown at you. And we meet it with all the remembrance of the past, with a bias and so on. And therefore the problem multiplies itself. You may solve one problem, in the very solution of one problem, of that particular problem, other problems arise, as they are doing in politics and so on and so on. Right? Now to approach the problem or to have perception of the problem without any past memories and thoughts interfering, or projecting in perception of the problem.
DB: Yes. Now that implies that perception also is of the mind, that it is not…
JK: Yes, that’s right.
DB: Are you more or less saying that the brain is a kind of instrument of the mind? Is that what is being said?
JK: Instrument of the mind when the brain is not self-centred.
DB: Yes, well you see if we think of all this conditioning, the conditioning may be thought of as the brain exciting itself and keeping itself going just from the programme. This occupies all of its capacities.
JK: All our days, quite, yes.
DB: The whole capacity of the brain. It is rather like a radio receiver which can generate its own noise, it would not pick up a signal. Now would this analogy be at all…
JK: Not quite.
DB: It is not very good but…
JK: Not very. You see sir, would you go into this a little bit? Experience is always limited – right? I may blow up that experience into a kind of fantastic affair and then set up a shop to sell my experience, but that experience is limited. And so knowledge is always limited. And this knowledge is operating in the brain. This knowledge is the brain. Right? And thought is also part of the brain and that thought is limited. So the brain is operating in a very, very small area.
DB: Yes. What prevents it from operating in a broader area?
DB: What is preventing it from operating in an unlimited area?
DB: Thought. But the brain, it seems to me, is running on its own, from its own programme.
JK: Yes, like a computer that is running on its own programme.
DB: Now essentially what you are asking is that the brain should really be responding to the mind.
JK: That it can only respond if it is free from the limited – from the thought which is limited.
DB: Yes, so the programme does not dominate it. You see we are going to still need that programme.
JK: Of course, of course. We need it for – we said that.
DB: …for many things. Yes but the intelligence – is intelligence from the mind then?
JK: Yes, intelligence is the mind.
DB: Is the mind.
JK: Because now that comes into – we must go into something else. Because compassion is related to intelligence. There is no intelligence without compassion. And compassion can only be when there is love which is completely free from all remembrances, personal jealousies and all that kind of thing.
DB: Now is all that compassion, love, also of the mind?
JK: Of the mind. Not – and you cannot be compassionate if you are attached to any particular experience, or any particular ideal.
DB: Yes, well that is again the programme that is holding us.
JK: Yes. Say for instance, there are those people who go out to various poverty-ridden countries and work, work, work, and they call that compassion. But they are attached, or tied to a particular form of religious belief and therefore that is merely pity, sympathy but it is not compassion.
DB: Yes, well I understand that, we have here two things which can be somewhat independent. There is the brain and the mind, though they make contact. Now then intelligence and compassion we say come from beyond the brain. Now then I would like to go into the question of how they are making contact, you see.
JK: Ah! Contact can only exist between the mind and the brain when the brain is quiet.
DB: Yes, that is the condition for making it, that is the requirement for making it. Now then the brain has got to be quiet.
JK: Sir, quiet is not a trained quietness. Not a self-conscious, meditative, desire for silence. It is a natural outcome of understanding one’s own conditioning.
DB: Yes and one can see that if the brain is quiet then you could almost say it can listen to something deeper – right?
JK: Deeper, that’s right. Then if is quiet it is related to the brain. No, to the mind. Then the mind can function through the brain.
DB: Now I think that it would help if we could see with regard to the brain whether it has any activity which is beyond thought. You see, for example, one could ask is awareness part of the function of the brain?
JK: As long as awareness in which there is no choice – I am aware and in that awareness I choose.
DB: Yes, well I think that may cause difficulty. You see what is wrong with choice?
JK: Choice means confusion.
DB: It is not obvious just from the word. You see…
JK: Of course, you choose between two things.
DB: Now I could choose whether I will buy one thing or another.
JK: Yes, I can choose between this table and that table.
DB: I choose the colours when I buy the table.
JK: This is a better table.
DB: Apparently that need not be confused. If I choose which colour I want I don’t see why that has to be confused.
JK: There is nothing wrong. There is no confusion there.
DB: But the choice, the choice about the psyche, it seems to me, is where the confusion is.
JK: That’s all, we’re talking about the psyche.
DB: One tends – you now the language tends to carry away, you see.
JK: We are talking of the psyche that chooses.
DB: That chooses to become really.
JK: Yes. Chooses to become, and also choice exists where there is confusion.
DB: Yes. Well you are saying out of confusion the psyche makes a choice to become one thing or another – right? Being confused it tries to become something better.
JK: And choice implies a duality.
DB: Yes, but now it seems at first sight we have another duality you have introduced, which is the mind and the brain.
JK: No, that is not a duality.
DB: That is important to get clear.
JK: That is not a duality.
DB: Yes, what is the difference?
JK: All right, let’s take a very simple example. Human beings are violent and this has been – non-violence has been projected by thought and that is the duality – the fact and the non-fact.
DB: Well, you are saying there is a duality between a fact and some mere projection which the mind makes.
JK: The ideal and the fact.
DB: Yes. The ideal is unreal and the fact is real.
JK: That’s it. The ideal is non, not actual.
DB: Yes, that is it. Not actual. Now then you say the division of those two you call duality. Why do you give it that name?
JK: Because they are divided.
DB: Well, at least they appear to be divided anyway.
JK: Divided, and we are struggling as all, say for instance the totalitarian communist ideals and the democratic ideals, they are the outcome of thought and so on, which is limited and this is creating havoc in the world.
DB: Yes. So there is a division which has been brought in but I think we were discussing in terms of dividing something which cannot be divided. We are trying to divide the psyche.
JK: That’s right. Violence cannot be divided into non-violence.
DB: Yes. And the psyche cannot be divided into violence and non-violence – right?
JK: It is what it is.
DB: It is what it is, so if it is violent it cannot be divided into a violent and a non-violent part.
JK: That’s right. So – that is very good! So can we remain with ‘what is’, not with ‘what should be’, ‘what must be’ and invent ideals and all the rest of it?
DB: Yes, but could we return to the question of the mind and the brain now. We are saying that is not a division.
JK: Oh no, that is not a division.
DB: They are in contact, is that right?
JK: We said there is contact between the mind and the brain when the brain is silent and has space.
DB: Yes, so we are saying that although they are in contact and not divided at all, there can be an independent – that the mind can still have a certain independence of the conditioning of the brain.
JK: Now careful sir, careful, careful! Let’s see. Suppose my brain is conditioned, being programmed as a Hindu, and I function, act, my whole life is conditioned by the idea that I am a Hindu. Mind obviously has no relationship with that conditioning.
DB: You are using the word mind, it means it is not my mind.
JK: Oh, mind, mind, it is not mine.
DB: Universal or general.
JK: Yes. It is not my brain either.
DB: No, but there is a particular brain, this brain or that brain. Would you say there is a particular mind?
DB: Now, you see that is an important difference. You are saying mind is really universal.
JK: Mind is universal – if you can use that word, ugly word.
DB: Unlimited and undivided.
JK: It is unpolluted, not polluted by thought.
DB: But I think for most people there will be a difficulty in saying how do we know anything about this mind. I only know of my mind is the first feeling – right?
JK: You cannot call it your mind. You only have your brain which is conditioned. You can’t say, ‘It is my mind’.
DB: Yes, well whatever is going on inside I feel is mine and it is very different from what is going on inside somebody else.
JK: No, I question whether it is different.
DB: At least it seems different.
JK: Yes. I question whether it is different, what is going on inside me as a human being and you as another human being, we both go through all kinds of problems, suffering, fear, anxiety, loneliness, suffer, and so on and so on. We have our dogmas, beliefs, superstitions, and everybody has this.
DB: Well we’ll say it is all very similar but still it seems each one of us is isolated from the other.
JK: By thought. My thought has created that I am different from you, because my body is different from you, my face is different from you, so we carry that same – we extend that same thing into the psychological area.
DB: We have discussed that. But now, if we said all right that division is an illusion perhaps.
JK: No, not perhaps, it is.
DB: It is an illusion, all right. Although it is not obvious when a person first looks at it.
JK: Of course, of course.
DB: Now then, we say mind – in reality even brain is not divided because we are saying that we are all not only basically similar but really connected – right? And then we say that beyond all that is mind which has no division at all.
JK: It is unconditioned.
DB: Yes, it would almost seem to imply then that in so far as a person feels he is a separate being he has very little contact with mind – right?
JK: Absolutely, quite right. That is what we said.
DB: No mind.
JK: That is why it is very important to understand not the mind but my conditioning. Then whether that, my conditioning, human conditioning, can ever be dissolved. That is the real issue.
DB: Yes. I think I mean still the mind, we won’t call it the mind but a human being considers always what is the meaning. I think we want to understand the meaning of what is being said. You see we have a mind that is universal, that is in some kind of space you say, or is it its own space?
JK: It is not in me or in my brain.
DB: But it has a space.
JK: It is, it lives in space and silence.
DB: It lives in a space and silence, but it is the space of the mind. It is not a space like this space?
JK: No. That is why we said space is not invented by thought.
DB: Yes, now is it possible then to perceive this space when the mind is silent, to be in contact with it?
JK: Not perceive. Let’s see.
DB: When the brain is…
JK: Let’s see. You are asking a question whether the mind can be perceived by the brain.
DB: Or at least somehow be aware, an awareness, a sense.
JK: Yes. We are saying yes, through meditation. You may not like to use that word.
DB: Well, I don’t mind.
JK: I think it is possible to bring about – you see, sir, that is the difficulty. When we use the word meditation it is generally understood there is always a meditator meditating. Meditation is really an unconscious process, it is not a conscious process.
DB: How are you able to say that meditation takes place then if it is unconscious?
JK: It is taking place when the brain is quiet.
DB: Well, you mean by consciousness all the movement of thought.
JK: The movement of thought.
DB: Feeling, desire, will and all that goes with it, right?
DB: But there is a kind of awareness still, isn’t there?
JK: Oh yes. Depends what you call awareness.
JK: Awareness of what?
DB: Possibly awareness of something deeper, I don’t know.
JK: You see again, when you use the word deeper it is a measurement – oh no sir, I wouldn’t use that.
DB: Well let’s not use that. But let’s say that some kind of – you see there is a kind of unconsciousness which we are simply not aware of at all. A person may be unconscious of some of his problems, conflicts.
JK: Let’s go at it. Let’s go at it a bit more. If I do something consciously it is the activity of thought.
DB: Yes, it is thought reflecting on itself.
JK: Yes, it is the activity of thought. Now if I consciously meditate, practise, do all this kind of what I call nonsense, then you are making the brain conform to another series of patterns.
DB: Yes, it is more becoming.
JK: More of becoming, that’s right.
DB: Yes, you are trying to become better.
JK: There is no – you can’t – there is no illumination by becoming. You can’t be illumined, if I can use that word, by saying I am going to be a cheap guru.
DB: But now it seems very difficult to communicate something which is not conscious, you see.
JK: That’s it. That’s the difficulty.
DB: Still it is not just being knocked out, or if a person is unconscious he is knocked out too, but you don’t mean that.
JK: Of course not, good lord!
DB: Or under anaesthetic or…
JK: No, let’s put it that way: conscious meditation, conscious activity to control thought, to free oneself from conditioning, is not freedom.
DB: Yes, I think that is clear, but now it becomes very unclear how to communicate what else.
JK: Wait a minute. How can I tell – you want to tell me what lies beyond thought.
DB: Or when thought is silent.
JK: Quiet, silent. What words would you use?
DB: Well, I suggested the word ‘awareness’. What about the word attention?
JK: Attention is better for me.
JK: Would you say attention, in attention there is no centre as the ‘me’?
DB: Well in the kind of attention you are discussing. There is a kind, which is the usual kind, where we pay attention because of what interests us.
JK: Attention is not concentration.
DB: Yes that is concentration. But we are discussing a kind of attention without this me present which is not the activity of the conditioning.
JK: Not the activity of thought.
JK: In attention thought has no place.
DB: Yes, but could we say more: what do you mean by attention? Now would the derivation of the word be of any use? It means stretching the mind – would that help?
JK: No, no. Would it help if we say concentration is not attention – right? Effort is not attention. When I make effort to attend it is not attention. Attention can only come into being when the self is not.
DB: Yes but that is going to get us in a circle because we are starting when the self is. So there is a person who says meditation is necessary, it begins with the self, he says, ‘I am here’.
JK: No, I used the word carefully. Meditation means measure.
JK: As long as there is measurement, which is becoming, there is no meditation. Let’s put it that way.
DB: Yes. We can discuss when there is not meditation.
JK: That’s right. Through negation the other is.
DB: Because if we succeed in negating the whole activity of what is not meditation the meditation will be there.
JK: That’s right. That’s right.
DB: That which is not meditation but which we think is meditation.
JK: Yes, that’s right. That is very clear. As long as there is measurement, which is the becoming, which is the process of thought, meditation or silence cannot be.
DB: You see in this undirected attention, this attention is it of the mind, or…?
JK: Attention is of the mind.
DB: Well, it contacts the brain, doesn’t it?
JK: Yes. We said that. As long as the brain is silent, the other has contact.
DB: That is this true attention has contact with the brain when the brain is silent.
JK: Silent and has space.
DB: What is the space?
JK: The brain has no space now because it is concerned with itself; it is programmed; it is self-centred and it is limited.
DB: Yes, now would you say the brain in addition, the mind is in its space, now does the brain have its space too?
DB: Limited space?
JK: Of course. Thought has a limited space.
DB: But still this – but when thought is absent does the brain have its space?
JK: That’s right. That’s right. The brain has space, yes.
JK: No. It is only mind that has unlimited…
JK: My brain can be quiet over a problem which I have thought about and I suddenly say, ‘Well, I won’t think any more about it’ and there is a certain amount of space. In that space you solve the problem.
DB: Yes, now if the mind is silent, is not thinking of a problem, then still the space is limited, but it is open to…
JK: …to the other.
DB: …to the attention. Would you say the mind through attention, or in attention, the mind is contacting the brain?
JK: Yes, when the brain is not inattentive.
DB: So what happens to the brain?
JK: What happens to the brain? Which is to act. Right? Which is to – wait – let’s get it clear. We said intelligence is the – is born out of compassion and love. That intelligence operates when the brain is quiet.
DB: Yes, does it operate through attention?
JK: Of course, of course.
DB: So attention seems to be the contact.
JK: Contact, attention naturally. Attention, we said too, attention can only be when the self is not.
DB: Yes. Now you say that love and compassion are sort of the ground, and out of this comes the intelligence through attention.
JK: Through attention, yes, functions through the brain.
DB: And this intelligence – so let’s say, there are two questions: one is the nature of this intelligence, and the second is what does it do to the brain, you see?
JK: Yes. Sir, let’s see. That is, we must again approach it negatively. Love is not jealousy and all that. Love is not personal, but it can be personal.
DB: But then it is not what you are talking about.
JK: Yes. Love is not my country, your country, I love my god, it is not that.
DB: Well if it is from universal mind…
JK: That is why I say love is something not – it has no relationship to thought.
DB: Yes and to particular – it does not start in the particular brain, originate in the particular brain.
JK: Yes, it is not my love.
JK: When there is that love, out of that there is compassion and there is intelligence.
DB: Now this intelligence, the nature of this intelligence, that is – this intelligence is able to, if I could use the word, understand deeply – no, I don’t think…
JK: No, not understand. Let’s look at it.
DB: What does it do? Does it perceive?
JK: Through perception it acts.
DB: Yes. Perception of what?
JK: Perception – now let’s discuss perception. There can be perception only when it is not tinged by thought.
DB: When it is not?
JK: Tinged or interfere – when there is no interference from the movement of thought there is perception, which is direct insight into a problem, or into human complex.
DB: Yes, now this perception originates in the mind?
JK: Does the perception originate in the mind? Let’s look at it. Yes. When the brain is quiet.
DB: Yes, but we used the words perception and intelligence, now what – how are they related, or what is their difference?
JK: Between perception and intelligence?
DB: So we say intelligence is perception.
JK: Yes, that’s right.
DB: Intelligence is perception of ‘what is’ – right? And through attention there is contact.
JK: Sir, let’s take a problem and look at it, it would be probably easier to understand.
JK: Take a problem of suffering. Human beings have suffered endlessly, through wars, through every kind of disease, physical disease, and through wrong relationship with each other. Man has suffered a great deal. Now can that end?
DB: Yes. Well I would say that the difficulty of ending that is that it is on the programme. We are conditioned to this whole thing – right?
JK: Yes, to this whole thing.
DB: And it is physically and chemically…
JK: We are conditioned. Now that has been going on for centuries.
DB: Yes, so it is very deep, somewhat.
JK: Very, very deep. Now, can that suffering end?
DB: Yes and it cannot end by an action of the brain.
JK: By thought.
DB: Because the brain is caught in suffering and it cannot take an action to end its own suffering.
JK: Of course it cannot. That is why thought cannot end it. Thought has created it.
DB: Yes, thought has created it and anyway it is unable to get hold of it.
JK: Yes, thought has created the wars, the misery, the confusion, and thought has become prominent in human relationship.
DB: Yes, you see I think people might agree with that and still think that thought might still – that as thought can do bad things, it can do good things.
JK: No, thought cannot do good or bad. It is thought, limited.
DB: Thought cannot get hold of this suffering. That is this suffering being in the physical conditioning of the brain, and chemical, thought has no way of knowing what it is, even.
JK: I mean I lose my son and I am…
DB: Yes but I mean by thinking I don’t know what is going on inside me. I can’t change the suffering inside because thinking will not show me what it is. Now you are saying it is intelligence.
JK: But after all we are asking can suffering end? That is a problem.
DB: Yes, and it is clear that thinking cannot do it.
JK: Thought cannot do it.
DB: No. All right. Now because…
JK: That is the point. If I have an insight into it…
DB: Yes, now this insight will be from the action of the mind, intelligence, and attention.
JK: When there is that insight intelligence wipes away suffering.
DB: Yes, now you are saying therefore there is a contact from mind to matter which removes the whole physical chemical structure which keeps us going on with suffering.
JK: That’s right. In that ending there is a mutation in the brain cells. We discussed this some years ago, this question.
DB: Yes and that mutation just wipes out the whole structure that makes you suffer.
JK: Yes. Therefore it is like I have been going along a certain tradition, I suddenly change that tradition there is a change in the whole brain, which has been going North, now it goes East.
DB: Of course this is a radical notion from the point of view of traditional ideas in science because if we accept that mind that is different from matter then people would find it hard to say that mind would actually…
JK: Mind after all, is sir… would you put it, mind is pure energy?
DB: Well we could put it that way, but say matter is energy too.
JK: Therefore matter is limited, thought is limited.
DB: Yes, well, but we are saying that the pure energy of mind is able to reach into the limited energy of matter.
JK: Yes, that’s right. And change the limitation.
DB: Yes, to remove some of the limitation.
JK: When there is a deep issue, or a problem, or a challenge which you are facing.
DB: Yes, so we have thought – we could also add that all the traditional ways of trying to do this cannot work because…
JK: It hasn’t worked.
DB: Well that is not enough. We have to say, because people still might hope it could, it cannot actually.
JK: It cannot.
DB: Because thought cannot get at the basis of its own physical, its own physical chemical basis in the cells, and do anything about those cells.
JK: Yes, sir, we have said that very clearly. Thought cannot bring about a change in itself.
DB: Yes, and yet practically everything that mankind has been trying to do is based on thought. There is a limited area, of course, where that is all right but we cannot, therefore, as we said, we were discussing before, do anything about the future of mankind from the usual approach.
JK: Sir, look that is what I’m – when you listen to the politicians who are so very active in the world, they are creating problem after problem and to them thought is the most important thing – ideals.
DB: Well generally speaking nobody knows they can know of anything else.
JK: Exactly. We are saying the old instrument which is thought is worn out, except in certain areas.
DB: Well, it never was adequate except in those areas.
JK: Of course, of course.
DB: And man has always been in trouble as far as he can remember, as far as history goes.
JK: Yes sir, man has always been in trouble, in turmoil, fear. We mustn’t reduce all this to an intellectual argument. But as human beings, facing all the confusion of the world, can there be a solution to all this?
DB: Yes, and that comes back to the question I would like to repeat that it seems here there are a few people who are talking about it, and think perhaps they know, and perhaps meditating and so on, but how is that going to affect this vast current of mankind?
JK: Probably very little. But why do you raise – will it affect? It might, or it might not.
DB: It might not. It might or it might not.
JK: But then one puts that question: then what is the use of it?
DB: Yes, that’s the point. I think there is an instinctive feeling that makes one put the question.
JK: Yes. I think that is a wrong question.
DB: But that is the wrong question. You see the first instinct is to say, ‘What can we do to stop this tremendous catastrophe?’
JK: Yes. But if each one of us, whoever listens, sees the truth of this that thought in its activity both externally and inwardly has created a terrible mess, great suffering, then one must inevitably ask: is there an ending to all this? If thought cannot end it what will?
JK: What is the new instrument that will put an end to all this misery? You see there is a new instrument which is the mind and so on and so on.
JK: Which is intelligence. But you see the difficulty is also, people won’t listen to all this. They have come to definite conclusions, both the scientists and the ordinary layman like us, they won’t listen.
DB: Yes, well that is the sort of point I had in mind when I said that a few people don’t seem to have much effect.
JK: Of course, of course. I think after all few people have changed the world. Hitler was a – whether good or bad, that is not the point.
DB: Well he didn’t change it fundamentally.
JK: No, change the world superficially if you like. The revolution of the Bolsheviks, the communists, has changed, but they have gone to the same pattern again. Physical revolution has never changed psychologically the human state.
DB: Well do you think it is possible that say a certain number of brains coming in contact with mind in this way will be able to have an effect on mankind which is beyond just the immediate obvious effect of their communication?
JK: Yes, that’s right. That’s right.
DB: I mean obviously whoever does this may communicate in the ordinary way and it will have a small effect but now this is a possibility of something entirely different – right?
JK: You see how do you – I have often thought about it – how do you convey to all this rather subtle and very complex issue, how do you convey all this to a person who is steeped in tradition, who is conditioned and won’t even take time to listen, to consider?
DB: Yes, well that is a question. You see one point you could say is that this conditioning cannot be absolute, you know an absolute block or else there would be no way out at all. But the conditioning may be thought to have some sort of permeability.
JK: I mean after all the Pope won’t listen to us, but the Pope has tremendous influence.
DB: Is it possible that every person has something he can listen to if it could be found?
JK: If he takes a little patience. Who will listen? The politicians won’t listen. The idealists won’t listen. The totalitarians won’t listen. The deeply steeped religious people won’t listen. So perhaps, sir, that is the whole point: a so-called ignorant person, not highly educated and conditioned in his profession, career, money, the poor man who says, ‘I am suffering, please let’s end that.’
DB: Well but he doesn’t listen either, you see. He wants to get a job.
JK: (laughs) Of course not. He says, ‘Feed me first’. We have been through all this for the last sixty years. The poor man won’t listen, the rich man won’t listen, the learned won’t listen and the deeply dogmatic religious believers don’t listen. So perhaps it is like a wave in the world, it might catch somebody. I think it is a wrong question to say, does it affect?
DB: Yes, all right. We will say that that brings in time and that is becoming, it brings in the psyche in the process of becoming again.
JK: Yes. But if you say… it must affect mankind.
DB: Well, are you proposing that it affects mankind through the mind directly rather than through…
JK: Yes, yes.
DB: We are taking this very seriously this…
JK: It may not show immediately in action.
DB: Yes. You are taking very seriously what you said that the mind is universal and is not located in our ordinary space, is not separate…
JK: Yes. You see, sir, there is a danger in saying this – the mind is universal – that is what some people say ‘the mind’, and it has become a tradition.
DB: You can turn it into an idea, of course.
JK: Of course, that is just the danger of it, that is what I am saying.
DB: Yes. But what you are saying is – really the question is we have to come directly in contact with this to make it real – right?
JK: Of course, that’s it. They can only come into contact with it when the self is not. To put it very, very simply, and therefore when the self is not there is beauty, there is silence, space, then that intelligence which is born of compassion operates through the brain. It is very simple.
DB: Yes. Would it be worth discussing the self – the question of – you see since the self is active widely…
JK: I know, but that is our long tradition of many, many, many centuries.
DB: Now is there some aspect of meditation which can be helpful here when the self is acting. You see suppose a person says, ‘OK I am caught in the self but I want to get out. But I want to know what shall I do.’
JK: Ah! You see that is…
DB: I won’t use the words ‘what shall I do’, but what do you say?
JK: Ah, that is very simple. Is the observer different from the observed?
DB: Well suppose we say, ‘Yes, it appears to be different’, then what?
JK: Is that an idea or an actuality?
DB: What do you mean?
JK: Actuality is when there is no division between the thinker and the thought.
DB: Yes, but suppose I say ordinarily one feels the observer is different from the observed. I say we begin there.
JK: We begin there. I’ll show you. Look at it. Are you different from your anger, from your envy, from your suffering? You are not.
DB: At first sight it appears that I am, you see that I might try to control it.
JK: Not control, you are that.
DB: Yes, how will I see that I am that?
JK: You are your name. You are your form, body. You are all the reactions and actions. You are the belief, you are the fear, you are the suffering and pleasure. You are all that.
DB: Yes but the first experience is that I am here first and that those are properties of me, they are my qualities which I can either have or not have. I might be angry or not angry, I might have this belief or that belief.
JK: Contradictory. You are all that.
DB: But you see it is not obvious. When you say I am that, do you mean that I am that and cannot be otherwise?
JK: No. At present you are that. It can be totally otherwise.
DB: Yes, OK. So I am all that. Rather than saying as I usually do, that I am looking at those qualities…
JK: That’s it.
DB: …that is, that I, the observer, I admit that I am anger, but I feel that I as the observer, am not angry but an unbiased observer who is looking at anger.
JK: Of course.
DB: But you are telling me that this unbiased observer is the same as the anger he is looking at.
JK: Of course. Like I analyse myself and the analyser is the analysed.
DB: Yes. He is biased by what he analyses.
JK: Of course.
DB: So if I watch anger for a while I can see that I am very biased by the anger, so at some stage I say, OK, I am one with that anger – right?
JK: No, not I am one with it, you are it.
DB: But that anger and I are the same, right?
JK: Yes. The observer is the observed. And when there is that actuality exists you have really eliminated altogether conflict. Conflict exists when I am separate from my quality.
DB: Yes that is because if I believe myself to be separate then I can try to change it but since I am that it is not trying to change itself and remain itself at the same time, right?
JK: Yes, that’s right. But when the quality is me, the division has ended. Right?
DB: Yes, well when I see that the quality is me then there is no point to the whole thing.
JK: No, no. What happens before, the quality is not me, then in that there is conflict, either suppression, escape and all the rest of it, which is a wastage of energy. When that quality is me I am – there is, all that energy which has been wasted, is there to look, to observe.
DB: But why does it make such a difference to have that quality being me?
JK: I am showing it to you.
JK: It makes a difference when there is no division between the quality and me.
DB: Yes, well, when there is no perception of a difference…
JK: That’s right. Put it round differently.
DB: …then the mind does not try to fight itself.
JK: Yes, yes. It is so.
DB: If there is an illusion of a difference the mind must be compelled to fight against itself.
JK: The brain.
DB: The brain fights against itself.
JK: Yes, that’s right.
DB: On the other hand when there is no illusion of a difference the brain just stops fighting.
JK: Fighting, and therefore you have tremendous energy.
DB: Yes. The brain’s natural energy is released, eh?
JK: Yes, yes. And which means – energy means attention.
DB: Yes. Well you see the energy of the brain allows for attention…
JK: For that thing to dissolve.
DB: Yes, well, wait a minute because we said before attention was a contact of the mind and the brain.
JK: Yes sir.
DB: But the brain must be in a state of high energy to allow that contact.
JK: That’s right. That’s – the same thing.
DB: I mean a brain which is low energy cannot allow that contact.
JK: Of course not. But most of us are low energy because we are so conditioned.
DB: Well, essentially you are saying that this is the way to start then.
JK: Yes sir. Start simply.
JK: Start with ‘what is’, what I am. That is why self-knowledge is so important. Self-knowledge is not an accumulated process of knowledge, which then looks at, it is a constant learning about oneself.
DB: Yes, well if you call it self-knowledge then it is not knowledge of the kind we talked about before, which is conditioning.
JK: That’s right. Knowledge conditions.
DB: But you are saying that self knowledge of this kind is not conditioning. But why do you call it knowledge? Is it a different kind of knowledge?
JK: Yes, yes. Knowledge conditions.
DB: Yes, but now you have this self-knowledge.
JK: Self-knowledge, which is to know and to comprehend oneself, to understand, oneself is such a subtle, complex thing, it is living.
DB: Essentially knowing yourself in the very moment in which things are happening.
JK: Yes, to know what is happening.
DB: Rather than store it up in memory.
JK: Of course. That can only be in – through reactions I begin to discover what I am, and so on and so on.
I think we had better stop. Right?
Krishnamurti at Brockwood Park, 20 June 1983