Ending of Time
1st June 1980
Conversation with Prof. David Bohm
Senility and The Brain Cells
KRISHNAMURTI: I would like to talk over with you, and perhaps with Narayan [Mr G. Narayan, Principal of the Rishi Valley School in India.] too, what is happening to the human brain. We have a civilization that is highly cultivated, and yet at the same time barbarous, with selfishness clothed in all kinds of spiritual garbs. Deep down, however, there is a frightening selfishness. Man's brain has been evolving through millennia upon millennia, yet it has come to this divisive, destructive point, which we all know. So I am wondering whether the human brain - not a particular brain, but the human brain - is deteriorating? Whether it is just in a slow and steady decline? Or whether it is possible in one's lifetime to bring about in the brain a total renewal from all this; a renewal that will be pristine, original, unpolluted? I have been wondering about this, and I would like to discuss it.
I think the human brain is not a particular brain; it doesn't belong to me, or to anyone else. It is the human brain which has evolved over millions of years. And in that evolution it has gathered tremendous experience, knowledge and all the cruelties, vulgarities and brutalities of selfishness. Is there a possibility of its sloughing off all this, and becoming something else? Because apparently it is functioning in patterns. Whether it is a religious pattern, a scientific, a business, or a family pattern, it is always operating, functioning in small narrow circles. Those circles are clashing against each other, and there seems to be no end to this. So what will break down this forming of patterns, so that there is no falling into other new patterns, but breaking down the whole system of patterns, whether pleasant or unpleasant? After all, the brain has had many shocks, challenges and pressures upon it, and if it is not capable of renewing or rejuvenating itself, there is very little hope. You follow?
DAVID BOHM: You see, one difficulty might present itself. If you are thinking of the brain structure, we cannot get into the structure, physically.
K: Physically we cannot. I know, we have discussed this. So what is the brain to do? The brain specialists can look at it, take the dead brain of a human being and examine it, but it doesn't solve the problem. Right?
K: So what is a human being to do, knowing it cannot be changed from outside? The scientist, the brain specialist and the neurologist explain various things but their explanations, their investigations, are not going to solve this.
DB: Well, there is no evidence that they can.
K: No evidence.
DB: Some people who do bio-feedback think that they can influence the brain, connecting an instrument to the electrical potentials in the skull and being able to look at them; you can also change your heart beat and blood pressure and other things. These people have raised the hope that something could be done.
K: But they are not succeeding.
DB: They are not getting very far.
K: And we can't wait for these scientists and bio-feedbackers - sorry! - to solve the problem. So what shall we do?
DB: The next question is whether the brain can be aware of its own structure.
K: Can the brain be aware of its own movement? And can the brain not only be aware of its own movement, but itself have enough energy to break all patterns and move out of them?
DB: You have to ask to what extent the brain is free to break out of patterns?
K: What do you mean?
DB: Well, you see, if you begin by saying that the brain is caught in a pattern, it may not be so.
K: But apparently it is.
DB: As far as we can see. It may not be free to break out. It may not have the power.
K: That is what I have said: not enough energy, not enough power.
DB: Yes, it may not be able to take the action needed to get out.
K: So it has become its own prisoner. Then what?
DB: Then that is the end.
K: Is that the end?
DB: If that is true, then that is the end. If the brain cannot break out then perhaps people would choose to try some other way to solve the problem.
NARAYAN: When we speak of the brain, in one sense it is connected to the senses and the nervous system; the feedback is there. Is there another instrument to which the brain is connected which has a different effect on the brain?
K: What do you mean by that? Some other factor?
N: Some other factor in the human system itself. Because, obviously, through the senses the brain does get nourishment, but still that is not enough. Is there some other internal factor which gives energy to the brain?
K: You see, I want to discuss this. The brain is constantly occupied with various problems, with holding on, attachment, and so on. It is constantly in a state of preoccupation. That may be the central factor. And, if it is not in occupation, does it go sluggish? If it is not occupied, can it maintain the energy that is required to break down the patterns?
DB: Now the first point is that if the brain is not occupied, somebody might think that it would just take things easy.
K: Become lazy and all that! I don't mean that.
DB: If you mean not occupied, but still active...
K: Of course. I mean that.
DB: Then we have to go into what is the nature of the activity.
K: Yes. This brain is so occupied with conflicts, struggles, attachments, fears and pleasures. And this occupation gives to the brain its own energy. If it is not occupied, will it become lazy, drugged, and so lose its elasticity, as it were? Or will that unoccupied state give the brain the required energy to break the patterns?
DB: What makes you say this might happen? We were discussing the other day that when the brain is kept busy with intellectual activity and thought, it does not decay and shrink.
K: As long as it is thinking, moving, living.
DB: Thinking in a rational way; then it remains strong.
K: Yes. That is what I want to get at too. Which is, as long as it is functioning, moving, thinking rationally...
DB: ...it remains strong. If it starts irrational movement, then it breaks down. Also if it gets caught in a routine it begins to die.
K: That's it. If the brain is caught in any routine - the meditation routine, or the routine of the priests.
DB: Or the daily life of the farmer...
K: ...the farmer, etc., it must gradually become dull.
DB: Not only that, but it seems to shrink.
K: To shrink physically.
DB: Perhaps some of the cells die?
K: To shrink physically, and the opposite to that is the eternal occupation with business - by anyone who does a routine job... thinking, thinking, thinking! And we believe that that also prevents shrinking.
DB: Surely experience seems to show that it does, from measurements that have been made.
K: Yes, it does. That's it.
DB: The brain starts to shrink at a certain age. Now that is what they have discovered, and just as when the body is not being used the muscles begin to lose their flexibility...
K: So, take lots of exercise!
DB: Well, they say exercise the body and exercise the brain.
K: Yes. If it is caught in any pattern, any routine, any directive, it must shrink.
DB: Could we go into what makes it shrink?
K: That is fairly simple. It is repetition.
DB: Repetition is mechanical, and doesn't really use the full capacity of the brain.
K: One has noticed that people who have spent years and years in meditation are the most dull people on earth. And also with lawyers and professors there is ample evidence of all that.
N: It is suggested that rational thinking postpones senility. But rational thinking itself can sometimes become a pattern.
DB: It might. Rational thinking pursued in a narrow area might become part of the pattern too.
K: Of course, of course.
DB: But is there some other way?
K: We will go into that.
DB: But let's clear up things about the body first. You see, if somebody does a lot of exercise for the body, it remains strong, but it can become mechanical.
DB: And therefore it would have a bad effect.
N: What about the various traditional religious instruments - yoga, tantra, kundalini, etc?
K: I know. Oh, they must shrink! Because of what is happening. Take yoga for example. It used not to be vulgarized, if I may use that word. It was kept strictly to the very few, who were not concerned about kundalini and all that, but who were concerned with leading a moral, ethical, so-called spiritual life. You see, I want to get at the root of this.
DB: I think there is something related to this. It seems that before man was organized into society, he was living close to nature, and it was not possible to live in a routine.
K: No, it was not.
DB: But it was completely insecure.
K: So we are saying that the brain itself becomes extraordinarily alive - is not caught in a pattern - if it lives in a state of uncertainty? Without becoming neurotic!
DB: I think that is more clear when you say not becoming neurotic - then certainty becomes a form of neurosis. But I would rather say that the brain lives without having certainty, without demanding it, without demanding certain knowledge.
K: So are we saying that knowledge also withers the brain?
DB: Yes, when it is repetitious and becomes mechanical.
K: But knowledge itself?
DB: Well, we have to be very careful there. I think that knowledge has a tendency to become mechanical. That is, it gets fixed, but we could always be learning, you see.
K: But learning from a centre, learning as an accumulative process!
DB: Learning with something fixed. You see, we learn something as fixed, and then you learn from there. If we were to be learning without holding anything permanently fixed...
K: Learning and not adding. Can we do that?
DB: Yes, I think to a certain extent we have to drop our knowledge. You see, knowledge may be valid up to a point, and then it ceases to be valid. It gets in the way. You could say that our civilization is collapsing because of too much knowledge.
K: Of course.
DB: We don't discard what is in the way.
N: Many forms of knowledge are additive. Unless you know the previous thing, you can't do the next thing. Would you say that kind of knowledge is repetitive?
DB: No. As long as we are learning. But if we hold some principle, or the centre, fixed, and say it cannot change, then that knowledge becomes mechanical. But, for example, suppose you have to make a living. People must organize society, and so on, and they need knowledge.
K: But there we add more and more.
DB: That's right. We may also get rid of some.
K: Of course.
DB: Some gets in the way, you see. It is continually moving there.
K: Yes, but I am asking, apart from that, about knowledge itself.
DB: Do you mean knowledge without this content?
K: Yes; the knowing mind.
DB: Which merely wants knowledge, is that what you are saying? Knowledge for its own sake?
K: Yes. I want to question the whole idea of having knowledge.
DB: But again, it is not too clear, because we accept that we need some knowledge.
K: Of course, at a certain level.
DB: So it is not clear what kind of knowledge it is that you are questioning.
K: I am questioning the experience that leaves knowledge, that leaves a mark.
DB: Yes, but what kind of mark? A psychological mark?
K: Psychological, of course.
DB: You are questioning this, rather than knowledge of technique and matter, and so on. But you see, when you use the word knowledge by itself, it tends to include the whole.
K: We have said that knowledge at a certain level is essential; there you can add and take away and keep on changing. But I am questioning whether psychological knowledge is not in itself a factor of the shrinking of the brain.
DB: What do you mean by psychological knowledge? Knowledge about the mind, knowledge about myself?
K: Yes. Knowledge about myself, and living in that knowledge, and accumulating that knowledge.
DB: So if you keep on accumulating knowledge about yourself or about relationships...
K: ...yes, about relationships. That's it. Would you say such knowledge helps the brain, or makes the brain somewhat inactive, makes it shrink?
DB: Brings it into a rut.
DB: But one should see what it is about this knowledge that makes trouble.
K: What is this knowledge that makes so much trouble? In relationship, that knowledge creates trouble.
DB: Yes, it gets in the way because it fixes.
K: If I have an image about someone, that knowledge is obviously going to impede our relationship. It becomes a pattern.
DB: Yes, the knowledge about myself and about him and how we are related, makes a pattern.
K: And therefore that becomes a routine and so it loses its energy.
DB: Yes, and it occurred to me that routine in that area is more dangerous than routine in, say, the area of daily work.
K: That's right.
DB: And if routine in ordinary work can shrink the brain, then in that area it might do some worse thing, because it has a bigger effect.
K: Can the brain, in psychological matters, be entirely free from this kind of knowledge? Look! I am a businessman, and get into the car, bus, taxi or tube train, and I am thinking about what I am going to do, whom I am going to meet in connection with business. My mind is all the time living in that area. Then I come home; There is my wife and children; sex and all that. That also becomes a psychological knowledge from which I am acting. So there is the knowledge of my business, and also the knowledge with regard to my wife and my reactions in relationship. These two are in contradiction, unless I am unaware of them, and just carry on. If I am aware of these two, it becomes a disturbing factor.
DB: Also people find that this is a routine. They get bored with it, and they begin to...
K: ...divorce, and then the whole circus begins!
DB: They may hope that by becoming occupied with something else they will get out of their boredom.
K: Yes, by going to church, etc. Any escape is an occupation. So I am asking whether this psychological knowledge is not a factor of shrinkage of the brain?
DB: Well, it could be a factor.
K: It is.
DB: If knowledge of your profession or skill can be a factor, then this psychological knowledge is stronger.
K: Of course. Much stronger.
N: When you say psychological knowledge you are making a distinction between psychological knowledge and, let us say, scientific knowledge or factual knowledge?
K: Of course, we have said that.
N: But I am a little wary of the claim that scientific knowledge and other types of factual knowledge help to extend the brain, to make it bigger. That in itself doesn't lead anywhere. Though it postpones energy.
K: Dr. Bohm makes this very clear. Rational thinking becomes merely routine; I think logically, and therefore I have learned the trick of that, but I keep on repeating it.
N: That is what happens in most forms of rational thinking.
K: Of course.
DB: I think that there is a dependence on being faced with continual problems.
K: Of course.
DB: You see, lawyers may feel that their brains will last longer, because they are presented with constantly different problems, and therefore they cannot think entirely according to routine!
K: But, just a minute! They may have different clients with different problems, but they are acting from fixed knowledge.
DB: They would not say entirely, they have got to find new facts, and so on.
K: They are not functioning entirely in routine but the basis is knowledge - precedence and book knowledge and experience with various clients.
DB: But then you would have to say that some other more subtle degeneration of the brain takes place, not merely shrinkage.
K: That's right. That's what I want to get at.
DB: You see, when a baby is born, the brain cells have very few cross connections; these gradually increase in number, and then, as a person approaches senility, they begin to go back. So the quality of those cross connections could be wrong. If, for example, we repeated them too often, they would get too fixed.
N: Are all the brain functions confined to rational forms, or are there some functions which have a different quality?
DB: Well, it is known that a large part of the brain deals with movement of the body, with muscles, with various organs and so on, and this part does not shrink with age, although the part that deals with rational thought, if it is not used, does shrink. Then there may be other functions that are totally unknown; that is, very little is actually known about the brain.
K: What we are saying is that we are only using one part of the brain. There is only partial activity, partial occupation, either rational or irrational. But as long as the brain is occupied it must be in that limited area. Would you say that?
DB: Then what will happen when it is not occupied? We can say that it may tend to spend most of the time occupied in the limited set of functions which are mechanical, and that this will produce some subtle degeneration of the brain tissue, since anything like that will affect the brain tissue.
K: Are we saying that senility is the result of a mechanical way of living? Of mechanical knowledge, so that the brain has no freedom, no space?
DB: That is the suggestion. It is not necessarily accepted by all the people who work on the brain. They have shown that the brain cells start to die around the age of thirty or forty at a steady rate, but this may be a factor. I don't think their measurements are so good that they can test effectively how the brain is used. You see, they are merely rough measurements, made statistically. But you want to propose that this death or degeneration of the brain cells comes from the wrong way of using the brain?
K: That's right. That is what I am trying to get at.
DB: Yes, and there is a little bit of evidence from the scientists, although I think that they don't know very much about it.
K: You see, scientists, brain specialists, are, if I may put it simply, examining things outside, but not taking themselves as guinea-pigs, and not going into that.
DB: Mostly, you see, except for those who do bio-feedback, they are trying to work on themselves in a very indirect way.
K: Yes, but I feel we haven't time for all that.
DB: It is too slow, and it isn't very deep.
K: So let's come back to the realization that any activity which is repeated, which is directed in the narrow sense, any method, any routine, logical or illogical, does affect the brain. We have understood that very clearly. Knowledge at a certain level is essential, but psychological knowledge about oneself, one's experiences, etc. becomes routine. The images I have about myself also obviously become routine, and all that helps to bring about a shrinkage of the brain. I have understood all that very clearly. And any kind of occupation, apart from the mechanical... no, not mechanical...
K: ...apart from physical occupation, brings about shrinkage of the brain. Now how is this process to stop? And if it does stop, will there be a renewal?
DB: I think that some brain scientists would doubt that the brain cells could be renewed, and I don't know that there is any proof one way or the other.
K: I think they can be renewed. That is what I want to get at.
DB: So we have to discuss that.
N: Are you implying that mind is different from the brain, that mind is distinct from the brain?
K: Not quite.
DB: You have spoken of universal mind.
N: Mind, in the sense that one has access to this mind, and it is not the brain. Do you consider that a possibility?
K: I don't quite follow this. I would say that the mind is all-inclusive. When it is all-inclusive, of brain, emotions - all that; when it is totally whole, not divisive in itself, there is a quality which is universal. Right?
N: One has access to it?
K: Not one: no, you can't reach it. You can't say, I have access to it.
N: I am only saying access. One doesn't possess it, but...
K: You can't possess the sky!
N: No, my point is, is there a way of being open to it and is there a function of the mind through which the whole of it can become accessible?
K: I think there is. We may come to that presently if we can stick to this point: We are asking now, can the brain renew itself, rejuvenate, become young again without any shrinkage at all? I think it can. I want to open a new chapter and discuss this. psychologically, knowledge that man has acquired is crippling it. The Freudians, the Jungians, the latest psychologist, the latest psychotherapist, are all helping to make the brain shrink. Sorry! I don't mean to give offence....
N: Is there a way of forgetting this knowledge then?
K: No, no. Not forgetting. I see what psychological knowledge is doing and I see the waste; I see what is taking place if I follow that line. It is obvious. So I don't follow that avenue at all. I discard analysis altogether. That is a pattern we have learnt, not discard analysis altogether. That is a pattern we have learnt, not only from the recent psychologists and psychotherapists but also through the tradition of a million years of analysis, of introspect, or of saying, `I must', and `I must not', `This is right and that is wrong'. You know the whole process. I personally don't do it, and so I reject that whole method.
We are coming to a point, which is direct perception and immediate action. Our perception is generally directed by knowledge, by the past, which is knowledge perceiving, and with action arising, acting from that. This is a factor of shrinking of the brain, of senility.
Is there a perception which is not time binding? And so action which is immediate? Am I making myself clear? That is, as long as the brain, which has evolved through time, is still living in a pattern of time, it is becoming senile. If we could break that pattern of time, the brain has broken out of its pattern, and therefore something else takes place.
N: How does the brain break out of the pattern of time?
K: We will come to that, but first let's see if we agree.
DB: Well, you are saying that the brain is the pattern of time, and perhaps this should be clarified. I think that what you mean by analysis is some sort of process based on past knowledge, which organizes our perception, and in which we take a series of steps to try to accumulate knowledge about the whole thing. And now you say that this is a pattern of time, and we have to break out of it.
K: If we agree that this is so, the brain is functioning in a pattern of time.
DB: Then we have to ask, what other pattern is possible?
K: But wait...
DB: What other movement is possible?
K: No. First let's understand this, not merely verbally, but let's actually see that it is happening. That our action, our way of living, our whole thinking, is bound by time, or comes with the knowledge of time.
DB: Certainly our thinking about ourselves, any attempt to analyse ourselves, to think about ourselves, involves this process.
K: This process, which is of time. Right?
N: That is a difficulty: when you say knowledge and experience, they are a certain cohesive energy or force that binds you.
K: Which means what? Time binding!
N: Time binding and...
K: ...and therefore the pattern of centuries, of millennia, is being repeated.
N: Yes. But I am saying that this has a certain cohesive force.
K: Of course, of course. All illusions have an extraordinary vitality.
N: Very few break through.
K: Look at all the churches and what immense vitality they have.
N: No, apart from these churches, one's personal life, it has a certain cohesive force that keeps one back. One can't break away from it.
K: What do you mean, it keeps you back?
N: It has a magnetic attraction, it sort of pulls you back. You can't free yourself of it unless you have some instrument with which you can act.
K: We are going to find out if there is a different approach to the problem.
DB: When you say, a different instrument, that is not clear. The whole notion of an instrument involves time, because if you use any instrument, it is a process which you plan.
K: Time; that's just it.
N: That is why I use the word `instrument'; I mean, it is effective.
K: It has not been effective. On the contrary, it is destructive. So do I see the very truth of its destructiveness? Not just the theory, the idea, but the actuality of it. If I do, then what takes place? The brain has evolved through time, and has been functioning, living, acting, believing in that time process. But when one realizes that all this helps to make the brain senile, when one sees that as true then what is the next step?
N: Are you implying that the very seeing that it is destructive is a releasing factor?
N: And there is no need for an extra instrument?
K: No. Don't use the word instrument.
There is no other factor. We are concerned to end this shrinkage and senility and in asking whether the brain itself, the cells, the whole thing, can move out of time? I am not talking about immortality, and all that kind of stuff. Can the brain move out of time altogether? Otherwise deterioration, shrinkage and senility are inevitable, and even when senility may not show, the brain cells are becoming weaker, and so on.
N: If the brain cells are material and physical, somehow or other they have to shrink through time; indeed it can't be helped. The brain cell, which is tissue, cannot in physical terms be immortal.
DB: perhaps the rate of shrinkage would be greatly slowed down. If a person lives a certain number of years, and his brain begins to shrink long before he dies, then he becomes senile. Now if the deterioration would slow then...
K: ...not only slow down, Sir.
DB: ...Well, regenerate...
K: ...be in a state of non-occupation.
DB: I think Narayan is saying that it is impossible for any material system to last for ever.
K: I am not talking about lasting for ever - though I am not sure if it can't last for ever! No, this is very serious, I am not pulling anybody's leg.
DB: If all the cells were to regenerate in the body and in the brain, then the whole thing could go on indefinitely.
K: Look, we are now destroying the body, through drink, smoking, overindulgence in sex and all kinds of things. We are living most un-healthily. Right? If the body were in excellent health, maintained right through - which means no heightened emotions, no strain, no sense of deterioration, the heart functioning normally - then why not!
K: ...which means what? No travelling, and all the rest of it....
DB: No excitement.
K: If the body remains in one quiet place I am sure it can last a great many more years than it does now.
DB: Yes, I think that is true. There have been many cases of people living for a hundred and fifty years in quiet places. I think that is all you are talking about. You are not really suggesting something lasting for ever?
K: So the body can be kept healthy, and since the body affects the mind, nerves, senses and all that, they also can be kept healthy.
DB: And if the brain is kept in the right action...
K: ...yes, without any strain.
DB: You see the brain has a tremendous effect on organizing the body. The pituitary gland controls the entire system of the body glands; also all the organs or the body are controlled by the brain. When the mind deteriorates, the body starts to deteriorate.
K: Of course.
DB: They work together.
K: They go together. So can this brain - which is not `my' brain - which has evolved through millions of years, which has had all kinds of destructive or pleasant experiences...
DB: You mean it is a typical brain, not a particular brain, peculiar to some individual? When you say `not mine', you mean any brain belonging to mankind, right?
K: Any brain.
DB: They are all basically similar.
K: Similar: that is what I said. Can that brain be free of all this? Of time? I think it can.
DB: Perhaps we could discuss what it means to be free of time. You see, at first the suggestion that the brain be free of time might sound crazy, but, obviously, we all know that you don't mean that the clock stops.
K: Science fiction and all that!
DB: The point is, what does it really mean to be psychologically free of time?
K: That there is no tomorrow.
DB: But we know there is tomorrow.
K: But psychologically...
DB: Can you describe better, what you mean when you say `no tomorrow'?
K: What does it mean to be living in time? Let's take the other side first, because then we come to the other. What does it mean to live in time? Hope; thinking and living in the past, and acting from the knowledge of the past; images, illusions, prejudices - they are all an outcome of the past. All that is time, and that is producing chaos in the world.
DB: Well, suppose we say that if we are not living psychologically in time, we may still order our actions by the watch. The thing that is puzzling is if somebody says, I am not living in time, but I must keep an appointment. You see?
K: Of course; you can't sit here for ever.
DB: So you say, I am looking at the watch, but I am not psychologically extending how I am going to feel in the next hour, when I have fulfilment of desire, etc.
K: I am just saying that the way we are living now is in the field of time. And there we have brought all kinds of problems and suffering. Is that right?
DB: Yes, but it should be made clear why this necessarily produces suffering. You are saying that if you live in the field of time suffering is inevitable.
K: It is simple. Time has built the ego, the `me', the image of me sustained by society, by education, which has built through millions of years. All that is the result of time. And from there I act.
DB: Towards the future psychologically; that is, towards some future state of being.
K: Yes. Which means that the centre is always becoming.
DB: Trying to become better.
K: Better, nobler, or anything else. So all that, the constant endeavour to become something psychologically, is a factor of time.
DB: Are you saying that the endeavour to become produces suffering?
K: Obviously. It is simple. All that is divisive. It divides me from others, and so you are different from me. And when I depend on somebody, and that somebody is gone, I feel lonely and miserable. All that goes on.
So we are saying that any factor of division, which is the very nature of the self, must inevitably cause suffering.
DB: Are you saying that through time the self is set up, and then the self introduces division and conflict and so on? But that if there were no psychological time, then perhaps this entire structure would collapse, and something entirely different would happen?
K: That's it. That is what I am saying. And therefore the brain itself has broken up.
DB: Well, that is the next step - to say that the brain has broken out of that rut, and perhaps could then regenerate. It doesn't follow logically, but still it could be so.
K: I think it does follow logically.
DB: Well, it follows logically that it would stop degenerating.
DB: And are you adding further that it would start to regenerate?
K: You look sceptical?
N: Yes, because the whole human predicament is bound to time.
K: We know that.
N: Society, individuals, the whole structure.
K: I know, I know.
N: It is so forceful that anything feeble doesn't work here.
K: What do you mean - `feeble'?
N: The force of this is so great that what has to break through must have tremendous energy.
N: And no individual seems to be able to generate sufficient energy to be able to break through.
K: But you have got hold of the wrong end of the stick, if I may point this out. When you use the word `individual', you have moved away from the fact that our brain is universal.
N: Yes, I admit that.
K: There is no individuality.
N: That brain is conditioned this way.
K: Yes, we have been through all that. It is conditioned this way through time. Time is conditioning - right? It is not that time has created the conditioning, time itself is the factor of conditioning.
So can that time element not exist? (We are talking about psychological time, not the ordinary physical time.) I say it can. We have said that the ending of suffering comes about when the self, which is built up through time, is no longer there. A man who is actually going through agony might reject this. But when he comes out of the shock of it, if somebody points out to him what is happening, and if he is willing to listen, to see the rationality, the sanity of it, and not to build a wall against it, he is out of that field. The brain is out of that time-binding quality.
K: Ah! There again when you use the word `temporary', it means time.
N: No, I mean that the man slips back into time.
K: No, he can't. He can't go back if he sees that something is dangerous, like a cobra, or any other danger, he cannot go back to it.
N: That analogy is a bit difficult, because the structure itself is that danger. One inadvertently slips into it.
K: When you see a dangerous animal, there is immediate action. It may be the result of past knowledge and experience, but there is immediate action for self-protection. But psychologically we are aware of the dangers. If we become as aware of these dangers as we are aware of physical dangers, there is an action which is not time-binding.
DB: Yes, I think you could say that as long as you could perceive this danger you know you would respond immediately. But you see, if you were to use that analogy of the animal, it might be an animal that you realize is dangerous, but he might take another form that you don't see as dangerous!
DB: Therefore there would be a danger of slipping back if you didn't see this. Or illusion might come in some other form.
K: Of course.
DB: But I think the major point you are making is that the brain is not belonging to any individual.
K: Yes, absolutely.
DB: And therefore it is no use saying that the individual slips back.
DB: Because that already denies what you are saying. The danger is rather that the brain might slip back.
K: The brain itself might slip back, because it has not seen the danger.
DB: It hasn't seen the other forms of the illusions.
K: The Holy Ghost taking different shapes! All this is the real root of time.
DB: Time, and separation as individuality, are basically the same structure.
K: Of course.
DB: Although it is not obvious in the beginning.
K: I wonder if we see that.
DB: It might be worth discussing that. Why is psychological time the game illusion, the same structure as individuality? Individuality is the sense of being a person who is located here somewhere.
K: Located and divided.
DB: Divided from the others. He extends out to some periphery, his domain extends out to some periphery, and also he has an identity which extends over time. He wouldn't regard himself as an individual if he said `Today I am one person, tomorrow I am another'. So it seems that we mean by individual somebody who is in time.
K: I think that this idea of individuality is a fallacy.
DB: Yes, but many people may find it hard to be convinced that it is a fallacy. There is a common feeling that, as an individual, I have existed at least from my birth if not before, and go on to death, and perhaps later. The whole idea of being an individual is to be in time. Right?
DB: To be in psychological time, not just the time of the clock.
K: Yes, we are saying that. So can that illusion that time has created individuality be broken? Can this brain understand that?
DB: I think that, as Narayan said, there is a great momentum in the brain, which keeps rolling, moving along.
K: Can that momentum stop?
N: The difficulty comes here. The genetic coding is intrinsic to a person. He seems to function more or less unconsciously, driven by this past momentum. And suddenly he sees, like a flash, something true. But the difficulty is that it may operate only for a day - and then he is again caught in the old momentum.
K: I know that. But it says the brain will not be caught. Once the mind or the brain is aware of this fact, it cannot go back. How can it?
N: There must be another way of preventing it from going back.
K: Not preventing: that means also time. You are still thinking in terms of prevention.
N: Prevention, in the sense of the human factor.
K: The human being is irrational. Right? And as long as he is functioning irrationally, he says of any rational factor, `I refuse to see it'.
N: You are suggesting that the very seeing prevents you from slipping back. This is a human condition.
DB: I wonder if we should go further into this question about prevention. It may be important.
N: There are two aspects. You see the fallacy of something, and the very seeing prevents you from slipping back, because you see the danger of it.
DB: In another sense you say you have no temptation to slip back, therefore you don't have to be prevented. If you really see it, there is no need for conscious prevention.
N: Then you are not tempted to go back.
K: I can't go back. If for example I see the fallacy of all the religious nonsense, it is finished!
DB: The only question which I raise is that you may not see this so completely in another form.
N: It may come in different shapes...
DB: ...and then you are tempted once again.
K: The mind is aware, it is not caught. But you are saying that it is.
N: Yes, in other shapes and forms.
K: Wait Sir. We have said that perception is out of time, is seeing immediately the whole nature of time. Which to use a good old word, is to have an insight into the nature of time. If there is that insight, the very brain cells, which are part of time, break down. The brains cells bring about a change in themselves. You may disagree, you may say, `prove it.' I say this is not a matter of proof, it is a matter of action. Do it, find out, test it.
N: You were also saying the other day, that when the consciousness is empty of its content...
K: ...the content being time...
N: ...that leads to the transformation of the brain cells.
N: When you say consciousness is empty of the content there...
K: ...there is no consciousness as we know it.
N: Yes. And you are using the word insight. What is the connection between the two?
DB: Between what?
N: Consciousness and insight. You have suggested that when consciousness is empty of its content...
K: Be careful. Consciousness is put together by its content. The content is the result of time.
DB: The content also is time.
K: Of course.
DB: It is about time as well, and it is actually put together by time, also it is about time. But if you have an insight into that, the whole pattern is gone, broken. The insight is not of time, not of memory, is not of knowledge.
N: Who has this insight?
K: Not `who'. Simply, there is an insight.
N: There is an insight and then the consciousness is empty of its content...
K: No, Sir. No.
N: You are implying that the very emptying of the content is insight?
K: No. We are saying time is a factor which has made up the content. It has built it up, and it also thinks about it. All that bundle is the result of time. Insight into this whole movement, which is not `my' insight, brings about transformations in the brain. Because that insight is not time-binding.
DB: Are you saying that this psychological content is a certain structure, physically, in the brain? That in order for this psychological content to exist, the brain over many years has made many connections of the cells, which constitute this content?
K: Quite, quite.
DB: And then there is a flash of insight, which sees all this, and that it is not necessary. Therefore all this begins to dissipate. And when it has dissipated, there is no content. Then, whatever the brain does is something different.
K: Let us go further. Then there is total emptiness.
DB: Well, emptiness of the content. But when you say total emptiness, you mean emptiness of all this inward content?
K: That's right. And that emptiness has tremendous energy. It is energy.
DB: So could you say that the brain, having had all these connections tangled, has locked up a lot of energy?
K: That's right. Wastage of energy.
DB: And when they begin to dissipate, that energy is there.
DB: Would you say that it is as much physical energy as any other kind?
K: Of course. Now we can go on in more detail, but is this principle, the root of it, an idea or a fact? I hear all this physically with the ear, but I may make it into an idea. If I hear it, not only with the ear, but in my being, in the very structure of myself, what happens then? If that kind of hearing doesn't take place, all this becomes merely an idea, and I spin along for the rest of my life playing with ideas.
If there was a scientist here, bio-feedback or another brain specialist, would he accept all this? Would he even listen to it?
DB: A few scientists would, but obviously the majority would not.
K: No. So how do we touch the human brain?
DB: All this will sound rather abstract, to most scientists, you see. They will say, it could be so; it is a nice theory, but we have no proof of it.
K: Of course. They would say it doesn't excite them very much because they don't see any proof.
DB: They would say, if you have some more evidence we will come back later, and become very interested. So you see, you can't give any proof, because whatever is happening, nobody can see it with their eyes.
K: I understand. But I am asking, what shall we do? The human brain - not `my' brain or `your', the brain - has evolved through a million years. One biological `freak' can move out of it, but how do you get at the human mind generally to make it see all this?
DB: I think you have to communicate the necessity, the inevitability of what you are saying. Say if a person sees something happening before his eyes he says, `That's so'. Right?
K: But it requires somebody to listen, somebody who says, `I want to capture it, I want to understand this, I want to find out.' You follow what I am saying? Apparently that is one of the most difficult things in life.
DB: Well, it is the function of this occupied brain - that it is occupied with itself and it doesn't listen.
N: In fact one of the things is that this occupation starts very early. When you are young it is very powerful, and it continues all through your life. How can we, through education, make this clear?
K: The moment you see the importance of not being occupied - see that as a tremendous truth - you will find ways and methods to help educationally, creatively. No one can be told, copy and imitate, for then he is lost.
DB: Then the question is, how is it possible to communicate to the brain, which rejects, which doesn't listen? Is there a way?
K: Not if I refuse to listen. You see, I think meditation is a great factor in all this. I feel we have been meditating although ordinarily people wouldn't accept this as meditation.
DB: They have used the word so often...
K: ...that its meaning is really lost. But true meditation is this: the emptying of consciousness. You follow?
DB: Yes, but let's be clear. Earlier you said it would happen through insight. Now are you saying that meditation is conducive to insight?
K: Meditation is insight.
DB: It is insight already. Then is it some sort of work you do? Insight is usually thought of as the flash, but meditation is more constant.
K: We must be careful. What do we mean by meditation? We can reject the systems, methods, acknowledged authorities, because these are often merely traditional repetitions - time-binding nonsense.
N: Do you think some of them could have been original, could have had real insight, in the past?
K: Who knows? Now meditation is this penetration, this sense of moving without any past.
DB: The only point to clear up is that when you use the word meditation, you mean something more than insight, you see.
K: Much more. Insight has freed the brain from the past, from time. That is an enormous statement...
DB: Do you mean that you have to have insight if you are going to meditate?
K: Yes, that's right. To meditate without any sense of becoming.
DB: You cannot meditate without insight. You can't regard it as a procedure by which you will come to insight.
K: No. That immediately implies time. A procedure, a system, a method, in order to have insight is nonsensical. Insight into greed or fear frees the mind from them. Then meditation has quite a different quality. It has nothing to do with all the gurus' meditations. So could we say that to have insight there must be silence?
DB: Well, that is the same; we seem to be going in a circle.
K: For the moment.
DB: Yes, my mind has silence.
K: So the silence of insight has cleansed, purged, all that.
DB: All that structure of the occupation.
K: Yes. Then there is no movement as we know it; no movement of time.
DB: Is there movement of some other kind?
K: I don't see how we can measure that by words, that sense of a limitless state.
DB: But you were saying earlier that nevertheless it is necessary to find some language, even though it is unsayable!
K: Yes - we will find that language.
7th June 1980
Conversation with Prof. David Bohm
KRISHNAMURTI: We left off the other day by saying that when the mind is totally empty of all the things that thought has put there, then real meditation begins. But I would like to go more deeply into that matter, to go back a bit, and find out if the mind, the brain, can ever be free from all illusion and forms of deception. Also whether it can have its own order - an order not introduced by thought, effort or any endeavour to put things in their proper place. And also, however much damaged the brain is by shock and all kinds of situations, whether it can heal itself completely.
So first let's begin by asking if there is an order which is not made by man or by thought - which is not the result of calculated order out of disturbance, and therefore still part of the old conditioning?
DAVID BOHM: Are you referring to the mind? I mean, you can say the order of nature exists on its own.
K: The order of nature is order.
DB: Yes, it is not made by man.
K: But I am not talking of such. I am not sure that it is that kind of order. Is there cosmic order?
DB: Well, that is still the same thing, in a sense, because the word `cosmos' means order, but the whole order, which includes the order of the universe and the order of the mind.
K: Yes. What I am trying to find out is whether there is order which man can never possibly conceive?
DB: Well, how are we going to discuss it?
K: I don't know. What is order?
NARAYAN: There is mathematical order, the highest kind of order known to any discipline.
K: Would the mathematicians agree that mathematics is complete order?
N: Yes, mathematics itself is order.
DB: I think it depends on the mathematician. But there is a well-known mathematician called Von Neumann who defined mathematics as the relationship of relationships. Really he meant, by relationship, order. It is order working within the field of order itself, rather than working on some object.
K: Yes, that is what I am trying to get at.
DB: So the most creative mathematicians are having a perception of this, which may be called pure order; but of course it is limited, because it has to be expressed mathematically, in terms of formulae or equations.
K: Of course. Is order part of disorder, as we know it?
DB: What we mean by disorder is another question. It is not possible to give a coherent definition of disorder, because it violates order. Anything that actually happens has an order, but you can call a certain thing disorder if you like.
K: Are you saying that anything that happens is order?
DB: Has an order. If the body is not functioning rightly, even if cancer is growing, there is a certain order in the cancer cell; it is just growing according to a different pattern, which tends to break down the body. Nevertheless the whole thing has a certain kind of order.
K: Yes, yes.
DB: It has not violated the laws of nature, although relative to some context you could say it is disorder, because, if we are talking of the health of the body, then the cancer is called disorder. But in itself...
K: Cancer has its own order.
DB: Yes, but it is not compatible with the order of the growth of the body.
K: Quite. So what do we mean by order? Is there such a thing as order?
DB: Order is a perception; we can't get hold of order.
N: I think that generally when we refer to order it is in relation to a framework, or in relation to a certain field. Order always has that connotation. But when you say the order of order, as in the study of mathematics, we are going away from this limited approach to it.
DB: You see most mathematics start with the order of the numbers, like 1, 2, 3, 4, and build on that, in a hierarchy. But you can see what is meant by the order of the numbers. There is for example a series of relationships which are constant. In the order of the numbers, you have the simplest example of order.
N: And a new order was created with the discovery of zero! Are mathematical order and the order in nature, part of a bigger field? Or are these localized forms?
K: You see the brain, the mind, is so contradictory, so bruised, that it can't find order.
DB: Yes, but what kind of order does it want?
K: It wants an order in which it will be safe, in which it won't be bruised, be shocked, or feel physical and psychological pain.
DB: The whole point of order and mathematics is not to have contradiction.
K: But the brain is in contradiction.
DB: And something has gone wrong.
K: Yes, we have said that the brain took a wrong turn.
DB: You see, if the body is growing wrongly we have a cancer cell, which means two contradictory orders - one being the growth of the cancer, and the other the order of the body.
K: Yes. But can the mind, the brain, be totally free of all organized order?
DB: You mean by organized order, a fixed or imposed pattern?
K: Yes. Imposed or self-imposed. We are trying to investigate whether the brain can ever be free from all impositions, pressures, wounds, bruises and trivialities of existence which are pushing it in different directions. If it cannot, meditation has no meaning.
DB: You could go further, and say that probably life has no meaning if you cannot free it of all that.
K: No, I wouldn't say that life has no meaning.
DB: The pattern goes on indefinitely.
K: If it goes on as it has done, indefinitely, for millennia, life has no meaning. But I think there is a meaning and to find out, the brain must be totally free.
DB: What is the source of what we call disorder? It is like a cancer going on inside the brain, moving in a way which is not compatible with the health of the brain.
DB: It grows as time goes on, it increases from one generation to another.
K: Each generation repeats the same pattern.
DB: It tends to accumulate through tradition with every generation.
K: How is this set, accumulated pattern, to end, to be broken through?
DB: Could we ask another question? Why does the brain provide the soil for this stuff to grow on?
K: It may be merely tradition or habit.
DB: But why does the brain stay in that?
K: It feels safe. It is afraid of something new taking place, because in the old tradition it finds refuge.
DB: Then we have to question why the brain deceives itself. This pattern involves the fact that the brain deceives itself about disorder. It doesn't seem able to see it clearly.
N: In my mind there is intelligence behind order which makes use of it. I have a certain purpose for which I create an order, and when the purpose is over I set aside that order or pattern. So order has an intelligence which works it out. That is the usual connotation. But you are referring to something else.
K: I am asking whether this pattern of generations can be broken, and why the brain has accepted that pattern in spite of all its conflicts and misery.
N: I am saying the same thing in a different way. When an order has served its purpose, can it then be put aside?
K: Apparently it can't. We are speaking psychologically. It can't. The brain goes on, repeating fears, sorrow, miseries. Is it so heavily conditioned that it cannot see its way out of it, because, by constant repetition, the brain has become dull?
N: The momentum of repetition is there?
K: Yes. That momentum makes the mind mechanical. And in that sluggishness it takes refuge and says, `It's all right, I can go on'. That's what most human beings do.
DB: That is part of the disorder. To think in that way is a manifestation of disorder.
K: Of course.
N: Do you connect order with intelligence? Or is order something that exists on its own?
DB: Intelligence involves order; it requires the perception of order in an orderly way, without contradiction. But I think that, in the terms of this discussion, we ourselves don't create this; we don't impose this order, but rather it is natural.
K: Yes. I am the ordinary man. I see that I am caught. My whole way of living and thinking is out of this enormous length of time. Time is my whole existence. In the past, which cannot be changed, I take refuge. Right?
DB: Well I think that if we were to talk to the so-called ordinary man, we would find he doesn't really understand that time is something that happens to him.
K: I am saying an ordinary man can see, after talking over with another, that his whole existence is based on time. And the mind takes refuge in time - in the past.
DB: What does that mean exactly? How does it take refuge?
K: Because the past cannot be changed.
DB: Yes, but people also think of the future. It is common to think that the future can change. The Communists have said, give up the past, we are going to change the future.
K: But we can't give up the past, even if we think we can.
DB: Then if even those who try not to take refuge in the past, can't give it up, it seems that whatever we do, we are stuck.
K: So the next step is, why does the brain accept this way of living? Why doesn't it break it down? Is it through laziness or that in breaking it down it has no hope?
DB: That is still the same question, of going from past to future.
K: Of course. So what is the brain to do? This is applicable to most people, isn't it?
DB: We haven't understood why, when people see that their behaviour is disorderly or irrational, they try to give up the past, but find they cannot.
K: Wait, Sir. If I give up the past, I have no existence. If I give up all my remembrances, I have nothing; I am nothing.
DB: I think some people like the Marxists would look at it a little differently. Marx said that it is necessary to transform the conditions of human society and that this will remove the past.
K: But it has not done so. It cannot be done.
DB: That is because when man tries to transform it he still works from the past.
K: Yes, that's what I am saying.
DB: If you say, don't depend on the past at all, then, as you have asked, what are we going to do?
K: I am nothing: is that the reason why we cannot possibly give up the past? Because my existence, my way of thinking, my life, everything, is from the past. And if you say, wipe that out, what have I left?
DB: I think you could say that obviously we have to keep certain things from the past, like useful knowledge.
K: Yes, we have been through all that.
DB: But you could ask, suppose we keep that useful part of the past, and wipe out all aspects of the past which are contradictory?
K: Which are all psychologically contradictory. Then what is left? Just going to the office? There is nothing. Is that the reason why we cannot give it up?
DB: There is still a contradiction in that, because if you say, `what is left', you are still asking from the past.
K: Of course.
DB: Are you simply saying that when people talk of giving up the past, they are just not doing it, but merely turning this into another question which avoids the issue?
K: Because my whole being is the past; it has changed or been modified, but its roots are in the past.
DB: Now if you said, `All right, give all that up and in the future you will have something quite different, and better', would people then be attracted to this?
K: But `better' is still from the past.
DB: But people want to be assured of at least something.
K: That is just it. There is nothing. The ordinary human being wants something to which he can cling.
DB: He may feel, not that he is clinging to the past, but reaching for something.
K: If I reach something it is still the past.
DB: Yes, it has its roots in the past, but that is not often obvious, because people say it is a big, new revolutionary situation.
K: As long as I have my roots in the past there cannot be order.
DB: Because the past is pervaded with disorder.
K: Yes. And is my mind, my brain, willing to see that there is absolutely nothing if I give up the past?
DB: And nothing to reach for.
K: Nothing. There is no movement. Sometimes people dangle a carrot in front of me and, foolishly, I follow it. But I see that there are really no carrots, no rewards or punishments. Then how is this past to be dissolved? Because otherwise I am still living in the field of time that is man-made. So what shall I do? Am I willing to face absolute emptiness?
DB: What will you tell somebody who is not willing to face this?
K: I am not bothered. If somebody says that he can't do all this, I say, `Well, carry on'.
But I am willing to let my past go completely. Which means there is no effort or reward; nothing. And the brain is willing to face this extraordinary and totally new state of existing in nothingness. That is appallingly frightening.
DB: Even these words will have their meaning rooted in the past.
K: Of course. We have understood that; the word is not the thing. The mind says it is willing to do that, to face this absolute emptiness, because it has seen for itself that all the places where it has taken refuge are illusions...
DB: I think this leaves out something that you brought up earlier - the question of the damage of scars to the brain.
K: That is just it.
DB: The brain that isn't damaged could possibly let go the past fairly readily.
K: Look, can I discover what has caused damage to the brain? Surely one of the factors is strong, sustained emotions, like hatred.
DB: Probably a flash of emotion doesn't do so much damage, but people sustain it.
K: Of course. Hatred, anger and violence not only shock but wound the brain. Right?
DB: And getting excessively excited.
K: Of course; and drugs, etc. The natural response doesn't damage the brain. Now the brain is damaged; suppose it has been damaged through anger?
DB: You could even say that nerves probably get connected up in the wrong way, and that the connections are too fixed. I think there is evidence that these things will actually change the structure.
K: Yes, and can we have an insight into the whole nature of disturbance, so that the insight changes the cells of the brain which have been wounded?
DB: Well, possibly it would start them healing.
K: All right. That healing must be immediate.
DB: It may take time in the sense that, if wrong connections have been made, it is going to take time to redistribute the material. The beginning of it, it seems to me, is immediate.
K: All right. Can I do that? I have listened to `X', I have carefully read, I have thought about all this, and I see that anger, violence, hatred - any excessive emotion - bruises the brain. And insight into this whole business brings about a mutation in the cells. It is so. Also the nerves - the adjustments, will be as rapid as possible.
DB: Something happens with cancer cells. Sometimes the cancer suddenly stops growing, and it goes the other way, for some reason that is unknown. But a change must have taken place in those cells.
K: Could it be that the brain cells change fundamentally, and the cancer process stops?
DB: Yes. Fundamentally it stops, and begins to dismantle.
K: Dismantle, yes that is it.
N: You are saying that insight sets into motion the right kind of connections, and stops the wrong connections?
DB: And it even dismantles the wrong connections.
N: So a beginning is made, and it is made now.
DB: At one moment.
K: That is the insight.
N: But there is no time involved, because the right movement has started now. There is another thing which I want to ask about the past: for most people, the past means pleasure.
K: Not only pleasure but the remembrance of everything.
N: One starts disliking pleasure only when it becomes stale, or leads to difficulties. One wants pleasure all the time.
K: Of course.
N: It is sometimes difficult to distinguish between pleasure and the staleness or the difficulties that it brings.
K: Pleasure is always the past; there is no pleasure at the moment it is happening. That comes in later, when it is remembered. So the remembrance is the past. But I am willing to face nothingness which means to wipe out all that!
N: But I am saying that the human being, even though he understands what you are saying, is held back in this field.
K: Because he is not willing to face this emptiness. Pleasure is not compassion. pleasure is not love, pleasure has no place in compassion. But perhaps if there is this mutation, compassion is stronger than pleasure.
DB: Even the perception of order may be stronger than pleasure. If people are really concerned with something, the pleasure plays no role at that moment.
N: But what happens to a man in whom pleasure is dominant?
K: We have already discussed this. As long as he is unwilling to face this extraordinary emptiness, he will keep on with the old pattern.
DB: You see, we have to say that this man had a damaged brain too. It is brain damage which causes this emphasis on pleasure, as well as the fear and the anger.
K: But the damaged brain is healed when there is insight.
DB: Yes. But I think many people who would understand that hate and anger are products of the damaged brain would find it hard to see that pleasure also is the product of the damaged brain.
K: Oh, yes, but of course it is.
DB: Can we say there is a true enjoyment, which is not the product of the damaged brain, which is confused with pleasure?
N: If pleasure gives rise to anger, anger is part of the damaged brain.
K: And also the demand for pleasure.
So do you have an insight into how very destructive the past is to the brain? Can the brain itself see, have an insight into this, and move out of it?
N: You are saying that the beginning of order comes from insight?
K: Obviously. Let's work from there.
N: May I put it in a different way? Is it possible to gather a certain amount of order in a pattern sense, artificially, so that it gives rise to a certain amount of insight?
K: Ah! You cannot find truth through the false.
N: I am asking it purposefully because many people seem to lack the energy that is required for insight.
K: You are tremendously keen to earn a livelihood, to earn money, to do anything in which you are really interested. If you are interested vitally in this transformation, etc., you have the energy.
May we go on? I, as a human being, have seen that this insight has wiped away the past, and the brain is willing to live in nothingness. Right? We have come to this point several times from different directions. Now let's go on. Now there isn't a thing put there by thought. There is no movement of thought, except factual knowledge which has its own place. But talking psychologically, there is no movement in the mind or of thought. There is absolutely nothing.
DB: You mean no feeling either? You see, the movement of thought and feeling is together.
K: Wait a minute. What do you mean here by feeling?
DB: Well, usually people might say, all right, there is no thought, but they have various feelings.
K: Of course we have feelings.
DB: These are sensations. And also there are the inner feelings.
K: Inner feelings of what?
DB: It is hard to describe them. Those that can easily be described are obviously the wrong kind, such as anger and fear.
K: Is compassion a feeling?
DB: Probably not.
K: No, it is not a feeling.
DB: Though people may say they feel compassionate! Even the very word suggests it is a form of feeling. Compassion has in it the word `passion', which is feeling. This is a difficult question. We could perhaps question what we usually recognize as feelings?
K: Let's go into that a little bit. What do we mean by feelings? Sensations?
DB: Well, people don't usually mean that. You see, sensations are connected with the body.
K: So you are talking of feelings which are not of the body?
DB: Yes, or which - in the old days - would have been described as of the soul.
K: The soul, of course. That is an easy escape but it means nothing.
K: What are the inner feelings? Pleasure?
DB: Well, in so far as you could label it, that description would not be valid.
K: So what is valid? The non-verbal state?
DB: It may be a non-verbal state... something analogous to a feeling which isn't fixed, that can't be named.
N: You are saying it is not feeling, it is similar to feeling, but it is not fixed?
DB: Yes. I am just considering that that could exist if we say that there is no thought. I am trying to clarify this.
K: Yes, there is no thought.
DB: What does that really mean?
K: What it really means is, thought is movement, thought is time. Right? In that emptiness there is not time or thought.
DB: Yes, and perhaps no sense of the existence of an entity inside.
K: Absolutely, of course. The existence of the entity is the bundle of memories, the past.
DB: But that existence is not only thought thinking about it, but also the feeling that it is there; you get a sort of feeling inside.
K: A feeling, yes. There is no being. There is nothing. If there is a feeling of the being continuing...
DB: Yes, even though it doesn't seem possible to verbalize this... It would be a state without desire. How can we know if this state is real, is genuine?
K: That is what I am asking. How do we know, or realize that this is so? In other words, do you want proof of it?
N: Not proof, but communication of that state.
K: Now wait a minute. Suppose someone has this peculiar compassion, how can he communicate it to me, if I am living in pleasure and all that? He can't!
N: No, but I am prepared to listen to him.
K: Prepared to listen, but how deeply? The man says there is no being. And one's whole life has been this becoming. And, in that state, he says there is no being at all. In other words, there is no `me'. Right? Now you say, `Show it to me'. It can be shown only through certain qualities that it has, certain actions. What are the actions of a mind that is totally empty of being? Actions at what level? Actions in the physical world?
K: Mostly that. All right, this man has got this sense of emptiness, and there is no being. He is not acting from self-centred interests. His actions are in the world of daily living, and you can judge whether he is a hypocrite, whether he says something and contradicts it the next moment, or whether he is actually living this compassion and not just saying, `I feel compassionate'.
DB: But if one is not doing the same, one can't tell.
K: That's right. That is what I am saying.
N: We can't judge him.
K: You can't. So how can he convey to us in words that peculiar quality of mind? He can describe, go round it, but he can't give the essence of it. Dr. Bohm, for example, could discuss with Einstein; they were on the same level. And he and I can discuss. If one has this sense of not being, of emptiness, the other can go very close, but can never enter that mind unless he has it!
N: Is there any way of communicating, for one who is open, but not through words?
K: We are talking of compassion. It is not, `I feel compassionate'. That is altogether wrong. You see, in daily life such a mind acts without the `me', without the `ego'. Therefore it might make a mistake, but it corrects immediately; it is not carrying that mistake.
N: It is not stuck.
K: Not stuck. But we must be very careful here not to find an excuse for wrong!
So we come to that point that we discussed earlier; what then is meditation? Right? For the man who is becoming, meditation has no meaning whatsoever. That is a tremendous statement. When there is not this being or becoming, what is meditation? It must be totally unconscious, totally uninvited.
DB: Do you mean, without conscious intention?
K: Yes, I think that is right. Would you say - I hope this doesn't sound silly - that the universe, the cosmic order, is in meditation?
DB: Well, if it is alive, then we would have to look at it that way.
K: No, no. It is in a state of meditation.
K: I think that is right. I stick to that.
DB: We should try to go further into what is meditation. What is it doing?
N: If you say that the universe is in meditation, is the expression of it order? What order can we discern which would indicate cosmic or universal meditation?
K: The sunrise and sunset; all the stars, the planets are order. The whole thing is in perfect order.
DB: We have to connect this with meditation. According to the dictionary, the meaning of meditation is to reflect, to turn something over in the mind, and to pay close attention.
K: And also to measure.
DB: That is a further meaning, but it is to weigh, to ponder, it means, measure, in the sense of weighing.
K: Weighing, that's it. Ponder, think over, and so on.
DB: To weigh the significance of something. Now is that what you mean?
DB: Then why do you use the word?
N: I am told that, in English, contemplation has a different connotation from meditation. Contemplation implies a deeper state of mind.
DB: It is hard to know. The word `contemplate' comes from the word temple, really.
K: Yes, that's right.
DB: Its basic meaning is, to create an open space.
K: Is that an open space between God and me?
DB: That is the way the word arose.
N: The Sanskrit word Dhyana doesn't have the same connotation as meditation.
N: Because meditation has the overtones of measurement, and probably, in an oblique way, that measurement is order.
K: No, I don't want to bring in order - let's leave the word order out. We have been through that, and beaten it to death!
DB: Why do you use the word meditation?
K: Don't let's use it.
DB: Let's find out what you really mean here.
K: Would you say, a state of infinity? A measureless state?
K: There is no division of any kind. You see we are giving lots of descriptions, but it is not that.
DB: Yes, but is there any sense of the mind being in some way aware of itself? Is that what you are trying to say? At other times you have said that the mind is emptying itself of content.
K: What are you trying to get at?
DB: I am asking whether it is not only infinite, but if something more is involved?
K: Oh, much more.
DB: We said that content is the past which is making disorder. Then you could say that this emptying of content in some sense is constantly cleaning up the past. Would you agree to that?
K: No, no.
DB: When you say the mind is emptying itself of content...
K: Has emptied itself.
DB: All right, then. When the past is cleaned up, then you say that is meditation.
K: That is meditation; no, contemplation...
N: Just a beginning.
N: The emptying of the past.
K: That emptying of the past, which is anger, jealousy, beliefs, dogmas, attachments, etc., must be done. If that is not emptied, if any part of that exists, it will inevitably lead to illusion. The brain or the mind must be totally free of all illusion, illusion brought by desire, by hope, by wanting security, and all that.
DB: Are you saying that when this is done, it opens the door to something broader, deeper?
K: Yes. Otherwise life has no meaning; it is just repeating this pattern.
N: What exactly did you mean when you said that the universe is meditation?
K: I feel that way, yes.
DB: Could we say first of all that the universe is not actually governed by its past? You see, the universe creates certain forms which are relatively constant, so that people who look at it superficially only see that, and it seems then to be determined from the past.
K: Yes, it is not governed by the past. It is creative, moving.
DB: And then this movement is order.
K: Would you, as a scientist, accept such a thing?
DB: Well as a matter of fact I would!
K: Are we both crazy? Let's put the question another way: is it really possible for time to end - the whole idea of time as the past - chronologically, so that there is no tomorrow at all? There is the feeling, the actual reality, psychologically, of having no tomorrow. I think that is the healthiest way of living - which doesn't mean that I become irresponsible! That would be too childish.
DB: It is merely a question of physical time, which is a certain part of natural order.
K: Of course; that is understood.
DB: The question is whether we have a sense of experiencing past and future or whether we are free of that sense.
K: I am asking you, as a scientist, is the universe based on time?
DB: I would say no, but you see the general way...
K: That is all I want. You say no! And can the brain, which has evolved in time?
DB: Well, has it evolved in time? Rather it has become entangled in time. Because the brain is part of the universe, which we say is not based on time.
K: I agree.
DB: Thought has entangled the brain in time.
K: All right. Can that entanglement be unravelled, freed, so that the universe is the mind? You follow? If the universe is not of time, can the mind, which has been entangled in time, unravel itself and so be the universe? You follow what I am trying to say?
K: That is order.
DB: That is order. And would you say that it is meditation?
K: That is it. I would call that meditation, not in the ordinary, dictionary sense of pondering, and all that, but a state of meditation in which there is no element of the past.
DB: You say the mind is disentangling itself from time, and also really disentangling the brain from time?
K: Yes, would you accept that?
K: As a theory?
DB: Yes, as a proposal.
K: No, I don't want it as a proposal.
DB: What do you mean by theory?
K: Theory - when somebody comes along and says, this is real meditation.
DB: All right.
K: Wait. Somebody says, one can live this way; life has an extraordinary meaning in it, full of compassion, etc., and every act in the physical world can be corrected immediately, and so on. Would you, as a scientist, accept such a state, or say that the man who talks of it is cuckoo?
DB: No, I wouldn't say that. I feel it is perfectly possible; it is quite compatible with anything that I know about nature.
K: Oh, then that's all right. So one is not an unbalanced cuckoo! Of course putting all this into words is not the thing. Right? That is understood. But can it be communicated to another? Now can some of us get to this, so that we can communicate it, actually?