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Conversations in Brockwood Park 1978

Brockwood Park 23rd June 1978 3rd Conversation with Prof.bohm, Mr.narayan and Two Buddhist Scholars

Narayan: I am suggesting that Dr.Rahula puts all the questions that he has noted down so that in the course of the discussion we can cover most of the ground. And I have also got one or two things to say. I would like also to put it so that the discussion can centre round the questions.

Rahula: Why not put your question first?

N: My question is, in the Buddhist philosophy as coming from Nairanjana, probably the greatest thinker, second century: he talked a great deal about shunyata, void and it has a very close association with insight. And I believe the whole of later Buddhist thought owes its strength to this Nairanjana idea of shunyata as being something which is pure, pristinal. And there is no insight without shunyata. I will put it that way. And then he also said without understanding the outer there is no possibility of going to the inner. Then he also made a statement which seems to be fallacious: samsara is nirvana, and nirvana is samsara.

K: Sir, you are using Sanskrit words, perhaps some of us may understand each other but you must explain it.

N: Samsara is worldly life with all its travail, suffering and dukkha, sorrow, with all its sorrow. Nirvana is a state of freedom, bliss, liberation. He said samsara is nirvana, and nirvana is samsara. And this is explained by the Buddhist scholars through (?), the whole thing is interrelated, conditioned co-ordination. So this has a very powerful influence over the Buddhist thought today, as I understand it. And I would like this to be examined in the context of what we have been talking about.

K: I haven't understood the statement.

N: The first thing is the importance of shunyata.

K: What do you mean by that word shunyata?

R: From the Buddhist point of view I will explain. Shunyata literally means voidness, void, emptiness.

K: Nothingness. I know the meaning.

R: That is the literal meaning. But the significance is that it is attributed by western Buddhist scholars mostly to Nairanjana. That is incorrect. It is the Buddha who said this first and Nairanjana as a great thinker, philosopher, developed it into a system. Whereas Buddha said it in a very simple way. And Ananda who was Buddha's nearest associate, companion, disciple, asked one day, "Sir, it is said the world is sunyata, empty, what does it mean, to what extent is it sunyata?" He said, "Ananda, it is without self" - he used the word, atman - "without self and anything pertaining to self, therefore it is sunyata". It is very clearly explained. In many other places he told a man, "See the world as shunyata and you are liberated". And these are the original statements. Nairanjana took these ideas and developed them by his dependent origination, I would rather call it conditioned genesis, and on that philosophy, that is everything is interdependent, relative, nothing is absolute, everything is cause and effect, and cause cannot be separated from effect and effect is a continuity. That is time also. And on this philosophy Nairanjana developed very highly as a system this teaching of shunyata as void, empty. And that is exactly what Krishnaji says also. There is no self, and you see it and every problem is solved. There is no complication, there is no problem. That is how I see it in relation to his explanation.

Then the second thing you said - what was the second question?

N: The relationship between the outer and the inner.

R: That is exactly what Krishnaji and Dr.Bohm discussed as 'Actuality and Truth' and it is published in that new book, that is sunyatasatva and paramatasatva, these are also accepted Buddhist philosophical propositions. Sunyatasatva is conventional, that is what we do, talk and eat and all these things, duality within relativity. You can't say this is false, this table. But in another sense this is not so. But sunyatasatva is that conventional truth. Paramatsatva, the ultimate, absolute truth. These two also cannot be separated.

N: That's right.

R: Now Nairanjana clearly says in one place, one who cannot see and does not see the conventional truth is incapable of arriving at the ultimate truth.

The third question you raised was, I think, nirvana and samsara. That is also, Nairanjana says - really I remember the words even by heart - he says that nirvana has no difference whatsoever from samsara and samsara has no difference whatsoever from nirvana. To clarify the word 'samsara', the strict definition is the continuity of our existence. And I remember once I put this question to Krishnaji in Paris, personally, there was nobody except him and myself.

K: Two wise people!

R: I don't know. But I put it to Krishnaji there is a great Nairanjana statement like this, it is very interesting to say it today, I asked him what he thought. Then to my surprise he said, "Who is Nairanjana?" I said, "That is your compatriot", and then I explained to him who Nairanjana was historically as a thinker and a philosopher. I said in Buddhist history he is perhaps the boldest thinker. Then he asked me, what were his attainments. I said we can't say, that we don't know, only we know his writings, through writings about him, but about his attainments, spiritual realization we can't say anything. Krishnaji paused for a minute and asked me, "What did Buddha say about all this?" I said, nothing. You said, that is correct, that is right. Because I was always doubtful and I did not accept Nairanjana's statement so clearly, definitely saying nirvana and sunyama were the same.

K: I am not quite sure that we understood, all of us.

R: Yes, will you explain this point sir?

K: May I ask this, to explain a little more? What does samskara mean actually?

R: Samskara is another thing. Samsara literally means wandering, going off.

K: And Samskara means?

R: Samskara means construction, that is all our thinking.

K: The past.

R: It belongs to the past.

K: That's right.

R: It belongs to the past.

K: Yes, I understood that.

R: All our sanskarsas are memory, knowledge, learning and all that.

K: Like an old man going back and living in the past. That's it.

R: But samsara is continuity. Nirvana means...

K: Whatever it is.

R: Whatever it is, it is never defined in positive terms by the Buddha. Always whenever he was asked he said, no, that is not nirvana.

K: So you have asked your questions?

Now, sir, you had better ask your questions too in relation to what he has said.

R: The question is not from him, from you. My question I am asking from you.

K: What?

R: There are many questions but as we have not much time...

K: We have got plenty of time, sir.

R: One question is - both I will say at once so you can take them - one question is that in western philosophy, western thought, free will has played a very important part.

K: Free will.

R: Free-will - absolutely freely. Yes, free will. According to the same philosophy that Mr.Narayan said, conditional relations, that is cause and effect - according to that philosophy, Buddhism, such a thing is impossible because all our thinking, all our construction, all our work, all our knowledge is conditioned. Therefore if there is a free will it is free only in a relative sense and it is not absolute freedom. That is the Buddhist position. That is one question I put.

K: Let's talk it over, sir. What is will? What is will? How do you explain what will is?

R: Will is that you decide, you want.

K: No, what is the origin, the beginning of will? I will do this, I won't do that. Now what is the meaning of will?

R: The meaning of will is to want to do.

K: No. All right, let me go on then. Is it not desire?

R: It is a desire.

K: Desire accentuated, heightened, strengthened, which we call will.

Bohm: It seems to me that we make it determined. We determine the object of desire. We say, "I am determined".

K: In that there is determination.

B: It gets fixed there.

K: I desire that, and to achieve that I make an effort. That effort, the motive of that effort is desire. So will is desire. Right?

R: It is a form of desire.

K: Now, can desire ever be free?

R: Absolutely. That is what I wanted to hear from you because you don't like to say that but I want to say it.

K: Desire can never be free. It can change the objects of desire: I can desire one year to go to buy this, the next year that, change, but desire is constant, the objects vary. And the strengthening of desire, I will do that, the will is in operation. Will is desire. Now can desire ever be free?

R: No.

K: But we say free will exists because I can choose between this and that, between this job and that job, I can go - except out of the totalitarian states - I can go from England to France freely. So the idea of free will is cultivated with a sense that human beings are free to choose. What does that mean, to choose? I can choose between blue jeans and something else, between this car and that car, between that house and so on, but why should I choose at all? Apart from material things, apart from certain books and so on, why is there choice? I am am a Catholic, I give up Catholicism and become a Zen Buddhist. And if I am a Zen, I become something else, and I choose. Why? Why is there choice at all, which gives one the impression that I am free to choose? Right sir? So I am asking why is there the necessity of choice at all? If I am a Catholic, and absorb the whole significance of Catholicism, with its abstractions, with its rituals, dogmas, you know the whole circus in it, and I abandon that, why should I join something else? Because when I have investigated this I have investigated all the religions. So choice must exist only when the mind is confused. No? When it is clear there is no choice. Is that right?

R: I think you have answered the question, to me you have answered the question.

K: I haven't fully answered it.

B: I think that the western philosophers might not agree with you, I am not sure.

K: They won't agree, of course.

B: They say that choice is not desire, that will is not desire, but will is something else. I think that is my impression.

K: Yes, will is something else.

B: Will is a free act.

K: The will is something inherited, or it is part of the genetic process, to will, to be.

B: But I think for example, I can't say I know much about it, but Catholic philosophers may say that when Adam sinned, he willed wrongly, let's say, he made a wrong choice and he set us off on this way.

K: You see that is a very convenient way of explaining away everything. First invent Adam and Eve, the serpent and the apple, and god, and then put everything as the primal crime.

R: Yes, a lot of creation in that, mental creation.

B: I think if one observes one can see that will is the result of desire. But I think people have the impression that will is something entirely different.

K: Yes, will is part of something sacred.

B: That's what many people think.

K: Something derived from a divine being.

R: According to the western philosophy.

K: More or less. I don't know very much about western philosophy but from people with whom I have talked, and they may not be sufficiently informed, but they have given me the impression that will is something not quite human, not quite desire, not quite something that you cultivate. It is born out of the original sin, original god, and so on and so on.

But if one puts all that aside, which is theoretical, problematical and rather superstitious, if you put all that aside, then what is will and what is choice, and what is action without choice and will? You follow? That is the problem. Is there any action which is not compounded with will? I don't know what the Buddha said.

N: Would you say that insight has nothing to do with will?

K: Oh, nothing whatever to do with will, or desire, or memory.

N: So insight is something which is free from will, and also analysis.

R: Yes. Insight is seeing. And in that seeing there is no choice, there is no discrimination, there is no judgement, there are no moral or immoral values. You see.

N: So insight is not visible to will, nor is it visible to analysis.

R: No.

K: You see this is becoming theoretical. You are making it so theoretical.

N: Because through analysis...

K: Excuse me, sir. You are making it theoretical, you have defined it, it is not this, it is not that, and you think you have insight.

N: I don't agree.

K: Then why do you discuss it?

N: No, because we have been discussing insight so far, or we have been seeing.

K: Now, Narayan, if I may point out, we are talking over together action in which there is no choice, in which there is no effort as will. Is there such action? I don't know, sir, please.

R: There is such an action.

K: You know it? Or is it a theory? Forgive me, I must be clear. I want to move away, if you will forgive me, and I am not being impudent, one should move away from theories, from ideas, from conclusions. But find out for oneself the truth of that matter: which is, is there an action in which there is no effort of will at all, and therefore no choice? So what is correct action in which there is no will, no choice, no desire - because will is part of desire and so on? To find that out one must be very clear, mustn't one, of the nature of desire. And desire is part of sensation, and desire being part of sensation, and thought identifies itself with that sensation, and through identification the 'I' is built up, the ego, and the ego then says, "I must", or "I will not".

So we are trying to find out if there is an action not based on the principle of ideals, on desire, on will, not spontaneous - that word is rather a dangerous word because nobody is spontaneous, one thinks one can be spontaneous but there is no such thing because one must be totally free to be spontaneous. Do you follow? So is there such action? Because most of our action has a motive. Right? And motive means movement - I want to build a house, I want that woman, or that man, I am hurt psychologically or biologically and my motive is to hurt back - so there is always some kind of motive in action, which we do in daily life. So then action is conditioned by the motive. The motive is part of the identification process. So if I understand - not 'understand' - if there is a perception of the truth that identification builds the whole nature, the structure of the self, then is there an action which doesn't spring from thought? I don't know, am I right sir?

B: Could we ask why - before we go into that - why there is identification, why is it that this is so prevalent?

K: Why does thought identify.

B: With sensation and other things.

K: Why is there identification with something?

B: Specially sensation.

K: Yes. Go on sirs. Answer it sirs. You are all experts.

N: Is it the very nature of thought to identify, or are there forms of thought which don't identify with sensation?

K: Narayan, why do you - if I may again most politely and respectfully, etc., etc., why do you put that question? Is it a theoretical question or an actual question? Why do you, Narayan, identify?

N: Let me put it this way...

K: No, I won't put it differently.

N: Why I can identify with these sensations, I have nothing else to identify with.

K: So why do you give importance to sensation? Do you say, I am a sentient being and nothing else?

N: No, no.

K: Ah, that's it.

N: If I have to identify with anything it can only be with sensation.

B: Is there a duality in identification? Could we make it clear.

K: In identification, as you point out sir, there is duality, the identifier and the identified.

B: Is it possible that you are trying to overcome the duality by identifying, by saying, "I am not different", when you are, or when you feel you aren't.

K: You see I don't want to enter into the field of ideologies, theories. To me, I have no interest in it. But I really, in investigating I want to find out, perhaps I have found out but talking over together, is there an action in which the self is not? In daily life, not in nirvana, when I have reached freedom and all the rest of it, I want to do it in this life, as I live. Which means I have to find out - the mind has to find out an action which has no cause, which means no motive, an action which is not the result or an effect of a series of causes and effects. If that exists action is always bound, chained. Am I making myself clear? So is there such an action?

B: Well, it seems to me we can't find it as long as we are identifying.

K: That's right. That's why I said as long as identification exists I can't find the answer.

B: But why does thought identify?

K: Why does thought identify with sensations?

B: Is that irresistible or is that just something you can put aside?

K: I don't know if that is irresistible, or if it is part of sensation.

B: How is that?

K: Let's investigate.

B: You think that sensation is behind that?

K: Perhaps, when I say perhaps, that word is used for the purpose of investigation, not "I don't know", but let's investigate. But it may be. So why have sensations become so important in life - sexual sensations, the sensation of power, whether occult power or political power, economic power, or power of a woman over man, or man over woman, power of environment, the influence of the environment, the pressures - why has thought yielded to this pressure? Right, sir?

B: Does sensation necessarily produce a pressure?

K: It does when it is identified.

B: Yes, but then it is the two together.

K: I know, but let's examine. What do we mean by sensation?

B: Well it is clear that we may have a remembered sensation of pleasure.

K: Senses, the operation of the senses - touching, tasting, seeing, smelling, hearing.

B: The experience that happens then; and also the memory of it.

K: No, the memory is only when there is an identification with it.

B: I agree, yes.

K: When there is no identification the senses are senses. But why does thought identify itself with senses?

B: Yes, that is not yet clear.

K: We are going to make it clear.

B: Are you saying that when the sensation is remembered then we have identification?

K: Yes.

B: Can we make that more clear?

K: Let's make it a little more clear. Let's work at it. There is perceiving a pleasurable lake, seeing a beautiful lake, what takes place in that seeing? There is not only optical seeing by the eye, but also the senses are awakened, the smell of the water, the trees on the lake...

B: Could we stop a moment? When you say seeing, of course you see through the visual sense.

K: I am using purely visual sense.

B: Therefore you already have the visual sense awakened merely to see. Is that what you mean?

K: Yes. Just seeing.

B: Visually.

K: Visually, optically, I am just seeing, then what takes place?

B: And the other senses start to operate.

K: And the other senses start operating. Why doesn't it stop there?

B: What is the next step?

K: The next step is thought comes in - how beautiful that is, I wish I could remain here.

B: So thought identifies it.

K: Yes.

B: It says, "It is this".

K: Because in that there is pleasure.

B: In what?

K: Seeing and the delight of seeing, then thought coming into operation and saying, "I must have more, I must build a house here, it is mine".

B: But why does thought do that?

K: Why does thought interfere with senses - is that it? Now wait a minute, sir. The moment the senses take pleasure, say, "How delightful", and stop there, thought doesn't enter. Right? Now why does thought enter? If it is painful thought avoids it, it doesn't identify itself with that.

B: It identifies against it, it says, "I don't want it".

K: No, leave it alone, go away from it, either deny it or move away from it. But if it is pleasurable, when the senses begin to enjoy, say, "How nice", then thought begins to identify itself with it.

B: But why, I mean?

K: Why, because of pleasure.

B: But why doesn't it give it up when it sees how futile this is?

K: Oh, that's much later.

B: That's a long way on.

K: When it becomes painful, when it is aware identification breeds both pleasure and fear, then it begins to question.

B: Well, are you saying that thought has made a simple mistake in the beginning, a kind of innocent mistake?

K: That's right. Thought has made a mistake in identifying with something that brings to it pleasure, or there is pleasure in something.

B: And thought tries to take over.

K: To take over.

B: To make it permanent, perhaps.

K: Permanent, that's right, which means memory. A remembrance of the lake with the daffodils and the trees and the water and sunlight, and all the rest of it.

B: I understand thought has make a mistake and later it discovers that mistake, but it seems to be too late because it doesn't know how to stop.

K: It is now conditioned.

B: So can we make it clear why it cannot give it up, you see.

K: Why it cannot give it up. That's our whole problem.

B: Can we try to make it more clear.

K: Why doesn't thought give up something which it knows, or is aware is painful?

B: Yes.

K: It is destructive. Why? Go on, why, sir? Sir, let's take a simple example: psychologically one is hurt.

B: Well that is later.

K: I am taking that as an example, doesn't matter later. One is hurt, why can't one immediately give up that hurt, because knowing that hurt is going to create a great deal of damage? That is, when I am hurt I build a wall round myself not to be hurt more, there is fear, and isolation, neurotic actions, all that follows. Thought has created the image about myself, and that image gets hurt. Why doesn't thought say, "Yes, by Jove, I have seen this", drop it immediately? It is the same question. Because when it drops the image there is nothing left.

B: Then you have another ingredient because thought wants to hold on to the memory of the image.

K: Hold on to the memories which have created the image.

B: And which may create it again, and thought feels they are very precious.

K: Yes, they are very precious, nostalgic and all the rest of it.

B: So somehow it gives very high value to all that. How did it come to do that?

K: Why has it made the image so valuable. Why has the image become so important which thought has created?

B: If I may say that in the beginning it was a simple mistake, and thought made an image of pleasure and it seemed to become very important, precious, and was unable to give it up.

K: Yes, why doesn't it? Sir, if I give up pleasure, if thought gives up pleasure, what is there left?

B: It can't seem to return to the state in the beginning when there was nothing.

K: Ah, that is the pristine state.

B: It is unable to return to that state.

K: It can't because thought - you know, all the rest of it.

B: Well, I think what happens is that when thought thinks of giving up pleasure which has become very precious, then the mere thought of that is painful.

K: Yes, giving up is painful.

B: And therefore thought runs away from that.

K: Yes, so it clings to pleasure.

B: It does not wish to face the pain.

K: Until there is a better reward for pleasure, which will be a better pleasure.

B: That's no change.

K: Of course.

B: But thought seems to have fallen into a trap which it has made because it has innocently remembered pleasure, and then gradually made it important and then it has become too painful to give it up. Because any change from the immediate removal of pleasure is very painful.

K: Because it has nothing else then afterwards, then it is frightened.

B: But you see in the beginning it was not frightened to have nothing else.

K: Yes.

B: Now it is.

K: Yes, In the beginning, that means the beginning being the beginning of man.

B: Yes.

K: In the beginning of man - can we question even that?

B: Perhaps not.

K: Beginning of the ape.

B: If you go far enough back. You want to say it has been going a long time, but thought has built this trap which has gradually got worse.

K: Sir, could we say as the brain is very old - all out brains are very old - merely tracing it back further and further and further, you can never find out. But I can say my brain is now as it is, which is very old, conditioned, in terms of pleasure and pain.

B: They say the old brain is also the emotional product of the brain.

K: Of course, emotional and all the rest of it, sensory. So where are we now?

B: Well, we say this brain has conditioned itself by continual memory of the image of pleasure, the unpleasantness of giving it up and the fear.

K: So it clings to something which it knows.

B: Which it knows and which is very precious to it.

K: But it doesn't know that it is going to breed fear.

B: Even when it knows it still clings.

K: But it would much rather run away from fear hoping the pleasure will continue.

B: Eventually it starts to become irrational because it creates pressures which make the brain irrational and unable to get this straight.

K: Yes. Where are we now at the end of this? We started off, sir, didn't we, Dr.Bohm, with, is there an action in which there is no motive, no cause, the self doesn't enter into it at all? Of course there is. There is when the self is not, which means no identifying process takes place. There is the perceiving of a beautiful lake with all the colour and the glory and the beauty of it, that's enough. Not the cultivating of memory, which is developed through the identification process. Right?

B: This raises the question, how are we going to stop this identification?

K: I don't think there is a 'how'. You see that means meditation, control, practice, practice, practice. And that way makes the mind mechanical, dull - forgive me - and literally incapable of receiving anything new.

Schloegel: If it imitates, if it just imitates it, this is precisely what happens. If these practices are done with imitation, imitation...

R: That means if that practice becomes an imitation then the mind is mechanical.

K: What do you mean 'imitation'?

S: If you tell me - if I make it very simple - just three times a day put your hand on the floor, something will happen; and I do it, I do not think about it, I do not enquire about it, I do not say, "Now, what happens, why should I", if I do not question it, if I just mechanically do it nothing will happen, I will get only more and more fuzzy. But if I enquire into it why, what for, what is my reaction...

K: My question is, I have listened to somebody who says, put your hand there, and then I begin to enquire, but I don't accept anybody telling me that I must put my hand there, then I don't have to enquire. Do you remember that famous story of a guru, he had a favourite cat, and he had many disciples. Every morning before they all started meditation, he caught hold of the cat, put it on his lap, and meditated. And when he died the disciples had to search around for a cat.

R: I heard it quite differently. The cat was tied up so he could not come and listen.

K: Same thing. You see our minds are mechanical anyhow, have been made mechanical. Can't we investigate why we have become mechanical, rather than practice that which is non-mechanical, which may be mechanical.

S: We can, since there have been people who have become whole before us...

K: I don't know.

S: Or it seems so.

K: I don't know anybody.

S: It seems likely.

K: You see you accept it.

S: Looking at it as a possible proposition.

K: I don't know. I start with myself. I don't look to somebody who is enlightened. I don't know. They may deceive themselves.

S: This is why I am trying to find...

K: So one must start with oneself. Oneself is already secondhand, living in the shadow of others, so why look to others. So here I am. From there I begin. It is so simple, whereas the other leads to so many complications.

S: I do not necessarily see it as a complication. If I have an idea that there is something that is more than my illusion, my suffering, my general state of dissatisfaction in which I am and which I have to face, if I do not think that there is any possibility then I might not even try. If I see that there might be a possibility, I do not need to take it for truth, but it gives me the sense that it is worthwhile trying to work with myself as my own subject of experiment, to work it out.

K: Why do you want a motive?

S: I think it is almost impossible not to start with that motive because that starts from self.

K: No, madam, we are talking about the same thing, aren't we? I just want to know myself, not because I suffer, I go through, you know, I just want to know what I am, not according to anybody but just know about myself. So I begin to enquire, I begin to look in the mirror, which is myself. The mirror says, your reactions are these, and as long as you have these reactions you are going to pay heavily, you are going to suffer. So that is all. So now how am I, an ordinary human being, knowing all my reactions, ugly, pleasant, hateful, all the reactions one has, to bring about an observation in which there is no motive to restrain, or to expand, reactions? I wonder if I am making myself clear.

S: Yes.

K: How am I to observe myself without a cause? The cause generally is punishment and reward. Which is obviously too absurd, like a dog being trained. So can I look at myself without any motive? Go on sirs.

S: At this stage of enquiry, where I am beginning to try to do it, to start with I cannot do it, I am too conditioned.

K: No, I wouldn't admit that. You are always asking for help.

S: No, but I can in the same way that I can do a physical training, I can be able slowly, but not immediately, to look at the proximity of those things that I do normally not like to see in myself.

K: I understand that madam. I have no muscles to do certain exercises, in a week's time I have those muscles by doing exercises. That same mentality is carried over - I don't know myself but I will gradually learn about myself.

S: It is not that I need to gradually learn - we have to be very careful here - it is not that I need to gradually learn about myself, it is only that I have to develop the courage, the strength to bear myself.

K: It is the same thing, it is the same thing. I haven't the strength, physical strength to do certain exercises: the same mental operation goes psychologically, I am weak but I must be strong.

S: It is not that I must get strong. I think this is where one gets oneself into a critical state, it is not for the motive, it is the very real suffering and looking, and suffering and looking, and there is a changing factor in it which in the end makes it possible.

K: Which is again gradual, evolution. I say that is totally - if I may point out, I am not correcting you - that will lead nowhere, that is an illusion.

S: It need not lead to anywhere, but if it is continued in that spirit, with that attitude, not I get something out of it, then there is a sudden change which is possible and it does occur. And I would like to make another point on that: whether we have done it starting with that motive and began slowly the other way, or whether we have done it unknown to ourselves so that it can suddenly happen on the basis of the life that we have lived, does really not make any difference.

K: Madam, either you have insight immediately, or you don't have it.

S: yes, that is true but...

K: Ah, there is no preparation, that means time, which means cultivating, identification, the 'me'.

S: No.

K: Of course. The moment you allow time it is the cultivation of the self.

S: Not necessarily.

K: Why do you say, not necessarily?

S: If I do it for something that I want to gain out of it then it is certainly a cultivation of the self.

K: Madam, when you say, as we said just now, insight is devoid of time and memory. Insight is timeless, it must happen. You can't gradually come to it, it is not a thing cultivated by thought. So to have an insight into oneself instantly, not by degrees. Is that possible?

S: Yes.

K: No, don't say, yes, we are enquiring.

S: Then I would say with my own conviction and experience, yes.

K: Say yes to what?

S: It is possible.

K: That means if you have an insight, that insight wipes away the self, not momentarily. So would you say action then is without motive? Do you know such action - not occasionally, but living an everyday life? I don't want to be occasionally fed but I want to be fed every day. I don't want to be occasionally happy - you know all the rest of it. As insight is devoid of time and divorced from memory, thought, therefore is there an action born of insight? You understand?

R: If you have insight - I don't say 'had' because that means memory again.

K: Have insight.

R: If you have insight, there is no exception, all your actions are without motive.

K: Again forgive me - are we talking theoretically or actually?

R: Actually.

K: That means action is correct, accurate, right through life.

R: Yes. You may make mistakes, sir, technically.

K: No, I am not talking of technically.

R: There is no self, there is no motive if you have that insight. Every action...

K: Have you got that insight? Not you, sir, has one insight, that insight into the whole nature of the self, not arguments, not inductions, not deductions, not conclusions, but have an insight into the nature of the self. And therefore the self, if there is an insight through the self then action will inevitably follow from that insight.

S: May I make one point clear that I feel strongly about - it is not that I have the insight, that is not possible. There is that insight. It is not as if I had it.

K: I have no insight, I have only blood. If I say, "I have an insight into that", I am a little bit mentally deranged. So what are we talking about? You asked a question, sir.

R: Of course we have gone very far away from our initial question.

K: I know.

R: Now let us go back to that question that was answered.

K: Let's go back to it.

R: No, that question you have answered. Then there is another question also dealing with intelligence. You see there is - perhaps you are aware of this theory, many people - that we think in a language. Many people say that. In which language do you think. I don't know. There is no language in thinking. Thought has no language, and the thought is immediately interpreted into the nearest language.

K: Sir, could you convey your thought to me without the word?

R: That is the thing. When you convey thought it is indefinite.

K: No, sir. Can you convey your thought to me without the word?

R: That depends on the level.

K: Which means what?

R: I don't know whether you accept it, or whether you have that experience, without talking, without words, there is communication.

K: That is, sir, there can only be communication, communion, when you and I are on the same level, and with the same intensity, at the same time. Right? Which is what? When you and I are on the same level, with the same intensity, at the same time, what is that thing? Then words are not necessary.

R: No.

K: What is that thing?

R: You can say if you like that it is thought.

K: No, no. Sir, when both of us are like that, what is the quality of that state? Not the absence of thought, but the quality, the perfume, the thing of it. Wouldn't you call that love?

R: Yes.

K: Don't.

R: But you asked me, or just you are going to answer it. I get confused when you put it to me and think you want me to answer it.

K: Sir, when two people have this extraordinary quality of this state, words are not necessary. There is that quality of love which exists, words become unnecessary. There is instant communication. Now for most of us language drives us. Right? Right sir? Language drives us, pushes us, shapes us. Our minds are conditioned by language, which is language, words, drive us, force us. I am an Englishman - the language, and the content of that language. Right? And if we use words without the language directing us, words then have an entirely different meaning.

N: The language doesn't drive you, but you drive the language.

K: That's right.

B: I think that ordinarily we are identified with our language and therefore it is driving us, but if we are free of identification...

K: That's right, sir, It is extraordinary how language has made us. I am a communist.

B: That's an identification.

K: That's it.

B: But do you think that language is the major source of identification?

K: One of them.

B: One of the big ones.

K: Yes.

R: I don't know whether it would be useful, I would like to remind here of a very important Mahayana Buddhist philosophical attitude. That is, it is said that the world is caught up in language. And it is said the ordinary man is stuck in words just like an elephant in the mud, and so one must go beyond words to see them. Because as long as you are, as you say, driven by language...

K: Are you?

R: Are you asking personally?

K: Yes, are you? Am I? Dr.Bohm, is he driven by language?

R: That I can't see. You answer it.

K: I can answer for myself, but I am asking you.

R: Yes, you answer for yourself.

K: Absolutely.

R: That's enough.

N: But I think the more skilful, or scholarly one becomes in language, I suppose there is a great possibility of being caught in language.

R: Yes.

N: Whereas the rustic might just use it for simple communication.

K: Sir, that was your question, whether thought has words, whether thought is part of words. Does the word create the thought, or thought create the word?

B: You once asked the question, is there a thought without the word?

K: That is very interesting, sir, shall we go into it a little bit? Do you want to go into it, sir?

R: Is there a thought without the word.

B: That is the question.

R: I think thought has no word. Thought has no word. Thought is an image.

K: No, we are using the word in the sense of the symbol, the image, the picture, the word.

B: You see the word can easily be turned into an image, for example, by an artist, a description can be turned by an artist into an image, or vice versa, the image could be described and turned into words. So they have an equivalent content.

K: Sir, what is the origin of thought? If you had to find out, not what the Buddha said, if you, as a human being, had to find out something you must find out, otherwise your head will be chopped off, it is something tremendously important that you must find out, what will you do, what is the origin of thought. God made the word and the word was incarnate, at the beginning of Genesis. Please sir, answer that question.

R: Is there an origin?

K: Must be.

R: Why?

K: Otherwise - in you sir, what is the origin?

R: No origin.

K: Of course, sir, there must be a beginning of thought.

R: That is again a fallacy, a wrong way of looking at it.

K: No, no.

R: By asking everything must have a beginning.

K: No, I am not asking that everything has a beginning. I am just asking in order to find out, what is the beginning of thought. How did thought begin? With the dog - you follow sir - with the animals, everything that is living, they all think in various ways, or feel, and so on - there must be a beginning of that. What is that in human beings.

S: If we had no desire at all we would have no thought.

K: No, it is not a question of that.

B: Are you discussing thought without identification?

K: No, sir. How did thought begin in myself? Was it handed down by my father, by my parents, by education, by environment, by the past? I want to know. What made me think? Go on sir. What made you think?

R: The question is this, you are putting some cause behind it, but I would say, nothing made me think, it is in the nature of yourself, thinking.

K: No.

R: There is no other cause.

K: Oh yes there is. I'll show you.

R: What is that?

K: No, I am not the final authority, sir. I'd like to talk it over. If I had no memory, would there be thinking?

R: I ask you again, what is the origin of memory?

K: That's fairly simple to answer. I remember seeing you in Paris - which I don't, but suppose I remember seeing you in Paris - that is recorded, isn't it? Right, sir?

R: That is generally accepted that it is recorded in the brain.

K: No, it is an ordinary fact.

R: No, that I do not accept. It is an old 19th century, 18th century, theory that everything is recorded in the brain somewhere.

K: No, sir. Look, I met you this week, you come back a year later - I hope you will - and then I say, yes, sir, I recognize you. How does that recognition take place?

R: This is a question that I want to ask you. I didn't ask it but this is the question that I very much wanted to ask you.

K: I meet you now, and in a year's time you come back, I hope you will for a discussion. Then I say, yes, sir, Mr.Rahula, we met last year. How does that take place? Very simple. Memory, the brain has recorded that memory of meeting you, learning your name. So that is memory, and when I meet you next time I recognize you. Right?

R: How does it happen?

K: It is very simple. You have been introduced to me, we have sat down here for two afternoons and a morning, and that is remembered, when you come back next year I say, yes. If I didn't remember I wouldn't recognize you. Right? So recording goes on - it is the 19th, or 1st century, or the 20th century, recording must go on. The elaborate educating process of learning a technique, how to drive a car, or go to the moon, whatever it is, it is careful accumulation of memory, which then acts. There is nothing wrong in that, is there?

R: How does it happen?

K: Sir, I don't know how to drive a car, so I go to the man who teaches me how to drive a car. I take twenty four lessons, at the end of it I am inspected and the man says, pretty good. I have learnt it by driving with him, he is telling me, be careful, turn to the left, he is guiding me all the time. So at the end of twenty four lessons I am a good driver. I hope. And that's all. There is nothing right or wrong about it. In the same way I meet you today, next year I will remember, which is, there is remembrance, which is the recording process. No? It is so simple.

R: It is not so clear to me. Let us admit it is recorded, how does that record come up when we meet next year?

K: When I see you. That memory comes up and says, oh, he is Mr. Rahula. And the recording is the image, pleasurable or not pleasurable.

R: I hope it will be pleasurable!

K: And that is recorded, and when I meet you next time, I meet you. But if it is not pleasurable I say, oh, what a bore. And I turn away and talk about something else. So this whole process is recorded - how I learnt to drive a car, how I learnt to speak English, French, German, whatever it is, there must be recording. No?

R: Certainly it is so.

K: But you said 19th century...

R: What I want to say is, it is not in the brain. That is the thing. It is in the nature of what we call generally the mental faculty. Just as I hear noise etc., the mind faculty, the mental faculty, also is a faculty. That is one possibility.

K: It is the faculty of the brain to record.

R: It is not the physical brain. That is my point.

K: Ah, you have gone off into something else.

R: Yes, that is what I say.

N: You are saying that the mental faculty is spread all over the body, not necessarily in the head?

R: Our mental faculty is one of the sense organs - there are five physical sense organs. You see the eye has the power to see and examine, the ear can't do it, it can hear all right. There is the mental factor just like eye, ear, nose, tongue - all the physical faculties - there is the mental faculty, which eye, ear, nose, tongue and body deals with the external world, material world. But the world is finished by that, the bigger part of the world is not touched by that.

K: What is the bigger part of the world?

R: That is what we were talking about, these sensations and all these things are not touched by the body, or anything like that. Then the mind faculty the mental faculty is the thing that has many, many aspects, many potentialities; one is the memory. And what I want to clarify from you is how does it happen, and of course you begin with the idea of the brain...

K: No.

R: ...the recording in the brain, and with which I disagree.

K: Sir, let's cut out the brain, for the moment. I meet you today and I see you a week later. There is the process of recognition. All right. That's one part of the faculty. The other part of the faculty is to think logically, or not logically. So there are several aspects, faculties which are made up in the mind. You cannot have mind without the brain.

R: Yes. Not only the brain, but without the body, without the stomach, without the heart. Without the physical existence you can't have the mind.

K: That's all. Therefore the mind is part of the senses, the mind is part of the thought, emotions, certain faculties and so on and so on. Is that outside, or the whole structure of the organism, the whole brain, body, eyes, ears, all that is part of this mind which is the process of thinking. No?

B: Are you saying mind is thought, or is it more than thought as well?

K: I don't know but I don't want to say that. I only want to say the mind as long as it is functioning within the field of thought is limited.

B: You mean consciousness, the mind is that.

K: Yes, consciousness is limited.

B: We say it is limited by these faculties, wherever they are.

K: Yes, that's right, whatever they are.

B: But as far as recognition goes, people are even making machines that can imitate the process of recognition.

K: Of course.

B: You know you can recognize simple things already by means of a computer.

S: And yet, if I have met you just for a moment, and there was not a sufficient impact of you of that meeting image, I will next week pass you by and not recognize you.

B: That's the point, it has to be recorded with some energy, you see.

S: That is what I mean, there must be sufficient energy.

K: All recording must have energy.

B: If you don't turn on the microphone nothing is recorded.

R: And many things that we see and hear we don't remember, only things that leave a certain impression.

B: You see I think it is fairly clear how the record could give rise to a recognition from the next experience. The next time you see the person the record is compared with.

R: It comes back.

B: It comes back, yes.

R: It is exactly like the computer.

K: So our brains are computers.

R: I should say, no, not the brain.

K: What is the brain?

R: The brain may be the basis - why do you only say brain, why not the whole body, whole heart, without heart can you think?

K: No. Therefore sir, we said that. The brain, the mind, the mind contains the brain, the feelings, the heart, the whole structure.

B: All the nerve centres.

K: We are using the mind as consciousness, which is I cannot have consciousness if the heart doesn't function.

R: That is why I used the word mental faculty instead of the mind, or consciousness, the word faculty embracing, involving all that department.

K: What do you mean by the word faculty? What does the word mean, sir?

B: To have some capacity and ability - capacity to do something.

R: The ability to do, like when you say a visual faculty.

K: No, sir, ability to do depends on knowledge. If I didn't know how to play the piano, that is learnt it...

R: No, excuse me, sir, you are going away from the point. I said the mind faculty - mind has the power, the capacity, the potentiality, to do all that. And those are different aspects of the thing.

K: Oh, I see.

B: The faculty is inborn.

R: Inborn, innate, in itself has the power. And you can't ask why and from where.

K: No, I won't ask that. I won't accept the mind has the inborn faculty.

B: To think.

K: Inborn which means it is not genetic, it is not heredity.

B: No, inborn means genetic.

R: No, no, that is not right. Say the mind just like our eyes has the power to see.

K: So the mind has the power...

R: ...to do all those tricks, all those things that we are taught - the memory, reaction and sensation, and all that.

K: The mind is the active energy to do all this.

B: Well also the physical structure is all over the body. I think that it is a good analogy to say that the eye has certain possibilities and in this whole body already the infant has the ability to think already built into him because of the heredity.

K: How has this 'built in' come into being?

B: By growing in the same way that the eye grew. You see the eye has a tremendous...

K: Which means evolution.

B: Evolution, yes.

K: Wait, wait, go slowly. Which means right from the beginning it has evolved until we are now monkeys, greater monkeys. Sorry!

R: I question that. You took for granted Darwin's theory.

K: I don't take Darwin, I see this happening in the world.

R: When you say we are evolved from the monkey.

K: We have evolved from imperfect man; or not evolved from perfect man. We are going down the hill instead of up the hill, or we are going uphill, therefore we are imperfect man.

B: I wonder if we want to discuss all these things, they are really details that are not certain.

R: That is why I object to that statement about the monkey evolving. We don't know.

K: I don't know sir, I don't know how we have evolved but I do know the very simple thing which is, without recording there is no thought.

R: That means that thought is memory.

K: Of course. Thought is memory, which is experience, which is knowledge, stored up - it doesn't matter where, in my big toe, stored up - and when it is challenged it operates.

B: Well we have also said thought is the ability to reason logically and along with the memory, all that together.

K: Logically, or illogically, and so on.

B: All that is what you have called faculties.

R: Yes, I used that word because it uses a bigger field.

B: But you are saying it still depends on memory.

K: Of course, a sense of recording is memory.

B: Without memory none of the other faculties could operate.

K: Of course. I see that thing, it has been called a tree, I call it a tree. That's all. It is recorded all the time. Without that recording there is no beginning of thought, there is no thought. Sir, if you were born in the Catholic world, and conditioned by the Catholic world, you would be thinking along the Catholic world, Christ, you know the whole business of it. So you are conditioned by propaganda, by books, by priests, by all the circus that goes on, as you are conditioned in India, or Ceylon and so on. So what is the origin, the beginning of this conditioning? Why does man condition himself? For security, to avoid danger? Obviously. I believe in Christ, because I have been brought up in the Christian world, that's my conditioning, and this life is a miserable life, unhappy life, but I believe in Christ which gives me a certain sense of comfort, strength, to face this appalling thing, the world, so it gives me great comfort. That's all. It gives me security in an insecure world, psychologically the Father is looking after me. And the Hindus, the Buddhists, the Islams, they are all in the same category.

So the instinctual response of a human being is to feel secure, like a child, sir, obviously. No?

R: How does it come about, that sense of security, the feeling of security, what is the origin of that?

K: The mother and the child, the baby, they must have a little security, the baby must have security, physical security, it must have food at the right times, at the right hour, and all the rest of it.

B: Does the baby have a feeling of security at the same time?

K: Probably, I don't know, not being a baby, but I am sure it feels safe.

B: It feels safe.

K: Safe, looked after, quiet, the moment it cries the mother is there, to change the diapers, to feed it and all the rest of it. What's wrong with that? From that physical security we turn to psychological security, which Christ gives me. It may be nonsense, unreasonable and all kinds of things, but I like that, at least I have comfort in some illusion. But I don't call it illusion. If you call it illusion I will kick you. So we go on that way. You have your security in something, I have my security and another has his security in Islam, and so on. So each one of us clings to our own particular form of security, whether it is reasonable, sane, rational, that doesn't matter.

B: It seems to me that it is similar to the pleasure question, that is you register the feeling of pleasure and then try to build it up.

K: I can't say, well I'll let go of Christ, I say, my god, I can't.

B: It is the same with pleasure, you can't give up pleasure.

K: Of course, of course, the same problem.

S: I think it is harder with pleasure because people nowadays do seem as if they give up or change their religions without too much difficulty, but we are much against giving up our pleasure when it really comes to it.

K: Ah, well that's a different matter altogether. Physical pleasure...

S: Or pleasures of the mind.

K: Of course.

R: But where are we going?

K: Where are we going - I haven't finished yet. We haven't discussed the central issue, what is action without this enormous complex of motives, reactions, regrets, pain, sorrow. Can a human live in action without all this dreadful confusion? That's all. And you say, yes, you can live. And you tell me, if you are a Christian, believe in god, believe in Christ, he will save you from all this. And I am so unhappy I say, for god's sake, and I cling to it. And if you are X you say, I believe in all the things the Buddha said, that to me is good enough. I will take comfort in that. So my actions are based on reward and punishment. Right? Right, sir? If I do this I will reach Nirvana, if I don't I'll go to hell, which is the Christian idea and all the rest of it. One has thrown all that overboard, being fairly intelligent and educated one says, that is all nonsense. I want to find out if there is an action without any shadow of effort and regret. You understand sir? It is important to find out, not theoretically or casually, it is a burning question for me, a passionate thing I must find out because I don't want to enter into the cage, the rat race. So what shall we do? What is right action under all circumstances, which doesn't depend on circumstances - my wife says, do this, I love you but you must do this, or something else. I put away all those influences or pressures, but I want to find out if there is an action which is complete in itself.

So I must understand is there an action which is total, which is complete, total, whole, not partial. Which means can I observe myself wholly, not in fragments? Or through the fragment instantly see the whole? So is there an action which is whole? I say, yes, there is, definitely. Don't you ask me, what is that?

R: I wanted to ask but I was waiting for the reply.

K: Ask it!

R: I want to ask, what is that?

K: First of all, can you see with your eyes the tree as a whole? Can you see your wife, or your husband, or girl friend, or boy friend, as a whole entity? Do you understand my question? Can you see anything totally, or are you always seeing partially?

R: When you use the word 'totally' what is the meaning?

K: Whole. Don't go to something else. Can I see you as a whole being? You understand? Can I see humanity as myself, which is the whole? That's good enough. Can I see humanity as myself? Because humanity is like me, suffering, miserable, confused, agony, terrified, insecure, sorrow-ridden, like another. Right? So in seeing man, humanity, I see myself.

R: Or rather the other way: by seeing yourself you see humanity.

K: Which is me. It doesn't matter whether you say, I see myself as humanity, then humanity is me. I am not separate from humanity, I don't say, I am an elite, I am this; I am like the rest of the gang. So I see the world as myself, which is the whole. That's simple sir - not simple, it is - would that be right sir?

B: I was wondering if, as you said, we could consider the tree for a moment.

K: The tree is too petty.

B: It is not clear when you say you see the tree as a whole...

K: The whole thing, to see something wholly, sir.

B: Just see it all, right.

S: I think we are in a slight language difficulty because we have no other possibilities. This, "I see as a whole", really it means that the self, or the fallacy of the self, has clearly been seen into and has broken down, because otherwise however much I see the tree as a whole it is still my thought.

K: That is the ultimate thing. But can you see your husband, your wife, or your girl friend, as a whole being? Totally, you know. You can, can't you? How does that happen when you can see somebody wholly?

S: Tremendous - but not mine - warmth.

K: No,no.

S: Warmth comes in.

K: If you love that tree you will see it wholly.

S: But we have also to be careful what we mean by love.

K: Keep it very simple, don't intellectualize it for the moment - we'll do it later. If I love somebody, love not possessive, acquisitive, all the rest of that nonsense, if I love the whole thing is there, the totality of that man or woman is there. So can I see myself wholly - myself being humanity? I am not different from humanity. I am not an individual. That's all phoney. I am the rest of the world, I am the world. Can I see that as a whole? I am not a communist sir, because the communists say that too, but I am not that - stupid communists.

R: Why do you want to deny communism?

K: No, no.

R: What is wrong if you are a communist?

K: No, you have misunderstood. Communists are full of theories and putting those theories into practice and shaping man according to a theory. I am not talking about that, leave that for the moment.

To look at myself, I can only see myself as a whole when I am actually the rest of mankind.

B: You mean in essence, you mean that essentially I am the same as the whole.

K: Essentially, basically.

B: The basic qualities.

K: I may have a long nose, or short nose, and crooked eyes, or blue eyes, I am not talking about that.

S: A basic human being.

K: As a human being. Then there is no individual effort, nor collective effort. Right? When one sees oneself as a whole the parts disappear. But we think by collecting the parts we make the whole. So when I see myself as a whole then the parts disappear, therefore the self is not. Sir, when I see that thing, that tree, completely, I can only see it completely if I don't condemn, if I don't say, "It's my tree, it's my garden." Right? You understand what I am saying?

R: Yes, yes.

K: So when I love that tree I see it as a whole.

B: Would you say then that it is similar to all trees? Like saying, if I see myself as a whole I am the same as all mankind.

K: So all trees I love.

B: Is that the same?

K: Of course.

B: It doesn't depend on that single tree. It is not just this tree that you love.

K: It isn't that elm that I love.

B: That is right here in this place.

K: The trees I love, whether they are in your garden, or my garden, or somewhere else.

B: Wherever it is.

K: On the field.

B: So it doesn't matter, the particulars.

K: That's it.

S: And it doesn't matter which side it is because they are the same. I love the tree and see it whole because I love it, that doesn't matter, the one and the other is the same.

K: I raised the question of seeing wholly because what is action which is not fragmented, not broken up as a business man, as the artist, as a lecturer, as a professor, as a priest, an action which is total. Don't say, if the self is not then you will have it. But I have a self, one is caught in the self; or rather the self is there.

B: But you are saying, see the self whole and then it will change.

K: What?

B: You are suggesting, see the self whole and it will not be there.

K: Yes, sir.

B: Therefore would you also say that you have to love the self?

K: That is a dangerous statement. I was going to make it and I stopped myself in time because that is what advertising people say, love the world as yourself, love your hair, use this shampoo.

B: Could you say instead you are mankind, you love mankind?

K: Ah, now, be careful.

B: Because the analogy seems to be limited.

K: Analogies are limited.

S: So are the words in themselves.

K: Any more questions, sir? We will stop unless you have any more questions.

R: There is no end to these questions, therefore let us finish today like that. But you have answered all my questions, and thank you very much for all your very enlightening explanations. And also I must thank Mr. Narayan for arranging this.

K: And all these people.

R: Of course they are all one.

K: No, no.

R: When I thank you or Narayan, or somebody else.

K: No, we have to thank all the people here, you don't thank me and therefore thank everybody else.

S: We all thank each other.


Conversations in Brockwood Park 1978

Brockwood Park 23rd June 1978 3rd Conversation with Prof.bohm, Mr.narayan and Two Buddhist Scholars

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