The Ending of Time
The Ending of Time Chapter 3 8th April 1980 Conversation with Prof. David Bohm 'Why Has Man Given Supreme Importance to Thought?'
KRISHNAMURTI: What shall we talk about?
DAVID BOHM: One point relating to what we discussed before; I was reading somewhere that a leading physicist said that the more we understand the universe, the more pointless it seems, the less meaning it has. And it occurred to me that in science there may be an attempt to make the material universe the ground of our existence, so that it may have meaning physically but not...
K: ...any other meaning. Quite.
DB: And the question that we might discuss is this ground which we were talking about the other day. Is it any different to mankind, as the physical universe appears to be?
K: Let's get the question clear.
DB: Not only physicists hut geneticists, biologists, have tried to reduce everything to the behaviour of man - atoms, genes, you know, DNA molecules, and so on. And the more they study it, then the more they feel it has no meaning, it is just going on. Though it has meaning physically, in the sense that we can understand it scientifically, it has no deeper meaning than that.
K: I understand that.
DB: And, of course, perhaps that notion has penetrated because in the past people were more religious and felt that the ground of our existence was in something beyond matter - God, or whatever they wished to call it. And that gave them a sense of deep meaning to the whole of their existence, which has now gone away. That is one of the difficulties of modern life, the sense that it doesn't mean anything.
K: So have the religious people invented something which has a meaning? DB: They may well have done so. You see, feeling that life has no meaning, they may have invented something beyond the ordinary. Something which is eternal...
K: ...timeless, nameless.
DB: ...and independent, absolute.
K: Seeing that the way we live, genetically and all the rest of it, has no meaning, some clever erudite people said, `We will give it a meaning'.
DB: Well, I think it happened before that. In the past people somehow gave meaning to life, long before science had been very much developed, in the form of religion. And science came along and began to deny this religion.
K: Quite. I understand that.
DB: And people no longer believe in the religious meaning. perhaps they never were able to believe in it entirely anyway.
K: So, how does one find out if life has a meaning beyond this? How does one find out? They have tried meditation: they have tried every form of self torture, isolation, becoming a monk, a sannyasi and so on. But they may also be deceiving themselves thoroughly.
DB: Yes. And that is in fact why the scientists have denied it all, because the story told by the religious people is no longer plausible, you see.
K: Quite. So how does one find out if there is something more than the mere physical? How would one set about it?
DB: We have been discussing the notion of some ground which is beyond matter, beyond the emptiness.
K: But suppose you say it is so, and I say that is another illusion.
DB: The first point is, perhaps we could clear this up: you see, if this ground is indifferent to human beings, then it would be the same as scientists' ground in matter.
K: Yes. What is the question?
DB: Is the ground indifferent to mankind? You see, the universe appears to be totally indifferent to mankind. It is immense vastness, it pays no attention, it may produce earthquakes and catastrophes, it might wipe things out, it is essentially not interested in mankind.
K: I see what you mean, yes.
DB: It does not care whether man survives or does not survive - if you want to put it that way.
K: Right. I understand the question.
DB: Now I think that people felt that God was a ground who was not indifferent to mankind. You see, they may have invented it, but that is what they believed. And that is what gave them possibly...
K: ...tremendous energy. Quite.
DB: Now I think the point is, would this ground be indifferent to mankind?
K: How would you find out? What is the relationship of this ground to man, and man's relationship to it?
DB: Yes, that is the question. Does man have some significance to it? And does it have significance to man? May I add one more point? I was discussing with somebody who was familiar with the Middle East and traditions of mysticism; he told me that in these traditions they not only say that what we call this ground, this infinite, has some significance, but that what man does has ultimately some significance.
K: Quite, quite. Suppose one says it has - otherwise life has no meaning, nothing has any meaning - how would one find out? Suppose you say this ground exists, as I said the other day. Then the next question is: what relationship has that to man? And man to it? How would one discover, or find out, or touch it - if the ground exists at all? If it doesn't exist, then really man has no meaning at all. I mean, I die and you die and we all die, and what is the point of being virtuous, what is the point of being happy or unhappy, of just carrying on? How would you show that the ground exists? In scientific terms, as well as the feeling of it, the non-verbal communication of it?
DB: When you say scientific do you mean rational?
K: Yes, rational, logical, sane. DB: So, something that we can actually touch.
K: Not touch, - better than touch - sense. Many can come to it.
DB: Yes, it is public.
K: It isn't just one man's assertion. But it would be scientific. I think it can be shown, but with all things one must do it, not just talk about it. Can I - or you - say the ground exists? The ground has certain demands: which are, there must bc absolute silence, absolute emptiness, which means no sense of egotism in any form - right? Would you tell me that? Am I willing to let go all my egotism, because I want to prove it, I want to show it, I want to find out if what you are saying is actually true? So am I willing to say,`Look, complete eradication of the self'?
DB: I think I can say that perhaps in some sense one is willing, but there may be another sense in which the willingness is not subject to one's conscious effort or determination.
K: No, wait. So we go through all that.
DB: We have to see that...
K: It is not will, it is not desire, it is not effort.
DB: Yes, but when you say willingness, it contains the word `will', for example.
K: Willingness, in the sense, go through that door. Or, am I, are we, willing to go through that particular door to find that the ground exists? You ask me that. I say, agreed, I will. I will not in the sense of exercising will and all that. What are the facets or the qualities or the nature of the self? We go into that. You point it out to me and I say, `Right' - can we do it? Not be attached, not have fear - you follow? - the whole business of it. No belief, absolute rationality - you know - observation. I think if ten people do it, any scientist will accept it. But there are no ten people.
DB: I see. We have to have the thing done together publicly...
K: ...that's it...
DB: ...so that it becomes a real fact. K: A real fact, in the sense that people accept it. Not something based on illusion, belief, and all the rest of that.
DB: A fact; that which is actually done.
K: Now, who will do this? The scientists want to say that the thing is all illusory, nonsense. But there are others who say, `It is not nonsense, there is a ground. And if you do these things it will be there.'
DB: Yes, but I think that some of the things you say may not in the beginning entirely make sense to the person you talk with.
K: Yes, quite, because he isn't even willing to listen.
DB: But also his whole background is against it. You see, the background gives you the notion of what makes sense and what doesn't. Now, when you say, for example, one of the steps is not to bring in time...
K: Ah, that's much more difficult.
DB: Yes, but it is fairly crucial.
K: But wait. I wouldn't begin with time, I would begin at the schoolboy level.
DB: But you are going eventually to reach those more difficult points.
K: Yes. But begin at the schoolboy level and say `DO these things.'
DB: Well what are they? Let's go over them.
K: No belief.
DB: A person may not be able to control what he believes, he may not know what he believes.
K: No, don't control anything. Observe that you have belief, you cling to the belief, belief gives you a sense of security and so on. And that belief is an illusion, it has no reality.
DB: You see, I think if we were to talk to scientists like that they might say they were not sure about it, because they believe in the existence of the material world.
K: You don't believe the sun rises and sets. It is a fact. DB: Yes, but the scientist believes. You see, there have been long arguments about this, there is no way to prove that it exists outside my mind, but I believe it anyway. This is one of the questions which arises. Scientists actually have beliefs. One will believe that this theory is right, and the other believes in a different one.
K: No. I have no theories. I don't have any theories. I start at the schoolboy level by saying, `Look, don't accept theories, conclusions, don't cling to your prejudices.' That is the starting point.
DB: Perhaps we had better say, don't hold to your theories, because somebody might question you if you say you have no theories. They would immediately doubt that, you see.
K: I have no theories. Why should I have theories?
QUESTIONER: If I am a scientist, I would also say I don't have theories. I don't see that the world which I construct for my scientific theories is also theoretical. I would call it fact.
K: So we have to discuss what are facts? Right? I would say that facts are what is happening, actually happening. Would you agree to that?
K: Would the scientists agree to that?
DB: Yes. Well, I think that the scientists would say that what is happening is understood through the theories. You see, in science you do not understand what is happening, except with the aid of instruments and theories.
K: Now, wait, wait. What is happening out there, what is happening here?
DB: Let's go slowly. First, what is happening out there. The instruments and theories are needed even to...
DB: ...have the facts about what is out there...
K: What are the facts out there?
DB: You cannot find out without some kind of theory. K: The facts there are conflict, why should I have a theory about it?
DB: I wasn't discussing that. I was discussing the facts about matter, you see, which the scientist is concerned with. He cannot establish those facts without a certain theory, because the theory organizes the facts for him.
K: Yes, I understand that. That may be a fact. You may have theories about that.
DB: Yes. About gravitation, atoms - all those things depend on theories in order to produce the right facts.
K: The right facts. So you start with a theory.
DB: A mixture of theory and fact. It is always a combination of theory and fact.
K: All right. A combination of theory and fact.
DB: Now, if you say we are going to have an area where there isn't any such combination...
K: That's it. Which is, psychologically I have no theory about myself, about the universe, about my relationship with another. I have no theory. Why should I have? The only fact is, mankind suffers, is miserable, confused, in conflict. That is a fact. Why should I have a theory about it?
DB: You must go slowly. You see, if you are intending to bring in the scientists, this has to be scientific...
K: ...I will go very slowly...
DB: ...so that we don't leave the scientists behind!
K: Quite. Leave me behind!
DB: Well, let's accept `part company' - right? The scientists might say yes, psychology is the science with which we look inwardly, to investigate the mind. And they say various people - like Freud, and Jung and others - have had theories. Now we will have to make it clear why it has no point to make these theories.
K: Because theory prevents the observation of what is actually taking place. DB: Yes, but outside it seemed that the theory was helping that observation. Why the difference here?
K: The difference? You can discover that, it is simple.
DB: Let's spell it out. Because if you want to bring in scientists you must answer this question.
K: We will answer it. What is the question?
DB: Why is it that theories are both necessary and useful in organizing facts about matter, outwardly, and yet inwardly, psychologically, they are in the way, they are no use at all.
K: Yes. What is theory? The meaning of the word, theory?
DB: Theory means to see, to view, a kind of insight.
K: To view? That's it. A way of looking.
DB: And the theory helps you to look at the outside matter.
K: Theory means to observe.
DB: It is a way of observing.
K: Can you observe psychologically what is going on?
DB: Let's say that when we look at matter outwardly, to a certain extent we do the observing.
K: That is, the observer is different from the observed.
DB: Not only different, but their relationship is fixed, relatively at least, for some time.
K: So we can move now, a little.
DB: This appears to be necessary in order to study matter. Matter does not change so fast, and it can be separated to some extent. We can then make a fairly constant way of looking. It changes but not immediately, it can be held constant for a while.
DB: And we call that theory.
K: As you said, theory means a way of observing.
DB: it is the same as `theatre' in Greek. K: Theatre, yes, that's right. It is a way of looking. Now, where do we start? A common way of looking, an ordinary way of looking, the way of looking depending on the viewpoint of each person - the housewife, the husband? What do you mean by the way of looking?
DB: The same problem arose in the development of science. We began with what was called common sense, a common way of looking. Then scientists discovered that this was inadequate.
K: They moved away from it.
DB: They moved away, they gave up some parts of it.
K: That is what I am coming to. The common way of looking is full of prejudice.
DB: Yes, it is arbitrary, and dependent on your background.
K: Yes, all that. So can one be free of one's background, one's prejudice? I think one can.
DB: The question is whether a theory of psychology would be any help in doing this. The danger is that the theory itself might he a prejudice. If you tried to make a theory...
K: That is what I am saying. That would become a prejudice.
DB: That would become a prejudice because we have nothing - we have not yet observed anything to found it on.
K: So the common factor is that man suffers - right? That is the common factor. And the way of observing matters.
DB: Yes. I wonder whether scientists would accept that as the most fundamental factor of man.
K: All right. Conflict?
DB: Well, they have argued about it.
K: Take anything, it doesn't matter. Attachment, pleasure, fear.
DB: I think some people might object, saying we should take something more positive.
K: Which is what? DB: Simply, for example, some people might have said that rationality is a common factor.
K: No, no, no! I won't call rationality a common factor. If people were rational they wouldn't be fighting each other.
DB: We have to make this clear. Let's say in the past somebody like Aristotle might have said rationality is the common factor of man. Now your argument against it is that men are not generally rational.
K: No, they are not.
DB: Though they might be, they are not. So you are saying that is not a fact.
K: That's right.
DB: I think commonly scientists would say that there are many different human beings and that the common factor of mankind is that they are all striving for happiness.
K: Is that the common factor? No. I won't accept that - that many human beings are trying for happiness.
Q: No. Human beings are all different.
K: Agreed. Stay there.
Q: What I am saying is that this is the common theory, which people believe to be a fact.
K: That is, each person thinks he is totally different from others.
Q: Yes. And they are all independently struggling for happiness.
K: They are all seeking some kind of gratification. Would you agree to that?
DB: That is one common factor. But the reason I brought up rationality was that the very existence of science is based on the notion that rationality is common to man.
K: But each person is seeking his own individuality.
DB: But, you see, science would be impossible if that were entirely true.
K: Quite. Q: Why?
DB: Because everybody would not be interested in the truth. The very possibility of scientific discovery depends on people feeling that this common goal of finding the truth is beyond personal satisfaction, because even if your theory is wrong you must accept that it is wrong, though it is not gratifying. That is, it becomes very disappointing for people, but they accept it, and say, well, that is wrong.
K: I am not seeking gratification. I am a common man. You have brought up that scientists take for granted that human beings are rational.
DB: At least when they do science. They may agree that they are not very rational in private life, but they say that at least they are capable of being rational when they do scientific work. Otherwise it would be impossible to begin.
K: So outwardly, in dealing with matter, they are all rational.
DB: At least they try to be, and they are to some extent.
K: They try to be, but they become irrational in their relationships with other human beings.
DB: Yes. They cannot maintain it.
K: So that is the common factor.
DB: Yes. It is important to bring out this point - that rationality is limited, and, as you say, the fundamental fact is that more generally they cannot be rational. They may succeed in some limited area.
K: That's right. That is a fact.
DB: That is a fact, though we don't say it is inevitable, or that it can't be changed.
K: No. It is a fact.
DB: It is a fact that it has been, it has happened, it is happening.
K: Yes. I, as a common human being, have been irrational. And my life has been totally contradictory, and so on, which is irrational. Now can I as a human being change that? DB: Let's see how we could proceed from the scientific approach. This would raise the question, why is everybody irrational?
K: Because we have been conditioned that way. Our education, our religion, our everything.
DB: But that won't get us anywhere, because it leads to more questions: how did we get conditioned and so on
K: We can go into all that.
DB: But I meant that following that line is not going to answer.
K: Quite. Why are we conditioned that way?
DB: For example, we were saying the othEr day that perhaps man took a wrong turning, established the wrong conditioning.
K: The wrong conditioning from the beginning. Or, seeking security - security for myself, for my family, for my group, for my tribe - has brought about this division.
DB: Even then you have to ask why man sought this security in the wrong way. You see, if there had been any intelligence, it would have been clear that this whole thing has no meaning.
K: Of course, you are going back to taking the wrong turn. How will you show me we have taken a wrong turning?
DB: Are you saying that we want to demonstrate this scientifically?
K: Yes. I think the wrong turn was taken when thought became all important.
DB: What made it all important?
K: Now let's work it out. What made human beings enthrone thought as the only means of operation?
DB: Also it would have to be made clear why, if thought is so important, it causes all the difficulties. These are the two questions.
K: That is fairly simple. So thought has been made king, supreme. And that may be the wrong turn of human beings. DB: You see, I think that thought became the equivalent of truth. People took thought to give truth, to give what is always true. There is the notion that we have knowledge - which may hold in certain cases for some time - but men generalize, because knowledge is always generalizing. When they got to the notion that it would always be so, this crystallized the thought of what is true. This gave thought supreme importance.
K: You are asking, aren't you, why has man given thought such importance?
DB: I think he has slipped into it.
DB: Because he did not see what he was doing. You see, in the beginning he did not see the danger...
Q: Just before, you said that the common ground for man is reason...
K: Scientists say that.
Q: If you can show a person that something is true...
K: Show it to me. It is true I am irrational. That is a fact, that is truth.
Q: But for that you don't need reason. Observation is sufficient for that.
K: No. One goes and fights. One talks about peace. One is irrational. Dr. Bohm is pointing out that scientists say man is rational but the fact is that everyday life is irrational. Now we are asking, show us scientifically why it is irrational. That is, show man in what way he has slipped into this irrationality; why human beings have accepted this. We can say it is habit, tradition, religion. And the scientists also, they are very rational in their own field, but irrational in their lives.
Q: And you suggested that making thought the king is the main irrationality?
K: That is right. We have reached that point.
DB: But how did we slip into making thought so important? K: Why has man given importance to thought as the supreme thing? I think that is fairly easy. Because that is the only thing he knows.
DB: It doesn't follow that he would give it supreme importance.
K: Because the things I know - the things thought has created, the images, all the rest of it - are more important than the things I don't know.
DB: But you see, if intelligence were operating he would not come to that conclusion. It is not rational to say that all that I know is all that is important.
K: So, man is irrational.
DB: He slipped into irrationality to say, all that I know is all that is important. But why should man have done this?
K: Would you say that the mistake is made because he clings to the known, and objects to anything unknown?
DB: That is a fact, but it is not clear why he should.
K: Because that is the only thing he has.
DB: But I am asking why he was not intelligent enough to see this.
K: Because he is irrational.
DB: Well, we are going around in circles!
K: I don't think so.
DB: Look, every one of these reasons you give is merely another example of man's irrationality.
K: That is all I am saying. We are basically irrational, because we have given thought supreme importance.
Q: But the step before that is that the thought has built up the idea that I exist?
K: Ah, that comes a little later; we have to go step by step.
Q: Surely for the `me', the only thing that exists is thought.
K: Would the scientists accept that? DB: The scientist feels he is investigating the real nature of matter, independent of thought, ultimately independent anyway. He wants to know the way the universe is. He may be fooling himself, but he feels that it wouldn't be worth doing unless he believes he is finding an objective fact.
K: So would you say that through the investigation of matter he is trying to find something, he is trying to find the ground?
DB: That's exactly it.
K: But wait! Is that it?
DB: Precisely, yes.
K: Now the religious man says you cannot find it by becoming terribly rational in your life. He doesn't accept that he is rational but says he is irrational in contradiction, and so on. So either he will have to clear up that first - step by step, or he can do the whole thing at one blow. Right? One accepts that one is irrational.
DB: But there is a difficulty. If you accept you are irrational, you stop, because you say, how can you begin?
K: Yes. But if I accept I am irrational - wait a minute - completely, then I am rational!
DB: You will have to make that more clear. You could say that man has been deluding himself into believing that he is already rational.
K: I don't accept that.
DB: Now if you don't accept this delusion, then you are saying that rationality will be there.
K: No, I don't accept it. The fact is, I am irrational and, to find the ground, I must become extremely rational in my life. That's all. Irrationality has been brought about by thought creating this idea of me as separate from everybody else. So can I, being irrational, find the cause of irrationality and wipe it out? If I can't do that, I cannot reach the ground which is the most rational. Would a scientist who is investigating matter accept that the ground exists at all?
DB: Well, tacitly he is assuming that it does. K: It does. Mr. `X' comes along and says it does exist. And you, the scientists say `Show it.' Mr. `X' says I will show it to you. A scientist meets with other scientists, experimenting and being rational in that area, although irrational in his own life. First become rational in your life, begin here, rather than there. What would you say to all that? This must be done without effort without desire, without will, without any sense of persuasion, otherwise you are back in the game.
DB: Let's try to put it like this: even in science you could no pursue the science fully unless you were rational.
K: Somewhat rational.
DB: Somewhat rational, but, eventually, the failure of rationality blocks science anyway. Scientists cling to their theories, and they become jealous and so on.
K: That's it, that is all. The irrationality overcomes them.
DB: So then you could say you might as well look at the source the whole irrationality.
K: That is what I am saying.
DB: But now you have to make it clear that it really can be done.
K: Oh yes, I am showing it to you. I say, first recognize, see, observe, be aware that you are totally irrational.
DB: The word `totally' will cause trouble, because if you we totally irrational you couldn't even begin to talk.
K: No, that is my question. I say one is totally irrational. First recognize it. Watch it. The moment you admit there is some part of me that is rational, who wants to wipe away the irrationality.
DB: ...It is not that, but there must be sufficient rationality understand what you are talking about.
K: Yes, of course.
DB: Essentially, I would rather put it that one is dominated by one's irrationality, even though there is enough rationality discuss the question.
K: I question that. DB: You see, otherwise we couldn't begin to talk.
K: But listen. We begin to talk. A few of us begin to talk because we are willing to listen to each other, we are willing to say, we'll set aside any conclusions we have; we are willing to listen to each other.
DB: That is part of rationality.
K: With some of us perhaps, but the vast majority is not willing to listen to us, because we are concerned, serious enough to find out if the ground exists. That gives us rationality to listen to each other.
DB: Listing is necessary for rationality.
K: Of course. Are we saying the same thing?
K: The scientist, through the examination of matter, hopes to reach the ground. We and `X' and `Y' say, let us become rational in our life. Which means that you and I, and `X' and `Y' are willing to listen to each other. That's all. The very listening is the beginning of rationality. Some people won't listen to us or to anybody. So can we, who are listening, be somewhat rational, and begin? That is all my point. This is being terribly logical, isn't it? So can we proceed from there?
Why has man brought about this irrationality in his life? A few of us can apparently throw off some part of irrationality, become somewhat rational and say, now, let's start. Let us start to find out why man lives this way. Now what is the common dominant factor in all our lives? Obviously it is thought.
DB: Yes, that is so. Of course many people might deny that and say it is feeling, or that something else is the major factor.
K: Many people might say that, but thought is part of feeling.
DB: Yes, but that is not commonly understood.
K: We will explain it. Feeling - if there was no thought behind it, would you be able to recognize it?
DB: Yes, I think this is a major difficulty, in communication with some people. K: So we begin. There may be some who don't see this, but I want the free `X' and `Y' to see it, because they have become somewhat rational, therefore they are listening to each other. They can say thought is the main source of this current.
DB: Then we have to say, what is thought?
K: I think that is fairly simple. Thought brings about irrationality.
DB: Yes, but what is it? How do you know you are thinking? What do you mean by thinking?
K: Thinking is the movement of memory, which is experience, knowledge, stored in the brain.
DB: Suppose we want to have rationality which includes rational thought. Is rational thought only memory?
K: Wait a minute. Let's be careful. If we are completely rational, there is total insight. That insight uses thought, and then it is rational.
DB: Then thought is not only memory?
K: No, no.
DB: Well, I mean since it is being used by insight...
K: No, insight uses thought.
DB: Yes, but what thought does is not just due to memory now.
K: Wait a minute.
DB: Outwardly thought runs on its own, it runs like a machine on its own, and it is not rational.
K: Quite right.
DB: But when thought is the instrument of insight...
K: Then thought is not memory.
DB: It is not based on memory.
K: No, not based on memory.
DB: Memory is used, but it is not based on memory. K: Then what? Thought being limited, divisive, incomplete, can never be rational...
DB: Without insight.
K: That's right. Now, how are we to have insight which is total rationality? Not the rationality of thought.
DB: I should call it rationality of perception.
K: Yes, rationality of perception.
DB: Then thought becomes the instrument of that, so it has the same order.
K: Now how am I to have that insight? That is the next question. Isn't it? What am I to do, or not to do, to have this instant insight, which is not of time, which is not of memory, which has no cause, which is not based on reward or punishment? It is free of all that. Now how does the mind have this insight? When I say, I have the insight, that is wrong. Obviously. So how is it possible for a mind which has been irrational, and has become somewhat rational, to have that insight? It is possible to have that insight if your mind is free from time.
DB: Right. Let's go slowly because you see, if we go back to the scientific, even common sense point of view, implicitly time is taken as the ground of everything in scientific work. In fact even in ancient Greek mythology Chronos, the god of time, produces his children and swallows them. That is exactly what we said about the ground; everything comes from the ground and dies to the ground. So, in a way, mankind long ago began to take time already as the ground.
K: Yes. And then someone comes along and says time is not the ground.
DB: That's right. So until now even scientists have been looking for the ground in time - and everybody else too!
K: That is the whole point.
DB: Now you say time is not the ground. Somebody might say this is nonsense, but we say, we will stay open to that, although some people might easily dismiss it right away. Now if you say time is not the ground, we don't know where we are. K: I know where I am. We will go into it.
Q: Is time the same movement as this thought which we described first?
K: Yes, time is that. Time is thought.
DB: Let's go slowly again on that, because there is, as we have often said, chronological time.
K: Of course, that is simple.
DB: Yes, but in addition we are thinking. You see, thinking takes time chronologically, but in addition it projects a kind of imaginary time...
K: ...which is the future.
DB: Which is the future and the past as we experience it.
K: Yes, that is right.
DB: That time which is imagined is also a kind of real process of thinking.
K: It is a fact.
DB: It is a fact that it takes time, physically, to think, but we also have time when we can imagine the whole past and future.
K: Yes, which are facts.
DB: So let's say that this time is not the ground, perhaps not even physically.
K: We are going to find out.
DB: Yes, but we feel it to be the ground, because we feel that we, as the self, exist in time. Without time there could be no `me'.
K: That's it.
DB: `I' must exist in time.
K: Of course, of course.
DB: Eternally being something, or becoming something.
K: Becoming and being are in the field of time. Now can the mind, which has evolved through time... Q: What do you mean by mind then?
K: Mind - the brain, my senses, my feeling, all that is the mind.
DB: The particular mind, you mean.
K: Particular mind, of course, I am talking of the mind that has evolved through time.
DB: Even its particularity depends on time.
K: Time, of course, and all the rest of it. Now we are asking, can that mind be free of time, to have an insight which is totally rational, which then can operate on thought? That thought is totally rational, not based on memory. Agreed?
K: Now how am I - as `X' and `Y' - to be free of time? I know I need time to go from here to there, to learn a lesson, a technique, etc. I understand that very clearly, so I am not talking about that time. I am talking about time as becoming.
DB: As being.
K: Of course, becoming is being. I start from being to become.
DB: And being something in myself. Being better, being happier.
K: Yes, the whole thing - the more. Now can I, can my brain investigating to find out if the ground exists, can my whole mind be tree of time? We have now separated time. The time which is necessary, and the time which is not necessary. That is, can my brain not function as it has always done, in time as thought? Which means, can thought come to an end? Would you accept that?
DB: Yes, but could you make that more clear? We can see that the first question is, can my brain not be dominated by the function of thought?
K: Yes, which is time.
DB: And then, if you say thought comes to an end...
K: No! Can time as thought come to a stop?
DB: Psychological time comes to a stop. K: Yes, I am talking of that.
DB: But we will still have the rational thought.
K: Of course. That is understood. We have said that.
DB: We are discussing the thought of conscious experience.
Q: Of becoming and being...
K: And the retention of memory; you know, the past, as knowledge. Oh, yes, that can be done.
DB: You really mean the memory of experiences?
K: The memory of experiences, hurts, attachments, the whole of it. Now can that come to an end? Of course it can. This is the point: it can come to an end when the very perception asks, what is it? What is hurt? What is psychological damage? The perception of it is the ending of it. Not carrying it over, which is time. The very ending of it is the ending of time. I think that is clear. `X' is hurt, wounded from childhood. And he, by listening, talking, discussing, realizes that the continuation of the hurt is time. And to find out the ground, time must end. So he says, can my hurt end instantly, immediately?
DB: Yes, I think there are some steps in that. You say, he finds that hurt is time, but the immediate experience of it is that it exists on its own.
K: I know, of course. We can go into that.
DB: That simply is something on its own.
K: Which means, I have created an image about myself and the image is hurt, but not me.
DB: What do you mean by that?
K: All right. In the becoming, which is time, I have created an image about myself.
DB: Well, thought has created that image.
K: Thought has created an image through experience, through education, through conditioning, and made this image separate from me. But this image is actually `me', although we have separated the image and the me, which is irrational. So, in realizing that the image is `me', I have become somewhat rational.
DB: I think that will not be clear - because if I am hurt I feel the image is `me'.
K: The image is you.
DB: The person who is hurt feels that way, you see.
K: All right. But the moment you operate on it you separate yourself.
DB: That's the point. Now the first feeling is that the image is `me' hurt, and the second feeling is that I draw back from the image in order to operate on it...
K: ...which is irrationality.
DB: ...because it is not correct.
K: That's right.
DB: And that brings in time, because I say it will take time to do that.
K: Quite right. So by seeing that, I become rational, and act. The act is to be free of it immediately.
DB: Let's go into that. The first thing is that there has been a hurt. That is the image, but at first I don't separate it. I feel identified with it.
K: I am that.
DB: I am that. But then I draw back, and say that I think there must be a `me' who can do something.
K: Yes, can operate on it.
DB: Now that takes time.
K: That is time.
DB: That is time, but I mean, I am thinking it takes time. Now I have to go slowly. If i don't do that, that hurt cannot exist.
K: That's right.
DB: But it is not obvious in the experience itself that this is so. K: First let's go slowly into it. I am hurt. That is a fact. Then I separate myself - there is a separation - saying, I will do something about it.
DB: The `me' who will do something is different.
K: Different, of course.
DB: And he thinks about what he should do.
K: The `me' is different because it is becoming.
DB: It projects into the future a different state.
K: Yes. I am hurt. There is a separation, a division. The `me', which is always pursuing the becoming, says, I must control it. I must wipe it out. I must act upon it, or I will be vengeful, hurtful. So this movement of separation is time.
DB: We can see that now. The point is, there is something here that is not obvious. A person is thinking that the hurt exists independently of `me', and I must do something about it. I project into the future the better state and what I will do. Let's try to make this very clear, because you are saying that there is no separation.
K: My rationality discovers there is no separation.
DB: There is no separation, but the illusion that there is a separation helps to maintain the hurt.
K: That's right. Because the illusion is, I am becoming.
DB: Yes. I am this and will become that. So I am hurt and I will become non-hurt. Now that very thought maintains the hurt.
K: That's right.
Q: Is the separation not already there when I become conscious and say I am hurt?
K: I am hurt. Then I say, I am going to hit you because you have hurt me, or I say, I must suppress it - or I create fear, and so on.
Q: But isn't that feeling of separation there from the moment I say I am hurt?
K: That is irrationality.
Q: That is irrational already? K: Yes, when you say, does not the separation exist already when I say `I am hurt'.
DB: It does, but I think that before that happens you get a kind of shock. The first thing that happens is a mild shock, a pain or whatever, which you identify with that shock. Then you explain it by saying `I am hurt', and that immediately implies the separation to do something about it.
K: Of course. If I am not hurt I don't know anything about separation or not separation. If I am hurt, I am irrational as long as I maintain that hurt and do something about it, which is to become. Then irrationality comes in. I think that is right.
DB: Now if you don't maintain it, what happens? Suppose you say, I won't go on with this becoming?
K: Ah, that is quite a different matter. It means I am no longer thinking, no longer observing, or using time as an observation.
DB: You could say that is not your way of looking. It is not your theory any more.
K: That's right.
DB: Because you could say time is a theory which everybody adopts for psychological purposes.
K: Yes. That is the common factor; time is the common factor of man. And we are pointing out time is an illusion...
DB: Psychological time.
K: Of course, that is understood.
DB: Are you saying that when we no longer approach this through time, then the hurt does not continue?
K: It does not continue, it ends - because you are not becoming anything.
DB: In becoming you are always continuing what you are.
K: That's right. Continuing what you are, modified...
DB: That is why you struggle to become.
K: We are talking about insight. That is, insight has no time. Insight is not the product of time, time being memory, etc. So there is insight. That insight being free of time acts upon memory, acts upon thought. That is, insight makes thought rational, but not thought which is based on memory. Then what the devil is that thought?
No. Wait a minute. I don't think thought comes in at all. We said insight comes into being when there is no time. Thought - which is based on memory, experience, knowledge - that is the movement of time as becoming. We are talking of psychological and not chronological time. We are saying to be free of time implies insight. Insight, being free of time, has no thought.
DB: We said that it may use thought.
K: Wait. I am not sure. Just go slowly. It may use thought to explain, but it acts. Before, action was based on thought. Now, when there is insight, there is only action. Why do you want thought? Because insight is rational, action is rational. Action becomes irrational when it is acting from thought. So insight doesn't use thought.
DB: Well, we have to make it clear because in a certain area it has to use thought... If, for example, you want to construct something you would use the thought which is available on how to do it.
K: But that is not insight.
DB: But even so you may have to have insight in that area.
K: Partial. The scientists, the painters, the architects, the doctors, the artists and so on have partial insight. But we are talking of `X' and `Y', who are seeking the ground; they are becoming rational, and we are saying insight is without time, and therefore without thoughts, and that insight is action. Because that insight is rational, action is rational. Forgive me, I am not making myself an example, I am talking in all humility. That boy, that young man in 1929 dissolved the Order of the Star. There was no thought. People said, `Do this', `Don't do that', `Keep it', `Don't keep it'. He had an insight; dissolved it. Finished! Why do we need thought?
DB: But then you used some thought in dissolving the Order to say, when to do it, how to do it. K: That word is used merely for convenience, for communication with other people.
DB: But still some thought was needed.
K: The decision acts.
DB: I didn't mean about the decision. The primary action did not require thought; only that which followed.
K: That is nothing. It is like moving a cushion from there to there.
DB: Yes, I understand that. Then the primary source of action does not involve thought.
K: That is all I wanted to say.
DB: But it sort off filters through into...
K: ...it is like a wave.
Q: Does not all thought undergo a transformation in this process?
K: Yes, of course. Because insight is without time, therefore the brain itself has undergone a change.
DB: Yes, now could we talk about what you mean by that?
K: Does it mean that every human response must be viewed by, or must enter into insight? I will tell you what I mean. I am jealous. Is there an insight which will cover the whole field of jealousy and so end it? End envy, greed, and all that is involved in jealousy. You follow? Irrational people go step by step - get rid of jealousy, get rid of attachment, get rid of anger, get rid of this, that and the other. Which is a constant process of becoming - right? But insight, which is totally rational, wipes all that away.
K: Is that a fact? Fact, in the sense that `X' and `Y' will never be jealous again; never!
DB: We have to discuss that, because it is not clear how you could guarantee it.
K: Oh, yes, I will guarantee it! DB: If it can reach those who are able to listen...
K: Which means that to find the ground the first thing is to listen.
DB: You see, scientists cannot always listen. Even Einstein and Bohr were not able at a certain point to listen to each other. Each one was attached to his particular view.
K: They brought their irrationality into operation.
The Ending of Time
The Ending of Time Chapter 3 8th April 1980 Conversation with Prof. David Bohm 'Why Has Man Given Supreme Importance to Thought?'
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