The Ending of Time
The Ending of Time Chapter 5 12th April 1980 Conversation with Prof. David Bohm 'The Ground of Being, and The Mind of Man'
DAVID BOHM: Perhaps we could go further into the nature of the ground; whether we could come to it and whether it has any relationship to human beings. And also whether there could be a change in the physical behaviour of the brain.
KRISHNAMURTI: Could we approach this question from the point of view, why do we have ideas? And is the ground an idea? That is where we must first be clear. Why have ideas become so important?
DB: Perhaps because the distinction between ideas, and what is beyond ideas, is not clear. Ideas are often taken to be something more than ideas; we feel they are not ideas but a reality.
K: That is what I want to find out. Is the ground an idea, or is it imagination, an illusion, a philosophic concept? Or something that is absolute, in the sense that there is nothing beyond it?
DB: How can you tell that there is nothing beyond it?
K: I am coming to that. I want to see whether we look at that, or perceive that, or have an insight into that, from a concept. Because after all the whole Western world - perhaps also the Eastern world - is based on concepts. The whole outlook and religious beliefs, are based on that. But do we approach it from that point of view or as a philosophic investigation - philosophic, in the sense, love of wisdom, love of truth, love of investigation, the process of the mind? Are we doing that when we discuss, when we want to investigate, explain, or find out what that ground is?
DB: Well, perhaps not all the philosophers have been basing their approach on concepts, although certainly philosophy is taught through concepts. Certainly it is very hard to teach it except through concepts.
K: What then is the difference between a religious mind and a philosophic mind? You understand what I am trying to convey? Can we investigate the ground from a mind that is disciplined in knowledge?
DB: Fundamentally, inherently, we say that the ground is unknown. Therefore we can't begin with knowledge, and we have suggested we start with the unknown.
K: Yes. Say for instance `X' says there is such a ground. And all of us, `Y' and `Z', say, what is that ground, prove it, show it, let it manifest itself? When we ask such questions, is it with a mind that is seeking, or rather that has this passion, this love for truth? Or are we merely saying let's talk about it?
DB: I think that in that mind there is the demand for certainty; we want to be sure. So there is no enquiring.
K: Suppose you state that there is such a thing, that there is the ground; it is immovable, etc. And I say, I want to find out. Show it, prove it to me. How can my mind, which has evolved through knowledge, which has been highly disciplined in knowledge, even touch that? Because that is not knowledge, it is not put together by thought.
DB: Yes, as soon as we say, prove it, we want to turn it into knowledge.
K: That's it!
DB: We want to be absolutely certain, so that there can be no doubt. And yet, on the other side of the coin, there is also the danger of self-deception and delusion.
K: Of course. The ground cannot be touched as long as there is any form of illusion, which is the projection of desire, pleasure or fear. So how do I perceive that thing? Is the ground an idea to be investigated? Or is it something that cannot be investigated?
K: Because my mind is trained, disciplined, by experience and knowledge, and it can only function in that area. And someone comes along and tells me that this ground is not an idea, is not a philosophic concept; it is not something that can be put together, or perceived by thought. DB: It cannot be experienced, it cannot be perceived or understood through thought.
K: So what have I? What am I to do? I have only this mind that has been conditioned by knowledge. How am I to move away from all that? How am I, an ordinary man, educated, well-read, experienced, to feel this thing, to touch it, to comprehend it?
You tell me words will not convey that. You tell me you must have a mind that is free from all knowledge, except that which is technological. And you are asking an impossible thing of me, aren't you? And, if I say I will make an effort, then that also is born out of the self-centred desire. So what shall I do? I think that is a very serious question. That is what every serious person asks.
DB: At least implicitly. They may not say it.
K: Yes, implicitly. So you, on the other side of the bank, as it were, tell me that there is no boat to cross in. You can't swim across. In fact you can't do anything. Basically, that is what it comes to. So what shall I do? You are asking me, you are asking the mind, not the general mind but...
DB: ...the particular mind.
K: You are asking this particular mind to eschew all knowledge. Has this ever been said in the Christian or the jewish worlds?
DB: I don't know about the jewish world, but in some sense the Christians tell you to give your faith to God, to give over to jesus, as the mediator between us and God.
K: Yes. Now Vedanta means the end of knowledge. And being a Westerner, I say, it means nothing to me. Because from the Greeks and all that, the culture in which I have lived has emphasized knowledge. But when you talk to some Eastern minds, they acknowledge in their religious life that a time must come when knowledge must end; the mind must be free of knowledge. Vedanta is the whole way of looking. But it is only a conceptual, a theoretical understanding. But to a Westerner, it means absolutely nothing.
DB: I think that there has been a Western tradition which is similar, but not as common. For example, in the Middle Ages there was a book called The Cloud of Unknowing, which is on that line, although it is not the main line of Western thought. K: So what shall I do? How shall I approach the question? I want to find it. It gives meaning to life. It is not that my intellect gives meaning to life by inventing some illusion, some hope, some belief, but I see vaguely that this understanding, coming upon this ground, gives an immense significance to life.
DB: Well, people have used that notion of God to give significance to life.
K: No, no. God is merely an idea.
DB: Yes, but the idea contains something similar to the Eastern idea that God is beyond knowing. Most people accept it that way, though some may not. So there is some sort of similar notion.
K: But you tell me that the ground is not created by thought. So you cannot under any circumstances come upon it through any form of manipulation of thought.
DB: Yes, I understand. But I am trying to say that there is this problem, danger, delusion, in the sense that people say, `Yes, that is quite true, it is through a direct experience of jesus that we come upon it, not through the thought of God, you see!' I am not able to express their view accurately. possibly, the grace of God?
K: The grace of God, yes.
DB: Something beyond thought, you see.
K: As a fairly educated, thoughtful man, I reject all that.
DB: Why do you reject it?
K: Because it has become common, first of all, common in the sense that everybody says that! And also there may be in it a great sense of illusion created by desire, hope, fear.
DB: Yes, but some people do seem to find this meaningful although it may be an illusion.
K: But if they had never heard of jesus, they wouldn't experience jesus.
DB: That seems reasonable.
K: They would experience something different that they have been taught. In India I mean... QUESTIONER: But don't the more serious people in the religions say that essentially God, or whatever that is, the Absolute, the ground, is something that cannot be experienced through thinking? Also they might go so far as to say it cannot be experienced at all.
K: Oh, yes, I have said it cannot be experienced. `X' says it cannot be experienced. Let's say, I don't know. Here is a person who says there is such a thing. And I listen to him, and not only does he convey it by his presence, but through the word. Although he tells me to be careful; the word is not the thing; but he uses the word to convey that there is this something so immense that my thought cannot capture it. And I say, all right, you have explained that very carefully, and how is my brain, that is conditioned, disciplined in knowledge, how is it to free itself from all that?
Q: Could it free itself by understanding its own limitation?
K: So you are telling me thought is limited. Show it to me! Not by talking or memory, experience or knowledge; I understand that, but I don't capture the feeling that it is limited, because I see the beauty of the earth, I see the beauty of a building, of a person, of nature. I see all that, but when you say thought is limited, I don't feel it. It is just a lot of words which you have said to me. Intellectually I understand. But I have no feeling for it. There is no perfume in it. How will you show me - not show me - how will you help me - not help - aid me, to have this feeling that thought itself is brittle, it is such a small affair? So that it is in my blood - you understand? When once it is in my blood, I have got it. You don't have to explain it.
Q: But isn't that the possible approach, not to talk about the ground, that at the moment is far too removed, but rather to look directly at what the mind can do.
K: Which is thinking.
Q: The mind is thinking.
K: That is all I have. Thinking, feeling, hating, loving - you know all that. The activity of the mind.
Q: Well, I would say we don't know it, we only think we know it. K: I know when I am angry. I know when I am wounded. It is not an idea, I have got the feeling, I am carrying the hurt inside me. I am fed up with the investigation because I have done it all my life. I go to Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity, Islam - and I say I have investigated, studied, looked at them. I say these are all just words. How do I as a human being have this extraordinary feeling about it? If I have no passion, I am not investigating. I want to have this passion that will explode me out of this little enclosure. have built a wall around myself, a wall, which is myself. An man has lived with this thing for millions of years. And I have been trying to get out of it by studying, by reading, by going to gurus, by all kinds of things, but I am still anchored there. And you talk about the ground, because you see something that is breathtaking, that seems so alive, so extraordinary. And I am here, anchored in here. You, who have `seen' the ground, must do something that will explode, break up this centre completely.
Q: I must do something, or you must?
K: Help me! Not by prayer, and all that nonsense. You understand what I am trying to say? I have fasted, I have meditated, I have renounced, I have taken a vow of this and that. I have done all those things. Because I have had a million years of life. And at the end of the million years I am still where I was, at the beginning. This is a great discovery for me; I thought I had moved on from the beginning, by going through all this, but I suddenly discover I am back at the same point where I started. I have had more experience, I have seen the world, I have painted, I have played music, I have danced - you follow? But I have come back to the original starting point.
Q: Which is me and not me.
K: Me. I say to myself, what am I to do? And what is the human mind's relationship to the ground? perhaps if I could establish a relationship it might break up this centre, totally. This is not a motive, not a desire, not a reward. I see that if the mind could establish a relationship with that, my mind has become that - right?
Q: But hasn't mind then already become that?
K: Oh, no. Q: But I think you have just wiped away the greatest difficulty in saying there is no desire.
K: No, no. I said I have lived a million years...
Q: But that is an insight.
K: No. I won't accept insight so easily as that.
Q: Well, let me put it this way: it is something much more than knowledge.
K: No, you are missing my point. My brain has lived for a million years. It has experienced everything. It has been Buddhist, Hindu, Christian, Muslim; it has been all kinds of things, but the core of it is the same. And someone comes along and says, look there is a ground which is... something! Am I going back to what I have already known - the religions, etc? I reject all that, because I say I have been through it all, and they are like ashes to me at the end of it.
DB: Well, all those things were the attempt to create an apparent ground by thought. It seemed that through knowledge and thought, people created what they regarded as the ground. And it wasn't.
K: It wasn't. Because man has spent a million years at it.
DB: So long as knowledge enters the ground, that will be false?
K: Of course. So is there a relationship between that ground and the human mind? In asking that question, I am also aware of the danger of such a question.
DB: Well, you may create a delusion of the same kind that we have already gone through.
K: Yes. I have played that song before.
Q: Are you suggesting that the relationship cannot be made by you, but it must come.?
K: I am asking that. No, it may be that I have to make a relationship. My mind now is in such a state that I won't accept a thing. My mind says I have been through all this before. I have suffered, I have searched, I have looked, I have investigated, I have lived with people who are awfully clever at this kind of thing. So I am asking the question, being fully aware of the danger of it, as when the Hindus say, God is in you, Brahman is in you - which is a lovely idea! But I have been through all that.
So I am asking if the human mind has no relationship to the ground, and if there is only a one-way passage, from that to me...
DB: Surely that's like the grace of God then, that you have invented.
K: That I won't accept.
DB: You are not saying the relationship is one way, nor are you saying it is not one way.
K: Maybe; I don't know.
DB: You are not saying anything.
K: I am not saying anything. All that I `want' is this centre to be blasted. You understand? For the centre not to exist. Because I see that the centre is the cause of all the mischief, all the neurotic conclusions, all the illusions, all the endeavour, all the effort, all the misery - everything is from that core. After a million years, I haven't been able to get rid of it; it hasn't gone. So is there a relationship at all? What is the relationship between goodness and evil? Consider it. There is no relationship.
DB: It depends on what you mean by relationship.
K: Contact, touch, communication, being in the same room...
DB: ...coming from the same root.
Q: But are we then saying that there is the good, and there is the evil?
K: No, no. Let's use another word; whole, and that which is not whole. It is not an idea. Now is there relationship between these two? Obviously not.
DB: No, if you are saying that in some sense the centre is an illusion. An illusion cannot be related to that which is true, because the content of the illusion has no relation to what is true. K: That's it. You see, that is a great discovery. I want to establish relationship with that. `Want; I am using rapid words to convey something. This petty little thing wants to have relationship with that immensity. It cannot.
DB: Yes, not just because of its immensity, but because in fact this thing is not - actually?
Q: But I don't see that. He says the centre is not actual, but I don't see that the centre is not actual.
DB: Not actual, in the sense of not being genuine but an illusion. I mean, something is acting but it is not the content which we know.
K: Do you see that?
Q: You say the centre must explode. It does not explode because I don't see the falseness in it.
K: No. You have missed my point. I have lived a million years, I have done all this. And at the end of it I am still back at the beginning.
Q: So you say the centre must explode.
K: No, no, no. The mind says this is too terribly small. And it can't do anything about it... It has prayed, it has done everything. But the centre is still there. And someone tells me there is this ground. I want to establish a relationship with that.
Q: He tells me there is this thing, and also says that the centre is an illusion.
DB: Wait, that is too quick.
K: No. Wait. I know it is there. Call it what you like, an illusion, a reality, a fiction - whatever you like. It is there. And the mind says, it is not good enough; it wants to capture that. It wants to have relationship with it. And that says, `Sorry, you can't have relationship with me.' That's all!
Q: Is that mind which wants to be in connection, in relationship with that, the same mind which is the `me'? K: Don't split it up, please. You are missing something. I have lived all this. I know, I can argue with you, back and forth. I have a million years of experience, and it has given me a certain capacity. And I realize at the end of it all there is no relationship between me and truth. And that's a tremendous shock to me. It is as if you have knocked me out, because my million years of experience say, go after that, seek it, pray for it, struggle for it, cry, sacrifice for it. I have done all that. And suddenly it is pointed out that I cannot have relationship with that. I have shed tears, left my family, everything, for, that. And that says, `No relationship'. So what has happened to Me? This is what I want to get at. Do you understand what I am saying - what has happened to me? To the mind that has lived this way, done everything in search of that, when that says, `You have no relationship with me'. This is the greatest thing...
Q: It is a tremendous shock to the `me', if you say that.
K: Is it to you?
Q: I think it was, and then...
K: Don't! I am asking you, is it a shock to discover that your brain, and your mind, your knowledge, are valueless? All your examinations, all your struggles, all the things that you have gathered through years and years, centuries, are absolutely worthless? Do you go mad, because you say you have done all this for nothing? Virtue, abstinence, control, everything - and at the end of it, you say they are valueless! Do you understand what this does to you?
DB: I mean, if the whole thing goes, then it is of no consequence.
K: Absolutely, you have no relationship. What you have done or not done is absolutely of no value.
DB: Not in any fundamental sense. It has relative value, relative value only within a certain framework, which in itself has no value.
K: Yes, thought has relative value.
DB: But the framework in general has no value.
K: That's right. The ground says, whatever you have done `on earth' has no meaning. Is that an idea? Or an actuality? Idea being that you have told me, but I still go on, struggling, wanting, groping. Or is it an actuality, in the sense that I suddenly realize the futility of all that I have done. So, one must be very careful to see that it is not a concept; or rather that one doesn't translate it into a concept or an idea, but receive the full blow of it!
Q: You see, Krishnaji, for hundreds of years, probably since man has existed, he has pursued what he calls God, or the ground.
K: As an idea.
Q: But then the scientific mind came along, and also said it is just an idea, it is just foolish.
K: Oh, no! The scientific mind says that through investigating matter we will perhaps come upon the ground.
DB: Yes, many feel that way. Some would even add, investigate the brain, you see.
K: Yes. That is the purpose of investigating the mind, not to blast each other off the earth, with guns. We are talking of `good' scientists, not governmental scientists, but those who say, we are examining matter, the brain and all that, to find out if there is something beyond all this.
Q: And many people, many scientists, would say that they have found the ground; the ground is empty, it is emptiness; it is an energy which is different from man.
K: Now, is that an idea, or an actuality to them, which affects their life, their blood, their mind, their relationship with the world?
Q: I think it is just an idea.
K: Then I am sorry, I have been through that. I was a scientist ten thousand years ago! You follow? I have been through all that. If it is merely an idea, we can both play at that game. I can send the ball to you, it is in your court, and you can send it back to me. We can play that. But I have finished with that kind of game.
DB: Because, in general, what people discover about matter does not seem to affect them deeply, psychologically.
K: No, of course not. DB: You might think that if they saw the whole unity of the universe they would act differently, but they don't.
Q: You could say that it has affected some of their lives. You see the whole Communist doctrine is built on the idea (which they think is a fact) that whatever is, is just a material process, which is essentially empty. So then man has to organize his life and society according to those dialectical principles.
K: No, no, dialectical principles are opinion opposing another opinion; man hoping, out of opinions, to find the truth.
DB: I think we should leave this aside. There are ways of looking at different meanings of the word dialectical - but one needs to see reality as a flowing movement; not to see things as fixed, but to see them in movement and interconnection. I think that you could say that whatever way people managed to look at it, after they saw this unity it didn't fundamentally change their lives. In Russia, the same structures of the mind, if not worse, hold as elsewhere. And wherever people have tried this, it has not actually, fundamentally, affected the way they feel and think, and the way they live.
Q: You see, what I wanted to say is that the dismissal of the pursuit of the ground has not had any shocking effect on people.
K: No! I am not interested. It has given me a tremendous shock to discover the truth, that all the churches, prayers, books, have absolutely no meaning - except how we can build a better society, and so on.
DB: If we could manage to bring this point to order, then it would have great meaning - to build a good society. But as long as this disorder is at the centre, we can't use that in the right way. I think it would be more accurate to say that there is a great potential meaning in all that. But it does not affect the centre, and there is no sign that it has ever done so.
Q: You see what I don't understand is that there are many people who in their life have never pursued what you call the ground.
K: They are not interested.
Q: Well, I am not so sure. How would you approach such a person? K: I am not interested in approaching any person. All the works I have done - everything I have done - the ground says are valueless. And if I can drop all that, my mind is the ground. Then from there I move. From there I create society.
DB: I think you could say that as long as you are looking for the ground somewhere by means of knowledge, then you are getting in the way.
K: So to come back to earth; why has man done this?
DB: Done what?
K: Accumulated knowledge. Apart from the necessity of having factual knowledge in certain areas, why has this burden of knowledge continued for so long?
DB: Because in one sense man has been trying to produce a solid ground through knowledge. Knowledge has tried to create a ground. That is one of the things that has happened.
K: Which means what?
DB: It means illusion again.
K: Which means that the saints, the philosophers, have educated me - in knowledge and through knowledge - to find the ground.
Q: To create a ground. You see, in a way, there used to be all these periods when mankind was caught in superstition. And knowledge was able to do away with that.
K: Oh, no.
Q: To some extent it was.
K: Knowledge has only crippled me from seeing truth. I stick to that. It hasn't cleared me of My illusions. Knowledge may be illusory itself.
Q: That may be, but it has cleared up some illusions.
K: I want to clear up all the illusions that I hold - not some. I have got rid of my illusion about nationalism; I have got rid of illusion about belief, about this, about that. At the end of it, I realize my mind is illusion. You see, to me, who have lived for a thousand years, to find all this is absolutely worthless, is something enormous.
DB: When you say you have lived for a thousand years, or a million years, does that mean, in a sense, that all the experience of mankind is.?
K: ...is me.
DB: ...is me. Do you feel that?
K: I do.
DB: And how do you feel it?
K: How do we feel anything? Wait a minute, I will tell you. It is not sympathy, or empathy, it is not a thing that I have desired, it is a fact, an absolute, irrevocable fact.
DB: Could we share that feeling, perhaps? You see, that seems to be one of the steps that is missing, because you have repeated that quite often as an important part of the whole thing.
K: Which means that when you love somebody there is no, me, - it is love. In the same way, when I say I am humanity, it is so; it is not an idea, it is not a conclusion, it is part of me.
DB: Let's say it is a feeling that I have gone through all that, all that you describe.
K: Human beings have been through all that.
DB: If others have gone through it, then I also have gone through it.
K: Of course. One is not aware of it.
DB: No, we separate.
K: If we admit that our brains are not my particular brain, but the brain that has evolved through millennia...
DB: Let me say why this doesn't communicate so easily: everybody feels that the content of his brain is in some way individual, that he hasn't gone through all that. Let's say that somebody, thousands of years ago, went through science or philosophy. Now how does that affect me? That is what is not clear. K: Because I am caught in this self-centred, narrow little cell, which refuses to look beyond. But you as a scientist, as a religious man, come along and tell me that your brain is the brain of mankind.
DB: Yes, and all knowledge is the knowledge of mankind. So that in some way we have all knowledge.
K: Of course.
DB: Though not in detail.
K: So you tell me that, and I understand what you mean, not verbally, not intellectually; it is so. But I come to that only when I have given up ordinary things, like nationality, etc.
DB: Yes, we have given up the divisions, and we can see that the experience is of all mankind.
K: It is so obvious. You go to the most primitive village in India, and the peasant will tell you all about his problems, his wife, children, poverty. It is exactly the same thing, only he is wearing different clothes or whatever! For `X', this is an indisputable fact; it is so. He says, all right, at the end of all this, of all these years, I suddenly discover that it is empty. You see, we don't accept it, we are too clever. We are so soaked with disputations and arguments and knowledge. We don't see a simple fact. We refuse to see it. And `X' comes along and says, see it, it is there: then the immediate machinery of thought begins - and says, be silent. So I practise silence! I have done that for a thousand years. It has led nowhere.
So there is only one thing, and that is to discover that all that I have done is useless - ashes! You see that doesn't depress one. That is the beauty of it. I think it is like the phoenix.
DB: Rising from the ashes.
K: Born of ashes.
DB: In a way it is freedom, to be free of all that.
K: Something totally new is born.
DB: Now what you said before is that the mind is the ground, it is the unknown.
K: The mind? Yes. But not this mind. DB: In that case it is not the same mind.
K: If I have been through all that, and come to a point when I have to end all that, it is a new mind.
DB: That's clear, the mind is its content, and the content is knowledge, and without that knowledge it is a new mind.
The Ending of Time
The Ending of Time Chapter 5 12th April 1980 Conversation with Prof. David Bohm 'The Ground of Being, and The Mind of Man'
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