The Way of Intelligence
Chapter 5, Seminars Madras 1978
The Way of Intelligence Chapter 5 Part 1 1st Seminar Madras 13th January 1978 'Insights Into Regeneration'
Sunanda Patwardhan: The present century is witness to tremendous advances in technology and the expansion of the frontiers of knowledge, and yet this does not seem to have brought about a better society or happiness to man. Serious people all over the world are increasingly questioning the role of technology and knowledge in society. It is in this context of the values in culture and in human consciousness that we have to search for the roots of regeneration and of human progress. Mankind can no longer be looked upon as an entity in mass. Though we are meeting in Madras which is just a part, a corner, of this great ancient earth, I feel that our perspective and approach to the problems should have a global dimension.
A.P.: Modern society developed during the last two hundred years. It has certain clear postulates - that the problems that affect human society arise from a lack of material resources, from poverty, disease, squalor; and that these can be remedied by control over the material environment. This view persists in men's minds, particularly in countries like India where there is so much poverty. Similarly, the institutional patterns of ownership of property and social resources have been treated as one of the principal factors of social disorder. It is becoming increasingly obvious that these postulates are a facile oversimplification. Misuse of resources are a peril to human survival. The criminal misdirection of scientific and technological skill for the production of lethal weapons, atomic and others, and pollution are grave risks to human survival. Science and technology by themselves have no defence against their own misuse. Similarly, the developments in the communist world clearly expose the naive optimism that changes in the ownership pattern will automatically lead to the creation of a society of free and equal men. Marxism and science were the gods of my generation but they have failed to avert the crisis in which human society is caught. Today we question the validity of unrestricted growth of the gross national product as the index of economic well-being. The oil crisis and the energy crisis have lent great weight to this scrutiny.
A wider question arises about whether the growth of knowledge itself is not equally irrelevant to the central predicament of modern man. Man is tethered to a fragmented view of human development which aggravates the crisis. We are, therefore, once again moving away from the periphery to explore whether human consciousness is capable of a radical regeneration which makes possible a new perspective and a sane and humane relationship. We need to go beyond our present resources of knowledge to come upon that wisdom which is also compassion. So long as we treat the ego as a semi-permanent entity, it appears that love is locked out and we live in a field of approximations.
Regeneration of man in society is tied up with the problem of self-knowing. We now find that no solution can arise out of a social perspective.
P.J.: Can we indicate the pressures, the challenges, which man faces today within and without? There is no answer to the problem of self-regeneration unless man comprehends the sense of humanness. Does this understanding come through knowledge, through technological processes? In what direction does man search? I would suggest, therefore, that it is only through discussion, dialogue, that the nature of our thinking can be laid bare. This would bring to light not only the predicament but also the solution.
Ivan Illich: One of our concerns in the last ten years has been that a challenge which previously was regional has become worldwide. For instance, the need to seek joy, peace, enlightenment, satisfaction through the acceptance of limits; and an austerity, a renunciation which previously might have been considered merely a personal task for individuals in certain kinds of cultures, based on their personal convictions, is becoming the absolutely necessary condition for survival. The need for this can be operationally verified, demonstrated scientifically.
We are gathered here from very different cultures and traditions. During the last generation, we have come - one nation after another, one representative group after another, parties, professions like medicine or teaching - to accept as the purpose of public obligation certain concepts which were not really around when I was born only fifty years ago. Progress, development, in the sense in which we use these terms today is a post-World War II concept. Economic growth, GNP are words which some of the older amongst us still have some difficulty in grasping. Progress, growth, development, have come to be understood essentially as the substitution of things which people previously did on their own. Its use-value is being substituted by the commodity. In this process, politics has become mainly a concern of providing for everybody equal outputs of commodities. The equal protection of people's power and ability to make, to do things on their own, to be autonomous, the struggle for productive freedoms as opposed to productive rights, has been almost forgotten, submerged, rendered impossible by the various systems within which we live.
If, as you say, Pupulji, there is one canvas, one analytical tool, one way of looking at the peculiar mutation in front of which we stand, this is what I propose: For a hundred years - and in a very intensive way for thirty years - progress had been conceived of as enrichment, which inevitably destroyed those conditions in the environment which make autonomy possible. This is the real environmental destruction, in my opinion, deeper even than the destruction of the physical environment through poisons, through the aggressive overuse of the earth's resources. It is the destruction in the environment of those conditions - social, physical, mental - which make autonomy possible. When you live in a large city almost anywhere in the world, such simple things as giving birth or dying autonomously become impossible. The apartment, the rhythm of life, is not arranged for it. People have lost even the basic skills which any midwife would have or any human being had who stood next to another when he died.
Most of us - unless we are lucky to live perhaps in the suburbs of Benares or in the countryside of India - are not allowed to die. I am using the transitive term `to die'. We will cease to exist under an action, which I shall call `Medicare'. It is not murder, but man is made into a vegetable for the benefit of a hospital. The rhythm of this development is of a grasping, accumulative society, a society in which men are being led to believe that modern techniques require such a society, where technical progress means the incorporation of new inventions into the commodity production processes. Printed books are tools for teachers; ball bearings are means to accelerate motorized vehicles even to a point where the car pushes the bicycle off the road.
Now, it is an illusion that technical progress could be used in order to render a modern society use-value intensive. In a commodity-intensive society, goods which can be produced in a machine are at the centre of the economy. And what people can do on their own is permitted marginally, is tolerated as long as it does not interfere with the process of enrichment; in a society in which we inverse this use-value intensive and get modern, we welcome technical devices only when we increase the ability of people to generate use-values which are not destined for the markets and we consider commodities very valuable only when we increase people's ability to do or make things on their own. In the kind of society in which we live, legitimate production is overwhel- mingly the result of employment. I buy part of your time and energy, paying for it, and make you work under my administration. Now in a use-value oriented society,just the opposite would be true. Besides the work there would be equal access to tools, opportunities for making or doing things without being employed. Any employment would be considered a condition which is necessary.
Now, how do we experience what it means to be human? In summarizing a similar revolution in the darkest of the middle ages in Europe, my teacher, Lerner, points out three concepts of revolution, of turning around: One, which goes back to the Golden Age and then starts again; the second, the turning of this world into a golden age; and the third, the organistic view. Lerner carefully worked out these three ideas and said that in the sixth or seventh century, a fourth view came about through a marriage between the Christian message and the monastic tradition which came from the East into Europe - that each man is responsible for his own revolution. And that the only way for the world to be transformed is by the transformation of each man, principally guided by the idea of basic virtue. The first virtue to cultivate in the process of true revolution is austerity or poverty of spirit. And austerity was defined by a 13th century philosopher as that particular part of the virtue of balance or prudence, which is the basis of friendship, because it does not eliminate all pleasures, but only those pleasures or things which would enter between me and you or that which distracts me or you from each other. Therefore, austerity is the basic condition of virtue for him who wants to balance gracefully and joyfully.
K: May I add something to what Dr. Illich has said? I am only adding, not contradicting. I think most people, thoughtful people, have rejected every form of system, institution; no longer are they trustful of communism, socialism, liberalism, the left, right, politically or religiously. I think man has come to a point where he feels - and I am sure Dr. Illich feels the same - that one must have a new mind, a new quality of mind. I mean by mind the activities of the brain consciousness, sensory perception and intelligence. Is it possible before man destroys himself completely, to bring about a new mind? That is the major question that is confronting most serious and thoughtful people. One has rejected completely the notion that any system, institution, dogma or religious belief is going to save man; and one demands or requires a revolution not only sociologically, but inwardly, with clarity and compassion. Is it possible for human beings to bring about a totally different category or dimension of the mind?
P.K.S.: The crisis in consciousness, so far as I can see, is an ever-recurring phenomenon in history. I think, therefore, that it must be genetically viewed. It is possible to find a general pattern in this crisis. One form is man against nature, man finding himself a stranger in a world which he perhaps considers inimical to him. Therefore, man has to fight against the forces of nature, and this brings about a crisis in his heart. Another form is much deeper and perhaps more significant for human history - man versus man. This arises because man considers another man as an objective phenomenon and, therefore, alien. That is, an individual poses a danger, a threat, a challenge to his own security, completeness. The third aspect of this crisis is man against himself. He does not know what is the inspiration of his own life, mind, thought. Very frequently, he carries on a battle in his own heart; there is a dialogue between the good and the bad, the moral and the immoral, the progressive and the regressive, the civilized and the uncivilized, the mechanical and the inspired. In my view the solution lies in the heart of man, which brings us back to consciousness. The examination now becomes rather internal: From the Indian point of view, certainly, there has been time when inwardness - aavritta chakshu - has been a progressive attitude against outwardness, where objectification yielded place to examination. Nandishwara Thero: Is it possible to find the solution from theories of knowledge or should knowledge come from within?
K: Are we having a dialogue theoretically or in abstraction?
I.I.: I think what has been said is the kernel of the matter. We have industrialized gurus and, as a consequence, the minds of a very large percentage of people have been industrialized. Knowledge is considered competence, awareness, valuable. In the West, the largest professional body are the self-appointed bureaucrats with the guru function, called pedagogues, and people who are afraid to trust their latent powers. I don't think there has been such a time when people all over the world with the desire to trust their latent powers have been so totally repressed.
K: Yes, sir, I know. But I keep on asking, are we having a dialogue on theories or on actualities, the actual being what is taking place now, not only outwardly but inside ourselves. At what level are we having a dialogue - theoretical, philosophical or concerned with our daily existence, our relationship to each other and to our daily activity?
Talking about consciousness, are we individuals? Human beings are fragmented. Do we have consciousness which is common, every man going through suffering, agonies of loneliness, the whole business of existence? Is that not universal consciousness? It seems to me that our consciousness is the consciousness of all man because every human being goes through fear, anxiety and so on. So our consciousness is the consciousness of the world. Therefore, I am the world and the world is me; I am not an individual. We are not individual in the real sense of the word. To me the idea of individuality is non-existent. Theoretically, we talk about individuals. It sounds marvellous, but actually, are we individuals or repetitive machines? When we look at ourselves, deeply, seriously, are we individuals? If I may point out, either we discuss in abstraction, in theory, or we are concerned with revolution, a psychological revolution. A revolution, mutation, a deep radical change in man lies in his consciousness. Can that consciousness be transformed? That is the real question.
P.J.: If you are speaking of the actual state as it is, each one of us sees within us an individual consciousness separate from the consciousness of another. We have to start with what actually is. And when we talk of a crisis in society and in man, the two being in a sense interchangeable, we realize that we are society. The problem then arises: How does one come to the realization of whether one is an individual or not? How does one proceed? Does one proceed through knowledge or through the negation of knowledge? And if there is negation of knowledge, what are the instruments required for negation?
K: One has to ask what is one's consciousness made up of, what is its content?
P.K.S.: When you say individual consciousness, are you referring to the individual mind?
K: No, sir, I asked what is one's consciousness. Apparently, in that consciousness there is a deep crisis. Or is it asleep, pressurized or totally industrialized, as Dr. Illich says, by the guru industrialization, so that we are just non-existent, we just survive? I would like to ask, is one aware of one's total consciousness, not partial, not fragmentary, but the totality of one's own existence which is the result of society, culture, family name? And what is the origin of all thinking? That may be the beginning of our consciousness.
What is my consciousness? My consciousness is made up of culture, ideas, traditions, propaganda, etc. The content makes up consciousness. Without content, there is no consciousness. If there is, it is a totally different dimension, and one can only apprehend or come upon that consciousness when the content is wiped away. So one has to be clear about what one is discussing: whether one is discussing theoretically or by taking up one's own consciousness and investigating it. That is the challenge.
N. T.: Is consciousness part of our experience?
N. T.: If it is part of our experience, is it not individualistic?
K: Is your experience individual?
N.T.: The experience concerns oneself only.
K: What does that word `experience' mean to you?
N.T.: To experience is to feel; it is feeling.
K: No. The content, the structure, the semantic meaning of that word is `to go through'. But we go through and make what we have gone through into knowledge.
N.T.: This `going through' is individualistic, is it not?
K: Is it individualistic to experience? If I am a Hindu or Buddhist or Christian, I experience what I have been told. That is not individuality. If I am a devout orthodox Catholic, I experience Virgin Mary and I think it is my personal experience. It is not; it is the result of two thousand years of propaganda.
S.P.: You seem to suggest that the word itself means indivisible and also, thereby, that any experience is a denial of individuality.
K: I did not say that.
S.P.: It is implied. Any experience, personal or collective, whether out of collective consciousness or personal consciousness, and the multiplicity of experiences put together create the feeling of the individual in each human being. This cannot be denied.
K: Of course. But if I may ask, what is the function of the brain? I.I.: But would you consider it disrespectful if I use the noun in English and say I have knowledge of Krishnamurti? I have knowledge of you, but I don't know you.
K: Can I ever say `I know you'? When we use the word `knowledge', we are using it in so many categories, so many complicated ways. I am using it in a very simple way - I know you, I recognise you, because I met you last year. But do I know, however intimately, my wife? I have slept with her, she has borne my children, but do I actually know her? That is, I do not know her because I have an image of her. I create all kinds of sexual sensory pictures and those pictures prevent me from knowing her, though I am very intimate with her physically. So I can never say to myself, I know somebody. I think that it is a sacrilege, an impudence. I know you the moment I have no barriers, no pictures of you as an individual, as a Doctor of Linguistics. So, if I approach you with a sense of compassion, in the deep sense of that word, then there is no knowing, there is only sharing.
I.I.. I have to accept that, as the word `compassion' is used here.
K: Compassion means passion for all.
A.P.: But do we know ourselves? That is the ultimate question.
K: That's it, sir. Do we know ourselves, and how do we know ourselves? What is the manner of knowing oneself?
A.P.: The problem here is our incapacity to know ourselves directly, to deal with it with a compassionate response. When I see a cyclone in Andhra Pradesh, I feel personally involved because it is happening in the state in which I am living. When I read about a cyclone in Bangladesh, it is just an item of news for me. Now, when we say one world, it does not actually become experiential for us. This is really a part of the alienation process - alienation being a name to the fact that we do not know ourselves. Because we do not know ourselves, our relationship with the world also is a more distant relationship.
P.J.: Let me put it this way. Is it a question of learning what the instruments of learning are? The deep-seated instruments of knowing are seeing, listening, feeling and learning. The probing into the significance of these instruments itself may throw some light not only on the nature of the instruments but also on the manner in which these instruments have been perverted to block their real function.
K: Sir, would you agree that instead of using consciousness as a noun, you use it as a movement of time?
I.I.: I would accept it for discussion, but then, if I may comment, I live in a world where I see a beautiful sunset as a picture postcard. I have made a complete study on the use of words. I found that one of the ten words heard by the typical person was a word heard as a member of a crowd, as public. And nine out of ten were words spoken to him or overheard by him while spoken to another. Today, for example, nine out of ten words heard by young people, according to this study, are words which have been programmed and only one is a personal word. I heard recently from a lady who wrote that she has taken credits for nineteen hours of consciousness. I am just saying - everything in this culture in which I live is industrialized. It is an additive way of education.
P.J.: That is really the problem of knowledge - the additive process.
I.I.: The danger of knowledge, not as a flow but as an additive process, makes me standardized.
K: Sir, what is the relationship of consciousness to thought? What is the beginning of thought? How does that come into existence? What is the spring from which thought arises? There is perception, sensation, contact, then thought, desire and imagination involved in that. That is the origin of desire. So, is that the origin of thought, the beginning of thought, the movement of thought?
P.J.: Is not thought the reaction to challenge?
K: Yes. If I see the challenge, if I am aware of the challenge. If I am not aware, there is no challenge.
P.J.: What is the reaction to challenge?
K: Memory reacts.
R.B.: But for thought to be aware of itself as a trap, is it necessary to see the origin of thought?
K: Yes. Then you only register that which is absolutely necessary and not psychological structures. Why should I register your flattery or your insult? But I do. That registration emphasizes the ego.
S.P.: What is that state of mind in which registration does not take place?
K: You see, that is a theoretical question.
S.P.: No. It is an actual problem. Otherwise one is in a trap. There is memory responding, and memory itself is registered even before I am aware.
K: Then you are acting on reward and punishment.
R.B.: Registering by long habit is so instantaneous. How can we learn to slow down the whole process?
K: Have you ever tried writing down objectively every thought, not just those which are pleasant or unpleasant - I don't like that man, I like that woman, the whole business? Then you will find that you can slow down thought tremendously. Sir, my question is, why do we register psychologically at all? Is it possible to register only that which is absolutely, physically, necessary and not build up the psyche through registration? I.I.: I only know that by becoming older and working at it, one can cut down on registration.
K: But that has nothing to do with age...
I.I.: It has to do with living.
K: That means it is a slow `process'. I object to that.
I.I.: That's all I know. Sometimes one has the experience of a flash, lifting you to another level, being transformed, even like a phoenix from the ashes.
K: Is it possible to accelerate the non-registering process that does not depend upon age, circumstances, environment, poverty, riches, culture? Can one see, have an insight into, the whole question of registration and end it psychologically?
I.I.: I have to be corrected by you. It seems to me that there are several very great and very small schools, each projecting, suggesting, a certain way.
K: And then we are back to systems.
I.I.: I said I stand to be corrected. I would imagine that these offer us a ladder. Some ladders are too short for the level which some people have to reach, while others are so long that we can jump off the ladder earlier than the ladder ends. This is not for all, but for some people they are rather useful in the beginning. I can even imagine that they are useful in many instances - wisdom not to choose, not to search, during their whole life for the best ladder but to take one which does the job which luckily I have at my disposal.
K: But I question whether it is a gradual movement.
1.I.: My school, my institution, my language, say to me the development of the gifts of the spirit are like the riverside of this struggle for virtue. At certain moments we must struggle, practise what you spoke of as virtue. But moments come in when suddenly a bubble comes and I am lifted out of my yesterday as if for ever. That does not mean my life must go on in the same direction to struggle again, but I do go back. I do know that there are some schools of thought, perhaps equally consistent, useful, for others where this will be considered very differently.
K: If I may say so sir, there are no schools. One sees the logical reason of registration, the necessity of physical registration. If one sees clearly, has an insight into the psychological futility of registration, realizes it, it is finished. It is as thought if you see danger, a precipice, it is over. In the same way, if one profoundly sees the danger of psychological registration, then the thing is finished.
I.I.: Is it not possible that for some people enlightenment comes in several ways? The Arabs have seven words for seven states, and for others it comes bang like sunrise, the sun comes out and there it is.
K: I don't think it is a matter for the few or for the many. How do you listen? You tell me there are schools, degrees and I accept that. And another comes along and tells me it is not at all like that and I reject it because of my conditioning. Whereas, if I listened to him and to you, I can see with clarity that in the very act of listening, I have understood the implications of both statements. Do you understand? The listening itself frees me from both of you.
The Way of Intelligence
Chapter 5, Seminars Madras 1978
The Way of Intelligence Chapter 5 Part 1 1st Seminar Madras 13th January 1978 'Insights Into Regeneration'
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