Conversations in Brockwood Park 1978
Brockwood Park 22nd June 1978 1st Conversation with Prof. Bohm, Mr. Narayan and two buddhist scholars
Narayan: I will just say one or two things by way of introduction. Dr Schloegel is a well known scholar in Zen Buddhism. She lived in Japan for twelve years and she teaches Zen Buddhism in London. She was also the librarian of the Buddhist Society until very recently, and many people know her because many people have been her students. We have been wanting to arrange this dialogue with Krishnaji since last year, but it has not been possible. Dr Rahula is from Ceylon, Sri Lanka, and he is a very great Buddhist scholar both in the Theravada and the Mahayana. He lectures in Ceylon, Oxford, he goes to the USA, Japan and he is quite well known, and has written quite a few books. And I am very glad it is possible that we have this dialogue today with Krishnaji.
K: Probably you all know Dr Bohm and myself so we don't need introducing.
Rahula: Yes, sir, we know you so well and I have been following your teaching - if you will allow me to use that word, I know that you don't like that word - from my young days and I have read most of your books with great interest, deep interest, and I have wanted to have this discussion with you for a long time, and I am very happy, very pleased that we have got this opportunity today, thanks to Mr Narayan for arranging all this.
I must say that as I have followed your teachings, your books, for many years, I must say that for a person who knows Buddha's teaching sufficiently well, your teaching is quite familiar, and for a person like that it is not a new thing, it is quite familiar. And what the Buddha taught 2,500 years ago you teach today in a new idiom, a new style, and you put his teaching into a new garb. And that is what I feel always when I read your books. And I have written very often, I haven't got the books here, but most of your books are with me, and when I read your books very often I write in the margin, comparing such and such a teaching with the Buddha, sometimes I even quote the verse, or the chapter and verse, or the text - not only Buddha's teaching, the original ancient teaching, but even later Buddhist philosopher's ideas - I will discuss with you later - even those things you say practically exactly the same. I was surprised how you got these things so well and so beautifully.
And to begin with I want to mention very briefly a few points which are common between Buddha's teaching and your teaching. And, for instance, Buddha did not accept god who created the world and who rules this world and rewards and punishes people for their actions. You also don't accept that idea, I believe. Then Buddha did not accept the old Vedic, Brahmanic idea of eternal, permanent everlasting, unchanging, soul, Atman - Buddha denied it. And you also, I think, don't accept that thought, that type of thought.
Then Buddha begins his teaching on the ground that human life is in predicament, suffering, in conflict, sorrow. And I see in your books you always emphasize that. And then Buddha says that the cause of this conflict, suffering, is due to the selfishness which is created by the wrong idea of idea - myself, my atman. I think you say the same.
And then Buddha says that when one is free from that desire, attachment, self, he is free from suffering, he is free from conflict. And in fact you said somewhere, I remember, freedom means freedom from all attachment - you said that somewhere. And that is exactly what the Buddha taught, that all attachment, there is no discrimination, there is no good attachment and bad attachment - of course there is in our ordinary practical life, but ultimately there is no such division.
Then seeing truth, realization of truth, that is to see things as they are; when you see that, you see the reality, you see the truth and you are free from that conflict. I think this is what very often you say - in a discussion, I think, between you and Dr Bohm, I think, 'Truth and Actuality', in that discussion you have discussed this question. When I read that recently I thought this is quite well known in Buddhist thought as sanghasatya and paramarthasatya, sanghasatya is the conventional truth, and paramarthasatya is the absolute or ultimate truth. And so you can't see the ultimate truth, or the absolute truth without seeing the relative truth. That is the Buddhist attitude. I think you say the same thing.
Then one of your things more on the popular level, but it is very important, you always say that you must not depend on authority - anybody's authority, anybody's teaching. You must realize it yourself, you must see it for yourself. This is a teaching very well known in Buddhism and Buddha said, don't accept anything just because it is given by religion or scriptures, or by the teachers, or by a guru, only if you see for yourself that it is right, then accept it; if you see it is wrong or bad then reject it.
And I remember a very interesting discussion you had with Swami Venkatesananda. And his point was very much that the whole idea of gurus, the importance of gurus, but you always said what can he do, it is your business to do it, a guru can't save you. This is exactly the Buddhist attitude that you should not accept authority, and after reading I listened to that also. A friend of mine lent me that tape, later on I read the whole thing in your book 'The Awakening of Intelligence', after reading at the end I wrote as from the text - Buddha has said these things too, all this discussion is summarized by the Buddha in two lines in the Dhammapada: you should make the effort, the Buddhas only teach. This is in the Dhammapada which you read long, long ago when you were young. I found it in Mary Lutyens' book, you quoted it, not this line but another.
Then another very important thing many people don't understand when you say - I must say this openly, let them know it, if they don't understand it, your emphasis on awareness, mindfulness. This is a thing in Buddha's teaching which is very, very important, extremely important, to be mindful. I myself was surprised when I read in the Maha-parinibbana-Sutra, that is a discourse about the last month of his life, at every point wherever he stopped and talked to his disciples he said always, be aware, cultivate awareness, mindfulness. It is called the presence of mindfulness. This also is one of your very strong points in your teaching, which I appreciate very much and follow.
Then another interesting thing, your emphasis always on impermanence. This is one of the fundamental things in Buddha's teaching, everything is impermanent, there is nothing permanent. And in one place you say exactly - I think it is in the book 'Freedom from the Known' - to discern nothing is permanent is of tremendous importance for only then is the mind free. That is exactly in the four noble truths of the Buddha.
Then another interesting small point I want to mention: how your teaching and the Buddha's teaching go together. I think in one place, in 'Freedom from the Known', you say, control and outward discipline are not the way, nor has an undisciplined life any value. When I read this I wrote on the margin, Buddha told a Brahmin, a Brahmin asked the Buddha, how did you attain to these heights of spiritual heights, by what precepts, by what discipline, by what knowledge did you attain? Buddha said, not by knowledge, not by discipline, not by precepts, nor without them. That is the important thing - not with these things, but not without them also. Exactly what you say: you condemn this slavery to discipline but without discipline life has no value. That is exactly in Zen, which is Buddhism, after all. There is nothing called Zen Buddhism, Zen is Buddhism. In Zen discipline is attachment, and slavery to that is very much condemned, but there is no Buddhist sect in the world where discipline is so much emphasized. I think Dr. Schlogel will talk about this later.
Therefore all these things - we have many other things to talk about but to begin with I want to say that these things, these fundamental things are quite in agreement, and there is no conflict between you and the Buddha. Of course you are not a Buddhist, as you say.
K: No, sir.
R: No. And I myself don't know what I am. It does not matter. But in your teaching and the Buddha's teaching there is hardly any difference, only you say the same thing in a fascinating way for the man today, for tomorrow's man. And now I would like to know what you think about all this.
K: May I say, sir, with due respect, why do you compare?
R: This is because when I read your books as a Buddhist scholar, as one who has studied Buddhist texts I always see it is the same thing.
K: Yes, sir, but if I may ask, what is the necessity of comparing?
R: There is no necessity at all.
K: If you were not a scholar of Buddhism, and all the Sutras, and the sayings of the Buddha, if you were not just scholarly and not gone very deeply into Buddhism, how would it strike you reading this, without the background of all that?
R: That I can't tell you because I was never without that background. One is conditioned, it is a conditioning. We are all conditioned. Therefore I cannot answer that question because I don't know what would be the position.
K: So if I may point out, I hope you don't mind.
R: No, not at all.
K: Does knowledge condition human beings - knowledge of scriptures, knowledge of what the saints have said and so on and so on, the whole gamut of so-called sacred books, does that help man at all?
R: Scriptures and all our knowledge conditions man, there is no doubt about it. It conditions. But I should say that knowledge is not absolutely unnecessary. It is just like this: Buddha has pointed out this very clearly, if you want to cross the river and there is no bridge, you make a boat for yourself and you cross with the help of the boat. Going to the other shore, if you think, oh, this boat has been very useful to me, very helpful, I can't leave it here, I will carry it and you put it on your shoulder, was that man acting rightly? No. Then what you should do is to say, of course this boat was very helpful to me but I have crossed the river, not it is not any more use to me, and I'll leave it here for somebody else to use. That is the attitude for knowledge and learning. Buddha says, even the teachings, not only that, even the virtues, so-called virtues, moral virtues are also like the boat and they have a relative value and conditioned value.
K: I would like to question that. I am not doubting what you are saying, sir. But I would like to question whether knowledge in its actual sense, has the liberating quality of the mind.
R: I don't think knowledge can liberate.
K: Has the quality, sir. Knowledge can't, but the quality that you derive from knowledge, the strength, the sense of capacity, the sense of value, the feeling that you know, the weight of knowledge - doesn't that strengthen you, the self?
K: Does knowledge actually condition man - let's put it that way?
K: The word knowledge, both of us surely mean, and all of us, means accumulation of information, accumulation of experience, accumulation of various facts and theories and principles, the past and the present, all that bundle we call knowledge. Does then the past help, because knowledge is the past?
R: All that past, all that knowledge disappears the moment you see the truth.
K: No, can a mind that is burdened with knowledge see truth?
R: Of course if the mind is burdened and crowded and covered with knowledge...
K: It is, generally. It is. Most minds are filled and crippled with knowledge. I am using the word 'crippled' in the sense of weighed down. Can such a mind perceive what is truth? Or must it be free from knowledge?
R: To see the truth the mind must be free from all knowledge.
K: Yes, so why should one accumulate knowledge and then abandon it, and then seek truth? You follow what I am saying?
R: Yes, yes. I think that in our life, even when we take our ordinary life, most of the things which will happen are useful at the beginning, and for instance, in our studies as children at school we can't write without rules, but today I can't write on ruled paper. But at that stage...
K: Wait a minute, sir. I agree. When you are at school, college and university, we need lines - lines to write on and all the rest of it - but does not the beginning matter enormously, which might condition the future, as he grows up? You understand what I am saying? I don't know if I am making myself clear. Does freedom lie at the end or the beginning?
R: Freedom has no beginning, no end.
K: Would you say that freedom is limited by knowledge?
R: Freedom is not limited by knowledge, perhaps knowledge that is wrongly applied, though acquired, may obstruct freedom.
K: No, there is no wrong or right accumulation of knowledge - knowledge. I may do certain ugly things and repent, or carry on with those ugly things, which is again part of my knowledge. So I am asking if knowledge leads to freedom? As you say, discipline is necessary at the beginning. And as you grow older, mature, acquire capacities and so on and so on, that discipline, has it not conditioned the mind so that it can never abandon discipline in the usual sense of that word.
R: Yes, I can quite understand. You agree that discipline at the beginning, at a certain level is necessary.
K: I question that, sir. When I say I question it, I don't mean I doubt it, or it is not necessary, but I question it in order to enquire.
R: I should say at a certain level it is necessary, and if you cannot abandon it ever - I am talking from the Buddhist point of view. And there are two words in Buddhism with regard to the way: all those people who are on the way, who have not yet arrived, that means all those disciplines, precepts, and all those things that are good and bad, right and wrong. And an arhat who has realized the truth has no discipline because he is beyond that.
K: Yes, I understand this.
R: But that is a fact in life.
K: I question that, sir.
R: I have no doubt about it in my mind.
K: Then we have stopped enquiring.
R: No, it is not so.
K: I mean we are talking about knowledge: knowledge being useful or necessary, as a boat to cross the river. I want to enquire into that fact, or into that simile whether it is the truth - whether it has the quality of truth - let's put it that way. For the moment I am putting it that way.
R: You mean simile, or that teaching?
K: The whole of that. Which means, sir - just a minute - which means accepting evolution.
R: Yes. Accepting.
K: Evolution, gradually, step by step, advancing, and ultimately reaching. Right? First I discipline, control, effort, and as I get more capacity, more energy, more strength I abandon that and move on.
R: There is no plan like that, there is no plan.
K: No, I am not saying there is a plan. I am asking, or enquiring, whether there is such a movement, such progress at all.
R: What do you think?
K: What do I think? No.
Schloegel: I am very much with you, I can't believe it.
R: Yes, there is no progress.
K: No, we must go into it very carefully, sir, because the whole tradition, both Buddhist, Hindu and Christian, all the religious and non-religious attitudes are caught up in time, in evolution - I will be better, I will be good, I will eventually blossom in goodness. Right? I am saying in that there is a root of untruth in it, there is untruth in it. Sorry to put it that way.
S: May I please come in. I entirely agree with that for the very good reason that ever since human beings have existed as far as we know, we have always known in our different context that we should be good. If it would be possible to progress by something like this we would not be the human beings that we are nowadays. We would all have progressed sufficiently.
K: Have we progressed at all?
S: Precisely, we have not progressed - if at all very little.
K: We may have progressed technologically, scientifically, hygienically and all the rest of it but psychologically, inwardly, we have not - we are what we were ten thousand years ago, or more.
S: And so the fact that we know we should do good and have evolved so many systems of how to do it has not managed to help us to become precisely that. And as I see it there is a specific obstacle in all of us, and it is this obstacle that needs - because we do quite honestly from our very heart, most of us want to be good but most of us do not bring it off - but it is this working through that seems to me at stake.
K: We have accepted evolution. Biologically there is evolution. We have transferred that biological fact into psychological existence, thinking psychologically we will evolve.
R: I don't think that is the attitude. No.
K: But that is what it means when you say 'gradually'.
R: No, I don't say gradually. I don't say that. That realization of truth, attainment of truth, or seeing the truth, is without a plan, is without a scheme.
K: Is out of time.
R: Out of time. Exactly.
K: Which means then, my mind, which has evolved through centuries, for millenia, which is conditioned by time, which is evolution, which is the acquiring of knowledge, more, more, more, will reveal the extraordinary truth.
R: It is not that knowledge that will reveal truth.
K: Therefore why should I accumulate knowledge?
R: How can you avoid it?
K: Psychologically avoid it, not technologically.
R: Even psychologically, how can you do that?
K: Ah, that's a different matter.
R: Yes, how can you do that because you are conditioned.
K: Wait a minute, sir. Let's go into it a little more.
Biologically, physically, from childhood up to a certain age, maturity, adolescence and so on, that's a fact. A little oak tree grows into a gigantic oak tree, that's a fact. And is it a fact, or we have created, assumed it is so, psychologically we must grow? Which is, psychologically, eventually I will achieve truth, or truth will take place if I prepare the ground.
R: No, no. That is a wrong conclusion you have come to, that is a wrong point of view. The realization of truth is a revolution, not evolution.
K: Therefore, can the mind be free psychologically of this idea of progress?
R: It can be.
K: No, not 'can be'. It must be otherwise you can't.
R: That is what I told you that revolution is not evolution, a gradual process.
K: So psychologically can there be a revolution?
R: Yes. Certainly.
K: Which means what? No time.
R: There is no time in it.
K: But all the religions, all the scriptures, whether it is Islam, or whatever it is, have maintained you must go through certain systems.
R: But not Buddhism.
K: Wait a minute. I wouldn't even say Buddhism, I don't know have read, except when I was a boy, but that has gone out of my mind. When you say, eventually you must discipline first and then let go of that discipline.
R: No, I don't say that. I don't perceive it like that, and nor did Buddha.
K: Sorry. Then please, I may be mistaken. How do you consider...
R: I asked you, how do you proceed.
K: Proceed with what?
R: That realization of truth, how do you do that?
K: Ah, that's a different matter.
R: How do you proceed?
K: That's quite a different matter.
R: I mean what I say is that we are conditioned. Nobody can tell us that, however much they try. And the revolution is to see that you are conditioned. The moment you see that it has no time, it is an entire revolution and that is the truth.
K: Suppose one is conditioned in the pattern of evolution - I have been, I am, I shall be. That's evolution. No?
K: You understand? I was ugly yesterday, but today I am learning about that ugliness and freeing myself and tomorrow I will be free of it. Right? That is our whole attitude, psychological structure of our being. This is an everyday fact.
R: Do we see that?
K: We see that, right.
R: No. You see understanding is one thing, intellectually, verbally.
K: No, I am not talking either intellectually or verbally, that is a fact. I will try to be good.
R: There is no question of trying to be good.
K: No, but sir, not according to the Buddha, not according to scriptures, but average human beings of everyday life, he says, "I am not as good as I should be, but I eventually - give me a couple of weeks, or a couple of years - and I will be awfully good".
R: Certainly that is the attitude of the people.
K: Practically everybody.
R: Practically everybody.
K: Now wait a minute. That is our conditioning - the Christian, the Buddhist, the whole world is conditioned by this idea, which may have come from the biological progress moved into the psychological field.
R: Yes, that's fine.
K: Now how is a man, or a woman, a human being, to break this pattern without time? You understand my question?
R: Yes. It is only by seeing.
K: No, I can't see if I am caught in this blasted ugliness of progress. And you say it is only by seeing, and I say I can't see.
R: Then you can't.
K: No, but I want to enquire into it, sir. That is, why have we given progress in quotes, such importance, psychologically?
S: I am not a scholar but I come from the practical side. May I come in for a moment please? I am a practitioner but I have done my practice in a Buddhist field, and for me personally as a Westerner, as a one-time scientist, I have found the most satisfactory answer in the Buddhist teaching that I blind myself, I am my own obstacle, as long as I, with all my bundle of conditioning, am here, I cannot see and act. It seems to be a possibility.
K: That doesn't help me. You are saying that I have learnt that.
S: I have learnt it but I have learnt it in the same way as one learns to play a piano, rather than in the way of studying a subject. That is the point that I would like to contribute.
K: Again you are going back to playing the piano, which means practice - not practice, good pianists don't practice.
S: I must have practiced in order to become good.
K: So what are we talking about at the end of this?
N: There seems to be one difficulty in this. Knowledge has a certain fascination, a certain power, one accumulates knowledge, whether it is Buddhist, or scientific, and it gives you a peculiar sense of freedom, though it is not freedom in the realm of conventional freedom. And after years of study one finds it very difficult to get out of this because for years, twenty and twenty five years you arrive at this, and you value it, and it hasn't got the quality of what you might call truth. And the difficulty with all practice seems to be that when you practice you achieve something; and achievement is of the conventional reality type, it has got a certain power, a certain fascination, a certain capacity, maybe a certain clarity.
R: By that you get attached to it.
N: Yes. And to break away from it is much more difficult than for a beginner, a beginner who has not got these things may see something more directly than a man who has so much of acquired wisdom. Maybe. Is it so?
R: That depends on the individual. You can't generalize.
K: Sir, if I may point out, one can generalize as a principle.
R: As a principle, in which way?
K: I mean - let's come back to it. We are all caught in this idea of progress. Right?
R: We have just come to an agreement on that point, that humanity accepts the fact that progress is a gradual evolution, so as you said, biologically they accept it, and prove it, so they apply the same theory to psychological things. We agree it is the human position.
K: Is that the truth? I may have accepted biological progress, biological evolution, which I have gradually transferred to psychological existence. Now is that the truth.
R: Now I see you are questioning. I don't think it is the truth.
K: Therefore I abandon the whole idea of discipline.
R: Then you see that.
K: No, no.
R: I should have said there is no question of abandoning it. If you abandon it consciously...
K: No, sir, just a minute. I see what human beings have done, which is move from the biological to the psychological, and there they have invented this idea that eventually you will come to the godhead, or evolution, or enlightenment, reach Brahman, or whatever it is, nirvana or paradise, or hell. If when a human being sees the falseness of it, actually not theoretically, then it is finished.
R: Absolutely, that is what I tell you all this time.
K: Why should I then acquire knowledge of scriptures, of this or that, psychologically?
R: There is no reason.
K: Then why do I read the Buddha?
R: That is what I told you, we are all conditioned.
Bohm: Could I ask a question: do you accept that you are conditioned?
K: Dr.Bohm asks do we all accept that we are conditioned.
R: I don't know whether you accept or not, I accept it.
R: And there is nobody in time. To be in time is to be conditioned.
K: No, Dr.Bohm is asking, the implication of his question is - need I translate what you are saying? Go on sir. It's your show now.
B: Well I am really saying that I think that Krishnaji has said, at least in some of our discussions, that he was not deeply conditioned in the beginning and that therefore he had a certain insight that would not be common. Is that fair?
K: Please don't refer to me. I may be a biological freak, so leave me out of it. What we are trying to discuss sir, is this: that psychologically can we admit the truth that there is no movement forward - the truth of it, not the idea of it. You understand?
R: I understand.
K: The truth of it, not I accept the idea of it, the idea is not the truth. So do we as human beings see the truth or the falseness of what we have done?
R: You mean human beings generally?
K: The whole world.
R: No, they don't see it.
K: Therefore when you are telling them, get more knowledge, read this, read that, scriptures, what the Buddha said, what Christ said, if he existed at all, and so on and so on - they are full of this accumulative instinct which will help them to jump, or propel themselves into heaven.
B: When we say we are all conditioned, how do we know that we are all conditioned? That is really what I wanted to say.
K: Yes, his point is, sir, are all human beings conditioned?
R: That is a very complicated question. As far as our society is concerned, all are conditioned. There can't be anybody who is unconditioned because he is within type. But what we are talking about is the realization which has no time, which is unconditioned. But you can't say it is a human being as you take humanity.
B: But I really wanted to emphasize that if we say we are all conditioned there could be two ways. You see, one way could be to accumulate knowledge about our conditioning, to say we observe the common human experience, we can look at people and see they are generally conditioned. Right? The other way would be to say, do we directly see in a more direct way that we are all conditioned. That's really what I was trying to drive at.
R: Of course, I can see there are people who see that.
K: But does that help sir, in this matter? I mean there may be, or there may not be.
B: You see the only point I was trying to make is that if we say we are all conditioned then I think there is nothing else to do but some kind of disciplined or gradual approach. That is you begin with your conditioning.
K: Not necessarily. I don't see that.
B: Well let's try to pursue it. That's the way I take the implication of his question that if we begin all conditioned...
K: ...which we are.
B: ...then what can we do for the next step?
R: There is nothing called 'the next step'.
B: How can we be free of the conditioning as we do whatever we do?
R: The freedom from conditioning is to see.
B: Well, the same question, how do we see?
R: Of course many people have tried various ways.
K: No, no, there are not various ways. The moment you say a way, you have already conditioned him.
R: That is what I say. All that is finished. That is what I say. And you are also conditioning by your talks, your lectures are also conditioning. Trying to uncondition the mind is also conditioning it.
K: No, no, I question that statement, whether what we are talking about conditions the mind - the mind being the brain, the thoughts, the feelings, the whole human psychological existence - whether what K is talking about conditions the mind. I doubt it, I question it.
R: I think...
K: If I may suggest, we are going off from the central issue.
R: The question is how to see it - is that it?
K: No, sir, no. Not 'how', there is no how. First let us see this simple fact, sir: do I, as a human being, and therefore representative of all humanity - I am a human being, right, and therefore I represent all humanity. Right?
S: In an individual way.
K: No, as a human being, I represent you, the whole world, because I suffer, I go through agony, etc., etc., so does every human being. So do I, as a human being, see the falseness of it, the step human beings have taken, moving from the biological to the psychological, with the same mentality? There progress, from the little to the big and so on and so on, from the wheel to the jet. As a human being, do I see the mischief that human beings have created, moving from there to this? You understand?
K: Do I see it, as I see the table? Or is it I say, "Yes, I accept the theory of it, the idea of it," and then we are lost. Therefore the idea, the theory is the knowledge.
S: If I see it as this table then it is not a theory any more.
K: It is a fact. But the moment you move away from the fact then it becomes idea, knowledge, and the pursuit of it.
S: And it has further and further pictures.
K: Further away from the fact. I don't know if I am making myself clear.
R: Yes. I guess that is so.
K: What is so? Human beings moving away?
R: Human beings are cornered in that.
K: No, no. Sir, it is a fact, isn't it, that there is biological progress, a little tree to a gigantic tree, from a baby and all the rest of it, boyhood, adolescence. Now we have moved with that mentality, with that idea, with that fact into the psychological field and create there the fact that we progress, which is a false movement? I wonder if I am making myself clear.
B: Are you saying that is part of the conditioning?
K: No, leave the conditioning for the moment. I don't want to enter into that. Sir, would you say, why have we taken over from the biological growth into the psychological growth, why? Which is a fact, why have we done this?
S: I want to become something.
K: Which is you want satisfaction, safety, certainty, a sense of achievement.
S: And it is in the wanting.
K: So why doesn't a human being see what he has actually done, not theoretically?
S: An ordinary human being.
K: You, I, X, Y.
S: I do not like to see it. I fear it.
K: Therefore you are living in an illusion.
S: I want to be something which I fear at the same time not to see. This is where the divide is.
K: You have a false fear, there is no fear. No, madam. when you see what you have done there is no fear.
S: But the fact is, that I usually do not see it.
K: Why don't you see it?
S: I suspect because of fear. I don't know why.
K: You are entering into quite a different field, fear. But I would just like to know as an enquiry, why human beings have done this, played this game for millenia. You understand sir? Why this living in this false structure, and then people come along and say, be unselfish, be this and all the rest of it - why?
S: All we human beings have a very strong irrational side in us.
K: I question all this. Because we are living not with facts but with ideas and knowledge.
R: Certainly, certainly.
K: Not with facts, the fact is biologically there is, psychologically there isn't. And so we give importance to knowledge, ideas, theories, philosophy, and all the rest of it.
R: You don't agree at all, you don't see at all that a certain development, an evolution, even psychologically?
R: A man who has been very undesirable, criminal, telling lies, stealing and all these things - you explain to him certain very fundamental, very elementary things, and he changes into - in our conventional sense - a better man, now he does not steal, now he does not tell lies, he does not like to kill others.
K: He is a terrorist.
R: The man who is changed like that.
K: Are you saying sir, a man who is evil, 'evil' in quotes, the terrorists that are going around the world, what is their future? Are you asking that?
R: Don't you agree a criminal in the accepted sense, you meet a criminal like that, you explain to him the wrong way that he lives, and he realizes what you have said, either because of the ideas he has realized, or because of your personal influence, or whatever it be, he transforms himself, he changes himself.
K: I am not sure, sir. I am not sure. A criminal, in the orthodox sense of that word, whether you can talk to him at all.
R: That, I don't know.
K: You can pacify him, you know, give him a reward and this and that, but an actual criminally minded man, will he ever listen to any sanity. The terrorist - you know, sir, the terrorists - will he listen to you, to your sanity? Of course not.
R: That you can't say, I don't know. I am not at all positive about it.
K: That is what happening, sir.
R: But until I have more proof I can't say that.
K: I have no proof either, but you can see what is happening.
R: What is happening is that there are terrorists, and we don't know whether any terrorists have transformed and converted into good men. We have no proof.
K: You see that is my whole thing. The bad man evolved into the good man.
R: That in the popular sense and the conventional sense, certainly there is, I can't deny that.
K: I don't quite follow.
R: A bad man...
K: Quotes, 'bad' man.
R: Yes, that's right. A bad man, or a criminal, changing his way of life, and becoming a good man - good also in quotes.
K: Yes, we know that, we have dozens of examples.
R: Don't we accept that at all?
K: But, no, no, wait a minute, sir. Bad man who tells lies, who does cruel things, and so on, probably one day he realizes it is an ugly business, and says, "I'll change and become good", but that is not goodness. Goodness is not born out of badness.
R: Certainly not.
K: Therefore the bad man, in quotes, can never become the good man, non quotes.
R: No I would quote surely, goodness.
K: Ah, goodness is not the opposite of the bad.
R: At that level it is.
K: At any level.
R: I don't agree.
N: We might put it this way. In the conventional level the bad man becomes the good man. I think we carry that phrase, that attitude to the progress psychologically. That's one thing we do, the human mind does.
R: That is what we were talking about. That is, transfer this idea to the psychological realm.
N: The other thing is, we seem to feel that psychological progress is the only way the bad man becomes the good man at the relative level.
K: I don't want even to... you see you are making it again a relative thing. Sir, may I put it this way: is there an opposite?
N: At the relative level.
K: No, at any level - psychological, of course, you are wearing yellow and I am wearing brown, the opposite night and day, man and woman and so on and so on. But is there an opposite of fear? Is there an opposite of goodness? Is love the opposite of hate?
R: If you ask me...
K: Opposite, which means duality.
R: I would say, we are talking in dualistic terms.
K: All language is dualistic.
R: You can't talk, I can't talk without dualistic approach.
K: Yes, comparing. But I am not talking of that.
R: And at the moment you speak about the absolute, the ultimate... When we talk good and bad we are talking in the dualistic level.
K: No, that's why I want to move away.
R: You can't talk about the absolute in terms of good or bad, there is nothing called absolute good, or bad.
K: No, no. Is courage the opposite of fear? That is, if fear is non-existent is it courage? Or it is something totally different?
S: It is something totally different.
K: Therefore it is the opposite. Goodness is never the opposite of bad. So what are we talking about when we say, "I will move, change, from my conditioning, which is bad, to freedom from my conditioning, which is good"? Therefore freedom is the opposite of my conditioning. Therefore it is not freedom at all. That freedom is born out of my conditioning because I am caught in this prison and I want to be free. It is a reaction to the prison, which is not freedom.
R: I don't quite follow.
K: Sir, could we consider for a minute: is love the opposite of hate?
R: The only thing you can say is, where there is love there is no hate.
K: Ah, no, no. I am asking quite a different question. I am asking, is hate the opposite of affection, love? If it is then in that affection, in that love, there is hate, because it is born out of hate, out of the opposite. All opposites are born out of their own opposites. No?
R: I don't know. That is what you say.
K: But it is a fact, sir. Look, I am afraid, and I cultivate courage, you know, to put away fear. I take a drink, or you know, all the rest of it, to get rid of fear. And at the end of it I say I am very courageous. All the war heros and all the rest of them are given medals for this because they are frightened. And they say, "We must go and kill", or do something, and they are very courageous, heros.
R: That is not courage.
K: I am saying anything born out of its opposite contains its own opposite.
K: Sir, if someone hates you and then says I must love, that love is born out of hate, because he knows what hate is and he says, "I must not be that, but I must be that". So that is the opposite of this. Therefore that opposite contains this.
R: I don't know whether it is the opposite.
K: That is how we live, sir. This is what we do. I am sexual, I must not be sexual. I take a vow of celibacy - not I - people take a vow of celibacy which is the opposite. So they are always caught in this corridor of opposites. And I question the whole corridor. I don't think it exists. We have invented it, but actually it doesn't exist. I mean, please this is explanation, don't accept anything sir.
S: Personally from the way in which I, where I stand at this moment, see it, and I claim no possibilities either for the truth of it, or something, it is a working hypothesis. I see this channel as a humanizing factor, this channel of opposites, we are caught in it.
K: Oh no, that is not a humanizing factor. That is like saying, 'I have been a tribal entity, now I have become a nation, and then ultimately international' - it is still tribalism going on.
S: No. That I quite agree. I see it in the sense of a really barbaric stage, I could have laughed when you had broken your leg, nowadays I could not laugh any more.
B: I think both of you are saying that we do in some sense make progress, in the sense that we are not as barbaric as we were before. Right?
S: That is what I mean by the humanizing factor.
K: I question whether it is humanizing.
R: I don't like to work in extremes.
K: This is not extremes, this is just facts. Facts are not extremes.
B: Are you saying that this is not a genuine progress. You see in the past people were far more barbaric generally than they are today, and therefore would you say that that really doesn't mean very much?
K: I don't quite follow.
B: Well, some people would point to their past and say there was a great deal of barbarism then.
K: We are still barbarous.
B: Yes, we are, but some people say we are not as barbaric as...
K: Not 'as'.
B: Let's see if we can get it straight. Now would you say that that is not important, that is not significant?
K: No. When I say I am better than I was - it has no meaning.
B: You say that has no meaning to say that.
B: I think we should clarify that.
R: In the relative, dualistic sense I don't accept that. I can't see that. But in the absolute, ultimate sense there is nothing like that.
K: No, not ultimately - I won't even accept that word 'ultimately'. I see how the opposite is born in everyday life, not ultimately. I am greedy, that's a fact. I try to become non-greedy, which is non-fact, but if I remain with the fact, I am greedy, then I can do something about it actually, now. Therefore there is no opposite. Sir, you know violence and non-violence. Non-violence is the opposite of violence, as an ideal. So non-violence is non-fact. Violence is the only fact. Right? So I can then deal with facts, not with non-facts.
R: So what is your point?
K: My point is, there is no duality even in daily life. It is the invention of all these philosophers, intellectuals, who say there is the opposite, work for that. The Utopians, the idealists, the fact is I am violent, that's all, let me deal with that. And to deal with it don't invent non-violence.
S: The question now is: how am I going to deal with it, having accepted the fact that I am violent...
K: Not accepted, it's a fact.
S:... having seen it.
K: Then we can proceed, I'll show you.
S: And the question is how to proceed.
K: We'll proceed with that. Therefore I must see what I have done. I avoid the fact and run away to non-fact. That is what is happening in the world. So don't run but remain with the fact. Can you do it?
S: It is part of our training. That is precisely the point.
K: I am sorry, I won't accept the word 'training'.
S: Well it is precisely this 'can you do it' and one does it though one very often does not like doing it.
K: No. Of course you can do it. It is like seeing something dangerous and you say, "It's dangerous I won't go near it". Running away from the fact is dangerous. Finished. You don't run away. That doesn't mean you train, you practise not to run, you don't run. I think the gurus have invented this running, the philosophers. Sorry.
R: There is no running away. That is entirely different. It is a wrong way of putting it.
K: No, sir.
R: You can't run away.
K: No, I am saying, look.
R: If you see there is no running in it.
K: I am saying, don't run. Then you see. Don't run, then you see. But we say, "I can't see because I am caught in that".
R: I quite see that, what you say I see very well.
K: So there is no duality.
K: Now in daily life, not ultimately.
R: What is duality?
K: Which is the opposite. Violence and non-violence. The whole of, you know, India has been practising non-violence, which is nonsense. There is only violence, let me deal with that. Let human beings deal with violence, not with the ideal of non-violence.
R: Yes, that is of course quite a different question.
R: We agree, if you see the fact, this is a fact, we must handle this.
K: Therefore there is no progress.
R: That is a word that you can use any way.
K: No, not any way.
R: It is simply a word.
K: No, sir, no sir. When we have an ideal, to achieve that ideal I need time. Right? Therefore I will evolve to that.
K: So no ideals. Only facts.
R: What is the difference, what is the argument? We agree there are only facts.
K: Which means, sir, to look at facts time is not necessary.
R: Absolutely not.
K: Therefore if time is not necessary I can see it now.
R: Yes, agreed.
K: You can see it now. Why don't you?
R: Why don't you - that is another question.
K: No, no.
K: No, not another question.
B: If you take it seriously that time is not necessary then right now one could perhaps clear up the whole thing.
R: Yes, that does not means all human beings can do it, there are people who can do it.
K: No. If I can see it, you can see it.
R: I don't think so. I don't agree with you.
K: It is not a question of agreement, I am not trying to argue about these matters, so there is no agreement or disagreement. But when we have ideals away from facts time is necessary to get there, progress is necessary. I must have knowledge to progress. All that comes in. Right? So can you abandon ideals?
R: It is possible.
K: Ah, no, the moment you use the word 'possible' time is there.
R: I mean seeing the facts...
K: Do it now, do it sir, not - forgive me, I am not being authoritarian - when you say it is possible you have already moved away.
R: I mean to say, that I must say that everybody can't do it.
K: How do you know?
R: That is a fact.
K: No, I won't accept that.
S: I can perhaps come in with a bit of a concrete example. I think that we can possibly come together on that. If I stand on a high - a concrete fact - on a high springboard over a swimming pool and I cannot swim, and I am told just jump in and relax completely, the water will carry you. This is perfectly true I can swim. There is nothing that prevents me except I am frightened of doing it. That is I think the point in question. And therefore this is I think the question. Of course we can do it, there is no difficulty but there is this basic fear which does not stand to reason that makes us shy away.
K: Please forgive me, I am not talking of that, we are not saying that. If one realizes that one is greedy, why do we invent non-greed?
S: I wouldn't know because it seems to me so obvious that if I am greedy then I am greedy.
K: Now why do we have the opposite - why? All religions say we mustn't be greedy, all philosophers, if they are worth their salt, say don't be greedy, or something else. Or if you are greedy you will not reach heaven. So they have always cultivated through tradition, through saints, the whole gamut of it, cultivated this idea of the opposite. Right? So I don't accept that. I say that is an escape from this.
S: Which it is. It is a half way stage at best.
K: It is an escape from this. Right? And it won't solve this problem.
S: It hasn't.
K: It hasn't. So to deal with the problem, remove it. I can't have one foot there and one foot here. I must have both my feet here.
S: And if both my feet are here?
K: Wait, no. A simile, a simile. So I have no opposite, which implies time, progress, practice, trying, becoming, the whole gamut of it.
S: So I see I am greedy, or I am violent.
K: Now we have to go into something entirely different. How is one, a human being - not 'how' - can a human being be free of greed now? That's the question. Not eventually. You see I am not interested in being greedy next life, who cares, or the day after tomorrow, I am not interested in it, I want to be free of sorrow, pain, now. So I have no ideals at all. Right sir? Then I have only this fact, I am reedy. Now do we go into that? What is greed? The very word is condemnatory. Right, sir? The word has been in my mind for centuries, and that word 'greed' immediately condemns the fact. By saying "I am greedy" I have already condemned it. Right? Now can I look at that fact without the word with all its intimations, all its content, with its tradition? Look at it. You cannot understand the depth and the feeling of greed or be free of it if you are caught in words. So as my whole being is concerned with greed it says, "All right I won't be caught in it, I won't use the word greed". Right? Now is that feeling devoid of the word, divorced from the word 'greed'?
S: No, it isn't.
R: It has no word.
S: Please go on.
K: So as my mind is full of words and caught in words, can it look at something, greed, without the word?
R: That is really seeing the fact.
K: Then only I see the fact. Then only I see the fact.
R: Yes, without the word.
K: Therefore it has no value. Finished. This is where the difficulty lies, sir. I want to be free of greed because it is in my blood, my tradition, my upbringing, my education, everything says be free of that ugly thing. So I am all the time making an effort to be free of that. Right? I am not educated, thank god, on those lines. So I say, all right, I have only fact, the fact is I am greedy. Right? I want to understand the nature and the structure of that word, of that feeling. What is it? What is the nature of that feeling? Is it a remembrance? You understand, sir? If it is a remembrance I am looking at it, the present greed, with past remembrances. The past remembrances have said condemn it. Can I look at it without past remembrances?
K: I am going to show you. Right sir?
R: If you can see without - I'll listen, yes.
K: I'll go into it a little more because the past remembrance condemns this and therefore strengthens this. Right? If it is something new, I won't condemn it. But because it is new but made old by remembrances, by memories, by experience, I condemn it. So can I look at it without the word, without the association of words? That doesn't need discipline, that doesn't need practice, that doesn't need some guide, just to say, can I look at it without the word. Can I look at that tree, woman, man, sky, heaven, without the word and find out? But someone comes along and tells me, "I'll show you how to do it", then I am lost. And 'how to do it' is the whole sacred books. Sorry. All the gurus, all the bishops, the popes, the whole of it.
So do we stop now?
N: Yes, sir, I think we stop now.
K: By Jove, we have been talking an hour and a half.
R: It depends on you. I am very much interested, I am not tired at all.
K: We had better keep it for tomorrow morning and afternoon. Don't let's overeat.
R: There are several other things that I would like to ask you tomorrow morning and afternoon.
N: Tomorrow we meet at 11.30.
Conversations in Brockwood Park 1978
Brockwood Park 22nd June 1978 1st Conversation with Prof. Bohm, Mr. Narayan and two buddhist scholars
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