The Ending of Time
The Ending of Time Chapter 9 1st June 1980 Conversation with Prof. David Bohm 'Senility and The Brain Cells'
KRISHNAMURTI: I would like to talk over with you, and perhaps with Narayan [Mr G. Narayan, Principal of the Rishi Valley School in India.] too, what is happening to the human brain. We have a civilization that is highly cultivated, and yet at the same time barbarous, with selfishness clothed in all kinds of spiritual garbs. Deep down, however, there is a frightening selfishness. Man's brain has been evolving through millennia upon millennia, yet it has come to this divisive, destructive point, which we all know. So I am wondering whether the human brain - not a particular brain, but the human brain - is deteriorating? Whether it is just in a slow and steady decline? Or whether it is possible in one's lifetime to bring about in the brain a total renewal from all this; a renewal that will be pristine, original, unpolluted? I have been wondering about this, and I would like to discuss it.
I think the human brain is not a particular brain; it doesn't belong to me, or to anyone else. It is the human brain which has evolved over millions of years. And in that evolution it has gathered tremendous experience, knowledge and all the cruelties, vulgarities and brutalities of selfishness. Is there a possibility of its sloughing off all this, and becoming something else? Because apparently it is functioning in patterns. Whether it is a religious pattern, a scientific, a business, or a family pattern, it is always operating, functioning in small narrow circles. Those circles are clashing against each other, and there seems to be no end to this. So what will break down this forming of patterns, so that there is no falling into other new patterns, but breaking down the whole system of patterns, whether pleasant or unpleasant? After all, the brain has had many shocks, challenges and pressures upon it, and if it is not capable of renewing or rejuvenating itself, there is very little hope. You follow?
DAVID BOHM: You see, one difficulty might present itself. If you are thinking of the brain structure, we cannot get into the structure, physically. K: Physically we cannot. I know, we have discussed this. So what is the brain to do? The brain specialists can look at it, take the dead brain of a human being and examine it, but it doesn't solve the problem. Right?
K: So what is a human being to do, knowing it cannot be changed from outside? The scientist, the brain specialist and the neurologist explain various things but their explanations, their investigations, are not going to solve this.
DB: Well, there is no evidence that they can.
K: No evidence.
DB: Some people who do bio-feedback think that they can influence the brain, connecting an instrument to the electrical potentials in the skull and being able to look at them; you can also change your heart beat and blood pressure and other things. These people have raised the hope that something could be done.
K: But they are not succeeding.
DB: They are not getting very far.
K: And we can't wait for these scientists and bio-feedbackers - sorry! - to solve the problem. So what shall we do?
DB: The next question is whether the brain can be aware of its own structure.
K: Can the brain be aware of its own movement? And can the brain not only be aware of its own movement, but itself have enough energy to break all patterns and move out of them?
DB: You have to ask to what extent the brain is free to break out of patterns?
K: What do you mean?
DB: Well, you see, if you begin by saying that the brain is caught in a pattern, it may not be so.
K: But apparently it is.
DB: As far as we can see. It may not be free to break out. It may not have the power.
K: That is what I have said: not enough energy, not enough power. DB: Yes, it may not be able to take the action needed to get out.
K: So it has become its own prisoner. Then what?
DB: Then that is the end.
K: Is that the end?
DB: If that is true, then that is the end. If the brain cannot break out then perhaps people would choose to try some other way to solve the problem.
NARAYAN: When we speak of the brain, in one sense it is connected to the senses and the nervous system; the feedback is there. Is there another instrument to which the brain is connected which has a different effect on the brain?
K: What do you mean by that? Some other factor?
N: Some other factor in the human system itself. Because, obviously, through the senses the brain does get nourishment, but still that is not enough. Is there some other internal factor which gives energy to the brain?
K: You see, I want to discuss this. The brain is constantly occupied with various problems, with holding on, attachment, and so on. It is constantly in a state of preoccupation. That may be the central factor. And, if it is not in occupation, does it go sluggish? If it is not occupied, can it maintain the energy that is required to break down the patterns?
DB: Now the first point is that if the brain is not occupied, somebody might think that it would just take things easy.
K: Become lazy and all that! I don't mean that.
DB: If you mean not occupied, but still active...
K: Of course. I mean that.
DB: Then we have to go into what is the nature of the activity.
K: Yes. This brain is so occupied with conflicts, struggles, attachments, fears and pleasures. And this occupation gives to the brain its own energy. If it is not occupied, will it become lazy, drugged, and so lose its elasticity, as it were? Or will that unoccupied state give the brain the required energy to break the patterns? DB: What makes you say this might happen? We were discussing the other day that when the brain is kept busy with intellectual activity and thought, it does not decay and shrink.
K: As long as it is thinking, moving, living.
DB: Thinking in a rational way; then it remains strong.
K: Yes. That is what I want to get at too. Which is, as long as it is functioning, moving, thinking rationally...
DB: ...it remains strong. If it starts irrational movement, then it breaks down. Also if it gets caught in a routine it begins to die.
K: That's it. If the brain is caught in any routine - the meditation routine, or the routine of the priests.
DB: Or the daily life of the farmer...
K: ...the farmer, etc., it must gradually become dull.
DB: Not only that, but it seems to shrink.
K: To shrink physically.
DB: Perhaps some of the cells die?
K: To shrink physically, and the opposite to that is the eternal occupation with business - by anyone who does a routine job... thinking, thinking, thinking! And we believe that that also prevents shrinking.
DB: Surely experience seems to show that it does, from measurements that have been made.
K: Yes, it does. That's it.
DB: The brain starts to shrink at a certain age. Now that is what they have discovered, and just as when the body is not being used the muscles begin to lose their flexibility...
K: So, take lots of exercise!
DB: Well, they say exercise the body and exercise the brain.
K: Yes. If it is caught in any pattern, any routine, any directive, it must shrink.
DB: Could we go into what makes it shrink? K: That is fairly simple. It is repetition.
DB: Repetition is mechanical, and doesn't really use the full capacity of the brain.
K: One has noticed that people who have spent years and years in meditation are the most dull people on earth. And also with lawyers and professors there is ample evidence of all that.
N: It is suggested that rational thinking postpones senility. But rational thinking itself can sometimes become a pattern.
DB: It might. Rational thinking pursued in a narrow area might become part of the pattern too.
K: Of course, of course.
DB: But is there some other way?
K: We will go into that.
DB: But let's clear up things about the body first. You see, if somebody does a lot of exercise for the body, it remains strong, but it can become mechanical.
DB: And therefore it would have a bad effect.
N: What about the various traditional religious instruments - yoga, tantra, kundalini, etc?
K: I know. Oh, they must shrink! Because of what is happening. Take yoga for example. It used not to be vulgarized, if I may use that word. It was kept strictly to the very few, who were not concerned about kundalini and all that, but who were concerned with leading a moral, ethical, so-called spiritual life. You see, I want to get at the root of this.
DB: I think there is something related to this. It seems that before man was organized into society, he was living close to nature, and it was not possible to live in a routine.
K: No, it was not.
DB: But it was completely insecure. K: So we are saying that the brain itself becomes extraordinarily alive - is not caught in a pattern - if it lives in a state of uncertainty? Without becoming neurotic!
DB: I think that is more clear when you say not becoming neurotic - then certainty becomes a form of neurosis. But I would rather that the brain lives without having certainty, without demanding it, without demanding certain knowledge.
K: So are we saying that knowledge also withers the brain?
DB: Yes, when it is repetitious and becomes mechanical.
K: But knowledge itself?
DB: Well, we have to be very careful there. I think that knowledge has a tendency to become mechanical. That is, it gets fixed, but we could always be learning, you see.
K: But learning from a centre, learning as an accumulative process!
DB: Learning with something fixed. You see, we learn something as fixed, and then you learn from there. If we were to be learning without holding anything permanently fixed...
K: Learning and not adding. Can we do that?
DB: Yes, I think to a certain extent we have to drop our knowledge. You see, knowledge may be valid up to a point, and then it ceases to be valid. It gets in the way. You could say that our civilization is collapsing because of too much knowledge.
K: Of course.
DB: We don't discard what is in the way.
N: Many forms of knowledge are additive. Unless you know the previous thing, you can't do the next thing. Would you say that kind of knowledge is repetitive?
DB: No. As long as we are learning. But if we hold some principle, or the centre, fixed, and say it cannot change, then that knowledge becomes mechanical. But, for example, suppose you have to make a living. People must organize society, and so on, and they need knowledge.
K: But there we add more and more. DB: That's right. We may also get rid of some.
K: Of course.
DB: Some gets in the way, you see. It is continually moving there.
K: Yes, but I am asking, apart from that, about knowledge itself.
DB: Do you mean knowledge without this content?
K: Yes; the knowing mind.
DB: Which merely wants knowledge, is that what you are saying? Knowledge for its own sake?
K: Yes. I want to question the whole idea of having knowledge.
DB: But again, it is not too clear, because we accept that we need some knowledge.
K: Of course, at a certain level.
DB: So it is not clear what kind of knowledge it is that you are questioning.
K: I am questioning the experience that leaves knowledge, that leaves a mark.
DB: Yes, but what kind of mark? A psychological mark?
K: Psychological, of course.
DB: You are questioning this, rather than knowledge of technique and matter, and so on. But you see, when you use the word knowledge by itself, it tends to include the whole.
K: We have said that knowledge at a certain level is essential; there you can add and take away and keep on changing. But I am questioning whether psychological knowledge is not in itself a factor of the shrinking of the brain.
DB: What do you mean by psychological knowledge? Knowledge about the mind, knowledge about myself?
K: Yes. Knowledge about myself, and living in that knowledge, and accumulating that knowledge.
DB: So if you keep on accumulating knowledge about yourself or about relationships... K: ...yes, about relationships. That's it. Would you say such knowledge helps the brain, or makes the brain somewhat inactive, makes it shrink?
DB: Brings it into a rut.
DB: But one should see what it is about this knowledge that makes trouble.
K: What is this knowledge that makes so much trouble? In relationship, that knowledge creates trouble.
DB: Yes, it gets in the way because it fixes.
K: If I have an image about someone, that knowledge is obviously going to impede our relationship. It becomes a pattern.
DB: Yes, the knowledge about myself and about him and how we are related, makes a pattern.
K: And therefore that becomes a routine and so it loses its energy.
DB: Yes, and it occurred to me that routine in that area is more dangerous than routine in, say, the area of daily work.
K: That's right.
DB: And if routine in ordinary work can shrink the brain, then in that area it might do some worse thing, because it has a bigger effect.
K: Can the brain, in psychological matters, be entirely free from this kind of knowledge? Look! I am a businessman, and get into the car, bus, taxi or tube train, and I am thinking about what I am going to do, whom I am going to meet in connection with business. My mind is all the time living in that area. Then I come home; There is my wife and children; sex and all that. That also becomes a psychological knowledge from which I am acting. So there is the knowledge of my business, and also the knowledge with regard to my wife and my reactions in relationship. These two are in contradiction, unless I am unaware of them, and just carry on. If I am aware of these two, it becomes a disturbing factor. DB: Also people find that this is a routine. They get bored with it, and they begin to...
K: ...divorce, and then the whole circus begins!
DB: They may hope that by becoming occupied with something else they will get out of their boredom.
K: Yes, by going to church, etc. Any escape is an occupation. So I am asking whether this psychological knowledge is not a factor of shrinkage of the brain?
DB: Well, it could be a factor.
K: It is.
DB: If knowledge of your profession or skill can be a factor, then this psychological knowledge is stronger.
K: Of course. Much stronger.
N: When you say psychological knowledge you are making a distinction between psychological knowledge and, let us say, scientific knowledge or factual knowledge?
K: Of course, we have said that.
N: But I am a little wary of the claim that scientific knowledge and other types of factual knowledge help to extend the brain, to make it bigger. That in itself doesn't lead anywhere. Though it postpones energy.
K: Dr. Bohm makes this very clear. Rational thinking becomes merely routine; I think logically, and therefore I have learned the trick of that, but I keep on repeating it.
N: That is what happens in most forms of rational thinking.
K: Of course.
DB: I think that there is a dependence on being faced with continual problems.
K: Of course.
DB: You see, lawyers may feel that their brains will last longer, because they are presented with constantly different problems, and therefore they cannot think entirely according to routine! K: But, just a minute! They may have different clients with different problems, but they are acting from fixed knowledge.
DB: They would not say entirely, they have got to find new facts, and so on.
K: They are not functioning entirely in routine but the basis is knowledge - precedence and book knowledge and experience with various clients.
DB: But then you would have to say that some other more subtle degeneration of the brain takes place, not merely shrinkage.
K: That's right. That's what I want to get at.
DB: You see, when a baby is born, the brain cells have very few cross connections; these gradually increase in number, and then, as a person approaches senility, they begin to go back. So the quality of those cross connections could be wrong. If, for example, we repeated them too often, they would get too fixed.
N: Are all the brain functions confined to rational forms, or are there some functions which have a different quality?
DB: Well, it is known that a large part of the brain deals with movement of the body, with muscles, with various organs and so on, and this part does not shrink with age, although the part that deals with rational thought, if it is not used, does shrink. Then there may be other functions that are totally unknown; that is, very little is actually known about the brain.
K: What we are saying is that we are only using one part of the brain. There is only partial activity, partial occupation, either rational or irrational. But as long as the brain is occupied it must be in that limited area. Would you say that?
DB: Then what will happen when it is not occupied? We can say that it may tend to spend most of the time occupied in the limited set of functions which are mechanical, and that this will produce some subtle degeneration of the brain tissue, since anything like that will affect the brain tissue.
K: Are we saying that senility is the result of a mechanical way of living? Of mechanical knowledge, so that the brain has no freedom, no space? DB: That is the suggestion. It is not necessarily accepted by all the people who work on the brain. They have shown that the brain cells start to die around the age of thirty or forty at a steady rate, but this may be a factor. I don't think their measurements are so good that they can test effectively how the brain is used. You see, they are merely rough measurements, made statistically. But you want to propose that this death or degeneration of the brain cells comes from the wrong way of using the brain?
K: That's right. That is what I am trying to get at.
DB: Yes, an there is a little bit of evidence from the scientists, although I think that they don't know very much about it.
K: You see, scientists, brain specialists, are, if I may put it simply, examining things outside, but not taking themselves as guinea-pigs, and not going into that.
DB: Mostly, you see, except for those who do bio-feedback, they are trying to work on themselves in a very indirect way.
K: Yes, but I feel we haven't time for all that.
DB: It is too slow, and it isn't very deep.
K: So let's come back to the realization that any activity which is repeated, which is directed in the narrow sense, any method, any routine, logical or illogical, does affect the brain. We have understood that very clearly. Knowledge at a certain level is essential, but psychological knowledge about oneself, one's experiences, etc. becomes routine. The images I have about myself also obviously become routine, and all that helps to bring about a shrinkage of the brain. I have understood all that very clearly. And any kind of occupation, apart from the mechanical... no, not mechanical...
K: ...apart from physical occupation, brings about shrinkage of the brain. Now how is this process to stop? And if it does stop, will there be a renewal?
DB: I think that some brain scientists would doubt that the brain cells could be renewed, and I don't know that there is any proof one way or the other. K: I think they can be renewed. That is what I want to get at.
DB: So we have to discuss that.
N: Are you implying that mind is different from the brain, that mind is distinct from the brain?
K: Not quite.
DB: You have spoken of universal mind.
N: Mind, in the sense that one has access to this mind, and it is not the brain. Do you consider that a possibility?
K: I don't quite follow this. I would say that the mind is all-inclusive. When it is all-inclusive, of brain, emotions - all that; when it is totally whole, not divisive in itself, there is a quality which is universal. Right?
N: One has access to it?
K: Not one: no, you can't reach it. You can't say, I have access to it.
N: I am only saying access. One doesn't possess it, but...
K: You can't possess the sky!
N: No, my point is, is there a way of being open to it and is there a function of the mind through which the whole of it can become accessible?
K: I think there is. We may come to that presently if we can stick to this point: We are asking now, can the brain renew itself, rejuvenate, become young again without any shrinkage at all? I think it can. I want to open a new chapter and discuss this. psychologically, knowledge that man has acquired is crippling it. The Freudians, the Jungians, the latest psychologist, the latest psychotherapist, are all helping to make the brain shrink. Sorry! I don't mean to give offence....
N: Is there a way of forgetting this knowledge then?
K: No, no. Not forgetting. I see what psychological knowledge is doing and I see the waste; I see what is taking place if I follow that line. It is obvious. So I don't follow that avenue at all. I discard analysis altogether. That is a pattern we have learnt, not discard analysis altogether. That is a pattern we have learnt, not only from the recent psychologists and psychotherapists but also through the tradition of a million years of analysis, of introspect, or of saying, `I must', and `I must not', `This is right and that is wrong'. You know the whole process. I personally don't do it, and so I reject that whole method.
We are coming to a point, which is direct perception and immediate action. Our perception is generally directed by knowledge, by the past, which is knowledge perceiving, and with action arising, acting from that. This is a factor of shrinking of the brain, of senility.
Is there a perception which is not time binding? And so action which is immediate? Am I making myself clear? That is, as long as the brain, which has evolved through time, is still living in a pattern of time, it is becoming senile. If we could break that pattern of time, the brain has broken out of its pattern, and therefore something else takes place.
N: How does the brain break out of the pattern of time?
K: We will come to that, but first let's see if we agree.
DB: Well, you are saying that the brain is the pattern of time, and perhaps this should be clarified. I think that what you mean by analysis is some sort of process based on past knowledge, which organizes our perception, and in which we take a series of steps to try to accumulate knowledge about the whole thing. And now you say that this is a pattern of time, and we have to break out of it.
K: If we agree that this is so, the brain is functioning in a pattern of time.
DB: Then we have to ask, what other pattern is possible?
K: But wait...
DB: What other movement is possible?
K: No. First let's understand this, not merely verbally, but let's actually see that it is happening. That our action, our way of living, our whole thinking, is bound by time, or comes with the knowledge of time.
DB: Certainly our thinking about ourselves, any attempt to analyse ourselves, to think about ourselves, involves this process.
K: This process, which is of time. Right? N: That is a difficulty: when you say knowledge and experience, they are a certain cohesive energy or force that binds you.
K: Which means what? Time binding!
N: Time binding and...
K: ...and therefore the pattern of centuries, of millennia, is being repeated.
N: Yes. But I am saying that this has a certain cohesive force.
K: Of course, of course. All illusions have an extraordinary vitality.
N: Very few break through.
K: Look at all the churches and what immense vitality they have.
N: No, apart from these churches, one's personal life, it has a certain cohesive force that keeps one back. One can't break away from it.
K: What do you mean, it keeps you back?
N: It has a magnetic attraction, it sort of pulls you back. You can't free yourself of it unless you have some instrument with which you can act.
K: We are going to find out if there is a different approach to the problem.
DB: When you say, a different instrument, that is not clear. The whole notion of an instrument involves time, because if you use any instrument, it is a process which you plan.
K: Time; that's just it.
N: That is why I use the word `instrument; I mean, it is effective.
K: It has not been effective. On the contrary, it is destructive. So do I see the very truth of its destructiveness? Not just the theory, the idea, but the actuality of it. If I do, then what takes place? The brain has evolved through time, and has been functioning, living, acting, believing in that time process. But when one realizes that all this helps to make the brain senile, when one sees that as true then what is the next step?
N: Are you implying that the very seeing that it is destructive is a releasing factor?
N: And there is no need for an extra instrument?
K: No. Don't use the word instrument.
There is no other factor. We are concerned to end this shrinkage and senility and in asking whether the brain itself, the cells, the whole thing, can move out of time? I am not talking about immortality, and all that kind of stuff Can the brain move out of time altogether? Otherwise deterioration, shrinkage and senility are inevitable, and even when senility may not show, the brain cells are becoming weaker, and so on.
N: If the brain cells are material and physical, somehow or other they have to shrink through time; indeed it can't be helped. The brain cell, which is tissue, cannot in physical terms be immortal.
DB: perhaps the rate of shrinkage would be greatly slowed down. If a person lives a certain number of years, and his brain begins to shrink long before he dies, then he becomes senile. Now if the deterioration would slow then...
K: ...not only slow down, Sir.
DB: ...Well, regenerate...
K: ...be in a state of non-occupation.
DB: I think Narayan is saying that it is impossible for any material system to last for ever.
K: I am not talking about lasting for ever - though I am not sure if it can't last for ever! No, this is very serious, I am not pulling anybody's leg.
DB: If all the cells were to regenerate in the body and in the brain, then the whole thing could go on indefinitely.
K: Look, we are now destroying the body, through drink, smoking, overindulgence in sex and all kinds of things. We are living most un-healthily. Right? If the body were in excellent health, maintained right through - which means no heightened emotions, no strain, no sense of deterioration, the heart functioning normally - then why not!
K: ...which means what? No travelling, and all the rest of it....
DB: No excitement.
K: If the body remains in one quiet place I am sure it can last a great many more years than it does now.
DB: Yes, I think that is true. There have been many cases of people living for a hundred and fifty years in quiet places. I think that is all you are talking about. You are not really suggesting something lasting for ever?
K: So the body can be kept healthy, and since the body affects the mind, nerves, senses and all that, they also can be kept healthy.
DB: And if the brain is kept in the right action...
K: ...yes, without any strain.
DB: You see the brain has a tremendous affect on organizing the body. The pituitary gland controls the entire system of the body glands; also all the organs or the body are controlled by the brain. When the mind deteriorates, the body starts to deteriorate.
K: Of course.
DB: They work together.
K: They go together. So can this brain - which is not `my' brain - which has evolved through millions of years, which has had all kinds of destructive or pleasant experiences...
DB: You mean it is a typical brain, not a particular brain, peculiar to some individual? When you say `not mine', you mean any brain belonging to mankind, right?
K: Any brain.
DB: They are all basically similar.
K: Similar: that is what I said. Can that brain be free of all this? Of time? I think it can. DB: Perhaps we could discuss what it means to be free of time. You see, at first the suggestion that the brain be free of time might sound crazy, but, obviously, we all know that you don't mean that the clock stops.
K: Science fiction and all that!
DB: The point is, what does it really mean to be psychologically free of time?
K: That there is no tomorrow.
DB: But wp know there is tomorrow.
K: But psychologically...
DB: Can you describe better, what you mean when you say `no tomorrow'?
K: What does it mean to be living in time? Let's take the other side first, because then we come to the other. What does it mean to live in time? Hope; thinking and living in the past, and acting from the knowledge of the past; images, illusions, prejudices - they are all an outcome of the past. All that is time, and that is producing chaos in the world.
DB: Well, suppose we say that if we are not living psychologically in time, we may still order our actions by the watch. The thing that is puzzling is if somebody says, I am not living in time, but I must keep an appointment. You see?
K: Of course; you can't sit here for ever.
DB: So you say, I am looking at the watch, but I am not psychologically extending how I am going to feel in the next hour, when I have fulfilment of desire, etc.
K: I am just saying that the way we are living now is in the field of time. And there we have brought all kinds of problems and suffering. Is that right?
DB: Yes, but it should be made clear why this necessarily produces suffering. You are saying that if you live in the field of time suffering is inevitable.
DB: Why? K: It is simple. Time has built the ego, the `me', the image of me sustained by society, by education, which has built through millions of years. All that is the result of time. And from there I act.
DB: Towards the future psychologically; that is, towards some future state of being.
K: Yes. Which means that the centre is always becoming.
DB: Trying to become better.
K: Better, nobler, or anything else. So all that, the constant endeavour to become something psychologically, is a factor of time.
DB: Are you saying that the endeavour to become produces suffering?
K: Obviously. It is simple. All that is divisive. It divides me from others, and so you are different from me. And when I depend on somebody, and that somebody is gone, I feel lonely and miserable. All that goes on.
So we are saying that any factor of division, which is the very nature of the self, must inevitably cause suffering.
DB: Are you saying that through time the self is set up, and then the self introduces division and conflict and so on? But that if there were no psychological time, then perhaps this entire structure would collapse, and something entirely different would happen?
K: That's it. That is what I am saying. And therefore the brain itself has broken up.
DB: Well, that is the next step - to say that the brain has broken out of that rut, and perhaps could then regenerate. It doesn't follow logically, but still it could be so.
K: I think it does follow logically.
DB: Well, it follows logically that it would stop degenerating.
DB: And are you adding further that it would start to regenerate? K: You look sceptical?
N: Yes, because the whole human predicament is bound to time.
K: We know that.
N: Society, individuals, the whole structure.
K: I know, I know.
N: It is so forceful that anything feeble doesn't work here.
K: What do you mean - `feeble'?
N: The force of this is so great that what has to break through must have tremendous energy.
N: And no individual seems to be able to generate sufficient energy to be able to break through.
K: But you have got hold of the wrong end of the stick, if I may point this out. When you use the word `individual', you have moved away from the fact that our brain is universal.
N: Yes, I admit that.
K: There is no individuality.
N: That brain is conditioned this way.
K: Yes, we have been through all that. It is conditioned this way through time. Time is conditioning - right? It is not that time has created the conditioning, time itself is the factor of conditioning.
So can that time element not exist? (We are talking about psychological time, not the ordinary physical time.) I say it can. We have said that the ending of suffering comes about when the self, which is built up through time, is no longer there. A man who is actually going through agony might reject this. But when he comes out of the shock of it, if somebody points out to him what is happening, and if he is willing to listen, to see the rationality, the sanity of it, and not to build a wall against it, he is out of that field. The brain is out of that time-binding quality.
K: Ah! There again when you use the word `temporary', it means time. N: No, I mean that the man slips back into time.
K: No, he can't. He can't go back if he sees that something is dangerous, like a cobra, or any other danger, he cannot go back to it.
N: That analogy is a bit difficult, because the structure itself is that danger. One inadvertently slips into it.
K: When you see a dangerous animal, there is immediate action. It may be the result of past knowledge and experience, but there is immediate action for self-protection. But psychologically we are ware of the dangers. If we become as aware of these dangers as we are aware of physical dangers, there is an action which is not time-binding.
DB: Yes, I think you could say that as long as you could perceive this danger you know you would respond immediately. But you see, if you were to use that analogy of the animal, it might be an animal that you realize is dangerous, but he might take another form that you don't see as dangerous!
DB: Therefore there would be a danger of slipping back if you didn't see this. Or illusion might come in some other form.
K: Of course.
DB: But I think the major point you are making is that the brain is not belonging to any individual.
K: Yes, absolutely.
DB: And therefore it is no use saying that the individual slips back.
DB: Because that already denies what you are saying. The danger is rather that the brain might slip back.
K: The brain itself might slip back, because it has not seen the danger.
DB: It hasn't seen the other forms of the illusions. K: The Holy Ghost taking different shapes! All this is the real root of time.
DB: Time, and separation as individuality, are basically the same structure.
K: Of course.
DB: Although it is not obvious in the beginning.
K: I wonder if we see that.
DB: It might be worth discussing that. Why is psychological time the game illusion, the same structure as individuality? Individuality is the sense of being a person who is located here somewhere.
K: Located and divided.
DB: Divided from the others. He extends out to some periphery, his domain extends out to some periphery, and also he has an identity which extends over time. He wouldn't regard himself as an individual if he said `Today I am one person, tomorrow I am another'. So it seems that we mean by individual somebody who is in time.
K: I think that this idea of individuality is a fallacy.
DB: Yes, but many people may find it hard to be convinced that it is a fallacy. There is a common feeling that, as an individual, I have existed at least from my birth if not before, and go on to death, and perhaps later. The whole idea of being an individual is to be in time. Right?
DB: To be in psychological time, not just the time of the clock.
K: Yes, we are saying that. So can that illusion that time has created individuality be broken? Can this brain understand that?
DB: I think that, as Narayan said, there is a great momentum in the brain, which keeps rolling, moving along.
K: Can that momentum stop?
N: The difficulty comes here. The genetic coding is intrinsic to a person. He seems to function more or less unconsciously, driven by this past momentum. And suddenly he sees, like a flash, something true. But the difficulty is that it may operate only for a day - and then he is again caught in the old momentum.
K: I know that. But it says the brain will not be caught. Once the mind or the brain is aware of this fact, it cannot go back. How can it?
N: There must be another way of preventing it from going back.
K: Not preventing: that means also time. You are still thinking in terms of prevention.
N: Prevention, in the sense of the human factor.
K: The human being is irrational. Right? And as long as he is functioning irrationally, he says of any rational factor, `I refuse to see it'.
N: You are suggesting that the very seeing prevents you from slipping back. This is a human condition.
DB: I wonder if we should go further into this question about prevention. It may be important.
N: There are two aspects. You see the fallacy of something, and the very seeing prevents you from slipping back, because you see the danger of it.
DB: In another sense you say you have no temptation to slip back, therefore you don't have to be prevented. If you really see it, there is no need for conscious prevention.
N: Then you are not tempted to go back.
K: I can't go back. If for example I see the fallacy of all the religious nonsense, it is finished!
DB: The only question which I raise is that you may not see this so completely in another form.
N: It may come in different shapes...
DB: ...and then you are tempted once again.
K: The mind is aware, it is not caught. But you are saying that it is.
N: Yes, in other shapes and forms. K: Wait Sir. We have said that perception is out of time, is seeing immediately the whole nature of time. Which to use a good old word, is to have an insight into the nature of time. If there is that insight, the very brain cells, which are part of time, break down. The brains cells bring about a change in themselves. You may disagree, you may say, `prove it.' I say this is not a matter of proof, it is a matter of action. Do it, find out, test it.
N: You were also saying the other day, that when the consciousness is empty of its content...
K: ...the content being time...
N: ...that leads to the transformation of the brain cells.
N: When you say consciousness is empty of the content there...
K: ...there is no consciousness as we know it.
N: Yes. And you are using the word insight. What is the connection between the two?
DB: Between what?
N: Consciousness and insight. You have suggested that when consciousness is empty of its content...
K: Be careful. Consciousness is put together by its content. The content is the result of time.
DB: The content also is time.
K: Of course.
DB: It is about time as well, and it is actually put together by time, also it is about time. But if you have an insight into that, the whole pattern is gone, broken. The insight is not of time, not of memory, is not of knowledge.
N: Who has this insight?
K: Not `who'. Simply, there is an insight.
N: There is an insight and then the consciousness is empty of its content...
K: No, Sir. No. N: You are implying that the very emptying of the content is insight?
K: No. We are saying time is a factor which has made up the content. It has built it up, and it also thinks about it. All that bundle is the result of time. Insight into this whole movement, which is not `my' insight, brings about transformations in the brain. Because that insight is not time-binding.
DB: Are you saying that this psychological content is a certain structure, physically, in the brain? That in order for this psychological content to exist, the brain over many years has made many connections of the cells, which constitute this content?
K: Quite, quite.
DB: And then there is a flash of insight, which sees all this, and that it is not necessary. Therefore all this begins to dissipate. And when it has dissipated, there is no content. Then, whatever the brain does is something different.
K: Let us go further. Then there is total emptiness.
DB: Well, emptiness of the content. But when you say total emptiness, you mean emptiness of all this inward content?
K: That's right. And that emptiness has tremendous energy. It is energy.
DB: So could you say that the brain, having had all these connections tangled, has locked up a lot of energy?
K: That's right. Wastage of energy.
DB: And when they begin to dissipate, that energy is there.
DB: Would you say that it is as much physical energy as any other kind?
K: Of course. Now we can go on in more detail, but is this principle, the root of it, an idea or a fact? I hear all this physically with the ear, but I may make it into an idea. If I hear it, not only with the ear, but in my being, in the very structure of myself, what happens then? If that kind of hearing doesn't take place, all this becomes merely an idea, and I spin along for the rest of my life playing with ideas.
If there was a scientist here, bio-feedback or another brain specialist, would he accept all this? Would he even listen to it?
DB: A few scientists would, but obviously the majority would not.
K: No. So how do we touch the human brain?
DB: All this will sound rather abstract, to most scientists, you see. They will say, it could be so; it is a nice theory, but we have no proof of it.
K: Of course. They would say it doesn't excite them very much because they don't see any proof.
DB: They would say, if you have some more evidence we will come back later, and become very interested. So you see, you can't give any proof, because whatever is happening, nobody can see it with their eyes.
K: I understand. But I am asking, what shall we do? The human brain - not `my' brain or `your', the brain - has evolved through a million years. One biological `freak' can move out of it, but how do you get at the human mind generally to make it see all this?
DB: I think you have to communicate the necessity, the inevitability of what you are saying. Say if a person sees something happening before his eyes he says, `That's so'. Right?
K: But it requires somebody to listen, somebody who says, `I want to capture it, I want to understand this, I want to find out.' You follow what I am saying? Apparently that is one of the most difficult things in life.
DB: Well, it is the function of this occupied brain - that it is occupied with itself and it doesn't listen.
N: In fact one of the things is that this occupation starts very early. When you are young it is very powerful, and it continues all through your life. How can we, through education, make this clear?
K: The moment you see the importance of not being occupied - see that as a tremendous truth - you will find ways and methods to help educationally, creatively. No one can be told, copy and imitate, for then he is lost.
DB: Then the question is, how is it possible to communicate to the brain, which rejects, which doesn't listen? Is there a way?
K: Not if I refuse to listen. You see, I think meditation is a great factor in all this. I feel we have been meditating although ordinarily people wouldn't accept this as meditation.
DB: They have used the word so often...
K: ...that its meaning is really lost. But true meditation is this: the emptying of consciousness. You follow?
DB: Yes, but let's be clear. Earlier you said it would happen through insight. Now are you saying that meditation is conducive to insight?
K: Meditation is insight.
DB: It is insight already. Then is it some sort of work you do? Insight is usually thought of as the flash, but meditation is more constant.
K: We must be careful. What do we mean by meditation? We can reject the systems, methods, acknowledged authorities, because these are often merely traditional repetitions - time-binding nonsense.
N: Do you think some of them could have been original, could have had real insight, in the past?
K: Who knows? Now meditation is this penetration, this sense of moving without any past.
DB: The only point to clear up is that when you use the word meditation, you mean something more than insight, you see.
K: Much more. Insight has freed the brain from the past, from time. That is an enormous statement...
DB: Do you mean that you have to have insight if you are going to meditate?
K: Yes, that's right. To meditate without any sense of becoming.
DB: You cannot meditate without insight. You can't regard it as a procedure by which you will come to insight. K: No. That immediately implies time. A procedure, a system, a method, in order to have insight is nonsensical. Insight into greed or fear frees the mind from them. Then meditation has quite a different quality. It has nothing to do with all the gurus' meditations. So could we say that to have insight there must be silence?
DB: Well, that is the same; we seem to be going in a circle.
K: For the moment.
DB: Yes, my mind has silence.
K: So the silence of insight has cleansed, purged, all that.
DB: All that structure of the occupation.
K: Yes. Then there is no movement as we know it; no movement of time.
DB: Is there movement of some other kind?
K: I don't see how we can measure that by words, that sense of a limitless state.
DB: But you were saying earlier that nevertheless it is necessary to find some language, even though it is unsayable!
K: Yes - we will find that language.
The Ending of Time
The Ending of Time Chapter 9 1st June 1980 Conversation with Prof. David Bohm 'Senility and The Brain Cells'
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