The Ending of Time
The Ending of Time Chapter 13 27th September 1980 Conversation with Prof. David Bohm 'Can Personal Problems Be Solved, and Fragmentation End?'
KRISHNAMURTI: We have cultivated a mind that can solve almost any technological problem. But apparently human problems have never been solved. Human beings are drowned by their problems: the problems of communication, knowledge, of relationships, the problems of heaven and hell; the whole human existence, has become a vast, complex problem. And apparently through out history it has been like this. In spite of his knowledge, in spite of his centuries of evolution, man has never been free of problems.
DAVID BOHM: Yes, of insoluble problems.
K: I question if human problems are insoluble.
DB: I mean, as they are put now.
K: As they are now, of course, these problems have become incredibly complex and insoluble. No politician, scientist, or philosopher is going to solve them, even through wars and so on! So why have human beings throughout the world not been able to resolve the daily problems of life? What are the things that prevent the complete solution of these problems? Is it that we have never turned our minds to it? Is it because we spend all our days, and probably half the night, in thinking about technological problems so that we have no time for the other?
DB: That is partly so. Many people feel that the other should take care of itself.
K: But why? I am asking in this dialogue whether it is possible to have no human problems at all - only technological problems, which can be solved. But human problems seem insoluble. Is it because of our education, our deep-rooted traditions, that we accept things as they are?
DB: Well, that is certainly part of it. These problems accumulate as civilization gets older, and people keep on accepting things which make problems. For example, there are now far more nations in the world than there used to be, and each one creates new problems.
K: Of course.
DB: If you go back in time...
K: ...a tribe becomes a nation...
DB: And then the group must fight its neighbour.
K: Men use this marvellous technology to kill each other. But we re talking about problems of relationships, problems of lack of freedom, this sense of constant uncertainty and fear, the struggle to work for a livelihood for the rest of one's life. The whole thing seems so extraordinarily wrong.
DB: I think people have lost sight of that. Generally speaking they accept the situation in which they find themselves, and try to make the best of it, trying to solve some small problems to alleviate their circumstances. They wouldn't even look at this whole situation seriously.
K: But the religious people have created a tremendous problem for man.
DB: Yes. They are trying to solve problems too. I mean everybody is caught up in his own little fragment, solving whatever he thinks he can solve, but it all adds up to chaos.
K: To chaos and wars! That is what we are saying. We live in chaos. But I want to find out if I can live without a single problem for the rest of my life. Is that possible?
DB: Well, I wonder if we should even call these things problems, you see. A problem would be something that is reasonably solvable. If you put the problem of how to achieve a certain result, then that presupposes that you can reasonably find a way to do it technologically. But psychologically, the problem cannot be looked at in that way; to propose a result you have to achieve, and then find a way to do it.
K: What is the root of all this? What is the cause of all this human chaos? I am trying to come to it from a different angle, to discover whether there is an ending to problems. You see, personally, I refuse to have problems.
DB: Somebody might argue with you about that and say that maybe you are not challenged with something.
K: I was challenged the other day about something very, very serious. That is not a problem.
DB: Then it is a matter of clarification. part of the difficulty is clarification of the language.
K: Clarification, not only of language, but of relationship and action. A problem arose the other day which involved lots of people, and a certain action had to be taken. But to me personally it was not a problem.
DB: We have to make it clear what you mean, because without an example, I don't know.
K: I mean by a problem something that has to be resolved, something you worry about; something you are questioning, and endlessly concerned with. Also doubts and uncertainties, and having to take some kind of action which you will regret at the end.
DB: Let's begin with the technical problem where the idea first arose. You have a challenge, something which needs to be done, and you say that is a problem.
K: Yes, that is generally called a problem.
DB: Now the word problem is based on the idea of putting forth something - a possible solution - and then trying to achieve it.
K: Or, I have a problem but I don't know how to deal with it.
DB: If you have a problem and you have no idea how to deal with it...
K: ...then I go round asking people for advice, and getting more and more confused.
DB: This would already be a change from the simple idea of a technical problem, where you usually have some notion of what to do.
K: I wonder if we do? Surely technical problems are fairly simple. DB: They often bring challenges requiring us to go very deeply and change our ideas. With a technical problem, we generally know what we have to do to solve it. For example, if there is lack of food, what we have to do is to find ways and means of producing more. But with a psychological problem, can we do the same?
K: That is the point. How do we deal with this thing?
DB: Well, what kind of problem shall we discuss?
K: Any problem which arises in human relationships.
DB: Let's say that people cannot agree; they fight each other constantly.
K: Yes, let's take that for a simple thing. It seems to be almost impossible for a group of people to think together, to have the same outlook and attitude. I don't mean copying each other, of course. But each person puts his opinion forward and is contradicted by another - which goes on all the time, everywhere.
DB: All right. So can we say that our problem is to work together, to think together?
K: Work together, think together, co-operate without the involvement of monetary issues.
DB: That is another question, whether people will work together if they are highly paid.
K: So how do we solve this problem? In a group, all of us are offering different opinions, and we don't meet each other at all. And it seems almost impossible to give up one's opinions.
DB: Yes, that is one of the difficulties, but I am not sure that you can regard it as a problem, and ask, what shall we do to give up opinions.
K: No, of course. But that is a fact. So observing that, and seeing the necessity that we should all come together, people still cannot give up their opinions, their ideas, their own experiences and conclusions.
DB: Often it may not seem to them like an opinion, but the truth.
K: Yes, they would call it fact. But what can man do about these divisions? We see the necessity of working together - not for some ideal, belief, some principle or some god. In various countries throughout the world, and even in the United Nations they are not working together.
DB: Some people might say that we not only have opinions, but self-interest. If two people have conflicting self-interests, there is no way, as long as they maintain their attachment to these, that they can work together. So how do we break into this?
K: If you point out to me that we must work together, and show me the importance of it, then I also see that it is important. But I can't do it!
DB: That's the point. It is not enough even to see that co-operation is important, and to have the intention of achieving this. With this inability there is a new factor coming in. Why is it that we cannot carry out our intentions?
K: One can give many reasons for that, but those causes and reasons and explanations don't solve the problem. We come back to the same thing - what will make a human mind change? We see that change is necessary, and yet are incapable or unwilling to change. What factor - what new factor - is necessary for this?
DB: Well, I feel it is the ability to observe deeply whatever it is that is holding the person and preventing him from changing.
K: So is the new factor attention?
DB: Yes, that is what I meant. But also, we have to consider what kind of attention.
K: First let's discuss what is attention.
DB: It may have many meanings to different people.
K: Of course, as usual, there are so many opinions!
Where there is attention, there is no problem. Where there is inattention, every difficulty arises. Now without making attention itself into a problem, what do we mean by it? Can we understand it, not verbally, not intellectually, but deeply, in our blood? Obviously attention is not concentration. It is not an endeavour, an experience, a struggle to be attentive. You must show me the nature of attention, which is that when there is attention, there is no centre from which `I' attend. DB: Yes, but that is the difficult thing.
K: Don't let's make a problem of it.
DB: I mean that people have been trying this for a long time. I think that there is first of all some difficulty in understanding what is meant by attention, because of the content of thought itself When a person is looking at it, he may think he is attending.
K: No, in that state of attention there is no thought.
DB: But how do you stop thought then? You see, while thinking is going on, there is an impression of attention - which is not attention. But one thinks, one supposes that one is paying attention.
K: When one supposes one is paying attention, that is not it.
DB: So how do we communicate the true meaning of attention?
K: Or would you say rather that to find out what is attention, we should discuss what is inattention?
K: And through negation come to the positive. When I am inattentive, what takes place? In my inattentiveness, I feel lonely, depressed, anxious, and so on.
DB: The mind begins to break up and go into confusion.
K: Fragmentation takes place. And in my lack of attention, I identify myself with many other things.
DB: Yes, and it may be pleasant - but it can be painful too.
K: I find, later on, that what was pleasing becomes pain. So all that is a movement in which there is no attention. Right? Are we getting anywhere?
DB: I don't know.
K: I feel that attention is the real solution to all this - a mind which is really attentive, which has understood the nature of inattention and moves away from it!
DB: But first, what is the nature of inattention? K: Indolence, negligence, self-concern, self-contradiction - all that is the nature of inattention.
DB: Yes. You see, a person who has self-concern may feel that he is attending but he is simply concerned with himself.
K: Yes. If there is self contradiction in me, and I pay attention to it in order not to be self-contradictory, that is not attention.
DB: But can we make this clear, because ordinarily one might think that this is attention.
K: No, it is not. It is merely a process of thought, which says, `I am this, I must not be that'.
DB: So you are saying that this attempt to become, is not attention.
K: Yes, that's right. Because the psychological becoming breeds inattention.
K: Isn't it very difficult, Sir, to be free of becoming? That is the root of it. To end becoming.
DB: Yes. There is no attention, and that is why these problems are there.
K: Yes, and when you point that out, the paying attention also becomes a problem.
DB: The difficulty is that the mind plays tricks, and in trying to deal with this, it does the very same thing again.
K: Of course. Can the mind, which is so full of knowledge, self-importance, self-contradiction, and all the rest of it, come to a point where it finds itself psychologically unable to move?
DB: There is nowhere for it to move.
K: What would I say to a person who has come to that point? I come to you. I am full of this confusion, anxiety, and sense of despair, not only for myself but for the world. I come to that point, and I want to break through it. So it becomes a problem to me.
DB: Then we are back; there is again an attempt to become, you see. K: Yes. That is what I want to get at. So is that the root of all this? The desire to become?
DB: Well, it must be close to it.
K: So how do I look, without the movement of becoming, at this whole complex issue of myself?
DB: It seems that one hasn't looked at the whole. We did not look at the whole of becoming, when you said, `How can I pay attention?' part of it seemed to slip out, and became the observer. Right?
K: Psychological becoming has been the curse of all this. A poor man wants to be rich, and a rich man wants to be richer, it is all the time this movement of becoming, both outwardly and inwardly. And though it brings a great deal of pain and sometimes pleasure, this sense of becoming, fulfilling, achieving psychologically, has made my life into all that it is. Now I realize that, but I can't stop it.
DB: Why can't I stop it?
K: Let's go into that. Partly I am concerned in becoming because there is a reward at the end of it; also I am avoiding pain or punishment. And in that cycle I am caught. That is probably one of the reasons why the mind keeps on trying to become something. And the other perhaps is deep rooted anxiety or fear that if I don't become something, I am lost. I am uncertain an insecure, so the mind has accepted these illusions and says, I cannot end that process of becoming.
DB: But why doesn't the mind end it? Also we have to go into the question of being trapped by these illusions.
K: How do you convince me that I am caught in an illusion? You can't, unless I see it myself I cannot see it because my illusion is so strong. That illusion has been nurtured, cultivated by religion, by the family, and so on. It is so deeply rooted that I refuse to let it go. That is what is taking place with a large number of people. They say, `I want to do this but I cannot'. Now given that situation, what are they to do? Will explanations, logic and all the various contradictions, theories, help them? Obviously not.
DB: Because it all gets absorbed into the structure. K: So what is the next thing?
DB: You see, if they say, `I want to change', there is also the wish not to change.
K: Of course. The man who says, `I want to change', has also at the back of his mind, `Really, why should I change?' They go together.
DB: So we have a contradiction.
K: I have lived in this contradiction, I have accepted it.
DB: But why should I have accepted it?
K: Because it is a habit.
DB: But when the mind is healthy, it will not accept a contradiction.
K: But our mind isn't healthy. The mind is so diseased, so corrupt, so confused, that even though you point out all the dangers of this, it refuses to see them.
So how do we help a man who is caught in this to see clearly the danger of psychological becoming? Let's put it that way. psychological becoming implies identification with a nation, a group, and all that business.
DB: Yes, holding to opinions.
K: Opinions and beliefs; I have had an experience, it gives me satisfaction, I am going to hold on to it. How do you help me to be free of all this? I hear your words - they seem quite right, but I can't move out of all that.
I wonder if there is another factor, another way of communication, which isn't based on words, knowledge, explanations and reward and punishment. Is there another way of communicating? You see, in that too there is danger. I am sure there is a way which is not verbal, analytical or logical, which doesn't mean lack of sanity.
DB: Perhaps there is.
K: My mind has always communicated with another with words, explanations and logic, or with suggestion. There must be another element which breaks through all that. DB: It will break through the inability to listen.
K: Yes, the inability to listen, the inability to observe, to hear, and so on. There must be a different method. I have met several men who have been to a certain saint, and in his company they say all problems are resolved. But when they go back to their daily life, they are back in the old game.
DB: There was no intelligence in it, you see.
K: That is the danger. That man, that saint, being quiet and non-verbal in the presence of that saint they feel quiet, and think that their problems are resolved.
DB: But this is still from the outside.
K: Of course. It is like going to church. In an ancient church, or cathedral, you feel extraordinarily quiet. It is the atmosphere, the structure - you know; the very atmosphere makes you feel quiet.
DB: Yes, it communicates what is meant by quietness, non-verbally.
K: That is nothing. It is like incense!
DB: It is superficial.
K: Utterly superficial; like incense, it evaporates! So we push all that aside, and then what have we left? Not an outside agency, a god, or some saviour. What have I left? What is there that can be communicated, which will break through the wall that human beings have built for themselves?
Is it love? That word has become corrupted, loaded, dirty. But cleansing that word, is love the factor that will break through this clever analytical approach? Is love the element that is lacking?
DB: Well, we have to discuss it; perhaps people are somewhat chary of that word.
K: I am chary beyond words!
DB: And, therefore, as people resist listening, they will resist love too.
K: That is why I said it is rather a risky word.
DB: We were saying the other day that love contains intelligence. K: Of course.
DB: Which is care as well; we mean by love that energy which also contains intelligence and care; all that...
K: Now wait a minute: you have that quality and I am caught in my misery, anxiety, etc., and you are trying to penetrate with that intelligence this mass of darkness. How will you do it? Will that act? If not, we human beings are lost. You follow, Sir? Therefore we have vented jesus, Buddha, Krishna - images which have become meaningless, superficial and nonsensical.
So what shall I do? I think that is the other factor. Attention, perception, intelligence and love - you bring all this to me, and I am incapable of receiving it. I say, `It sounds nice; I feel it, but I can't hold it'. I can't hold it, because the moment I go outside this room, I am lost!
DB: That really is the problem.
K: Yes, that is the real problem. Is love something outside, as heaven - and all that stuff is outside. Is love something outside, which you bring to me, which you awaken in me, which you give me as a gift - or, in my darkness, illusion and suffering, is there that quality? Obviously not, there can't be.
DB: Then where is it?
K: That's just it. Love is not yours or mine; it is not personal, not something that belongs to anyone; love is not that.
DB: That is an important point. Similarly you were saying that isolation does not belong to any one person, although we tend to think of isolation as a personal problem.
K: Of course. It is common ground for all of us. Also, intelligence is not personal.
DB: But again, that goes contrary to the whole of our thinking, you see.
K: I know.
DB: Everybody says this person is intelligent, and that one is not. So this may be one of the barriers to the whole thing, that behind the ordinary everyday thought there is deeper thought of mankind, but we generally feel divided, and say these various qualities either belong to us, or they don't belong to us.
K: Quite. It is the fragmentary mind that invents all this.
DB: It has been invented, but we have picked it up verbally and non-verbally, by implication, from childhood. Therefore it pervades, it is the ground of our thoughts, of all our perceptions. So this has to be questioned.
K: We have questioned it - that grief is not my grief, grief is human, and so on.
DB: But how are people to see that, because a person who is experiencing grief feels that it is his personal grief?
K: I think it is partly because of our education, partly our society and traditions.
DB: But it is implicit in our whole way of thinking. Then we have to jump out of that, you see.
K: Yes. To jump out of that becomes a problem, and then what am I to do?
DB: Perhaps we can see that love is not personal.
K: Earth is not English earth, or French earth, earth is earth!
DB: I was thinking of an example in physics: if the scientist or chemist is studying an element such as sodium, he does not say it is his sodium, or that somebody else studies his sodium. And of course they compare notes, etc.
K: Quite. Sodium is sodium.
DB: Sodium is sodium, universally. So we have to say that love is love, universally.
K: Yes. But you see my mind refuses to see that, because I am so terribly personal, terribly concerned with `me and my problems'. I refuse to let that go. When you say sodium is sodium, it is very simple; I can see that. But when you say to me that grief is common to all of us, this is difficult.
DB: This can't be done with time, but it took quite a while for mankind to realize that sodium is sodium, you see. K: Is love something that is common to all of us?
DB: Well, in so far as it exists, it has to be common.
K: Of course.
DB: It may not exist, but if it does, it has to be common.
K: I am not sure it does not exist. Compassion is not `I am compassionate'. Compassion is there, is something that is not `me'.
DB: If we say compassion is the same as sodium, it is universal. Then every person's compassion is the same.
K: Compassion, love, and intelligence. You can't have compassion without intelligence.
DB: So we say intelligence is universal too!
DB: But we have methods of testing intelligence in particular people, you see.
K: Oh, no.
DB: But perhaps that is all part of the thing that is getting in the way?
K: Part of this divisive, fragmentary way of thinking.
DB: Well, there may be holistic thinking, although we are not in it yet.
K: Then holistic thinking is not thinking; it is some other factor.
DB: Some other factor that we haven't gone into yet.
K: If love is common to all of us, why am I blind to it?
DB: I think partly because the mind boggles; it just refuses to consider such a fantastic change of concept in a way of looking.
K: But you said just now that sodium is sodium.
DB: You see, we have a lot of evidence for that in all sorts of experiments, built up through a lot of work and experience. Now we can't do that with love. You can't go into a laboratory and prove that love is love. K: Oh, no. Love isn't knowledge. Why does one's mind refuse to accept a very obvious factor? Is it the fear of letting go my old values, standards and opinions?
DB: I think it is probably something deeper. It is hard to pin down, but it isn't a simple thing, although what you suggest is a partial explanation.
K: That is a superficial explanation, I know. Is it the deep rooted anxiety, the longing to be totally secure?
DB: But that again is based on fragmentation.
K: Of course.
DB: If we accept that we are fragmented, we will inevitably want to be totally secure, because being fragmented we are always in danger.
K: Is that the root of it? This urge, this demand, this longing to be totally secure in our relationship with everything? To be certain?
Of course, there is complete security only in nothingness!
DB: It is not the demand for security which is wrong, but the fragmentations. The fragment cannot possibly be secure.
K: That is right. Like each country trying to be secure, it is not secure.
DB: But complete security could be achieved if all the countries got together. The way you have put it sounds as if we should live eternally in insecurity, you see.
K: No, we have made that very clear.
DB: It makes sense to ask for security, but we are going about it the wrong way. How do we convey that love is universal, not personal, to a man who has lived completely in the narrow groove of personal achievement? It seems the first point is, will he question his narrow, `unique' personality?
K: People question it; they see the logic of what we are discussing, yet, curiously, people who are very serious in these matters, have tried to find the wholeness of life through starvation, through torture - you know, every kind of way. But you can't apprehend or perceive or be the whole through torture. So what shall we do? Let's say I have a brother who refuses to see all this. And as I have great affection for him, I want him to move out of fragmentation. And I have tried to communicate with him verbally, and sometimes non-verbally, by a gesture or by a look; but all this is still from the outside. And perhaps that is the reason why he resists. Can I point out to my brother that in himself this flame can be awakened? It means he must listen to me, but my brother refuses to listen.
DB: It seems that there are some actions which are not possible. If a person is caught in a certain thought such as fragmentation, then he can't change it, because there are a lot of other thoughts behind it.
K: Of course.
DB: Thoughts he doesn't know. He is not actually free to take this action because of the whole structure of thought that holds him.
K: So how do I help - I use that word with great caution - my brother? What is the root of all this? We talk of his becoming aware - but all that is verbal; it can be explained in different ways - the cause, the effect, and all the rest of it. After I explain all this, he says, `You have left me where I am'. And my intelligence, my affection, says `I can't let him go'. Which means, am I putting pressure on him?
I am not using any kind of pressure, or reward; my responsibility is that I can't let another human being go. It is not the responsibility of duty and all that dreadful stuff But it is the responsibility of intelligence to say all that to him. There is a tradition in India that one who is called the Maitreya Buddha took a vow that he would not become the ultimate Buddha until he had liberated other human beings too.
K: Yes. You see, the tradition hasn't changed anything. How can one, if one has that intelligence, that compassion, that love, which is not of a country, a person, an ideal or a saviour, transmit that purity to another? By living with him, talking to him? You see it can all become mechanical.
DB: Would you say that this question has never really been solved? K: I think so. But we must solve it, you follow? It has not been solved, but our intelligence says, solve it. No, I think intelligence doesn't say solve it; intelligence says these are the facts, and perhaps some will capture it.
DB: Well, it seems to me that there are really two factors: one is the preparation by reason to show that it all makes sense; and from there possibly some will capture it.
K: We have done that, Sir. The map has been laid out, and he has seen it very clearly; the conflicts, the misery, the confusion, the insecurity, the becoming. All that is extremely clear. But at the end of the chapter he is back at the beginning. Or perhaps he has a glimpse of it, and his craving to capture that glimpse and hold on to it becomes a memory. You follow? And all the nightmare begins!
In showing him the map very clearly, can we also point out to him something much deeper than that, which is love? He is groping after all this. But the weight of body, brain, tradition - all that draws him back. So it is a constant battle - and I think the whole thing is so wrong.
DB: What is wrong?
K: The way we are living.
DB: Many people must see that by now.
K: We have asked whether man has taken a wrong turning, and entered into a valley where there is no escape. That can't be so; that is too depressing, too appalling.
DB: I think some people might object to that. The very fact that it is appalling does not make it untrue. I think you would have to give some stronger reason why you feel that to be untrue.
K: Oh, yes.
DB: Do you perceive in human nature some possibility of a real change?
K: Of course. Otherwise everything would be meaningless; we'd be monkeys, machines. You see, the faculty for radical change is attributed to some outside agency, and therefore we look to that, and get lost in that. If we don't look to anybody, and are completely free from dependence, then solitude is common to all of us. It is not an isolation. It is an obvious fact that when you see all this - the stupidity and unreality of fragmentation and division - you are naturally alone. That sense of aloneness is common, and not personal.
DB: Yes, but the ordinary sense of loneliness is personal in the sense that each person feels it is his own.
K: Loneliness is not solitude; it is not aloneness.
DB; I think all the fundamental things are universal, and therefore you are saying that when the mind goes deep, it comes into something universal.
K: That's right.
DB: Whether or not you call it absolute.
K: The problem is to make the mind go very, very deeply into itself.
DB: Yes. Now there is something that has occurred to me. When we start with a particular problem our mind is very shallow, then we go to something more general. The word `general' has the same root as `to generate', the genus is the common generation...
K: To generate, of course.
DB: When we go to something more general, a depth is generated. But going on, still further, the general is still limited because it is thought.
K: Quite right. But to go profoundly, requires not only tremendous courage, but the sense of constantly pursuing the same stream.
DB: Well, that is not quite diligence; that is still too limited, right?
K: Yes, diligence is too limited. It goes with a religious mind in a sense that it is diligence in its action, its thoughts and so on, but it is still limited. If the mind can go from the particular to the general and from the general...
DB: ...to the absolute, to the universal. But many people would say that is very abstract, and has nothing to do with daily life. K: I know. Yet it is the most practical thing, and not an abstraction.
DB: In fact, it is the particular that is the abstraction.
K: Absolutely. The particular is the most dangerous.
DB: It is also the most abstract, because you only get to the particular by abstracting.
K: Of course, of course.
DB: I think that this may be part of the problem. People feel they want something that really affects us in daily life; they don't just want to get themselves lost in talking, therefore, they say, `All these vapid generalities don't interest us'.
It is true that what we are discussing must work in daily life, but daily life does not contain the solution of its problems.
K: No. The daily life is the general and the particular.
DB: The human problems which arise in daily life cannot be solved there.
K: From the particular, it is necessary to move to the general; from the general to move still deeper, and there perhaps is the purity of what is called compassion, love and intelligence. But that means giving your mind, your heart, your whole being to this enquiry.
We have talked now for a long time, I think we have reached somewhere.
The Ending of Time
The Ending of Time Chapter 13 27th September 1980 Conversation with Prof. David Bohm 'Can Personal Problems Be Solved, and Fragmentation End?'
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