You are here
The ending of psychological knowledge
The ending of psychological knowledge
Krishnamurti: May we continue with where we left off yesterday?
What makes the mind... it's always following a certain pattern, always seeking. If it lets go of one pattern it picks up another pattern, and so on, keeps on functioning all the time within that, why? One can give explanations, one can see why it does: for protection, for safety, for slackness, indifference, a certain amount of callousness, total disregard to one's own flowering and so on. But I think it is very important to find out why our minds are always operating in a certain direction. We came to the point when we said that one comes, after one has been through all kinds of travail, investigation, and insight, one comes to a blank wall, and that blank wall can only wither away or be broken down when there is love and intelligence. That is where we came to the other day.
David Bohm: Yes.
K: But before we go into that I would like to ask: why do human beings, however intelligent, however learned, however philosophical and religious, they always fall into this groove.
DB: Yes, well, I think the groove is inherent in the nature of the accumulated knowledge.
K: Are you saying then that knowledge invariably must create a groove?
DB: Well, perhaps not 'must', but it has, in the way it has developed in mankind. Knowledge, psychological knowledge that is to say.
K: We are talking of that, obviously, obviously.
DB: Yes, that psychological knowledge, then I would agree, must create a groove.
K: But why does it - the mind - not be aware of it, see the danger of it, see its mechanical repetition and therefore there is nothing new in that, and yet keeps on doing it.
DB: You see I think when we were discussing this accumulation of knowledge which really constitutes a groove because..
K: Yes, constitutes the groove, but why?
DB: You see I think that it is the same question, if you merely think of the accumulation of knowledge making a groove then you don't see why a person should stay in it, you see.
K: Yes, that is what I am asking.
DB: Now, it seems to me that the groove, or the knowledge accumulated, has a significance far beyond, seems to have a significance far beyond what its real significance is. That carries a necessity. If we say we have knowledge of some object, like the microphone, it has some limited significance. Now knowledge about your nation, the nation to which you belong seems to have immense significance.
K: Yes, yes. So is this significance the cause of this narrowing down of the mind?
DB: Well, it holds the mind, this knowledge has a tremendous value beyond all other values. It makes the mind stick to that because it seems the most important thing in the world.
K: You know in certain philosophies, certain concepts and so on in India, there is this philosophy that knowledge must end - you know it, of course, the Vedanta. But apparently very, very, very few people do end knowledge and talk from freedom.
DB: Well, I would come back to that point, to say it seems, knowledge generally seems extremely important, worth holding on to. You see though a person may verbally say it should end..
DB: Knowledge about the self.
K: Yes. You mean I am so stupid that I don't see that this knowledge has very little significance essentially, psychological knowledge, and yet my mind clings to it?
DB: Yes, I wouldn't quite put it that a person is that stupid but rather to say that this knowledge stupefies the brain, you see.
K: Yes, all right, (laughs) call it that.
DB: I mean that the brain being caught in this knowledge becomes stupefied.
K: Stupefied, all right, but it doesn't seem to extricate itself.
DB: Because it is already so stupefied that it can't see what it is doing (laughs).
K: So what shall it do? I have been watching this many years, why human beings think or attempt to become free from certain things, and yet this is the root of it. You understand? This accumulation, psychological accumulation which becomes psychological knowledge and so it divides and all kinds of things happen around it and within it. And yet the mind refuses to let go.
K: Is it that it doesn't see? Or it has given to knowledge such immense importance?
DB: That is what I mean, yes.
K: Why? Is that because there is safety in it, security in it?
DB: Well, that is part of it that seems to be a source of security but you see I think in some way knowledge has taken on the significance of the absolute, you see, to say that knowledge should be properly relative. But this knowledge of the mind, psychological knowledge of the self or the associated knowledge...
K: I understand all that, sir, but you are not answering my question. I am an ordinary man, I realise all this and I realise the significance and the value of knowledge in different levels, but deeper down inside one, this accumulated knowledge is very, very destructive.
DB: That is true, but there is self-deception and the knowledge deceives the mind so a person is not normally, usually aware that it is destructive.
K: Is that why human beings cling to it?
DB: Well, they can't really. By the time, you see... we don't know exactly how they got started on it, but once it gets started the mind is generally in a state in which it is not able to look at this because it is avoiding the question, there is a tremendous defensive mechanism to escape looking at the whole question.
DB: Because it seems something supremely precious might be at stake.
K: One is strangely intelligent in other directions, capable and efficient, skilled, have a great deal of skill, but here, where the root of all this trouble is, why don't we comprehend it fully? What prevents the mind? You say it has given importance to knowledge. I acknowledge that, it is so, but, and yet it holds on. You must know!
DB: But I think that once this has happened there is a mechanical process that resists intelligence.
K: So what shall I do? What shall I do as an ordinary man, I realise technological knowledge and all the rest of it, but knowledge which I have accumulated, which is divisive, which is destructive, which is rather petty, and yet I hold on to that and I realise I must let it go but I can't. What shall I do? I think this is the average person's problem - a problem which arises when we are a little bit serious about all this. Is it the lack of energy?
DB: Not primarily. You see the energy is being dissipated by the process.
K: Dissipated, I understand that. Having dissipated a great deal of energy I haven't got the energy to grapple with this.
DB: That could come back quickly if we could get out of this. The energy is constantly being dissipated and a person may be a little worn down but he could recover if this would stop. I don't think it is the main point.
K: No, that is not the main point. So what shall I do, as a human being, realising that this knowledge is naturally, inevitably forming a groove in which I live. My next question is: how am I to break it down?
DB: Well, I am not sure that it is clear in general for people that this knowledge is doing all this, and also that the knowledge is knowledge. You see it may seem to be some being, the self, the me, this knowledge is experienced as some entity, this knowledge creates the 'me' and the 'me' is now experienced as an entity which is not knowledge, but some real being. Right?
K: Are you saying this being is different from knowledge?
DB: It appears to be, it feigns difference.
K: But is it?
DB: It isn't but it has a very powerful ability to...
K: But that has been my conditioning.
DB: That is true. Now the question is, how do we get through that to break down the conditioning?
K: That is the real point, you see.
DB: Because it creates an imitation or a pretension of a state of being.
K: Look: there are seven hundred million Catholics, thousands and millions and millions of Chinese. You follow? This is their central movement. And it seems so utterly hopeless. And realising the hopelessness I sit back and say, I can't do anything. But if I apply my mind to it then the question arises: is it possible to function without psychological knowledge in this world? I am rather concerned about it because I think wherever one goes, whether it is California, India, or here or anywhere else, it is this central issue that must be resolved.
DB: That is right. But you see you may discuss this, or tell this to somebody, and he may say it looks reasonable, perhaps, but when his... let's say that his status is threatened. Now we have to say that is psychological knowledge. It doesn't seem to him that it is knowledge but something more, right?
K: I know all that.
DB: Now he does not see that his knowledge of his status is behind the trouble. Knowledge seems to be at first sight something passive, you see, something which you know, which you could use if you wanted to and which you could fail to use if you don't want to, just put it aside, you see, which is the way it should be.
K: I understand all that, sir.
DB: But when the moment comes...
K: Back again.
DB: Yes, knowledge no longer appears to be knowledge. You see how would you, if you were to talk to some politician...
K: Oh (laughs).
DB: (Laughs) For example, I think once somebody wanted you to talk to Mao Tze Tung - you would probably get nowhere.
K: Nowhere! The politicians and the people in power wouldn't even listen to me, as the religious people won't listen to you, the so-called religious people. It is only the people who are discontented, who are frustrated, who feel they have lost everything, perhaps those will listen. But they won't listen so that it is a real burning thing. How does one go about it? Say for instance, I have left Catholicism and Protestantism and all that nonsense, and I also, though I have a career, I know it is necessary to have knowledge there, but I have come to a point, as a human being, living in this world I see how important it is not to be caught in the process of knowledge, psychological knowledge, and yet I can't let it go. It is always dodging me, I am playing tricks with it. It is like hide and seek. (Laughs)
All right. From there we said, that is the wall I have to break down. We are approaching it differently. That is the wall I have to break down - not 'I' - that is the wall that has to be broken down. And we said that wall can be broken down through love and intelligence. Aren't we asking something enormously difficult?
DB: Well, it is difficult.
K: I am behind, this side of the wall, and you are asking me to have that love and intelligence which will destroy the wall. But I don't know what that love is, what that intelligence is, because I am caught in this, this side of the wall. And I realise logically, sanely as you pointed out just now, as an ordinary human being, I realise what you are saying is accurate, true, logical, and I see the importance of it, but the wall is so strong and dominant and powerful that I can't get beyond it. And you said, and we said the other day, that wall can be broken down through insight - we went into that. That insight becomes an idea.
K: It is not an actuality and you say, 'Yes, I understand it, I see it', but when you describe the insight, whether it is possible, how it is brought about and so on, I immediately make an abstraction of it, which means I move away from the fact and the abstraction becomes all important. Which means knowledge. You follow what I mean?
DB: Yes, well, it is the activity of knowledge.
K: Knowledge. So I am back again.
DB: Well, I think the general difficulty is this: that knowledge is not just sitting there as a form of information but it is extremely active, meeting every moment and shaping every moment according to the past knowledge, so even when we raise this issue knowledge is all the time waiting and then acting.
K: All the time waiting, acting, yes. (Laughs)
DB: One point is to know that our whole tradition is that knowledge is not active but it is sitting.
K: Very active.
DB: It is really active but people generally don't think of it that way.
K: Of course, of course.
DB: They think it is just sitting there.
K: It is waiting. (Laughs)
DB: It is waiting to act, you see. And anything you try to do about it, knowledge is already acting. By the time you realise that this is the problem it has already acted.
K: Yes. Do I realise it as a problem, or an idea which I must carry out? You see the difference?
DB: Yes, well, the first point is that knowledge automatically turns everything into an idea which you must carry out. That is the whole way it is built. Right?
K: That is the whole way I have lived.
DB: Well, knowledge can't do anything else.
K: How am I to break that even for a... (laughs)
DB: It seems to me that if you could see, observe, be aware, if knowledge could be aware of itself at work. The point is, knowledge seems to work unawares, you see, it is just simply waiting there and then acts, and by that time it has disrupted the order of the brain.
K: I am very concerned about this because wherever I go this is what is happening. And it has become a problem, not for me, but it is something that has to be resolved.
Would you say the capacity to listen is far more important than any of this, any explanations, any logic - to listen?
DB: It comes to the same problem.
K: No, no, no, I am trying to see... It doesn't. I want to see if there is a possibility that when I listen, listen to what you are saying so completely the wall has broken down. You understand? I am trying to find out sir. I am an ordinary man and you are telling me all this, and I realise what you are saying is so. And I am concerned about it, I am really deeply involved in what you are saying. And somehow the flame isn't lit, all the fuel is there but the fire isn't there. So what, as an ordinary man, what shall I do! This is my everlasting cry.
DB: If it is the capacity to listen then we have the question of, say the ordinary man is full of opinions, you see, so he can't listen.
K: Ah! Of course. If you are listening with opinions, you might be just as well dead! That's nonsense!
DB: You see I think knowledge has all sorts of defences. If you are thinking of trying to spread, make it possible for people, say the ordinary man, to have this perception, that is really what you are asking, isn't it?
K: Yes, yes.
DB: At least those who are interested.
DB: Now I think knowledge has a tremendous number of defences, it is against perceiving this. It has evolved in such a way that it resists, is built so as to resist seeing this, so it has opinions which also act immediately.
K: I understand that, sir. But I want to find (laughs), not a drug, not a medicine, not a way, but there must be a communication between you and me who is the ordinary man, a communication so that the communication is so strong that very... my act of listening to you and you communicating with me operates.
K: You follow what I am saying?
DB: Yes, so then how do you... you have to break into all this, through this opinion, through the whole structure.
K: Of course, of course. That is why I have come here. An ordinary man, I have come for that. I have left all the churches and all that stuff, I have thrown them miles away, years away, I have finished with all that. I have just come here and I realise all that has been said here is true and I am burning to find out. When you communicate with me your communication is so strong, so real. You follow? You are not speaking from knowledge, you are not speaking from opinion and all the rest of it. You are really a free human being who is trying to communicate with me.
K: And can I listen with that intensity which, you the communicator, is giving it to me?
DB: Well, we would have to ask, you know, is the ordinary man full of that?
K: Ah, no, he is not. (Laughs) He wants the pub. No, I said I am an ordinary man but I have moved away from all that, I have come here. I have left all that. I have also realised in opinions I can grow, multiply, gather opinions, which is partly prejudice and all the rest of it, I realise all that. And I want to listen to somebody who is telling the truth and in the very telling of it something is taking place in me. I don't know if you understand. And because I am so ardently listening it happens. I wonder if I am conveying anything. After all you, as you are a great scientist, I am one of your students, you want to tell me something. You are telling me about something which I know must be enormously important because you have given your life to it, and as a student I have given up so much just to come here. Is it the fault of you who are communicating with me that I don't receive it instantly? You understand what I am saying? Or is it my fault that I am incapable of really listening to you?
DB: Well, whichever it is, but suppose the difficulty is that I am incapable of listening, then what can be done?
K: No, nothing can be done. You see that is the difficulty. If I am incapable of listening because I am full of prejudices and opinions, and judgements, defence, you know all the rest of it built up, and of course I won't listen to you then.
DB: Well let's say that here is somebody who comes along who has got through some of these defences and so on, but perhaps there are others he is not aware of, you know. There is something not quite so simple as that.
K: I think it is simple. I feel it is dreadfully simple somehow. I think it is, if I could listen with all my being, with all my attention, it takes place. That is as simple as that, I think.
You see, sir, you are telling me something and I am absorbing it, and so there is an interval between your telling, my absorbing. I don't know if I am conveying it?
K: And in that interval is the danger. If I didn't absorb but absolutely listen to it with all my being, it is finished. Is it because in this there is no shadow of pleasure? You follow what I am saying? You are not offering me any pleasure, any gratification. You are saying, it is so, take it. But my mind is so involved in pleasure it must be pleasurable to listen. You follow what I mean? (Laughs)
K: I won't listen to anything that is not completely satisfactory. I realise too the danger of that.
K: Of seeking satisfaction, pleasure and all that. I say, 'All right, I won't, I see what I am doing' - so I put that aside too. No pleasure, no reward, no punishment in listening but there is only pure observation.
So we come back to that point: is pure observation, which is actually listening, is that pure observation love? I think it is. Again... (laughs)
DB: Again what?
K: You have stated it and then my mind says - I am fairly ordinary, I have come here - my mind immediately says, 'Give it to me. Tell me what to do'. You see when I ask you, 'Tell me what to do', I am back in the knowledge, into the field of knowledge.
K: It is so instantaneous. So I refuse to ask you what to do. Then where am I? You have told me perception without any motive, direction, pure perception is love. And in that perception-love is intelligence. They are not three separate things, they are one thing. I have a feeling for it. Because you have led me up very carefully - not led me - you have pointed out very carefully step by step, and I have come to that point, I have a feeling for it. I am sensitive enough, by listening to all this, to come to that point when I have a feeling. He says, 'By Jove, that is so'. But it goes away so quickly. Then begins, 'How am I to get it back?' Again the remembrance of it, which is knowledge, blocks.
DB: Well, what you are saying is that every time there is a communication, knowledge gets to work in many different forms.
K: So you see it is enormously difficult to be free of knowledge.
DB: Yes. It seems we could ask why doesn't knowledge wait until it is needed?
K: Ah, that requires, sir! - that means to be psychologically free of knowledge but when occasion arises you are acting from freedom, not from knowledge..
DB: Not from knowledge, but knowledge comes in as information.
K: Yes, yes.
DB: It informs your action but it is not the source.
K: That is, to put it rather succinctly, freedom from knowledge, and being free, it is from freedom one communicates, not from knowledge. I wonder if I am making this clear?
K: That is, from emptiness there is communication. One may use the word, or language, which is the outcome of knowledge, but it is from that state of complete freedom.
DB: Yes. And know knowledge, communication, takes place but it is concerning the question of knowledge as the irrelevance of knowledge, of psychological knowledge, that is the communication.
K: Yes. Now, sir, can I communicate with you from freedom? Suppose I, as a human being, have come to that point where there is complete freedom from knowledge and from that freedom a communication, using words, takes place. Right? Now will you, as a scientist, of great scientific eminence and all the rest of it, will you - I am not... please, I am being polite - will you communicate with me, can I communicate with you without any barrier? You follow, sir?
K: You understand what I mean, I am not trying to... (laughs) Can I communicate with another - or rather let me put it the other way. Can that man who is free, totally, from knowledge, but uses knowledge merely as a means of communication, can I be in such a state of mind to receive that communication?
DB: Yes, well, if knowledge is seen to be information, you see, to see that knowledge ordinarily seems more than information, it seems that knowledge is itself free. One does not ordinarily see that knowledge is not free.
K: Knowledge is never free.
DB: No, but it may seem at first sight, you are free to use your knowledge, you see.
K: Of course, of course.
DB: But it isn't free and any activity of knowledge is part of the un-freedom.
K: Of course, of course. I mean if I want to understand myself I must be free to look at myself.
DB: Yes, and knowledge has pressures in it to prevent you from looking.
K: Knowledge prevents me from looking. That is so obvious! Sorry!
DB: Well I mean it may be obvious at that stage, but I am saying in general people don't see that. But let's leave that aside now.
K: If I am full of opinions and judgements and evaluations and to look at myself I must be somewhat free from it to look. It is so clear!
DB: Yes, but I mean probably one tends generally to say that there are certain kinds of knowledge which are harmful like prejudice and then you say there are other kinds which are not harmful, which are not prejudices.
K: No, no, the whole business.
DB: The whole thing is all one structure, yes. It is impossible to have prejudice in one part without having it in the other.
K: How will you communicate with me who have come to a certain point when I am really grasping, hoping - not grasp - burning to receive what you are saying, so completely, it is finished? Am I, having come here, am I in that state really? Or am I fooling myself?
DB: Well, that is the question: knowledge is constantly deceiving itself.
K: Of course, of course.
DB: I think I would say that knowledge, it is not even that I am deceiving myself but knowledge has a built-in tendency to deceive itself.
K: So, sir, is my mind always deceiving itself?
DB: The tendency is it's constantly there when knowledge is operating psychologically.
K: So what shall I do? (Laughs) Come back to the same blasted question.
DB: Well, yes, when you raise the question of deceiving oneself, you know, again I think it is the same point: to listen.
K: Why don't we listen, sir? Why don't we immediately understand this thing, instantly, immediately, why? We can give the reasons why but that doesn't - old age, conditioning, laziness, ten different things, that's all.
DB: Well, that is superficial.
DB: But would it be possible to give the deep reason for it?
K: Knowledge, we come back to the same thing. You see I think, sir, is it that the knowledge which is the 'me'...
DB: Yes, that is the point, yes.
K: ...the knowledge which is the 'me' is so tremendously strong as an idea, not as a fact.
DB: Yes, I understand that it is an idea. But the idea is... That is what I tried to say, that the idea has tremendous significance and meaning. For example, suppose you have the idea of god, this takes on a tremendous power.
K: It's like 'I am British', or French - it gives me great energy.
DB: And also it creates a state of the body which seems to be the very being of the self. Now the person doesn't experience it, you know, as mere knowledge but he first feels something very powerful which doesn't seem to be knowledge.
K: Yes. Are we going round and round and round? It seems like it.
DB: Well, I was wondering if there is anything that could be communicated about that overwhelming power that seems to come with knowledge and with the self.
K: With identification.
DB: With identification. That may be something that would be worth looking into.
K: What does the word, I know - I have forgotten - the root meaning of 'identification'?
DB: Well, 'always the same'.
K: It's 'always the same', that's right. That's it, you see! It is always the same. There is nothing new under the sun.
DB: That is the essence of it. You say the self is always the same. It tries to be always the same in essence if not in detail.
K: Yes, yes.
DB: I think this is the thing that goes wrong with knowledge that knowledge attempts to be knowledge of what is always the same, you see, so it holds, you see.
K: Of course, sir, it is always the same.
DB: Yes and knowledge itself tries to find what is permanent and perfect and always the same. I mean even independent of any of us you see. It is built into, like the cells, you know.
K: From this arises a question: is it possible to attend? I am trying to use the word 'diligent'. Is it possible to diligently attend? Diligence in the sense, be accurate, you know.
DB: Literally it means 'to take pains', that's its root.
K: To take pains, of course. To take pain, take the whole if it. Sir, there must be some other way round all this intellectual business! We have exercised a great deal of intellectual capacity and that intellectual capacity has led to the blank wall. I approach it from every direction, eventually the wall is there, which is the 'me', with my knowledge, with my prejudice, and all the rest of it - me. And the 'me' then says, 'I must do something about it' - which is still the me. We all know that.
DB: Well, the 'me' wants to be always the same at the same time it tries to be different.
K: (Laughs) Different. Put on a different coat. It is always the same. So the mind which is functioning with the 'me' is always the same mind. Good lord, you see, sir, back again!
DB: Yes, well, if we could see that that, 'always the same' gives a tremendous force. Now is it possible to leave go of that 'always the same', you know?
K: You see, we have tried everything - fasting, every kind of thing to get rid of the 'me with all its knowledge, with all its illusions and so on. One tries to identify with something else, which is the same. I mean a serious man has done all this and comes back to the fundamental question: what will make this wall totally disappear? I think, sir, it is only possible when I can give my total attention to what you are saying. There is no other means to break down the wall - not the intellect, not the emotions, not any of those things. When somebody who is beyond the wall, who has gone beyond, broken down the wall, says, 'Listen, for god's sake, listen'.
Can I listen to you - when I listen to you my mind is empty. So it is finished! You follow what I am saying?
DB: You see I think generally one would feel, OK, it is finished, but something will happen and it's going to come back.
K: I have no sense of hoping to come back, whether I'll have it in the future, or - it is empty and therefore listening. It is finished. (Pause)
We had better stop, we have come to a point, doesn't matter. Five minutes is enough.
I would like to go on differently. You are a scientist. To discover something new, you must have a certain emptiness from which there is a different perception.
DB: Yes, but I think there is a difference in the sense that usually the question is limited you see, and so the mind may be empty with regard to that question.
K: That particular question, yes.
DB: Allowing for discovery and insight in that question.
K: But can that mind, which has been specialised, therefore enquiring into something it becomes empty and from that emptiness you discover something new. I understand that. But without any specialisation, does this emptiness hold every other - I don't know.
DB: Well, I think that we have to ask that we are not questioning a particular area but rather we are questioning the whole of knowledge.
K: Knowledge, yes, yes.
K: It is most extraordinary when you go into it.
DB: As you were saying, the end of knowledge is the Vedanta.
K: That is the real answer.
DB: If a person can take this scientific attitude and question the whole of knowledge, then... (laughs)
K: Oh, of course, of course.
DB: But generally people would feel they must keep knowledge in one area to be able to question it in another. You see this is something that might worry people to say, with what knowledge do I question my knowledge?
K: Yes, yes. With what knowledge I question my knowledge. (Laughs) Quite.
DB: But in a way we do have knowledge because we have seen that this whole structure, we have gone through it logically and rationally and seen that the whole structure makes no sense, that it is inconsistent and has no meaning. The structure of psychological knowledge has no meaning, I mean it has been done already.
K: Quite, quite. Sir, would you then from there, from that emptiness: is there a ground or a source from which all things begin? Matter, human beings, their capacities, their idiocies - the whole movement starts from there.
DB: Yes, well, we could consider that certainly. But let's try to clarify it a little. So we have the emptiness.
K: Yes, emptiness in which there is no movement of thought as knowledge, of course.
DB: As psychological knowledge.
K: Of course, I understand that.
DB: All right. So, well then..
K: And therefore no time.
DB: No time. No psychological time.
K: Yes, no psychological time.
DB: Though we still have the watch.
K: Yes. Of course, of course, I mean that's... We have gone beyond that, don't let's go back to it.
DB: Yes. No, but I mean sometimes it's... The words are often confusing, they carry wrong meanings.
K: Psychological time. There is no psychological time, no movement of thought. And is that emptiness the beginning of all movement?
DB: Well, would you say the emptiness is the ground then?
K: That is what I am asking. Slowly, I am going... Let's go slowly into it. Is this... or shall we postpone this for another day?
DB: Well perhaps it should be gone into more carefully.
K: Carefully. Right. We better stop.
DB: Well, just one thing: in California we were saying that there is the emptiness and beyond that is the ground. You see it's a question of...
K: Quite, quite, I know. I don't want to enter into that. I'll leave it.
DB: We leave it for the time.
K: When do we meet again?
DB: It is two days from now, on Saturday.
K: The day after tomorrow.
K: Right, sir.