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Senility and the brain cells
Senility and the brain cells
Krishnamurti: Sir, I would like to talk over with you, and perhaps with Narayan too, what is happening to the human brain. I will go into it a little bit.
You have a highly cultivated civilisation and yet at the same time barbarism, great selfishness clothed in all kinds of spiritual garbs – holy spirit, holy ghost and all the rest of it, but deeply, deep down, heightening, frightening selfishness. And man’s brain has been evolving through millennia upon millennia and it has come to this point: divisive, destructive and so on, which we all know. So I was wondering whether the human brain, not a particular brain but the human brain, is deteriorating. Whether it is capable of revival, renewal or it is a slow, steady decline? And whether it is possible in one’s lifetime to bring about in itself a total renewal from all this, a renewal that will be pristine, original, unpolluted? I have been wondering about it and I thought we need to discuss it.
And 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 ten million, or five million, or three million years. And in that evolution it has gathered tremendous experience, knowledge and all the cruelties and the vulgarities and the brutalities of selfishness. Is there a possibility of it sloughing off, throwing off all this and becoming something else. Because apparently it is functioning in patterns, whether it is a religious pattern or a scientific pattern or a business pattern or a family pattern, it is always operating, functioning in a very small narrow circle. And those circles are clashing against each other. And there seems to be no end to this. You follow what I am…
David Bohm: Yes.
K: So what will break down this forming of patterns, not falling into other new patterns, but breaking down the whole system of patterns, whether pleasant or unpleasant? After all the brain has had so many shocks, so many challenges, so many pressures on it and if that brain is not capable in itself to renew, to rejuvenate itself, there is very little hope. You follow?
DB: Yes. You see one difficulty might present itself that if you are thinking of brain’s structure, we cannot get into the structure physically.
K: Physically you cannot. I know, I know, we have discussed this.
K: So what is it to do? I mean the brain specialists can look at it, take a dead brain of a human being and examine it, but it doesn’t solve the problem. Right?
K: So what is a man, or a human being, to do knowing it cannot be changed from outside or the scientist the brain specialists, and the nerve specialist, neurologist and all that, explain the thing but it is there, their explanation, their investigation, is not going to solve this. Right?
DB: Well, yes, there is no evidence that it can.
K: Yes, no evidence, all right (laughs). I’ll put it a little more congenially.
DB: Some people may have thought so. Some people who do bio-feedback think that they can influence the brain, by connecting an instrument to the electrical potentials in the skull and being able to look at the result and you can also change your heart beat and your blood pressure and various other things. So they have raised the hope that something could be done.
K: But they are not succeeding.
DB: They are not getting very far.
K: Very far. But we can’t wait – you follow what I mean? – for these scientists and bio-feedbackers (laughs) – sorry to put it that way – to solve the problem. So what shall we do?
DB: Well then the next question is: whether the brain can be aware of its own structure.
K: Yes, that is the first question. Can the brain be aware of its own movement? And the other question is: can the brain, not only be aware of its own movement, can the brain itself have enough energy to break all patterns and move out of it?
DB: Yes, well, you have to ask whether the brain can do that. You see to what extent is the brain free to break out of patterns?
K: What do you mean, I don’t understand.
DB: Well, you see if you begin by saying the brain is caught in a pattern, it may not be free.
K: Apparently it is, apparently.
DB: As far as we can see. It may not be free to break out, you see.
K: I understand.
DB: It may not have the power.
K: That is what I said, not enough energy, not enough power.
DB: Yes, it may not be able to take the action needed to get out, whatever that means.
K: So it has become its own prisoner.
K: Then what?
DB: Well then that is the end.
K: Is that the end?
DB: If that is true then that is the end. Say, if the brain cannot break out then perhaps people would choose to try some other way, I don’t know, to solve the problem.
Narayan: When we speak of the brain in one sense the brain 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.
DB: What would it be?
N: Because obviously through the senses the brain does get nourishment – seeing, various factors – but still that is not enough. Is there some other internal factor which gives energy to the brain?
K: You see, sir, I think there is a pattern – I want to discuss this. The brain is constantly in occupation: worries, problems, holding on, attachment and so on, so it is constantly in a state of occupation. That may be the central factor. And if it is not in occupation does it go sluggish? That is one factor. If it is not in occupation can it maintain the energy that is required to break down the patterns? I don’t know if I am making myself clear.
DB: Yes. Now the first point is that if it is not occupied somebody might think that it would just take it easy.
K: No, of course, then it becomes 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: That’s what I want to go into. If this brain which is so occupied with conflicts, struggles, attachments, fears, pleasures, you know, all that, and this occupation gives to the brain its own energy. Right? If it is not occupied, will it become lazy, drugged and so lose its elasticity as it were, or if it doesn’t become lazy and so on will that unoccupied state give to the brain the required energy to break?
DB: Yes, well, if you ask a question, you see what makes you say that this will happen? It says something about the brain – we were discussing the other day that when the brain is kept busy with intellectual activity and thought, then it does not decay and shrink, you see.
K: Yes, 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: Die. So, that’s it. That is, if the brain is caught in a routine, either the meditation routine, or the routine of the priests...
DB: Or the daily life of the farmer.
K: …the farmer and so on, so on, so on, it must gradually become dull.
DB: Not only that but it seems to shrink physically.
K: To shrink physically.
DB: Perhaps some of the cells die.
K: That is what we were discussing the other day, yes. Shrink physically. And the opposite to that is this eternal occupation with business – as a lawyer, as a doctor as a – you follow? – a scientist, thinking, thinking, thinking. And we think that also, that prevents shrinking.
DB: Well, it does. Well at least experience seems to show it does, the measurements they made.
K: Yes, it does too. That’s it. Excuse the word ‘farmer’, we are not....
DB: Whatever it is, also the routine clerical worker, you see, anybody who does a routine job.
DB: Yes, his brain starts to shrink after a certain age. Now that is what they discovered and just as the body not being used the muscles begin to lose their…
K: …so take lots of exercises!
DB: Well, so they say exercise the body and exercise the brain.
K: Yes. If it is caught in any pattern, any routine – any directive too, it must shrink.
DB: It is not clear why. Could we go into what makes it shrink, you see.
K: Ah, that is fairly simple. Because it is repetition.
DB: Well, repetition is mechanical and doesn’t really use the full capacity of the brain.
K: Of course, I have noticed the people who have spent years and years in meditation are the most dull people on earth! And also those lawyers and professors and all the rest of them, you can see them, there is ample evidence of all that.
N: The only thing that article seems to say is that rational thinking postpones senility.
N: But rational thinking itself becomes a pattern at some time.
DB: Well, it might. They didn’t carry it that far you see, but that rational thinking pursued in a narrow area might become part of the pattern too.
K: Of course, of course.
DB: But if you say that there is some other way.
K: We are going into that, I want to go into that.
DB: But suppose we were to clear up about the body first. You see if somebody does a lot of exercise with the body it remains strong, but it might become a mechanical....
K: …mechanical, of course, of course.
DB: And therefore it would have a bad effect.
K: You see, that’s what I’m… you see, yoga... (Laughs)
N: That’s what I was about to say. What about the various, if I may use the word, religious instruments – the traditional religious instruments, yoga, tantra, kundalini, etc.
K: Oh, don’t, don’t, I know, oh, they must shrink. (Laughter) Because you see what is happening. Yoga, take for example, used to be… it was not vulgarised, if I may use that word. It was kept strictly to the very, very few, who were not concerned about kundalini and all that kind of stuff, who were concerned with leading a moral, ethical, so-called spiritual life, with ordinary exercise, but not this fantastic gymnastics. You see I want to get at the root of this, sir.
DB: I think there is something related to this. It seems to me that before man organised into organised societies, 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 insecure, completely insecure.
K: So are we saying, that is what I want to get at – are we saying the brain becomes extraordinarily – is not caught in a pattern because if the brain itself lives in a state of uncertainty...
DB: Well, yes, not knowing...
K: ...without becoming neurotic.
DB: Well yes, I think that has become more clear when you say not becoming neurotic, as uncertainty becomes a form of neurosis.
K: Neurosis, of course.
DB: But I would rather say the brain lives without having certainty, without demanding it.
K: Yes, without demanding certainty.
DB: Yes, without demanding certain knowledge.
K: Yes. So are we saying – I want to get at this – are we saying that knowledge also withers the brain?
DB: Well, when it is repetitious and becomes mechanical, yes.
K: But knowledge itself?
DB: Well, yes, we have to be careful there, because...
K: Ah, I know. I know we have to be careful.
DB: I think that knowledge has a tendency to become mechanical. That is, to get fixed, but we could be always learning, you see.
K: But learning from a centre, learning as an accumulative process.
DB: Learning I think with something fixed. You see you accept something as fixed and you learn from there. If we were to be learning without holding anything permanently fixed...
K: That is, learning and not adding. Can you do that?
DB: Yes, well, you see I think that to a certain extent we have to lose, you know we have to drop our knowledge. 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 civilisation is collapsing from too much knowledge.
K: That’s what I was… yes, of course.
DB: We don’t drop what is in the way.
K: Of course, of course.
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. I think as long as you are learning. But if you hold some principle fixed and say it cannot change, you see if you hold the centre fixed – yourself – or anything fixed then that knowledge becomes mechanical. But if you say you have got to keep on learning.
K: Learning what?
DB: Whatever you are doing. You see, for example, suppose you have to make a living.
K: Yes sir, that I agree. Of course, of course.
DB: People must organise the society and do all kinds of things, they need knowledge.
K: That’s knowledge. But there you add more and more.
DB: That’s right, but you may also get rid of some.
K: Of course.
DB: If you don’t need it. Some gets in the way, you see. So it is continually moving – right?
K: Yes, but I am asking, apart from that, knowledge itself.
DB: Well yes. You mean knowledge without this content – right?
K: Yes, the knowing mind.
DB: Mind which merely wants knowledge, is that what you are saying? Just for its own sake.
K: Yes. I want to question, if I may, the whole idea of having knowledge.
DB: Yes, but again it is not too clear because you see you accept that we need knowledge.
K: Of course, at a certain level.
DB: It is not clear what kind of knowledge it is that you are questioning, you see.
K: I am questioning the experience that leaves knowledge, leaves a mark.
DB: Leaves knowledge. Yes, but again you say the experience of driving a car – but I mean it’s not… we want to make it clear. What kind… it leaves a mark psychologically, is that what you mean?
K: Psychologically, of course.
DB: 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: No. We have said knowledge at a certain level is essential, there you can add and take away and keep on changing, moving – there. But I am questioning whether psychological knowledge is not in itself a factor of the shrinking of the brain.
DB: Yes. 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: Yes. So if you keep on accumulating knowledge about yourself or about relationships...
K: ...yes, about relationships. So, that is it, sir. Would you say such knowledge makes the brain somewhat inactive, makes the brain shrink?
DB: Brings it into a rut, you mean?
DB: But one should see why, what is it about this knowledge that makes so much trouble?
K: What is this knowledge that makes so much trouble. In relationship that knowledge does create trouble.
DB: Yes, it gets in the way.
K: In the way, yes.
DB: Because it fixes.
K: Yes. If I have an image about him and I am related to him, that knowledge is obviously going to impede our… it becomes a pattern.
DB: Yes, well the knowledge about myself and about him and how we are related, it makes a pattern.
K: Yes, and therefore that becomes a routine and so it loses its...
DB: Yes, and it occurred to me you see that routine in that area is more dangerous than routine in say, the area of daily work.
K: That’s right, 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: So, can the brain, in psychological matters, be entirely free from knowledge, from this kind of knowledge? That is, sir, look: I am a businessman and, I get into the car, or bus or a taxi, or the tube, and I am thinking what I am going to do, whom I am going to meet, a business talk, and my mind is all the time living in that area. I come home, there is a 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 contacts and all that, and also there is the knowledge with regard to my wife, and myself and my reactions: so these two are in contradiction. Or I am unaware of these two and just carry on. If I am aware of these two it becomes a disturbing factor.
DB: Yes. Well, also people find that it is a routine and 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 can get out of their...
K: ...yes, go to church, etc., etc. Any escape is an occupation.
So I am asking whether this psychological knowledge is not a factor of the shrinkage of the brain. Sorry!
DB: Well, yes, it could be a factor. Evidently it is.
K: It is. It is.
DB: If knowledge of your profession can be a factor, this knowledge is stronger.
K: Of course, of course. Much stronger.
N: When you say psychological knowledge you are distinguishing, making a distinction between psychological knowledge and, let us say, scientific knowledge or factual knowledge.
K: Of course, we have said, that’s what we are saying.
N: But I am a little wary about this article and the fact that scientific knowledge and other types of factual knowledge helps to extend or make the brain bigger. That in itself doesn’t lead anywhere.
K: What do you mean?
N: Though it postpones senility.
N: Well, exercising rational thinking.
K: No, as Dr Bohm explained very carefully, if rational thinking becomes merely routine – I think logically and therefore I have learned the trick of that and I keep on repeating it.
N: That is what happens to most forms of rational thinking.
K: Of course.
DB: Yes. I think that say, they depend on being continually faced with unexpected problems. You see as they said lawyers will beg that their brains last longer because they are faced with constantly different problems and therefore they cannot make it entirely routine, you see. Perhaps eventually they could but it would take a while.
K: But sir, just a minute, just a minute. They may have different clients with different problems, but they are acting from knowledge.
DB: Yes. They would say not entirely, they have got to find new facts and so on.
K: Of course, they are not entirely but the basis is knowledge – precedents and book knowledge and various experiences 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. That’s what I want to get at.
N: Yes, that’s right.
DB: You see there is also what is known as that, when a baby is born the brain cells have very few cross-connections, then they gradually increase in number, then as a person approaches senility they begin to go back. (Laughter)
DB: So the quality of those cross-connections could be wrong. As another example – it would be too subtle to show up in these measurements – but for example, if you 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 are of a different quality?
DB: Well, it is known, for example, that a large part of the brain deals with movement of the body and so on, with muscles and with various organs, and this part does not shrink with age, but 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 known actually about the brain.
N: Which we don’t touch. Is there a possibility of that sort?
K: Narayan, what we are saying, what I am trying to explain is, we are only using one part, or very partially the brain, and that partial activity is the occupation, either rational or irrational, or logical and so still using the part. And as long as the brain is occupied it must be in that limited area. Would you say that?
DB: Yes, well, then what will happen when it is not occupied?
K: We’ll go into that. We will go into that in a minute.
DB: But we can say that it may tend to spend most of the time occupied in that limited set of functions which are mechanical and that 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 mechanical way of living, mechanical knowledge and so the brain has no freedom, no space, no sense of...
DB: Well, 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...
K: Be careful!
DB: ...but this may be a factor. I don’t think their measurements are so good that they could test for the effect of how the brain is used. You see they are merely rough measurements made statistically. And so you want to propose that this death of the brain cells, or the degeneration, will come from the wrong way of using the brain.
K: That’s right. That is what I am trying to get at.
DB: Yes, and there is a little bit of evidence in favour of it from the scientists.
K: Thank god! (Laughs)
DB: But I think that the brain scientists don’t know very much about it, though.
K: Sir, you see scientists, brain specialists, are, if I may use rather easy words, they are going out, examining things outside, but not taking themselves as guinea pigs and going through that.
DB: Well mostly, you see. Except for those who do bio-feedback, they are trying to work on themselves in a very indirect way.
K: Yes. Well, I feel we haven’t time for all that kind of stuff.
DB: No, that is too slow and it isn’t very deep.
K: Not very deep.
So let’s come back to the point. I realise that any activity which is repeated, any action that is directed in a narrow sense, any method, any routine, logical or illogical, does affect the brain and so on, so on. We have understood that very clearly. And knowledge at a certain level is essential, and also psychological knowledge about oneself, one’s experiences, all that, has also become routine. The images I have about myself also becomes… obviously it’s a routine, and so that helps to bring about a shrinkage of the brain. I have understood all that very clearly. Now I say to myself, and occupation – any kind of occupation…
DB: Well, again, with this, apart from…
K: Of course, (laughs) we’ve said that, we’ve said that. Any kind of occupation apart from the mechanical – not mechanical...
K: ...physical occupation, the occupation with oneself, that obviously does bring about shrinkage of the brain. Now how is this process to stop? And when it does stop will there be a renewal?
DB: Yes, I think, again, some brain scientists would doubt that the brain cells could be renewed, but 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 discuss with you.
DB: So we have to discuss that.
N: I want to put this question because in one discussion between you in Ojai you are implying that mind is different from the brain, mind is distinct from the brain.
K: Not quite. Did I?
N: Yes, the possibility of mind as distinct from the brain.
DB: It was universal mind.
N: Mind in the sense one has access to this mind and it is not the brain. Do you conceive of that possibility?
K: I don’t quite follow this. I would say the mind is all-inclusive.
K: When it is all-inclusive – brain, emotions, all the rest of it, when it is totally whole, not divisive in itself, there is a quality which is universal. Right?
N: Yes. One has access to it.
K: Not one, you can’t reach it.
K: You can’t say, I have access to it.
N: No, I am saying ‘access’, one doesn’t possess it but...
K: You can’t possess the sky!
N: No, my only point is: is there a way of being open to it and is there a function of the mind, the whole of it, which is accessible through education?
K: I think there is. We will come to that presently if we can stick to this point. We have reached a certain point in our discussion. We won’t go back to repeat it again.
We are asking now, having understood all that, after this discussion, can the brain itself renew, rejuvenate, become young again without any shrinkage at all? I think it can. I want to open a new chapter and discuss it. I think it can. I say, psychologically knowledge that man has acquired is crippling it. The Freudians, the Jungians, or the latest psychologist, the latest psychotherapist, are all helping to make the brain shrink. Sorry! I hope there is nobody here.
N: Is there a way of forgetting this knowledge then?
K: No, no. Not forgetting. I see what they are doing and I see the waste, I see what is taking place if I follow that line. I see it, obviously. So I don’t follow that avenue at all. So I discard altogether analysis. That is a pattern we have learnt, not only from the recent psychologists and psychotherapists but also it is the tradition of a million years, to analyse, introspect, say, ‘I must’ and ‘I must not’, ‘This is right, this 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. Because our perception is directed by knowledge – the past perceives and so the past which is knowledge, perceiving and acting from that is a factor of shrinking, senility – better use that word. Shrinking the brain. So is there a perception which is not time-binding? Right, sir? And so action which is immediate. Am I making myself clear? That is, sir, the brain has evolved through time, and it has set the pattern of time in action. And as long as the brain is active that way it is still living in a pattern of time and so becoming senile. If we could break that pattern of time, then the brain has now broken out of its pattern and therefore something else takes place. I don’t know if I am making myself clear.
N: How does it break out of the pattern?
K: I will come to that but let’s first see if it is so.
DB: Yes, well you are saying that the pattern is the pattern of time.
K: The pattern of time.
DB: Perhaps this should be clarified. I think that what you mean by analysis is some sort of process based on past knowledge which organises your perception and you take a series of steps to try to accumulate knowledge about the whole thing. And now you say this is a pattern of time and you have to break out of it. You have to say what is that.
K: If we agree to that, if we say that is so: the brain is functioning in a pattern of time.
DB: Yes. Now then you have to ask, you see I think most people would ask: what other pattern is possible?
K: Wait, wait, wait. I won’t say…
DB: What other movement is possible?
K: No! I’ll say first let’s understand this.
DB: Yes. Sorry.
K: Not merely verbally but 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: Yes, well certainly our thinking about ourselves, any attempt to analyse yourself, to think about yourself, involves this process.
K: Process, which is of time. Right?
N: That is a difficulty: when you say knowledge and experience, they have a certain cohesive energy, force, it binds you.
K: Which is what, which is what? Time-binding.
N: Time-binding, analysis...
K: ...and therefore the pattern of centuries, millennia, is being repeated.
N: Yes. What I am saying is, this has a certain cohesive force.
K: Of course, of course.
N: You can’t run away from it.
K: No. All illusions have an extraordinary vitality.
N: Yes. Very few break through.
K: Look at all the churches, what immense vitality they have.
N: No, apart from these churches, one’s personal life has a certain cohesive, it keeps you back. You can’t break away from it.
K: And what happens if you do then – 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: I mean when you say a different instrument that is not clear. The whole notion of an instrument involves time because you use an instrument – any instrument 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: This has not been effective.
N: Not been effective, no.
K: On the contrary, it is destructive. So do I see the very truth of its destructiveness? Not just theories, ideas, but the actuality of it. If I do, then what takes place? The brain, which has evolved through time, and has been functioning, living, acting, believing, all that in that time process, and when one realises that helps to make the brain senile – I won’t go into all that – now if you see 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’.
N: I am putting it because...
K: He keeps on repeating the word ‘instrument’. There is no other factor. You see I am concerned – I am using the word not personally – I am concerned to end this shrinkage and senility and asking whether the brain itself, the cells, the whole thing, can move out of time. Not immortality, I am not talking about all that kind of stuff. Move out of time altogether, otherwise deterioration, shrinkage, senility is inevitable. Senility may not show but the brain cells are becoming weaker and so on.
N: If brain cells are material and physical, somehow or other they have to shrink through time and age, it can’t be helped. The brain cell which is tissue cannot be in physical terms immortal.
DB: But perhaps the rate of shrinkage would be greatly slowed down, you see. If a person, say, lives a certain number of years and his brain begins to shrink long before he dies, you see, so he becomes senile. Now if it would slow down then...
K: ...not only slow down, sir.
DB: ...but, regenerate, if you wish.
K: Not be in a state – I am putting it quickly – in a state of non-occupation.
DB: Well, I think Narayan is saying that it is impossible that any material system could last for ever.
K: I am not talking about lasting for ever. 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 perfectly in the body and in the brain, then the whole thing could go on indefinitely.
K: Look sir: we are now destroying the body, drink, smoke, sex – over-indulgence in sex, and all kinds of things. We are living most unhealthily. Right? If the body were in excellent health, maintained right through, which is, no heightened emotions, no strain on the body, no sense of deterioration in the body, the heart functioning healthily, normally – you know, why not?
K: Which means what? No travelling! (Laughs) No travelling, all the rest of it.
DB: Yes. 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 that there have been cases of people living, say, to one hundred and fifty in quiet places. But I think that is all you are talking about. You are not talking of say, living forever really.
K: Oh, no, no, no, no, I am not talking… So a body can be kept healthy and since the body affects the mind, nerves, senses and all that, that also can be kept healthy.
DB: And if the brain is kept in the right action. The brain also organises the body...
K: Yes, without any strain.
DB: You see the brain has a tremendous effect on organising the body. The pituitary gland controls the entire system of the body glands and also all the organs of the body are controlled in the brain, and so on. If the brain deteriorates the body starts to deteriorate.
K: Of course, of course.
DB: It works together.
K: They go together. So can this brain which is not my brain, but the brain which has evolved through millions of years, which has had all kinds of destructive experiences, pleasant and all the rest of it, can that brain...
DB: You mean that it is a typical brain not a peculiar brain, peculiar to some individual. When you say not mine, any brain belonging to mankind. Right?
K: Any brain, I am talking of any...
DB: They are all basically similar.
K: Yes. Similar, that is what I said. Can that brain be free of all this, of time? I think it can.
DB: If we could discuss what it means to be free of time. You see at first sight that might sound crazy because obviously we all know you don’t mean that the clock stops or anything, but still...
K: Science fiction and all that nonsense.
DB: The point is what does it really mean to be psychologically free of time?
K: That there is no tomorrow.
DB: But I mean you know there is tomorrow.
K: But psychologically.
DB: But how does that… Can you describe that better, what does it mean when you say ‘no tomorrow’?
K: Sir, what does it mean to be living in time? Let’s take the other side first before we come to the other. What does it mean to live in time? Hope, thinking, living in the past, and acting from the knowledge of the past, the images, the illusions, the prejudices, they are all an outcome of the past, all that is time. And that is producing in the world chaos.
DB: Yes, well, suppose we say if you are not living psychologically in time, then you may still order your actions by the watch but the thing is a little puzzling, say, suppose somebody says, ‘I am not living in time but I must make an appointment’ – you see.
K: Of course, we can’t sit here for ever, it’s nearly five o’clock. (Laughs)
DB: That’s right. So you say I am looking at the watch but I am not psychologically extending how it is going to feel in the next hour, when I have fulfilment of desire, or whatever.
K: So I am just saying the way we are living now is in the field of time. And there we have brought all kinds of problems, suffering, all that. Right?
DB: Yes, should we make it clear why this produces suffering necessarily. Say, if you live in the field of time you are saying that suffering is inevitable.
K: Inevitable, inevitable.
DB: But could you make it clear simply, why.
K: It is simple. Which is, time has built the ego, the ‘me’, the image of me, sustained by society, by parents, by education, that is built after million years, that is the result of time. And from there I act.
DB: Towards the future.
K: Towards the future.
DB: I mean towards the future psychologically, that is towards some future state of being. Right?
K: Yes, being, which is, the centre is always becoming.
DB: Trying to become better.
K: Better, nobler, or the other way round. So all that, this constant endeavour to become something psychologically, is a factor of time.
DB: Are you saying that produces suffering?
K: That is so. Obviously. Why. Oh, my Lord, why. Because, it is simple , it is divisive. It divides me and so you are different from me, and me, when I depend on somebody and that somebody is lost, or gone, I feel lonely, miserable, unhappy, grief, suffering. All that goes on. So we are saying any factor of division which is the very nature of the self, that must inevitably suffer.
DB: Yes, so are you saying that through time the self is set up, it’s organised, and the self introduces inner division and inner conflict and so on.
K: Yes, all the rest of it.
DB: But if there were no psychological time then maybe 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 down.
DB: Well, that is the next step to say that the brain has broken out of that rut and maybe it could regenerate then. It doesn’t follow logically, but still it could.
K: I think it does follow logically, rationally.
DB: Well, it follows logically that it would stop degenerating.
DB: Then you are adding further that it would start to regenerate.
K: Yes. You look sceptical!
N: Yes, because the whole human predicament is bound to time.
K: Yes, we know that.
N: Societies, 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 if you have to break through, whatever comes must have greater energy.
N: And no individual seems to be able to generate this energy to be able to break through. That’s one of the difficulties.
K: Aha, you have got the wrong end of the stick, if I may point out. When you use the word ‘individual’...
N: A human being.
K: ...but 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 time has created the conditioning, time itself is the factor of conditioning.
N: Its very structure is inherent in it.
K: So can that time element not exist? – psychologically we are talking about, not in the ordinary physical time. I say it can. And we said the ending of suffering comes about when the self, which is built up through time, is no longer there. For a man who is actually going through agony, going through a terrible time, he might reject this, he is bound to reject it, but when he comes out of the shock of this, and somebody points out to him, and if he is willing to listen, if he is willing to see the rationality of it, not build a wall against it, but see for himself the sanity of it, he is out of that field, the brain is out of that time-binding quality.
K: Ah! That again, when you use the word ‘temporary’ it means time.
N: No, he slips back into time.
K: No, you can’t. You can’t go back, if you see something dangerous and go back to it, you can’t. Like a cobra, like whatever danger it is, you cannot.
N: But the difficulty is, the analogy is a bit difficult because your structure is that. You inadvertently slip into it.
K: Look, Narayan, when you see a dangerous animal, there is immediate action. It may be the result of past knowledge, past experience, but there is immediate action, self-protection. Psychologically we are unaware of the dangers. And if we become as aware of the dangers as we are aware of a physical danger there is an action which is not time-binding.
DB: Yes, I think that you could say as long as you could perceive this danger you know you will respond immediately. But you see if you were to use this analogy of the animal, there might be an animal that you realise is dangerous, but then he might take another form that you don’t see as dangerous.
K: (Laughs) Yes, I saw that too, yes. Yes.
DB: Therefore there would be a danger of slipping back if you didn’t see that this time illusion might come in in some other form.
K: Of course, of course.
DB: But I think that the major point is that you are saying that the brain is not belonging to any individual – right?
K: Yes, sir, absolutely. I am clear on that.
DB: And therefore it is no use saying that the individual will slip back, you see.
DB: That already denies what you are saying. But rather the danger might be that the brain might slip back.
K: Which is the brain might get back because it itself has not seen the danger.
DB: It hasn’t seen the other forms of the illusions.
K: Yes, illusions, yes. The Holy Ghost taking different shapes. (Laughter)
DB: But you see… yes, well I think that is the point.
K: Sir, that is the real root of it – time.
DB: Well, you see time and separation as individuality are basically the same structure.
K: Of course, of course.
DB: Although it is not obvious in the beginning.
K: I wonder if you see that.
DB: It may be worth discussing that. Why is time the same illusion as, the same structure as individuality? That is psychological time. You see individuality is the sense of being a person who is, say, 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 goes over time.
DB: He wouldn’t regard himself as an individual unless he had an identity. If he said, today I am one person, tomorrow I am another, he would not be called an individual. So he has to be, it seems we mean by ‘individual’ somebody who is in time.
K: I think that is such a fallacy, this idea of individuality.
DB: Yes, on the other hand it would be very hard, many people may find it very hard to be convinced that it is a fallacy.
K: Of course, many people find everything very hard.
DB: But you see 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?
K: Obvious, sir, obvious.
DB: Therefore… and to be in psychological time.
K: Of course, we are saying that.
DB: Not just clock time.
K: No, no. So if that illusion could be broken, that time has created individuality, which is erroneous.
DB: Yes, through time the notion of individuality has arisen. You say through time, through psychological time, the idea of individuality has arisen.
K: Of course. Can this brain understand that.
DB: Well, I think that as Narayan said, that say, there is a great momentum in any brain…
K: Of all the million… of course, of course.
DB: The whole past which keeps rolling, moving along.
K: Can that momentum stop for a minute? Not a minute. Can that stop? Not for a minute (laughs).
N: The difficulty comes actually in this: it is intrinsic to you, the genetic coding and you seem to function more or less unconsciously, you are driven by this kind of past momentum. And suddenly you see, as it were, like a flash, something true. But the difficulty is, it operates for some time in the sense that it may operate for a day, but then there is the fact that you are again caught in the old momentum. It is a human experience.
K: I know that. But I say it will not be caught.
N: That is why I say this can’t be a feeble thing.
K: Don’t use the word ‘feeble’ or ‘strong’. Once you see, the mind, or the brain is aware of this fact, it cannot go back. How can it!
N: There must be, that’s why I said there must be another way of preventing it from going back.
K: Not preventing, that means also time. You see, you are still thinking in prevention.
N: Prevention in the sense, as a human factor.
K: The human being is irrational. Right? And as long as he is functioning irrationally any other rational factor, he says, ‘I refuse to see it’.
N: From what you are saying you are suggesting that the very seeing prevents you also from going back, from slipping. This is a human condition.
DB: I wonder if we should ask this question about prevention. You see it may be a wrong question.
N: It has both the aspects. You see the fallacy of something and the very seeing prevents you from slipping back. Because you see the danger of it.
DB: Nothing prevent you. In another sense you say you have no temptation to slip back, therefore you don’t have to be prevented. That is if you really see it, there is no need to be prevented…
K: Prevented. I don’t see…
N: Prevent in the sense, then you are not tempted to go back.
K: I can’t go back. If 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 it in another form. You see...
N: It may come in different shapes and forms.
DB: ...and then you are tempted once again.
K: The mind is aware, it is not caught. What you are saying it does?
N: In other shapes and forms, sir, you can see through.
K: That’s it.
N: There is another thing I want to ask: is there a faculty in the human system which has this function as it were, and so it has some effect, or some transforming effect on the brain.
K: We said that.
N: No, we have not said that…
K: Wait sir. We said that perception is out of time: seeing immediately the whole nature of time. Which is to have, to use a good old word, to have an insight into the nature of time. If you have that insight into the nature of time – not you – if there is an insight into the nature of time the very brain cells which are part of time break down. The brain cells mutate, bring about a change in themselves. That is what this person is saying. You may disagree, you may say ‘Well, prove it’. I say this is not a matter of proof, it is a matter of action. Do it, find it, test it.
N: You were also saying the other day that when the consciousness is empty of its content...
K: The content is time.
N: Yes. You said that leads to the transformation of the brain cells.
N: When you say consciousness is empty of the content...
K: ...there is no consciousness as we know it.
N: Yes. And again you are using the word ‘insight’. What is the connection between the two? There is an obvious connection.
DB: Between what, consciousness and insight?
N: Consciousness. When you have suggested that consciousness is empty of its content...
K: Careful! Consciousness is put together by its content. The content is the result of time. Now just...
DB: The content also is time.
K: Of course.
DB: It is about time as well.
K: About time as well. Of course.
DB: It is also actually put together by time.
K: Actually put together by time and also it is about time, as he pointed out. Now if you have an insight into that the whole pattern is gone, broken.
N: Yes, if you say...
K: The insight, which is not of time, which is not of memory, which is not of knowledge, etc., etc.
N: Who has this insight?
K: It’s not me. There is an insight.
N: There is insight, and the word ‘insight’ has a positive connotation. You have an insight and then the consciousness is empty of its content has a negative kind of...
K: No, sir, no.
N: You are implying that the very emptying of the content, the emptiness of the content, is insight.
K: No, no. We are saying time is a factor which has put the content, which has made up the content. It has made up and it also thinks about. All that is a bundle, is the result of time. Now an insight into this whole movement – it is not my insight.
N: No, it is insight.
K: Insight, that brings about transformation in the brain. Because it is not time-binding, that insight.
DB: If you say that this content, the psychological content, is a certain structure physically in the brain, you may say 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 sees that it is not necessary and therefore all this begins to dissipate. And when that has dissipated there is no content. Then you say whatever the brain is doing is something different.
K: Which is, sir, go further, which is, then there is total emptiness. We won’t go into it. Which we went into the other day.
DB: Yes, well, emptiness of that content. But when you say total emptiness you don’t mean you don’t see the railway, but you mean emptiness of all this inward content.
K: That’s right. That emptiness has tremendous energy. It is energy.
DB: Yes. So could you say that the brain having had all these connections tangled up has locked up a lot of energy?
K: That’s right. Wastage of energy.
DB: Yes. Then when they begin to dissipate then that energy is there.
K: Dissipate, that’s right. Yes.
DB: Now would you say that is as much physical energy as any other kind, nervous energy?
K: Of course, of course. (Pause)
Now you have heard all this, Narayan. We can go on more in detail, but you have heard en principle, the principle, the root of it: is it an idea or a fact?
N: An idea of it has no...
K: No, I am asking you, don’t dodge it. (Laughs) Is it an idea or a fact? I hear all this. I have heard it with the hearing of the ear so I make it into an idea, but if I hear it, not only with the hearing of the ear but hear it in my being, in the very structure of myself I hear this statement, what happens then. If that doesn’t take place it becomes merely an idea and we can spin along for the rest of one’s life playing with ideas. But if that sense of ‘Yes, I have…’ – you know.
So Sir, we are more or less, you and I, and Narayan perhaps, more or less a captured audience. If there was a scientist, bio-feedback or another brain specialist, would they accept all this? Would they even listen to all this?
DB: Maybe a few would but obviously the majority would not.
K: No. So what. You see how do we affect – I am using the word ‘affect’ – how do we touch the human brain?
DB: Yes. Well, let me say the way it will sound to most scientists is it will sound rather abstract, you see. They will say it could be so, it is a nice theory.
K: Good boy, it is nice to have heard you.
DB: We have no proof of it.
K: Of course, of course.
DB: Therefore they would say OK, it doesn’t really excite me very much because I don’t see any proof. I think that is the way…
K: They would operate.
DB: The more favourable ones would look at it that way. Let’s say if you have some more evidence…
K: We will come back later.
DB: …then we will become very interested. So you see you can’t give any proof because you know whatever is happening nobody can see it, with their eyes.
K: Of course, of course. I understand. But I am asking: what shall we do? Our mind, our brain, is not my brain. Right? It is the human brain which has evolved through a million years. One freak, or one biological freak, can move out of it – perhaps, or does – how do you get at the human mind to make him see this?
DB: Well I think you have to communicate the necessity of what you are saying, that it is inevitable. You have to communicate the necessity of what you are saying, that it is inevitable, you see. Say if somebody sees something, you know, you explain it to him and he sees it happening before his eyes he says, ‘That’s so’. Right?
K: But sir, that requires somebody to listen.
K: Somebody who says really I want to capture this, I want to understand this, I want to find out, but we are all... You follow what I am saying? Apparently that is one of the most difficult things in life.
DB: Well, that’s the function of this occupied brain that it is occupied with itself and doesn’t listen.
N: In fact one of the things is, this occupation seems to start very early. When you are young it is very powerful and it continues through all your life. How do you through education make this...
K: Oh, that is a different matter. I would say I would work at it differently, if you are asking how to set about it I will tell you. The moment you see the importance of not being occupied, you yourself see that as a tremendous truth, you will find ways and methods to help them. That is creative, you can’t just be told and copy and imitate, then you are lost.
DB: Well, then the question is: how is it possible to communicate to the brain, which rejects, which doesn’t listen?
K: I understand, that is what I am asking.
DB: Yes, well is there a way?
K: No. (Laughter) If I refuse to listen, well. Go to the Pope and tell him all this he will say – well!
Sir, I think we better stop, don’t you?
You see, sir, I think meditation is a great factor in all this. I feel we have been meditating. Ordinary people wouldn’t accept this as meditation.
DB: They have used the word so often in a routine way.
K: It is really lost. Sir, that is one of the things. Something real made vulgar, common, is gone. Yoga as I was pointing out, it was something extraordinary, only for the – if I may use the word without being misunderstood – very few; now it has become common, a way of earning a livelihood. It’s gone! So meditation is this, sir, the emptying of consciousness. You follow?
DB: Yes, but let’s get it clear, because before you said it would happen through insight, you see. Now are you saying meditation is conducive to insight?
K: Meditation is insight.
DB: It is insight already. Then it is some sort of work you do, but in addition… you see insight is usually thought of as the flash.
K: Yes, insight is a flash.
DB: But also meditation is a more constant...
K: Now we must be careful in the usage of what we mean be meditation.
DB: That’s the question, yes.
K: We can reject the systems, the methods, the authorities, the acknowledged Zen, Tibetan, Hindu, Buddhist, we can reject all that, because it is obviously mere tradition, repetition, and time-binding nonsense. For me it is not...
N: Don’t you see some of them could have been original, some of them could have had original insight?
K: If they had they wouldn’t be in it, wouldn’t belong to Christian, Hindu, Buddhist, they wouldn’t be anything.
N: In the past.
K: Chi lo sa… I mean, who knows? I am also clever at this. Now meditation, sir, is this penetration. You follow? I don’t know if I am using the right word. It is this sense of moving without any past. (Laughs) I can’t…
DB: The only point to clear up is, when you use the word meditation, do you mean something more than insight, you see. It seems to mean something a bit more.
K: A bit more, much more! Because insight has freed the brain from the past, from time.
K: That is an enormous statement. Meditation as we know it, is becoming, and any sense of becoming is still time, therefore there is no sense of becoming.
DB: But that seems to mean that you have to have insight if you are going to meditate. Right?
K: Yes, sir, that’s right.
DB: You cannot meditate without insight.
K: Of course, I mean that’s... of course.
DB: You can’t regard it as a procedure by which you will come to insight.
K: No! That immediately implies time.
K: A procedure, a system, a method to have insight sounds so nonsensical. Insight into greed, into fear, into all that, frees the mind from all that. Right? Then meditation has quite a different quality. It has nothing to do with all the gurus’ meditations. Right? So that is what?
Would we say, sir – it is the wrong words, all this – to have insight there must be silence?
DB: Yes. Well, it’s the same, we seem to be going in a circle.
K: No, no, for the moment.
DB: For the moment. My mind has silence, yes.
K: Silence. So the silence of insight has cleansed – cleansed, purged, all that.
DB: The structure of the occupation.
K: Yes. Then meditation, oh lord, what is it? There is no movement as we know it – movement means time and all that. It is not that kind of movement.
DB: Some other kind?
K: I don’t see how we can measure that by words. You see, that sense of limitless state.
DB: But in Ojai you were saying that nevertheless it is necessary to find some language, even though it is unsayable.
K: Yes. We will find the language. We better stop, it is too late. Shall we continue next Sunday? Right, sir?