Can the mind be totally aware of total conflict? (or of any feeling totally?)

Can the mind be totally aware of total conflict? (or total confusion, total sorrow, total envy)?

K: You observe disorder in yourself; one observes disorder in oneself, right? … I would like to go into that a little bit. I observe in myself disorder. Why do I call what I observe ‘disorder’? Which means I already have an inkling of what order is.

SP: Of course.

K: So I am comparing it with what I have experienced or known as order and thereby calling the what is disorder. I say, ‘Look, don’t do that, don’t compare, just see what disorder is.’ Can I know, can the mind know disorder without comparing itself with order? …

How do you know disorder? … Conflict is disorder… How am I to deal with conflict non-artificially?

You know nothing. You are listening for the first time; therefore you have to go into it with me…

Is your mind totally aware of conflict? Or is it just words? Stick to one thing. Is my mind totally aware that it is in conflict? Or is there a part of the mind that says, ‘I am aware that I am totally in conflict’? Or is there a part of me watching conflict? Or is there a part of me wishing to be free of conflict? Which means, is there any fragment which says, ‘I am not in conflict’? Or is there any fragment which separates itself from the totality of conflict?

If there is a separate fragment, that is all foolery. Then that fragment says, ‘I must act, I must do, I must suppress, I must go beyond.’ Please, this is a legitimate question: is the mind totally aware that there is only conflict? … Is your mind totally aware that there is nothing but conflict? Or is there a fragment, a little part, which skips away and says, ‘Yes, I know, I am aware I am in conflict. I am not in conflict, but I know.’ So is conflict a fragment or total?

I will keep to the same [point], only put in a different word for the time being: is there total darkness or a slight light somewhere? … Is [the mind] ever aware that there is total conflict?

When the room is full of furniture – forgive me if it’s a wrong example – there is no space to move. I would consider that utter confusion. Is my mind so totally full of this confusion that it has no movement away from this? If it is so completely full of confusion, conflict, and full of this furniture that’s in the room, then what takes place? That’s what I want to get at – not a partial this and a partial that. When the steam is full it must do something: explode. And I do not think we look at this confusion, this conflict so totally.

Could I use the word ‘sorrow’? May I? Now, there is no moving away from sorrow. When you move away from sorrow, then it is just an escape from it, or suppression, all the rest of it. Can one be full of sorrow? Not ‘Can one?’ Is there such a thing as being full of sorrow? …

So I say, ‘Remain with the fact of that thing, don’t introduce…’ all the rest of it. Is the mind totally full of this sorrow, this confusion, this conflict? I won’t move away till that is so… If the heart is full of love and there is no part of envy in it, the problem is finished. It is only when there is a part that is envious that the whole problem arises.

PJ: Then one is full of envy.

K: Therefore remain with it, remain full of envy, be envious, feel it.

PJ: Then its total nature undergoes…

K: …a tremendous change.

PJ: In itself it undergoes a change.

K: Of course that’s what I am saying. When you say, ‘I am envious and I must not’, when somewhere in the dark corner is the educational restraint, then something goes wrong. But if you say, ‘Yes, I am envious’, and don’t move from that… Moving is rationalizing, suppressing, all that. Just remain with that feeling.

(from Explorations and Insights, Chapter 5)

Can one remain with a feeling?

You never remain with a feeling, and with nothing else: with hate, or with that strange feeling of beauty. When the feeling of hate arises, you say how bad it is; there is the compulsion, the struggle to overcome it, the turmoil of thought about it.

Try remaining with the feeling of hate, with the feeling of envy, jealousy, with the venom of ambition; for after all, that’s what you have in daily life, though you may want to live with love, or with the word ‘love’.

(from Commentaries on Living, Series III - Chapter 37)

And let it unfold?

So, being aware of a thought or a feeling as it arises, without condemning it or identifying with it, you will find that it unfolds ever more widely and deeply, and thereby discover the whole content of what is.

(from Choiceless Awareness)

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Can the mind be totally aware of total conflict? (or total confusion, total sorrow, total envy)?

Can one remain with a feeling?
And let it unfold?

I just read the commentaries and I wonder if there is any point in repeating the same questions?

Or were you asking about whether it is possible at all?
We will have to find this out for ourselves.
Some will say that it is possible, others might say that it isn’t and block themselves for further inquiry.
But what happens when you say that it is possible. What happens then? Does expectation, even hope arise?
So, what to do?

That’s ok Joost, you can ignore the questions if they don’t interest you. :slightly_smiling_face:

Yes - the question for me arose because I have recently been reflecting on what is awareness, what does it mean to be aware of thoughts and feelings. And I realise that I rarely stay with a feeling completely - especially if it is unpleasant.

And then this week I came across a dialogue that K had with some friends of his in India (during the 70s), in which he asked the group whether one can ever remain with a feeling in such a way that the mind is completely that feeling - totally, without any remainder.

I’m not sure I have ever remained with a feeling in this total manner, so I thought I would begin a thread on the topic. That’s all. No expectations, no hopes - I’m just interested in looking at this question for a little, even if I’m not able to ‘answer’ it properly (and as you say, one has to find this out for oneself).

Isn’t referring to the mind as “my mind” an example of its conflict?

If there is no actual I to have a mind, and the brain is aware of this, why would it sustain the illusion of I having that which creates and sustains the illusion of a person in possession of the brain? What’s in it for the brain to pretend it is just an organ owned and operated by an imagined entity?

Wouldn’t a mind that is totally aware of total conflict know that doing this creates confusion and misunderstanding?

K’s point you’re reminding us of here, James, is that our tendency to escape painful, difficult, infuriating, sorrowful, etc., feelings is what keeps us in the prison of what-should/should-not-be, and perpetuates our misery. To be free of my misery I must care enough to remain with it when its tormenting me instead of reactively escaping.

So why doesn’t the mind do this, if for no other reason than it just isn’t done? Could the human condition be any worse for doing what it never does?

It is façon de parler - i.e. it depends on context. K often moves between using language in the third and in the first person, using personal subjective and objective pronouns, and then removing them.

Too many ‘ifs’?

Another variety of ‘if’?

I take it you are criticising K for using personal pronouns? - but there is no such thing as a purely non-dualistic language. I think maybe we can cut K a little slack here?

Yes, this is definitely part of it.

But also it’s just a curious fact that we rarely remain with any feelings for very long.

I’m not sure that it cannot be done. I think it is an open question.

Is it curious because of our assumptions - for example, are we assuming that an uncomfortable feeling (anger, sadness etc) is somehow separate from, can exist without, the need to regain a sense of comfort? ie. maybe the desire to move away from discomfort is an integral part of discomfort.

Also could my intention or desire to stay with the discomfort, just be an addition to a complex bundle of discomfort? Just be adding confusion to an initial state?

What is the difference between one desire (wanting to stay with etc) and another (desire for comfort aka discomfort)?

I should clarify that by a ‘feeling’ I don’t just mean so-called negative or unpleasant feelings - it could also be a feeling of beauty, love, joy, or pleasure (though perhaps we need no invitation to remain with so-called positive feelings?).

Envy is a form of dissatisfaction. Anger is a form of dissatisfaction. Sorrow is deep dissatisfaction.

Comfort is satisfying.

Are you asking whether dissatisfaction can exist by itself without any possibility of being satisfied?

Are you simply saying that we cannot stay with dissatisfaction without needing to escape from it into something satisfying?

The second - I’m defining dissatisfaction as : the need/desire for satisfaction.
Dissatisfaction includes the movement away from itself.

Division (of experience/experiencer) is also in this whole question (of staying with experience) - when I appear in joy, motive arises and joy is broken in 2

So you are saying that we cannot remain with sadness, anger, envy, etc?

Because the ‘movement away’ is built in, so to speak?

Yes. We can get to that later, but for now ‘remaining with’ is just a manner of speaking (as I was saying to Inquiry).

No. I just wonder why he didn’t always refer to himself as “the speaker” (as he sometimes did) or something other than I. Maybe it would have been too awkward. I’m sure he thought it through and decided to do what he did. I’m not criticizing him for it.

Too many ‘ifs’?

The question, “Can the mind be aware of total conflict?”, prompted my question which you dismiss by saying it’s too speculative. I think it’s a good question because obviously, the mind is not totally aware of its confusion and conflict.

it’s just a curious fact that we rarely remain with any feelings for very long.

Don’t we embrace and try to sustain “good” feelings when we have them?

Then I don’t understand your question?

Generally I find ‘if’ statements to be unhelpful, because hypotheticals remain hypotheticals. ‘If’ I was the King of England I would own 116,000 hectares of land; except I don’t because I’m not the King of England.

In this case the ‘if’ statements concern

  1. the ego-less brain (of Krishnamurti):

If there is no actual I to have a mind, and [if] the brain is aware of this, why would it sustain the illusion of I having that which creates and sustains the illusion of a person in possession of the brain?


  1. a brain that is (hypothetically) totally aware:

Wouldn’t a mind that is [hypothetically] totally aware of total conflict know that doing this creates confusion and misunderstanding?

In the first case you are asking why, ‘if’ K’s mind was ego-less, did he nevertheless use personal pronouns.

And in the second case you asking why, ‘if’ a brain is totally aware, would it use personal pronouns.

We have already discussed this point - K used personal pronouns as a way of speaking in discussion; sometimes in order to take on the role of an ordinary person, and sometimes for directness and emphasis. As you mention, on the platform he usually talked about himself in the third person (“the speaker”); but in close discussion with friends he often adopted personal pronouns.

Yes. Although even there we may not fully feel so-called positive feelings. We may want to stay with feelings of pleasure, but how often do we really appreciate anything fully? And there may be feelings of beauty, love, etc, that we have never (or only rarely) even noticed?

What is causing the fragment to remain in the dark ?
The fragment it self ?
The lack of awareness ?

Can awareness see every “fragment” with the same intensity and without judgment/discrimination/comparison?

Awareness, like a mother, loving all her children equally, is looking at each fragment with the same “consideration”…?

I’ll say: I can’t produce such awareness, and I can’t stop the process of fragmentation.

The question remains: is it possible to stay with any kind of a feeling, even one thought and following it through?
K added completely but I fear that most of us don’t quite grasp what he means by that.
We might have an idea of it : you know about the observer and the observed but it is no more than an idea, which our thinking will eagerly adhere to.
Could we start over by saying we haven’t got a clue?

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Firstly, I don’t understand the question : can the mind be totally aware of the totality of a feeling?
maybe someone can define terms for what we might be talking about ?

I will still answer yes (or is it no?)! Because of my theory of wholeness or unity of experience, as follows:

I am angry (sad or whatever), but I see the necessity of inquiring into experience itself, if I am wholeheartedly, honestly, without a doubt commited to looking at myself in action, then I am not angry, there is no anger to look at, there is only the looking.

Now, if I am angry (sad etc), and this troubles me, because I feel that this is some sign of a lack of clarity in myself, and I try to watch myself being angry - etc this mix of parts of myself recognising each other is also a form of wholeness called confusion.

Maybe the question : can we be totally aware of total conflict? means : can we see what the process of self is - see the whole process of self?
So, not seeing what I am angry about, or how anger feels, but what “I am angry” means.

To stay with the feeling is not really a staying, I would say it refers to observe the feeling, its “existence”, from the moment it appears, its peak and its fading.
In reality the feeling doesn’t disappear fully, it remains partially unseen; I would say the beginning and the ending are not seen, cause they don’t really …occur ? Cause we only see the memory of an old feeling, and not the feeling that occurs in the moment ? We are in touch with the memory of a feeling and not with the raw and living/alive feeling …

I don’t know if you have read the OP? Krishnamurti makes the question clear enough I think?