Looking (in the K sense) seems to be a happy conjunction of the mind being quiet, together with a certain quality of immediacy - both of which negate (or, at the very least, greatly diminish) the degree to which self-consciousness interferes with the looking.

I am still struck by a throw-away statement that K made in one of his dialogues in India (in Tradition and Revolution):

Is there an awareness in which the observer is totally absent? Obviously there is. I am aware of that lamp, I do not have to choose when I am aware of it. (Chapter title: Biological Survival and Intelligence)

K uses the word ‘aware’ here instead of ‘seeing’ or ‘looking’, but the implications are the same. Apparently the immediacy of even simple seeing, looking - the simple seeing of a lamp in a room - is already sufficient. There is little to no self-consciousness in the immediate seeing of something. Only, our minds habitually overlook this simple seeing, ignoring it and passing over it. So apparently it takes a certain degree of quietude for this immediacy to be noticed and valued.

So that nothing is left behind ? Like the fly of the eagle ?

Yes. But is it limited to only that ? I would say it is a part of meditation.

Let’s say I am aware of anger or envy. How do you retate this to what you say ?

This has nothing to do with my question but thanks.

Yes - this is how I understand K’s statement. Sometimes K said that if you really see the beauty of something, with a state of full attention, then it is not recorded in memory (and so leaves no mark, like the eagle). But we rarely do this of course.

I was only discussing meditation with respect to the aspect that was mentioned in the quotation you shared and which Sean picked up - namely that

Meditation is the emptying of experience and is going on all the time (K)

I do not of course wish to limit meditation to this, but it seemed relevant to what Sean was asking about and the quote you shared, no?

Interestingly enough, in the discussion Dan mentions from the Awakening of Intelligence, K touches upon this:

If I see the beauty of that light, and it is really extraordinarily beautiful, I just see it. Now with that same quality of attention I want to see myself. (K)

K often discusses this of course. He said to people to experiment with simple seeing, or simple awareness; and then to bring the same quality of simple seeing to bear on the inward psychological happenings in consciousness (such as anger or envy).

In principle, therefore, it is the same immediacy of seeing that sees the lamp as which sees envy. But, perhaps for the reasons mentioned in the reply to Sean, we rarely value this simple seeing (because our minds are not quiet enough), and so it is overlooked.


I think what Emile was saying is that the future K denies is a future in which the mind “becomes” - that is, a future in which the mind attains “what should be”.

The future we project as hope or the ideal is a desired-for future, existing only in the mind that projects it. It is not a fact.

However, this is different from the future that K and Bohm are discussing when they are talking about the future of mankind, because in this latter case they are merely extrapolating rationally from the present and historical facts the likely future outcome of what is presently taking place - that is, the cause and effect consequences of humanity’s present actions.

In this sense, the continuity of a future is inevitable because it is the outcome of what has come before - the past is modified in the present, and becomes the future. - Unless, K says, there is a radical transformation in the present.

I don’t need anyone to interpret what someone else is saying. The question/concern stands.

I’m not sure that I understand your question/concern then - perhaps you can elaborate on it?

Do you see that there is a difference between

1. a desired-for future state; and
2. the cause and effect consequences of humanity’s present actions - ?

As you can see, while

1. refers to a future that is wholly fictional,
2. refers instead to a future that is reasonably or presciently extrapolated from past and present facts.


1. Human beings ought to eventually attain liberation (in the future).
2. As human beings are now, the future is set to be full of more conflict, more wars, more destruction.

Do you see the difference? The first meaning is based on what should be, while the second meaning is based on what presently is.

These are the two main ways in which I understand the future to have meaning in relation to K’s teachings. They are not in contradiction to each other because they refer to completely different things.

But if you still feel there to be a contradiction, maybe you could explain a little bit more what you feel the contradiction to be?

I am doubting the assertion that they refer to completely different things, except as a rationale to cover our confusions. The confusion seems to arise from adoption of ideas that aren’t our own.

My question isn’t about the difference between psychological and chronological time. That difference is simple to understand. You seem to be focusing on it which is understandable, because that’s all you got. By “you” i mean anyone that hasn’t gone deeper, which isn’t to claim that I have.

Do you see when you deny psychological future and time it also entails a denial of “concern” in toto? You cannot then come back and feign a concern for the “future” of mankind. There is nothing to be concerned about. Everything is part of What Is. Therefore contradiction.

For the record the posts are automatically being edited. There seems to be a formatting issue or a glitch of some kind.

Actually, I wasn’t aware that I was talking about the difference between psychological and chronological time per se (or at least, not what I would call straight-forward chronological time).

By chronological time I mean the rotation of the earth around the sun, the fact of physical movement, the rising and setting of the sun, etc. So even though the sun has now ‘set’ in the UK, unless a black hole opens up nearby and swallows the earth entirely, the sun will inevitably ‘rise’ again in about 6 hours time.

The time I was referring to concerns the two ways in which I understand K to have approached the “future of humanity” - i.e. in relation to the consciousness of humanity - which was the topic you brought up.

The two different ways, to repeat, refer to

1. a content in consciousness, which is projected as hope, expectation, desire, the ‘what should be’, etc - which is fictional; and
2. the factual continuity of this whole consciousness, moving from the past to the future, through the present - which, given that it is presently full of conflict and strife, is inevitably going to create yet more conflict and strife in the future.

Person X can perhaps negate 1); that is, person X negates ‘what should be’ and lives only with ‘what is’. He/she lives with facts, not fictions.

But 2) goes on, as the stream of human consciousness (persons A, B, C and D, etc - the whole alphabet).

Person X feels compassion for A, B, C, D, etc, because they are living in conflict. X sees the ramifications of what A, B, C, D, etc are doing, and wants to warn them of the danger, show them a way out, to wake them from their fictions.

So when you ask

I think this fails to do justice to the situation of person X.

While person X has denied the psychological future (for themselves), they are still surrounded by As, Bs, Cs, and Ds who have not (and who are therefore creating future suffering for themselves and the world they live in). X sees this and responds with compassion.

What is includes war, suffering, poverty, environmental degradation. It is completely natural to be concerned about this. But, in addition, K taught that part of what is, is the negation of what (presently) is, and the transcending of what (presently) is. And he was concerned with drawing attention to that too.

No? I suppose you feel is better to back track and qualify it by adding “per se”.

That, as well as the 60, 70, 80, 100 years of a “person”. Let’s not forget to include that. Of course the signification then will be different.

No i did not. You are putting words in my mouth. It is your interpenetration, and a projection of the words you would perhaps use, to make sense of these things.

Irrelevant, in context of my question for reasons already stated.

This is an assumption derived from theoretical thinking.

No it is not natural. OTOH it is complete natural to go to war for the advancement or protection of one’s self-interest. Our lives are an evidence to this naturalness. And by extension it is seen in society. This is real evidence. What you are saying is again an assumption. Concern is an acquired ‘taste’/premise.

I’m going to attribute your responses simply as a lack of serious investigation and will now stop. This does not take away any value from you or what you think you are doing but there is no point in continuing. Thanks.

Vikas - I think I have mentioned this previously when we have conversed, but the tone you are employing here seems to me a little bit “off”. You probably don’t see yourself as being antagonistic - or maybe you do? - but you ought to be aware that your words carry a confrontational charge (by ‘charge’ I mean energy) that makes what you write feel antagonistic rather than exploratory.

For instance, the sarcasm of your first response

followed by apparently more sarcasm

followed by argumentativeness

followed by dismissal

followed by a refusal to engage the argument

followed by more refusal to engage the argument

followed by judgmental dismissal

Do you see what I mean? This is a similar pattern I have noted with our previous exchanges, and I wonder what you are hoping to achieve through this way of communicating?

By all means question or reject what has been said, but at least have the courtesy to engage with it meaningfully and in a respectful manner. You asked what K meant by “future of humanity”. I have merely been attempting to convey what I understand by this.

The only constructive argument I can find in your reply is an assertion that, because it is natural for people to engage in warfare for the self-interest of the group or the individual, any concerns about the consequences of warfare are “an acquired taste”.

Ok. If concern is an acquired taste, what is wrong with acquiring it? Must human beings be in conflict with each other to the end of time? - Apparently you believe they must be, which is why you think that any discussion of compassion or concern is unwarranted.

But part of K’s teaching is that conflict is not inevitable; it is man-made and so can be otherwise.

The point of the earlier discussion - which apparently did not interest you - is that to merely hope for an end to conflict (i.e. the future according to meaning ‘1’) will not itself end conflict, because hope refers to a non-factual future.

Therefore, it is only by giving attention to the fact of conflict, and the consequences such conflict inevitably creates over time (i.e. the future according to meaning ‘2’) that there is a possibility - according to K - of conflict coming to an end.

So if we don’t want future conflict, we have to face the conflict as it is now.


I feel that there is a great deal of difference between a human being and a lion or chimpanzee. Not at the level of sentience, but at the level of cognition.

K has said that the root (or one if the roots) of conflict is the division between the observer and the observed. As far as I can see, this is a question for human beings, not lions or apes.

So, even if one agrees (as I do) that an aspect of the conflict between chimpanzee groups is created by thought (due to the images their brains can make of other groups), I don’t believe that a chimpanzee’s brain is capable of being aware of this. While I do believe that a human brain is capable of being aware of the movement of thought (and the problems it creates in relationship).

So you keep on saying. But, as I have said to you before, no-one is forcing you (or anyone else) to listen to X.

If you genuinely believe that X is irrelevant, and that A, B, C, D, etc ought to be left to their own devices, why are you so passionately concerned with the effect of X (who is irrelevant) on A, B, C, D, etc? - so concerned that you keep going on about it here? Why not just leave X to be X, and A, B, C, D, etc to be A, B. C, D, etc?

Your whole view seems to be:

  1. conflict is inevitable, and we ought to be indifferent to it;
  2. to point out that conflict is not inevitable (which is the function of X) is to create unnecessary conflict, and we should stop doing it.

Do you see the contradiction here?

If conflict is inevitable - as you say - then why are you so concerned with the (inevitable) conflict created by X?

If we ought to be indifferent to conflict, then why does the conflict you believe X to be creating arouse such passionate consternation in you that you continue to post about it here?

Perhaps K was just confusing.

What is the relationship of attention to consciousness (according to K’s definition of these words)?

Consciousness is its content. The content of the river is water. The content of consciousness is fear, pleasure, desire, suffering, hurt, loneliness, etc, both personal and collective - which are all the modes that psychological thought takes as it moves in or through the brain.

We are - the self is - the contents of consciousness. So to try to be attentive from inside consciousness, is still consciousness. To say we should be attentive from within consciousness is another movement within consciousness.

Attention is ‘outside’ consciousness - it is not content. So any conscious attempt to be attentive or have attention is suspect.

And yet K asks if the mind can be attentive - to pay attention to fear, hurt, loneliness, etc (which are all contents of consciousness). So what is going on here?

And the concepts we recognise as objects (eg. chairs) - ie. knowledge?

In K-speak objects like chairs are not concepts, they are actualities.

Contents of consciousness are solely what is put there by thought - so the memory of a chair, or the attachment to a chair are contents of consciousness.

The chair itself however, the simple perception of it through the senses, is not a content of consciousness.

I am only doing K-speak here you understand. He uses the word “consciousness” in a very specific way, and distinguishes it from either perception or attention (or awareness).

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Our experience of the object we see, is that psychological? Or does there have to be an aspect of preference involved? Some emotional reaction?

My confusion stems from my difficulty of separating knowledge into fear based and utilitarian knowledge - as this is the clarification thread, I shall return with further questions.

When K talks about consciousness I understand him to be talking about something that is wholly psychological.

Sense perception, our senses, our physical bodies, our brains, the actualities of the physical world around us, nature - all of this has its origins outside our thinking (the chair may be put together by thought - by someone who used thought - but the wood etc it is made of comes from trees, nature, which is not created by thought).

But hurt, jealousy, self-interest, nationalism, ideological commitments, etc are the creations of our thinking - so they are contents in consciousness (in K’s sense). The contents make up consciousness, and without such contents there would not be any consciousness as we know it.

My question is, what is the relationship between attention and consciousness?, because they are two entirely different things (in K’s way of using these words).

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Attention is ‘outside’ consciousness - it is not content. So any conscious attempt to be attentive or have attention is suspect.[/quote]

Not merely suspect, but impossible.

And yet K asks if the mind can be attentive - to pay attention to fear, hurt, loneliness, etc (which are all contents of consciousness). So what is going on here?

K is implying that attempting to pay attention is futile. The contents of consciousness can review and react to itself, but it is too insular to see anything clearly (including itself) because it’s a closed system.