Exploring The Central Issue

Hi everyone,

I’m re-posting part of a quote from K which Dev posted a few days ago. I found the quote very interesting but it wasn’t possible to respond as it was a closed group thread. Anyway, here is the quote:

“Now, when you say, “I know I am conditioned”, do you really know it, or is that merely a verbal statement? Do you know it with the same potency with which you see a cobra? When you see a snake and know it to be a cobra, there is immediate, unpremeditated action; and when you say, “I know I am conditioned”, has it the same vital significance as your perception of the cobra? Or is it merely a superficial acknowledgment of the fact, and not the realization of the fact? When I realize the fact that I am conditioned, there is immediate action. I don’t have to make an effort to un-condition myself. The very fact that I am conditioned, and the realization of that fact, brings an immediate clarification. The difficulty lies in not realizing that you are conditioned - not realizing it in the sense of understanding all its implications, seeing that all thought, however subtle, however cunning, however sophisticated or philosophical, is conditioned.”

J. Krishnamurti
New Delhi 6th Public Talk 31st October 1956

The quote made me wonder if I am aware at all of my conditioning in day to day life, let alone with the same potency with which I would see a Cobra. As an example, I came up with the times I am in the middle of a conversation with a workmate and I realise I am on auto-pilot. I mean, I have fallen into the habitual pattern of communication with this person that I normally follow. I’m not really listening to my workmate fully or observing him/her with real attention. At the moment that this realisation takes place, a change occurs in the dynamic and I am much more attentive. But of course, I am still on auto-pilot most of the rest of the day. How do others see this whole question?

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conditioning affects/determines everything in our lives that arises from thought: as image, memory, idea, feeling, emotion, all of it.

so maybe rather than striving to be aware of this or that specific instance of conditioning at this or that specific moment, an exhausting endeavor, be aware in a proprioceptive almost intuitive way that, when you’re thinking, conditioning is not far behind?

Hi nobody? Are you striving? Doesn’t sound like a good idea.

hi sean.

i strive, but not to remain aware of my conditioning. i just assume it’s there, like a shadow. sometimes i feel it in the moment, sometimes not. but i know it’s never far off.

it sounded to me like you work at being aware of your conditioning: “I’m not really listening to my workmate fully or observing him/her with real attention.” if i’m wrong let me know.

Hi Sean and nobody!

I think this quote from K, is also aiming at the “heart” of awareness. To say that: any thought is a step away from being aware, is the whole structure of conditioning.

The very fact that we are aware of being-conscious, is also our condition as humans.

Nobody said everything in our lives that is connected to thought is affected/determined by conditioning, and I fully agree! However, I wonder if there is something that isn’t able to be conditioned…

The only reason that a casual light-hearted conversation between friends would be doubted, is if there was a possibility for “our conditioning” to “fix itself”. Is it possible to condition attention, or is it simply as it is: a natural function of our natural condition?

It might be, that the desire to be free from searching, actually seeks to find the answer in an idea, rather than sitting with the natural facts that are plain and obvious, all around us, without needing any “reason” to exist!

I’m trying to expand on what nobody was saying at the end of his post I quoted, but please help me to clarify!

Hi Philip! It’s a great question, what if anything is not conditioned? To work towards an answer, maybe we could start by finding the sine qua non of conditioning, what do all forms of conditioning depend on? Memory? Thought? The known?

Hello all,

Does not “conditioned” imply a connection to the condition (or identity) of the observer? In which case conditioning must refer to a type of memory/thought/known. Incidents where an observer is present would be seen through the lens of that observer and the resultant memories stored in the brain from those incidents would be added to the existing repository of conditioned memory/knowledge. Memories formed and used when an observer is not present (the knowledge that is used to identify, classify and run from a cobra presumably) are not dependent on the identity of the observer. Any memories formed during this latter case would not be conditioned by the same logic.

Awareness (crisis) seems to trigger the part of the brain that stores unconditioned memory/thought/knowledge.

Hello Sean,

I wonder the same thing myself about attention to inattention, as K puts it. When I wake up so to speak, become “more” attentive for a brief period, is that a “verbal understanding” of my conditioning at work? Or, has the movement of conditioned thought stopped in that moment? And the reason it continues later is because of a very strong habit? I read a K quote in another topic on this forum that makes me suspect that might be the case. He was recounting something about continually wiping away thought not related to the present - something to the effect that, ‘when I am shaving and I remember the lovely time I had in Switzerland’ … as if it is something he does all the time! Is it that he caught those ‘conditioned’ thoughts in the bud before they got a life of their own and consumed consciousness? Of course it would be easy for us to turn this into some kind of practice that requires effort to keep up, so there is the rub. Before you know it you would have some kind of method entirely contrived by thought. Thought police. Still though there may something to it.

I do think the key is somehow couched in this statement, " I don’t have to make an effort to un-condition myself. " Effort and conditioned thought appear to be one and the same thing. To end effort then would be to end conditioned thought.

We are habituated to exerting effort to effect change because the observer can operate on the observed, can envision a more favourable situation. In a realm where the observed is the same as the observed (awareness?), it follows that this “real change” would be no change. The present would be everything and change needs an imagined future.

K: The very fact that I am conditioned, and the realization of that fact, brings an immediate clarification.

Is “realization of [the[ fact” that I am conditioned, factual thought at work? Is it fair to say that awareness fosters factual, unconditioned thought? And is it that, absent awareness, conditioned thought determines perception, action and reaction?

Hi Nobody, thanks for the reply. I don’t think you can really work at being aware, can you? I think if you set out to be aware, it stifles awareness. It seems to be either there, or not there. When it’s there, it does seem to automatically bring about a completely different dynamic to action which comes from thought and past conditioning. I would say that this is observable in everyday life. So why is awareness there sometimes and not others?

K’s point about the cobra seemed to be saying we don’t fully see the importance of our conditioning. Do we only realise this on an intellectual level? How do you see all this Nobody?

Hi Emile, Philip and Nobody. Thanks for the many interesting points you’ve all brought up so far. Emile, the quote from K which you posted above is at the heart of what we’re talking about here, isn’t it? I was trying to provide an example from everyday life of an awareness of conditioned behaviour bringing about an instant change. I understand the kind of behaviour patterns we get into with family, friends, co-workers etc to be conditioned behaviour which is based on past experience.

Emile, I’m not exactly sure what you mean by “factual thought” or “unconditioned thought”. I understand that it is only when the mind is still and no thought is present, can observation of “what is” take place. I mean, if thought is present at all, won’t it act as a filter to what is going on around us?

In my understanding — which may be incorrect — K proposes that when one is attentive, the mind and brain essentially are the same. That is thought as memory does not filter out reality according to the preferences of the observer. There is no observer as psyche.

In the K quote, there is a realization happening – it is just however not felt as my realization. That is, the mind in order to make a distinction between a cobra and a rope needs to use thought. The mind/brain realizes the ‘danger’ of inattention factually, it is not a question of personal choice.

This use of factual thought leaves no residue in memory, does not produce a sense of self when it is in operation. And also did not originate from a filtered observation to begin with. It is completely agenda-less and does no filtering.

In attention, there is no time gap between the seeing(insight) and the doing(realization), the seeing is the doing, the mind and the brain are essentially one at that point. This is why K uses the term psychological thought to distinguish the kind of thought — our everyday thought - that splits into the observer and observed when it is used from factual thought which does not. That is how I understand what K says anyway.

Here are some snippets from a conversation that I am basing some of my understanding on:

K: We are saying, that the brain is conditioned, at least some of it. That conditioning is brought about through experience. That conditioning is knowledge. And that conditioning is memory and experience, knowledge, memory are limited, and so thought is limited. Now, we have been functioning within the area of thought. And to discover something new there has to be, at least temporarily, or a period, when thought is not in movement, when thought is in abeyance.

K: Mind is a wholly different dimension which has no contact with thought. Let me explain. The brain, that part of the brain which has been functioning as an instrument of thought, that brain has been conditioned, that part of the brain. And as long as that part of the brain remains in that state there is no communication, entire communication, with the mind. So when that conditioning is not then there is communication between that mind, which is totally on a different dimension, that can communicate with the brain and act, using thought.

Dialogue 2 Brockwood Park, England - 25 June 1983

Totally agree that this is the crux of the matter. Our daily lives. Thought brings conflict into relationship. There is no peace. You want peace, you can’t use thought. It is as simple as that. Everything else is intellectual theorizing. We overthink everything.

Hi Emile, thanks for that very clear explanation which seems to make a lot of sense. I just hadn’t heard the expression “factual thought” before.

That’s how I see it too Emile. As an aside, I thought the story about K shaving and remembering about Switzerland was really interesting.

Hi Inquiry. As far as I can see, you have attributed the above K quote to me. If you do this, this really confuses things. Did you think that I had written the above? Or am I missing something?

Sorry about that. It’s an excerpt from the K-quote at the beginning of the discussion.

It’s an interesting theory, some memories are associated with an identity (the I-ego-identity is running the show when the memory is made), and others not (the I is not in charge when the memory is made).

For me it brings to mind Krishnamurti’s psychological and practical memory/knowledge: Psychological memory happens when the I is at the helm, practical memory when the I is absent or on the bench.

I wonder though if a memory can ever be truly identity-free? I suspect that identity is woven into the very fabric of the organism, I doubt that anything is untouched by it. What do you think?

Hi again Sean!

I think you can work at being attentive. Agree? If so, what’s the difference between attention and awareness?

Thanks for asking, Sean. I’m pretty relaxed about my conditioning, I even embrace it … except of course when it makes me suffer. In terms of realizing my own conditioning, I guess it’s a mix of intellectual and experiential for me. Sometimes I’m analytical about the cobra, sometimes I jump out of the way!

What about you?

Hi Emile! Thanks for all the wonderfully pointed quotes and questions! (I mean to say that they helped me make connections I didn’t even realize about things K has said, with my own experiences.)

I feel that the fact that there appears to be an identity that acts "and" something real that is usually refferred to as what is actually happening…

is it that our identity, is actually the movement of thought towards a desire, a goal… Emile said that there is no observer as psyche.

so, we are conditioned to accept that we “must” constantly utilize thought?

To get back to what I quoted above, I find the word idea to be helpful here. idea, as a “mental impression or concept”, an “opinion or belief”, an “aim or purpose”…

instead of thinking if memory can be identity-free, isn’t it so, that “we”, as a psychological idea, believe reality to be completely contained within an idea… “within” an understanding…?

Why can’t understanding itself, be reality…? Reality, as the substance: being-conscious…?

…the “substance” that’s “being conscious” (which is connected to the ideas about awareness)…?