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March 13 Meeting Wiki Recap

If anyone wants to summarize some of what was touched upon in today’s meeting, you can do so here this post.

It is a Wiki post so can be collectively edited by all members of this group.

Below is some dummy content that anyone can replace with your recollection of what transpired today:

The passage below is from 1933, so considered an early work. The reference to the “the infinite movement of thought” caught my eye. Usually we tend to lump the movement of thought with the movement of conditioning. Here, Krishnamurti appears to be contrasting the “controlled” movement of thought with the “free” movement of thought. Is it possible that the issue is not thought itself but control?
Is control self-interest? Is control based on imagery? Is imagery by definition fiction? The basis of the postponement that prevents meeting life freely in the present? How does one go about opening for oneself a window on the ideas that control, create a little space in the controlling mind to understand the price being paid for postponing action in the present in favor of action in the future based on ideation?

K: When mind is filled with beliefs, ideas, and definite conclusions which it calls knowledge and which become sacred, then the infinite movement of thought ceases. That is what is happening to most minds. What we call knowledge is merely accumulation; it prevents the free movement of thought, yet we cling to it and worship this so-called knowledge. So mind becomes enmeshed, entangled in it. It is only when mind is freed from all this accumulation, from beliefs, ideals, principles, memories, that there is creative thinking. You cannot blindly put away accumulation; you can be free from it only when you understand it. Then there is creative thought; then there is an eternal movement. Then mind is no longer separated from action. (First Public Talk, Adyar, 29th December 1933)

Added by @Carl March 14th:

“This is how I see unfolding of choice in real time.
1.There is a demand for action.
2.All pertinent thought/images mobilize and weigh their momentary significance against many other secure and insecure images. They arrange themselves on one side of the balance scale or the other. The side that weighs more chooses the action.
3.It is a conflict of images.
4.When unnoticed it appears to be a choice made instantaneously by me.
5.This is simple to see first hand unless I am too busy and uninterested.”

If the issue is control, then we have to ask who is the controller? And with that we will be back to thought. Yesterday to me the question came up: do we see thought, image, conditioning as what they really are. The existence of thought, image, knowledge and conditioning is obviously not fiction. They are there, operating in our daily life, creating reality - as we said yesterday. But the content of thought, image and knowledge, what they are about, is never the real, the actual. That is not a definition, it is a fact. They are just a description, an image. Just like the description of how a new mobile phone will operate is not sufficient to call someone. Can we see that? And can we not see it only, if we are not caught in images? And is this being caught in images, thought and knowledge not in itself also based on an image? The image, that images, thought, knowledge are more important than the actual, the real - that we can find security in them, though the capacity to think, thinking, itself is not created by thought, images and knowledge? If images and their content become more important than the real, the ,and we try to find security in them it undoubtly must lead to conflict and suffering. So the question to me is, do we see the “what is” and if not, what prevents us?

Another aspect which came to me after our meeting was the subject of security itself. There is obviously no absolute security, neither physical nor psychological. Physically we may have enough food, shelter etc. but eventually we all will die. Psychologically too there is always at some time suffering, conflict, fear etc. in our life. Still we have to care for our physical existence, as it is real and in constant relation with our environment and will in every moment be challenged in order to live. The psyche also exists. It is the accumulation of our remembrances about ourselves, our experiences and the inherited memories about humanity in general, our consciousness. But all these remembrances are just knowledge and its content is not the real. It is the past. We now want to find security in it and we seek security for that content of knowledge. Why? While our physical organism is real, the content of knowledge is not. Why do we seek security for something that is not real, actual? As we see that outwardly absolute security is not possible, do we seek it inwardly? Is maybe not control the issue but the seeking of an absolute security? But can absolute security exist in spacetime, in a world of things that in order to live have to come and go?
Maybe that is something we can pick up next time.

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Right until the end of his life, K was always keen to explore the possibility that a group of people were able to think together. In order to think together, control of any subject has to be abandoned - in the sense that anyone who says, ‘I know all about this,’ is restricting the flow of the enquiry. Knowledge only matters where it has a practical application; then it can be easily and swiftly shared. It is vital that we have knowledge of and control over the practical elements of our environment. But psychologically, what is knowledge? The more we try to explain and share what we feel we know about ourselves and about other people, the more confused and vague we seem to get. So I wonder if there is any psychological knowledge at all. Inwardly, there is plenty of belief, prejudice, opinion and supposition - these are the fragments to which we cling; but of solid, verifiable certainty there is very little. The mind is then an unknown adventure.

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As Dev mentions, the quotation cited is from one of K’s early talks; but it seems clear that over the intervening decades he became increasingly hardened against the idea of the “creativity” of thought. By the 70s and 80s, when Bohm continually pushed K on whether or not thought could be creative, K continually pushed back against the idea. - However, the notion of an infinite movement of learning, or inquiry (or meditation) - which can take place when the movement of accumulated knowledge is put aside - did not end in the 1930s. A couple of quotations from the 80s shows this:

“The brain is conditioned - by our culture, by our knowledge, by our experience, by all the impressions that we receive, conditioned by newspapers, television, by the books we read and so on, the beliefs, the faiths… And when the brain is not conditioned then it has got infinite capacity.”

(from Public Talk 2, San Francisco, California, 1st May 1983)

“The brain has infinite capacity; it is really infinite… That capacity has been used to store knowledge—scientific, political, social and religious. The brain has been occupied with this… The question is: If the brain is not active, if it is not working, if it is not thinking, what is going to happen to it? Either it will plunge into entertainment… or it will turn to the inquiry within. This inquiry is an infinite movement.”

(from A Timeless Spring)

Meanwhile, form at least the 1950s onwards K juxtaposes the capacity for knowledge and the capacity for perception (or non-accumulative learning):

"Knowledge never brings perception; experience never flowers into the beauty of understanding. Most of us listen with the background of what we know, of what we have experienced. Perhaps you have never noticed the difference between the mind that really learns and the mind that merely accumulates, gathers knowledge…

When you commune with your own heart, when you commune with your friend, when you commune with the skies, with the stars, with the sunset, with a flower, then surely you are listening so as to find out, to learn… From this inquiry comes the movement of learning, which is never accumulative."

(Madras, 1St Public Talk, 22nd November, 1959)

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Great quote Dev.

Simple everyday responses are missed. I simply don’t want to look at them because I am not in the habit of looking. The psyche is programmed to look for me. And know already.

Are the everyday ordinary inner responses of “I know” and “I see”, memory? Or is it direct perception? Is every thought, feeling, response, already recorded and now shaping the present perception? Are all these responses happening automatically beyond my control? Can I do anything? Is the whole of the psyche, the whole of me, responding automatically? Is there any part of that psyche that is free, or merely another projection of freedom?

The only way to find out is to look and listen, and is it possible to look and listen without time?

This is intended as a general response to yesterday’s dialogue rather than a reply to anyone’s post/ comment so far.
It appeared clear that in reactions that thought as a conditioned reflex action seeks an answer in knowledge…it sees ( thinks/ imagines) security in that.
The ‘why’ was explained by a participant in the dialogue. The ‘why’ of course ( whether originated by seeing or memory) when expressed ,becomes limited knowledge… which we may or may not also ‘know’ is part of the problem . So, the question remains for us ( if we have the interest) … is it possible for seeing/listening/ attention to take place in our relationships /reactions in or out of dialogue ?

Hi Dev -

As I remember it, we began by asking “What is the problem or danger of conditioning?” It was subsequently brought out that - as Erik says - one of the dangers of psychological conditioning is that it simulates reality: it creates an idea, a feeling, a sensation of reality, which may not actually be real at all (the examples given were a Catholic’s belief in the person of Mary, or a person’s identification with their nationality).

However, one of the challenges we face in this investigation is that unless we can see the activity of our conditioning as an actual, concrete process going on - both in the world and in our own lives - it must remain a purely theoretical problem.

I was reminded that there is a useful passage in Freedom from the Known that is worth looking at in relation to this issue:

"Are you aware that you are conditioned? That is the first thing to ask yourself, not how to be free of your conditioning. You may never be free of it, and if you say, `I must be free of it’, you may fall into another trap of another form of conditioning…

How do you know you are conditioned? What tells you? What tells you you are hungry? - not as a theory but the actual fact of hunger? In the same way, how do you discover the actual fact that you are conditioned? Isn’t it by your reaction to a problem, a challenge?..

When you become aware of it, does this conditioning of race, religion and culture bring a sense of imprisonment? Take only one form of conditioning, nationality, become seriously, completely aware of it and see whether you enjoy it or rebel against it, and if you rebel against it, whether you want to break through all conditioning. If you are satisfied with your conditioning you will obviously do nothing about it, but if you are not satisfied when you become aware of it, you will realise that you never do anything without it. Never! And therefore you are always living in the past with the dead…

Through an intellectual process of analysis you may see that nationalism leads to self-destruction but there is no emotional content in that. Only when there is an emotional content do you become vital. If you see the danger of your conditioning merely as an intellectual concept, you will never do anything about it."

Does this help focus the question?

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Dear James,
that is good. Yes. Do we really see condition as what it is? Not judge it, surpress it, avoid it, escape it but see it as what it is. Do we see the nature of conditioning? And if not, what does prevent seeing it? Maybe, before we go into the danger of condition, we should explore what conditioning really is, what it means, how it comes about?

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@jms1

Hello @James ,

We spend all our time in our heads, thinking, thinking, thinking, one problem after another, which obviously means we reside within the narrow circle of our ideas, beliefs and conclusions. We can’t stop thinking even if we try. That is the case for most of us anyway.

I cant help but wonder if psychological thinking is not designed to thwart any threat to its continuous flow - perhaps because I - the psychological self - might cease to exist if that were to occur? If so, it is a matter of security. One sure way to disarm any threat to the psyche is for thinking to legitimize said threat and morph it into a new paradigm. Intellectualize everything.

Intellectual understanding may be a necessary component of our dialogue but it needs to be seen for what it is, more conditioning.

Dear Dev, but then the question is security of what? We try to secure the psychological self by creating divisions which then threatens our whole existence, physically as well as psychologically. And the fact is: if I seek psychological security there has to be insecurity at the beginning otherwise I would not seek it. But we do not see that, feel that insecurity as what it is. If we bring in the word “designed” it also means that there would be someone who designs or an intention to design. Should we not find out, if there is any intention for the psychological thinking at all? The psychological thinking is the psychological self. Should we not ask, why is it there at all? The existence of the capacity to think makes it possible but that does not mean that the self must be there or there would be a necessity for it to exist. We should find out, if it would be or not? It might just be a misuse of an instrument like killing someone with a hammer for which the tool was not created.

Something I was reminded of that was mentioned in the Saturday dialogue was about the word reality, when also illusory images were mentioned. I think one ,maybe more were seeing some confusion . When K eventually got into very lengthy dialogue with Bohm on the subject of truth , reality, actuality etc they came to clarify things by saying that “reality” is all that thought has put together. Meaning the physical man made objects, and also ideas , images etc. Whether accurate images or otherwise…but always limited by time/memory .
And so , the natural world , cosmos etc is ‘actuality.’… not limited as thought and it’s products are.
What is/ actuality and timeless unlimited…includes the limited physical things …illusion. reality, images, knowledge, thought
Limited thought of course , may ‘imagine’ what is not limited… but it can never be part of the ‘known.

Hi Dev - Yes, for sure. If we become dissatisfied with one form of conditioning we usually adjust ourselves and adopt another form of conditioning - even perhaps a form of conditioning that is (theoretically at least) intended to dissolve conditioning!

But the point I was making is that ordinarily we are not emotionally in contact with our conditioning: it flows through and past us without any awareness of its existence. It is only in those places where the “flow” is threatened or frustrated that we become vitally aware of it.

So perhaps it is worth looking at some of the obvious, basic areas of our lives - or of the lives of those in the society around us - where it is clear that we are conditioned, to see what happens when we come into closer contact with it. And find out - as K says - if we enjoy it or rebel against it, if we are indifferent to it or if it is a deadly threat that makes us want to do something about it.

This might then give us a clue as to how to approach the more subtle levels of conditioning of which we are presently unaware. - No?

@James,

Yes, I totally agree that we are not emotionally in contact with the fact of conditioning. If that were the case, we would not be able to move away from it. We would not be able to disregard that remarkable discovery and occupy ourselves with our reactions to what we think we have seen in the way we do. Being emotionally in contact with conditioning is altogether different from reacting emotionally to perceived conditioning.

The reason this problem is so challenging may be that conditioning is everything. It is thinking, the psyche and the reality we see about us, everything, the entire content of our consciousness as Krishnamurti sometimes puts it. So anything we do, think, discover, etc is like conditioning attempting to look at itself - everything occurs within a closed system. It this is the case, then this is a problem unlike any other and needs a drastically different approach.

Our grand experiment is to see if it is possible to arrive at a visceral understanding of conditioning so that it elicits that wow factor you mentioned. Anything else is conditioning looking at conditioning and we know where that leads. I guess that is what awareness must be – shining light on how we are fabricating reality, like in that movie, The Truman Show. Imagine all of a sudden waking up and realizing you and everyone around you is living in imagery!

Is it helpful to begin with some, obvious, basic areas of conditioning that we can emotionally relate too? Only insofar as it allows one to move from the particular to the general in my view. To an understanding that conditioning is inescapable. Anything that would bring us together in the common interest of inquiring as best we can into exact nature of conditioning is worthwhile. Then we as a group might be ready to look in earnest at the points @Erik and @oakwillow and others brought up above.

@jms1

Yes - I completely agree with you. It is, as you say, a problem like no other. The question then is, how to break into this problem that is a problem like no other?

As far as I understand it, K indicated two different “approaches” (for want of a better word) to this problem of conditioning: either we take one fragment of our conditioning and thoroughly investigate it, expose it (and go beyond it) - or, we take in the totality of our conditioning, the whole content of our consciousness (both the superficial and the hidden layers), and “empty” it in a single, comprehensive insight.

It is clear that - as far as K was concerned - this latter “approach” of total insight was preferable. That is, to see, at one glance, the whole Truman Show unreality of the field of “reality” (created by thought).

And yet - this didn’t stop him (K) from nevertheless taking aspects (“fragments”) of our conditioning - such as nationalism, religious belief, attachment, fear, envy, hurt etc - and exploring them thoroughly in his dialogues and talks.

This is probably because the total insight required to see our conditioning as a whole unified movement - or consciousness as a whole - is a drastically uncommon insight. Either we are aware of this total movement of consciousness at one blow - or we are not.

There is of course no fault in putting the question - it is the question K invariably put - However, if in our dialogue group we are honestly, simply, incapable of responding at that moment (for whatever reasons) to this totalising question, then we must inevitably fall back to the alternative “approach”, right?

And, in fact, you can see that this is what K does time and time again in his talks and discussions: he asks the impossible question, drops the seed (as it were) into the minds of his stunned listeners; and then brings us back to the daily actualities of our conflict, image-making, nationalism, belief, fear, hurt, etc. He is relentless in this respect.

So I just wonder whether it would not be worth our while to also give attention to the most obvious, basic, everyday aspects of our conditioning - such as nationalism, group-identification, etc - that surround us in everyday social life, to use this as a criterion (K used this word) to look inwardly at the most subtle and elusive factors of our conditioning.

This doesn’t mean ignoring or stifling the impossible question - it just means recognising when or if the group is insufficiently attuned to receive it. - Right? - And then finding out what is the nearest, most available, contactable, clear and obvious, aspect of the thing we are exploring into. - Does this sound reasonable? :slightly_smiling_face::pray:

Dear James, it does sound reasonable, because giving attention to the most obvious everyday aspects is giving attention to the what is in everyday life.

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Hello James and Erik,

It is true that if everyone in the group isn’t at (approximately) the same place we end up just talking at each other. Personally I have no objection to starting with any relevant focus. My feeling is if we pursue any manifestation of conditioning to its root we should get to where we need to get to. Which of course is easier said than done under any circumstance, given the wide range of starting positions and demeanors.

James is certainly correct that K would often use a common relatable example of conditioning as a springboard in his talks. To progress from seeing the fallacy of a personal conviction to eventually being able to pose this impossible question to oneself:

K: 'if you see the truth that there is only thought and not a thinker, that the thinker is arbitrary, artificial and entirely fictitious - then what happens?

Those words above would be wholly unintelligible to anyone not familiar with K jargon. Even for those of us with some familiarity the understanding is incomplete at best. Not a good starting place for a group meeting.

I guess you could say in one sense that K talks try to take the listener - in methodical fashion - from the common to the very precipice of the known. Of course K was for the most part in a dialogue of one and as such was in complete control. And even in conversation, he was the authority. He would shut down anyone who he felt was missing the point and carry on in the direction he wanted to go in.

We fortunately or unfortunately have no such authority figure in our meetings. So a bit of caution about unfettered forays into personal thoughts and feelings - not that that is what is being suggested by the obvious , basic , everyday - is not entirely out of order. We have seen where this leads to on more than one occasion in the meetings so far. I guess that is my only reservation.

Hi Dev (& Erik),

I agree of course that unfettered forays into personal experience are usually counter-productive - but, as you say, this is not what was being suggested by giving attention to the “obvious, basic, everyday aspects of our conditioning”. I had in mind - as I said - things like nationalism, religious belief or group-identification: because these are areas of conditioning that we can all see (Erik’s question about the place of psychological or invented security is of course pertinent here).

These forms of conditioning are all around us, in the daily news, in our neighbours, in our families, causing wholly unnecessary conflict, division, suffering and confusion.

And yet, just because they are obvious, basic and everyday, it does not mean that billions of our fellow humans are not caught in such forms of conditioning.

And, even though we ourselves might have moved away from these more obvious forms of conditioning, we are still probably subtly conditioned by aspects of what our parents and grandparents were conditioned by - correct?

So, both because they are obvious and basic, and because we may still be subtly affected by them, doesn’t it make sense to make these forms of conditioning utterly transparent to the mind investigating them?

And then - as K says - we might use this clarity as a criterion to investigate those forms of inner conditioning that we do not see, and which still hold us captive. - Right?

(The impossible question is always there in the background of our inquiry of course!)

Not to change the subject, but something else worth keeping in the background as we proceed is whether the function of dialogue isn’t for thought to exhaust itself. To come to a deep realization, that no matter how deftly we engage, with ourselves or with each other, we find ourselves in the same place. And that the the only way to be free of conditioned thinking is to be free of conditioned thinking. To not move away from ‘what is’ at K puts it. That it is the resistance born of conditioned thinking that makes this activity appear to be out of reach:

K: How does one deny? Does one deny the known, not in great dramatic incidents but in little incidents? Do I deny when I am shaving and I remember the lovely time I had in Switzerland? Does one deny the remembrance of a pleasant time? Does one grow aware of it, and deny it? That is not dramatic, it is not spectacular, nobody knows about it. Still this constant denial of little things, the little wipings, the little rubbings off, not just one great big wiping away, is essential. It is essential to deny thought as remembrance, pleasant or unpleasant, every minute of the day as it arises. One is doing it not for any motive, not in order to enter into the extraordinary state of the unknown. You live in Rishi Valley and think of Bombay or Rome. This creates a conflict, makes the mind dull, a divided thing. Can you see this and wipe it away? Can you keep on wiping away not because you want to enter into the unknown? You can never know what the unknown is because the moment you recognise it as the unknown you are back in the known.

@jms1

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If the “exhaustion” happens organically in the course of a conversation between interested parties, then that sounds about right. I’m not (as far as I am aware) denying this possibility. I agree that the only way to be free of conditioned thinking is to see it and drop it as we go - one shaving episode at a time!, or completely at one glance.

But one can’t prescribe these things, right? If thought is to “shatter itself against its own nothingness,” as it were, this must involve a spontaneous insight, correct? If one were to attempt to engineer such “exhaustion” on purpose then one would be in a similar position to those Zen monks receiving their koans, or to those Tibetan monks incessantly reciting the Prajnaparamita Sutra in 8000 Lines for hours on end.

Fundamentally, as I understand it, dialogue aims at, involves, insight and understanding. Understanding cannot be forced. I don’t know if you would agree with this? Insight cannot come about under duress or pressure (at least not pressure of the “wrong kind”, if you understand what I mean). If it happens at all, it comes about naturally and organically, at the right moment of the dialogue (whether with oneself or with others), and one can never know when the right moment might be. We have to be sensitive enough to see whether or not we have come to the same place in the conversation or not, and then what that blockage implies.

Have we reached such a place yet in these Saturday dialogues? I’m not sure. Most of the problems we have been encountering so far in the group - as far as I can make out - are very basic problems in communication, age differences, differences in the way we interpret certain words, personality clashes, the inability to remain attentive to the question at hand, regurgitating memorised knowledge, etc. This is why I suggested that we (as a group) focus on more obvious features of conditioning that are less easily ignored or misunderstood. - Because, if we cannot do that - which is the bare minimum we should expect in a dialogue of this nature - then, as far as I can see, it would be premature to pose the question of totality.

I’m happy to be wrong, and usually am! - but I would rather begin at the schoolboy level and work my way up to higher maths than the other way around. And by schoolboy level I mean the obvious, outward forms of conditioning that K began the majority of his lecture cycles from the 60s onwards with: nationalism, war, division, poverty, religious belief, sectarianism, pollution of nature, classism, racism, etc. To see how they are produced by our own thinking, how they originate in each one of us, how we are directly implicated in the world outside of ourselves. I would want to be clear about all this first, before stepping one foot over the threshold of totality.

What do you think? - This does not deny the little wipings referred to in the K quote, but these, after all, are what we must do in private. Whereas our social conditioning is something that is available to us in common, as public material for investigation.

That’s it for me. Thanks everyone.

See you on Saturday and don’t forget to take into account the time change, those of you in living in the mainland USA.

Bon courage à nous tous! :wink:.