Can’t help but wonder after today’s meeting whether it isn’t too much to ask that there be a shared interest in unconditional listening. It may well be that investigating what it means to be that serious and mature is meant to be a purely individual affair.
K: Mental examination of the fact leads nowhere.
K: Are you, when you are listening, observing your own belief, your own conclusion?
Interest aside, it may be already too late to listen to anything once one is in the throes of defending or asserting opinion and belief. The pull of one’s convictions would have to be attenuated at the very least, you would think. Very difficult to do in practice as for the most part our convictions are equated with fact, nullifying the need for any further examination of that compulsion (if there was any interest to do so to begin with, that is).
K: To me, any form of effort to bring about an inner revolution, perverts or denies that very revolution. Transformation can come about only when there is no effort of any kind; and that is why it is very important to understand what it means to listen.
You cannot listen if you are comparing what you hear with what you already know. Then you are merely interpreting; and where there is interpretation there is no listening. If you are condemning what you hear because you think it should be different, or because you hold certain opinions, you are not listening.
So the act of listening is extraordinarily difficult, because we are conditioned to accept or to deny what we hear, to condemn it, or to compare it with what we already know. There is almost no unconditioned listening. When I say something, your natural or rather your conditioned response is to accept or to deny it, or to say that you know it already, or that it is in such-and-such a book, or that such-and-such a person has said it. In other words, your mind is occupied with its own activity; and when that activity is going on, you are not listening.
Surely, this is all very logical, rational and sane, isn’t it? We are not talking about something mysterious.
Finally, if listening has nothing to do with effort, what does interest have to do with it? Does not interest have to put aside along with everything else for there to be the negative activity of listening.
Dear Dev, would that not also mean to put K asid? If we take your quote of K seriously:
" When I say something, your natural or rather your conditioned response is to accept or to deny it, or to say that you know it already, or that it is in such-and-such a book, or that such-and-such a person has said it. In other words, your mind is occupied with its own activity; and when that activity is going on, you are not listening.
Than it would also mean we have to put K aside otherwise we always look through him and never really listen. We do not find out for ourselves. And would that not mean to really start with what troubles us in everyday life? Like Carl said there is suffering. Is that what troubles us a fact to us? Like self-centredness, being aggressive, violent, suffering, fear etc. Only if it is a fact to us we can start together. Otherwise it is only a waste of time to meet. So far I have the impression that we too often hide ourselves behind K and justify our arguments through him or try to convey things through him. So we do not meet directly, naked and vulnerable. Have a relaxing sunday. Erik
Am I free to listen to you? That’s my only concern. That’s my starting point. And I can only find this out in a dialogue with other people. It is not something I can work out in advance on my own; because on my own I can convince myself of all sorts of things and so deceive myself very easily. It is only a vital, living concern when it is addressed in the heart of our conversation together. Then it is no different from passion. Passion doesn’t come from ideas, beliefs and conclusions. We may fight for our ideals and principles, but that isn’t passion; that’s just a conditioned reflex. Listening itself is the highest form of passion. To be naked and vulnerable expresses this somewhat if I understand what it means to be stripped completely of all my psychological protections. Then all resistance between us has disappeared.
Then, if you persist in clinging to your beliefs and opinions, this is all that exists in the space between us; and in such space those beliefs and opinions are exposed for what they are. They are not being resisted. But once they have been laid out, explained, clarified, what meaning do they have? In the light of the present moment, where there is just the two of us or just the twelve of us, why is there the need to bring in anything else at all to explain the nature of this relationship and our meeting together? I can only ever bring in my self-interest; I can disturb the pool of dialogue over and over again. Or I dive into the pool and disappear.
Most fascinating Dev. May it please the admin, but I have a few thoughts and reflections also that I would like to offer up.
I think the above gloss overlooks, exaggerates and misrepresents much of what transpired over a nearly three hour dialogue. Reading your “thoughts and reflections” it would seem as if the only thing that occurred was a dialogue rife with reaction and because of this, was void of any listening at all. But indeed those are your reflections. They’re not mine and I do recall a lot more other than a brief moment of discomfort which seems to color the bulk of your recollection. Perhaps if one was not so overly preoccupied with their own negative connotations and reactions, then one might have recalled a near 45 minutes exchange near then end that centered around not just the origin of self and its relation to being hurt, but also the need for vulnerability in order to be available to one another as well as the possibility of becoming comfortable with being uncomfortable. You mean all of that was washed away because someone was singled out momentarily?
Also, echoing Erik’s above comment, shouldn’t quoting from Krishnamurti be “put aside”? My perception is of an overreliance on extensive quoting from K in order to support the conclusions that you’ve already arrived at. If you are to characterize an entire dialogue as lacking in unconditional listening, and if that be not a judgement, then likewise am I now free to characterize your observations and selections of Krishnamurti as trite, shallow and sophomoric? Or will those “thoughts and reflections” now be dismissed simply because they’re mine and therefore products of personal bias, while your own be given serious consideration?
Let me ask you Dev, above Erik mentions aggressiveness, violence, fear and also self-centeredness. But, I think we associate these feelings along with jealousy, ambition, anger and emotions in general as finding their origin in a sense of self, do we not? Would you agree? Do you feel these emotions and feelings are, in their origin, merely products of the self and its interference?
Alright, put it the other way around. How do you know that you are listening? Before we think about the number of other good listeners in the group or the fluidity of a dialogue, how do you know that you are listening to all the other people?
It must be an inward state of deep attention and awareness. It should be similar to the state that we are when we are engaging fully in some activity.
For me personally as a chess player it is a state that mirrors the state that I am experiencing during the chess game, in the process of creative thinking. In that state I am completely attentive, constantly aware of my opponent, the position on the board and my feelings, emotions, doubts. Sometimes focus and thinking process start to overcome this attention and awareness, and then you lose that serene inward state.
Of course one can always delude himself with things like this.
What is the reaction when we see/ hear Krishnamurti reveal his ‘secret’
“I don’t mind what happens “
Does one conclude that K didn’t have love or compassion? Or does one not understand love and compassion at all?
The word ‘vulnerable’ was brought in to the dialogue… but then , are our ideas ( which are images) come in with what that means… perhaps missing that to be vulnerable we may need to have absolutely no ideas so we can find out , as something new ,what the word may mean… beginning perhaps just the feeling of having nothing … as far as the mind with its knowledge is concerned “naked” and innocent . … not another image… like what we think a child may be or anything…any image, knowledge entering ends the vulnerability surely ?
Yes Dev - listening of the right kind is key. However, just because it is without effort doesn’t mean that it doesn’t involve our total participation, our total energy - listening with all our senses:
In investigating these questions we are going to have a dialogue. A dialogue is a conversation between two people. You ask a question and the speaker answers it; then you respond to that answer, and when you respond to that answer, the speaker answers your response… So this keeps going until both the questioner and the speaker disappear altogether, and only the question remains… And as the question remains, it gains vitality, energy…
Is it possible to gather all your energy and face a crisis? … We use only partially our senses… Either you hear only with your ears, but you don’t listen… I hear what you’re saying, but I don’t listen to the depth of what you are saying. Which is, I listen and the very listening is bringing a change. But if I merely hear, it is passing wind, words… Have you listened or seen or felt with all your senses?.. and listen with all your energy, which means all your energy alert.
(Madras 1983/84, 2nd Question and Answer Meeting)
And after listening and dialoguing in this way - if we really have been - we are probably going to be exhausted, right? K often mentioned this at the end of his talks:
When you ask me to go on and say that you are not tired, I say that you should be tired. If you have been merely accepting what I say, you have not been thinking. It is not a problem to you, it is not operating in you, and that is exactly the position. You listen, but… the contradictory process will go on. So it really means nothing to you; if it meant something you would be exhausted. Because this all means a complete revolution.
How do I know that I am listening to you? I don’t. I can never know. I just have to listen and see what happens. In other words, listening to you has nothing to do with me; it is not within my control to listen or to not listen, to be attentive or to be inattentive. It is not something I can switch on or off. The moment I try to listen and I am aware of the effort involved, that’s the start of my inattention. So can I be aware of this feeling of effort as it begins to grow? How soon does such a moment appear? How quickly does resistance arise in our relationship? It may be immediate because I have an image of you already formed; it may be after a few seconds because you offer an opinion which is contrary to mine; it may be after a minute or two because I lose track of what you are saying; or it may be after a couple of hours because I am tired. So I can only see those moments when I am not listening to you.
What then does it mean to listen without past knowledge? How do I go about this inquiry? Does it matter what that knowledge is? Its provenance? Its content? Its perceived degree of correctness? Is there any such thing as original knowledge? As being a “light onto myself”? Do I not in relatively short order realize that I am utterly incapable of putting aside past knowledge during the course of the exchanges with others? That when a question is raised, I consult the past, the structure of me and respond in accordance with that past? So it becomes clear that I cannot respond without the past. If we are using the word “listen” to mean not responding through conditioning, the issue is not at all what we are discussing in the dialogue. It isn’t about whether we can listen to another; we can’t even listen to ourselves, much less another; it’s about being emotionally in contact with the fact that we cannot listen at all; that we cannot put aside our knowledge in its entirety. Which doesn’t mean we can try and look from the vantage point of a nobody. That would mean an end is in view, that an ideal born of knowledge has been activated. We are all well acquainted with the tricks of self, and the circular logic of fragmentation.
What we can try and do, though, is turn our awareness to the fact that no listening is going on when we are responding - and see where that goes. If this is the foundation of the dialogue then perhaps there is a remote chance the content will naturally move from discussion to dialogue. It is not unreasonable to expect, and even demand, that all who participate in a Krishnamurti dialogue be committed to cooperatively laying this foundation.
If you don’t mind and in case my previous comment was missed, I’d like to ask again, in your opinion do you think that emotions and feelings originate as products of self and its interference? By emotions and feelings, I simply mean things like jealousy or ambition etc. What is your take on that?
My “opinion” is that everything we are conscious of: thoughts, feelings, reactions, emotions, everything is self, is born of conditioning and strengthens conditioning further when given expression. We are all 100% conditioned. There is no part of my knowledge or yours that is not conditioned, that is true to reality. That conditioning is self, is the ‘me’. My agreement or disagreement is the expression of my ‘self’, my disdain or admiration likewise. Same for everyone else acting from conditioning. I don’t presume to know what it would mean to not act from conditioning.
That “opinion” is the foundation of Krishnamurti based inquiry I referred to in the last reply. That is what Jackie has tried to make clear at the outset. We must begin with a common understanding of what it means to listen even as we acknowledge that the opinion - like any other - that led us to that starting point plays no role in the actual activity of listening. Without this seed of doubt, any interest in the loosening the straitjacket of certainty that precludes listening has no chance of flowering.
Thank you for your reply Dev. I haven’t had any time yet today to compose a proper reply, but I shall later this evening. Just a quick follow-up question: in your opinion, is it possible for thought to see it’s own limitation or is some other quality or state of awareness/observation etc. required?
Listen to the knowledge first. If there is an image, be aware of this image; be aware of this opinion; be aware of any feeling of resentment or fear towards the other person, the speaker. Is any of this really knowledge? Or it is a lot of impressions that are arising from the past to tell me about myself in relationship to you. I won’t call it knowledge because knowledge doesn’t change. At best it indicates a search for knowledge, a desire for certainty and security in relationship. But real relationship between any two human beings must be something boundlessly unknown. So all my reactions are denying love. Then it is all so simple.
I think I can understand your reluctance and I do appreciate any reply at all, even if it’s simply to decline. But, I do believe that there is something important in your reply that should be addressed. Not just important to you or me, but perhaps important to the furthering of dialogue within the greater group at large and so my address is not only to you, but also to the general audience. So, I do appreciate providing the opportunity to address what I think has tremendous consequences on group dialogue. I thank everyone in advance for their patience.I realize I’ve banged out quite a long post here. Any questions or criticisms are greatly appreciated. Also, I apologize for the weird formatting issues. lol, I have no idea what went wrong.
I think you’re pretty clear here. One hundred percent conditioned. That’s certainly absolute. Indeed, emotions and feelings are products of conditioning and as you say, “conditioning is the self, [it] is the me.”
So, indeed without exception all emotions are just products of self and its interference on, shall we say, “the wholeness of life.” But, if I may, I’d like to address this tendency to totalitize and speak in pure absolutes as there is a possibility that they might be roadblocking the greater conversation. With all due respect, I believe these tendencies are reproduced out of Krishnamurti’s own idiosyncratic tendencies to over totalitize and speak in grand absolutes and they are reproduced in order to serve convenient and arbitrary ends; for example they provide the grounds for making sweeping dismissals when issues or topics are raised that are problematic (or even vague, cryptic). I’m definitely not the first to comment on this. For instance, the physicist Donald Schumacher whom David Bohm had such affection for that once upon a time he considered him to be his son and heir to his theoretical approach to high energy physics, upon meeting Krishnamurti with great enthusiasm, walked away tremendously disappointed with K’s inability to let go of such absolute pronouncements as “word is not the thing.” Unfortunately, this precipitated the beginning of the end of a once very close relationship. Another instance, Karl Popper rejected K on the grounds that his totalizations “smacked of authoritarianism.” And I, myself (no, I’m not comparing myself to Popper) personally knew two former trustees of the KFA who resigned from the board because of their growing frustration with this very issue as well as many others. Now, it’s another topic altogether, but for example in the realm of a psychological neurotic, I think it may well have been very necessary for K to teach in this manner. K was not interested in doing metaphysics at all. (I am coming to something, just stay with me for a moment). He was only interested in setting man free and to this end, though K’s teachings serve largely a soteriological end, they would often slip capriciously into metaphysical declarations (just look at EoT, it’s all metaphysical) without indicating that he is doing so. He never explicitly indicated this, and I think it was up to us to give such acute attention that it would be unnecessary to do so. There are at least two aspects to K’s teachings, which he at one point termed, “existence and existing.” Both are distinct, going on at the same time and united as one whole. Think of Bohm’s old trope of the two aspects of a coin, heads and tails. Both are united in their distinction; not in their sameness, but in their distinction. And now I can finally come to the question that is at hand and of great concern for me. Why is it that, especially in any group dialogue, that any disturbance, anything that unsettles, anything that interrupts, any particular emotion or any particular feeling is immediately seized upon, reduced to nothing more than another confused manifestation of self and its mischief, quickly capsized and set adrift. Over the years, I’ve watched too many folks come to a K dialogue and then only stand up and leave feeling hurt and disappointed. Nay, I think most of us here have seen this and seen it repeatedly. So is this what K intended by group dialogue? Simply find out what is held most dearly by some participant and then once located, do an intellectual reduction back to self and then inform them that they must now, via a “deep acquired silence” carry out the the elimination of their own delusions in order to continue the process of discussion with others? Over the years, since KWINC etc. editors have done a terrible disservice to this man, selecting only those talks which appealed most broadly and superficially to a Western audience that was busy romanticizing Eastern mysticism that were becoming mainstream. Most were, at that time, quite bourgeois, quite dissatisfied with their life and looking for comfort while nearing their own ends here on earth. Is it possible that we ourselves are surreptitiously continuing this, quite frankly, twisted tradition of cherry-picking and selecting only that Krishnamurti that we are most comfortable with? That is, comfortable to those that are very eager to dispose of themselves and dispose of their own affect? Those that are most eager to be reassured that past mistakes and future failures have no meaning anyway? Are Krishnamurti’s teachings nothing more than a garbage disposal for self and affects that, once they are felt, are to be summarily discarded? Did K have anything on offer, that might be deemed heretical by the orthodox agendas that have been advanced? Perhaps so. The canon itself offers plenty of offerings that have been selectively ignored and one need only consider the audience and reflect for a moment to understand why.
Krishnamurti: At the moment of feeling there is neither the observer nor the observed, there is only that state.Then the observer comes in and says, that is jealousy and he proceeds to interfere with that which is, he runs away from it, suppresses it, rationalizes it, justifies it, or escapes from it. Those movements indicate the observer in relation to that which is.*
FW: At the moment when the observer exists, is there a possibility of observation of the observer?
*K: That is what we are saying. I am angry or violent. At the moment of violence there is nothing. There is neither you the observer nor the observed. There is only that state of violence. Then the observer comes in which is the movement of thought."
–J. Krishnamurti, Exploration into Insight ` Self-knowledge and the Teaching’
“When we are angry, at the second of anger, there is no identification with it at all. A few seconds later the whole business of identification, I should, should not control, and all that arises. But in watching without any movement of thought, actually, watching, then in that watching let anger - anger flowers, blooms, expands, and withers away. That is what I want to get at. So that instead of suppressing it, which makes it stronger, by watching it, it expands, the chapter comes to an end, the book comes to an end.”
–J. Krishnamurti, Brockwood Park, September 1978
Here is one of many that I find particularly fascinating: “So can you look, can the mind look at fear, which we will go into a little bit more, without the centre? Can you look at that fear without naming it, because the moment you say - fear - it is already in the past, because you have named it.”
–Second Public Talk at San Diego State College, California, April 1970
*Krishnamurti: Pupul, just listen to me. At the moment of crisis, there is no I'. Follow it. Now can you live, is there a living at the height of that crisis, all the time? Crisis demands total energy. Crisis of any kind brings about the influx of all energy. Leave it for the moment. We will break it up afterwards. At that second, there is no I’. It is so.
DS: That is a movement.
K: No. At that precise second, there is no I'. Now, I am asking: Is it possible to live at that height all the time?*
–J. Krishnamurti, Explorations into Insight, `The Ending of Recognition’
When I am angry, at the moment of anger, there is no observer. Please follow this. I am going to go into it step by step. Follow it. Follow it by observing yourself, not what the speaker is pointing out, then you are outside, not inside. So observe yourself what takes place. When you are angry, at the moment of experiencing that anger or any other experience, at that second there is no observer. A second later the observer comes and says, ‘I have been angry’. Right? He has separated himself from anger. He has named it, named the feeling as anger. He has named it, because to strengthen his memory. Please follow this. Because his memory says, ‘you have been angry’. The memory is a censor. The memory says, ‘you should not have been angry, be kind, don’t hit him back, turn the other cheek’.
–J. Krishnamurti 2nd Public Talk in Madras 10 January 1971
At the moment of violence there is no observer. Then a few seconds later the observer comes into being.
Look, sir, let’s make it simple. I am angry; at the moment of anger there is no observer as the 'I.
–J. Krishnamurti 2nd Public Talk in Madras 10 January 1971
The above comment speaks of “flowering.”
“When jealousy occurs, when there is no observer, you let it blossom and then end. You understand the question? Like a flower that blooms, withers and dies away. But as long as you’re fighting it, as long as you’re resisting it or rationalising it, you’re giving life to it. So we are saying that the observer is the observed, and when there is this jealousy, let it… when the observer is the observed then jealousy blossoms, grows, and naturally dies.”
–J. Krishnamurti, Sixth Public Talk in Ojai April 1977
Every thought and feeling must flower for them to live and die; flowering of everything in you, the ambition, the greed, the hate, the joy, the passion; in the flowering there is their death and freedom. It is only in freedom that anything can flourish, not is suppression, in control and discipline; these only pervert, corrupt. Flowering and freedom is goodness and virtue. To allow envy to flower is not easy; it is condemned or cherished but never given freedom. It is only in freedom the fact of envy reveals its colour, its shape, its depth, its peculiarity; if suppressed in will not reveal itself full and freely.
–Krishnamurti’s Notebook, p. 244 (full text edition)
I’ll have to pause here and continue tomorrow. Partly because its past my bedtime here and I haven’t had any time other than late this evening and partly because I realize what I’ve written along with the excerpts I’ve provided are quite a lot to digest in one sitting. Again, if you’re still reading this, I thank you for your perseverance and I’ll conclude and put a finer point in the morning.