Seeing is not Believing

Is it enough to know and acknowledge that I am conditioned, or must I be so aware of my conditioning every moment that there is no doubt that I am my chosen response to the society I find myself in? I am who/what I choose to be at this moment because choosing is what I am.

But what if I put myself in a Robinson Crusoe situation where the only pressure to conform comes from the natural environment - not the human social environment? What if my survival does not depend on who/what others think or do, but whether I can find enough water, food, and shelter to survive?

Who/what am I when survival has everything to do with the necessities of actual life, and nothing to do with the necessities of a sustainable/respectable social/professional life?

Many people have taken this question seriously enough to put themselves in situations where their survival depended entirely on how well or how poorly they could keep living in nature without calling for help. Those who knew they could do it, just went about doing it…until/unless, that is, they had to speak up about how all the rest of us are destroying the natural world in our efforts to make it more to our liking.

Krisnamurti, however, took it a step further by talking about how we’re all killing the natural world (including our own species) when we choose to believe we know what we’re doing instead of seeing believing for what it is. .

But what if I put myself in a Robinson Crusoe situation where the only pressure to conform comes from the natural environment - not the human social environment? What if my survival does not depend on who/what others think or do, but whether I can find enough water, food, and shelter to survive?

What is the point in speculating? We are not that? We are heavily conditioned. We have to find out what to do about it. Is that not so?

Is it enough to acknowledge that I am “heavily conditioned”? Isn’t that like being honest enough to admit that I am a liar; that I can’t tell the truth because I am dishonest?

If I know I am heavily conditioned, why am I not so acutely aware of my every thought and reaction that “I” is clearly nothing but conditioned response?

Because that’s what ‘conditioning’ is. Like a hypnotized subject, you don’t ‘know’…you’re not aware that you’re hypnotized…intellectually maybe, but not enough to break the spell.

No, I just observed a fact when I made the statement that we are heavily conditioned.

Man generally is not. How do we become aware of conditioning? I mean how is it apparent?

Is it by the fact that we are greatly confused, that we are constantly in conflict?

Yes, generally we are not aware of this.

For us conflict, fear, suffering etc is inevitable when we take ourselves to be ‘individuals’ because each of us with our differing beliefs, experiences, education puts us in a sort of opposition to each other. Some of us are rewarded by our societies and most not. We are in competition to get the easiest most comfortable lifestyles and the society condones this. But with 8 billion of us and counting it’s ‘incoherent’ to think / believe that this won’t lead to disaster.

I think we may safely assume that virtually everything we think, feel, and do is determined and guided to some extent (subtly perhaps) by our conditioning. Should this be right, then whenever we are aware of what we think, feel, and do we are aware of our conditioning (though we may not realize this). It’s like the old saying: Open your mouth and you’re wrong.

Then appears this guy Krishnamurti and tells us (explicitly or implicitly) that it is possible to be free from our conditioning. We ask “How?” and he just smiles, because he knows any attempt to free ourselves is another form of conditioning!

That’s not my picture of him Rick. He to me seemed very concerned about how he could get his ‘message’ across and why he couldn’t. As he said, maybe he was a “freak”.

Personally I find it altogether possible he was a freak, a kind of mutation of the human brain and spirit. Brings up the question: Can a freak communicate with non-freaks? And more importantly for people in this forum, can a freak nudge us non-freaks towards the light? Would be an interesting issue to explore: What can we learn from Krishnamurti, what parts of his worldview can be transmitted and received? I lean towards: Find out for yourself. That’s why I’m not always so interested in exactly what he said, the real message doesn’t have much to do with words, ideas, teachings.

Well Bohm came up with something from his connection with K that was a description of our ‘contents of consciousness’ as being similar to ‘reflexes’, the kind of reflex action our leg has when the knee is tapped in the right place. The leg kicks whether ‘we’ want it to or not. The brain is filled with reflexes and they work together as a ‘System’. Our efforts to ‘see the light’ become part of the system, part of the reflexes. He doesn’t say that the situation is hopeless and there is possibility of change but he doesn’t minimize the difficulty. He describes his idea quite well in a seminar that was later published as a book ‘Thought as a System’ after his death in 1992.

Our conditioning is “apparent” by our continuous stream of consciousness. If, as Krishnamurti said, “consciousness is its content”, our content is constantly reacting to awareness that doesn’t support one’s content.

Being aware of the brain’s conditioning is being aware of and interested in the brain’s identification with its content and its reactions to awareness.

When the brain uses the words, I, me, mine, it is identifying with its psychological content, the core of which is its imagined self. The brain is confused enough by its conditioning to believe it is a person who has a brain.

Even after the misunderstanding is dispelled, the reflexes may persist. But knowing they are reflexes, knee-jerk habits, affords you the possibility to let them come and go without having your reaction snowball. You still see red when someone cuts you off driving, but the red dissipates quite quickly, and your road rage doesn’t blossom. Understanding what’s really going on is the cure. Seeing the whole of the process.


Seeing the whole without judgement seems to be what is called for. But the whole ‘system’ seems to resist that possibility?

Or is it that the ‘one’ trying to see the whole without judgement is just another of the reflexes? That seems likely doesn’t it?

This seeing then that he is pointing to would be from ‘beyond’ the system, outside of it, a ‘pure’ awareness, Choiceless as well as non-judgemental?

What exactly do you mean by “the whole ‘system’”, Dan?

Hi Fraggle
What we are: mind, body, feelings. It’s all connected
and it’s all conditioned. I think the Bohm book I mentioned makes a good case for this: Thought as a System. See what you think.

Can there be something in “what we are” that is not conditioned?

Reason and experimentation (in the good old Lab of Self) show us conditioned thought is able to see/fathom parts of itself but not the whole of itself. Even if thought gets extremely skillful, there will likely always be blindspots, artifacts of the deeply conditioned nature of thought that distort the ‘truth’ of the whole. You suggest the possibility of seeing from beyond the system. What would this mean? Practically, given the limits of the human brain-mind-body.

It’s not ‘practical’, it’s a ‘radical revolution’. It’s being ‘nothing, (not-a-thing)’…the brain is limited because it is conditioned by the past. It can’t ‘participate in the immensity’ (K’s words) because it has trapped itself in the mundanity of the past. It has in Christian esotericism traded its “birthright for a mess of potage’. We don’t know the limits of the human brain…and may never.

Honestly the notion of a radical revolution doesn’t really do it for me. It probably did when I was a young Rick and baby steps felt boring, but I’ve become more evolutionary than revolutionary in my dotage. (Radical evolution? Bring it on!) As for the great quote about the human brain trading its birthright for a mess of potage (!) I must admit to enjoying the occasional tureen of potage, it’s yummy and comforting.