Thought, intellect, is not the instrument of sensitivity

Thought - intellect - is not awareness, thought is not life, thought is not sensitivity: thought is not the instrument of perception, it is not the instrument of sensitivity. Indeed, thought may be the chief impediment to these things.

What is the intellect? What is thought?

Thought is essentially the movement of memory, of the past: thought is the reaction of memory, of what has been stored up through experience and knowledge of past incidents and activities. So the content of thought is never new; it is always from memory, from the past.

Thought is also an abstraction, something that is not in itself real or actual: it is a simulacrum of a simulacrum, a shadow of a shadow, an image of an image.

And thought is limited. No image can contain the whole of what is occurring now. No memory can capture the whole experience as it was experienced. No thought can replicate the wholeness of a perception. And yet these fragments of image, memory, thought are taken for real life, for real awareness, when clearly they can never be that.

Thought, intellect, is also mental time. It takes us out of the present moment, our of the now, which is the only place it is possible to be sensitive, to be aware, to perceive.

So if we base our lives on the intellect, on this simulacrum of thought, this shadow, this image, we must inevitably get lost, we must inevitably end up in conflict with each other, we must inevitably miss the essence of things.

Thought, intellect, has its own limited intelligence, its own limited awareness, which we obviously need for practical life. But psychological thought - thought in the area of what we might call the ‘spiritual quest’ - has no place at all, except for verbalising, describing, pointing out.

So thought, the intellect, is not the means of discovering truth. In ‘spirituality’ what matters is actual awareness, sensitivity, holistic perception of what is going on, within ourselves and outside in the world around us; and thought is not the instrument with which to be sensitive to this.

Because thought - even though it has built all our memories, our identities, our images, our sense of self, our values and purposes, our beliefs and attitudes, even our emotions, all the contents of our consciousness - is not itself real or true. It is a fiction we keep alive only through our habitual and incessant thinking, and through taking this thinking for reality and then acting on the basis of this thought-created reality.

If we can once see that thought, intellect, is not the basis of life - that thought is not awareness, thought is not actual perception - then we will naturally shift our basis from thinking to observing, from intellect to awareness, sensitivity. Then we are in contact with real life, with actuality, with ‘what is’.

Therefore to really see for ourselves the limitations, the futility, the barrenness of thought, of the intellectual approach to life - inwardly, psychologically - is part of what this awareness, this sensitivity means. Because then, to repeat it, our emphasis moves from thinking to observing, from thought to awareness.

We still need to think, we still need intellect, because this is one of the basic capacities of the brain: we need to be able to reason rationally and logically in daily life; we need to be able to articulate ourselves lucidly and logically, and so on.

But in matters of truth, of inner enquiry, of our concern with life as a whole, our emphasis is now on observing, being sensitive, being aware; feeling out what this existence of ours really is directly, through our non-verbal sensitivity and awareness.

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Another aspect to this is that there is no authority in being sensitive, in being aware, in looking. Or rather, there is only the authority of one’s actual present moment sensitivity, awareness and looking. Any outside authority is merely a projection of one’s thinking. And any inward authority is merely the recollection of one’s previous experiences, of one’s previous conclusions, or of what one has remembered about what other people have said.

So in the moment of being sensitive, aware, looking, there is only the authority of the perception itself.

Thinking allows us to create our own safe little (simulated) world, our own Matrix. For most of us this works, we feel reasonably content in our Matrix. There may be the nagging sense that something is awry, that we are living a lie, but the Matrix is far too comforting to act on that doubt. Who wouldn’t want to be the King-God of their world? But some of us fall through the cracks and want (are driven to) explore the nature of our Matrix. Isn’t that what we’re doing here?

Thought - intellect - is not awareness, thought is not life, thought is not sensitivity: thought is not the instrument of perception, it is not the instrument of sensitivity. Indeed, thought may be the chief impediment to these things.


Ok. But is there a way of looking at the Matrix our thinking has put together, which does not involve making thought king?

Thought has created a ‘Matrix’, and then thought proposes to enquire into what it has created. It’s easy to see where this will go wrong.

It’s like the policeman who is looking for the thief, but the policeman is the thief! So he won’t ever catch the thief.

I feel that one must realise - however dimly - that the world that thought has created is fundamentally not real. It is an illusion - like, as you said, the Matrix is an illusion. My images, my thoughts, my identifications - even my emotions and reactions - may not have any fundamental truth to them. Emotions are actualities - but if they have been put together through thought and memory, then they are not fundamentally true.

So: not being fundamentally true, they may be able to fall away and dissolve completely.

But they cannot fall away or dissolve if I am constantly maintaining them through my thinking, remembering, imagining, conceiving. So I have to approach myself and my thought-created world using a totally different instrument.

This instrument is one’s sensitivity, one’s awareness: one’s immediate, unpremeditated awareness, observing, of oneself and the world.

Anything else, any other instrument, falls back into thinking - and thinking is not the way to truth.

Unless he happens to catch a clear reflection of his thief-ness in a truth mirror? Or someone points his thief-ness out to him?

Like the map is not fundamentally real, it’s just a set of symbolic pointers.

Emphasis on ‘may’. We really don’t know, do we? Can we find out?

Depends how you define ‘truth.’ I assume you mean something like: the way things inherently are, and thinking is definitely not in the position to reveal that, because it keeps intruding on and distorting the way things are. ?

A truth mirror is not composed of thought, but of direct perception, awareness, sensitivity, which are not thought.

Not through thought. An emotion like sorrow, for instance, is not fundamentally compassion, is not fundamentally love. It may well be the product of our thinking: of self pity, of attachment, of memory, of a mental reaction to pain or shock which we sustain through thinking about it.

Having solidified itself in the mind, sorrow can feel like truth. It is a kind of truth for the mind. But if it is only an actuality which has been put together through thinking (of the kinds just mentioned), then it can end.

Truth cannot dissolve or fall away, but anything false can be dissolved as soon as its falsity has been seen. The seeing of this falsity must be direct, immediate; it must involve perception, intelligence, awareness, insight.

Thought is not the instrument of these qualities of seeing.

Truth is not what thought has created. So the discovery of anything true - psychologically speaking - involves going beyond thought.

It’s subtle, right: To what extent can thought see thought? It can definitely catch a glimpse of itself, there’s even a term for it: metacognition. But to see the full ‘truth’ of itself, that’s different.

See above.

You’re using ‘truth’ in the sense you defined it a week or so ago? Please do me/us a favor and refresh our memories. Merci!

Thought is memory and memory will never under any circumstances be truth. Truth has to do with life, awareness, perception, the living now moment (I don’t know how else to put it). And thought is not that.

Rick, for someone who claims to have meditated to great depths, I must say you show an incredible lack of self-criticism or doubt when it comes to thought?

Clearly thought still has meaning, value, importance for you. So you may just have to make your own path of thought and see where it leads you.

To me, thought is wholly worthless, wholly empty, futile - except for trivial things like pointing out, verbalising one’s experience and knowledge, using language, using reason and logic in practical affairs or to explain things, etc. That’s it.

Thought is death.

Thought has its own limited awareness, limited intelligence. But thought itself is always the past: it is the dead living with the dead.

The map is “fundamentally real”, but “it’s just a set of symbolic pointers”.

And the Buddha resides in everything, motorcycles too. :slight_smile:

Here’s how you said it earlier this month:

(Truth is) a timeless, unknowable (through thought), non-manifest perception of reality.

Still work for you?

True! But that does not mean I take thought to be the only or necessarily the best instrument for meaning, value, and importance. I’d say a substantial part of my explorations and experiments involves seeing how far thought can go.

I also said that if one has grasped the distinction between reality, actuality and truth (in K and Bohm’s narrow sense), then one doesn’t have to hold to this specific usage of these words. Reality and truth can then be used in their more relaxed sense of referring to actualities.

I see this. It fills the whole horizon of what you talk about on Kinfonet. You want to play with thought, stretch thought, make thought all important.

While for myself this becomes a distraction. I’m not interested in playing this game, because for me it goes nowhere. It is not a serious game.

Whereas life, living, is serious. And to reduce it to thinking and thought is… what you are proposing to do. But this has no meaning for me.

Please explain how this relates to the fact that an actual representation may refer to something that is not, and never was, actual.

My intention here was to add to the discussion, but I see I have disrupted it. And I think if I stayed and shared my honest responses, I’d most likely continue to disrupt. For this reason I think it’s best that I leave the thread. Apologies all around for impeding the flow, happy inquiring!

This is because you seem to be unwilling to question thought, doubt thought, critique thought, see the limitations of thought.

Even after years of discussion, you are unwilling. Must one discuss this subject for years longer?

You have, apparently, some belief or idea of thought which makes you give it a kind of significance I don’t think it has. Probably this belief or idea is part of your esoteric belief system which you have never been transparent about on Kinfonet. But I feel unless or until you are voluntarily interested in seeing the limits of thought, we cannot discuss or dialogue further.

It is like talking to a Christian believer. They are convinced of the reality of what they call God. One can reason with them up to a point, use logic, show them that what they call God may be largely, or completely, a projection of their own imagination, or the projection of tradition.

But, at the end of every discussion, they go right back to believing in God.

So it is, I feel it is Rick, with you and thought.

And as this is such a basic, fundamental factor to agree on at the start of any investigation into the mind, it means we never discuss anything fundamentally meaningful. It is always on the surface. We do not deal with suffering, with death, with perception, with human society, with our relationship to nature. We forever tread water in thought, and do not go beyond this level of interaction.

And as you seem to be comfortable with that, and no amount of reasoning or discussion has disabused you of this - to me - wholly illusory comfort, naturally every discussion becomes fruitless. It may be interesting, intellectually stimulating. But in the end there is a feeling that one has wasted one’s time and energy.

Personally, I do not have patience anymore for this kind of endless discussion in thought (about thought) to no purpose. I want to deal with my life as it actually is, in life, not in thought.


You know where your passion lies, and you are following it. Mazel tov!

What is it, I wonder, which brings people to defend the importance of thought above and beyond the obvious practical importance that it already has?

One has only to have a little insight into what Krishnamurti has said about thought to see both where its value lies, and where its dangers lie.

Thought, intellect, thinking, is necessary for almost everything in the practical sphere of life: for technology, jobs, industry, our economic and social institutions, as well as for medicine, our health system, our means of communication, our language, our knowledge of history, our capacity to create and design musical compositions, art, literature, science. All of this exists because Homo sapiens is capable of thinking.

But thinking - if one has really listened to Krishnamurti with one’s reason, with one’s capacity for logic, as well as with open attention - has also created all the psychological illusions, prejudices, imagination and ideologies which plague humanity. Thought has created prejudices between people, images of the other which ‘other’ them. Thought has created monstrous social illusions like nationalism, imperialism, religious fundamentalism. And thought has created one’s narrative sense of self, which, when completely identified with by the brain, becomes pure egoism - which is the root cause of conflict between people. Thought has also created or maintained the psychological conflicts that we carry around with us in our consciousness, as suffering, hurt, jealousy, envy, hatred, greed, and so on.

So thought impedes.

Thought makes actual human relationship - the fundamental contact between two (apparently) separate consciousnesses - almost impossible. Thought maintains egoism, and impedes love.

And thought, being limited - because it is essentially the reaction of memory in daily life, memory being the recollection of one’s knowledge, one’s knowledge being the limited abstraction of one’s own or another’s past experiences - cannot capture the whole. The whole of a living moment, the whole of another person, the whole of life. Perhaps awareness or attention can capture this whole, but certainly thought, thinking, never can.

So if one sees this limitation of thought, as well as the danger and destruction that thought is directly responsible for, one must naturally begin to question, doubt, criticise thought. One must naturally ask whether thought has its right place in practical affairs, but may have no place anywhere else.

Does thought have a place in the discovery of whether there is something beyond the mind, beyond our thinking? Obviously not. Except to communicate or reason or think through what has been communicated, thought has no place in emptiness. Thought has no place in silence.

To ignore all these issues with thought and simply plough on regardless is, I feel, a form of insensitivity. It implies that one hasn’t really looked at the impact that thinking has on the world, the part that it plays in dividing people from one another, the part that it plays in sustaining wars, animosity, prejudice. The part that it plays in continuing human suffering.

This doesn’t mean that there is a simple “on/off” switch for thought. This doesn’t mean that there isn’t room for nuance in our relationship to thought. This doesn’t mean that thought does not have its own limited intelligence and creativity. But it means that we need to be aware of the potential danger of thought, which we otherwise are completely oblivious to.

And I would say that Krishnamurti’s teaching may be a major help for us in becoming aware of this fact. So to push away Krishnamurti (his teaching, not the man himself) because we don’t like the way he talks, or the way he rejects religious authority - and in so doing push away the content of what he has actually shared - would be an error. Because I’m not sure anyone else has said this with the same degree of lucidity and focus, and it is a message humanity deeply needs to take on board if it is to survive the coming centuries.


So thought is not the whole. Thought is not the universe.

Once we have properly grasped this, then we can ask ourselves whether, if thought cannot capture the whole, there can nonetheless be a perception (which is not thought) which covers the whole: a holistic, global perception; a (potentially at least) universal perception?

Obviously this question can have no meaning at all if thought is still king, if thought is still the most important factor in our life.

Which is why, related to this question, and implicit in it, is the question: Can thought have an end? Can thought (psychological thought) ever stop? So that the brain is completely empty.

When the brain is empty - if it can be empty (empty of psychological thought) - then one will have a chance to find out if such an unlimited perception is possible.

But the brain obviously cannot be empty if it is preoccupied with thought.

So if one is interested in whether such a perception is possible, then this question of thought - i.e. whether thought can have its right place (practically, for communication, etc), but no place at all inwardly, in the psyche (which implies the brain being in a state of complete emptiness) - becomes important.

And one cannot even begin to ask this question if one is still giving thought, the intellect, the highest value. So thought must be dethroned before there is even the possibility of having a fundamental insight into life.