Time and Self-knowledge

Can one be aware of what one is doing every moment? I don’t see why not if that quality of awareness is what matters more than anything else. But apparently, what matters most is modifying, improving, finding a better way to do what we’ve been doing. We seem to be more interested in progress than in radical departure from that mode of operation.

It seems we are either making progress or we’re stuck in a rut, and it never occurs to us that our belief in progress might be the rut we’re stuck in. Why is the brain’s transformation from self-centered to selfless a matter of time? Is it because self-knowledge takes time, or is it because self takes time?

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Self-knowledge is neither progressive nor cumulative. It is the stark realization that the self is thinking, that thinking is time and that time is the ground of conflict. Conflict is the tension gap between the what-is and the what-should-be.

That is what it means to me to read “the book of myself”. Which is no different than reading the book of yourself, or any other self for that matter. We have all accepted conflict as an inevitable part of life.

The actual content is immaterial in the learning about the movement of the mind. It is what the thinking process portends that is of import.

I’m not sure what K meant by “reading the book of oneself” because reading takes time and the book of oneself is revised every time one reads it. He also talked about seeing what the self is “in a glance”, so why the book analogy?

Forget the analogy. Forget K. You don’t need him or anyone else to look at the state of your own mind, do you? The essence of it. Not its changing content. Conflict is the essence, is it not? For all us, no, though we may be thinking different things at any given moment? If we are honest and serious enough to actually look, that is. Conflict is the underlying commonality of every human mind. It is always lurking beneath even when it is not actively erupting. Conflict is the enduring constant because thinking is the ever present factor. Again it is irrelevant what the content of that thinking is.

If however the response to the realization that “thinking is essentially conflict” is anything other than choiceless awareness, stillness, freezing, call it whatever, it must mean there is a part of self, of me, of thinking being held in reserve, absolved, lording over the rest, trusting its conclusion that thought is limited, and so on… This is the source of the complacency, the avoidance of crisis in the mind, that we find so perplexing. Or, so it seems to me. The liar’s paradox, sorta.

If “conflict is the enduring constant” because “thinking is ever present”, then logically, wouldn’t no thinking, silence, be the end of conflict, the first and last step?

Yes but we can’t think our way out of thinking. That is the key. I think. That is self-knowledge as I see it. Understanding that the self thinks its way into and out of things, that it cannot do otherwise and to grasp the tragic consequence of that process. Only then I think can true silence come into being. When we/thinking understand our/its own nature, not its piecemeal makeup, but rather its overarching nature. How else would you stop reaching for it, for thought, at every turn?

I am not saying I am able to do this. I am just trying to articulate what I see logically needs to be done.

To me, it’s interesting to trace how this sliver that sets itself apart comes into being in the first place:

Do I actually see that “thinking is essentially conflict?” Not initially, not spontaneously, not based on the way I experience the world. Nope. I can, however, convince myself - based on reading K, for instance - that that is indeed the case. I can certainly find conflict if I look for it. I can expand on that idea and proclaim that conflict is ubiquitous. If I school myself in that way of thinking, I can even call it “self-knowledge.” As I find more evidence of conflict, this view of thinking can become so ingrained that I perceive it as my own discovery. This process of gradual, almost insidious, appropriation gives it even more authority than if I had just accepted someone else’s ideas outright.

Isn’t the underlying dilemma, then, that we’ve accepted something we have never actually “seen” as the truth? Can an idea that we’re gradually appropriated as our own ever lead us to be “dumbfounded,” or whatever we want to call that immediate realization that K hinted to?

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I am not questioning its validity, but doesn’t this statement give credence to the thought that there is such a thing as “actually seeing the truth” (even if we personally have failed to do so)? In which case, we have fallen back into legitimizing the thought process?

The question we are addressing is novel in that it is beyond the logical. Logic is rational and the rational is based on thought, on measure.

Yes, thinking is the problem - not the solution. And we know insight is the solution because the brain’s partial insights demonstrate this. But knowing that partial insight diminishes the dominance of thought doesn’t bring about total insight, the revolution that puts thought in its place.

So the hope is that since the brain is capable of partial insight, it can have total insight and be free of the illusion of self and the limitation imposed thereby.

If the brain has had a partial insight into the nature and structure of thought, of self, of fragmentation and conflict, the insight changes the way the brain operates, making it slightly less encumbered by its psychological content. That’s really all one knows.

In our current state, “seeing” is certainly just as much an idea as any other. It does suggest that there is something beyond thought, but at this point, it’s a vaguely held notion.

However, what are we trying to do here? Delegitimize thought? (What a preposterous idea in any other context!) In any case, is that itself not also based on another accepted idea? Unfortunately, no matter the angle from which you attack it, it’s thoughts all the way down … :turtle:


Which is why an uncontrived silence is the only response. If we could only find a way to ask the ultimate right question.

How else can we find out if there is anything beyond thought - without engaging thought?

Yes, but isn’t thought dependent on awareness? Without awareness, is thought possible? Are we questioning whether we are aware at all?

If we seem to be delegitimizing thought it’s because our species has over-rated it, giving it prominence, and we’re addressing this condition the way we all know: thoughtfully.

Yes, that’s what I was trying to express here. We approach everything through thought, even the attempt to delegitimize it. Perhaps it’s not so much that we over-rate it, or give it prominence but that we have (seemingly) no choice in the matter. We are thought through and through.

These are all good questions …

Does the brain have to articulate this question before it can “respond” with silence?

Can the brain be so acutely aware of its dependency on thought that it can stop thinking to find out what it is without thought?

If a drug addict is unable to quit the habit without being deprived of the drug, it may be that there’s no quitting a bad habit (like constant thought) until there’s no reason to perpetuate it.

The brain’s addiction to perpetual thought causes it to react to choiceless awareness instead of relying on it, and the brain can’t see this happening because conditioned reactivity, is dissipating its energy.

For the enervated the brain, constant thought is a self-perpetuating system until/unless the brain has the energy, the quality of awareness, to see this for itself.

Or so it seems to me, Thought.

I think we can all agree that an intellectual understanding of the matters we discuss here, while necessary (and dare I say, even crucial), is of limited value.

In the interest of keeping it real, rather than consider further whether thought is legitimate or not, or talking about the various layers of awareness, it perhaps would serve us better to remain with what is directly in front of us. That is, an honest and live appraisal of the state of our own minds, of the content of our consciousness as it shifts from moment to moment. It seems to me if we could manage to do just that, it would be quite something. Ordinary looking. But, by dint of the fact that to look quietly at the entire state of the mind as it is going about its business is something we rarely do, such looking would indeed be something out of the ordinary.

If we could look at our minds in such a wholistic fashion, the seeing then would be the doing, as Krishnamurti puts it. The first step would be the last step. Like instinct, the moving out of the way of a poisonous snake and the perception of that snake are, for all intents and purposes, one and the same movement. There is no need to theorize about that which is transpiring right in front of your very nose, so to speak.

All this to say, it is the looking that is important. Not the figuring out what thought or awareness might be. And we already know what it means to look at something. No one needs to show us how to look at something. All that is needed is an acute understanding of the difference between looking holistically as opposed to doing so selectively. Attention as opposed to concentration. And of course an interest in that freeform style of unconditioned, agenda-less, non-resistant self-abandon.