Transparent communication

Part of our struggle here in an online text-based medium is sharing together the same meaning of the words that we use.

As we have discussed elsewhere, the primary words that we usually use in discussions on Kinfonet - such as awareness, attention, love, intelligence, self, innocence, religion, knowledge, perception, suffering, etc - are often understood in different ways by each one of us, and so a lot of miscommunication arises through the different understandings or emphases in meaning we each give to these words.

Communication can only happen when in a conversation we are using the same primary words in the same way and with the same shared meaning. Otherwise we are always talking past each other.

Naturally we do not like to be imposed upon by another’s particular way of understanding a word, so we need to discuss the matter without authority so as to reach a shared meaning of a word.

It is also a fact that when we discuss a primary word on a thread it takes so much energy to clarify what is involved in that word, that to bring in too many other primary words becomes a distraction, because there is only so much attention or bandwidth that we can have for a single conversation. Which is why it is important to limit ourselves to one or two primary words per thread.

Isn’t this a reasonable suggestion?

The word ‘communicate’ means “to make common”. That is, all words have to do either with our shared senses, or with our shared human consciousness. So if there is any confusion about these matters, we should be able to clear it up relatively easily. If we are talking about something that goes beyond both the senses and our shared human consciousness, then we need to use words more tentatively, without making assumptions in meaning.

Part of the meaning that we give to the primary words we use on Kinfonet will naturally be influenced by our understanding of the way Krishnamurti used the same words. As explained elsewhere, this is because, for example, the way Krishnamurti used the word ‘attention’ is not the way that neuroscientists use the word ‘attention’. For neuroscientists attention means concentration, which is the precise opposite of Krishnamurti’s meaning of the word. Similarly the way Krishnamurti used words such as intelligence, love, knowledge, are distinctive and cannot be merely carried over from the way they are used ordinarily.

So if people feel that Krishnamurti is very mistaken in giving a certain meaning to primary words, then it is that person’s responsibility to point out where they feel that Krishnamurti’s meaning is mistaken, or where they feel others have misunderstood Krishnamurti’s meaning, etc, and to explain their own meaning.

Do people feel that what has been shared here is invalid or mistaken? What else do others feel is involved in clear communication?

I feel that when we’re thinking or talking about what Krishnamurti said in his talks, dialogues, and writings, we need to fully understand his definitions of: religion/religious, consciousness, observation, choiceless, intelligence, love, knowledge, compassion, (and others I can’t think of right now), because to be vague or uncertain about what he meant by these words is to miss or misunderstand what he was saying.

If all the words K redefined for the purpose of conveying his message were listed with their K-meanings it would spare interested people the misunderstanding and confusion I dealt with for years.

We can do this, of course; we can make a thumbnail list of what Krishnamurti meant by certain key words, what I have called primary words (though I think ChatGPT can do it as well as most of us here!).

But is this the main factor of us miscommunicating with each other on Kinfonet?

I am trying to get at why we end up - not just you and I, but @macdougdoug , @danmcderm , and others - in such dead ends all the time?

If you recall, when @rickScott was here (he’s taking a sabbatical break right now) he had a certain way of using the word ‘self’ which led to all kinds of misunderstandings. But for some reason Rick was never able to really explain or delineate what he meant by the word ‘self’ and distinguish it from the Advaitin self, the Buddhist self, the psychoanalytic self, etc, and so we never really got to the bottom of it. There was never a shared understanding.

Part of this had to do with poor communication, of which we are all guilty to one degree or another, but part of it, I feel, had to do with a lack of transparency on Rick’s part (though he will have to return to Kinfonet to defend himself here!). He was, I feel, subtly or openly defending what he meant by that word ‘self’, which meant that he never permitted a full investigation of what that word meant.

Similarly I feel that we all have words that we find it difficult to elucidate, because we have put our eggs in that basket. Maybe we have put our eggs in the basket of the word ‘no-self’ (as they do in Buddhism), or the word ‘immeasurable’ (as they do in Vedanta). Or in the basket of ‘conditioning’, or something else. Probably Douglas feels that I put my eggs in the basket of the word ‘perception’, and probably there is some truth in that. The word ‘perception’ has great significance for me, it has many implications that I feel we don’t investigate much on Kinfonet. And someone else feels the same way about another word.

So we need to be transparent with each other about the words which have particular significance for us, so that we signpost to others where we may need to be more comprehensive and clear in our communication.

And, as @WimOpdam has said elsewhere, it also matters what our intention is here on Kinfonet. Are we just here because we are bored or in need of some entertainment; or because we are serious in investigating into ourselves, or into the “origin of all things” (as Wim quoted Krishnamurti as saying) - or at least into what Krishnamurti has said about all these matters?

So it is a big subject. But are people already too hurt or wounded or defensive to explore any of this here? Have we given up the attempt to communicate transparently already?

Isn’t transparency an ideal, an aspiration?

Can “I” be transparent, or is transparency the absence of I?

Clearly our egotism contributes to these various misunderstandings. But I’m not sure that we are misunderstanding each other only because of egotism. Are you suggesting that we must eradicate all sense of ‘I’ before we communicate here on Kinfonet? If so, then you have given up already on any attempt to communicate clearly, openly, adequately.

Is transparency an ideal to you Inquiry? We can make anything into an ideal. Communication can be made into an ideal. But it is clear that there are ways of communicating clearly, openly, transparently, and ways of communicating opaquely, confusedly, without generosity or care. This is a fact, not an ideal.

I think that you James are communicating clearly, using the words correctly and clearly - stating your ideas in a manner comprehensible to all (I think, or at least most)

If there is some conflict, tyranny, confusion, resistance etc in the relationships here, or even awe, hope, respect etc this is not in the words, its in the people. In us and what we are.

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So can we be transparent about our conduct here?

I am not pretending to be a saint in my conduct. I get annoyed and irritated, I lose my patience. And in the heat of the moment I can say things that are perhaps hurtful.

For instance, while I agree with and appreciate certain aspects of what some people say, I might sometimes find them to be a little rigid, a little narrow minded in their approach - and so my tendency is to push back on this. And sometimes this means that they get annoyed, irritated, upset, with me.

I also feel it is important to stick as much as possible to the topic of the thread, and not deviate too much, because I personally put a lot of energy into participating here, and it feels a waste of that energy if nothing is ever followed through properly.

And, on top of this, as previously mentioned, I have certain interests of my own, certain primary words I am interested in investigating. And if I feel that others have no interest in these things, then I feel - egoistically - frustrated.

So this is my manner of approach.

What do I think I am doing here?
I am on kinfonet because it allows me to accompany people on their inquiry into the human experience based on the teachings of K - to inquire into their opinions on suffering and concepts like “freedom from the known”, “awareness” etc

There is no final goal for me other than that - the accompanying is a question of addressing the ideas presented (by repeating what I think has been said, and asking questions) and reacting as best as I can to the emotions of my interlocutor.
And if I feel it is appropriate, helpful, to give some opinion or statement, emotional reaction of my own.

Mostly it goes no where - sometimes I make a friend, mostly we rub up against each others barriers - we touch the suffering and still we are here asking : what are you saying?

For me this is not about finding or presenting the ultimate teachings in their best form - this has already been provided, and is often repeated.

Aside from accompanying other people though, and asking them about their opinions, are we not ourselves interested in inquiring into “the human experience”, into the nature of freedom and awareness? Right?

From the way you’ve put it here - and I’m probably mistaken - it sounds as though you’ve already resolved these matters for yourself, and so are only here to accompany others through their process of investigation. But I’m sure you don’t mean this.

Do we not all have various opinions about things? Do we not all have certain interests that bias our inquiry?

I think we do. So transparency begins with each one of us feeling out where our biases are, where our interests are, so that we can communicate them clearly to other people - and in the communication of them perhaps we see them to be absurd and drop them, or we see them to be valid and seek to clarify or critique them. Right?

The ultimate teachings are those teachings that are no longer teachings but our very breath, our blood. But have any of us discovered such ultimate teachings yet? If we are on Kinfonet then I think we can say no, we haven’t. We are here not to preach to others or formulate a perfect truth, but to realise the actuality or falsehood of what Krishnamurti has pointed to (or if one doesn’t want to bring Krishnamurti into it, to realise the actuality or otherwise of the things he has talked about, which have to do with our consciousness, our existence, our suffering, etc).

Isn’t this so?

For example, what kinds of question really interests you Douglas? I have said that for me it is perception, or awareness, etc. What is it for you? Freedom? Death? The self?

I really am interested in looking at whether it is possible to look at the ideas being expressed, and the reasons why we are expressing them.

For example, one thing that has struck me recently is the question of “do you think you’re enlightened?” which seems to be the kinfonet equivalent of “your mama is so (insert slur)”

It seems that when this question is asked, the dialogue has already gone off the rails, we are merely comparing the size of our brains. Its all about comparison and squashing the idiots beneath our heals - or am I not getting it?

Does the question also include the assumption that enlightenment is a myth?

Is this your real question Douglas? Is this the thing you return to Kinfonet for? To look at other people’s ideas and their motives for having them?

What about your own ideas? What about seeing if it is possible to drop ideas altogether?

In Zen they talk about emptying the cup. The disciple comes to the Master with a lot of ideas, and the Master says “Would you like some tea?”, to which the disciple says “Yes”, and holds out his cup. The Master pours out the tea and continues to pour even after the cup is completely full. The cup, now overflowing, tea falling onto the floor and onto the disciples clothes: “The cup is full, why do you keep pouring?”, the disciple says. To which the Master replies, “You are like this cup - full of ideas, so that nothing more can fit inside. First empty your cup, then come back and see me.

Is it possible for the movement of thought and ideation - the movement of ideas - to come to an end? This would be a question worth looking at (imo). Or is your interest only in ideas?

In the Krishnamurti subculture I have heard dozens of people claim - either explicitly or implicitly - to be enlightened, transformed, awakened. In the wider spiritual subculture (mainstream spiritually) this claim is even more widespread and accepted. People have certain experiences during meditation, or having had a personal breakdown, or having stayed with a guru or Rimpoche, and they then feel themselves to have made the breakthrough Krishnamurti talks about or that the Buddha talked about.

And yet, after a little probing and prodding, or seeing them in daily life, it becomes clear that they are deluding themselves and other people. Perhaps there are some who escape this net, but the vast majority are deluded: they have had some partial insight which has temporarily given them great energy, great perceptiveness of a limited kind, and because other people are willing to be deluded (because they also want enlightenment or feel that they have had their own partial insights which are leading them to enlightenment) such misguided people gain support, nourishment.

I feel that to claim to be enlightened when one is not enlightened is a deeply harmful and irreligious thing. And to pander to the pretensions of such people is to be complicit in such harm.


Yes, as usual, I think I am being honest - but I suppose that I did actually have a hidden agenda, which is as you say, to do with the seeing of our relationship to ideas, awareness of experience.

And I must admit, mostly it does seem that we fail (to be aware of the state we’re in as we react to our image of our selves, our interlocutor, our ideas) and thus, since I have motive, I fail & feel bad.

nb. I hope its not dishonest if I am only interested in hearing someones ideas in order to understand what they are saying, with the goal of confronting them with what they are saying. I am not actually hoping to accumulate information directly for my own benefit.

I get it, but must this emotion be present and active in all our encounters with folk? Surely when we meet someone for the first time, we can at least start by saying hello?

Why immediately challenge someone if they seem a bit deluded (to us)? Why is anger and the will to squash so much at the forefront of our relationships with others (and the words they say)?

What about some forgiveness for those that we feel are idiots?

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It may be because English is not your first language, but I find it hard to untangle what you are saying here Douglas?

Are you saying that you are only here to challenge other people’s ideas, and have no interest in finding out anything new for yourself?

Do you really have nothing that you want to find out for yourself, independent of what other people say about it or think about it?

For example, are you interested in what Zen teachings and Krishnamurti’s teachings point towards? This being a state of brain that is empty of all concepts and ideas?

Or is this just an entertaining idea for you, something you play with or treat sceptically or that you don’t take seriously?

I would really like to know your answer to this.

I feel much of this is your own projection Douglas. You and I are having a conversation - as we have been having conversations for 2 years or so already. It is in the context of this 2 years of discussion that I have been challenging you. If you (and Dan) feel that that I am wronging you please say so. But I don’t think you or Dan are claiming to be enlightened - or I hope not - so I don’t see why you are bringing this up. For me this is a distraction from the main points we are discussing.

English is my first language, and French is my second.

I like new ideas - I am excited by them, but its not my main goal, not my drive in dialogue here.
If I pose a challenge to people’s ideas, this is not a goal in itself, but if it is a challenge to hear me speak to your ideas, this is good in that it is an opportunilty to see ourselves in action, to see ourselves in relationship.

Why is my state of mind important? Why do you need an image of me? Am I an idiot that thinks he’s enlightened? or just an idiot? Does this matter? Surely your responsibility is to your actions and your ideas? (how you deal with the experience that someone is “challenging” your ideas)

For your information : I think I’m neuro typical ish, I am not forcing myself to be here or to practise zazen - I believe its helpful and important. I’m not pretending to be interested in what interests me.
Why are you doubting this? What is the point in doubting my seriousness?

Apologies, I wasn’t being rude. I just assumed from our conversations that you spoke various languages and that English was just one of several others.

So, from what you have said - which I still find very vague and unclear - you are saying that your primary interest in being on Kinfonet is to challenge other people.

Because you are not being explicitly clear I feel I have to read between the lines and wonder if this means that you don’t have any fundamental questions of your own to inquire into?

Which means (if this is true) that either you are just here to troll (which I don’t think is true), or you think you have answered all the fundamental questions and so are just here to help other people find their way through challenging them (which I don’t think is true), or that you actually do have fundamental questions of your own that you want answered and you are merely overstating one aspect of what you find interesting on Kinfonet (which I think is the truth).

I am not calling you an idiot, etc. I am merely trying to find out if you are interested (as I am) in inquiring into, or discovering for yourself, whether the brain, the mind, can be empty of concepts and ideas - which I take to be the central teaching of Zen as well as the central teaching of Krishnamurti.

You can either say yes, or no.

I’m asking this to get a sense of where you are coming from, an indication of whether we are communicating about the same things, whether we are using words in the same way, whether we are sharing an inquiry. After 2 years of conversation, about Buddhism neuroscience, panpsychism, and all the other things we have talked about, am I not allowed to ask this question?

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This is probably a quirk of my personality but I am not currently driven by a need to escape myself or improve myself - but I have arrived at the conclusion that I must be aware of what I impose on the world, on others.

I do have a couple of questions that keep coming up, and I sometimes ask them here - they are not important, just silly questions about details.

I’ll say yes - but the interesting bits are all within what that means to us, and our relationship to what we know/believe

I wasn’t suggesting that we escape from ourselves or improve ourselves. Was this what my post communicated?

I was asking whether you have any fundamental questions of your own, or whether you are just on Kinfonet for entertainment. From what you have written here - taking your words at face value - it suggests to me that you are here for entertainment primarily. Is this true?

Again, from the way you answer this, and in the light of your previous comments, it communicates to me that this question holds no deep interest for you. That is, the question - I understand you to be saying - holds no significance in itself, you are merely interested in our ideas about it, how we react when we talk about it. Is this correct?

It feels to me that there is some posturing here as though we were in a competition of some kind. I’m not interested in competing or arguing with you. I am simply trying to ascertain what your interests are, whether there is any possibility of our sharing a basic interest, or if your interests and my interests are incompatible with each other.

I am not here for entertainment, or to follow ideas, or to see how people react. I am here to understand more clearly what Krishnamurti said - which I feel has a lot of similarities with aspects of what various Buddhists have said (though this is a side interest of mine) - and enquire into whether it is possible to put my understanding into practice, to live what is discovered here.

If we share this interest then it would help our communication if this was brought out. And if we don’t share this interest then it would also help if this was clearly brought out.

Just to be clear, I am not interested in imposing this question on anyone, or forcing you to ask this question against your wishes, I am just asking if the question below has a deep significance for you - the question itself - and not simply our ideas about it or our reactions about it.

The question being:

Can the movement of psychological thought - which includes all our concepts and ideas - come to a complete end in the brain?

Can I ask my question again : why is it important for you to have an image of me?

Thats what I’m pointing at : our relationship here (but not just yours and mine). I’m here for entertainment but you are serious. It does seem like a comparison, or competition.

I don’t know, possibly - I’m having trouble most with the word “complete” as in forever - and as I keep repeating : its our relationship to the images, the authority of the known, thats counts (as I see it) - not whether the images dissapear forever

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I’m not interested in having an image about you. I am asking you direct questions because this thread is about transparency in our communication. The answers you have given I find vague, unclear. I have repeated back to you the literal meaning I took from your words of what you have written, in order to see whether this was what you meant. That’s all.

It’s not a comparison or a competition. If I want to play football and you want to play tennis or rugby or cricket, then we will not be playing the same game. It is about being clear about our motives, interests, intentions, so that we can communicate clearly.

It’s not about “forever”, etc. This is such a basic question in Chan, Zen, Krishnamurti - even in Yoga, the Upanishads, Meister Eckhart or Eckhart Tolle!!! - which is why I ask it.

If the question itself does not resonate, then it is clear you want to play tennis or rugby, etc instead of football. That’s all.