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What is our common ground?

I don’t know how helpful it is to voice this kind of question, but as it has already been raised, I have been wondering why it is that in our Wednesday and Saturday meetings we have found it so difficult to find common ground?

Probably the greater part of the difficulty is the normal human barriers of like and dislike, personal differences, images we have of each other, etc. Even with the best intentions it seems difficult to get past these images and differences. Over time little groups form, with “friends” and “enemies”. We react to perceived authority figures, get caught in our reactions, defend ourselves out of wounded pride or argumentativeness, feel unheard, slighted, ignored, and so on.

Added to this are differences of age, of temperament, of mental aptitude, of emotional sensitivity. Many of us tend to be on the intellectual side of things, which cuts out other aspects of our lives.

Then there are the different opinions each of us have. Everyone has a different background of knowledge that we are operating from: for instance, some of us are explicitly interested in Krishnamurti, others are somewhat interested but equally interested in other teachings or ideas (which tends to create confusion), and some of us are (at least verbally) apparently resistant to exploring what K said. Obviously, it is a challenge to refer to K in our dialogues in such a way that we do not endlessly make him into an authority (which kills the dialogic spirit) - but some people may not be interested in looking at what K has said at all, which presents us with a different kind of challenge altogether.

And if looking at K’s teachings is not our common ground, is it something else - something perhaps more fundamental? The human condition perhaps? Consciousness? Self-knowledge? Suffering? Thought? - And yet every time we attempt to explore any aspect of consciousness or self it seems we inevitably run into all the divisions mentioned anyway, because our approach is dictated by our opinions, our knowledge, our personal differences, our understanding or non-understanding of K, etc.

So what can be our common ground?

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While I am conditioned, surely I am from a different planet… if not galaxy!
What is ‘in common’ is our conditioning.
Inherent in conditioning is ‘resistance’.
‘Resistance’ lacks even the ‘harmony’ of ‘dissonance’ …this is an analogy using sound/music. Which some may or may not hear or see.
‘Resistance ‘ may also be seen as ‘sabotage’ .

Right - good, yes: conditioning and resistance.

If we put this positively (not that one has to do so explicitly), couldn’t we say that our common ground is also the urge or demand to be free of our conditioning?

On the one hand we have a resistance to any questioning of our conditioning - and on the other hand we have a natural urge to break free of this same conditioning.

So probably we all have a mixture of these opposing movements, which is what creates confusion (and contradiction) when we approach these topics in the dialogues.

So one starting point might be the fact of conditioning, and our resistance to looking at it.

Another starting point may be the desire for freedom, the urge for freedom.

Another starting point might be the collective challenges that we see in global society: climate change, Covid, anti-democratic populism, military dictatorship, poverty, religious fundamentalism, etc.

Another may be my own personal suffering.

Another might be a curiosity about the immeasurable, the spiritual, nirvana or God, etc.

What others?

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Can my (our) conditioning meet your conditioning? Instead of colliding with it.

What would make the two, which are for now separate, meet?

Yes - this is the question. At some level I feel that there must be a commonality to our conditioning - you would agree? If we could find those areas of commonality in our conditioning and begin from there, then we would have the feeling that we were beginning from common ground.

Common ground is something that we don’t need to dispute about - because it is ground that is common to us both (and others).

So what is most shared in our conditioning? What is most common? - If we could find this commonality, as a group, then we have a chance of beginning from a place of trust, togetherness, co-operation and affection. This is my feeling about it. - But I’m not clear what the most common factor of our conditioning would be. What do you think it is?

We all share the same world: place, time, body, ideas, emotions, joys, fears, consciousness. That’s deep common ground. Most of us here also share the desire to understand how things (really) work, what the self is, if suffering can end. And of course we share interest in Krishnamurti.

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The common psychological ground of all of humanity is the content of the history of human culture.
Our psyches are based on what was absorbed
from the surrounding culture.
Our thoughts and feelings and actions
come from this common source.
Because the content is different in each of us and our bodies are distinct we feel we are all separate from each other.
We could bear this in mind during our dialogues.


Response to James:
I don’t know if there is a ‘natural urge’ to be free of conditioning… maybe, maybe not. What can be seen is a movement of psychological desire… to ‘become’ . . …
This is also inherent in conditioning it seems.
Is it more important to see , actually not theoretically, what is preventing conflict free conditioning … or look, hope or theorise . We do ‘share’ the roots and ways conditioning operates in the human brain. However , as stated… conditioning is resistance . It’s purpose is to ‘resist’. It can’t continue to operate if it stops resisting .
Our wish/want / desire is to resist.
That much we have in common, whilever it continues.

It is fear, isn’t it? That’s why any content remains in consciousness - it is there to protect me. That’s the function of the content.

I don’t really know. Most of us conditioned think and even believe in our uniqueness. And each is attached to their own content. So even if I might call it fear like @PaulDimmock suggested, I wonder if that is enough for 2 opposing parties to meet.

Did we consider that the common ground of our conditioning might be something that is not yet reachable? If so, what do we have now that is between us, that is common to both of us?

I can only think of the shared resistance. What do you think? Can we start from the shared resistance whenever it surfaces up?


That’s just it. The very fact that we are conditioned denies any possibility of finding common ground. So it’s a wrong move to look for it. There is common ground only when our conditioning is inactive or in abeyance because then we are sharing something that neither of us has put together. Until then, we can share any one of a thousand ideas, but it won’t be like walking together on solid ground.

So let’s look at it from the other way round. Instead of trying to find a common ground out of the vast array of chaos which is all around us, can we find order from the beginning? Can our first step together be on solid ground?

Yes - this seems like one place to start. If we consider that our conditioning is shared to a significant degree, there may be other places we could begin from as well (like fear or confusion or the search for security, etc) - so long as there was wide enough agreement in the group.

Funny enough, I think one, and one might be enough, has to start from the ‘what is’ that all of us share now! All. Not most. Not a few. Isn’t that the most solid to us all? Whatever is in front of us @James I don’t know if this is possible. Because I think a few of us have tried that and it didn’t work in the past.

I wonder what’s missing

I felt that there were about 10 or 15 minutes on Saturday when the group began to really meet and dialogue on the common ground of our mutual “not-knowing” - the tentativeness of exploration that we were talking about. We didn’t sustain it, but that’s ok. The important thing is that we dipped our toes in it!

Common ground depends largely on our sensitivity as a group. To begin with, maybe only some of us will have the feeling of it in a given moment, and then the others can “catch up”.

But there are a few things that are clear about it:

  1. Common ground is something we feel to be shared. It is not being imposed on us from an authority figure, or by other people’s convictions. It is something that we feel from inside, without imposition. We are all equals on the common ground.
  2. Because it is something we feel from “inside”, we do not immediately argue about it or retreat into our personal opinions and differences. It is like acknowledging that the sky is blue, or that we feel hungry (if we feel hungry). It is a non-controversial recognition of a psychological fact that we are aware of in ourselves.
  3. So, because there is equality there, and (at least initially) there is no argument, there is a feeling of impersonal friendship, togetherness, inclusivity. This feeling of friendship, allied with nonverbal sensitivity and a certain amount of intellectual clarity, are then the ingredients we need to go deeper in a group inquiry.

We all at various times, some more or less than others perhaps … react.
However, we may each react at the surface level with differing reactions … unless shouting ‘goal’ at a football match or chanting together, or singing a hymn… where one may seek refuge and security in what some may consider ‘relationship’.
So, seeing those ‘group’ togetherness things as being very superficial and really ‘reactions’… surely to get to a point where reactions actually stop or slow down,they have to be seen in relationship.
When one person says something or writes something … what are we doing when we read or listen/hear … are we trying immediately to formulate a reply, or think that’s good , it makes sense to me , or it doesn’t etc ?
We’ve ( human beings) become through time ‘learnt’ ( conditioned) to either react physically and/ or with thought…to whatever we’re confronted by/with.
When we do this aren’t we ‘caught’ in the movement of time? And in that state can’t see ‘what is’, actual in the present?
Reading/ writing , hearing/ speaking appears that way.
It’s difficult, for those interested in ‘seeing ourselves in the mirror of relationship’
——While everything said is a source for reaction in those ‘receiving’.
—— and what is said may be delivered partially or sometimes more from a place of reaction. What is said in that reaction may be quite an accurate piece of knowledge, information or description… but caught in time ( not from the present) as its origin from/in an unseen or mistranslated reaction.
This will be destined to provoke further reactions in people etc etc.
No surprise that there may be conflict, confusion , anger, frustration, sorrow, fear …
Reactions are also a nessary part of life.
Perhaps allowing seeing them arise… without ‘doing’ anything really more than seeing them arise and pass, something different may come .
The more ‘mechanical’ talking , writing etc is ,in the attempts at communication , the more difficult it is to ‘see’, hear, feel our own reactions as they arise.

The problem with agreement is that it very quickly becomes disagreement; it takes just a few linguistic moves and we are lost again. For ten or fifteen minutes we may travel together and then it goes wrong. So I don’t think we are ever going to find a common ground through the auspices of the intellect. Two or three of us together may do it more successfully, but as a member of a larger group of twelve or twenty or even more, what am I to do? Not as a group, but as a member of the group. What am I to do? What is my responsibility towards the group? Before I ask the group to look for common ground, what’s my ground first? Does this make any sense?

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I don’t know why this is such a puzzle? We are human beings - we share a common ancestry, a common consciousness, a common world. In my world there is economic pressures of various kinds, social inequalities, racial prejudices, class divisions, ideological or religious divisions, poverty and riches. In myself there is loneliness, fear, frustration, confusion, the search for security and pleasure. Aren’t some of these factors common to all of us?

I wonder - if one wasn’t reacting to another, or being insensitive - why would one exclude oneself from these common factors? Only a buddha is free from the common consciousness - and then apparently there is a sense of compassion which doesn’t create separation. So why doesn’t one feel this common ground?

Could one say that for pretty much everyone, Enlightenati perhaps excluded, the common ground is the utterly compelling sense of ME? Which is kind of funny, because it means that that which most splinters us is that which is most universal for us! It as if we are programmed to divide and separate.

But none of these provide a ground on which to meet. All the things you have mentioned are what keep us apart, divided and separate - pressures, loneliness, fear, confusion and the search for security. What is the ground on which we are able to stand in order to look at all these things? That would be the common ground. The common factor is fear. But the common ground must be something that is not a reaction to fear. Otherwise, we’ll be bound to keep going round in circles.