What is the nature of K Inquiry? (& Testimonial)

K: Surely, there are two ways of listening. One can superficially follow the words, see their meaning, and merely pursue the outward significance of the description; or one can listen to the description, to the verbal statement, and pursue it inwardly–that is, be aware of what is being said as a thing that one is directly experiencing in oneself. If one can do the latter–that is, if through the description one is able to experience directly the thing that is being said–then I think it will have great significance. - As One Is

K: If I have an image about someone, that knowledge is obviously going to impede our relationship. It becomes a pattern.

K: If you treat what we are saying at a verbal level, then go away, it is a waste of time. - Madras Feb. 1952

K: You can only listen when you are not translating what is being said into your own terminology, your own background. - Talks in Europe, March 1968

K: So, is it not important for the mind to inquire and remain in that state of inquiry, which is not to seek an answer but simply to see if you know anything at all beyond the knowledge which has already been accumulated?

Q: What do you mean by inquiry?
K: …“Observation.”

Common definition: an act of asking for information, an official investigation.

**It seems that K’s notion of inquiry had a focus on seeing, or listening and looking together, and not on answers, knowledge, or translating what has been said into one’s own terminology. Simply listening, not agreeing or disagreeing, In other words, it wasn’t an intellectual or judgmental endeavor.

Then this question arises: “What then was K actually suggesting that we observe together, and inquire into, as two friends having a dialogue together?”

Perhaps this:

K: You are not going to learn from the speaker, but you learn by observing, by using the speaker as a mirror to observe your own movement of thought, of feeling, your own psyche, your own psychology. - Beyond Violence
K: It is important for you to find out your own ways of thinking and what that thinking implies, as I have been trying to point out this morning. - As One Is

**So, where can we observe “our own ways of thinking,” if not in relationship, in dialogue? Isn’t it the responses we all make that reveal the ways of our thinking?

Now, is it possible to openly listen to each other, observe the nature of the responses, and then, describe what we see? And if what we see appears to be “a psychological thought,” is that “judging the person,” or simply an attempt to describe the nature of the “response?”
There seems to be some confusion between describing the apparent nature of a response, and judging the person who may express the conditioned pattern? Isn’t the assumption that “thought is personal” part of human conditioning? A rather ubiquitous pattern in the culture?

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And the testimonial…

Given some recent ‘out of context’ assertions by Presence, that it’s “Howard” who’s not inquiring, I’d like to share the emitted evidence with the Forum participants. Let’s look at the "evidence’ for the implied inquiry violations, but this time, with the ‘context’ preceding the so-called evidence::

(Presence): Though the previous para clearly shows the assertion is false but let’s go ahead and look at observations from other posters as evidence. Thomas Paine observes Here and i quote
Please feel free to ignore everything I post Howard if you’re not interested in exploring as opposed to debating.

**What was the “inquiry violation” Howard engaged in prompting this response from Thomas Paine? Here it is:

**So you appear to be suggesting that an expressed view is one and the same as “the actual fact?” As in, “The word IS the thing?” If so, you’d be in good company. Apparently many people seem to think what they say, the word description, IS the fact that words can only point to.

K: How do I know that anger is a fact and the opinion about anger is a conclusion. Right? Don’t you know? The opinion, the judgement about anger is a conclusion. And the fact I’m angry is a fact. For the love of god. Saanen Aug.1972

**So, did Howard “judge” Thomas Paine? Did Howard not listen and respond to his actual response? Was it a violation for Howard to see ‘opinions about a fact’ as different than an actual fact? Did Howard stop the inquiry by suggesting a different possibility? Or did the categorical assertion actually come from Thomas Paine, ending the inquiry? Does the actual exchange reveal a failure to inquire?

**So what was the other ‘out of context’ evidence leading to judging Howard as “failing to inquire,” cited by Presence? Let’s take a look at that one…

PaulDimmockKinfonet Dialogue Member

I was being rather reserved. There is much more than just quibbling going on. There is a not so subtle form of intellectual bullying taking place, using K as your crony. I leave you to it.

**So what preceded this assertion of “bullying?” This exchange:

Paul Dimmock: No, you are quibbling over words, that’s all. That is why I said it is like arguing about the colour of the drapes while the house burns down around us. You turned it into this by latching on to something I said to someone else, someone whom I trust was not as bothered by my words as you appear to be. Whatever I say to you, I suspect there will be the same self-righteous response; so we are best to leave it here. If I have been rude to someone, cut them short, trodden on their toes, I apologise most sincerely; I can do no more.

Howard: So, the response from you starts with, “No, you are quibbling over words.” Is that thought-story what I’m really doing, or is that an analytical assumption the brain is making according to the past memory accumulation? Is it an interpretation according to the known? Is it a ‘looking without the word’ as K suggested? And if I responded by saying, “No, I simply described what I was seeing. I’m not concerned about word usage.” Would there still be an attachment to the thought assumption? Would the assumption, the words, continue being given the elevated false significance of truth?

**Was that not listening? Did I not hear “you are quibbling over words?” Was that response addressing what I said, or a dismissal of it? Was asking if this is a “thought-story created by thought,” a violation of inquiry rules? Was it a judgement of Paul, or a question about thought? Is it actually just ‘seeing and pointing to the nature of what thought is doing’?

Wasn’t K suggesting to “observe the responses” thought is making? Is it a violation in dialogue to describe ‘how thought appears to be responding’? Is that “bullying” to point to what thought appears to be doing?

**Or perhaps it was this part of my message to Paul that led to the “bullying” response:

“And again, what’s the priority, addressing the ‘house on fire’, or making psychological assumptions about another human being, based on the conditioning?”

**This reminds me of something a close friend pointed out to me what I reacted to something she said to me, namely, that email messages have a tendency to have an “assertive nature” to them. This ‘question’ I asked Paul above appears to have that ‘assertive’ nature. But it’s actually a sincere question, as “one caring human to another.” But apparently, perhaps clearly, that was lost in the translation?

**So here I’d like to ‘testify’ that it’s never my intention to offend anyone here. My sincere intention is to “observe together, as friends” the nature of our “shared human conditioning.” I truly don’t see thought patterns as belonging to an ‘me’, ‘I’, or some arbitrary identity that thought has created.
And…if any of my descriptions come across in an ‘assertive’ manner, that’s also not the intention, sincerely. I realize that the common way the cultural conditioning tends to “translate it into conditioned terminology” makes it seem assertive, but it’s actually not. This would be evident if we were face-to-face, but this is difficult to convey in email. Or, if you wish, let’s just say, Howard doesn’t know how to point to the conditioning, in a manner that some people won’t “take the questions personally.”
The quote that I occasionally use, in the hopes that people might take it in the sincere manner it’s honestly given, is this one:

Niels Bohr: "Every sentence I utter must be understood not as an affirmation, but as a question.

End of this testimonial.

Hello Howard. It was good to read what you wrote. I think there is something here which is worth exploring regarding how we interact on this forum.

I would just say that pointing to someone’s conditioning or pointing out what their thought is doing, is very likely to be problematic and may cause conflict. It implies that the the person who has spoken or written is unaware of their conditioning or how their thought process is working. Howard pointing to conditioning in another poster may well be interpreted as condescension and may result in a defensive response. Is there another way to point to conditioning or thought in another which maintains the feeling of inquiring together?

Probably only if the poster is in the ‘state of not-knowing’. In that state the poster is ‘empty’ and does not ‘know’ what thoughts will arise in the next moment. Then there could be a judgement as to what was written whether it may be offensive or sound too assertive, etc and then could be edited. But isn’t what is of importance, not the ‘words’ that are written, said, but whether there is the observation of all of it, the thinking, the posting, the editing, the feelings, the judgements and on and on. In a way isn’t the ‘state of not-knowing’ what is ‘important’ as regards self-knowledge?

**Thanks for the kind words Sean. I hear what you’re saying, but my sincere observation, which I’ve expressed before, is that I don’t see the cultural conditioning as actually being personal. I also don’t see where any of us, including me, “chose” the conditioned patterns. We all appear to have been conditioned at a very young age to define the patterns of thought as “mine,” as belonging to a particular label or name. So I’m asking, if we observe this for ourselves, are these patterns really “mine,” as in, are the thought patterns the property of an ‘identity’ that is also a thought pattern? Do you think the ideas we’ve accumulated living in the culture were created by a ‘me’ or ‘I’?
I know that the conditioning may imply something about the speaker, but does that mean it’s true? And, does that mean we should avoid observing what’s happening in relationship? Krishnamurti suggests, “you are the world.” Are the words we each speak part of this world that we are?

**Well, here’s my honest perspective: We’re all in this together. There is no heirachy. No one is higher or lower than any other human being. I realize that we absorb all sorts of opinions from the culture about “what someone must be doing,” but are these psychological opinions the truth, or assumptions? I don’t see myself as higher or lower than anyone, so what’s the truth? If I don’t see myself as higher than any other human, what purpose does it serve to be condescending? In fact, if my interest is to communicate with you, being condescending would clearly make that problematical, wouldn’t it?
I would ask, Why do we take the assumptions conditioned thought is making, based on the false idea of a ‘me versus a you’ seriously?
I’d like to bring in the issue Inquiry raised, “We can see why the conflict between what-is and what-should-be effectually makes seeing what-is impossible.”
Do we see that ‘assumptions’ like, “He’s being condescending,” which implies “He shouldn’t be,” makes “seeing what-is impossible.”
How does that look to you?

Hello again Howard. Yes, I see what you are saying and see things much the same myself. I would say that communication usually improves once some sort of relationship is built between participants in online forums or in other settings. In fact, I would say that relationships are vital in most situations if any learning is to take place. At first, when there is little or no relationship, it’s quite easy to get the wrong idea about someone or misunderstand what they are saying. It’s probably also easy to send out the wrong signals such as the one you mentioned before when you talked about how easy it is to come across as assertive in emails and other written communication.

I’m not sure about this. I mean, sometimes people are actually condescending and it’s not an assumption. What if the “what is” is someone who is being condescending? How is one to respond then?

Hello Dan. I’m not really sure what you’re saying here. I mean, I think the words are important as they are the only way we have of communicating here, so sending clear messages will help us to understand each other. Observation and self-knowledge are, of course, two absolutely key elements in K’s teachings but I was talking more about how we communicate with each other. Does this make sense?

**I agree with this, meaning, that appears to be true. But like many things in our lives, if we’re interested in knowing ourselves, we might be interested in looking at what’s preventing me from openly listening to someone I don’t have past experience with? Why do I need to see if the other person fits my psychological expectations, before I can meet them openly as a fellow human being? For example, if someone ‘seems’ to be “arrogant,” do I shut them out then? Do we cut off relationships with those who don’t conform to the psychological expectations for who we listen to, and who we don’t?
Do we think the arrogant person “knows better” than what they actually know, and they’re “choosing” to be arrogant? Or is it possible they don’t see the danger of treating people in the manner they are?

**Same as I mentioned above. Do we have a belief that the person who talks in a condescending manner is “choosing” to be condescending? Or, we think, “they know better, but still do it?” Is this belief the actual truth? Is it possible that their behavior actually reflects the understanding they actually have, and there isn’t an ‘I’ inside their head choosing to act badly? Is it possible that this person is in some sense, acting out of ignorance? By the way, to me ignorance simply means we don’t understand, in a deep sense, some aspect of life. To my observation, all humans have limited understanding, including the one typing these words. So essentially, we’re all ignorant, as we all have limited understanding. And the cultural conditioning we all get seems to exacerbate the situation. We become ‘fearful’ of being judged or criticized, so we avoid getting into situations that might challenge our limited understanding, situations where we might learn something about ourselves.
How do we respond? That’s a good question to observe. Do we “react” out of conditioned assumptions? Or, is the response one of compassion, which comes out of seeing that this person was also conditioned by the culture, and isn’t aware that they’ve been conditioned to act in this dysfunctional manner?

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My point Sean is that without this state of ‘not-knowing or ‘choiceless awareness being present, is the ‘communication ‘ actually ‘communing’ or is it just exchanging ideas? Which is necessary practically but out of place regarding JK’s ‘teaching’? If the ‘thinker’ is writing the post is there an awareness of that or only the ideas that the ‘thinker / me’ is presenting?

Thanks for clearing that up Dan. Without the “not knowing”, it seems probable that previous knowledge will have a detrimental effect on communication. Previous knowledge tends to limit listening and without attentive listening, I don’t think there is any possibility of communion in the sense that K used the word. Is that how you see it?

Yes, if I’m listening to you through the screen of knowledge I’m not really listening at all. That’s what K pointed out so many times. The moment is always new unless we interpret it through the screen of the past…conditioning, as I’m understanding it.


That’s certainly an interesting thing to look at. What I’m saying is that with the deepening of a relationship, as trust and mutual respect is established, more things can be explored. What we perhaps want to avoid is communication breaking down before the exploration can go very far. The idea of moving along together probably requires a certain sensitivity as to choosing if and when to point out “what is”. Maybe I’m wrong about this of course. It’s necessary to point out uncomfortable truths from time to time but this is not an easy thing to get right.

**That seems wise to suggest. And based in reality. But it raises the question, at least for me, "Are we actually serious about inquiring together? Are we serious enough to perhaps be a little uncomfortable? Or do we each need to be careful not to “hurt anyone’s feelings?” I’m not suggesting, in any way, to be rude or disrespectful to anyone. But should we each avoid questioning what anyone’s response is, if they might feel “uncomfortable?” How serious are we, if we’re unwilling to be a little uncomfortable? If someone does what I’ve done, like ask, “Isn’t that a psychological opinion?” Or, “isn’t that analyzing?” Is that “too risky?” Not “sensitive enough?” Again, I’m not talking about making accusations about anyone personally, being rude, or ridiculing anyone. I’m just talking about “looking at the conditioning together.”

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It’s obvious isn’t it? This is a big step in talking to one another.

What happens is that I think I am aware of the conditioning, as a concept, and don’t see a repeat of the methodology of conditioning in what I am thinking.

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**Is it possible that the vast majority of the conditioning is in the form of concepts & images? Psychological concepts? Concepts asserting that ‘what is’, should, be this way or that way, because that’s what “I believe?” When K suggests observe one’s responses, what is he pointing to? What is it he’s suggesting to immediately “die to?”

There is an image of a creator.

Hello again Howard. As far as I can see, we are serious about inquiring together but we’re also very sensitive to anyone who makes us look unaware or like we haven’t understood the teachings. Given this, I see two possible solutions: firstly, we can kind of hold back if we are in dialogue with someone we don’t have much of a realtionship with. Secondly, we can express what we want to say in a more general way so it doesn’t seem quite so personal. Maybe there will always be a certain risk in pointing out “what is” and probably this has to be done if there is to be discovery. I think all we can do is try to assess the risks and take it from there. Another option is to set the rules and tone in the opening post of a thread and warn people that they might be thoroughly challenged on this particular thread and may find themselves uncomfortable. Maybe people already do this but I don’t think I’ve seen a kind of “no holds barred” thread before here. What do you think?

**That appears to be the case. And, the thoughts, the beliefs and opinions, are being attributed to this image of a creator, as “my thoughts.” The thoughts of the “image of a creator.” And then the beliefs are defended, that thought has attributed to this self-image. Which seems to suggest, that the fact that the self-image is merely an image, is just an intellectual understanding, not a clear seeing of the fictional nature of this thought-identity.

Hello again Sean (thanks for continuing the inquiry) - This reminded me of how the opportunities to observe the conditioning seem to be constantly revealing themselves. What does it mean to “look unaware?” We don’t want people to have an image of us as unaware? This is interesting in that it’s not just about “my image,” but it implies a concern that “other people” will be “making images about me,” rather than simply listening to what I’m saying. That may likely be the case, but it reflects how this pattern of making images of each other is a cultural pattern, not a pattern unique to a particular human being.

**I wonder if this is one of the many ways that thought, the conditioning, moves away from what is? It seems to me that any attempt by thought to control what is, like “let’s make it easier to take,” is no longer a choiceless awareness. Again, I understand that there are ways to communicate that will result in less resistance. But at the same time, isn’t it this resistance to listening that seems to reveal the condition patterns that prevent listening? Are we trying to avoid this resistance, this obstruction, or observe it?

**Well, I wouldn’t call a focus on the nature of conditioned responses, “no holds barred.” And actually. this forum doesn’t allow that, and they hide the posts that violate common decency. Isn’t that the case? For example:

Please avoid:

  • Harassing other users
  • Name Calling
  • Ad hominem attacks
  • Responding to a post’s tone instead of its actual content
  • Knee-jerk contradiction

**Those suggestions are all fine with me. But apparently, it seems, some participants may feel that questioning the nature of thought, that someone may express, equates to “personal harassment.” But is that actually true? Or, is that actually just another pattern of psychological thought, a pattern of thought which asserts, “thought belongs to a particular identity, an identity created by that same system of thought.” All thought is conditioned thought, isn’t it? We didn’t create it, it happened to us. We were taught by the culture to think in these patterns. Do you see otherwise? Do you feel we have a no holds barred situation occurring?