A Dialogue between Professor P. Krishna and David Edmund Moody
May 14, 2016
Moody: Thank you, Professor Krishna, for participating with me in this dialogue. This is the first time we’ve done this, so it’s a little bit of an experiment. As we discussed, I’d like to take a few minutes to introduce our conversation, to set the table, as it were. I’m going to pose a few questions for us to discuss, and I’d like to explain the context, the background from which these questions arise. And that is, Krishnamurti spoke for roughly sixty years, and his philosophy was reasonably consistent in subject matter and language after World War II. So from 1946 until he died in 1986, forty years, he expressed fairly consistent themes and philosophy. And it has been another thirty years since he passed away, so that makes seventy years altogether. And during that period, it seems to me, the teachings have not fully flowered in the consciousness of mankind. They are certainly alive and well, and producing new blossoms here and there, but my sense is that the teachings have not yet flowered fully in human consciousness.
Humanity is not sufficiently, or nearly, as aware of the meaning of what he expressed as it must inevitably become. If there were a stock that you could invest in, Krishnamurti Teachings, and if I were a stock broker, I would urge you to buy now, because the stock is seriously undervalued. In twenty years or fifty years or a hundred years, I am pretty sure it is going to be worth a great deal more than its present value on the open market. I feel this way because the teachings, in my judgment, contain the truth. Or rather, it’s not that they contain truth; but the teachings reflect truth, or they have the seed of truth in some way embedded in them; and ultimately, truth must e merge. But it hasn’t yet, and I ask myself, Why? And in asking that, I must inevitably also ask, have the teachings flowered within myself?
And the answer is not difficult to discover. I find the teachings fascinating, rich and fertile, endlessly illuminating in various ways; but I certainly have not realized the transformation of consciousness that Krishnamurti discussed and pointed to. And again, I ask myself, Why? It seems to me that the teachings are vast and complex, but that only about fifty percent of them are entirely accessible and comprehensible. A person could spend a lifetime exploring that fifty percent and be enriched every time they looked. But there’s another perhaps twenty-five percent which is not so clear. In this category, there are many points that are intriguing, but their meaning is not fully clear. When he says, for example, the future is now, or time is thought, one has a rough sense of what this means, but not a full comprehension. And finally, there is another twenty-five percent which is even more obscure. And the points in this last category are not only difficult to grasp, but in addition, Krishnamurti indicates that these points in particular have special meaning and significance. And so the inability to understand this part of his teachings becomes doubly frustrating.
I don’t see in the Krishnamurti community an acknowledgment that certain areas of the teachings are not clear, and a concerted effort to focus on those areas. Maybe this is taking place and I am unaware of it; I’m not fully involved in the Krishnamurti community; but I don’t see it happening. And so I would like to begin today to initiate that process of focusing on points in the teachings which are not clear, which are not easy to grasp, and see if we can work together to illuminate their meaning. That’s the kind of larger experiment that I have in mind for today’s dialogue. The first issue that I would like to examine has to do with Krishnamurti’s frequent statement, “the observer is the observed.” He goes into this very often and explains, or tries to explain, the meaning of it. But the actual meaning, and to see for oneself the truth of it, is rather elusive. However, he points to this as a very important issue that human beings must come to grips with and understand, as if to see the truth of it would change their lives in a deep and fundamental way. So it seems very important to understand this. But one difficulty I have with this statement is that it seems to me Krishnamurti uses the word “observer” in two quite different ways. The most frequent way is the observer that he associates with the sense of self, the psychological entity at the center of consciousness, the me, the thinker. We can call that Observer Number One.
But he also uses the word “observer” in a much looser and more general way, as when he talks about someone looking at a mountain or a flower. There he says the individual who is observing the mountain or flower is obviously separate from whatever he is looking at. And when he refers to that observer, he seems to be referring to the whole person, the whole organism or consciousness that is looking. We can call that Observer Number Two. When Krishnamurti says the observer is the observed, it’s not clear which observer he’s referring to. Is it the ego, Observer Number One, the center of consciousness, that is the observed? Or, does he just mean the larger, more general, looser sense of “observer” — a consciousness, a nervous system, that is inseparable from any particular content of fear, or anger, or what have you?
There are some other confusing things about “the observer is the observed,” but I think I’ve said enough to begin to open it up. And, depending on your answer, I may bring in a few more points for us to discuss.
Krishna: That is the whole purpose of a dialogue, so that is most welcome. I have been listening to what you have said and I have a number of preliminary things to state before we really take up that question for investigation. One is that Krishnamurti said his words are not his teaching, that they are pointing to a truth which is not communicable in words. So he is essentially pointing to something and creating a question in our mind, and asking us to explore that, or investigate that question in order to come upon the truth, which lies beyond words, in the sense it lies at the level of perception and not at the level of ideation. So it is not very meaningful to go into his words, and analyze them and then say, it cannot be this, it must have been this that he meant. Because even if you do that, and you precisely get the meaning which he was trying to convey, it still remains only an idea; it doesn’t become the truth. When we read his book, our mind interprets the meaning of the words which he is using. We should doubt that interpretation too, not only the interpretation given by other people; because the interpretation from our own mind is also the response of a conditioned consciousness which is deducing a meaning.
It is still not the perception of the truth. So in order really to understand what did he mean to convey, we have to come upon the truth for ourselves. Only then we can be sure what he was conveying, which assumes that he had perceived the truth and then he was trying to convey it to us, unlike a professor of philosophy who hasn’t really perceived what he is talking about. He has lots of ideas about it and he is trying to convey those ideas.
So that’s one essential thing to remember in this inquiry: that he has basically planted the seed of inquiry, the seed of wisdom in our minds. And you raised the question of why it’s not flowering. The flowering depends upon the soil which we provide to the seed. The seed is there. As and when it receives the right soil, it will flower. So it is my responsibility to ensure that I am not destroying that seed which he has planted within me. This is not just my version; he has said so in so many words.
I look upon it the following way. These truths are eternal. They are not relative; they are the same for everybody. So any sage who has come upon them, whether two thousand years ago or recently, has perceived the same truth. By definition, it already exists around us, right now. The truths which the Buddha tried to point out, or Krishnamurti tried to point out, are there around us. And we have the senses, the capacity to perceive, to inquire – all the tools required are there. So what is coming in the way? Why is the flowering not taking place? That is the question you were asking. So, I see that there is nothing else between me and the truth except my own being, my own personality, which is coming in the way! That’s why it is completely my own responsibility to get out of the way, which means to put the observer away.
That doesn’t mean erase all the memories, which would be amnesia. So that is the problem: that I am wanting to perceive the truth, and in some sense, not very clear, I am myself in the way. It’s not as if society is preventing me, or something else is preventing me. So we need to investigate, what blocksperception? You can’t arrive at truth just through thinking and logic and analysis, you have to come upon perception – preferably, a perception which is free from the coloration which thoughtforms introduce – the socalled undistorted perception, or direct perception, if one can use those words.
In scientific terms, it is akin to seeing through a microscope which is completely free from any aberrations, spherical or chromatic. Scientists take jolly good care to see that the lenses are completely free from distortion, so that the image is an actual replica of the object, except for the magnification. Here, the mind is the microscope and if the mind itself is distorting, then the perception is not the truth. So I have to free myself of the elements of distortion by negating them, by examining what brings them into being. They are arising from within me. The causation is within me. If I can see the danger of what is blocking, then it can drop away. If they drop away, then what you perceive is the truth and only then we really know what he is pointing out. That is why to assert that “I know” is not right, until you have had that perception. Krishnamurti was always looking at the question afresh and coming upon the truth through perception, rather than through logic and thought. That doesn’t mean logic should not be there, or thought should not be there; but to be aware of this inherent limitation of thought. Saying that thought should not be there is another opinion which will create conflict:
what is trying to eliminate thought, is another thought!
So that is a very dicey area and it needstremendous attentive watchfulness, tremendous humility in one’s approach, if one is really to discern the difference between perception and ideation. I have just pointed out that the responsibility of perceiving the truth lies with oneself, which is what it means that you have to be a light unto yourself. That light we cannot get from him, or from his book or his statements. The important thing is to have that light, which is the light of perception which transforms consciousness. The idea and the knowledge are like property; they do not transform consciousness. The consciousness functions the same way in the man who has noble ideas as in the man who does not have noble ideas.
To clarify this further, in order to understand this whole area (this is not the way he has explained it, but the way I understand it) – I would say that within our consciousness, there are two parts: one is the conditioned consciousness, which is the personality, the memory, which is subjective because it contains my experiences, my knowledge. That is different for you and different for another, so it’s subjective. But there is also the universal part, which is neither yours nor mine nor anybody else’s. It is this capacity for awareness which is not a conditioned faculty, because it’s not a thought faculty; it includes observation, attention. So that is one observer — the observer who is just aware, passively, without the interference of thought. The other is the personality, which brings in the thought and so on. The two mix together and cause what we call experience. Now as far as I know, he is trying to say that it is possible to observe without the observer interfering, which means without the personality interfering.
I don’t know which one you call first and which one the second, but one can just look at that tree without thinking about it. That capacity for awareness is what distinguishes us from computers, or any mechanical device, like a camera, and so on. They don’t have awareness. We have this faculty of awareness which is not a thought faculty. It also operates through the brain, because if you destroy the brain, the awareness goes away. But it doesn’t mean that it’s the product of the brain. There is a major difference of opinion on that. Scientists say it is also the product of the brain; the religious people say the consciousness is independent of the brain, but it operates through the brain. So whether the brain is just a physiological mechanism enabling this universal consciousness to function through it – or it produces that – is not very clear. There are people who say this and there are people who say the other.
But the personality is entirely the conditioned entity which is the person, and that determines my response to what I am seeing. Even in that part, I think there is a response which is from nature, which is universal. For example, if you see the sunset, you feel the joy or the beauty of it. If you are sensitive, you feel it more strongly. The man who is less sensitive feels it less strongly; but basically, both are seeing the same thing, and both have a sense of joy or beauty. The intensity may vary from person to person. So there is also an inherent, natural, universal response not from thinking. The personality has, in addition, thought processes which includes sentiment and so on; so a Hindu looking at a cow has a sense of sacredness which has been created by thought processes. But what he is seeing is the same as what the Muslim is seeing. There is not a difference in the seeing; there is a difference in the reaction or the response from the personality, which is very different and subjective. The universal part is not so different, except for differences of sensitivity.
You can call one the universal observer and the other the personal observer. Those are your two observers. This is just my way of looking at it; Krishnamurti didn’t express it in these words, but I think this is what he is pointing to and it seems to me to be true. When I look at this whole field, I sense that we have awareness and we have thought, which are different faculties. And when we are strongly attached to the thinking part, then it dominates in our consciousness and that blocks the possibility of perceiving objectively, without the interference of personality. Therefore, that blocks insight which is not a thought phenomenon. It operates through the awareness, the silence, the joy and beauty part of our being. When perceiving that becomes your mission, then the other one falls silent; but if you are all the time wanting to achieve something, you are giving importance to the desire which thought creates, then it becomes your mission to fulfill that desire and that’s the way you go. If it doesn’t, and if you have seen for yourself that the transformation of consciousness doesn’t come through thinking, and through the use of will, or through fulfillment of desires, then it may cease to interfere. But the truth of this has also to be seen and not merely agreed to.
Awareness can watch this whole process of how the personality is interpreting and how distortion is taking place and the consequences of that. The truth of this distortion can also be perceived. Then, if you are clear in your mind, and you are not seeking rewards or pleasure, but you are only seeking the understanding of life (of ‘what is’), then the ego component, or the thought component will become less important and the other one can flower; otherwise, it does not flower. So that is the responsibility we have, because we have both possibilities, both ways in which we can look. Humanity, by and large, has given a lot of importance to the thought faculty and the personality, and that is what creates the ego.
Moody: Thank you. Thank you, sir. With respect to thought versus perception, as I mentioned, at least half of Krishnamurti’s teachings are clear, vivid, and illuminating. And one of the points he makes in that category is the statement, the word is not the thing. This is one of the statements where one can see for oneself the truth of it, and one can see this is completely fundamental. Therefore, when one tries to understand the more obscure statements that he makes, we can always keep in mind that the word is not the thing; the ideation is not the perception. And so my feeling, and my point of departure in this dialogue is, fair enough – the word is not the thing. On the other hand, it’s been seventy years since he’s been doing this, and certain statements simply remain unclear. Some of what he says, it seems to me, is simply not comprehensible as English language. Clearly he was trying to communicate through English. He was very careful with the use of words. He wanted it to be logical. In discussing with David Bohm, he often asked, “Is this logical?” And Bohm would say, “No, it’s not quite clear. Let’s clarify the use of that word.”
So he wanted to communicate with words, but some of the words, the phrases, the sentences he uses, to me, are Greek. And I want to translate them into English. And in that process of translating into English, I realize that I’m only getting the word and not the thing. Ideation is not perception. I am prepared to go beyond the word. But I can’t go beyond the word unless I first understand the word! I want to translate from the Greek into the English in certain respects. And , “the observer is the observed” is Greek to me. I don’t understand what it means at a literal, sense-meaning level. And your explanation has clarified it for me a little bit. I’m
going to go back after we’re done and listen to this dialogue again, and perhaps make a transcript
of it and study it more carefully. But I’m still not quite sure about the sense-meaning of that statement. And I want to understand what he meant by it in his language – knowing full well that is not enough. I want to go beyond the word, but I can’t go beyond until I get the word. That’s one point.
A second point is, you said some things which leads into our second question. You said, consciousness can be cognizant, can engage in the process of awareness, at the same time as the ego, the personality is active. So one can be aware outwardly, and aware of that ego process also — aware of the whole thing. So it’s not as though I am going to eliminate my personality or stop the ego from functioning. But I can watch it as it functions, and discriminate, or discern, which is the personality, the conditioned background, and which is perception. This is a crucial point, I think, absolutely crucial. And it leads into my second question, because sometimes Krishnamurti made another statement that I find quite confusing —
Krishna: Can we stay with the first question first? Otherwise it mixes up in the mind. We’ll take up the second question a little later. What does it mean, the observer is the observed? We talked about two kinds of observation. One in which the personality is involved, the other in which only the universal consciousness or awareness is taking place, and the thought is not projecting. We seem to be capable of both, though we cannot always order the thought not to interfere. Now, the computerized part, which is the part which is from the personality, there the observer is the observed. Because, the personality is quite a bit like a computer. You have been programmed into being a Hindu or a Muslim or a Christian or a nationalist, or you have been programmed into comparing and competing, or not programmed that way, and so on. Accordingly, the personality responds, and your thought process responds.
Now, if we look at the computer, is there a difference between the output of the computer and the program in the computer? I would say, basically they are the same. If you have programmed it for accounts, it will give out accounts. So there is that part of us which is just the memory, and the memory is conditioned. And in that part, the observer is the observed, because my responses are coming from the program, and the program was thoughts which have been put there into me. So there, the observer is the observed, and it is important to perceive the truth of this, otherwise one thinks that one is an independent thinker who has thought out something. Now, I could be having an insight which is not from the personality. All great paradigm shifts and so on have taken place from such insights, and that occurs through the second observer, which is the universal part. When I describe that insight, I use the memory, because the language is sitting there, and the reasoning is sitting there, and I am using reason and words to communicate – precisely or not so precisely, depending on how well my computer is programmed, which means how well I have been trained. And Krishnamurti was not trained in that part, so that’s partly the difficulty, and partly also the beauty of it, because when you sometimes get the words very precisely, it gives you an impression that you have understood when you have not really understood. So in a way, it’s healthy that there is a certain amount of confusion, because when there is confusion we know that we don’t know, and that’s what creates inquiry and inquiry is necessary for any kind of new perception to arise; otherwise you just repeat what you have heard or seen.
In the other part, where one is just aware, I think that’s the part where he is saying there is no observer. There is only observation taking place without an observer. And he is basically saying that you can also observe inside yourself, the reactions of your computer, or your memory, with a somewhat silent mind, if you do not identify, compare, judge, justify, condemn etc. In that case you can perceive the truth about your inner workings also if you are passively aware of what is going on without any desire to change it. That is what the scientist does when he wants to understand, say, planetary motion. He just sits down and watches — how does it go round, how much time it takes, and so on. He’s not interjecting his own feelings into it, right? So just observing a phenomenon gives you a lot of factual information about the phenomenon. As you mentioned, we can be aware of the interference of the ego and its consequences.
If you pay attention and you observe like that, it also enhances your sensitivity. You can see that, for example, when you are exposed to music for a long time. You are in contact with that music, your perception and your response to that music enhances in your mind. The beauty of that music is perceived more intensely as sensitivity is enhanced in your mind. That is not all sentimental. If you bring in sentiment or analysis or comparison, you have introduced the personality into the perception. But even without thinking, if you just live with nature and watch nature, your sensitivity to nature grows. Sensitivity is the response from the universal part and it also grows. It is the the joy of pure perception, which I distinguish from the pleasure of thinking/ sentiment/ nostalgia etc., which are based on memory. Then it is observation without the observer; the observer being the entity which is conditioned, which responds from memory. That is what passive awareness means. Passive means the personality is not interfering with perception. Krishnamurti’s teaching says that watching ‘what is’, without reacting to it, brings about a change in what is. He insisted, “Sir, don’t accept what I am saying; investigate it! It is in investigating that you come upon a deeper perception.”
We know that, because all thoughts start from assumptions. All thinking is from certain assumpt ions in the mind, including scientific thinking. If you are trained in classical physics, there are the assumptions of classical physics. In the same way, if you are brought up as a Hindu or a Muslim, your thinking is based on those values. In science, we talk of the paradigm shift. The paradigm shift comes not from thinking but from insight. Here also, when thought is not there, there is a deeper perception which can create a paradigm shift. Some of your assumptions will drop away. You will see the falseness of it, and it drops away. That paradigm shift is a partial transformation of consciousness. It is not yet the total transformation K talks about since there may still be other unquestioned assumptions in the mind which are false. Nevertheless, it is a deeper understandingand any real change is a byproduct of such understanding. It’s an illusion to think that change in the psychological field is brought about through practice or through will.
Most of us think that we can take a decision to be non-violent, try to be non-violent, and eventually become non-violent, but Krishnamurti says it is not a gradual process of achieving an end through decision and will; it’s a perception which is instantaneous. That is why, psychologically, the future is now. You may not come upon that perception for ten years, but during those ten years, you will not be gradually coming upon it. You have either perceived, or you have not perceived. And the day you have perceived, the false drops away. And that’s a real change. The rest is only will, which can only control the external manifestation of whatever you are feeling; it cannot end the feeling. You cannot control the feeling. If I feel hatred, I can control myself and not become abusive or not hit somebody, but you cannot remove the hatred
by a decision. It will not go gradually because there is a deep-seated causation behind it. If I see that my own approach is causing it, I can drop that approach; that is a learning which deepens our understanding and brings a real change.
So, if I follow you, part of the process of learning, as you mentioned, is that you don’tget rid of the personality, or stop the personality from interfering with perception, by an act of will. It’s not a decision. But what is possible is to observe not only outwardly but also to watch the emotions
of anger, jealousy, attachment, and so on, which arise from the personality and the ego that is reacting to those things. This leads to the question which Krishnamurti sometimes asked, “Can thought become aware of its own activity?” Ordinarily thought functions in some way of which we’re not directly aware. For example, knowledge is embedded in our awareness, but the knowledge comes from thought, and we don’t see the action of thought producing that effect on our awareness. So he asks, can thought become aware of its own movement? Which means, can thought be aware of itself? In addition, he says, that doesn’t mean that I am aware of thought. He makes this distinction very sharply. It’s not that I am aware of thought, but rather, thought is aware of itself. Is that possible?
Krishna: Yes, that’s very dicey, and [laughs] very subtle, and one needs to really examine that without making conceptual images about it if one is to discern for oneself what possibly he could have meant – or, better still, what the truth is. Even if we get what he meant [laughs], that is not the truth for us. We said that in the beginning, that it’s only when we come upon the truth that we can say, may be this is what he meant – assuming that he came upon the truth.
So, can thought be aware of itself? To me, the thought faculty is separate from the faculty of awareness. Awareness belongs to the universal part and thought to the personality. Awarenes s can be aware of thought, because thought is a material thing taking place. It is part of the phenomenon that is being observed, so the awareness can watch the thought also. It can watch everything that is going on: the origin of thought, its source, whether it comes from propaganda, from conditioning, etc. I don’t see in that the possibility of thought being aware. Right? Because thought is separate from awareness. So it’s a very confusing question: “Can thought be aware of itself?” My tentative answer is no, because thought is not awareness.
But there is one little window [laughs], which I am not sure of. If you perceive something – how would you explain that to somebody else? For that you have to use thought, you have to use reason, you have to use logic, you have to use words. So you have to use the personality in order to communicate. So perhaps he could be meaning, can you come upon a thought which is only describing perception, right? Not that thought is aware, but that thought is expressing what you have perceived through awareness. That is a possible meaning which makes sense. He was not a person who had learnt physics and philosophy and so on. I think he never cared about talking very precisely, and that was the value of David Bohm. For example, K would say, “Time is thought. Time is ego.” And then David Bohm would say, “Is all time ego?” And then he would look into it and say, “No, no, all time is not the ego,” Right? [laughs]
So you must remember that he was a man who had deep insight. He was not a scholar. Scholars are very precise in their definitions. Every word is carefully defined. And that’s why philosophy students don’t read Krishnamurti, because they say it is so confusing. He is using words with different meanings in different places, and you can find contradictory statements.
You can find that in the Buddha also. He says one thing in one place and a seemingly opposite thing in another place.
So you have to see it in the context and sort of get the sense of it, and even so, as we said earlier, it is just an idea. A correct idea is still not the truth. So they were not scholars, and they did not lay great emphasis on giving very precise expression to what they were seeing. They were saying , “We are only pointing to something. The words being used are symbols. They are not the thing
, and you have to come upon the thing, which is through the faculty of awareness.” You have to come upon the perception of what they are trying to convey. They were speaking from perceptio n. So, possibly, a thought which arises not from the conditioning, but from perception, could be said to be a thought which is aware of its limitation.
Moody: You mentioned Krishnamurti’s conversations with David Bohm. And the most extended series of their conversations was published under the title The Ending of Time. And, as Bohm helped Krishnamurti make clear, he didn’t mean time by the clock or the calendar. He did not mean chronological, ordinary time. Krishnamurti proposed that there is another kind of time, which he called psychological time. And he emphasized the importance of understanding the falseness, the illusory nature of psychological time.
I think that this is a distinction that we don’t ordinarily make. We don’t go around in our daily lives even being aware or thinking in terms of two different kinds of time. To us, there is just time, not chronological time versus psychological time. But Krishnamurti says, “No, you have another kind of time, psychological time.” And he says that kind of time is the enemy of man. He was very, very emphatic that psychological time is not only illusory, but a serious danger. Since we don’t even recognize that distinction, it becomes important, if you want to understand the teachings, or life, to come upon that distinction. What exactly is that distinction? I have some more focused questions about it, but before I challenge you more precisely [laughs], I’d like to give you a chance just to observe at that level.
Krishna: Yes, I want to make a general statement. Whenever you find what Krishnamurti is saying confusing, I have found that if you just add the word “psychological” it often becomes comprehensible. I think he was basically talking in the field of the psychological and assumed that we all understood that. He would say, for example, “All thought corrupts!” He made that
statement once in a BBC interview when they asked him to start with a statement and many people just turned off their radio! They must have thought, “Everybody thinks, does that mean we are all corrupt? What is this man talking about?” [laughs] But if you add the word “psychological” and say all psychological thinking, which produces like and dislike, which is egoistic thinking, is corrupt; then it becomes comprehensible
In the same way, when he talks of psychological time it is quite different from chronological time. It comes into being when I create hope in the psychological field, as when I say I am violent but I will gradually become non-violent, after 10 years of practice. This hope, he says, is an illusion because it needs perception of the false as the false, not effort or knowledge. Time is needed to accumulate knowledge and skills but it cannot produce perception. When you think you will utilize time to become non-violent you have effectively allowed yourself to remain violent for ten years! This illusion removes the sense of urgency and blocks
perception. So psychologically, you will remain in the same state because you are not perceiving. You are trying to achieve something and it’s not something to be achieved; it’s something to be perceived.
I can give other examples to explain this, because I have given a lot of thought and attention to this whole thing. Psychological time is basically the egoistic approach to things. That’s why he says psychological time is ego, because when you say I will gradually get there, you are positing an ideal to which you will come gradually. That is an accumulative process, which is an ego process. So the moment you have gone in that direction, you have created the ego by approaching the issue in that manner. If it is clear to you that time won’t help, it is only perception that brings about change, then psychological time disappears. Which means you are not approaching life egoistically, you are approaching life like a student. You are wondering, you have a sense of mystery, and you are engaging yourself in trying to understand that mystery; all of which is not connected with achieving anything, so it’s not egoistic. It is being a student of oneself and of life. That is the state of learning needed for self-knowledge.
Moody: Krishnamurti associated psychological time with what he called the process of “becoming.” I want to become something…
Krishna: … Psychologically
Moody: Psychologically, yes. Non-violent, or what have you. So, let’s take some cases, OK? And find out if psychological time is illusory. Let’s say I’m overweight. I don’t like how I look. I resolve to lose twenty pounds in three months. I’m going to diet; I’m going to exercise; I’m going to undertake a series of practical steps. Psychologically, I want to look better, and it’s going to take me three months, and I do it. I lose those twenty pounds and I do feel better. Am I not engaged in a process of becoming? Is that not actual time? Didn’t it work?
Or, suppose I want to learn French. And it’s not only a practical thing; I admire people who know French. I admire people who are bilingual, and when I learn French, I’m going to be proud of my accomplishment. I’m going to achieve something that is meaningful to me and admirable. I’m going to take six months, and study and practice, and after that time I will have learned French, to some extent. And when I succeed in that, I’ll be proud of my achievement. Isn’t that psychological time? Why is that an illusion?
Krishna: Ah, that’s not psychological time in the sense in which Krishnaji meant psychological time. It is a physical achievement like making a garden, making a building, or learning a language, or bicycling, or learning music. There you need effort, you need practice, you need a teacher who can teach you what are mistakes, and you can learn that. You are developing a skill.
And it is really cultivation of capacity and memory in your brain. Those are all areas in which experts, practice, method and effort are necessary and right. It is only in the psychological realm, when I say I am jealous, but I’ll not be jealous. Or Iam angry, and I will not be angry. Or I am comparing, and I will gradually stop comparing myself with people. Or I am competitive now, but I will gradually stop being competitive later on. Or I amnot happy now, but I will be happy in five years from now, by doing this and doing that and so on. That, he says, is an illusion. Making a garden, learning a language, driving a car– that’s not an illusion. That is a cultivation
of skill. He has given importance to that in education; you must excel both in knowledge and in in self-knowledge which leads to excellence at the level of consciousness. Self-knowledge is the result of inquiry for discerning what is true and what is false, thereby ending the false. This
learning is different from the cumulative or additive learning of skills and knowledge. He was never saying that time is not involved in the accumulative learning.
Now, pride is in the psychological realm. You mentioned that I achieve that, and I feel proud of my achievement. That pride is the psychological time and it is destructive as it builds the ego, because you have vanity, and you will feel important and so on. The actual physical part takes time and there time has meaning, achievement has meaning, effort has meaning, thinking has meaning. But you can’t stop your anger in that way. Because, you can control the manifestation of the anger outwardly, but inwardly, if you feel angry, there is a causation within, which is coming from certain assumptions which are false. And if you don’t see the falseness of those assumptions, they will continue. Your will cannot erase the cause; therefore, the effect will continue; therefore, the psychological state continues to be the same unless you have a deep perception of the illusion from which it originates. Only then it can change.
So time is not helping you to achieve that. Time can help add to your knowledge, your ideas, your property. It can add to your linguistic ability, to your skills, but those things will not free you from anger, because the illusion has not ended within your mind. The illusion being, the false assumptions from which it starts. The false assumption could be that other people should suit me; if they don’t suit me, I get angry. The mind evaluates the effect the other has on me, which produces like and dislike. Unless you see that the internal cause is this process of measurement, which in turn is based on the assumption that that person must suit me, the anger is inevitable. There is also the assumption that through anger, through shouting, through pressure, you can bring about change in the other person. That’s another illusion, because he will change when he has perception. So if you really want him to change, you should be communicating with him as a friend, having a dialogue, so that his understanding deepens and he frees himself.
So the response of anger is just a reaction because I am finding it unpleasant. That’s an egoistic reaction. And it won’t end unless I have a deep perception of the source from which it arises. So after ten years, that source is still there, the anger will still be there. Therefore, you can’t gradually get rid of it. But if the assumption is dropped, it changes, and that becomes transformation. That perception may come ten years hence or it may never come in your lifetime, or it may happen today! It is not dependent on time. It does not happen because you are gradually putting in effort or spending time. In that sense, the psychological change is not a matter of time, it’s a matter of perception. Perception is insight, which is not a time phenomenon. It’s like a quantum transition. It occurs in time, but it doesn’t take time. In that sense, psychologically, the future is now.
Moody: Forgive me for belaboring this a little bit.
Krishna: Please do. That makes it more clear, you see.
Moody: All right. I understand, if I am angry, perception may affect the anger, but my decision not to be angry will be futile. But aren’t there other ways in which I can approach my
psychological condition, which do take place through chronological time, and yet have the psychological effect that I am aiming for? For example, suppose I miss my wife, who is in New York. And I know that if I am with her, I am going to be glad. I’m going to be happy. And so I buy a ticket, and I am going to be in New York in three days. I know that is going to make me happy, and I go there, and it does make me happy.
Or suppose I am angry with you because you were late to our appointment, and you had no reason. It was disrespectful to me. Now, I can’t decide not to be angry, but I can have it out with you and discuss it; I can express my feeling. And I’m pretty sure that if we do that, I won’t be so angry any more. And so we do that, we do that together, and at the end of it my anger dissipates. Haven’t I engaged in activities with the intention of achieving a psychological effect? Isn’t that a kind of process of becoming, and didn’t it work?
Krishna: It’s like aspirin works on a headache, right? Temporarily it will work. You find your way to New York, you meet your wife, you will get over that sorrow of being away from her. But next time she goes off – [laughs] ?.
What about the dependence that I am happy only in her presence, and as soon as she is gone I am miserable, right? You haven’t really come out of that psychological state. You have just solved it externally by avoiding the special circumstances. So, that’s different from transformation of consciousness. We are all the time doing that. We are all the time trying to solve our problems by dealing with the external circumstances.
Now I’ll give you an example of the difference between a learning mind and the reacting mind. You know, I’ve been a teacher of physics, and you have been a teacher too. While you were teaching you were taking a lot of trouble preparing your lessons and communicating to the students and so on. And say, somebody tells me that your student was saying, “Professor Krishna is a lousy teacher. You know, I don’t get what he is talking about. He goes above my head; I don’t follow anything. So what’s the use of going to his classes?” Now, if I have an egoistic mind with a sense of reputation, a feeling that I am doing a lot for these kids, and they should feel grateful to me and so on, then I feel angry, I react. I say, “I take so much trouble for them and that fellow doesn’t pay attention in the class, then goes and bad-mouths me behind my back; I’m going to teach him a lesson tomorrow!” And I fight with him and I say, “How dare you talk about me like that?” etc
Now, suppose I approach the whole thing differently, with a learning mind. I just take what he said as an input of information: that there is a student in my class who said, he is not following what I am teaching. I don’t know why that is so; let me find out. Right? Are there also perhaps more students like that? So I have now a thing to learn. I am approaching it as an information which has provided me with a question worth exploring. So I go into the class next day and ask, “Well, how many of you understood what we talked about last time?” And you ask a few questions and you come to know that, well, about half the class has not quite understood what I have been teaching. As a teacher, I am trying to communicate, to make them understand Physics but it is not happening. Maybe I am assuming an amount of prior knowledge which is
not there, or maybe I am dealing with the topic at a level which is not right for that age. So I have to find out. Because ultimately I have to communicate with them and not just find fault. So all that is involved. How you are approaching determines whether you will react and respond with anger – or, you will take it as an input from which you will learn, and you will change the way you are teaching. So that egoistic reaction, the anger, is something I build up through my own approach to the issue. And Krishnamurti is saying this learning mind can remove those assumptions on which your anger is based. So that’s just an example from our own life, because one has gone through that kind of learning [laughs], but it is not the same as being totally free.
You have ended one false assumption. There may be other assumptions like that. So you just go on learning and living with questions to be explored. And I think his teaching is, every time you experience a negative emotion, like jealousy or rivalry or strong likes or dislikes, or anger, violence – instead of saying it is bad, it should not be there, berating yourself, judging that, can you approach it differently? Approach yourself also differently, approach with a learning mind. Treat it as an opportunity to learn about oneself and ask: from where did it arise? So I watch the anger, rather than say it should not be there and suppress it or escape from it or act outwardly. That’s not so important. I am interested in learning about myself, so I take it as an opportunity. If I felt jealous when my neighbor bought a Mercedes car, it’s an opportunity to look at that and free oneself of it. So you approach all these things in yourself also, non-egoistically. The learning mind is not an egoistic mind. The achieving mind, suppressing mind, the judgmental mind, is an egoistic mind. And that is why he emphasized that freedom from the ego is at the beginning, not at the end of the game. Because if your thought process and your inquiry itself is egoistic, how can you come to freedom from the ego through an egoistic process?
It is like saying, I am going to achieve peace through war. It’s not going to bring peace because the means are not separate from the end. All that is involved in this process. So the importance shifts when you deeply realize that change does not come through decision in this field. In the garden, in the house, it comes from decision, from getting things, from getting money to get the tools for making it possible and all that. In that field, there are paths and there are tools and all that. In this field, there is nothing. You can change it only if you have a deep perception which dissolves the causation within you. And if it doesn’t dissolve, you will continue with the same assumptions, ten years from now, and have the same response.
Moody: We’re going to have to stop, I’m afraid, in a few minutes. But forgive me, I just cannot resist asking this last question, which was not planned in advance. I understand I cannot decide not to be angry. In the same way, I cannot decide to become happy. That kind of decision is a false movement of consciousness. It is only a learning mind that can come to terms with my jealousy or anger. But my question is: can I make a decision to have a learning mind? [laughs]
Krishna: [laughs] If you see the necessity of it, you will have a learning mind. If you don’t see the necessity, you won’t have it because you decide to. It’s not a question of decision, it’s a question of examining this whole thing, including the fact that you cannot change without perception. You have to see the truth of this through observation, not through argument. Then it’ll act. It’ll act because you don’t want to waste your time. If you know that you can’t become happy by just acquiring a few more things, the importance of acquiring will go down. The
importance of watching oneself, learning and coming upon perception will increase. It is an illusion that external achievement is frightfully important. That is a deep propaganda that society has drilled into us. It’s a very deep conditioning. Even if you say it is conditioning and it should not be there, it won’t go away. You have to watch it and actually perceive the danger of it and see that your own approach is creating it – then it goes. It goes, not because of your decision; it goes because nature has put an intelligence in you which does not permit you to court danger. It’s like the danger of fire, the danger of a precipice. You don’t have any conflict; you just stop there. So that’s a direct perception. The day you perceive that approaching life egoistically creates all this complication in life, and you perceive the danger in it, it will end; that approach will surely fall away. Because then nature’s intelligence acts. It is wanting to protect us, but we are not aware of the danger!.
That’s a good point to end at.