The nature of the mind
2nd Scientists Discussion, Ojai, California
April 17, 1982
Tom Krause: This is one of a series of dialogues between J Krishnamurti, David Bohm, Rupert Sheldrake and John Hidley. The purpose of these discussions is to explore essential questions about the mind: what is psychological disorder and what is required for fundamental psychological change.
J Krishnamurti is a religious philosopher, author and educator who has written and given lectures on these subjects for many years. He has founded elementary and secondary schools in the United States, England and India.
David Bohm is professor of theoretical physics at Birkbeck College, London University in England. He has written numerous books concerning theoretical physics and the nature of consciousness. Professor Bohm and Mr Krishnamurti have held previous dialogues on many subjects.
Rupert Sheldrake is a biologist whose recently published book proposes that learning in some members of a species affects the species as a whole. Dr Sheldrake is presently consulting plant physiologist to the International Crops Research Institute in Hyderabad, India.
John Hidley is a psychiatrist in private practice who has been associated with the Krishnamurti school in Ojai, California for the past six years.
In the first dialogue the nature of the self was discussed, its relationship to suffering, to society, and to religion. Questions raised were: can one discover or learn about these relationships and is the need for psychological security the root of the problem? Today's discussion continues with these questions.
John Hidley: We talked yesterday, we started with the question of the origin and nature of psychological disorder, and suggested that it has its roots in self-centred activity which is divisive and conflictual in nature and that biologically such factors as instinctual aggression and dominance drives, the facts of illness and death all contribute. I wondered if we could start this morning, David, by having you comment on the relationship between these biological factors and psychological security.
David Bohm: Yes, well, biologically if you begin with the animal you have all sorts of things like fear and anger and aggression and they're fairly simple. They exist for a short period while the fact is there and then they generally disappear, leaving little trace. There may be a few cases in the higher animals where there's some memory, but it's in man that the memory becomes very significant, remembering all these experiences and anticipating the future you get a very different sort of behaviour. For example, with an animal he might have a bad experience with another animal and shortly afterward he'll be in fairly good state of equilibrium, but say we have a quarrel between two groups, as in Northern and Southern Ireland, this has been going on for 350 years and there is a specific effort to remember it which you can see going on. And I think this is the biggest difference.
JH: Memory being the...
DB: Yes, the effect of memory, the consequences of memory. You see memory by itself would obviously not cause any trouble, because it's only a fact, right? But memory has consequences: it may produce fear, you see, it may produce anger; it may produce all sorts of disturbances to remember what did happen and to anticipate what may happen.
Rupert Sheldrake: You mean thinking about it?
DB: Yes. Based on memory, right?
RS: I mean, obviously the animal that's been attacked by another animal remembers in the sense that when it sees the other animal again, it's afraid. It probably doesn't think about it in between.
DB: Yes, it can't form an image, you see, I don't believe that most animals can form images of the other animals, and I can base that on experience, that I have seen dogs fighting very hard, and as soon as they turn the corner, the dog sort of forgets what happened. He is disturbed but he doesn't know why he is disturbed, you see. Now, if he could remember the other dog after he turned the corner, he could continue the struggle over territory indefinitely. So the point about territory is, the animal maintains it in a certain limited context. But man remembers it and he maintains this territory indefinitely and wants to extend it, and so on, because of his thinking about it.
RS: So, are you suggesting that the basis of the specifically human kind of pain and suffering over and above the kind of suffering we see in the animal kingdom is this ability to remember, to brood over it, think about it?
DB: Yes, the animal may have some of that, I've seen examples on television of a deer who lost its doe and it was pining away in the wild, but I think it's limited, that is, there is some suffering of that kind in the animal world but with man it's enormously expanded, you know, it seems limitless. Yes, I think the major point is that with man the thing can build up like a tremendous explosion that fills his whole mind, you see, and it can become the major motive in life, to remember the insult and to, you know, to revenge the vendetta, in families over many generations. To remember the bad experience you had with somebody and to be frightened of what's coming like the examination that the child may be frightened of, or something like that.
K: But have you answered his question, sir?
DB: Which is?
JH: How does the biological fact of illness or death or instinctual drive result in a psychological problem or disorder?
DB: By thinking about it. I say that the biological fact is not a serious problem, in the long run, but as soon as you begin to think about it, and not merely think about it but make images about it along with that thought, you know; and to revive the memory and anticipate the feeling of the future; and while you are thinking then it becomes a very serious problem because you can't stop it, you see. You will never attain security by thinking about it, but you are constantly seeking security. You see, the purpose of thinking is to give you security in practical affairs, technical affairs. Now, therefore you are doing a similar sort of thinking, saying how can I be secure against the possibility of suffering again? And there is no way to do that. You may take technical steps to make it unlikely, but as you think about it, you begin to stir up the whole system and distort the whole mental process.
JH: Well, it seems clear that by thinking about it we stir up the emotions and the associations that are those thoughts, but we're not suggesting we shouldn't think about it, are we?
DB: Well, it depends on how you think about it. You see, this thinking gets to be directed toward giving you a sense of security, you see, an image of security.
JH: Right, I get hurt when I'm little or some time along the line and it creates a fear in me and I anticipate that kind of situation. I may not even remember the incident, but I want to avoid it in the future.
DB: Yes, and now, the point is this: the mind is always searching for how to avoid it, and searching out thoughts, images, you know, saying, that fellow is the one who did it, I must keep away from him; coming to conclusions and if any conclusion gives you an image of security, then the mind holds on to it, right? Without actually any basis.
JH: Could you elaborate on that a little?
DB: Well, if you have had a bad experience with somebody, you may conclude that you should never trust him again, for example. Although that might be quite wrong. But the mind is so anxious to have security that it will jump to the conclusion that it's not safe to trust him. Right?
DB: Now, if you find somebody else who seems to treat you well and reassures you and flatters you, then you may jump to the conclusion you can completely trust him. Now, the mind is now looking for thoughts that will give it good feelings, you see, because the feelings of the memory are so disturbing to the whole system that its first function is to make the mind feel better, rather than find out what is the fact.
JH: Okay, so you're saying that at this point the mind isn't interested in what's true, it's interested in getting secure.
DB: Yes, it's so disturbed that it wants to come to order first you see, and it's adopting a wrong way, as I see it.
JH: The wrong way being?
DB: To think about it and try to find thoughts that will make it feel better.
JH: So you're saying that thoughts themselves in some sense are taking the place of reality, that the person is trying to get certain thoughts in his head that make him feel better.
DB: Yes. And that's self-deception, you see.
RS: What makes you think that the primary drive is for security?
DB: Oh, we discussed that yesterday, of course, but I wouldn't be sure that's the only primary drive, but it's obvious, for the animal it's a very important drive to want security, right? We also want pleasure, I think that's another drive - which are closely related.
RS: But to come back to this question of security, in its limited forms, security is clearly one goal that we have. People like to have houses and have them secure and cars and possessions and bank balances and that kind of thing. But there's this factor that comes in, when you've got that, there are two things, actually, that come in: one is maybe the fear that you'll lose it, but the other is boredom with the whole thing and the craving for excitement and thrill. And this doesn't seem to fit within this model of this primary and central craving for security.
DB: Well that's why I said it's only one of the drives, right? That there's also the drive toward pleasure, as an example, much of what you said is included in the drive toward pleasure, right?
RS: I'm not so sure.
DB: Excitement is pleasurable and then people hope for pleasure and excitement rather than pain, as a rule.
RS: But don't you think there's a pleasure in itself in curiosity and there's a sense of freedom in discovery that you can get from certain kinds of exploration which is neither just straightforward pleasure, it's not a repetitive kind of pleasure, nor is it security.
DB: Yes, well, I didn't want to say that all our drives are caught in this thing, you see, I said that if you think about them and base them on memory, then they are going to get caught in this problem. Now there may be a natural, free interest in things which could be enjoyable, and that need not be a problem, right? But if you were to become dependent on it and think about it and say, if I don't have it I become very unhappy, then it would be a similar problem.
K: Could we go into the question, what is security? What does that word convey? Apart from physical security.
RS: I would have said invulnerability.
K: Not to be hurt.
RS: Not to be hurt at all, not to be able to be hurt.
K: Not to be able to be hurt and not to hurt. Physically we are all hurt, one way or another: operations and illness and so on, so on. When you talk about being hurt, are you talking about psychological hurts?
JH: Yes, I'm wondering how it is that when a person comes into my office, his complaint is his psychological hurts.
K: How do you deal with it?
JH: I try and...
K: Suppose I come to you. I am hurt from childhood.
K: I am hurt by the parents, school, college, university...
K: ...when I get married she says something, I am hurt. So this whole living process seems to be a series of hurts.
JH: It seems to build up a structure of self that is hurt, and a perception of reality that is inflicting hurt.
K: Yes. How do you deal with it?
JH: I try to help you see how you're doing it.
K: What do you mean, how I'm doing it?
JH: Well, for example, if you have built up in you the notion that you're one down; or that you're the victim. Then you perceive yourself to be victimised and you perceive the world to be a victimiser. And I help you realise that that's what you're doing.
K: But by showing me that, will I get rid of my hurt? My hurts, very deep unconscious hurts that I have, that make me do all kinds of peculiar actions, neurotic, and isolating myself.
JH: Yes. It appears that people get better, that they realise that they are doing it. And in some local area it seems to help.
K: No, but aren't you concerned, if I may ask, with not being able to hurt at all?
DB: What do you mean by that, not hurting somebody else or not hurting inside of you.
K: I may hurt others unconsciously, unwillingly, but I wouldn't hurt voluntarily somebody.
DB: Yes, you really don't intend to hurt anybody.
K: Yes. I wouldn't.
RS: Well, maybe not, but I don't see the connection between not hurting other people and not being hurt oneself. At least I'm sure there must be one, but it's not obvious. And most people's view of the best way not to be hurt would be to be in such a position that you can hurt others so much they'd never dare. This is the principle of nuclear retaliation and this is a very common principle.
K: Yes, of course.
RS: So it's not obvious that not hurting others is related to not being hurt oneself. In fact, usually it's taken to be the reverse. It's usually assumed that if you're in a position to hurt others very much you'll be very secure.
K: Of course, I mean if you're a king or a sannyasi or one of those people who have built a wall round themselves...
K: ...naturally you can never hurt them.
K: But when they were children they were hurt.
K: That hurt remains. It may remain superficially or in the deep recesses of one's own mind. Now, how do you, as a psychologist, psychotherapist, help another who is deeply hurt and is unaware of it and to see if it is possible not to be hurt at all?
JH: I don't address the question about is it possible to not be hurt at all. That doesn't come up.
K: Why? Wouldn't that be a reasonable question?
JH: Well, it seems to be what we are asking here. It is the essence of the question that we're asking. We ask it in terms of particulars only in therapy, and you're asking it more generally, is it possible to end this hurt, period. Not just a particular hurt that I happen to have.
K: So how should we proceed?
JH: Well, it would seem that the structure that makes hurt possible is what we have to get at. What makes hurt possible in the first place, not this hurt or that hurt.
K: I think that's fairly simple. Why am I hurt? Because you say something to me which is not pleasant.
JH: Well, why should that hurt you?
K: Because I have an image about myself as being a great man. You come along and tell me, don't be an ass. And I get hurt.
JH: What is it that's being hurt there?
K: There, the image which I have about myself. I am a great cook, a great scientist, a great carpenter, whatever you will. I have got that picture in myself and you come along and put a pin into it. And that gets hurt. The image gets hurt. The image is me.
DB: I feel that that will not be totally clear to many people. I mean, how can I be an image, you see, many people will ask. You see, how can an image get hurt, because if an image is nothing at all, why does it hurt?
K: Because I have invested into that image a lot of feeling.
K: A lot of ideas, emotions, reactions, all that is me, that is my image.
JH: It doesn't look like an image to me, though, it looks like something real.
K: Ah, of course, for most people it's very real. But that is me, the reality of that image is me.
JH: Yes. Well, can we get clear that it's an image and not real?
K: Image is never real; symbol is never real.
JH: You're saying that I'm just a symbol.
K: Perhaps. (laughter)
JH: That's a big step.
K: From that arises the question whether it's possible not to have images at all.
RS: Well, wait a minute. I don't think we've clearly established that I am an image.
K: Ah, let's go into it.
RS: I mean, it's not entirely clear. I mean, it's obvious that to some extent one is an image, that when I have a feeling about myself and so on. It's not entirely clear that this is entirely unjustified. You see certain aspects of it may be exaggerated, certain aspects may be unrealistic, but, you see, one approach would be, well, we've got to remove, shave off these unrealistic aspects, pare it down to sort of reasonable size. And then that which remains would be the real thing.
K: So, sir, are you raising the question, what am I?
RS: Well, I suppose so, yes.
K: Yes. What are you? What is each one of us? What is a human being? That's the question that's involved.
RS: Yes, that seems unavoidable.
K: Yes. What am I? I am the form, the physical form; the name, the result of all education.
JH: Your experience.
K: My experiences, my beliefs, my ideals, principles, the incidents that have marked me.
JH: The structures you've built up that are how you function.
JH: You skills.
K: My fears, my activities, whether they are limited or my so-called affection; my gods, my country, my language; fears, pleasures, suffering, all that is me.
K: That's my consciousness.
JH: And your unconscious.
K: That's my whole content of me.
DB: But there's still that feeling of actuality that me is there, you see, I mean, you may say, you could reasonably argue that that's all there is to me, but when something happens there's the feeling of its actual presence, at that moment.
K: I don't quite follow you there.
DB: Well, you see if somebody reacts to being hurt or angry, he feels at that moment that there's more than that, you see, that there is something deep inside which has been hurt, right?
K: I don't quite see. My image can be so deep, that's my image at all levels.
DB: Yes, but how...
K: Wait, sir, I have an image of myself; suppose: that I am a great poet, or a great painter or a great writer. Apart from that image as a writer, I have other images about myself. I have an image about my wife, and she has a image about me, and there are so many images I've built around myself; and the image about myself also. So I may gather a bundle of images.
DB: Yes, I understand.
DB: Yes, you are saying that there is nothing but this bundle of images...
K: Of course!
DB: ...but you know, the question is, how are we to se this as an actual fact?
RS: But wait a minute, there is something but this bundle of images; and I mean I'm sitting right here, now, seeing you and all the rest of it. Now I have the feeling that there's a centre of action or centre of consciousness which is within my body and associated with it which has a centre and it's not you, and it's not you, and it's not David: it's me. And associated with this centre of action, my body, sitting here, is a whole lot of memories and experiences and without those memories I wouldn't be able to speak, to talk, to recognise anything.
K: Of course, of course.
RS: So there seems to be some substance to this image of myself. There may be false images associated with it, but there seems to be a reality which I feel as I sit here.
RS: So it's not entirely illusory.
K: ...are you saying that you are totally, basically different from the three of us?
RS: Well, I'm in a different place and I have a different body...
K: Of course.
RS: ...and in that sense I'm different.
K: Of course, admit that, I mean you're tall, I' short, I'm brown, you're...
K: ...black or you're white or you're pink or whatever it is.
RS: Now at another level I'm not basically different in the sense that we can all speak the same language and communicate, so there's something in common. And at a purely physical level all of us have a lot in common with each other, the same kinds of enzymes, chemicals, and so on. And those indeed - hydrogen atoms, oxygen atoms - we have in common with everything else.
K: Yes. Now, is your consciousness different from the rest? Consciousness, not bodily responses, bodily reactions, bodily conditioning; is your consciousness: that is your beliefs, your fears, your anxieties, depressions, faith, all that?
RS: Well, I would say that many of the contents of my consciousness or many of the beliefs, desires, etc., I have, other people also have. But I would say the particular combination of experiences, memories, desires, etc. I have are unique, because I've had a particular set of experiences as you have and as everyone has which makes a unique combination of these different elements.
K: So is mine unique?
K: So is his?
K: The illusion makes it all common. It's no longer unique.
RS: That's a paradox. It's not immediately clear.
DB: Why isn't it clear? Everybody's unique, right?
RS: Yes, we're all unique.
K: I question that.
RS: We're not unique in the same way. Otherwise the word unique becomes meaningless. If we're unique, each of us is unique, we have a unique set of experiences and environmental factors, memories, etc.
K: That's what you just now said, that's common lot to all of us.
RS: Yes, we all have it, but what we have is different.
K: Yes, you, brought up in England...
K: ...and perhaps another brought up in America, another brought up in Chile, we all have different experiences; different country, different views, different mountains, and so on.
K: But apart from the physical environment, linguistic differences and accidents of experience, basically, fundamentally, deep down, we suffer; we are frightened to death, we are anxious, we have agony about something or other, and conflict, that's the ground on which we all stand.
RS: But that doesn't seem a very startling conclusion.
K: No, it is not.
DB: But I think what you are saying really implies that what we have in common is essential and fundamental rather than just superficial, you see. And now, I've talked with people about this and they say, everybody agrees we all have these things in common but sorrow, suffering and so on are not so important, the really important point are the higher achievements of culture and things like that, as an example.
JH: Maybe the distinction is between the form and the content. Our contents are all different and they have similarities and differences, but maybe the form is the same, their structure.
K: I would say contents are the same for all human beings.
RS: But you see I can recognise that there is such a thing as common humanity but I would regard that quite possibly as an abstraction or a projection rather than a reality. How do I know that is not an abstraction?
K: Because you go around the world, you see people suffer, you see human beings in agony, despair, depression, loneliness, lack of affection, lack of care, attention, that's the basic human reactions, that is part of our consciousness.
K: So you are not basically different from me. You may be tall, you may be born in England, I may be born in Africa, I have dark skin, but deep down the river, the content of the river is the water. The river is not Asiatic river, or European river, it is a river.
RS: Yes, well that is clearly true at some level. But I am not quite sure at what level, you see.
K: I am talking basically, deeply.
RS: But you see it seems to me, why stop there? I can see something in common with all other human beings, but I can also by looking at animals see something in common with them. We have a great deal in common with the animals.
K: Surely, surely.
RS: So why stop at human beings?
K: I don't.
RS: Why not say...
K: Because I say if I feel - I don't like the word 'common' - one feels that is the ground on which all human beings stand. Their relationship with nature, animals and so on, and the content of our consciousness is again the ground of humanity. Love is not English, American or Indian. Hate is not - agony is not yours or mine, it is agony. But we identify ourselves with agony, it is my agony, which is not yours.
RS: We might go through it in very different ways though.
K: Different expressions, different reactions, but basically it is agony. Not German agony and Asiatic agony. It's not what is happening - British and Argentine, it is human conflict. Why do we separate ourselves from all this? The British, the Argentine, the Jew, the Arab, the Hindu, the Muslim. You follow?
K: Which all seems so nonsensical, tribal. The worship of a nation is tribalism. So why can't we wipe out all that?
RS: I don't know. You tell me, why can't we?
K: Because again we have come back to the question: I identify with my nation because that gives me a certain strength, certain standard, certain status, certain security. When I say, 'I am British'! So this division is one of the reasons of war - not only economic, social and all the rest of it. Nationalism, which is really glorified tribalism, is the cause of war. Why can't we wipe that out? It seems so reasonable.
JH: It seems reasonable on a level like nationalism, people don't think they are England.
K: Start from there.
JH: Okay. But then I have a patient and he does think that he is married, and that it is his wife.
K: Of course it is his wife.
JH: Well, isn't that the same action that you are talking about?
K: No, no. Sir, just let's go into it slowly.
K: Why do I want to identify myself with something greater?
JH: Because I am not sufficient.
K: Like nationalism, like god.
JH: I don't feel sufficient.
K: Which means what?
K: Insecure, insufficient, lonely, isolated, I have built a wall round myself. So all this is making me desperately lonely. And out of that conscious, or unconscious loneliness I identify with god, with the nation, with Mussolini, it doesn't matter, Hitler, or any religious teacher.
JH: Okay. Or I get married, I have a job, I make a place for myself. And that's all also identification.
K: Yes. Why do we want to identify with something? No, the basic question is too: why do we want roots?
JH: To belong.
K: To belong, in which is also implied to become. So this whole process of becoming, from childhood I am asked to become, become, become. From the priest to the bishop, the bishop to the cardinal, the cardinal to the pope. And in the business world it is the same. In the spiritual world it is the same. I am this but I must become that.
JH: Okay, what I am is not sufficient.
K: Why do we want to become? What is it that is becoming?
RS: Well the obvious reason for wanting to become is a feeling of insufficiency, inadequacy, in the state that we are. And one of the reasons for this is that we live in an imperfect world, our relationship with other people are imperfect. We are not content for a variety of reasons with the way we are. So the way out of that seems to become something else.
K: Yes. That means escaping from 'what is'.
RS: Yes. But it may seem 'what is' is something we have a need to escape from because there is something wrong with it.
K: All right. Take the usual experience. I am violent and I have invented non-violence. And I am trying to become that. I'll take years to become that. In the meantime I am violent. So I have never escaped from violence. It is just an invention.
RS: Well you are trying to escape from it. You may escape in the end.
K: No, I don't want to escape. I want to understand the nature of violence, what is implied in it, whether it is possible to live a life without any sense of violence.
RS: But what you are suggesting is a more effective method of escaping. You are not suggesting abandoning the idea of escaping. You are suggesting that the normal way of escaping, trying to become non-violent, is one way of doing it which doesn't work. Whereas if you do another method where you actually look at the violence in a different way you can become non-violent.
K: I am not escaping.
RS: Well, you are changing then.
K: No. I am violent. I want to see what is the nature of violence, how it arises.
RS: But for what purpose?
K: To see whether it is possible to be free of it completely.
RS: But isn't that a kind of escape from it?
RS: Being free of something...
K: ...is not an escape.
RS: Why not?
K: Avoidance, running away, fly away from 'what is' is an escape, but to say, look, this is what I am, let's look at it, let's observe what its content is. That is not escape!
RS: Oh, I see, the distinction you are making is that an escape in the normal sense is running away from something, like escaping from prison, or one's parents, or whatever, but they still remain there. What you are saying is that rather than escaping from violence, which leaves violence intact and still there, and you try and distance yourself from it, you try to dissolve violence, or abolish it.
K: Not abolish it, dissolve.
RS: All right. So this is different from escape, because you are trying to dissolve the thing rather than run away from it.
K: Running away, everybody runs away.
RS: Well it usually works to a limited extent.
K: No, it is like running away from my agony by going to football; I come back home, it is there! I don't want to go to watch football but I want to see what violence is and to see if it is possible to be completely free of it.
RS: If I am in a very unpleasant society and I can escape from it by defecting, or leaving it and going to another one. And this does in fact mean I escape to some extent.
K: Of course.
RS: So these are always partial answers and they are partially effective.
K: I don't want to be partially violent. Or partially free from it. I want to find out if it is possible to totally end it. That's not an escape, that's putting my teeth into it.
RS: Yes. But you have to believe it is possible in order to put your teeth into it.
K: I don't know, I am going to investigate. I said, for me, I know one can live without violence. But that may be a freak, that may be a biological freak and so on. But to discuss together, the four of us, and see if we could be free of violence completely means not escaping, not suppressing, not transcending it, and see what is violence. Violence is part of imitation, conformity. Right? Apart from physical hurts, I am not talking about that. So psychologically there is this constant comparing, that is part of hurt, part of violence. So can I live without comparison, when from childhood I have been trained to compare myself with somebody? I am talking comparison, not good cloth and bad cloth.
JH: Talking about comparing myself.
K: Myself, with you who are bright, who are clever, who have got publicity. When you say a word the whole world listens. And I can shout, nobody cares. So I want to be like you. So I am comparing constantly myself with something I think is greater.
JH: So this is where becoming comes from, comparing.
K: That's just it. So can I live without comparison?
JH: Doesn't that leave me in an insufficient state?
K: No. To live without comparison? No.
JH: Here I start off insufficient...
K: You understand, sir? Am I dull because I compare myself with you who are bright?
JH: Yes, you are dull because you compare yourself.
K: By comparing myself with you who are bright, who are clever, I become dull, I think I am dull. But if I don't compare I am what I am.
RS: Well you may not compare but I may compare. I may say, you are dull.
K: All right. I say, all right. You say I am dull, or I say, 'Am I?' I want to know what does it mean. Does it mean he is comparing himself with me who is - you follow? - worshipped?[ (laughter)
RS: Very frustrating, that. I mean if one compared oneself with somebody and said, 'You are dull', and then they said, 'What does dullness mean?'! (laughter)
K: The other day, after one of the talks in England, a man came up to me and said, 'Sir, you are a beautiful old man but you are stuck in a rut'. I said, 'Well, sir, perhaps, sir, I don't know, we'll go into it'. So I went up to my room and said, 'Am I?', because I don't want to be stuck in a rut. I may be. So I went into it very, very carefully, step by step, and found what does a rut mean, to stick in a groove along a particular line. Maybe, so I watch it. So observation of a fact is entirely different from escaping or the suppression of it.
JH: So he says you are stuck in a rut, and you observe it, you don't compare it.
K: I don't. Am I in a rut? I look. I may be stuck in a rut because I speak English. I speak Italian and French. All right. And that's not Am I psychologically, inwardly, caught in a groove, like a tram car?
JH: Just motivated by something and not understanding it.
K: No, am I? I don't know, I am going to find out. I am going to watch. I am going to be terribly attentive, sensitive, alert.
JH: Now this requires that you don't react in the first place by saying, 'No, that's horrible, I couldn't possibly be stuck in a rut.'
K: I wouldn't. You may be telling the truth.
JH: To not have that reaction you can't have that self there that says, I am not the type of person that is stuck in ruts.
K: I don't know. Sir, is there a learning about oneself which is not - this leads to something else, I mustn't go into it - which is not constant accumulation about myself? I don't know if I am making myself clear. I observe myself. And I have learnt from that observation something. And that something is being accumulated all the time by watching. I think that is not learning about yourself.
JH: Being concerned with what you think about yourself.
K: Yes, what you think about yourself, what you have gathered about yourself. Like a river that is flowing, you have to follow it. That leads somewhere else. Let's get back.
JH: Maybe this is part of the question we are asking because we started with how does this disorder occur.
K: Yes, sir, let's stick to that.
JH: It occurs because I have the image of myself of someone who knows he is not stuck in a rut, I don't like to think that I am stuck in a rut, and somebody says, 'Yes you are'.
K: But you may be.
JH: Yes. I have to be open to looking, to see.
K: Yes, to observe.
RS: But then what about this approach: somebody says I am stuck in a rut, I look at myself and think, yes, I am stuck in a rut; and then I can respond by thinking, well, what's wrong with that? Everyone is stuck in a rut.
K: Sir, that's just blind.
RS: No, you accept the fact, but then you think, well, why should I do anything about it? What's wrong with that as an approach?
K: Like a man stuck as a Hindu, he is stuck. He is then contributing to war.
RS: Well, I may say, well I am stuck in a rut, but so is everybody, it is the nature of humanity to be stuck in ruts.
K: You see, that's it, you go off, that is the nature of humanity. But I question that. If you say that is the nature of humanity, let's change it, for god's sake!
RS: But you may believe it is unchangeable. What reason have I for believing that we can change it? I may think that I am stuck in a rut, so are you, so is everybody else. And anyone who thinks they are not is deceiving themselves.
K: It's cheating themselves. I may cheat so I begin to enquire, am I cheating myself? I want to be very honest about it. I don't want to cheat, I don't want to be a hypocrite.
RS: You may not be a hypocrite, you may think I am stuck in a rut, and you may be a pessimist. The alternative to being a hypocrite is a pessimist.
K: No, I am neither a pessimist or an optimist. I say, look, am I stuck in a rut? I watch all day.
RS: And you perhaps conclude yes. But then you can take the pessimistic cause and say, yes, I am, but so what?
K: If you prefer that way of living, go ahead. But I don't want to live that way.
JH: Well the person who comes into therapy usually comes with both sides going on at the same time. He says that, I have this problem which I want to be free of, I don't want to be stuck in a rut; on the other hand when it gets down to really looking at that, he doesn't want to look at it either because it becomes uncomfortable.
K: Oh, no, of course. To come back to your original question: the world is in disorder, human beings are in disorder, and we described what is disorder. And is there a possibility to live free from disorder? That is the real basic question. We said as long as there is this divisive process of life - I am a Hindu, you are an Arab, I am a Buddhist, you are a Muslim, I am British you are an Argentine - there must be conflict, war. My son is going to be killed, for what?
JH: For as long as I identify on a personal level with my job, or with my family and so on, there will be pain.
K: Of course.
JH: It is the same process.
K: So is it possible to have without identification responsibility?
JH: If I am not identified will I even go to work?
K: But I am responsible for the lady whom I have married. Responsible in the sense that I have to look after her, care for her, and she has to care for me. Responsibility means order. But we have become totally irresponsible by isolating ourselves - British, French.
JH: We handle the problem of responsibility by developing a rut that we can work in.
K: Yes. That's it.
JH: And staying inside that.
K: If I see the fact that responsibility is order, I am responsible to keep this house clean, but as we all live on this earth it is our earth, not British earth, or French earth and German earth, it is our earth to live on. And we have divided ourselves because in this division we think there is security.
JH: There is stability and security.
K: Security. Which is no security at all.
JH: Well, it isn't clear, we have got to go slow because I think that my job is security, I think that my family is security.
K: You may lose it.
JH: That problem keeps coming up.
K: There is great unemployment in America and in England - three million people unemployed in England.
JH: Well maybe I could get by without my job, but I need to think that I have some self respect.
K: What do you mean, self respect?
JH: What I am trying to say is that there is some place at which I put an identification.
K: Why should I want to identify with anything, sir? That makes immediate isolation.
JH: For stability's sake.
K: Does isolation bring about stability?
JH: It gives one a sense of something hard and firm.
K: Does it? Has it? There have been during the last five thousand years nearly five thousands wars. Is that stability?
K: Why don't we accept - well, I won't go into all that. What is wrong with us?
JH: Well, why don't we see this thing? You are saying that the root of the problem is that I continue to identify with one thing after another, if one doesn't work I just find something else. I don't stop identifying.
K: Yes, sir, which breeds isolation.
JH: But in your example about the person that is stuck in a rut, you say I don't have to identify, I can just step back and look at this thing and see if it is true.
JH: So you are suggesting that there is something that is not identified, something that is free to look.
K: No. This leads to something else. Why do I want to identify myself? Probably basically the desire to be secure, to be safe, to be protected. And that sense, it gives me strength.
JH: Yes. Strength, and purpose, direction.
K: It gives me strength.
RS: But this is a biological fact. It is not merely an illusion. We again, to come back to the animal kingdom, we see it there: deer go round in flocks, birds have flocks, bees have hives and they are identified with the hive in which they work.
K: But bees don't kill themselves, species don't kill themselves.
RS: Well they kill other bees that invade their hide. They don't commit suicide. They kill others.
K: But we are?
RS: Yes and no, bees do fight other bees that come into the hive.
K: Of course. Yes, I know, I've raised bees, I know.
RS: So we see even in the animal kingdom this identification with the group, in the social animals, but many social animals, and we are social animals...
K: Just a minute. Agree. Are we by identifying ourselves with India, or China, or Germany, is that giving us security.
RS: To a limited extent it is.
K: A limited extent.
RS: And by identifying ourselves with our families does because this whole question of responsibility seems closely linked to it. If I identify myself with my family, feel duties, and so on, towards them, protect my sisters, I rush to her defence and make a big fuss about it and threaten, if not actually kill the people who insulted her.
K: We have no sisters. (laughter)
RS: So if I protect members of my family and defend, rush to their defence, so an insult to them, or an attack on them is an insult to me, so I rush to their defence...
K: Of course.
RS: ...there is a reciprocal obligation on their part, if I fall ill or sick they'll feed me and look after me; if I get arrested by the police they will try and get me out of prison and so on. So it does give me a kind of security, it actually works.
K: Of course.
RS: And that is a very good reason for doing it, for most people.
K: But stretch it further from the family, to the community, from the community to the nation and so on, that is a vast process of isolating. You are English, I am German, and we are at each other's throat. And I say, for god's sake, this is so damn stupid!
RS: Well, it is not entirely stupid because it works to a certain extent.
K: It may work, but it is impractical, it is killing each other.
RS: We haven't killed each other yet, there are more human beings than there have ever been before. So the system so far has gone to the point where far from killing each other we have actually got to the point where we have got a bigger population than the world has ever seen. So the system works only too well, for some reason.
K: So you propose war to kill them off?
RS: No! But there is some aspect of it that does work, and some security that is genuine that these things confer.
K: Yes, sir. At a certain level identification has a certain importance. But at a higher level, if you can call it higher, it becomes dangerous. That's all we are saying. Of course if you are my brother you look after me.
DB: Well it is very hard to draw up a line, you see that starts spreading out.
K: That's right, spreading out.
DB: You know, it slips.
K: That's is what I am so objecting to.
RS: But you see the question is where do you draw the line because if you are my brother then you have the tribal, the clan, or in India, the caste.
K: That's it. Extend it. And then we say, I am Argentine, you are British, he's French, we are at each other's throat and we are economically, and socially, culturally we are murdering each other. And I say that is so insane.
RS: But where do you draw the line, you see. If you say the nation state is wrong, then what is wrong with the tribe, or the caste, then you have got conflict between those.
K: I wouldn't draw the line. I say I am responsible as a human being for what is happening in the world, because I am a human. And so what is happening in the world is this terrible division, and I won't be a Hindu, I won't be a Catholic, Protestant, Buddhist - nothing. A hundred people or a thousand people like that, would begin to do something.
JH: So you are saying that the problem comes up because I mistake my local security, I think that it rests in some local identification.
K: Yes, sir, which is isolation. And therefore in isolation there is no security. And therefore there is no order.