The mind in the universe
The ending of time
14th Dialogue, Brockwood Park
September 20, 1980
Krishnamurti: We talked the other day about a mind that is entirely free from all movement, from all the things that thought has put there, that thought has brought about, has experienced, the past and the future and so on. But before we go into that I would like to ask, what is materialism?
K: Man is caught in this materialistic attitude and values and experiences. What is the nature of materialism?
B: Well, consider first of all materialism is the name of a certain philosophical ....
K: I don't mean that.
K: I don't mean a certain philosophical saying but I want to find out.
B: Matter is all there is.
K: I want to go into that a little bit. That is, all nature, all human beings react physically. This reaction is sustained by thought. And thought is a material process. So reaction as in nature, in animals, in human beings, is the materialistic response.
B: Well, I think the word materialistic is not quite right. It is the response of matter.
K: The response of matter, let's put it that way. All right. The response of matter. That's better. Let me repeat it again, let's be clear.
We are talking about having an empty mind and we have come to that point when the wall has been broken down and this emptiness and what lies beyond it, or through it, and so on, we will come to that, but before we begin with that, as I said: is all reaction matter?
B: Matter in movement.
K: Matter in movement.
B: Well that is the suggestion. You could say there is a lot of evidence in favour of that, that science has found a tremendous number of reactions which are due to the nerves.
K: Yes, all that. So would you call matter and movement the reactions which exist in all organic matter?
B: Yes, it is necessary - all matter as we know it goes by the law of action and reaction. Every action has a corresponding reaction.
K: Reaction. So action and reaction and re-action is a material process, as thought is. Now to go beyond it is the question, that is the point.
B: Yes. Now some people might say it has no meaning to go beyond it. That would be the philosophy of materialism: there is no meaning to go beyond it.
K: Beyond it, quite. But if one is merely living in that area it is very, very shallow. Right? It has really no meaning at all. But if one recognises thought as a material process and reaction and action are matter and movement.
B: Yes. Perhaps one should say one other thing that some people have said that matter is not merely action and reaction but it may have a creative movement, so that matter may create new forms.
K: Matter may create new forms, but it is still within that area.
B: Yes. Let's try to make it clear what is the difference. We have to see there are very subtle forms of materialism which might be difficult to pin down.
K: Let's begin: would you consider, or agree or see that thought is a material process.
B: Yes. Though some people might argue that it is both material and something beyond material.
K: I know. I have discussed this. But it is not.
B: How can we say that simply to make it clear?
K: Because any movement of thought is a material process, whether you assert it is beyond.
B: Well we have to make it clear so that it is not a matter of authority.
K: Oh, no, of course not.
B: As one observes, from observation one sees that thought is a material process, now how would one see that?
K: How would one be aware of all that? Aware that it is a material process. I think that is fairly clear. There is an experience, an incident, recorded, which becomes knowledge, from that knowledge thought arises and action takes place.
B: Yes. So we say thought is that.
K: Any assertion that is beyond is still thought.
B: It is still coming from the background. So if we say that something new coming into there is not part of this process, is that what you are saying?
K: Yes, if there is to be something new, thought, as a material process, must end. Obviously.
B: And then it may take it up later.
K: Later, yes. We'll see what happens later. So could we say, all reaction and action, action from that reaction is movement of matter.
B: Yes, very subtle movement of matter.
K: Yes, very subtle movement of matter. So as long as one's mind is within that area it must be a movement of matter.
B: Yes, well let's proceed from there then.
K: So is it possible for the mind to go beyond reaction? That is the next step obviously. As we said yesterday morning in our discussion with the group, one gets irritated and that is the first reaction. Then the reaction to that, the second reaction to that is 'I must not'. Then the third reaction, 'I must control' - or justify or whatever it is. So it is constantly action and reaction. Can one see it is a movement, a continuous movement without an ending?
B: Yes. The reaction is actually continuous but it seems at a certain moment to have ended and the next moment appears to be a new moment.
K: But it is still reaction.
B: It is still the same but it presents itself differently.
K: That's right.
B: It is always the same.
K: It is exactly the same always.
B: It presents itself as always different.
K: Of course.
B: Always new.
K: That is just it. You say something, I get irritated, but that irritation is a reaction.
B: Yes, it seems to be something suddenly new.
K: Suddenly new. But it is not.
B: It is not. But one has to be aware of that.
K: Of course, of course.
B: Generally the mind tends not to be aware of it.
K: But after discussing a great deal and talking one can.
B: We are attentive to it.
K: Yes, we are sensitive and alert to the question. So there is an ending to reaction if one is watchful, attentive, understand not only logically but have an insight into this reacting process all the time, it can of course come to an end. That is why it is very important, I think, to understand this, before we discuss what is an empty mind and if there is something beyond, or in that very empty mind there is some other quality. So is that empty mind a reaction? You follow sir? A reaction to the problems of pain and pleasure and suffering, and the reaction to that is to escape from all this into some state of nothingness.
B: Yes, well the mind can always do that, it can fail to notice pain and pleasure.
K: It can invent. Of course, of course. That becomes an illusion. Now we are not talking - because we went into the question of illusions and said desire is the beginning of illusion. Now we have come to the point that this quality of emptiness is not a reaction. That must be absolutely sure. Right sir?
Now before we go further into this: is it possible to have a mind that is really completely empty of all the things that thought has put together?
B: Well, when thought ceases to react.
K: That's it.
B: Thought being a material process, on the one hand perhaps you could say that perhaps the reaction is due to the nature of matter which is continually reacting and moving, but then is matter affected by this insight?
K: I don't quite follow. Ah, I understand. Does insight affect the cells of the brain which contain the memories?
B: Yes. The memories are continually reacting, moving, as does the air and the water, everything around us.
K: Of course.
B: Now if nothing happened we should say, why would it ever stop?
K: Quite. After all sir, physically if I don't react I am paralysed. One is paralysed. But to be reacting continuously is also a form of paralysis.
B: Yes, well the wrong kind of reaction.
B: Reaction around the psychological structure.
K: Yes, we are talking psychologically always.
B: But now assuming that the reaction around the psychological structure has begun in mankind why should it ever stop, because one reaction makes another and another.
K: It is like a chain, endless.
B: One would expect it to go on for ever unless something will stop it. Right?
K: Nothing will stop it. Only the insight into the nature of reaction ends psychological reaction.
B: Yes, but then you are saying that matter is affected by insight, which is beyond matter.
K: Yes, beyond matter. That's what we discussed, this matter, also in Ojai?
K: So is this emptiness within the brain itself? Or something thought has conceived as being empty? One must be very clear on this.
B: Yes. But whatever is discussed, no matter what the question is, thought begins to want to do something about it because thought feels it can always make a contribution.
B: That might be useful, eh? So thought in the past did not understand that there are areas where it has no useful contribution to make, but it keeps on in the habit of trying to say emptiness is very good, therefore thought says I will try to help bring about emptiness.
K: Of course.
B: Thought is trying to be helpful.
K: We have been through all that.
K: We have seen the nature of thought, what is its movement, time, and all that. We have been through all that. I want to find out, I have come to a point: is this emptiness within the mind itself, or beyond it?
B: What do you mean by the mind, you see.
K: The mind being the whole, emotions, thought, consciousness, the brain, the whole of that is the mind.
B: The mind has been used in many ways, that word. Now you are using it in a certain way, which is that it represents thought, feeling, desire and will - the whole material process.
K: Yes, the whole material process.
B: Which people have called non-material.
K: (Laughs) Quite. The mind is the whole material process.
B: Which is going on in the brain and the nerves.
K: The whole of it.
K: The whole structure. One can see this reaction, materialistic reaction can end. And the next question I am asking is: is that emptiness within or without? And without in the sense it is elsewhere.
B: Where would it be?
K: I don't think it would be elsewhere but I am just putting it.
B: Well, any such thing is part of the material process. You see here and there are distinctions made within the material process.
K: Yes, that is right. That is what I wanted to get at. It is there. It is in the mind itself. Not outside it. Right?
K: Now what is the next step? Is that emptiness - does that emptiness contain nothing, not a thing?
B: Yes, well not a thing, meaning anything that has form, structure, stability.
K: Yes, all that, form, structure, reaction, naturally.
B: Yes, it is stability and reaction.
K: Form, structure, capacity, reaction - all that. Or it contains none of that. Then what is it? Is it then total energy?
B: Yes, movement of energy.
K: Movement of energy. It is not movement of reaction.
B: It is not movement of things reacting to each other. Because the world can be regarded as made up of a large number of things which react to each other and that is one kind of movement. But we are saying it is a different kind of movement.
K: Which is entirely different.
B: Which has no thing in it.
K: No thing in it and therefore not of time - right? Is that possible? Or are we just indulging in imagination? Indulging in some kind of romantic, hopeful, pleasurable, sensation? I don't think we are because we have been through all that step by step by step right up to this point. So we are not deceiving ourselves. Now we say that emptiness has no centre - right? - as the 'me' and all the reactions and so on. It is in that emptiness there is a movement of timeless energy.
B: Yes, when you say timeless energy - we could say what we have already said that time and thought are the same.
K: Yes, of course.
B: Then you were saying that time can only come into a material process.
K: Time can only come into a material process, that's right.
B: Now if we have an energy that is timeless but nevertheless moving ...
K: Yes, it is not static.
B: It is flowing, it's moving.
K: It is moving.
B: Yes, now what is the movement?
K: Sir, what is movement? From here to there.
B: That is one form.
K: One form. Or from yesterday to today, and from today to tomorrow, another movement.
B: Yes, there are various kinds of movement.
K: So what is movement? Is there a movement - I am asking, I want to question it - is there a movement which is not moving? Just a minute. You understand? Is there a movement which has no beginning and no end? Because thought has a beginning and an end.
B: Except, we could say that the movement of matter might have no beginning and no ending, the reactive movement - you are not talking of that?
K: No, I am not talking of that.
B: So it is not enough to say it has no beginning and no end - right?
K: We must go back then to the other. That is, thought has a beginning and thought has an ending. There is a movement of matter as reaction and the ending of that reaction.
B: Yes, in the brain.
K: In the brain. There are these various kinds of movements. That is all we know. And someone comes along and says there is a totally different kind of movement. But to understand that I must be free of the movement of thought, material process and all that, the movement of time, to understand a movement that is not ...
B: Well there are two things: it has no beginning and no end but also it is not determined as a series of successions from the past.
K: No causation.
B: It is not a series of causes, one following the other.
K: Of course, of course. No causation.
B: But you see matter can be looked at as a series of causes, though it may not be adequate.
K: Yes, I would say.
B: But now you are saying that this movement has no beginning and no end, it is not the result of a series of causes, one following another without end.
K: So, sir, I want to understand, verbally even, a movement that is not a movement. I don't know if I am making it clear.
B: Then why is it called a movement if it is not a movement?
K: Because it is not still, it is not - it is active, it is dynamic.
B: It is energy.
K: It is tremendous, therefore it can never be still. But it has got in that energy a stillness. I don't know Have I
B: Yes, the energy itself - I think that we have to say that the ordinary language does not convey it properly, but the energy itself is still and also moving - is that what you're saying?
K: Yes, but in that movement it is a movement of stillness. Does it sound crazy?
B: The movement can be said to emerge from stillness and draw back into stillness.
K: That's right. You see that is what it is sir. We said this mind, this emptiness is in the mind. That emptiness has no cause and no effect. It is not a movement of causation. It is not a movement of thought, time. It is not a movement of material reactions; none of that. Which means: is the mind capable of that extraordinary stillness without any movement? And when it is so completely still there is a movement out of it. It sounds crazy.
B: Well it needn't sound crazy. In fact I think I mentioned before that some people have had this notion in the past - such as Aristotle - we discussed it. He talked about the unmoved mover - that is the way he tried to describe god.
K: Ah, god, no. I am not describing
B: You don't want to describe god but I mean some sort of notion similar to this has been held in the past by various people, but since then it has gone out of fashion, I think.
K: Out of fashion. Let's bring it into fashion, shall we!
B: I am not saying that Aristotle had the right idea, it is merely that he was considering something somewhat similar, though probably different in many cases.
K: Was it an intellectual concept or an actuality?
B: This is very hard to tell because so little is known.
K: Therefore we don't have to bring in Aristotle.
B: I merely wanted to say it to point out that it wasn't crazy because other very respectable people have had something similar.
K: I am glad! I am glad to be assured I am not crazy! (Laughter)
B: Because you did ask if it was crazy.
K: And is that movement out of stillness, is that the movement of creation? Not the creation which the artist, the poets and the writers and all the painters call creation - to me that is not creation, just a capacity and skill and memory and knowledge operating there. Here I think this creation is not expressed in form.
B: Yes, but that is important. Usually we think creation is expressed as form or as structure.
K: Structure, yes.
B: Now, then this is difficult, what does it mean?
K: We have gone beyond being crazy so we can go on. Would you say, sir, this movement, not being of time, is eternally new?
B: Yes. It is eternally new in the sense that the creation is eternally new. Right?
K: Creation is eternally new. You see I think that is what the artists are trying to find out.
B: Yes, that's true, yes.
K: Therefore they indulge in all kinds of various absurdities, but to come to that point when the mind is absolutely silent, absolutely, completely silent, out of that silence there is this movement which is always new, eternally new. And the moment when that movement is expressed ...
B: Yes, the first expression is in thought - right?
K: That is just it.
B: And that may be useful but then it gets fixed.
B: Then it may become a barrier.
K: I was told, once by an Indian philosopher, an Indian scholar, that before they began to sculpture a head of a god, or whatever it is, they had to have deep meditation, go into deep meditation. At the right moment they took up the hammer and the chisel.
B: To have it come out of the emptiness.
B: There is another point. The Australian aborigines draw figures in the sand so they don't have permanency.
K: That is right.
B: If thought could be looked at that way. You see the marble is already too static, it stays there for thousands of years. So although the original sculptor may have understood, the people who follow see it as a fixed form.
K: Sir, next is, what relationship has all that to my daily life? What way does that act through my action, through my ordinary physical responses? There are no psychological responses but there are physical responses, to noise, to pain, to various forms of disturbances, physical disturbances. What relationship has the physical to that silent movement?
B: Yes, well in so far as the mind is silent then the thought is orderly.
K: Yes, it is orderly. Ah, we are getting on to something. Would you say that silent movement with its unending newness, is total order of the universe?
B: Yes, we could consider that the order of the universe emerges from this silence and emptiness and is eternally creative.
K: Yes, so what is my relationship, what is the relationship of this mind to the universe?
B: That particular mind?
K: No, mind.
B: Mind in general.
K: No, mind, the general and the particular we went through and beyond that, there is the mind.
B: Well would you say that is universal?
K: That's the universal mind. That universal mind - I don't like to use the word 'universal'.
B: In the sense, that which is beyond the particular and general would usually be called the universal. But it may be that the word is difficult, eh?
K: Can we find a different word? Global, no. A mind that is beyond a particular. No.
B: Well you could say it is the source, the essence. I don't know what you could say. It has been called the absolute.
K: I don't want to use that word 'absolute' either.
B: But in the sense - the absolute means literally that which is free of all limitation, of all dependence, right?
K: All right, if you agree that absolute means freedom from all dependence, from all limitation.
B: From all relationships.
K: Then we will use that, all right.
B: It has unfortunate connotations.
K: Of course, of course. Let's use that word for the moment for our convenience, in our dialogue. There is this absolute stillness and in that stillness or from that stillness there is a movement and that movement is everlastingly new. And what is the relationship of that mind to the universe?
B: To the universe of matter?
K: Yes, the universe, the whole universe. Matter, trees, nature, man, the heavens.
B: Yes, well that is an interesting question.
K: That is in order, the universe is in order, whether it is destructive or constructive, it is still order.
B: Well it is necessary order. You see the order has the character of being absolutely necessary. In a sense it cannot be otherwise.
K: Quite, quite.
B: The order that we usually know is not absolutely necessary, it could be changed, it could depend on something else, any ordinary order is contingent, it depends on something.
K: The eruption of a volcano is order.
B: It is order of the whole universe, it is necessary considering the whole universe, it cannot be otherwise.
K: Otherwise, quite. Now in the universe there is order and this mind which is still, is completely in order.
B: The deep mind, the absolute.
K: The absolute mind. So then is this mind, the universe?
B: Well that is the question. In what sense is that the universe? We have to understand in what sense, what it means to say that.
K: Or it means sir, is there a division, or a barrier, between this absolute mind and the universe? Or both are the same.
B: Both are the same, right.
K: That is what I want to get at.
B: You want to say that. That is, we have either duality of mind and matter, or they are both the same.
K: That's it. Is that presumptuous?
B: Not necessarily, no. I mean these are just two possibilities.
K: I want to be quite sure we are not treading on something which really needs very, very, very, subtle, great care, you know what I mean?
B: Yes. Well if we go back to the body and say, we have said the body is physical, it is material. And we said the mind of the body - the mind which is in the body
K: General and the particular.
B: All thought, feeling, desire, the general and the particular are part of that material process.
K: Absolutely, the material process.
B: They are not different from the body.
K: That's right. All the reactions are material processes.
B: And therefore what we usually call the mind is not different from what we usually call the body.
K: Quite, quite.
B: Now you are making this much greater and saying consider the whole universe. And we say what we call the mind in the universe, is it different from what we call the universe itself and matter?
K: That's right. You see that's why I feel in our daily life there must be order, not the order of thought.
B: Well thought is a limited order, it is relative.
K: That's it. So an order that is ...
B: That's free of limitation.
K: Free of limitation, yes. In my daily life I have to have that, which means no conflict whatsoever, no contradiction, no, all the rest of that.
B: Well if we take the order of thought. You see when it is rational it is in order; in contradiction the order of thought has broken down, it has reached its limit. Thought works until it reaches a contradiction and that's the limit.
K: So if in my daily life there is complete order in which there is no disturbance, what is the relationship of that order to the never ending order? Can that silent movement of order, of that extraordinary something, can that affect my daily life when I have deep inward psychological order? You understand my question?
B: Yes. We have said, for example, the volcano is a manifestation of the whole order of the universe.
K: Absolutely. A tiger killing a deer.
B: The question is then, whether a human being in his daily life can be similar.
K: Similar. That's it. If not I don't see what is the point of the other.
B: Well, it has no point to the human being.
K: That's it.
B: Then you would fall back into the human being trying to make his own purpose out of himself, out of his thoughts. You see I think some people would say who cares about the universe, all we care about is our own society, what we are doing. But then that falls down because it is full of contradiction.
K: Obviously. It is only thought that says that. So that universe, which is in total order, does affect my daily life.
B: Yes. I think, that scientists might ask how. You see people might say, 'OK. I understand that the universe is constituted of matter, the laws of matter affect your daily life,' - but we are saying it is not so clear how it affects the mind - you know that there is this absolute mind which affects the daily life.
K: Ah! What is my daily life? A series of reactions and disorders. Right?
K: I am making it very quick, brief. That is that.
B: Well it is mostly that.
K: Mostly. And thought is always struggling to bring order within that.
K: And when it does that, it is still disorder.
B: Because thought is limited.
K: Of course.
B: Always limited by its own contradictions.
K: Contradiction, of course. Thought is always creating disorder because it is itself limited.
B: As soon as it tries to go beyond the limit, that is disorder.
K: That is disorder. Right. I have understood, I have gone into it, I have an insight into it, so I have a certain kind of order in my life. But that order is still limited. I recognise that and as long as matter, living, this existence, I say it is limited.
B: Now some people would accept that and say why should you have more.
K: Ah, I am not having more.
B: But I mean we've to see carefully, some people would say, 'I would be happy if we could bring this limited order, seeing that we have so much disorder now, if we could live in the ordinary material life with real order.'
K: I say, let's do it! Of course that must be done. But in the very doing of it one has to realise it is limited.
B: Yes, even the highest order you can produce is limited.
K: Limited. And the mind realises its limitation and says, let's go beyond it.
B: Why? Some people would say, why not be happy within those limits, continually extending them, saying we can discover new thoughts, new orders, the orders will discover new forms of art, the scientists new kind of sciences.
K: But it is always limited.
B: Though we have to go slowly because I think some people would go this far and then say that that is all that is possible.
K: I like the human condition, let's accept it, and make the best of it.
B: They say, we could do much better than we are doing.
K: Yes, but it is still the human condition, a little reformed, a little better.
B: Some people would say enormously reformed.
K: But it is still limited.
B: Yes. Well let's try to make it clear because what is wrong with limitation?
K: In that limitation there is no freedom, there is a limited freedom.
B: Yes. So eventually we come to the boundary of our freedom - let's try to put it clearly. Something not known to us makes us react and this would therefore inevitably fail because through reaction we would fall back into contradiction.
K: Yes, but when I see sir, that I am always moving within a certain area ...
B: Therefore I am under the control of the forces.
K: Forces and the limited. The mind inevitably rebels against that.
B: That is an important point. You see the mind wants freedom. Right?
B: Yes, it says that is the highest value, eh? So do we accept that and say that is just a fact?
K: That is, a prisoner, I realise I am a prisoner within this limitation.
B: Some people get used to it and say, 'I accept the limitation'.
K: 'I accept the limitation' - I won't accept it. My mind says there must be freedom from prison. I am a prisoner and the prison is very nice, very cultured and all the rest of it, but it is still limited and it says there must be freedom beyond all this.
B: Yes, which mind says this? Is it the particular mind of the human being? Or?
K: Ah! Who says there must be freedom? Oh, that is very simple. The very pain, the very suffering, the very all that, demands that we go beyond.
B: So you are saying that this particular mind even though it accepts limitation, finds it painful.
K: Of course.
B: And therefore this particular mind feels somehow that it is not right.
B: It can't avoid it. There seems to be a necessity of freedom, if you want to put it that way.
K: Freedom is necessary.
B: It's necessary, yes.
K: And any hindrance to freedom is retrogression. Right.
B: That necessity is not an external necessity due to reaction.
K: Freedom is not a reaction.
B: The necessity of freedom is not a reaction. Some people would say that having been in prison you reacted in this way. No?
K: Oh, no, no. So where are we? You see sir, that means there must be freedom from reaction, freedom from the limitation of thought, freedom from all the movement of time. You know, all that, there must be complete freedom from all that, before I really understand the empty mind and all that, and order of the universe, which is then the order of the mind. You are asking me a tremendous lot! Am I willing to go that far?
B: Well you know the non-freedom has its attractions.
K: Of course. I am not interested in its attraction.
B: But you asked the question: am I willing to go that far. So it seems to suggest that there may be some in the non-freedom there is something attractive to hold you. Right?
K: Of course, I am sure of those. I have found safety, security, pleasure in non-freedom. I realise in that pleasure, pain, there is no freedom and the mind says, not as a reaction, says there must be freedom from all this. To come to that point and to let go without conflict, demands its own discipline, its own insight. That's why I said those of us who have given a certain amount of time, thought and investigation into all this, can one go as far as that? Or there are the responses of the body, responses of daily demand, the responsibilities of daily action - wife, children, and all that - is that what is holding and preventing this sense of complete freedom? And the monks, the saints and the sannyasis have said, 'You must abandon the world.'
B: We went into that, that they take the world with them, anyway.
K: Yes, we have gone into that. That again is another form of idiocy. Sorry to put it like that. We have been through all that so I refuse to enter again into all that. Now I say: is that universe and the mind that has emptied itself of all this, are they one?
B: Are they one?
K: One. They are not separate, they are one.
B: Yes, it sounds as if you are saying that the material universe is like the body of the absolute mind.
K: Yes, all right, all right. All right.
B: It may be a picturesque way of putting it!
K: Yes. We must be very careful also not to fall into the trap that the universal mind is always there.
B: Yes, well how would you put it then?
K: They have said that: god is always there and god - Brahman, or highest principle, is always there and all you have to do is to cleanse yourself and arrive at that. Do all kinds of things to come there. Which is also a very dangerous statement because then you say, there is the eternal in me.
B: Well I think thought is projecting.
K: Of course, sir, of course.
B: But suppose - how would you put it, to say there is a logical difficulty in saying it is always there, because 'always' implies time and it is there every minute, that's what you mean and we are trying to discuss what has nothing to do with time.
K: Nothing to do with time.
B: So we can't place it as being here, there, now, or then.
K: So, we have come to a point, sir, that there is this universal mind, and the human mind can be of that when there is freedom.
I think that is enough, isn't it?
B: Yes, what time is it? (Both laugh)
K: We are going by time, all right!
B: Well that should be enough.
K: That should be enough. We'll continue, when?
B: You want to go next week, on Saturday?
K: We will see.