Transcriber’s Note: Prof. Dr. Angelika C. Wagner kindly provided the David Bohm Society a physical copy of the interview she conducted with David Bohm. We express our gratitude for her sharing of this excellent interview. Any errors present in this digitization of the interview are ours alone.
Dr. Angelika C. Wagner has been a Professor of Educational Psychology at the Faculty of Education, University of Hamburg since 1985. She is also the Founder and Director of the Expert Consulting and Mentoring Network, an operational unit of the University of Hamburg.
On January 9, 1987, I interviewed David Bohm at Birkbeck College, London, about issues of how consciousness gets into conflict with itself.
Professor Dr. David Bohm is an eminent theoretical physicist, a former associate of Einstein, whose theory of the enfolding-un-folding universe (Bohm, 1980) deals with issues of quantum physics as well as human consciousness. His new paradigm of the 'holomovement' (Wilber, 1982) has tremendous implications not only for physics but also for education and psychology. In his dialogue with the philosopher and mystic, J. Krishnamurti (Bohm/ Krishnamurti 1985), both of them probed the question of “the ending of (psychological) time”.
How does this notion of a holographic mind relate to the issues of change which are central to the field of education and psychotherapy? This was the basic question and the starting point for the present interview.
I had been looking forward to discussing with David Bohm ever since, eleven years ago, I had begun to do empirical research into conflicts in consciousness.
Our first, large-scale study was carried out between 1976 and 1982 with students and teachers in public schools. Since the results of this and other, more recent empirical research work is referred to during the interview, I will briefly present some of our major findings.
In 1976, we (Wagner et al. 1981, 1984) asked teachers and students to retrospectively recall what they had been thinking about during class. Seven teachers and fifty-six students in seven different six-grade classrooms were included in this study. All of them were interviewed individually, and quite extensively, on their attitudes and ideas towards education in general and their own school in particular Since this study was done within the framework of cognitive behavior theory, its major goal was to learn more about those cognitions of teachers and students which appear to be guiding their actual behavior during class. So, we developed the method of 'Retrospectively Thinking Aloud'. In each classroom, two classroom lessons were observed and videotaped. Afterwards, on the very same day, the teacher and the students were shown this videotape of their own classroom lesson individually. They were asked to recall what had been 'going through their mind' at specific points of time during class. Whenever the presentation of the videotape was stopped (about every forty seconds), they told us what ‘had been going through their mind' at that point of time.
These interview data were carefully transcribed and then analyzed sentence-by-sentence as to how consciousness gets into conflict with itself. We developed a theoretical model of how conflict divides itself up in setting up injunctions, which we called subjective imperatives, e.g. "I MUST..." or "They MUST NOT..." The process of consciousness imperating itself that X "MUST" or "MUST NOT" happen, involves psychological time and thought. Any subjective imperative ('X MUST…') includes the concurrent assumption that 'it would be terrible' if this subjective imperative were to be violated. The felt sense of "terribleness" is stored-up trauma, hurt, or panic. Consciousness attempts to get rid of this trauma by imperating itself that “this MUST NOT" happen again. Yet this trauma is already part of consciousness. Hence, consciousness is attempting to do something which is impossible - by using thought, and by bringing in the false notion of time.
'Knots' arise in consciousness when the individual perceives or anticipates that one of his or her subjective imperatives may be or has been violated (e.g. 'I MUST not..!', 'They MUST...!")
In essence, these 'knots' are the result of consciousness being in conflict with itself (Wagner, 1984) .
As the results of our six-year research study showed(1), there are indications that such 'knots' are present in every third interview statement of teachers and students.
The next step was to ask how such conflicts can end. In a case study (1983 - 1985)(2), it could be shown that facing the emotional core of such subjective imperatives does lead to significant and effortless behavior change.
The most current study, at the time of this interview, was our doing research on the process of resolving such 'knots' while dealing with the fear of public speaking. We are currently carrying out an empirical study at the University of Hamburg(3) in order to test the effects of ending inner conflict on actual speech anxiety (Wagner 1987b).
38 subjects were asked to give a short speech in front of a video camera twice, and their speech anxiety in doing this was assessed by using written questionnaires as well by ratings of their actual speech behavior. In between those two speeches, subjects in the experimental group had one individual session each, during which they were guided in ending subjective imperatives involved in public speaking. They were asked to face (sensu Gendlin (1981)) the core of their speech-related subjective imperatives.
Preliminary results show that subjective speech anxiety of the experimental subjects actually did decrease highly significantly as compared to subjects in both control groups.
When the experimental subjects were asked to face the core of their speech anxiety and to let it 'flower', more than half of the subjects described it as the psychophysical trauma of dying or of being threatened with violent death. For example, one of the subjects described quite vividly the experience of "burning in a fire", and in being encouraged to face this traumatic event, she got visible hot flashes on her arms, in her face and appeared to suffer considerably. After three or four minutes of facing this and staying 'with it' and looking at it, she calmed down and the feeling of ''terribleness" appeared to be have disappeared. The result was that she was much more relaxed when presenting her second speech in front of the video camera.
During the interview presented here, David Bohm and I discussed the implications of this process.
The starting point for the discussion was my question to David Bohm as to what it is that happens during this process of facing one's anxiety? Why is it that attending to her sense of 'burning in a fire' for three or four minutes did lead to the ending of her fear in the subject mentioned above? Is it possible to describe (or to speculate on) the effects of such focused attention? Is it possible that there may be some kind of physical energy involved in this process? Would this change be a change in the implicate order? Would it be in any way related to creative intelligence?
These were some of the questions I had in mind when I came to this interview. Before we met, I had sent Dr. Bohm a short paper summarizing some of our earlier research work on the effects of subjective imperatives on thinking, feeling and acting. A more detailed description of that work can be found in Wagner (1987a).
2. This study was conducted by the author in collaboration with M. Busch- Metzen at the Department of Psychology , Padagogische Hochschule Reutlingen and funded by the State Ministry and the Arbeitsamt. Subject of the study was a thirty-year old female clerk, who had difficulties with her dominant mother as well as with her boyfriend who physically abused her. At the beginning of the study, she felt subjectively unable to end this damaging relationship.
3. This study is being financed by the University of Hamburg and the Behorde fur Wissenschaft und Forschung der Freien und Hansestadt Hamburg from 1986 till 1987. It is currently being conducted at the Department of Education, University of Hamburg, under the guidance of the author and in collaboration with Dipl, soz. B. Berckhan, S. v. Manikowski, U. Morga, B. Schenk und U. Schiitze.
Bohm, David (1980) Wholeness and the Implicate Order. London, Boston and Henley: Routledge & Kegan Paul deutsch: Die implizite Ordnung. Grundlagen eines dynamischen Holismus. Munchen: Dianus - Trikont 1985
Bohm, David / J. Krishnamurti (1985) The Ending of Time. Littlehampton: Gollancz
Gendlin, Eugene (1981). Focusing. Technik der Selbsthilfe bei der Losung personlicher Probleme. Salzburg: Otto MUller Verlag
Wagner, A.C., Maier, S. et al.(1981) Unterrichtspsychogramme. Reinbek: Rowohlt
Wagner, Angelika C. et al. (1984) BewuBtseinskonflikte im Schul-alltag: Denk-Knoten bei Lehrern und Schillern er-kennen und losen. Weinheim: Beltz
Wagner, Angelika C. (1987a) 'Knots’ in Teachers' Thinking. In: Calderhead, James (ed.) Exploring Teachers' Thinking. London: Cassell, p. 161-179
Wagner, Angelika C. (1987b) Reducing speech anxiety: an empirical study on the effects of Focusing and the ending of knots. Paper presented at the 18th Annual Meeting of the Society for Psychotherapy Research in Ulm, June 16 -20
Wilber, Ken (Ed.) (1982) The Holographic Paradigm and Other Paradoxes. Exploring the Leading Edge of Science. Boulder & London: Shambala Deutsch: Das holographische Weltbild. Wissenschaft und Forschung auf dem Weg zu einem ganzheitlichen Weltverstandnis-Erkenntnisse der Avantgarde der Naturwissenschaften. Bern: Scherz 1986.
W: Let me begin by telling you a little bit about the work I'm doing on how consciousness divides itself up by telling itself that something 'MUST NOT happen!'. This process of consciousness imperating itself(4) leads to problems because one cannot, with any 100% certainty, be sure that something will never happen (unless it is physically impossible, and in that case, one does not set up a subjective injunction with respect to it). So consciousness gets caught into a possibly volatile situation, in something dangerous.
W: If one says, 'I must never be a failure', then, of course, there is no insurance that one will never fail. So, on the logical side of it, it's fairly easy to show that one gets into trouble this way.
This problem is usually being 'resolved' by either deceiving oneself by telling oneself, 'Well, it will not happen to ME!,' or by setting up all sorts of consecutive imperatives like telling oneself, 'Well, I'll ALWAYS be a good student, and I'll ALWAYS work hard in order to be sure that this TERRIBLE thing will NEVER happen to me!'.
So, this is one part of it that consciousness sees some event as being possible, and at the same time, it keeps suggesting to itself that' This MUST never happen!'
Now, one can argue with people along these lines quite logically, trying to show the self-logical impossibility of it all. Finally, they say, 'Well, yes, I agree, but still...
B: Still what?
W: ...still I feel I SHOULD not do this..., or 'I MUST do that! ' So they don't give up setting up these injunctions very easily.
And this is the second part to it, then there is something psychological to it. There is a psychological trauma attached to this ideal that 'such-and-such which MAY happen, MUST NOT happen!'
For instance, the idea 'I might fail' is associated with the physically, and psychologically stored-up hurt: memories of traumatic events like having failed as a child and having been beaten up by a parent or something like this.
So, when I discuss this with people, they say, 'Well, still it would be just TERRIBLE if this were to happen!' -- i.e. if this injunction were to be. . .
And now the question is, what is happening there? I feel that the problem is that consciousness, at the same time, has stored this pent-up hurt (the recording of the traumatic event) and wants to get rid of it. It ignores the fact that this (trauma) is already part of itself.
W: …by deluding itself that it can get rid of it; by thinking about it or, yes, by evading in thinking about the future, or whatever.
Now, if one starts to face this traumatic event, and if consciousness does not run away from it, then - so I have observed - something happens which I can describe on a phenomenological level, but which I would like to discuss with you. What is it that is really happening in process. You know what I'm getting at? It may be this process that Krishnamurti describes as the 'flame of attention acting'. Anyway, it seems to me that there is a distinct process going on, which may even have certain kind of regularities to it. First of all, the "terrible" feeling, the feeling of panic, often seems to increase before it slowly begins to subside.
Sometimes I liken this to a general arousal curve, like an arousal that is blocked or temporarily checked, and if it is unblocked, then it just runs its normal course: it increases to its peak and then, slowly, decreases(5). And while this is going on, there is something really changing in a fundamental way, and something is being healed or 'straightened out'.
And afterwards, so people tell me - and I have observed the same thing in myself - when this problem, this knot, as we've called it(6), is really solved, then they feel, there is some sense of effortless change. Afterwards, they still remember how they used to behave in that kind of a situation and now they find themselves to act much more spontaneously. All of a sudden, they know what to do. It is not a (psychological) problem anymore for them. They feel relieved, there even may be muscular tension having been permanently resolved.
By the way, I discussed this with Karl Pribram(7) wondering whether he would know of any physiological measures for this kind of process. But he said I should come back five or ten years from now, they don't have the physiological measures methods yet. You know, one cannot measure even muscular changes using EMG(8) unless the muscle concerned is right on the surface of the body.
B: On the surface, yes.
W: And, at the present time, it is still too difficult to rig this experiment up so that one finds a psychophysiological problem which is stored at the surface of the body.
B: Perhaps you should look at the potentials of the nerves. (...)
W: What has been intriguing me for quite some time in reading your work on the holomovement and the implicate order, is the question whether there is some way of possibly explaining this, or of looking at this within that framework.
B: Yes, I think one needs to understand consciousness better - whatever that is.
There are several parts to consciousness. You see, the word consciousness is basically 'knowing it all together'. It meant 'socially' in the past, 'everybody knowing'. Now, it means 'individually'. In both cases, consciousness is a state of knowing. That requires going into what is meant by knowing, and it includes concepts, and also the activity connected with that concept, dealing with something without seeing it, and so on, right?
But in addition to that, the word 'conscious' and 'aware' are often used interchangeably. However the word 'aware' is based on 'wary', meaning 'watchful', 'sensitive', 'alert'. You see, awareness is a kind of sensitivity to difference and similarity in relationship which is not connected to a concept, but from it, concepts may form.
Now, attention means stretching the mind towards something. I like to think of attention as scanning the whole content of the brain, as the eye scans the object in order to pick it up, to grasp it. Grasping is understanding or comprehension. Comprehension means, 'grasping all together in attention'.
However, 'concept' also means 'grasping all together'. But that is by thought, and comprehension grasps in attention and not just by thought, right?
Now, I think what goes beyond that, we cannot say, but I like to discuss it as creative intelligence which can see the meaning of this and which simultaneously acts the other way to…
W: ... change it.
B: To change it. Well, it may be that it acts almost like an object being handled by attention, by the scanning.
Or it could be, another analogy is to say consciousness is watching whatever is presented, and behaving accordingly, right?
W: Is this at the level of creative intelligence?
B: Well, you see, consciousness watches the whole content, whether it is creative intelligence or not. The whole nervous system is responding to whatever is presented in consciousness, whether it be right or wrong.
Now, therefore, that is why, in the case of consciousness, the observer cannot be separated from the observed because consciousness is responding to the observed in that very moment. Therefore, the movement of consciousness is not separate from what consciousness is.
I like to use derivations of words. I think they indicate the archeology of thought, how people used to think in the early days. The word intelligence is based on the Latin 'interlegere' which means to gather from in between.
That connects with 'collect', based on 'colegere', meaning to 'gather together', and 'select', based on 'selegere' - to gather apart.
Now, forming concepts depends on beginning to see and to select, to collect things together and to select from others, right? That becomes a fixed pattern. But with intelligence, you gather from in between the categories, and in this way, intelligence can form new concepts.
But now, if you are stuck with fixed concepts, then it is going to go wrong.
W: Right, I perfectly agree with this.
But, I feel, there is something else going wrong, in addition to that. Not only, being stuck with a fixed concept or - it may be related to this - also being stuck with what you might call 'will', or imposing on yourself that 'something like this MUST' or ' MUST NOT be that way'.
B: Yes, but I think that this is in the concept. One of the basic concepts we have, is that of necessity, you see, which means 'it cannot be otherwise'. Now, the Latin word 'necesse' means 'don't yield'. You see, every concept contains immediately within it a disposition, which is implied in that, to act and also, not only to act physically and chemically, but to act in more thought, right?
So, if the concept is necessary, the disposition of the body and the mind is, 'don't yield'.
W: Let me think about this. So, you mean that concept in itself implies this sense of necessity , of something that MUST NOT be given up.
B: The concept may contain that. If something is very important to you, then you say it must not (happen that way), it is necessary. If you say 'air is obviously necessary', I must do everything possible to breathe properly, right? Or, you must have food, or you must have water, or whatever else.
W: But does this hold true for any concept?
B: Any concept to which you attach necessity.
W: So, to some you do attach necessity, and to some you don't?
B: To some. It is appropriate, in many cases, to attribute necessity. But, in other cases, it is not.
But also, there is another kind of what I call absolute necessity which means, it cannot possibly yield.
You see, relative necessity will hold under certain circumstances but yield to a greater necessity, but absolute necessity cannot yield, right?
For example, the demands of the ego may be regarded as absolute necessity. But also, the demands of the country may be regarded as absolute necessity. Another country comes along with another set of absolute necessities, and these two absolute necessities can never yield, right?
Or, two religions are the same, right? You see, if you have one view of God, God is the absolute and therefore there can be no other view. Therefore, each view of God, must go with the assumption of an absolute necessity.
W: Yes, but now the question is, why is it difficult for people to give up these kinds of, what they think are absolute necessities, even if, intellectually, they may be convinced that it is stupid?
W: For instance, somebody may have fear of the dark, and intellectually may say, 'well, nothing is going to happen', but still, he feels 'I MUST NOT go into the dark'.
B: Well, you see, you cannot easily give up a concept of absolute necessity. People could say, 'well, let's give up nationalism, it is interfering with dealing with the problems of the world.' But now, they find they can't easily give it up, right?
B: I think you have to look at this nature of the concept further. You see, the concept is not merely an abstract image or word - it is a whole process which is neurophysiological.
I like to give the example to show what a concept is, and how you come to it by using the case of Helen Keller, who was blind and deaf and could not speak. The teacher, Ann Sullivan, came, and she did not know what to do. She began to play this game with the child, to expose her to objects and scratch the name (into her palm).
One morning, she exposed her to water standing still, in a bucket, the name was there, and then a little bit later, to water running from a pump. The child can remember being absolutely puzzled why it was the same scratch, and she had an insight that it was one substance, water, in those two forms which had many other forms and she had immediately the next insight, everything has a name, because it came from the whole series of games.
From there on, she learned the words and sentences and was communicating right there, and her whole character changed.
You see, society can only exist that way. What was formed was the concept. It was essential. It was a linguistic concept, an arbitrary symbol which can be communicated, right?
You see, obviously it was necessary to put the right things together. If they put water and gasoline together, it would have formed the wrong concept, and she would have been led to drink gasoline. Or if she had not brought together running and standing water, it would have been a concept saying that running water is one thing, and standing water another.
So, the concept contains all sorts of things. It contains a related set of images, for example water in its many forms; how they transform, that's the abstract part. It contains also all the experience that was in there, how to come into contact with water, how the body and mind were disposed toward water, and so on. It contains also the openness to add more to the concept. So the concept is a whole process, and if the concept involves necessity or any other such thing which has high value, then it will involve a very great degree of excitation of the whole nervous system, right?
W: I see the same phenomenon, but I feel one could explain it somewhat differently. What you call necessity, is the outcome of a process of consciousness imperating itself that something MUST or MUST NOT happen.
B: Yes, but it is natural to assume necessity in a very wide range of conditions.
W: No, I think, there is a basic difference between seeing that, for instance, water is necessary for survival, and being in a panic if there is no water around to drink (because, there is nothing else to drink) because then, I MUST die, and this would be horrible.
B: There is a difference to it.
W: There is a difference to it. On the one hand, of course, it is necessary to have water to survive but if no water is available (and nothing else either), then either you just see that there is no water, and that you may die, or else you make yourself go crazy, going around in circles.
B: Yes, but why does a person make himself go crazy?
W: That's it. That is the question.
B: What I am trying to say is, that a concept is more than just the abstract idea and the image, but also all this other activity.
Now, the point is: Where is this activity taking place? It is taking place inside the body. We also have the concept of the self and of the activity of the self, which would also take place within the body. You see, the word 'self' has many meanings but one of its basic meanings, is the 'quintessence', the 'thing itself'.
So the concept of the self which is very central to each person, is in some sense the concept of something super essential and absolutely necessary in its very form.
Now, you see, the trouble is that the concept of the self has an activity, a great deal of activity, which is taking place just where the activity of the self would be taking place. It would be very easy to mistake one for the other.
W: Which mistake?
B: To mistake the activity of the concept of the self for the real self.
You see, suppose you begin to think how dangerous it is, (then) the heart goes faster and all these things happen, everything is going on inside, so you could say this is 'me' being disturbed.
W: I see, sure, that is the mistake.
B: You are not saying, it is 'thought' that is being disturbed, the concept is disturbed, but it is 'me' that is disturbed, right?
Now, this mistake may have happened as far back as the monkeys but it is carried on through the culture, and people have it, not knowing they have it. It is unconscious.
The problem that you described goes with what I call a wrong notion of what a concept is, a wrong concept of a concept. You see, a concept is thought to be just the name and the abstract image, the thought.
But a concept is all the rest of it. If you don't include the rest of it, it is automatically included instead as part of the self, which amounts to making a wrong concept of the concept of the self, (like taking running water as one thing and standing (water) as another).
That part of the concept of the self, which is abstract is regarded as one thing, and is called a concept, while the part which is more physical, is now called 'me', part of 'me'.
W: I lost you somewhere.
B: You see, the concept is one process, but, the concept is assumed to be only abstract. When the non-abstract part comes up, it is called something else, namely 'me'.
W: I see. You are saying the concept is more than just what we think a concept is, the abstract part which you can read about in any psychology textbook.
B: Also, we can imagine it.
You see, we know when we are thinking, we have images in our mind, and words, and...
W: Yes, so you are saying that the concept involves much more. Not seeing that a concept involves much more, we then attribute it to the self. This is a mistake.
B: Yes, the concept leaves a residue which is highly active.
W: ...and then we think this is the self. It is therefore implied that [?] is not the concept.
A neat way of looking at it!
B: So, in fact, we form a concept of the self which includes all that as part of itself. Now from the concept, the disposition to act and think follows without your having to be conscious of it.
Having formed the concept of water you do not have to think at all about the properties of water, you immediately respond to water in its many forms.
But, if you had formed the concept that gasoline and water were the same, you would respond to both in the same way.
W: And this would be a possibly fatal mistake.
B: Yes, if you had formed the concept that standing water is one thing and running water another, you would treat them differently. So you would probably say, 'I can drink standing water, I cannot drink running water' right?
The essential point here is that the human race has never formed an adequate concept of the concept. But, I say that it is not enough to form an abstract concept of the concept which is merely images, but what you need is an operative concept.
Now, Helen Keller formed an operative concept of water at that moment, which included the whole physical movement, the disposition. The point is, we need an operative concept of the concept.
W: An operative concept.
B: ...of the concept, of how concepts work.
W: I see, yes.
B: You see, if I use the word concept by itself, it means all concepts. It means, however, not that we include every concept but that we it include that by which every concept is generated.
Now, to grasp that in thought, we have to have an operative concept. We have to comprehend it, as it were, in attention. But we must then give attention to the activity of the concept, as you have to give attention to the activity of water.
However, the activity of the concept is far more subtle than the activity of water.
W: Exactly. And it is much more everywhere than water. Yes.
B: So, therefore, that is why it is not so easy. And also our whole culture and tradition and language effectively deny that there is any such problem at all. So almost nobody will give attention to it, anyway.
The point then is, you have to have an operative concept.
Now, the body has something similar that is called proprioception; you are aware of movement. Without having to think about it, you know you have moved something. You see, if I move this object (Bohm takes a piece of paper in order to demonstrate this) then I know I moved it, but if it moved by itself, either I would say , it moved on its own or 'something else moved it'. That distinction is crucial. The body could not survive without it, right?
But, the mind does not make a similar distinction. You see, the concept creates a movement in the whole system neurophysiologically, but it does not know that it has done so.
W: Could you elaborate on this some more, how the concept creates movement in the whole system?
B: Let me give an example. Suppose you are walking in a dark night and you see something a bit shadowy. If you know there are assailants in the neighborhood, the concept of assailant leads you to say, 'this may be an assailant'; immediately the heart beats faster and the adrenaline flows.
W: Isn't there something else?
W: It is not only that you say, there may be an assailant, but you have also stored up along with the concept of assailant.
B: ...well, the concept of what an assailant does.
B: ...which is dangerous, right?
W: And how terrible it is ...
B: I mean it makes sense. You can store up in connection with water that if you are not careful, you can drown in it and so on, you see, you must be careful if the body is in the water. Therefore, approaching some body of water, a certain concept will produce some caution. If nobody knew about it, there would be no caution, right?
W: Okay. But I slightly disagree with that.
W: I think there is more to it. Of course, it is sensible to be wary of an assailant.
B: Yes, I am pointing out that once you know about assailants, and when you think there might be an assailant, then you have a tremendous neurophysiological activity going on and you cannot stop it, you see, it is part of the concept.
This is like the implicate order; that it unfolds into all the activity.
W: Okay, yes.
B: Now, every concept works through an implicate order. It unfolds into neurophysiological, chemical activity which is appropriate to the concept, right? It is the disposition of the system needed to carry out what is implied in the concept, but that is part of the concept, there is no separation. It is a big mistake to say, here is the concept and here is something else.
W: So you would see affect being bound up with the concept.
B: And vice versa back because the affect affects the concept. Now, you see, if you make a mistake on the affect, it alters the concept, because if we now say, this affect is not due to the concept but due to 'me', it is spontaneously rising from 'me' which gives it extremely great importance by implication. And therefore that affect will come back as saying this is absolutely necessary, this is something tremendous.
Thus, suppose you find your heart beating faster and so on. Of course, if you look again, and you see it is a shadow, it all goes; it is another concept. But suppose, before you can look again, your heart is beating so fast that you become totally alarmed. You see, now comes another stage which is, the whole neurophysiological system is so disturbed that at a neurophysiological level it demands relief from that disturbance, right?
W: Yes, but let me counter this with a story. A Japanese warrior who has been successful in many fights, is told by his master to fight somebody at a precipice with only one third of his foot on solid ground. He goes there, and he stands, and he sweats, and is completely terrorized by fear of death.
And his master says, well, sorry, you have to go back and do some more meditation, this is not an appropriate response.
B: He may be trying to break him out of some habit of thinking, but you see, I was just trying to say the way things go commonly.
W: I perfectly agree with that that this is what happens commonly. But I am more interested in this distinction. There are some concepts which are not bound up with heart beating and all sorts of things.
B: They can become bound up.
W: Yes, sure, I agree.
B: Any concept can become bound up.
W: Yes, I agree. But I think this is not necessary even for concepts which involve dealing with assailants or dealing with life-threatening situations.
B: It may not be necessary, but I am trying to say it was only natural that people would develop this way.
W: Yes, okay.
B: The point is that if you could see, if you had proprioception of concepts, then the concept would itself already know that all this heart beating was due to the concept, and therefore it would not be given such importance, right? So, the concept could be that 'okay, it is alright for the heart to beat faster because there may be an assailant', but, on the other hand it does not mean that some tremendous disturbance is taking place deep inside of me. But you see, the whole tradition, the whole background of culture is the other way.
W: Yes, right.
B: Now, you see, the concept is active, and now it is no use trying to oppose it because this concept already contains the intention to carry out what its implications (are) - the concept can produce the intention, right? Therefore, you already have the intention and you only put on the contrary intention, which creates a conflict. So, you say, I must never do this but then there is another concept which is that I must do this.(9)
W: Then you are in conflict.
B: Right. The point is: part of the whole tradition of the human race is to try to control these things by opposition, which makes it worse.
W: Exactly. But, even if somebody sits in a quiet room behind locked doors etc.
B: Well, he could, exaggerate the fear.
W: But even if he does not exaggerate the fear, I would say that this fear of 'something may happen at some point of time', is still there.
B: Yes, because you cannot foresee the future, you cannot control the future. The fear will be there, you see. The mind has developed projection in time as one of its faculties, and this is necessary, obviously. But the difficulty is that it comes to the same question about the self. If this projection in time is made about the self, it is going to produce the same fear because of the self as the quintessence which is absolutely necessary. Already the projection into the future of the destruction of the quintessence can produce the same fear.
And then the quintessence can be extended; a person may identify himself with his country, instead, or with his family, or with something. Then the fear of the destruction of that will produce the same problem.
So, therefore, it seems that the first point is to realize every concept has a neurophysiological component. If it gets the absolute necessity which comes from attributing it to the quintessence, then it will disturb the body, and the body and the brain will demand stopping the disturbance.
It is almost like being hooked on a drug, you see, The brain says, 'stop the disturbance, I am afraid'. So then you make a concept 'there is nothing to be afraid of'. Then that puts the endorphins in the brain. Now the endorphins are like morphine in some way. So, then, along comes another concept which says 'no, you really do have something to be afraid of' and then it is like removing your drug, you see.
W: Exactly. By the way, do you know of any research that sort of validates what you are saying?
B: Well, I don't know, except the general notion that the endorphins are known to stop pain and fear.
Now, therefore, it is clear that any thought which reassures you in case of danger, is probably producing endorphins, just as the soldier on the battlefield does not feel pain or fear when he is carried away.
W: Yes, that is it. It is a switch on-switch off kind of thing. You put in the endorphins, then you put in 'Well, you still have to worry and look out for an assailant'.
B: Yes, that removes the endorphins and then it is like removing your morphine. Then the body chemically demands it back, and the only way to get it back is to look for another concept which will give (the endorphins) back.
W: Yes, and this may be a more complicated one.
B: This is known as self-deception.
W: So, these concepts pile up. On the other hand, if there is a continuing removal of the endorphins, then the machine would run out of order very quickly, because if somebody starts worrying day and night about being assailed on the street, he goes nuts in no time flat.
B: Well, the same thing has been done with animals, you see.
There was a television programme, many years ago, on the BBC of a cat which was a very confident cat.
It was top-cat among all the other cats, and it was very clever. They taught it to operate a machine, a complicated piece of machinery and afterwards it would get a reward.
So, suddenly, they produced a random element. Every now and then, he would get a puff of air on the whiskers - not often enough to make him conclude that he should stop, but it was like a gambler hooked on the thing, he did not know whether he was going to get the reward or not. And therefore, he began to visibly lose confidence, and failed, and then he looked much less like a top-cat.
He used to pass a saucer with milk; there were two, one with alcohol and one without. He passed the alcohol; then he came back and took it and then he became addicted to alcohol, and really, he went to pieces.
You see, it is the same phenomenon. The concept of the reward, - a reward is a concept for the future, right? - the cat must form an elementary concept of this whole process with the reward at the end which drives him to do it, you see.
W: Oh, I see. You say that the concept of something rewarding going to happen, is what sort of propels the action of running the machinery.
B: That's right. So, his ability to be top-cat was really the ability to project himself, to put himself ahead of all the other cats, and so on. You see, it was also his weakness.
Also, they have done experiments with animals, if they inject them with drugs then they get addicted, but they go through withdrawal symptoms and get over it. Now, if they are given the opportunity to press a lever to inject themselves, then they are psychologically addicted, and they never get over it.
It is the same thing, that (is) the concept 'press this and you will get a reward'.
W: Exactly, so this is why it is much more rewarding not to face the source of your anxiety but rather to use whatever concept to tell yourself that 'this will never happen to you', rather than to look at it.
B: Yes, you see, the concept becomes dangerous because it has all this neurophysiological activity which is not included as part of the content of the concept, right?
B: You see, with the cat, you would not expect such a level of intelligence.
W: Which is due to our feeling superior to cats.
B: May be they would have, but we don't really expect it to be. You see, the chimpanzee is a more likely example. The chimpanzee can have the same kind of problem. You have heard of Jane Goodall, who does research on chimpanzees in Africa. Now, there was on BBC, a programme where she showed that, in certain cases, there were some dominant males, who formed a hatred toward some other chimpanzees on the other side of the mountain. They organized a party to go out and kill them.
So you can see, probably some concept was involved; for example, it is enjoyable to do it.
So, I think that one of the points is as Krishnamurti is saying, that we don't really understand or comprehend how thought works. For thought to be aware of its own workings is crucial. It is part of the tradition in most of the human race, that thought just takes place, and you don't have to be aware of it.
But I want to make a distinction between thinking and thought; you are thinking something, and then it becomes thought, which has been thought; it is the past.
W. It is a recorded thing.
B. It is a recorded programme, it is not merely information but thought takes the form of a disposition to act. It records not as the particular incidents you are thinking of, but as a general conclusion drawn from that which is a programme to act, right? You see, you form an assumption and a conclusion, saying 'this place has assailants, I must be careful'. Therefore, you will immediately be careful without thinking.
Now, it is not that you remember there was an assailant here - perhaps, there was never one there - but just simply a conclusion, 'there might be assailants here'.
W: 'And I MUST be careful!' But you keep suggesting this to yourself, ' I MUST be careful'.
B: Well, you may say it again and again, but eventually, you don't have to say it any more , it is automatic, it is in your disposition.
W: That is an interesting question how far routines take over, or whether this is not in a way still thinking going on, consciously, though very habitually, you know, you don't have to make a big decision about it.
B: Well, you see, suppose you are walking on a road, a dark road and you make the assumption the road is level, your body is disposed that way, you see, you don't think of it anymore.
W: Yes, that is right.
B: But then you stumble into a pothole, and after that you say,' I must be careful!', right?
B: But you see, your body is disposed according to the assumption that was made. I say, assumptions give rise to dispositions, and also, they give rise to what may be called a show within consciousness, you see.
W. A show? Oh, yes.
B: They appear that way, they seem that way - either to the imagination or it is actually, directly an experience, right?
B: If you are watching a television image, and you hear a bell ring, you may assume that the bell is ringing in the image. If you do, you’ll experience it that way, as a show of coming (from the television image). It may actually be coming from the next room, but it is shown as coming from the image, right? Now, you don't have to think to make that show, you see. That show is imposed as a result of assumptions.
W: The show is…
B: The show of appearance.
W: It appears to be that way.
B: It appears to be that way. But when it shows in the mind, what you experience is that it is that way. That show is a kind of an apparently immediate experience which is felt to be not thought, although it is thought.
B: If you have an immediate experience thought is the in between, it mediates. But the result of thought is re-experienced as immediate.
W: Exactly. That is where it gets confused.
B: That's the same sort of confusion as with the conceptual process.
You see, there are two ways the conceptual process gets confused. One is, the neurophysiological effects are attributed to the self and two, the show is attributed to that which is.
W: That's exactly it - then you get all sorts of confusions.
B: Therefore, that is because thought does not know the need to be aware of it, and thought does not even dream that it is producing that show.
W: ... because it is set up to make life more simple.
B: Well, that is its intention, but it doesn't dream that it is producing the show. It makes the assumption things are as they are, but in addition to that, it assumes: I am reflecting on them and trying to improve my understanding and so on - but not realizing that this reflection is affecting the way things appear.
W: Exactly, yes.
B: And therefore it attributes certain parts of the appearance to independent reality, independent of thought.
That is again the problem of the observer and the observed. You see that the observer i_s the observed, at this level. What you observe, is the activity of the observer, but is attributed to something else.
And also, the activity of the observer is determined by what is observed, immediately. If you observe an assailant, the whole state of the observer follows accordingly.
W: ... is changed.
B: So there is a kind of unfolding between them . They are not really separate, but thought makes the assumption that thinking is one thing, and what it is thinking about, is another.
Now, that may hold up to a point. Thus I may say 'here I am thinking about the chair1, my thought is going on inside here (points) and the chair is there and they are quite independent. But then X say 'here I am thinking about myself,' so I say, I am in here somewhere (points at the body). That is all independent. So you see, what goes on down here, profoundly affects what goes on up in the head, and vice versa.
W: Yes, Exactly. What ties right in with this, is when I ask students to face whatever, for instance, what they are afraid of, whatever it is that they are having problems with, they quite often say, 'I don't want to look any more because it feels like I am dissolving myself'.
B: That's true because the self is being confused with the show of the concept of the self. You see, the concept has a show, right?
B: As an apparently immediate experience, right?, either directly attributed to matter in the body, or in the imagination as an image.
W: Yes, yes, of course.
B: Now, therefore, if there is a self, you will never find out what it is as long as it is covered up by the activity of the concept, right?
W: And there is a feeling of something terrible happening if this were to dissolve.
B: Yes. But if the quintessence, if the essence of all our essences were to dissolve, it would be a terribly bad thing, wouldn't it?
B: Why? Wouldn't it be, I mean, if the essence of all reality, of our existence…
W: ... were to dissolve? Yes.
B: It would be at least frightening, and probably very disturbing, and perhaps everything might lose all meaning. It certainly could very easily inspire terror in somebody to think that the essence of everything may go. What's left will be chaos, right?
W: Right, nothing, or chaos, or God knows what, yes.
B: You see. So therefore, the mere thought of yourself creates the show of yourself inside, which is all the neurophysiological activity that is attributed to the self independent of thought.
W: And once there is the concept of the self, then this creates what it takes as proof of its own existence.
B: Yes, so it gets trapped.
Now that has been going on for ages, and the child picks it up without even knowing he is picking it up. He has no symbolic, or verbal, or any other way of knowing that all this is happening. He does not know it verbally, he does not know it in any other way, and therefore he is trapped in it.
You could make another analogy as to how that has to change. Suppose you have a television set. You know, you have seen those test cards, testing the straightness of lines, and various other things. So, now, suppose you have a test card. If you are interested in the content of the test card, you will say 'the line isn't straight, let’s change the card to make the line straight'. But if the card is a test card, that is a very wrong action, to say 'Let's change the card to make the line straight'. Rather you say you need to take some action, for example, with the screwdriver, to correct the fault.
So, what is called for, is to correct a neurophysiological fault which is producing this non-straight concept.
B: Ordinarily we take the concept of the self as important for its content, but now, suppose we say this concept of the self is the key test card for the brain, how is it working. Right?
B: Right? And therefore, when it starts producing all these crazy things then that is the sign of a fault in the general neurophysiological situation.
W: So, what operation does it take to change the neurophysiological action?
B: That's the question. You need an operation which is of a different nature. Thought cannot change the test card, you see.
W: Exactly. It could put in a new test card, 'I am supposed to have no self',
B: Or whatever it could be, 'I am straight', 'I am alright'. In other words, I find the crooked behavior so I put in a new card which says my behavior is very straight.
W: Yes, that is commonly done, yes. 'I am all right, and everybody else is wrong'.
B: So, therefore, some other action, - and that what Krishnamurti is implying - is needed: an action of another quality to change the neurophysiological pathways. If you don't change that, then you may explain rationally, but it does not touch the neurophysiological pathways. If the thing is held lightly, then a rational explanation will do. But with absolute necessity, it is already deeply imprinted in the pathways. If you just said, 'Okay, there may be assailants, there may not be assailants', then you could say, 'okay, I see how silly it is to think this way, and I give it up. But if you have deeply imprinted it on the brain...
W: ... then it is not lightly let go, yes
B: It will be unconscious, you know, it will work unconsciously. Consciously, you may give it up, but unconsciously, it is still there.
W: So, what is then this...
B: So you see, that is what requires the change. You were just saying in the beginning that people say 'I find out that it is gone', right?
W: Yes, so this seems to be like a process of attending to itself.
B: Yes, you will have to attend, it clearly requires attention, but attention generally can be confused with attention to the content of the test card.
W: Of course. No, this is not it.
B: Now, you see, if the television repair man is coming, he is attending not only to the test card, to the content, but he is attending to how that is related to the fault in the structure.
W: Exactly. That is when people say well I am afraid of such-and-such, then we sort of say, 'Let's leave the content alone for a moment'.
For instance, if they say, 'I am afraid to be a failure', then let us not discuss whether you should be a failure, or should not be a failure, or what it means to be a failure, but let us look at what is the sense of being afraid of it.
So, this is part of the trap to start discussing with yourself what the place of failure is, and that is not the solution.
B: No, it is not enough. Yes, yes, yes.
W: So, it is this sense of panic, for instance, which may be associated with the concept, the abstract concept of failing.
In your way of looking at it, it is implicit in the concept.
B: Yes, it is implicit in this concept that the quintessence
W: ...that is much better...
B: It is implicit in this concept that the quintessence which makes all life worth living will go, or will be destroyed, or something very bad will happen to it.
W: Yes, this reminds me that in this experiment on alleviating fear of public speaking, when I talked with twelve different women who were part of the study asking them to look at what it was that made them nervous in presenting a short speech in front of a video camera, quite a few of them, more than half said that the core of their fear was the fear of being violently put to death, for instance being squeezed to death.(10)
B: being crushed.
W: Being burned, physically burned to death.
So it looks like what people might reasonably experience when something violent happens to them.
B: To the body.
W: To the body which may then put them to death.
B: Yes, the body is used to symbolize all that because, probably, to the child it is its main symbol. See like the word oppressed literally means to press, to de-press, to re-press.
W: Yes, yes.
B: You see, a kind of pressure, and therefore the show of that will be, it's like an actor, he is acting out the show of the emotions of the character. Now, he gets it from the assumptions of the thought about that character. He must determine what are the basic assumptions determining that character and his thought.
W: I did not get that.
B: Suppose an actor has got to portray this fellow, this character, he reads the part and it's not enough, right?
He has got to put himself into that thought, but to do that he must sense deeply what is the basic thought of the character, what he regards as absolutely necessary.
W: It is much more than thought. It is the whole.
B: It is thought, which is contained in his reading of the part. But in doing this, if you catch that character's assumptions of what is absolutely necessary you will have caught it.
W: Yes, exactly.
B: And now, then his whole body will express that, thought. The actor must express this assumption in the attitude of the body, in the way he talks. He makes a show of it, an outward show, but he is making an inward show at the same time to himself. So if a character feels oppressed, he feels that pressure, right?
B: And he communicates it too - And then the person who sees it can feel the pressure which is the show of the character, right?
B: So, therefore, in a sense this show is not merely an image like a photographic image on television, but it is the show which comes from acting out. It has what are called props, right?
W: It is an expression.
B: Yes, it is an expression. But every actor on the stage needs props. Some real things which help support the show, right?
B: So these are the real things which support the show, mainly the feelings of pressure inside, the facial expression, the tensions, you see, the show has to have some props which are physical.
W: Oh, I see, So, are you saying that my subjects in the study were using the physical expression, and one of them, for instance, said, that she was 'going through fire' and she was physically getting hot flashes right in her face?
B: That's right. That were the props for the concept, for the show of the concept
W: For the show of the concept which involved wrongly 'I may be dying', the 'I' may be dying.
B: That's right. But then came a yet more important mistake. She did not know, she had lost track of the fact that these were props that she had arranged and therefore, she had a double problem which was, that here she really is dying (laughs). It is happening physically, right?
W: Yes. She really…
B: You see, not merely that I have a concept that I may die but I feel physically that…
B: And I don't notice that I have produced that feeling as a prop for my concept. You see.
W: That is a neat way of looking at it. I had not even thought of that.
B: You see, on the stage, if you are the director you muse arrange this thing and this thing - these objects around here to support the whole story, the whole emotion, you know. Perhaps you will have wind blowing and lightning flashing and music, you know, danger, frightening sounds. When you watch television, you can always tell that something is going to happen because the music becomes very disturbing, right?
W: Exactly, Yes. The music is half the show.
B: It is one of the props. It makes the heart do this and that.
W: Yes, exactly. That is interesting, that is very fascinating that these are props to impress on yourself the absolute necessity of keeping the self alive.
B: Yes, also to show to yourself what you mean by that. Thought involves something very abstract, but it must be made to show itself by words, by actions, by images, and this is part of the show of thought to itself, right?
W: Does this not get confused with the normal relative necessity of keeping yourself alive?
B: Yes, well there is confusion because if you feel you are getting very disturbed and it may interfere with your life, therefore you say 'I must find some other thoughts which may quiet me down'.
W: Yes. Of course, and then you go into something else. But I mean the confusion comes also from this - there may be a normal tendency for an organism to keep itself alive.
W: In some sense it is sensible when you feel threatened by sickness coming on; you look at what is wrong and...
B: Yes, that is the instinct of self-preservation. You see. I am trying to say that that is a perfectly valid instinct, but now the mistake is that what appears to be the self, which is to be preserved, is actually a prop, so there is no reason to preserve it.
W: That's it! And this is where the confusion comes in.
W: And this woman who got all hot of course, was then confused between keeping herself preserved, which she then transmitted into, well, all sorts of social injunctions, for instance, she must not stand up for her own right.
B: Yes, all sorts of things, you see, but that comes from that basic confusion of thought which takes its neurophysiological activities as belonging to the self, and takes the show as belonging to reality. You see, if you were at a very realistic show on stage, you might not be sure that this was a show. Also, the actor could be carried away . As he plunges the dagger in, he might forget that it is in acting, and he would really plunge the dagger in. So, you see, that this is the kind of mistake he might make, just because the props are real.
W: Exactly. That's neat.
B: And real props are needed for thought, you see. Even writing is one of the props; it's got to be made visible.
W: Why does thought need props?
B: Because it has to define itself. First of all, it must communicate itself to the emotions. The abstract thought, 'there may be an assailant', might not be noticed by the emotional part of the brain. Therefore, thought turns it into an image and a feeling which will affect that part of the brain that makes you move.
B: But on the other hand if you lose track of the fact that this is what happened, that is a very serious mistake, isn't it?
W: Then you are confusing the props and the acting with reality.
B: You are confusing the show with reality and confusing, therefore, thought with truth because you lose track of thought itself. Some thoughts seem to come to you suddenly without any background as if they were perceptions of truth, right? You see, you lose track of the movement of mediation and you get the sense of only the immediate. There are two sides to the immediate: one is the immediate show of reality, and two: the immediate show of abstract thought. Therefore, this is reality and that is truth, right?
If you fail to see the connection, then that is the way they will appear.
W: Then you are lost.
So, what is this that changes this?
B: You were sort of discussing that a little bit. One of the problems is that as long as you carry this thing into action you cannot do anything, because in order to act you must accept the assumptions behind your action.
W: Otherwise you cannot act.
B: Yes, but on the other hand if you stop action altogether there is nothing to see, right? So therefore, you have to get in between to say there is an action which is suspended, carried far enough to show but not far enough...
W: To be carried through.
B: Yes. Which means you are questioning the assumption. Are you able to question the assumption and to be aware of the connection between the assumption and the show and the neurophysiological activity? Now that is really what is needed to be seen, to see if that connection is seen. Then this mistake, this tremendous importance given to the show and to the activity, won't happen, right? Because it is clear to the whole system, to thought itself, that what is produced only by thought does not have absolute necessity.
That mistake can only be made by thought, not realizing that it has produced that.
W: Hm, and once it sees that...
B: Then it won't do it, you see. Thought knows, and it's fairly clear, that it does not produce absolute necessity. It may produce in case of mathematics a fairly strong necessity, but even there it is questionable whether it is absolute.
W: What about this impression I have got, that logical changes focusing on this or attending to all that, is bound up with this concept, does something to change it, let us say to change or dissolve the anxiety bound up with the concept of such-and-such.
W: There seems to be something changing on a physical, a physiological level, it is actually changing, dissolving what so far may have been going around and around in circles and has been bound up in a stupid way.
B: Yes. I think it's a matter of being able to attend to the whole process to see the connection between the concept, the symbol and the whole activity, then I think it will dissolve. You see, Krishnamurti often says, insight changes the brain cells, which is to say, attention is a two-way connection to a creative intelligence, so perhaps you could say the intelligence acts directly on the brain cells, as the repairman acts directly on the structure rather than attempting to change the meaning of the card.
W: So creative intelligence is the repairman.
B: Yes. This is the suggestion, really, that Krishnamurti is making; in other words, it has to act, it irons out, or loosens up that neurophysiological tension. But I think, part of that is to say that what appears on the card, however, is an indication to creative intelligence of the action needed, right?
W: Hm, hm.
B: There is new insight which is to change the attitude to the card. You see, our habitual attitude to the thought of the self is, 'the content is all important'.
W: And once we realize that we look somewhere else.
B: Yes, but now we realize that the content is important: only for somewhere else, for something else, right?
B: That the content has no importance in itself, but is a reflection of something else.
W: Of something else that is going wrong.
B: Yes, a fault in the structure.
W: Somewhere in your book, 'Wholeness and the Implicate Order', you talked about the germs of whatever is wrong being in the implicate order.
W: What do you mean by that?
B: Well, this thought that generates disorder - the explicate order becomes a sort of a guide to the implicate order, you see that in thought, right? It is like a map, right? And the implicate order will function wrongly if the map is wrong. That's clear. But, then the implicate order has made the map and it also sustains the map, you see. The germ of the trouble is in the implicate order. Some change must take place in the implicate order.
W: So you consider this implicate.
B: Yes, suppose for example, you have a computer. It has a certain print-out or puts itself on display, it shows on a screen the various results of its operations. A particular item on the screen may come from any part, or from a whole combination of parts in the computer. And a fault in the computer may affect all sorts of results. The idea is, how the thing displays is a reflection of the fault, right?
W: I agree with that.
B: But if the computer is working right, then you may be interested in the content itself.
W: But I am wondering why you assume that the neurophysiological part of the concept is part of the implicate order rather than the explicate order.
B: Well, explicate is the one that shows to us.
W: Oh, I see.
B: You may make the assumption that maybe some day the neurophysiologists will show the 'inner workings' of the brain explicately, but I think they never will. It is infinitely deep, and the fault cannot be said just to be in the mal-distribution of chemicals, but in more and more subtle things.
W: Yes, I agree. This is only part of it.
B: So, therefore, the change occurs in many levels of the implicate order. The fault, as reflected in the content, directs the attention to the implicate order, not only to find out what it is, but to change it while finding it out. That is like taking an object and handling it, you are not only learning about but changing it at the same time.
W: Is there energy being involved in that?
B: A kind of energy, perhaps, yes, but at the implicate level, yes.
W: What kind of energy?
B: I don't know, but I think that it may be much more subtle than the kind we know. Some of my ideas in that connection are in that paper of a series of levels of mind and matter, which are more and more subtle. But I think attention does involve energy which can become more and more subtle reaching into creative intelligence, inwardly.
W: That is the impression I get, too.
W: I am glad you are saying it, too, because one feels a bit foolish when one talks about attention being energy.
B: Well, attention has got to be some kind of energy, I mean, if things are going on, it can't be going on without energy.
W: Exactly. So there is something going on. And this energy might also explain, or would you agree to that, that this kind of attention is even able to dissolve physical problems like cancerous growth?
B: Yes. It could get to them, in an indirect way, perhaps. We don't know why there is this cancerous growth. But if it were to change the background which is favoring cancerous growth, then it could dissolve it. You know, the point is that according to the concept, the whole clinical constitution of the system, the physical and so on, is affected, right? Like the concept of fear which has fear in it, and this will produce an image, similarly with the concept of anger and hate and so on. But according to the view I discuss in that paper, there is a subtle and unbroken flow between the most subtle levels of this, all the way down to the particles at physics, right?
The whole thing ties up with the question of time, which also is a concept. You could say in that concept, as in bringing together the many aspects of water, the many aspects of movement are brought together through the concept of time. It would also bring many concepts, you know, clock time, neurophysiological time, psychological time, and so on. Now, I think one of the things Krishnamurti is trying to say is that psychological time is an illusion. And he says in some places, there is another kind of time, which is deeper. But, that kind of time which is projected by the mind about the self is an illusion. You can see that it is a show which has nothing behind it. In a sense because it is believed that it has something (behind it) it is going to produce a result as if it had something behind it.
Suppose again, that you are watching a television programme, and you see a clock is turning. But in fact there is no clock there, there is no time. There is nothing but these electrons moving, and making flashes of light.
Those processes that you see on a television image, are not happening. There is no time, there is no causality there.
The suggestion is that the psychological sense of time that we ordinarily have is similarly the show of thought, but it profoundly affects the way the whole system actually works.
W: Of course.
B: And it may produce disturbances, as we have discussed. You see, now Krishnamurti is raising the question, ‘suppose this show were not taking place‘ (laughs).
W: Then what? It is all together in one...
B: Well, what is going to happen? Well, he says no movement, then, he says, yes, there is some kind of time, some kind of movement, but not the kind that we ordinarily think about.
We think it (time) is there, like the show. You see, that movement which he calls psychological becoming, 'I am becoming better', 'I am trying to', is a show, right?
W: That's an illusion.
B: That's right. It is a show which has nothing behind it. Some shows in the mind have something behind them, they are the show of something real, this is a show of something which has nothing but thought behind it.
W: Right, because it is just trying to get out of it by illusions, by suggesting to itself, 'Sometime later, I will be better, bigger, or whatever, which is just endorphins working on your brain, because by thinking that, you get sedated , you say 'Okay, it is not so bad because sometime later I am going to become whatever.' This, of course, never happens because it is just thinking about it.
B: It is just a show, it is just going on. You see, illusion means playing false, literally, to play falsely. Certain kinds of assumptions make the whole structure play false. You see this is another way we don't take into account the role of thought. We suppose that every assumption may be the same, but some assumptions lead to a fault in the system.
B: They affect the whole system. And, we ordinarily don't think of that, for example, that certain television programmes might be bad for the television set.
W: That would be an interesting study. 'Violent television shows are damaging your television set! '.
W: But physiologically, this certainly is true. If you run all sorts of violent images,..
B: It might damage your brain.
W: Often, you probably damage your body, as well.
B: And also the brain cells will be affected. But, you see, the television set does not really care, it carries all these programmes.
W: Exactly. It does not say that this MUST not happen.
B: I am trying to say, perhaps we have to be like the television set.
W: Exactly, stop interfering, not interfering.
B: And just let the programmes play out.
W: Or, is it possible that the programmes stop?
B: Yes, then they stop. You see, at first they have to be allowed to show their content. Krishnamurti says: 'let them flower'.
W: And that does happen, yes, so they run their course. Because, so far, the television set, which is us, has been blocking them from running their course.
B: Well, that's the programme, the assumptions, you see, the ill effect of the whole system.
The television set just simply carries the whole programme but the brain...
W: It injects, its own content, to make a part of the programme.
B: So, the analogy is good.
W: We are somewhat separate from the programme.
B: See, there are two things. One is the show, the separation of the observer and the observed or the thinker and the thought, and then the show of time, of psychological time. They are together because, in the show, the self as shown could not exist without psychological time. If you are trying to make a show of an act in the television, there must be a movement, right?
W: Yes, right.
B: A sense of movement, you see. You may have seen these random dots - if this is part of a sort of a moving picture, you can suddenly see a form like that of a cat, apparently. So what was just a bunch of random dots, you suddenly experience as a real cat. But, if this show stops, it will collapse, right? It has got to move.
W: Then there is nothing left anymore. No cat and no observer as different from the observed.
B: That's right. But as they say, the show must go on (laughter).
W: Why must this whole show go on?
B: But that's what they say in show business.
W: I know, I know, because they make a lot of money out of it. And we keep saying this to ourselves. Now, if we all stopped saying this at the same time, this whole thing would collapse.
B: Now, if the show, and the observer and the observed, and psychological time all collapse, then what will it be? Now, that is really what Krishnamurti is raising.
W: Certainly something we don't know about. We cannot know because otherwise, we get another kind of show.
W: And sex-role socialization, of course, is a beautiful example for what you talked about, how concepts distort perception.
For instance, we11 did one study where we taped a discussion among two young adults on space crafts. We played this tape in front of almost three hundred tenth-grade students telling one half of the groups that the first speaker was a male and the second a female. In the other groups, we just told them the opposite story, i.e. 'the first speaker is a female, the second is male.' Actually, it was always the same tape. After the presentation, we asked our subjects to rate the speakers' performance, for instance how well organized and how logical they were.
When the subjects simply assumed that the speaker was female rather than male, they judged "her" to be less logical, more emotional, less well-founded in her arguments and more aggressive than when they assumed that the voice was that of a male. Mind you, it was always the identical tape.
B: Yes, it's like the telephone, and the television image. You assume that it is in the image the way you have seen it.
W: Yes, and when you just tie it into the concept 'male - female', your whole perception becomes biased.
B: Couldn't they tell from the voice?
W: No, these were voices within a medium range. Nobody questioned that, they simply believed us.
So, these are some of the things I have been doing research on. There have been many other experiments along these lines where you can just show that this sex-role conditioning deeply affects perception even if people say 'Well, I don't discriminate against women, I have do not have any prejudices.' So that's part of the work I'm doing, on the effects of prejudice on communication and perception. And also on the action needed to change that.
B: Freud is concerned with the defense of the concept of the self as the cause of neurosis, its activity being identified with that of the self, is defended by the instinct of self-preservation.
That creates a movement by which the concept defends itself, through falsifying itself by introducing false rationalizations, and false denials, about what is real.
W: But he did not go far enough, because he said, well the 'ES', the id, the subconscious, the drives are so terrible that they have to be repressed.
B: Yes, you see, he accepted that. But he was making the assumption that the unconscious drives, or unconsciousness and the ego, are in some way different, separable. But I am proposing they can't be separable. The ego must be pervaded by the drives, and the ego has produced those drives by the effect of its past assumptions either individually or through the group or through the human race, right?
So, what I would like to say is, that those drives are not fundamental, but they are regarded as important because they have been identified with the self. They are concepts identified with the self. The instinct of self-preservation is a valid one, but the attachment of the instinct of self-preservation to the image of the self as a 'good' and' right', and so on, or being male or female, or something, is not necessary, and it is destructive. So therefore Freud, as you said did not go far enough because he then could have been led to question of his own foundations, the rationality of his own ego.
That is really what Krishnamurti is doing.
Now if you try to get somebody to take this seriously, as you say, it means that it is not clear how you can take an action immediately, and the whole culture is oriented towards some kind of pay-off. In other words, when you do something you should get some result, the value of-which is recognizable.
W: Or at least, you should be able to do something.
B: Yes, do something useful. And that means that you get the pay off. How would you meet that? Well, the point is, you could criticize that.
We are then, however, in the position of threatening the quintessence of everything, we are questioning the value of the whole thing, right? Which means, you are going to provoke the neurophysiological defenses.
W: Exactly, once you stop running away from yourself, you won't question them.
B: So, you have to approach it indirectly.
B: Indirectly, you see, the direct approach is going to provoke the whole defense of the concept. Part of the concept of the self, especially in this culture, is the virtuousness of the self. One of its virtues is that it can get results, that it is very proficient in getting results, it is an achiever, right? That it has a means of getting results and so on. Now if you say it does not have that, then it is going to produce feelings of inadequacy.
W: Yes, but it also gets defeated time and time again.
B: Yes, but then the assumption is, it is defeated because it has not done it right, you see, there is still hope, right?
B: Now, you see, hope is, in this case, a false hope, but that keeps it going. So therefore, there is a defense against anything that would give up hope. It would lead to a sense of despair, and the whole thing would be destroyed. Now the self, in this culture, is identified with the concept of being able to achieve, and to be able to do something, and get results. Now, in another culture, it might have been different. Therefore, the minute you are questioning that you are provoking the whole defense system.
W: Exactly. And you are provoking a lot of anticipated despair, and helplessness, and hopelessness.
B: And then you will have to say, as Krishnamurti says, you have to go through that, let it flower, but you see, there is a tremendous defense against letting that happen.
W: And it is much easier to say, well, this is just nonsense, putting in the endorphins and quietening yourself down again.
B: Yes, then you change the card.
W: Yes, exactly, at least you paint it pink or, something, so it is more pleasant to look at.
And then it seems much easier, until you run into other problems and not knowing that this has something to do with the faulty TV set.
B: I don't see that we can think of any way of doing anything directly. But I think, that some sort of indirect approach may get people to listen in an area where they don't feel so threatened.
W: And that is something I find, there is quite some interest in these kinds of questions among my students.
B: And obviously, you find that the younger ones feel less threatened.
W: Yes, obviously.
B: Because they are not yet committed to produce these results. So you see, it is like that top-cat who felt very good at getting anything he wanted. He knew for sure how to operate this machine and get his reward. And then he found all those puffs of air coming, and it really demoralized him.
W: So, if you have not become a top-cat yet, you may be more open to looking for other ways. Or if you have not become a professional psychologist.
B: But the point is that people who are not top-cats still feel themselves to be somewhere in the order of cats.
4. A rationale for using this term 'self-imperating' can be found in Wagner (1987a).
5. viz. Wagner (1987b).
6. viz. Wagner (1984), ch. 1.
7. Prof. Dr. Karl Pribram, professor of neuropsychology at the University of Stanford; cf. Wilber (1982).
9. Imperative-counter-imperative dilemma: viz. Wagner (1987a).
10. cit. Introduction.
This is the first version of the digitization of this interview completed by Matthew Capowski on December 30, 2014. Any errors appearing in this digitization are mine alone.