The Together First Project

The Together First Project aims to realize the proposals made by David Bohm, Jiddu Krishnamurti, and others that participation together is fundamental and the perception of our togetherness is more important than a shared goal.

The Together First Project is operated by the David Bohm Society.

The general view I have is that participation is fundamental. We must have dialogues, we must share our thoughts. We must be able to think together. If we can’t think together and talk together, then we can do nothing together. Culture implies shared meaning in which everybody participates. — David Bohm

In an article David Bohm wrote about the Jiddu Krishnamurti schools, Bohm stated the following:

If man and society can change fundamentally in this microcosm, into which students and staff come with all the problems of the world as a whole, it may be possible for such a transformation to take place more broadly, perhaps first in other educational centres, and then later in society at large.

In a discussion with teachers that was later titled Why are schools turning out mice not lions or gazelles? Jiddu Krishnamurti made the following statements:

The question is: can we all come together about something? Not purpose, goal, god and all that, but the feeling that we are together, first... I mean, if you all want to build a house, that's fairly simple. Because we all have a common goal, we all want so many windows, so many bathrooms, so many rooms, so many sitting rooms and all the rest of it - that's fairly simple. Then we say, 'Good idea, let's all work together'. That is, you're working for a purpose, for a goal, for an end. But we are saying, first what is important is not the building, is not the shape of the house, the windows, bathrooms and so on, but the feeling that we are together. Don't go to sleep please. If we have that feeling we can do anything... No, sir, we can't do anything in the world by ourselves. Right? Nothing! The Parthenon was not built by one man putting stones. It was a feeling, for Athena (I won't go into that story) and putting it all together, with tremendous intelligence. Right? Can't we do the same thing here? — Jiddu Krishnamurti

The above quote was the inspiration for the title of this project.

What We Are Calling For is a Living Example

You cannot spread the teachings. You must live it, then it will spread. — Jiddu Krishnamurti

People have come together for so many reasons, but what Krishnamurti and Bohm spoke of is very different. People cannot participate together if they have different beliefs that they hold to absolutely. Bohm and Krishnamurti denied the necessity of holding any belief and questioned the value of knowledge as it has failed to free humankind from its conditioning.

Both men were calling for something more fundamental: a deep sensitivity and perception of our human activity and sustained attention to the process of thought.

We have endless examples of people getting together for a particular cause, purpose, belief, or system. These gatherings are always limited because the particular reason does not have meaning and significance for all. And there will always be competing meanings and values. There will also be new forms of knowledge and significance that overtake the old ones. When the fact of our togetherness is the reason we are together then different and competing ways of viewing and valuing things are grounds for new learning and creativity rather than a source of division.

What examples do we have of people getting together because of the perception we are not separate from each other? We must find a way to communicate and think together because so much depends on that. Why must we have any particular form of commonality to get together? Is not the fact of our togetherness commonality enough? There are so many lines of division that separate and fragment us from each other. These lines are false. Togetherness is the fact and division is an imposition generated by our thinking.

The Krishnamurti schools and centres and some Bohm dialogue groups are probably the best examples we have of people collectively examining the process of thought and the limitations of knowledge together. There are a few other schools and projects that have touched on the experiment of bringing together people who are giving sustained attention to the process of thought.

But not enough has been done. People who are aware of what Bohm and Krishnamurti were pointing at and who have carefully looked at and observed themselves and life, need to come together. People who see the futility of holding to knowledge and have the openness to inquire and explore with others must come together. A new, creative form of culture may emerge if enough serious people got together and looked at thought. This looking at the process of thought has to be done anyway. But together something may be possible that isn’t individually, or that may be much more difficult individually. We don’t know what will come from inquiring together nor are we trying to predict, plan, or control that. It’s just that nothing else makes sense and this proposal deserves to be realized.

What Will It Look Like?

We don't know. What we are proposing for right now is the following (and we hope other people will propose other things):

*Get the people who are interested in this project together online first (even though the real work will take place in person) and see what comes from this virtual meeting space.

*Explore what kind of small spaces or other starting points can be easily set up locally to create spaces for those interested in exploring thought together. It is hoped that a variety of approaches will be attempted and the people will report back online about their experiences.

*Begin to get a sense of what would be possible beyond these small local spaces.

*Create the foundation for pre-dialogue groups that may later begin to engage in Bohm Dialogue.

*The Together First Project (as part of the David Bohm Society) will be putting together a funding proposal for a rented or owned space in Vancouver, Canada.

The above list is only a rough sketch. It is not a mandate or a requirement. It is just one possible way of looking at this question of participating together so we can start the dialogue on the subject. Hopefully everything we look at together will be questioned and examined fully and critically.

Not An Outer Change

I think until we understand the way our thought works, our whole mind works, the body and mind, I don't know that any outer change is going to alter things fundamentally. — David Bohm

You may outwardly build a peaceful structure but the men who run it will alter it according to their intention. That is why it is very important for those who wish to create a new culture, a new society, a new state, first to understand themselves. In becoming aware of oneself, of the various inward movements and fluctuations, one will understand the motives, the intentions, the perils that are hidden; and only in that awareness is there transformation. — Jiddu Krishnamurti

White Flag

In the attempts to explore together, the groups cannot be given any special significance. They have no authority. The groups are not to be lead and there are no leaders. They cannot hold absolutely to any particular philosophy or person, even Bohm or Krishnamurti. The Together First Project of course also has no authority or power over any of the groups; we are merely a meeting space and hopefully a means to support each other. The groups cannot be identified with any concept. They do not identify with national divisions. There is no religious or ideological affiliation. These things are all the petty things of thought, and to participate together means to have already gone through all of that and discarded anything false.

Krishnamurti provides us a clear warning on this subject:

What is a group? Surely, it is you and I, isn't it? To form such a group, you and I must free ourselves from the desire to be secure, to be identified with any particular idea, belief, conclusion, system, or country. That is, you and I must begin to free ourselves from seeking shelter in an idea, in a belief, in knowledge; then, obviously, you and I are the group who are free from the exclusiveness of belonging to something. But are we such a group? Are you and I such entities? If we are not free from belief, from conclusion, from system, from idea, we may form a group, but we will create again the same confusion, the same misery, the same leadership, the same liquidation of those who disagree, and so on and on. So, before we form a group at all, we must first be free of the desire to be secure, to take shelter in any belief, in any idea, in any system. Are you and I free of that desire? If we are not, then let us not think in terms of groups and future action; but what is important, surely, is to find out, not merely verbally, but inwardly and deeply, both in the conscious as well as in the hidden parts of our own minds and hearts, whether we are really free from any sense of identification with a particular group, with a particular nation, with a particular belief or dogma. If we are not, then in starting a group we are bound to create the same mess, the same misery.

Creative Culture

If each one of us can give full attention to what is actually ‘blocking’ communication while he is also attending properly to the content of what is communicated, then we may be able to create something new between us, something of very great significance for bringing to an end the at present insoluble problems of the individual and of society. — David Bohm

Suppose we were able to share meanings freely without a compulsive urge to impose our view or conform to those of others and without distortion and self-deception. Would this not constitute a real revolution in culture? — David Bohm

A Change in Meaning Is a Change in Being

We are not attempting to plan how this project will go but only create the space and scaffolding to facilitate it:

I think therefore the attempt to make a plan to change society is not going to work, because society is the result of what it means to us, and the plan will not change what it means... This point is crucially significant for understand psychological and social change. For if meaning is something separate from human reality, then any change must be produced by an act of will or choice, guided perhaps by our new perception of meaning. But if meaning itself is a key part of reality, then, once society, the individual and their relationship are seen to mean something different from what they did before, a fundamental change has already taken place. So social change requires a different, socially accepted meaning, such as in the change from feudalism to the forms that followed it, or from autocracy to democracy, or to communism, and so on. According to the meanings accepted, the entire society went. — David Bohm

It Starts With A Few

Sir, anything truly revolutionary is created by a few who see what is true and are willing to live according to that truth; but to discover what is true demands freedom from tradition, which means freedom from all fears. — Jiddu Krishnamurti

Bohm: I think that if ten or fifteen people were undivided they would exert a force that had never been seen in our history.

Krishnamurti: Tremendous. That's right.

Bohm: Because I don't think it has ever happened, that ten people were undivided.

You will probably say most of us cannot retire however much we may want to. Naturally all cannot, but some of you can. To live alone or in a small group requires great intelligence. But if you really thought it worthwhile, then you would set about it, not as a wonderful act of renunciation, but as a natural and intelligent thing for a thoughtful man to do. How extraordinarily important it is that there should be at least some who do not belong to any particular group or race or to any specialized religion or society! They will create the true brotherhood of man for they will be seeking truth. To be free from outward riches there must be the awareness of inward poverty, which brings untold riches. The stream of culture may change its course through a few awakened people. These are not strangers but you and me.— Jiddu Krishnamurti

The point is, we need a still more intense energy than the individual can give. Now, where will that come from? What I propose is that it is possible now for a number of individuals who are in close relation and who have gone through this and can trust each other to establish a one-mind of that whole set of individuals. In other words, that that consciousness is one, acting as one. If we had as many as ten people, or a hundred people, who could really be that way, they would have a power immensely beyond one... And I think that would begin to ignite, really, this whole consciousness of mankind. It would have such an effect. — David Bohm

Starting With Others is the Wrong Order

Bohm and Krishnamurti pointed out many times that it is the wrong order to start with other people when we ourselves have not changed and cleared up the incoherence which we are deeply imbued with. The Together First Project is not evangelism or outreach or an attempt to make people interested in these proposals. We are putting a sign post, an attractor, out into the world for those who already have an interest in these matters. If 100 truly serious people from all across the globe got together online, and were also carrying these proposals out in person, who knows what could from that?

And to change the world, and there must be change, one must change oneself. To bring about an orderly change we must understand the causes of the disorder that exists in us; and that is all. We have nothing more to do than to observe the causes of disorder in ourselves. — Jiddu Krishnamurti

And to see ourselves as we are is to bring about a radical change in ourselves, and therefore in the social order and structure. — Jiddu Krishnamurti

Taking Seriously the Proposal of Non-Separateness

Deep down the consciousness of mankind is one. This is a virtual certainty because even in the vacuum matter is one; and if we don't see this, it's because we are blinding ourselves to it. — David Bohm

David Bohm: Well if we think we are separate when we are not separate then it will clearly be a colossal mess.

Jiddu Krishnamurti: That is what is happening. Each one thinks he has to do what he wants to do, fulfil himself. So he is struggling in his separateness to achieve peace, to achieve security, which that security and that peace is totally denied.

David Bohm: Well the reason it is denied is because there is no separation. You see if there were really separation it would be a rational thing to try to do.

Jiddu Krishnamurti: Actual.

David Bohm: But if we are trying to separate the inseparable the result will be choas.

Jiddu Krishnamurti: That's right. That's right.

David Bohm: Now that is clear but I think that it will not be clear to people immediately that the consciousness of mankind is one inseparable whole.

Getting at the Tacit

Now, you could say that our ordinary thought in society is incoherent—it is going in all sorts of directions, with thoughts conflicting and cancelling each other out. But if people were to think together in a coherent way, as in a dialogue situation, it would have tremendous power. Then we might have such a coherent movement of communication, coherent not only at the level we recognize, but at the tacit level—at the level for which we have only a vague feeling. That would be even more important.

"Tacit" means that which is unspoken, which cannot be described—like the tacit knowledge required to ride a bicycle. It is the actual knowledge, and it may be coherent or not. Thinking is actually a subtle tacit process. We do almost everything by this sort of tacit knowledge. Thought is emerging from the tacit ground, and any fundamental change in thought will come from the tacit ground. So if we are communicating at the tacit level, then maybe thought is changing.

The tacit process is common—it is shared. The sharing is not merely the explicit communication and the body language. There is also a deeper tacit process which is common. The whole human race knew this for a million years, but now we have lost it, because our societies got too big. We have to get started again, because it has become urgent that we communicate, to share our consciousness. We must be able to think together, in order to do intelligently whatever is necessary. The point is that this notion of dialogue and common consciousness suggests that there is some way out of our collective difficulties. If we can all suspend carrying out our impulses, suspend our assumptions and look at them, then we are all in the same state of consciousness. In dialogue the whole structure of defensiveness and opinions and division can collapse; and suddenly the feeling can change to one of fellowship and friendship, participation and sharing. We are then partaking of the common consciousness. — David Bohm