Letters from David Bohm to Peter Racz

We would like to thank Peter Racz for supplying these letters and our volunteer Rick for transcribing them. One of the letters is from September 25th, 1973 and we are not sure of the dates of the others.

Letter 1

Dear Peter,

Thanks for your letter. It is hard for us to make definite plans at present, but we will be in England by the end of August. Very probably, we will be here by August 25. Obviously, if you stay until the end of the month, we will have some time to talk.

Last time, I wrote you about a paradox. How do you know you are not confused, or less confused? Who is it who knows? Is there an entity who is confused and either knows or does not know how confused he is? Or is this apparent entity actually illusory, so that the belief in such an entity is the very essence and source of the confusion? How can an illusory entity observe itself? If there is no such entity, how can observation take place?

These questions have no ready answers. Rather, they call for inquiry and exploration, with passion, rather than from a motive of the illusory entity called the self.

Best wishes from me and from Sarah.

David Bohm

Letter 2

Dear Peter,

Thank you very much for you recent letter. The questions you raise there are indeed very difficult to discuss, especially in correspondence. However, I expect to be in England in early September, or late in August, and if you come, we might have some discussions.

I notice one important thing in your letters, — the frequent use of the word “all” (E.g. “all making is the I in movement”) One has to be very careful about using this word. Have you actually perceived […] what is meant by the word “all”? Or is the use of this word mainly a habit? If so, then many of your conclusions about the impossibility of moving from the “I” may not be altogether true. If they are not true, then your statements may themselves be part of the trap. If you question what is happening when you listen to Krishnamurti, this implies also the need to question your own conclusions about “allness”, — the absolute impossibility of observing anything honestly and sincerely.

About the use of marijuana, in my view, the main question is, “Why do I feel the need to use it?” If it is because my problems are too painful so that without the drug, I suppress awareness of them, then something is wrong. For what is really needed is a mind that is honest with itself — i.e., free of self deception. If my mind cannot look at itself unless the pain is decreased by a drug, then my mind is already trapped in dishonesty and self deception. For my mind says, “I will never at what is true, if I do this is very painful. Rather I will accept what is false as true and project comfortable or pleasant illusions, unless my nerves are desensitised by a drug.” No matter what I see under the influence […] essence of my illness is that. I cannot look at what is true when this is painful. The care is to be aware of pain and my unending attempt to escape it — to invite pain and fear, so that the mind can examine these impartially.

It is of no use to get rid of the pain by means of a drug, because what is wrong with me is just that I suppress the truth in order to escape the pain. When I cease to do this, I won’t need a drug, or any other aid to clear perception.

With kind regards from Sarah and from me.

David Bohm

Letter 3

Dear Peter,

We were very glad to hear from you and learn that you are still working. Your suggestion to study psychiatry is most interesting. However, I would like to point a few things about it.

Most psychiatrists and schools of psychiatry have their own ideas, which are quite contrary, generally speaking to what Krishnamurti is saying. So, if you plunge in without looking, you may be worse off than ever, because you will be adding new contradictions and conflicts in your life.

To help people as a psychotherapist, you have to be really harmonious in yourself. It is no use to try to attain harmony by helping others. Rather, being a therapist has to be an expression of your true nature, your deep inner being. It is not intelligent to first put the question of doing some good. Rather, the first thing is to always see deeply into your own nature, and to let your action flow spontaneously from there.

I know a psychiatrist in America who is in accord with Krishnamurti’s approach, and who is, in my view, very perceptive and intelligent. Perhaps you may write him, if you wish, mentioning that I suggested it to you. You might ask him for advice on the best way to go into psychotherapy, the best place for your studies, etc. His name and address are:

Dr. David Shainberg

1235 Park Avenue

New York, NY, 10028 USA

Sarah and I send you our kindest regards,

David Bohm

Letter 4

Dear Peter,

I am sorry for the delay in answering your letter, but I have been very busy.

I was glad to hear the experience in England was helpful. I hope that in continues to be so.

What you say about relaxation not interfering with the psychological movement, is right, of course. But there is another side to the question. If one emphasises passivity and relaxation too much, one may end up by accepting the false movement of the mind as necessary and inevitable. What is also needed is to be very active in inquiring, in questioning all the false responses of the mind. This requires a great deal of energy, of passion. But this inquiry should not attempt to interfere with the mind, or try to control it, to “make it better”, etc. Rather it has the function purely as inquiry into the fact. Such an inquiry may then lead the mind beyond the fact, to something new, perhaps to transformation.

Sarah and I send our warmest regards.

David Bohm