Life is Aware of Itself – U.G. Krishnamurti

ug003mThe following is a conversation between U. G. Krishnamurti and David Bohm, recorded in Saanen, Switzerland in 1968. Also present were Mrs. Bohm, David Barry and Valentine.

U.G.: From quite a young age I had this question about religious people and religious experiences. What is there behind or beneath these religious beliefs and practices? And most of the guys I met were frauds, in the sense they didn’t have this real thing in them. You see, I myself went through all kinds of experiences—all within the field of thought. These religious people and mystics didn’t have the real touch of the ‘source’ or the ‘origin’—except perhaps Ramana Maharshi and Krishnamurti.

Not that I have what he has. There is nothing there. But is it the same? Perhaps it can’t be different. I don’t know, the question doesn’t interest me. However, this must be the base—the religious experience is not the thing—which is something beyond thought. The thought can never penetrate here. It is that state where the action takes place. But I have no way of knowing what is happening at that time. But there seems to be some kind of awareness—that is the difference between sleep and this state. Something is aware of something else. The Hindu religious thinkers say the immensity is aware of its own immensity, or that is aware of that. I would simply say life is aware of itself.

The body is in a state of quiet, of relaxation, which you can call bliss, truth, love, god or reality or anything you like, but it is not that, because there is nobody looking at it. I look at that (microphone) and I can bring out the word and say it is a microphone. But here, for this state of being, there is no word you can find to describe it. So the words bliss, love, god, truth, are all inadequate to express this state of being. Here there is no difference between life and death. The continuity (of the self) is gone once and for all.

Bohm: What do you say of time?

U.G.: There is no time, no space. When there is thought, there is time. Thought is time and thought is space.

As long as I am looking at something, there is space—but space of and by itself—because I have what you call Vistavision, I see much more. The eyes take in completely the hundred peer cent of what is there. They say the eye cuts off ninety-eight per cent and takes in only two per cent, but here, since there is no choice of any kind, the eyes take in the whole thing.

But the space that thought creates is different. The moment you say the Palace Hotel (in Gstaad), there is a space. When I close my eyes there is no space at all. Light is the part of the whole space, and the light inside has no frontiers. But to say that I am the space is not correct (laughs).

(To illustrate the point, UG picks up a visor.) This is the social consciousness, the mind, the world, this is the enclosure, this is the eye I have built through the years. Every human cell carries the knowledge built from thousands of years; rather, the whole fourteen million years of the past is embedded in the individual. So the human being is not different from the social consciousness. And what has happened in me is that this whole built-up consciousness somehow and by some process-not through any sadhana or effort or one’s volition—has knocked itself off.

When the explosion takes place, the whole structure of thought collapses. This is not an ordinary thing. It is like a nuclear explosion and it affects the whole human consciousness. It is not just once, but a series of explosions and there is a fallout which affects the human consciousness. This seems to be the only way we can affect the world, by bringing about a structural change within oneself. You can never look at thought. The thought splits itself into two, and one thought or image looks at the other. Only when you step out of the whole structure built over millions of years, you can look at thought, but it has no content. Thought has been a part of the human consciousness right from the beginning. There is this expression in the Bible: In the beginning was the word and word as the flesh. Actually it means matter. Thought is matter and at the same time it is sound and this has been in existence through centuries.

The thinker has no existence; he is an artificially created, built-up thing. He has taken possession of the body and has dominated for centuries… but somehow, here, he has been displaced. He is not there anymore. What you are left with are the body and thought. What is this thought? Here, they are only words, factual memory without psychological content. Only now, after you step out of the social and individual consciousness, there is a possibility of looking at thought. When thought comes, there is a disturbance in awareness and , once you look at it, this very awareness destroys it. There is no scope for the thought to take roots here and bring the thinker in. It is just there in the background for your use and when there is a need you use it and discard it. Sometimes the old memories come, but when you become aware of them, they disappear. The braid becomes tight and they cannot penetrate and take root.

Bohm: As thought comes in it disturbs the awareness, you say. Can we discuss the root of thought, but you say you don’t know.

U.G.: You see, when you put the question, first I am in the state of not-knowing; I really don’t know what mind is. If the exploration of the question should begin, the thinker has to come in and the thought process develops.

All right, let us take an example from the field of science. As long as we were caught up in the Newtonian physics nobody could break through. But Einstein, somehow and by some process, realized the inadequacy of Newtonian thought and that itself acted as a breakthrough. Now we connect them and we know that without Newtonian physics Einstein’s theories would never have come into existence. And now we can see that the process (Newtonian thought) had come to an end, but not actually, rather it caught the experience and created another thought structure. This kind of revolution is within the structure of thought. It could be a mystical experience or a path-breaking discovery and this brings about the changes or conversions. However, all experiences in any field are within the field of thought. A mystical experience can change the individual consciousness. The whole way of looking at life changes and it’ll be like wearing new glasses. Everything you look at, every activity is different, but still within the field of thought. Even bringing the mind to a quiet state is not the end of the mind. That could, at best, be the first loosening process of this whole structure. Every cell has a memory of its own. So the whole human body has to change for this to happen. This silence is of a different quality and kind.

So, you see, it is difficult to answer the question.

Bohm: I also wanted to ask, ‘What is the origin of the continuity of thought?’

U.G.: There is no continuity.

Bohm: If the awareness doesn’t wipe out thought…

U.G.: That means the ‘I’ is there and he carries on. But when the ‘I’, the thinker is absent, there is no continuity and thoughts just come and go and never take root and bring the thinker into operation.

Bohm: But you use thoughts in order to communicate, which it seems you want to.

U.G.: (Laughs) I may not even want to. But I am beginning to feel that even without communicating there is a possibility of being silent in some corner, no matter where, and these fallouts perhaps will affect in their own way. I don’t know; but there is another difficulty for me. I have no way of expressing myself—the whole of my past is wiped out and that past included Krishnamurti. So the Krishnamurtian lingo—if I may use that word—is of no value at all. I can’t use that language. I don’t even know what he is talking now, except the few phrases which are fresh.

The easiest thing would be to fall back on such a lingo. All the religious teachers used the then available literature, they used words like god, beyond, immortal, heavenly and such expressions. In our times Ramana did the same. He read texts of Hinduism in order to understand what he had come into and that coloured his mode of expression and he fell back on the Hindu terminologies to explain things. It must be said to the credit of Krishnamurti that he has come out with this strikingly original approach and has developed a new mode of expression which is very vital. But then there are and were hundreds of Hindu scholars who have tried to strike a new path, use new words or terminologies. So where do all these take one? To me all that seems inadequate. Perhaps it helps others.

This is not a new discovery, not something that comes from outside. When the whole process comes to an end, the search comes to an end, not that you arrive at a point or a destination. The self, the seeker disappears and what is left is the body and the senses operating in an extraordinary way. So—how am I going to create new words to talk about this? I can’t. I have to use the inadequate words we have.

Bohm: But the same words can function differently in different persons.

U.G.: It would be interesting to find out. But, you see, the person who comes here can bring me out. I can’t come prepared. It depends upon the person I am talking to. And one of the difficulties I have is that most of the people who come here are all full of Krishnamurti’s ideas. I am always confronted with this, or if I go to India, There they come with the Hindu terminologies. Anyway, they have to bring me out. Perhaps in this process something will come out.

From The Biology of Enlightenment: Unpublished Conversations of U.G. Krishnamurti after He Came into the Natural State (1967-71), pages 109-113.

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