The following is an excerpt from a conversation between Albert Blackburn and Gabriele, his wife.
Albert Blackburn: Can thought go beyond?
Gabriele: How can it? And what can go beyond? How can one go beyond?
A: A new factor must obviously be introduced in order to transcend the thought process; and once again, we should be able to go into it right from this present moment. Does anything exist in this present moment that is not a part of thought, and that is not a part of our memory bank and ego?
G: I would say awareness, perception, and the factual things we are surrounded by.
A: I think that you’re right. I feel that perception is something beyond thought, because perception is inherent in every living creature in the world. Every living creature has perception and is able to use perception within its own particular field of consciousness.
A: I think the problem that exists is that we have identified ourselves with perception. We say we’re perceiving, or we’re feeling, or we’re smelling, or we’re doing. I think these are all ideas because from a factual point of view there is only seeing, there is only doing, there is only feeling, there is only smelling, there is only hearing; it is only an idea that we are seeing, we are hearing, we are smelling, we are feeling these things. I believe that each person has to explore this themselves, and see if it is true; does perception exist beyond our personal ideas about it?
To me, it is a very real fact that perception is outside my field of consciousness. It is completely separate from the thought process. When my mind is quiet, there is complete perception; there is no fragmentation due to my personal identification with one object.
G: But the moment I say that I am aware of that beautiful sunset, I bring in my ego, or I bring in the ‘I’ of thought. I create a memory so that tomorrow I can say, “Yesterday I saw a beautiful sunset.”
A: That’s right; in other words, we take a mental picture of something the minute we identify it and say, “I have seen it,” or “I am seeing it.” I must remember it because it is a beautiful picture and I want to put it into my photographic album so that tomorrow I can drag it out and compare it to something else that I have seen, or so that I can tell you about it.
G: That’s how we generate our own personal body of knowledge.
A: It’s also a matter of communication. We can’t communicate with another person without using words and ideas. Communication on the physical level has to be through the field of consciousness, doesn’t it?
A: I can communicate to you things that I have experienced, or things that I’m experiencing at the present time. I can do it through words, or I can do it through memory, but I have to use the field of human consciousness. I have to use the values, the words, and everything else that we both understand in order to get the idea across to you.
But your perception of an idea doesn’t have to involve the field of consciousness. A sudden understanding or a sudden knowing may occur inside of you when you hear me talking about it or describing it. And even though I’m using my conditioning to describe it, you don’t have to use your conditioning to understand it. That’s the point.
G: I can use now-consciousness to understand it.
A: Right! This is very important, because it creates an entirely new situation. In other words, you or I or anyone else, who is endeavoring to communicate a certain idea or a certain insight has to use accepted grammatical forms in order to be understood. But the holistic understanding of the other person has to lie outside of the field of human consciousness. If the person who is listening is understanding or interpreting the words in a mechanical way only, then that person’s understanding is only on the verbal level; it doesn’t go any deeper and it doesn’t affect the person’s actions. For your actions in life to be really affected at the gut level, you have to understand things outside of the field of your personal conditioning. You can’t be caught by any of the words that you hear. You can’t bring up something from your memory bank or bring up some photograph that you have personally taken, some memory, and have understanding take place. The minute you catch yourself interpreting something in any way at all – going back to your memory bank in any way at all – drop it. In dropping the memory, you are open again and free of your conditioning. Once free, understanding can take place at a deep level, and this can really change your life.
This is why Krishnaji had such difficulty in communicating with the people who listened to him; most of them were interpreting the words that he was using. They were mired down by the ideas that were evoked in their minds by the words that he used, and they made no impression on them at a deep level. Consequently, there was no understanding. They would say, “I understand what Krishnamurti is talking about, it is very plain he’s talking about,” but there was no inner revolution in their understanding of life.
G: So it became another accumulation of ideas.
A: Exactly, there was no inner revolution. The inner revolution can only take place outside of the field of consciousness. There has to be a listening, not you listening, there has to be a listening without ‘you’ in the picture. And when there is that listening, then what is heard is not being interpreted, it is not being analyzed, and it is not being filtered through your conditioning. In that, there’s a holistic understanding which affects you at a deep level, and changes your life, and brings about this inner revolution that Krishnaji was talking about.
G: That’s right.
A: I think that is the whole secret of it.
G: Yes. So this perception, this awareness is necessary. If one is in a state of now-consciousness, then what is beyond that? What is beyond man’s creation, beyond man’s whole field of the known? What happens? Let us go into that now.
A: Well, the world of nature is beyond; understanding, love, affection, attention, compassion, beauty, and all the so-called virtues are beyond; everything that humanity has ever dreamed about possessing, but has never really possessed except as a name or an idea, is beyond human consciousness. And it is not something that can’t be touched at any time, because what is beyond human consciousness (as we have said before) is the present moment. Thus beauty can be touched in the present moment if I’m not in the picture, ‘I’ as an idea. Affection can be touched in the present moment; love can be touched in the present moment; understanding can be touched. All of the things we have just named can be touched in the present moment.
A: It is so simple everybody passes it by, because most of us expect a complicated answer. You have to experiment and discover for yourself the simple beauty of this approach to life.
G: It is so direct.
A: Absolutely direct; direct perception; direct action.
G: So how does one wake up? How does one stay in the now?
A: Well, let us start in this present moment again, because this is the beginning point. Every step, every question has to begin with this present moment. Would you ask the question, “How can I sit in this chair?”
G: No, I guess I know how.
A: “How can I put my feet on the floor?” “How can I put my two hands together?” “How can I look at another person?” You know, it is so simple. There’s no how to it for us. So the question is not how to do something in a positive way, but rather what prevents us from doing it? That should be the question. What prevents me from being aware that I’m sitting in this chair? What prevents me from being aware that I have my hands clasped together and my thumbs are moving together against each other? What prevents me from being aware of this?
G: All that we’ve been talking about.
A: Right; thought.
A: In other words, identification with a certain object or a certain idea that was recalled through the memory process, a retrieval from our personal memory bank. That’s what prevents us from being constantly attentive and aware of what is happening in the present moment.
G: Then without awareness there is no true love, no beauty, no compassion, no affection, none of those things that are beyond thought.
A: They don’t exist, if I’m thinking.
A: They can’t. Each one can exist as an idea; I can name each one as an abstraction. But it is just an idea, it is not the thing itself. The emotions themselves, which are part of the holistic feeling about life which contains all of those so-called virtues, are there every moment. But we’re simply not aware of them because we’re busy thinking about some picayune idea that has nothing to do with them at all.
Of course, you have to use thought in order to make plans. If you have a certain insight into what has to be done this afternoon, or tomorrow, or whatever, you have to use thought. You have to use the creative planning capacity of your brain in order to bring it about. But most of the time we’re not in that situation; most of the time we could sit back and enjoy these other things that we’ve been talking about as possibilities. We could enjoy them as facts, and not just as ideas.
G: In other words, I don’t see nature when I’m thinking.
A: Of course not.
G: I can see that that’s a tree, or a bird, and so on, but I don’t really see it, feel it, or perceive it when the mind is chattering
A: The minute you name something you don’t perceive it, either. You perceive the tree, and the minute you name the tree, the perception is gone. In the act of naming, the name you are giving the tree becomes superimposed between you and the tree. The same phenomenon takes place in every phase of our life.
G: Seeing the beauty of what we’re saying, and the necessity of it, and perhaps experiencing it – how does it come about?
A: I think we should start once again with something that we can understand. Obviously, thought cannot wake itself up. I consider thinking a form of dreaming. (People call it thinking, you know, but actually it is day-dreaming!) Thought can’t wake itself up. If you’re in the middle of a dream at night, you normally can’t wake yourself up immediately. However, there are certain techniques that the occultists use to trick themselves into waking up in the middle of a dream; they then go on with the dream in a different way, objectively.
G: They’re experimenting with this now in dream labs.
A: There’s the possibility of doing this. There’s also the possibility of waking yourself up and becoming aware of the fact that you have been thinking a certain train of thought. Then, instead of continuing that particular thought (which, from your point of view, might be a negative thought), you continue in the thought process by substituting what you consider to be a more positive, more acceptable thought.
G: That’s still the same old thing. It is still using memory to trick yourself into thinking in another way.
A: So both ways are really tricks of the mind, aren’t they?
A: So, if thought cannot wake itself up, if thought cannot bring itself to an end, if thought cannot extricate itself from the field of human consciousness – which is the origin of thought in the first place – then something else has to take place, doesn’t it? Another factor must come into play to break the impasse. Earlier, we came to the realization that perception and awareness are outside of human consciousness. So what is it that will wake us up? That was the question you asked.
G: Just now you said thought can’t achieve its own end. What do you mean by that? You can’t think yourself to the end of thought?
A: No, there has to be some outside agency, doesn’t there? There has to be some factor outside of my conditioned response.
G: You said that thought can’t stop itself. You can’t sit there and say, “I’m going to meditate and stop thinking?”
A: No, because consciously stopping a negative type of thought, for instance, and turning it into a positive thought, is still continuing the thought process. Some of the so-called New-Thought organizations do this type of mental manipulation; they tell you to think positively instead of negatively. It is just a trick of the mind. In other words, they continue to experience the same dream, only they’ve edited it now, and they turn it into a positive dream instead of a negative one.
But this doesn’t answer your question, and I think it is an intriguing question. I like to use analogies, because I think analogies are really another way of talking about harmonics on another level. For example, you yourself have thoroughly studied and used your mind and your mental capacity to its utmost to determine all of the facts concerning a certain way of living. You’ve gone as far as you can go in creatively thinking about the subject, and have used your mental capacity to find out everything related to the healing work that you do. Is that true?
G: Yes, it is.
A: Then suppose that somebody calls you this afternoon and tells you that your assistance is required tomorrow morning at 8:00, that the capacity that you’ve developed as a ‘healer’ is needed to help someone. You realize the value of doing this, you see that life has chosen you to do this and that you have the capacity to do it, and you have a feeling that you can perhaps help this other person. Are you going to need an alarm clock to wake you in time to be ready for your 8 o’clock appointment tomorrow morning? Or are you going to wake up spontaneously?
G: I’ll wake up by myself.
A: You’ll wake up. You won’t need an alarm clock. You may set one just as a safety measure because you may not be completely sure you’ll wake up, but you will always awaken. Just as I’d wake up if somebody called me and wanted to talk about my favorite subject, now-consciousness. I would wake up; I wouldn’t need an alarm clock because I’m intensely interested in the subject, just as you are intensely interested in what you are doing, too. We can’t say it is ‘you’ waking yourself up, or ‘me’ waking myself up. It is the interest that we have in the things with which we are involved that wakes us up. That interest is part of the life-force, the vitality or energy of life, that awakens us. Isn’t that true?
G: Yes, one can hardly wait to get started.
A: Well, if this is true on the physical level, why doesn’t it apply on other levels as well? Wouldn’t it apply to waking up from a thought pattern?
G: It is part of that inner intention, that interest.
A: Suppose that I have gone into this deeply enough to see the value and the logic of waking up. I realize that most of the time I identify with just one fragment of each moment. I can see the potential danger in this limited response to unforeseen challenges and am really serious in my desire to change. I see that I will be unable to cope adequately with emergencies that may come up as long as I’m plugged into only one channel. Suppose that you have told me all of this, and I’ve looked into it and understood logically at least that what you say must be true. I may not have felt it deeply because I have not experienced it myself, but I see that life must be much richer; there must be a thousand things out there of which I’m unaware.
My inquiry and deep interest opens the door for insight. There is freedom from the known, because I clearly see that thought cannot make a breakthrough. Another factor, outside of myself, must become operative. In other words, I can’t consciously awaken myself from sleep, nor can I consciously bring about awareness.
Perceiving the validity of these observations gives me the inner intention to wake up, and this inner incentive accomplishes what thought cannot do. Thought can’t extricate itself from the trap it has created. It is the sincere acknowledgement of this impasse that opens the door for insight to occur.
G: That’s exactly it.
A: If I’ve reached that stage mentally, and have really pushed it and am really interested, my inquiry and my interest are going to be the very things that wake me up.
G: And then you carry that through into action. When someone comes to you with a problem, you approach it with an attitude of ‘I’ don’t know. For example, I can’t approach the healing process with any knowledge that I have; but if I stay away from thought and just ‘tune’ into the energy that is there, that exists in that same state of perception, the healing may occur.
G: And if you take that approach when someone comes to you with a question, rather than approaching it from the standpoint of what you’ve already written or thought or experienced, then real communication may occur. Or you may at least say something important to that person; whether they can comprehend it in the same way or not is not your responsibility.
A: You are not personally providing the answer. If you are open, if your cup is empty, and life is pouring information into you moment by moment through the medium of insight, then you are not consciously saying something designed to engender a particular reaction in the other person. If you have the idea that you are going to effect a certain result, it is a product of thought
G: That’s right. ‘I’ am not a healer, ‘I’ can’t heal anybody.
A: You will spontaneously and intuitively say the right thing, with no idea at all as to why you are saying it. And it is life that engenders the understanding in the other person that might change the course of that person’s life. But you are not doing it to bring about a specific result; that is the important point
People thought that Krishnaji deliberately said certain things to them personally that were designed to elicit particular results, because specific results did occur as a consequence of what he said. But I don’t believe that he himself had any intention of doing that; he said what he did because at that moment it was the right thing to say. It was life that engendered an understanding in the listener.
G: Yes, because that energy, that life, that love that comes through, is then actually working in that state beyond thought. And that is the state of pure insight and pure compassion, and in that state, healing and understanding can take place.
What do you think Krishnaji meant by saying that you must follow a thought to its end?
A: If I’ve suddenly awakened to the fact that my mind has been identifying with a certain train of thought, there are two directions in which I can go, aren’t there? Usually that direction is forward; I use thought and imagination to conclude the particular thought that I had been involved in at the time I awakened. In other words I analyze my thought, interpret the thought that I’ve just had, and follow it through to a conclusion of some kind. That would involve the thinking process, wouldn’t it?
A: In other words, it would be impossible to proceed from the point at which you have awakened without using thought.
G: So Krishnaji couldn’t have meant that, could he?
A: No. Let’s go back to the analogy of sleeping. When you wake up in the morning, there’s an immediate awareness of the fact that you are in the bed where you went to sleep (if everything is normal). An awareness of how you went to asleep at night, of how you prepared yourself for bed, of all of the events leading up to it – all of this comes to you in a flash when you wake up in the morning. You don’t have to think about it; in a flash you see the whole backward track. You even picture some of the dreams that your mind was involved in during the night.
In the same way, at a different and higher harmonic level, you can wake up or suddenly become aware of the fact that you’ve been involved in thought. Immediately, instead of proceeding, instead of analyzing and editing the thought, and all of the rest of the process, be aware of your tendency to do this, and the minute that you start doing it, drop it. In that dropping there is a clear seeing of the whole backward path. You see the train of thought that you were involved with and how it originated. You see the memory that triggered it; you see the life challenge that triggered it – you see the name, or the person, or whatever it was triggered that particular train of thought. You can then perceive where the thought originated, how it started in your mind, how you were conditioned to react to a particular thing, and how you programmed yourself to respond in a particular way. And then the thought can even be traced back into all kinds of other little channels back to the actual origin of the memory itself. When all of that is clearly seen, it dissipates, it withers way. It is no more, and you will not be troubled by that particular memory again
G: Are you saying that it diminishes, that the content goes out of it, as well as the feelings associated with it?
A: The feelings go out of it, the life goes out of it and it shrivels up in the light of understanding. It withers away in the light of awareness that you focus upon the backward path leading to the whole train of thought. But if you make the mistake of going forward, you give it new energy, you give it new life, you give it new continuity; and then it keeps coming up over and over again, and there’s no end to it. It becomes a neurotic response
G: And there is no end to it at all.
A: So that’s what I feel that Krishnaji meant when he spoke of following thought to an end. He knew that if you followed it forward it would lead to a dead end, that you’d never escape it, and that you would discover for yourself that you could never escape it.
G: Is following thought to an end different then from analysis?
A: Oh yes, completely; analysis is going forward with thought. Analysis is going forward, but also looking back while you’re going ahead and analyzing the thing that you thought you were thinking about. Analysis is part of the thought process.
Now-Consciousness is the world beyond thought, where there is love compassion beauty, and a holistic unity with all of life.