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enquiry into the nature of thought
and the source of conflict in the world

In early 1993, the ratitor came upon some audio tapes of Krishnamurti, and soon afterwards of David Bohm. What these people were talking about made an impact within as nothing else previously. What they explored throughout their lives was the very ground of being. Their enquiries have made a deep impression on this one.

current enquiries regarding what is the meaning of all this? . . .

. . . to look at myself without any formula -- can one do that? Otherwise you can't learn about yourself obviously. If I say, I am jealous, the very verbalization of that fact, or of that feeling, has already conditioned it. Right? Therefore I cannot see anything further in it. . . .

Now the question is: can the mind be free of this egocentric activity? Right? That is really the question, not whether it is so or not. Which means can the mind stand alone, uninfluenced? Alone, being alone does not mean isolation. Sir, look: when one rejects completely all the absurdities of nationality, the absurdities of propaganda, of religious propaganda, rejects conclusions of any kind, actually, not theoretically, completely put aside, has understood very deeply the question of pleasure and fear, and division--the `me' and `not me'--is there any form of the self at all?

J. Krishnamurti, Observing Without the "Me"
Brockwood Park, First Public Talk,
September 5, 1970

          It is always difficult to keep simple and clear. The world worships success, the bigger the better; the greater the audience the greater the speaker; the colossal super buildings, cars, aeroplanes and people. Simplicity is lost. The successful people are not the ones who are building a new world. To be a real revolutionary requires a complete change of heart and mind, and how few want to free themselves. One cuts the surface roots; but to cut the deep feeding roots of mediocrity, success, needs something more than words, methods, compulsions. There seem to be few, but they are the real builders--the rest labor in vain.
          One is everlastingly comparing oneself with another, with what one is, with what one should be, with someone who is more fortunate. This comparison really kills. Comparison is degrading, it perverts one's outlook. And on comparison one is brought up. All our education is based on it and so is our culture. So there is everlasting struggle to be something other than what one is. The understanding of what one is uncovers creativeness, but comparison breeds competitiveness, ruthlessness, ambition, which we think brings about progress. Progress has only led so far to more ruthless wars and misery than the world has ever known. To bring up children without comparison is true education.

J. Krishnamurti, Krishnamurti, A Biography
by Pupul Jayakar, 1986, pp. 255-256



Krishnamurti (1895-1985) spent the last 55 years of his life travelling throughout the world speaking with people about the fundamental human problem of conflict in the world and the activity and nature of human thought. David Bohm (1917-1992) was a quantum theorist who explored areas of mutual interest with Krishnamurti, starting with the observer and the observed, from the 1959 when they met until K's death. In the remaining 8 years of his life, Bohm continued to enquire into the nature of thought and the process of dialogue in seminars held in Ojai, California.

One primary area K and DB enquired into is the nature of thought, (the essential definition of thought they worked with is the response of memory), how thought is limited, and the ways in which this creates fragmentation and division in ourselves and thus in the world we make. This fragmentation fundamentally influences the way we see the world, and is the source of the conflict we see everywhere "out there". The source of the conflict "out there" originates within each one of us because of the way we think, present tense, and how, when we stop thinking about something, it doesn't "disappear", but instead goes onto the memory and becomes thought (past tense).

In A Brief Introduction to the Work of Krishnamurti, David Bohm writes,

. . . we went on to consider the general disorder and confusion that pervades the consciousness of mankind. It is here that I encountered what I feel to be Krishnamurti's major discovery. What he was seriously proposing is that all this disorder, which is the root cause of such widespread sorrow and misery, and which prevents human beings from properly working together, has its root in the fact that we are ignorant of the general nature of our own processes of thought. Or to put it differently it may be said that we do not see what is actually happening, when we are engaged in the activity of thinking. Through close attention to and observation of this activity of thought, Krishnamurti feels that he directly perceives that thought is a material process, which is going on inside of the human being in the brain and nervous system as a whole.

Bohm was Emeritus Professor of Theoretical Physics at Birkbeck College, at the University of London. As a younger man he had worked with Einstein in the 1950s and went on to become a quantum theory physicist, the next stage of physics beyond Einstein's relativity. Difficulties during the McCarthy era, caused by his "radical" political views, led him to leave his native U.S. in 1951.

Bohm first became aware of Krishnamurti in 1959 through a book of his entitled The First and Last Freedom and its exploration into the question of the observer and the observed. Both he and K had been been questioning limitations imposed on discovery and awareness by the restrictions of language and images.1 The nature of the observer and the observed centers on the difficulties created by the self which, the observation of, and any action proceeding from, "is usually rooted in the apparent creation of a second self, who is watching and acting upon the first self. This is the problem of the observer and the observed, a cognitive structure which is appropriate and effective in some domains, but riddled with contradictions when applied psychologically."2 This subject was of great interest to both Bohm and Krishnamurti. They met soon after this and began a friendship formed from a mutual interest in the way thought works.


  1. Newsletter of the Krishnamurti Foundation of America, Vol 7, Num 1, 1993, p. 1.

  2. Lee Nichol in the Preface to Conversations, by David Bohm, 1992, Bohm Archive Series, Box 1452, Ojai, CA 93023, p. i.


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