A Conversation with David Bohm
The following exchange of ideas took place in David Bohm's office at the University of London, U.K. on February 26, 1987. Taking part were David Bohm, E.T. Nada and Coleen Rowe. Some of the insights are truly unique, and have never before been published. The conversation began with a discussion of the dialogue between David Bohm and J. Krishnamurti in the book The Ending Of Time. The specific point that was being addressed was the idea of the "ground" and what Krishnamurti had meant by it.
E: ....No thing - that from which all things spring. Not the substance or the energy out of which everything else springs; I mean the ground itself or this nothing is actually nothing. No matter what you do or don't do, you are never separate from it. In other words, you have no place to fall from or rise to, no matter how you evolve or don't evolve. And it's not a negation of anything that is done, but at the same time, it doesn't require any maintenance either.
D.B.: I don't know if Krishnamurti would say that it does. I mean, I don't know exactly what's said there, but he has this notion of the emptiness and then beyond that the ground; call it the beginning and end of all, but that ground effort cannot depend on anything....
E: Well I don't think so, because this ground or nothing as I understand it, this actually is the ground as well.
D.B.: Well it is, but it depends on the way you look. It certainly is the ground or is of the ground, but Krishnamurti has the notion or the idea of "the perception"; that there is an immense ground far beyond what you would ordinarily experience, which does not belong to the individual; this is what he is saying.
E: That's not what I'm talking about. I understand what you're saying, but that's not what I'm talking about. Yes, there is that possibility of being conscious beyond all possibilities that we have any capability for being conscious as now. However, even if you went through an infinitely infinite series of and transformations into the most subtle, sublime and unimaginable realms of being conscious, it would never in any way change what nothing is. In other words, if you were conscious as a rock and if you were conscious as the most supreme - what we would consider the God of all gods - it would make no difference in terms of what I am referring to as nothing. That ground is nothing. It's not just defining. You can define it if you wish, and you can evolve being as far as you wish, and you can become more and more infinitely conscious as you go, but it will not in any sense make a difference to what nothing is. Nothing here is as nothing will ever be anywhere or anyhow. That's what I'm trying to say...it's kind of long-winded, but it takes all those words to get a fix on "it". So, with regard to what Krishnamurti was saying at the end of the book, he was stating that "this universal and this particular" were what constituted ordinary life. However, the ground was somehow beyond it and therefore the solution for ordinary life was not within ordinary life... I disagree with that.
D.B.: Yeah, well that is what he said.
E: I disagree totally with this idea that there is something "other than"...
D.B.: Then you just plain disagree with Krishnamurti, maybe because he emphasizes this otherness.
E: Well perhaps he would have gone further, I don't know.
D.B.: I know he has other books where he brings it out, where he has a more mystical, more poetic way of putting it.
E: But this view still produces a differentiation between what is ultimate and what is ordinary.
D.B.: Yes, he may tend to do that. I think he feels that with relation to the "ordinary", there would be no differentiation if your perception were clear, or starting from the ultimate; but since the perception generally doesn't start from that, then, I think he's saying that most human perception is illusion, or it's a dream you see; it's not really seeing anything. That's the sort of thing I think he would say.
E: Then he still defeats the purpose that he was trying to establish in trying to end time, because by producing or interjecting a type of process where this obscured perception is not able to see the ultimate, it produces a transition region where you go from "this" to "that".
D.B.: He says that seeing it as a transition is the result of being in obscured perception.
E: Well even if Krishnamurti didn't have obscured vision, or at least not as obscured as the people that he was able to perceive were, it still seems that such a view creates this artificial separation between the "ultimate" and the ultimate, because in reality there is no separation. The "ultimate" is the obscuration.
D.B.: Well, he says there's not two... He also says that between the one who sees and the one who doesn't, there was really no separation for the one who sees; but the one who doesn't see, sees the separation because of that "obscured perception". But in some way you must explain - take into account - the fact that people generally see this separation.
E: O.K. I agree with that. But....
D.B.: So why is there this perceived separation if there isn't?
E: That's no indication of ultimatelessness.
D.B.: I think you might be in agreement with him if you were to pursue the matter.
E: Well, unfortunately I think that he's checked out....
D.B.: Yes, I know, but I'm saying that since you can't do that, you can only surmise.
D.B.: So that's my guess. But the really interesting question is, if there is no separation then why is it so generally agreed that there is one? And I'm not sure Krishnamurti made that very clear either.
E: How are you working on that question?
D.B.: Well, I think this has to do with our whole culture and the effect on the way the brain operates, and so on. We could go into it but that would take a bit of a discussion, you see.
E: Well, I'm open for any such discussion.
D.B.: Well, it's a question that interests me. I think it's important to try to understand it. I would say first of all that the question of separation or non-separation is a relative one. In some contexts the question of separation is a valid way of thinking, saying that I am different from the desk. I have independence of movement. What I think doesn't affect the desk significantly, and this doesn't bother my thinking significantly, and so on. There is a certain relative separation which we have to begin from. The point is that we can symbolise that by the notion of a boundary. And the boundary can be a relative boundary, like the skin is a boundary and yet everything crosses it. And thus boundaries can be moved, you see. One of the illusions we get is based on the assumption that these boundaries are absolute. For example between nations, people take the view that these boundaries are absolute and therefore by thinking that way, they create enough facts to make it look apparently verifiable, confirmable, right?
E: Could it be that the very nature of such thinking is to be discriminating? In other words, you have to discriminate.
D.B.: But also it's there to unite. You see, there's a point of falseness.... The discrimination and unification process goes wrong. Every discrimination is also a unification. They're both together. When you discriminate two nations you're doing it in the interest of adding the nation. The fact is, the nation is not as united as you think it is and it is not as discriminated as you think it is. You are making a false perception of similarity and difference.
E: O.K. so maybe what is really happening then is not so much discrimination and unification but clarification of what it is that you are actually confronting?
D.B.: Yes, the point is we may use the concept of separation and the concept of unity, but it has to be very open and flexible according to the fact that you are confronting. You can get stuck on certain ways of dividing and uniting - which you then impose on reality, and by imposing it you apparently prove it so. But in fact you're getting deeper and deeper into illusion.
E: Well, the idea about "reality and illusion" itself is that sort of discrimination. Unfortunately, we're using a language that is totally based on discrimination which doesn't really exist.
D.B.: But also on uniting. The language is based on joining and disjoining, you see. That is, it's a perfectly good language if we could use it properly. It has to be used as an artistic form and not as a rigid tool which is supposed to reflect reality exactly - reflect what Is exactly. It's like the notes in music. They look quite separate, but when they're played, they're not separate. That's the same sort of thing.
E: They all spring from one another.
D.B.: Yes. They flow into each other and their meaning is together. So now, you wouldn't be able to have music, in our present form anyway, if we didn't have some sort of distinction of notes. If we didn't distinguish words, we wouldn't be able to talk. On the other hand, our attitude to that distinction and the unification that goes with it is the crucial issue. What does it mean? Now, I say it doesn't mean exactly what it says or seems to say, but it's really a meaning that arises which is whole.
E: Meaning itself at least carries you into the realm of intuiting the whole?
D.B.: Yeah. It's a whole which it's boundaries are not....it sort of shades off into a larger whole. But whatever you're talking about will be a certain context. See again, you can make the distinction of text and context, a similar idea. Text means "what's woven", in Latin, and context is together with it. Whenever you read the text, it's always in the context. But the context is also a text which is in another context. So you never finish with that, hey?
E: So in other words, what's really generating all of what you're describing is the middle point; text, context and meaning.
E: You have to have meaning in order to generate all the others....
D.B.: The meaning is that only the text and the context can make meaning, right?
D.B.: Wherever you are and no matter what you're saying, there's a text and a context. It's like the horizon; you never reach it.You walk and walk and walk and there's still always the horizon.
E: Until.... You don't necessarily reach the horizon, but you can transcend a particular horizon just by blasting off, for instance.
D.B.: Yes, but when we are in language we are going to have this horizon. That is, using language we have a text and a context.
E: That's what I wanted to get to. What I intuit from your works so far is that you are trying to present a language that at least approaches if it doesn't reach the horizon; it gets a little bit closer to the horizon. It seems to me you're trying to formulate a particular type of language whereby we might be able to achieve the horizon in some way?
D.B.: Well, I don't know. I think we have to understand what the horizon is. It won't be achieved....I think that through talking we'll have a horizon with a text and a context. Now we may expand the horizon by going to a higher altitude; we include more. But by understanding the nature of the horizon we avoid the illusion that we have reached it. The trouble with the current way of using language is that people are tacitly assuming that it has reached the horizon. They're saying "We know the truth. What we are saying is true regardless of context."
E: I see, O.K. In a larger context what you consider to be true now wouldn't be true.
D.B.: Well, it would be only partial. It would be an approximation.
E: Yes, yes. This is when you are talking about the implicate order.
D.B.: Yeah. So people either say we have reached the horizon or we will shortly reach it. Somebody like Stephen Hawking says that physics will soon make the fundamental discoveries of the four basic forces and what not; and then we will have the final theory. And from then on there'll be the final equations after which a theoretical physicist can be replaced by computers.
E: Right. In this universe maybe.
D.B.: Well I think that if they ever manage to do that, they will find a horizon beyond which other things are unknown.
E: Right. They'll only have popped their heads over the hill.
D.B.: They may talk about this "first moment of the universe", but a horizon beyond that will always show up .
E: Which means that in a sense, it's the function of the mind to produce endless versions of whatever the mind is. That's what you're talking about isn't it? Stephen Hawking's "mind" is basically trying to grasp this ultimate, and package it. The trouble with that approach is that it might be fine for Stephen Hawking, but if it in any way enslaves the rest of the universe, instead of becoming a ladder it becomes the the bars of a jail...
D.B.: Yeah. Well it does tend to do that.
E: And I find that your work very subtly doesn't go for that. One doesn't tend to find that fixity in your work.
D.B.: Well I think anything that can be put in language is going to have that form, at least as far as I understand language today. To understand that will free us from some of these things you just talked about.
E: Yeah, but free us from what? This is it. Why do we need to be free?
D.B.: First of all it's going to make trouble just from the sheer wish not to get into unnecessary trouble. In the most elementary way, if we think that, "we're going to fix nations, we're going to fix ideologies, we're going to fix our present approach to technology and all sorts of things".... and instead it's leading on to disaster, right? That's point A.
E: It might do the universe some good if there were a disaster here.
D.B.: Well, you could say from the earth's point of view, we have gone too far. There's the view of the Gaia hypothesis which takes the earth as a being, right? From that view one could say that maybe the earth has evolved new viruses like AIDS to try to control this human cancer which has grown.
E: I wouldn't be surprised.
D.B.: But from our view, we say we shouldn't get into that situation, we don't become a cancer.
E: Well this is it. Maybe that's what Aids is really meant to do. It's meant to wake us up.
D.B.: Yes, or else to restrict our growth if we don't wake up.
E: Yes. One way or the other.
D.B.: It will do that, probably, unless people find a vaccine, but then something else may happen, right?
E: Yeah, I quite agree with you in that context. At least I can see the plateau of reasoning that that may come from; that human beings are definitely not the end all of everything as they have imagined. Although perhaps the ground itself is no more and no less a human being than any of the most evolved possibilities either.
D.B.: Well yes, that's all there but there are other creatures who are fairly intelligent, like the killer whale and the dolphin. And even the chimpanzee shows quite a bit of "human" characteristics. So there's no reason why some other form of intelligence couldn't evolve.
E: I wouldn't doubt it. I wouldn't doubt that it hasn't.
C: Before you leave the subject, does it seem to you that language in the way that it's currently used with this text and context is a direct result of our neurology?
D.B.: Well, it might be. I can't say for sure. I think it's an effect that language must make an abstraction. Now our neurology probably does that too; abstract from a foreground and a background.
C: Yeah, you see it all the time when you examine limbic systems and things like that.
E: Is there a form of language that doesn't have the necessity to do that?
D.B.: Well you see that's what I was trying to propose and explore in the rheomode in my book, Wholeness And The Implicate Order.
E: Yes, you took it to a certain point.
D.B.: But you can't really explore this unless other people would come in, and then you'd really have to work at it seriously. In any case, I didn't think it would be any use to develop another kind of language which would only be another fragment.
E: Another Esperanto?
D.B.: Yeah. I didn't think it was of any help to do that. But I was proposing that there's a quality the body has called "propioception" - self perception of its own movement. You can tell it has moved without having to separate the observer and the observed, without thinking and so on. I know immediately that I moved my hand, whereas if this cup suddenly jumped up, I would know it was not me. If I push it, I know it's me.
E: I agree with you to a certain extent.
E: I only agree with that particular quality that you are speaking of after you've programmed your perceptions to a certain degree of complexity. I would say that a newborn baby or a human child at a certain stage of consciousness...
D.B.: Well it hasn't refined its perceptions sufficiently.
E: Or constricted them.
D.B.: I'm saying that before it has thought of the self and the other, then it doesn't raise the question. But it may then make movements which are not in harmony with its function.
E: Can we come back just a minute?
E: You were talking about the situation before a being has formulated the idea of the "self" and the "other".
D.B.: Yes. It's always implicit, in the sense that it won't be conscious but it has to incorporate some of the environment to survive.
E: But could it be that this point is the very point at which human beings have taken the so-called "wrong turn" that you were discussing with J. Krishnamurti? Could it be that point where the idea of "self" and "other" appears which has been the turning point, or the point of divergence onto the track which humans now find themselves?
D.B.: I think the confusion which occurred at that point was neither good nor bad. On one side it was good and on the other side it was bad. It enabled human beings to do a great many things they could never have done.
E: Are those in any way relevant to reality?
D.B.: They may be. It's relevant to do all sorts of things like making a healthier life. You could say we could sit in the jungle and go on and have the Stone Age, and that would be possible. But I don't think the human brain would stay there indefinitely. I think it does move. The chimpanzee, for example. Jane Goodall has lived among them and watched them; they've accepted her. She gave an interesting story that every now and then some of the dominant males with a few females would conceive a dislike for the chimpanzees on the other side of the mountain. They would go around and beat them up, kill them, drink their blood and eat them, and have a great time doing it! Like street gangs might do.
E: Yeah, like almost any large city, nowadays.
D.B.: There was also the case of the female chimpanzee that developed a taste for baby chimpanzees and would start eating them.
E: I saw the same program, but may I suggest something?
E: I've noticed this phenomenon also. Many people seem to think that these actions are somehow indicative of something meaningful in terms of chimpanzees - that they're actually taking on "human" traits. But I would suggest that if there were no humans present....
D.B.: I don't think she produced that.
E: If there were no humans present, would those chimpanzees have done the same thing? I've also read in National Geographic where two male narwhales were battling it out and they accidentally killed the female in the battle, right in front of the human observer. I'm suggesting something; I know this must sound absurd but I think that human beings potentially, whether they're conscious of it or not, carry a certain degree of force. Their presence is there, and when they are present in a certain way whether as observers or anything else, they can transmit to so-called lower life forms that are passive or receptive to them, many things that they themselves may not be conscious of. I'm thinking that in terms of the human mind, it may have a much wider scope than presently understood; a mind that is capable of submerging other less capable forms in its impulses.
D.B.: I don't make an argument against that. You compare this to a dog. This intense hostility arises in other animal forms. For example, I used to take a dog for a walk and she got an intense dislike for another dog. They would be raging and furious with each other and it took all my strength to drag her away. Now as soon as I dragged her around the corner, she was puzzled - why am I so excited? - you see. She was shaking and trembling, but she couldn't understand why. She stopped, because around the corner she did not have the capacity to form the image of the other dog to remain angry at. The chimpanzee has that capacity and so do we. There's not a great difference between us.
C: For instance, when we were living up in the Arctic, we noticed what could be called a "contamination" from the human presence. The dogs in the Canadian Arctic can overwhelm you with their friendliness. I mean, they're so big they're a danger for friendliness. If you move across the strait to Greenland where there is a different attitude because the natives have been under subjection to the Danish government for 200 years and they're very hostile to the European presence, those same sled dogs are vicious to the point that you can't fall off the sled because you'd be attacked and eaten up instantly.
E: ...Sometimes. I'm saying that the human contamination, unconscious as it may be, can be attributed to something else, but it may also be that we are introducing toxic pollutants into the other levels of life which then reflect back our own "perversions".
D.B.: Well it may be; that's just a suggestion. There's no sign that Jane Goodall was transmitting that sort of attitude. They seemed to trust her....
E: Yes, but she was connected to human life.
D.B.: Yes, but I don't think she was displaying anything which would have encouraged that.
E: It may not have anything to do with overt activity but more with what's in the mind.
D.B.: Maybe, but I know that animals do fight. They say also that the Killer Whale gets its name from the fact that it seems to kill for pleasure. Now, the Killer Whale has solved most of its problems; occasionally it's in danger. Somehow it's got this tremendous brain; it's bigger than the human brain and perhaps potentially it's better.
E: Perhaps more developed in some areas.
D.B.: And probably in roaming the ocean, having solved its problems it gets bored. Therefore it just kills other animals, but more than it needs to eat.
E: It just basically kills?
D.B.: Yeah. That's why it's called the name. The Orca Whale is its Latin name. When they train them in the dophinariums, they're very friendly. A man can put his head right in the whale's mouth and he can do anything. They're very intelligent, more intelligent than dolphins. They learn tricks, not for the fish, but because they get interested in the tricks.
E: Degree of difficulty?
D.B.: Yeah. It's the challenge, you see; but dolphins won't do it unless you give them a fish.
E: Well maybe they're more intelligent after all! At least they get fed for their labor. (laughter)
D.B.: Somebody told me they use a different sort of system of communication than with the dolphins. A whale and dolphins were kept in different tanks near each other, but the Killer Whale still learned the system of the dolphins. It has quite a bit bigger brain; it's about twice the size of our own. Its body is bigger too but still both the dolphins and the whales have a remarkable movement capacity where the body changes subtly to schema, and it's very efficient.
E: The cetacea and dolphins have been around for a lot longer than humans.
D.B.: I think that if you get a creature with a brain beyond a certain size, there is this problem wherein it needs something to absorb its creativity - it has to do something.
C: Man certainly isn't involved in very many creative activities.
D.B.: No, he would be but he's gotten involved in all this confusion which takes its place.
E: Right. So how are the apparently few humans who know about this situation going to pass on the information effectively? There's no way that indoctrination or initiation into some kind of new impulse will solve the problem because that's happened all the way through, and all it does is produce more structures and greater fragmentation.
D.B.: The question is why are we in this boat?
E: What is this boat?
D.B.: Well, the trouble is that people are somehow not happy with the situation they're in. Nobody seems to be really satisfied within it, and there seems to be good reason not to be if you see the general mess.
E: But who likes messes? I really don't think that it's unreasonable. I don't even think that the mess isn't exactly what we want.
D.B.: It's what we want but also what we don't want. You see, there's the contradiction. If we say we wanted it, I say everybody's happy, we've got the mess we wanted. But they're not because they don't want the mess. We want something which produces 'X' , but unfortunately it produces 'Y', the mess as well; but we would like to believe that we could have 'X' without having 'Y'.
E: This is where we get to the point of who or what is it that wants anything? Is it the "I" that you were speaking of? Is that "I" always going to produce this extra 'Y', no matter what else happens? It's always going to produce some excrement with the food that it makes. It's always going to produce a residue, a remainder. It's not going to produce a perfect equilibrium.
D.B.: Yes, but then it's going to be unhappy with that fact. If it would just say that's the way it is, it would have no problem. But since people are constituted as they are, they don't want that, it's not satisfactory. People will not accept that we are going to get 'Y' and just say "Well, we're going to swim in this mess forever."
E: Not in this particular mess anyway.
D.B.: Well in some kind of mess. The question is, do we have to go on with this? But we can't answer that if we don't know why we're doing it.
C: Or, if we're responsible for generating it, how far?
D.B.: Yeah. In some sense we're obviously generating it, but we don't know why and how.
C: Yes. People will often cut their responsibilities far short of their doings, and conversely they imagine being responsible for things they've barely contributed to. If we would relax our attitudes and be willing to investigate with a clearer mind state, not so obsessed on being right, we would probably be more accurate about what we co-create.
D.B.: Yeah but that's part of the illusion, that the brain gets disturbed by being made responsible for this. It may be a continuation of an infantile attitude, but let's see if I can propose something. First of all there has been the theory of the three brains; the reptilian, the mammalian and the new brain.
E: Which is...
D.B.: The cortex. Now the cortex appeared rather suddenly. The reptilian and mammalian brains came into equilibrium with their surroundings and were more or less suited to them. Then suddenly the cortex appeared. The mammalian brain with its emotional response responded to the environment and it worked, statistically. But now it's surrounded by the new brain. It's a different environment and it doesn't work because of simple reasons. The new brain can produce images which are very convincing to the old brain. The old brain does not actually see these objects but the whole body still responds in a way which corresponds to the object. The old brain knows how to get correspondingly stirred up in response to a lion and it says "run". Or something nice appears and it says "go there". The new brain, however, can produce images, which means not just pictures but stirring up the whole system as if there were that thing present. The old brain doesn't look out to see whether it's there or not. It can't. It just gets stirred up. So therefore it can say those images are irresistible. Either it says I want them or they frighten me or they make me enraged or whatever. However, the new brain is functioning in the environment of the old brain. Namely, all the neurochemicals and so on come from there. All the desire and all the energy to do something comes from there.
E: From the old brain.
D.B.: From the old brain. The new brain has no reason to do anything by itself. Therefore, when it gets all stirred up, it's confused and it doesn't work right.
E: So you've got a new brain function that you don't quite know how to operate.
C: It's not integrated.
D.B.: It's not integrated. When these neurochemicals are too strong, they confuse the new brain. Let's take an elementary case. Suppose a certain thing disturbs or frightens you. Your mother comes along and says don't worry about it; she lulls you into a sense of security. What happens is that that thought liberates just as simply as a nice situation would; it liberates what are called endorphins which coat the nerves that produce pain or fear, which then produce an effect rather like morphine - they're named after morphine. Then when the situation suddenly changes or you think differently, the endorphins are removed. Eventually you're hooked on them. Why? Because the old brain demands that you think again in such a way as to reproduce those endorphins; it demands this of the new brain. Therefore it demands false thoughts that will lull you into a nice sense of security. E: Now who is providing you with the false thoughts?
D.B.: The new brain. It is simply a machine that provides whatever thoughts that will satisfy what's going on in the old brain. The old brain makes a demand. Let's say it needs food; food comes in, it stops. It needs a nice thought that says everything will be all right. When it comes in it says, "O.K. It doesn't bother me anymore."
E: That's the old brain system.
D.B.: Yeah. The new brain gets hooked; it gets habituated into providing the old brain with the thoughts that will lull it into a good feeling.
E: Why would the new brain do that?
D.B.: Because the new brain has to do what the old brain wants, and then that's the way the system presently works. The desire, the energy, the intention fundamentally come from the spinal column. The new brain cannot see any reason to do anything. It's sort of an analytical function.... E: Oh I see what you're saying. So you're talking about this part (pointing to the frontal lobe region of the head.)
D.B.: Yeah, all around. Both right and left. People make a big distinction, but right and left are working together. The left brain provides the words; the right brain provides the images which are understood by the old brain.
E: O.K., but the right and left are still part of the new brain you're talking about.
D.B.: That's right. So that distinction of right and left has been overdone. The big important point is between the old and the new brains. That is what hasn't come into harmony.
E: So the new brain actually constitutes or represents a function that should not be working independently, and yet it should not be working under the auspices of the old brain.
D.B.: Nor should the old brain be working under the auspices of the new brain. In order to solve that, people became aware that they were being driven into absurdities by emotions and therefore they said let me control my emotions. That doesn't work either.
E: Which drove them into new absurdities, right?
D.B.: Yeah. There's no way in which the new brain can control the old brain.
C: It has all the endocrine system to work with.
D.B.: The new brain cannot control the old brain. Functionally that's an illusion or delusion. But society and culture said, "Let the new brain control the old brain. Being virtuous consists of doing that."
E: And so civilization was built up as a result of that.
D.B.: But that only increased the chaos in both systems, societally and individually.
E: I can see a parallel, at least anthropologically, where the old brain cultures would be constituted of and described as the aboriginal, the naturalistic peoples.
D.B.: Well, they were predominantly old brain. The new brain was there but it wasn't that active yet.
E: And then the new brain weighted representations would be those developments in humans where very complex civilizations have grown up. The growth of science, religion and all the rest of such abstractions were derived within the new brain context that is present here and now.
D.B.: But the very inception of civilization was based on the action of the old brain, which wanted the new brain to improve the tools for getting food.
E: Ah. So the old brain is dealing with survival.
D.B.: Yeah, but then it also sent signals which the new brain picked up as suggesting that it could help with survival.
C: The new brain is mostly computational, isn't it, ?
D.B.: It has other possibilities but it has among them very great computational abilities. It probably has many other abilities which have not been developed yet. But certainly the computational abilities are among the earlier ones to be developed. Therefore, the new brain found out that it could help the old brain in the struggle for survival by all sorts of methods; improving tools and whatnot.
E: So you're actually talking about another allegory, like the division into two sexes. The old brain might represent the female or so-called passive sex that is receptive to the universe, and the new brain might represent the male or the active aspect that is more aggressive.
D.B.: As these activities got more important, especially in the areas of agriculture and metallurgy, the male side began to get dominant.
E: As it is now.
D.B.: In the hunter-gatherer society it still wasn't.
E:: It's obvious that going from one extreme to the other is inappropriate; neither approach is the answer to a balanced way of harmonising with the rest of life.
D.B.: The challenge to humanity is this: How is humanity going to get these two brains to work together?
E: I don't think most human beings even know that there are these two brains.
D.B.: They don't know, but that is the challenge whether they know it or not. That's what I am proposing. Some new movement is needed which cannot start in either brain. It must start in another way. More creatively.
E: But what if most human beings are just enslaved to a subset of one or the other of those brains?
D.B.: There are the emotional people and the intellectual people, and they berate each other. One says you're sloppy sentimentalists and the other says you're just abstract, cold.
E: Then there's also the action-oriented people, which I suppose would be another subset.
D.B.: The third. That would be the reptilian brain.
C: And then there's the alchemists that say you should do something creative with your endocrine system and transform it and have a whole new unified, transmuted being....
D.B.: But I think you won't transform it unless the new brain goes along. The new brain affects the endocrine system profoundly by its images. The intellect cannot be left out of the picture.
E: It's obvious you see the same problem I see. We see the mass of human beings, falsely attributing whatever they are to one or another of the functions of these brains. We know that there are actually two parts to the old brain, which are the moving and the feeling and then the intellect ....
D.B.: The intellect and the artistic side.
E: Yes, yes. The artistic side is connected also to the emotions.
D.B.: The artistic side is the link between the new brain and the emotions.
E: In order to transmute, the entire thing has to be done all at once.
D.B.: That's it. It cannot be done in parts. It cannot take time.
E: That's exactly the problem and that's exactly what we have encountered in certain esoteric communities, the secret schools.
D.B.: I've read about that, yeah.
E: Anyway, at a certain point some of the underlying assumptions about humanity were unacceptable, even though the methods and their results were quite compelling.
D.B.: Yes, I remember one such work. I didn't quite agree with it.
C: I can see why.
E: But the point is not that what is stated in such methodologies doesn't mean anything; just because we disagree doesn't mean that they're not right. D.B.: Well they might be right up to a point.
E: Exactly. But the point is that I couldn't see this 'elect' privileged few always determining for the masses what the rules should be. The ones who 'work for god' if you want to call it that. It would always be the same ones calling the shots.
D.B.: It's the same problem. See, it's the new brain that defines those privileges; setting up the hierarchy and so on. That has a profound effect on the endocrine system.
E: We know the power of some of these people, and they do have operational higher functions. I've actually physically witnessed this. But you're not going to run into it accidentally. You're not going to have any one of those people admitting anything to anyone, especially to those physicists or scientists or people who aren't responsible in the sense of having a completely functioning conscience; those who are easily swayed by external or internal pressures that would be destructive.
D.B.: Why are you dissatisfied?
E: I'm dissatisfied with this particular approach because it always produces this eternal division between the haves, which are very few (as in an oligarchy) and the have-nots, which is the mass of humanity. Actually the only one who does Have is God and all the rest of it doesn't have. In other words, everyone else is an illusion except God. To me, that is symptomatic of something.
D.B.: Of the trouble. I see why you're saying Krishnamurti was thinking that way.
E: I know that that can never be. In other words, if a few of us escape to try to get the rest out of the jail, that in itself only makes the jail stronger because there is no jail. And it's not like you stop trying to escape. Instead it's necessary to recognise that the impulse to escape and the impulse to be free and the impulse to be liberated, all these notions about enslavement, freedom and enlightenment; all that stuff is symptomatic of and reinforces the whole thing. And unless the whole thing goes at once, nothing goes. That's the essence of what I can formulate in words; unless everyone goes, nobody gets out because there's nothing to get out of.
D.B.: Well, there's nothing to get out of but there can be a change.
E: Change is not excluded.
D.B.: You see, we're not trying to get out of anything, but the trouble is a certain disharmony which also leads to false perception. Once the and the neurochemicals are not working right then the perception can't work right. It will distort and that helps to hold people in it because they're seeing things wrongly, so that the very moves one makes against it are binding you in deeper.
E: But can it also be that those very conclusions, that entire string of conclusions that you just stated in that sentence itself is like an implicate order; as long as we are enslaved or at least reflecting an explicate order idea, we are in that way perpetuating the problem. The problem is the implicate/explicate order. In other words, there are those who are totally old brain implicate order types and there are new brain explicate order types.
D.B.: You can't make it that easily divided.
E: In terms of an analogy, as long as there is any distinction whatsoever for anyone, this so-called illusion is going to continue until there is nothing left to continue with; this means not only the living but those who are about to live and those who are long dead. The symptoms will persist until there is really nothing to be the distinction, and that does not in any way exclude any possibility and neither does it include any possibility. Possibilities are here as they are and it doesn't rob anyone of anything. No one is the worse for this nothing and no one is the better for nothing because better and worse are only parts of the symptoms. Unless everyone is actually nothing in the sense of not emptiness or fullness but as is now, so to speak, nothing.....I can't go any further with words.
D.B.: Well you may be creating a trap that way by saying that...who knows, eh? One of the questions is whether there might not be other ways to break into this.
E: You mean to say there is actually a solution to the problem?
D.B.: What? To break into this question of the old and the new brain and the endocrine system and all that.
D.B.: Some creative solution is needed but you cannot proceed from the general knowledge we have talked of, in terms of this whole way of going about it, because most of it is based on presuppositions that include that. I think we can explore further. This system function of the old and the new brains is held socioculturally. It would not have gotten into that malfunction....
E: That's the mechanism that maintains it.
D.B.: Not only that. It probably produced it for the most part.
E: What seed generated the plant?
D.B.: There was the possibility of this going wrong in the fact that the new brain appeared so suddenly highly developed and not having developed a conscious relation to the old brain. Therefore, the new brain and the old didn't understand each other. The theory of the two prior brains was that they developed rather slowly and came into a kind of harmony with the environment so that their responses were more or less right. But then the new brain came up rather rapidly; it came too fast and wasn't ready to integrate with the old brain.
E: O.K., but you're still saying that out of nowhere this new brain arises out-of-function with the old one.
D.B.: It takes a short time. We don't know why evolution occurs or why anything is or isn't, but for reasons as yet unknown, this new brain appeared. It must be in the structure of the brain that it can develop in this way. Why human beings appeared at all or why other species appeared is an unknown question. We say it's in the structure that they can appear, and if they are viable then they will survive. It is a given that they are there; that something appeared in this way that had this problem in it, and that the new brain and the old brain were not in harmony.
E: You mean that the dysfuction is inherent?
D.B.: Inherent in that mode of such a fast appearance.
E: So the original sin consists of having a two brain dysfunction...(laughing)
D.B.: There is no sin. The brain was not satisfied to remain what it was but insisted on developing more. You could look at it saying that that was a creative opportunity. You could say there's a kind of experiment going on to see if something more can be done.
E: For instance, isn't the present scientific view of the universe, coming from the Big Bang, this super compressed atom into this huge universe that we see; isn't that like a direct feedback of our inner view of the universe? There's really nothing out there. We put our meaning on it, that that's what is happening and that's what is going on, but is it really going on?
D.B.: Is what going on?
E: Is there a Big Bang? Is there a super compressed atom?
D.B.: That is a hypothesis which we know may not be so. We can understand things by making proposals for exploration. Suppose we say the three brain hypothesis is a proposal to see what insight it can give us, and it's the same about the universe, whether this insight will be of value or not. Now the proposal leads to the idea that we have, that some new creative step is needed. It's not yet clear whether this creative step would be one gigantic step, or whether it could be in smaller steps.
E: How do you take a step when you have no feet?
D.B.: The feet appear. Evolution, right? (laughs)
E: Conveniently! You need to take a step so therefore you must have feet!
D.B.: That's the whole point of creativity then.
E: When you've got nothing you try and create something, eh? But who is the one that does it?
D.B.: We don't care. The brain's doing it; mankind is doing it. You can't locate exactly who is doing it. That's a question which has only a relative significance. One could say that the culture,or some people in it form a micro-culture to do it. It's going on; it's a process.
E: But where are we going with this dysfunction of the old and new brain now? Are we tentatively agreed that it has to be transformed all at once?
D.B.: We don't know. That was a proposal that looks at first sight as if it has to be all at once, but that may be going too fast. We're not sure that it has to be all at once, right? And maybe not, but something has to happen which is not restricted to one function or the other. That seems clear; the intellectual function, or the emotional or the moving.
E: By the moving function you mean the muscular system.
E: Which would be connected to the reptilian part.
D.B.: Mmhm. Something involving the whole being, but it must also involve the culture - the society, because this whole problem is not an individual problem at all. This sort of problem could only arise in a culture which would provide words and language by which these images could be manipulated.
C: Yeah, as a singular event, it's not a problem.
D.B.: It's because we have a culture which maintains this. The whole endocrine system is profoundly affected by the language.
E: Or the impressions?
D.B.: The impressions and the communication. The meaning of the impressions is what affects you and the meaning depends on the whole way people communicate.
E: But where does meaning come from; what is meaning? Is meaning actually a substance, a chemical substance?
D.B.: No, it's a movement, a process but ....The symbol has a meaning, right? Now there are symbols that are not communicable, that may be private. The verbal symbol is communicable. This is crucial; this made civilization possible but it didn't only affect industry and so on, it affected the psyche very profoundly.
E: Which originated from the meaning? Psyche came out of meaning?
D.B.: Psyche and meaning are essentially the same, perhaps. The whole meaning changed when people could symbolise.
E: So then the psyche changed as well.
D.B.: Yeah, that's right. So you can produce the words which produce anger. I'm sure that chimpanzees have certain symbols that stand for words, signs that they make to each other and also other ways of communicating. But we can do far more of it. In that way the society can set up a situation where all these neurochemicals are affected by the social situation and they introduce tremendous frustration because it isn't working right. The whole system cannot work right because it's stirring up this conflict between the two brains.
E: Shouldn't a closed system, let's say all the societies on earth, all human societies...
D.B.: But they're not closed; they break up.
E: Let's call it a closed system in these terms; that one society or another may fluctuate, but all societies would be one complete system. Is that disruption between the old and new brain actually contained in the context of human societies or is that disruption only an indicator that there is something else beyond the disruption? The disruption itself may be experienced personally in the sense of one human being, but in the context of all of humanity could there be another representation of what human being is. Wouldn't that disruptiveness between the old and new brain be just like an alarm clock; it wakes you up? It's annoying to you, but as soon as you wake up you realize that there was actually something more to do. It wasn't what you thought it was at first.
D.B.: Well I don't think that disruption would be serious except with the organization of society. I think people would stay in a state which was simple enough not to cause a serious problem. The first serious problem was the understanding of death. Now that required a level of symbolisation; it was only possible socially to do that, to foresee death years ahead. The animal may sense it coming just about the time it's coming but with the aid of verbal symbols you can foresee the thing indefinitely and it becomes a disruption. The old brain reacts against that; the new brain comes to the conclusion there's going to be death. That's the social conclusion.
E: The new brain.
D.B.: Yeah, because it's a complex topic, the old brain does not understand time at all. The old brain has vaguely 'tomorrow' but that's about all.
E: So when death happens, it's dead.
D.B.: The new brain thinks of time, long stretches of time and then it says well, there's going to be death. The new brain then presents horrifying pictures of death to the old brain.
E: (laughing) Yeah, I can dig that.
D.B.: And the old brain goes into terrible alarm, producing an effect where the new brain no longer knows what it's doing.
E: Let's propose that the most disruptive factor between the old brain and the new brain is death.
D.B.: I'm not sure it's the most but it was one of the earliest. I think there are others equally disruptive.
E: Let's say that death is a symbol. Let's say the old brain and the new brain are a symbol. The disruption itself isn't really contained in the context of a limited possibility like human society. I think eventually human society would quickly run down. I think it should have run down by now considering how disruptive human beings have been. It should have destroyed itself by now in terms of practical considerations but it hasn't, and there has to be some other factor that has prevented this total annihilation, although I guess we're on the brink. The disruption that occurs between the new brain and the old brain is only an alarm system of some sort. Let's assume that's the point. Elements of both brains have generated the way that human society is structured at the moment, but the arrangement produces a disharmony, a discordant factor. That discordant factor is only there because society has not integrated itself into something that is more complete. Let's say that human society on earth, complete with its neurological systems and its symbol systems as they are presently, is inadequate to handle the potential of the new brain and the old brain together.
D.B.: Our society can't handle it; our symbol system can't handle it.
E: Let's say, because human beings are still earth-based, earth-centered, geophysically centered in terms of their considerations, human societies are still basically survival oriented, largely concerned with food production, shelter, territoriality, reproduction and a few other things. In terms of the potential that could be realized, compared with how inefficiently the new brain and the old brain operate together, this combination of the two in their relationship to each other produces a discordant effect. The new brain is being utilized for a function well below its full potentiality. Supposing though that the next step in human civilization would be to encompass society not as just earth centered but as part of an interplanetary society, to which the other planets also contribute. It would be understood that planetary and stellar influences, in a quantum physical manner, are actually producing noticeable results at our scale of existence and there is actual interaction, between ourselves and the earth, between all the planets in our solar system, and within the local star system that the sun happens to be in. What if the society of human beings in its basic approach to whatever reality is, developed consciousness that way? Would there then be a disruption of human life or would that be a development?
D.B.: Well, I don't know. 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.
E: That's what I'm saying. Let's say that the stars and the planets themselves are actually symbols within our own neurological system. And we ourselves are symbols within our own mind, whatever that is. Contained within that mind are pieces called human beings with their little brains and possibilities, and also contained within the mind is a set of symbols that proportionately increases and decreases; the planets become bigger or smaller as the mind gets closer and closer to what the mind really is. Would this continuous discord be originating from a more cosmic factor than the earth-based human society generated ideas about reality. The general assumption is that everything living is earth-based and that we're totally alone in a huge, indifferent universe. A possible remedy to this assumption could come about through a recognition that what happens on our little planet, in our little lives really isn't that significant without a connection to a more universal perspective. Our problems arise from our narrow-mindedness. As our minds expand out into the universe, the universe comes into our lives and then the discord gets less and less. The discord between the new brain and the old brain would become more and more balanced and less and less discordant as we become more attuned to the completeness, to the wholeness. Rather than being focused in on this particle of earth, we would then go out into the universal. When we could combine both the particular and the general together we would reach the ground which would then be a complete balancing of what the old and the new is. Then there would not be an old and a new but a completely unified, unbroken unity again.
D.B.: Well, it might be. The question is again a matter of speculation about the universe. I don't think the present scientific observations, calculations and speculations deeply affect the psyche of people in general because they're so abstract and esoteric.
E: But they do affect them in the sense that those same abstractions can produce hydrogen bombs.
D.B.: Only in that way, but not in a direct way.
E: That's what the old brain can recognize as a symbol.
E: Well, it's just like the hydrogen bomb is a big club.
D.B.: The old brain is also responsible not only for hate but for love. It's the emotional source. Some of the most subtle things may come from the old brain. The new brain has its subtlety. It may be the new brain that's stuck on some rather limited sets of ideas which give a sense of security to the old brain. It's neither, but both working together to get stuck. The old brain wants a sense of security and the new brain therefore feels compelled to provide fixed ideas, limited ideas. If you want to break out by getting people to feel themselves part of the cosmos, if you merely present calculations about what was supposed to have happened, first of all most people don't understand them, and secondly they have very little intuitive content which affects the artistic side of the new brain which can contact the old brain. The old brain doesn't understand these calculations, that's one sure thing.
E: Right. Which seems to be the state of most people.
D.B.: Nobody's old brain will understand calculations. The point is some subtle things go on in people who have immersed themselves in them so that it affects them with subtle images. Most people can't do that. So I don't think that what was being said about the universe is going to do this. What's being presented is a kind of universe that's quite indifferent to human beings which seems like a cold and meaningless place. It's not going to appeal to the old brain.
C: What about what could be felt towards the universe? Saying you're right is not going to ever affect anyone, but what people feel towards the universe, could that be a measure of breakthrough?
D.B.: But what will make them feel one way or the other?
C: An actual feeling of being unified with the universe.
E: You've heard the story that actually the universe is love. You've heard this from various sources that the universe, all of the universe, everything we are is love. So what is this love? What is this thing that is satisfying not only to the old brain but to the new brain, and it meets all the requirements for the new brain to expand into its wildest imaginings, while at the same time satisfying every possible fear and necessity that the old brain may have.
D.B.: That has been tried for thousands of years but...
E: But it's only worked for a few, apparently.
D.B.: Yes. The meaning of the word love has become very confused throughout the ages, and it is not very clear what is meant when you use those words. The word 'love' in Latin is based on something like libido or things like that meaning sexual passion. The same in English, and the same in even the word 'friend', based on the Norse word 'freund' meaning the goddess of love, 'Freya'. People, at about the time they were developing modern languages, must have had that general view. I don't know if they always had it but that was the first confusion. They took this love you're talking about and focused it on some narrow area. Freud said this later; he sublimated love into a larger area, but this is not the same as you are talking about. To say love is first focused and then it's extended off into science or some other area.
E: No, because obviously the new brain wouldn't be satisfied with that. It could see faults in the theory of that representation of love.
D.B.: Love has many meanings. You have love, friendship; you have fellowship. In modern times they're talking about the love object, emphasizing an object that evokes it. But in fact, that's contrary to the idea you were talking about.
C: Well, as one feels love for one's homeland, that's very basic; what about love in the universal sense?
D.B.: Love has been compared also in some cases to a central sun that does not depend on any object at all, but shines.
C: That all strikes me as rather conceptual though when I hear those people who practice that kind. It sounds very conceptual; it doesn't sound like they're feeling it.
D.B.: I'm not saying they're feeling it. You see, to have the idea and to bring it to reality are two entirely different things but it may have some merit in the idea.
E: Would love be where fear isn't?
D.B.: Yes, but then how do you stop fear? The old brain gets frightened. It's built to get frightened when there's danger.
E: Well this is it. What constitutes the danger? Danger always seems to come from another. It never comes from yourself.
D.B.: But it does. People are afraid of going crazy and going to pieces. That's one of the greatest fears.
E: In other words, even unity or oneness will produce fear.
D.B.: Yes. Fear is fear of disruption fundamentally. Fear of death is like that, but the fear of disruption might be worse than the fear of death.
E: At a certain point.
E: If you see what the phenomenon of death is.
D.B.: See, the medieval idea of hell was worse than the fear of death because it would go on forever.
C: Is that one of the other concepts you were talking about besides death that would...
C: You were talking about disruption.
D.B.: Yeah, the fear of innermost disruption is probably one of the most primal... You see, the brain somehow has to have an inner order. When that breaks down, it really becomes a tremendous source of fear. When it looks as if it's breaking down; maybe it's not.
E: Well this is it. Everywhere in ordinary life, as well as in most other philosophical discourses, the most despised, disgusting, unspeakable idea is nothing. People literally spit it out, "Do you want to be nothing?".
D.B.: That's part of the thing to say the distinction of being a nothing.
E: But that "oblivion" seems to be the most hideous end that you could possibly come to. D.B.: On the other hand, the Buddhists are perfectly happy with the idea. It depends on the background.
E: I don't know about that because nothing still has this rider of 'nothing as such'. 'Nothing as such' may be close to what I understand but I still think that if something arises out of it, then something still arises out of it. In other words, if it were nothing there would be nothing to talk about. You would know nothing; everyone would know nothing and be nothing. Being and not-being wouldn't be in any way relevant or irrelevant to nothing. And you wouldn't be talking about Buddhas and Buddhism and philosophies and the rest of it. This is the trick because yes, I am familiar with some of the teachings that have been laid down along these lines, and for a while I was led to believe that the exponents of same were quite right. But then I also began to see that as a result of such views, something is being produced - like some following, some belief system, which eventually and inevitably turns into the same old disruption routine.
D.B.: Well, I think that's another question as to the search for security. The old brain is searching for security; it's built to do that, and at a certain level it makes sense. Now, the difficulty is that it cannot tell when the images and ideas produced by the new brain start to stir it up; it responds rather similarly to the kind of things that it's built to respond to. Therefore, it may either respond with excessive pleasure or with fear or with rage, disrupting the whole system. I think that hate and rage are the greater challenge than fear. People being frustrated, they develop rage. I saw an experiment with an animal. They touched a wire to a certain pleasure center in the old brain. They touched it lightly and the cat looked incredibly pleased. They touched it more and it was really terrified. Then they gave it higher voltage and it showed how it was terribly enraged. It was ready to tear you to pieces but there was an air of pleasure about it. It would've enjoyed it.
E: It would've loved to tear you apart?
D.B.: Yeah. It would enjoy it. It's clear that there is a center from which energy is stirred up, psychic energy. According to how it's touched, it would stir it up in different ways. Now, if it's touched lightly it doesn't disrupt the system, but then the touch produces fear, it starts to disrupt. You see, there was nothing for the cat to be afraid of but it was afraid. Because it was afraid of itself. It was afraid of the disruption which this wire was producing. It was really being sort of disintegrated. It looked that way. But the still more intense stimulus meant it was enraged and it would try to turn that rage towards something and destroy it.
E: O.K. Suppose you took the whole same idea to a human level or to the next form up above human, the next intelligent level up. Wouldn't it always be the same situation as long as there was someone or something? As long as you are something, there will be disruption, no matter what, no matter how high.
D.B.: But the cat wasn't thinking what "itself" was.
E: It was in itself what it was.
D.B.: Yes, it was what it was but the minute that nerve was touched all this disturbance occurred.
E: Is there always going to be...
D.B.: Not necessarily. I'm going to propose the way out. The cat was not developed enough to find a way out of that. Let's say that something touches our central nerves in the base of the brain and the whole brain is stirred up. Now the brain doesn't have any way of handling that energy. It sort of goes into chaos. The rage is frustrated; it can do nothing. Fear causes panic. The question is, is there a way of absorbing that energy so that it doesn't disrupt the brain.
E: Sure. All you do is increase the capacity of the circuits to handle the energy.
D.B.: If you find something which can use that energy. The point is that we may have specific tasks that can use it, but then you become dependent on these specific outlets.
E: And then you have that rage, which would simply be a confining of that energy in the limited circuitry that's available.
D.B.: But then the rage will transform if that energy is absorbed in some way.
E: Right. Exactly. So the rage in itself is just a symptom of poor circuitry or not enough circuitry to handle a certain level of intensity.
D.B.: Not enough to handle it all. Not a subtle enough circuit for it to handle the whole thing.
E: O.K. Do you think the same problem could exist for human beings?
D.B.: Oh, it does.
E: Are there those who are implanting their electrodes into our brains?
D.B.: We don't need to implant electrodes. Thoughts stir up these centers in the same way
E: But I mean just as a human being is to a cat, are there beings who may be implanting something in us, not in a vicious way but in a scientifically curious way?
D.B.: Well that's a speculation.
C: We don't need them because we do it ourselves.
D.B.: We don't need them; we can see it right away, happening. By a certain set of words, you can stir up rage. The words produce neurochemical reactions because of their meaning; the new brain says that's terrible, that's outrageous and then it goes into the old brain. The old brain responds with those centers stirring up vast energy.
E: What is the source of all meaning for human life, for instance? Or does it have to go out to a universal meaning in order to be valid, even for a human?
D.B.: Nay. I think that you will find that when people get into this, all those other questions are pushed aside by this flooding energy.
E: Yes, that's right. You get something intense enough, all the lesser subtlety breaks down.
D.B.: Yes, it floods. If you're out in the desert, you see the universe. Come into Las Vegas and you see nothing but the electric lights. You could say there's no universe.
E: Or at least the universe has suddenly changed form into....
D.B.: Into Las Vegas.
E: Yes. So do you think that the meaning itself is the source of all disruption?
D.B.: Well, but it's a disruption of meaning. There's a meaning which stirs up hatred and fear. These are two things, and also the sense of security and pleasure or other senses to counteract that.
E: But all of those are subsets of the basic meaning. Meaning itself could be the source of the trouble. Do you think that meaning itself is the way out of the trouble as well?
D.B.: Yes, a new meaning. We are caught in a cycle of meaning which is limited.
E: This is what I wanted to talk to you about. We work with the Tarot, which is a set of symbolic images connected to archetypal meanings. But there is one image called the Judgement, that has become very meaningful. The image shows three graves out of which the dead are arising, adult male and female, and then the child. They're all praying to an Archangel. This tarot card is supposed to represent the Last Judgement or the Resurrection of the Dead, or in terms of Christianity, Jesus coming out of the tomb. In meditating on this image I suddenly realized that this is exactly the point where meaning ends. When Jesus was on the cross and he was asking "where is my mother, where is my father", God has deserted him. It's exactly at that point where the entire meaning of the universe dies, and that symbol represents what I understand now to be what should be called the high meaninglessness. When all meaning becomes meaningless, that is what would be called 'resurrection'. That would be the point where Jesus became the Christ, where man becomes god, so to speak. What you're talking about is exactly what that is. It's when all meaning, every meaning, the big meaning behind one's life becomes meaningless. When particle finally meets anti-particle; that's the annihilation point; that annihilation point is possibly the bridge into another universe.
D.B.: Yeah, but if it's another universe, it's got another meaning then.
E: Right, but that's just it. Meaning is based on relationship. You have to have two things before you can have a third meaning. That's the whole point of meaning. In order to be beyond meaning, one arrives at meaninglessness; it's like the tetrahedron of Pythagoras, the symbol for sacred fire. It's the triangular pyramid with four points. It's like that fourth point. That's where you hit the divine spark, where meaning becomes meaningless. It's like what happened before the Big Bang. That's the point of meaninglessness, where time and space completely end and every meaning that you've attributed to life and the universe has finally exhausted itself and you've run out of everything, that's when you encounter the high meaninglessness. Not in the sense of the little meaninglessnesses that we attribute to meaning, but meaninglessness as the total transcendence of meaning altogether. And unless you can live with meaninglessness you will still be caught in the same meaning, and thus you will not in any way change and the situation will not change. You'll only squeeze the air in the balloon and it'll go over here but it'll be the same air in the same balloon. It's when you can actually endure complete, total, utter meaninglessness that there will be a real meaning to all of it, so to speak.
D.B.: You're still not saying that there's no meaning, or you're essentially denying the sort of meanings that we're used to.
E: Everything that I'm saying and every meaning that I'm attributing to it, even the idea of transcending; everything that is in the universe, everything that has ever been said and ever will be said in the context of a universe, whatever that may be. Yes, I'm saying that what I'm saying is meaningless.
D.B.: Yes, but then you're saying that there is nevertheless a meaning that will come.
E: No, not exactly. It only means that I can't really say what it is according to my meaning.
D.B.: Yeah, but previously you said there was another meaning.
E: Yes, there is a meaning beyond the very narrow and limited set of meanings that we attribute to "reality". But I also think that meaninglessness happens all the time, and we frequently run into "it" and somehow life still carries on. I think that's the essence of life, this interplay between meaning and meaninglessness, if you want to call it that. If there is a "relationship" then it's not the relationship of "ones" to "zeroes" but of "zeroes through zeroes/zeroes through infinity". It is that point of meaninglessness or that moment of truth where you're standing naked before God or whatever you wish to call it or not call it. When you're totally stripped of all meaning, stripped of the two polarities that derive the third point, when you're totally stripped of that basic triad and you're inexpressibly naked, that's that point of meaninglessness. Where everything is as it is and it isn't. We are basically stripped and we're nothing. I think that's the point of what would be termed mystical resurrection, but if it's taken in the context of old meanings then it's not what I mean.This meaninglessness is not dependent on any meaning that we may have so far. I'm not saying that when that meaninglessness is realized that there is even going to be a meaning. I don't know in terms of any meanings that I have available to me. However, allowing ourselves to be in the "situation" of such high meaninglessness may be the solution to the dysfunction.
D.B.: How do you know it's there?
E: Thereness is part of meaning.
D.B.: How do you know that what you're saying is true?
E: Even truth itself is...
D.B.: Yeah, but you're getting into a circle trying to say it.
E: But that is what we are in. We are in a circle and the only way we can penetrate that circle or get off the wheel so to speak is to ...I don't know. Either it becomes totally meaningless or you become completely nothing. I don't know what that is.
D.B.: What makes you say it then?
E: I don't know what makes me say it. I think that it's possible to say. I don't know if it has any kind of use. It's an intuition that I understand is present everywhere, and if we would only recognize it not as an enemy but as our dearest friend, then death would no longer rule life but would be its laughter through every possibility, rather than an agonizing torment in every step, every phase. I think that if we could integrate meaninglessness into our everyday life that's when death and the fear connected to it, the fear of disruption, would no longer jiggle us on its strings like puppets. We jiggle our own strings. We wouldn't be jiggling that way if we would only allow meaninglessness to penetrate, to seep into us. Because meaninglessness really means just being free of meaning, free of the habit to have meaning, and being free of the constant cycle of going up and down and reconciling. I don't know if such a notion will be useful, but there it is. If recognition could be said in one sentence, it would be as follows. High Meaninglessness is not the entrance into anything that will disrupt meaning but is instead the consciousness of the unbroken continuity of and beyond everything. At least, that's what is being proposed here.
End Of Conversation
Copyright NADA 1998