JK and BA - Malibu, California -1970 DB and BA - Amsterdam, Holland - 1990
NOTE: I’ve already mentioned that CHAPTER THREE is entitled “WITHIN SIX WEEKS YOU WILL BE SURROUNDED BY INDIANS.” It would be another 30 years or so, before I would figure out how my being “surrounded by Indians” - which in fact did happen - would have a direct bearing on the two decades I spent learning what I did from my friends Messrs. J. Krishnamurti (JK) and Professor David Bohm (DB) . That’s all part of the story. But I was just informed a few days ago, that another part of the story that may also have a direct bearing on my relationship with my two friends, may be unfolding in the not-so-distant future. If that happens, you'll all be among the first to know. In the meanwhile, the part of the story I've related so far would take on a whole new dimension less than 24 hours after I left the Brockwood Park School when a chance meeting on a flight from New York to Los Angeles planted the seed that grew into the next major phase of this strange journey I’ve been on since I left the illusory comfort of what I had once imagined was my goal in life – a goal that that has been called one of the most addictive designer drugs in the world – BTSB -- Big Time Show Business.
But before we get on that plane, I thought I might take one more
crack at sharing what I learned from my
two friends – if indeed I learned anything at all – reason being those
relationships would continue throughout the next phase, and the next phase and the next phase... but as background to
what was taking place center stage in my life for the next three decades, and apparently right up till today.
So here’s a recap - or an an overview - or both - of what I may or may not have learned:
Messrs Krishnamurti and Bohm’s approaches to the exploration of consciousness undoubtedly began from opposite ends of the intellectual spectrum. These ends can perhaps best be described as scientific and spiritual in their origins. Their point of convergence was the inextricable relationship of “ the observer and observed” - a core principal in quantum physics and, at the same time, something that JK was apparently able to discern in real life. They did indeed look for and find a way to synthesize their approaches; synthesis being, by definition, the combining of separate and even opposite elements or substances to form a coherent whole. For example, The Taoist yin-yang symbol expresses that synthesis graphically. However to do that with words and concepts is quite a bit different, since as JK often pointed out "the word is not the thing" it attempts to describe. For example, the word "door" may infer an infinite number of openings through which one may walk. It can even be a metaphor . But in quantum physics, the word and its much more precise conceptual counterparts, number and the mathematical equation, are everything. And therein lay the challenge the two men faced.
The synthesis began with the step by step mutually
identified and acknowledged limitations of the intellect - also known as "knowledge" -- which is an accumulation of all our perceived experiences
and our responses to those experiences –
real or imagined. This aggregate is stored in our brains - and recent research suggests our bodies, as well - where it becomes the
content of our consciousness. And it is that content that becomes
the very essence of our thinking process - the "stuff" that what we call "thought" is made of.
As they probed further, they also discovered that this
same thinking process and its "stuff" is also at the core of
the creation of each person’s self-image
- known to us as “the ego” or the “I”. This is the antithesis of the commonly held belief that it is I who creates my thoughts, feelings and emotions. But, in actuality it is these thoughts, feelings and emotions that create what I
call "Me" – in my case, Bill Angelos. And it is your thoughts, feelings and emotions that create what you call You, (INSERT YOUR OWN NAME HERE). Furthermore, you and I can well attest to the fact that there appear to be dozens
of Mes in there. There’s the nice guy ME and the not-so-nice guy ME and the angry
ME and the jealous Me, etc. But all those ME's are made from the same aggregate of accumulated life experiences.
Moreover, my friends observed that the same seemingly never-ending
process of inner chattering that creates ME (and YOU) also affects what we call “perception”. Although they
may appear to us as separate, our ability to perceive “outwardly" (the world "out there") , as well as “inwardly” (the inner worlds of imagination and contemplation) , that ability is in
actuality a singular process that directly affects the content of our consciousness - and
vice-versa. The content colors the way we perceive the world, and the way we perceive the world colors the content. It's a simultaneously occurring two-way process that is taking place during each moment of our
existence. And that two-way process causes us to perceive life, as Saint Paul put it, "... through a
I repeat: The world we experience is “filtered” through our conditioning – or
consciousness - i.e., our fears, our desires, our prejudices, our deep seated hurts, all of
which create ME (Bill) ... or YOU, (INSERT YOUR NAME AGAIN). Bottom line: That ME (or YOU) is a thought generated self-image through which we perceive the world. It's like having our own personally created "Hall of Mirrors" and one can readily see how that can cause problems.
Here’s JK on the subject:
“So how does the observer come into being? When you look at this flower, at the moment you observe it closely, there is no observer, there is only a looking. Then you begin to name that flower. Then you say, “I wish I had it in my garden or in my house.” Then you have already begun to build an image about that flower. So the image-maker is the observer. Right? Are you following all this? Watch it in yourself, please. So the image and the image-maker are the observer, and the observer is the past. The “me” as the observer is the past, the “me” is the knowledge which I have accumulated: knowledge of pain, sorrow, suffering, agony, despair, loneliness, jealousy, and the tremendous anxiety that one goes through. That’s all the “me”, which is the accumulated knowledge of the observer, which is the past. Right? So when you observe, the observer looks at that flower with the eyes of the past. And you don’t know how to look without the observer and, therefore, you bring about conflict.”
Simply put, what appears to be a division between “ the observer” (ME) and “the observed” (MY greed, MY envy,
MY jealousy) is an illusion. In actuality, I am all
those things. The observer is the observed.
Let's pause here for a moment ... I have been told that a true realization of the meaning of the words in that last paragraph, is not unlike when serious participants in the Alcoholics Anonymous program get sober for the first time -- meaning, "now comes the hard part".
For you see, my friends' explorations further exposed how all of these factors
contribute to the futility of the way we presently deal with the problems of
life, because we have also developed a capacity that allows our thought-generated self- images to filter our perceptions of the world, while at the same
time denying that such a filtering process exists. And it is this pattern of
self-deception that has repeated itself over and over again, in civilization
after civilization, since mankind started passing on their experiences to those
who came after them - orally and otherwise.
Here’s DB on the subject:
" We are infusing our imagination, our past our knowledge into what we see... ... that isn’t necessarily bad, it may be very necessary in many contexts. However when we fail to see that this is happening, then we are in danger. Especially if there is resistance to seeing it, and we are conditioned to resist seeing that this is happening. That’s really when the self deception arises."
It is this deeply embedded process of self-deception that is
the cause of the fragmentation that is breaking each of us, and therefore the world,
up -- pitting one fragment against the
other in never-ending conflict. Furthermore, in more recent times, we’ve added to that ever-growing sense of futility by
convincing ourselves that what we call the "the human predicament" is an
unavoidable consequence of what we
have labeled "human nature"; a nature that has now even developed the
technological capacity to destroy humanity on a global level.
But my friends also articulated what may be the only possible way to break this pattern. And the first step toward doing so is to wake up to the reality of what was just described. For, if what Krishnamurti and David Bohm were suggesting in their dialogues is indeed the way things really are, then so is the possibility of a total transformation of ourselves and of society - a transformation that must begin with each individual."The individual is obviously of the greatest significance in society because it is only the individual who is capable of creative activity, not the mass... ... If you see this fact, then you will also realize that what you are in yourself is of the highest importance. Your capacity to think, to function with wholeness, with an integration in which there is no self-contradiction - this has an enormous significance.
"We see that if there is to be any real change in the world - and there must be a real change - then you and I as individuals will have to transform ourselves. Unless there is a radical change in each one of us, life becomes an endless imitation, ultimately leading to boredom, frustration, and hopelessness." -- J. Krishnamurti
Those are the options presented by my friends in their dialogues, which also laid the groundwork for the exploration of the options. But they also contain a caveat. Each of us must ultimately explore those options for and by ourselves, rather than taking anyone’s word for what they are implying as being factual, including mine... and theirs.
Some final thoughts about my friends, from this particular mind - which apparently began being mediated (conditioned) while it was still in its mother's womb, and continues to be mediated as it changes those thoughts into words that will end up wherever it is that blog words go, to be read by other folks with mediated minds, who will filter them according to their own conditioning, before they become part of their own thought-generated consciousnesses and maybe even part of their self-images, and on and on and on.... What I just wrote is my way of pointing out perhaps the most fundamental aspect of what I learned from my two friends -- that we are all connected by this magnificent but flawed "network of thought". And the only way we can mitigate if not transform this unavoidable situation we're all in, is through each individual's use of what may be the most misunderstood, under-rated, and almost impossible to define capacity we are all born with, but all too often neglect, except in moments of crisis. The English word for it is - "attention". And the curious phrase we use to explain how to use that capacity is this: "Pay attention" ! As for the "crisis" part, my friends also never stopped reminding us that there is a very real crisis going on as I write these words, and you read them. And it is possibly the only crisis that each of us need be aware of. The crisis that is taking place in our own consciousnesses. They also said that maybe... just maybe... by paying complete attention to that crisis in our consciousnesses, we can truly transform the world.
Interacting with two people like J. Krishnamurti and David
Bohm for more than two decades was a
rare privilege. Did any of what I may have learned from them take root? I
have no idea. It’s one thing to spout what one has learned in the form of
concepts that can be listed on this page, and quite another to make them actual aspects of every waking moment of one’s life.
The former may be pretty impressive window dressing, but it means nothing. The latter can
only be tested in the laboratory of human relationships.
I've often wondered what it was that made it possible for me to be accepted on such an intimate level by these two men. They both had wonderful senses of humor ... so, maybe that's why they put up with me to the degree that they did. For as often as I may have troubled them with my lack of understanding of what they were attempting to communicate to me, I did make them laugh every once in a while. And in one instance, I even made the usually reserved Professor Bohm laugh out loud.
It was the morning after one of his Ojai Dialogue sessions during which he had been trying to drive home the importance of being able to see how the source of most of our problems is due to the self deceptive mechanisms that are constantly at work in our thought processes. A few minutes before the morning session started, I handed Professor Bohm a single sheet of paper on which I had written the following:
"Say you walk into a store, like RADIO SHACK or CIRCUIT CITY, and they have this amazing thing on sale - for a nominal price. And
what this thing can do is - well, just about anything.... It can write beautiful
poetry, paint great art, create brilliant music scores and play them on any instrument, do quantum physics, build marvelous bridges
and magnificent cathedrals - - It can
even take you to the Moon! There's only one thing wrong with it... it lies to
"Question: Would you buy one?
"Answer: Why bother? You already have
"We all do!
"And that, folks, is our real problem.
"In fact, it's our only problem."
And the good Professor laughed out loud. No joke.
PS: For the more scientifically inclined, you might be interested in knowing that Professor Bohm's work in Theoretical Physics was, in a sense, deeply influenced by his decades-long interaction with Krishnamurti. That influence can best be illustrated in his development of nothing less than a completely new ordering of the world. He describes that new order quite vividly in his now classic book "WHOLENESS AND THE IMPLICATE ORDER" . And one needn't be a scientist to enjoy it as a fascinating read.
As a final offering, here's Professor Bohm doing what he often did, in an excerpt from one of the more than two decades of dialogues he had with his friend J. Krishnamurti. Once again, he became our proxy, asking JK the same questions that we might ask if we were sitting opposite him and we happened to have the kind of deeply probing scientifically trained mind that Bohm had. Only this time, it was the last of the Dialogues - a two part endeavor that took place in 1984, during which they explored - as its title implies - "THE FUTURE OF HUMANITY"