Krishnamurti & the Art of Awakening
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The slowing down of thought


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Sun, 08 Jul 2018 #1
Thumb_kinfonet_avatar Clive Elwell New Zealand 4362 posts in this forum Offline

To approach, to start, this topic of the slowing down of thought, I would like to quote from K in 1944. But the whole quote is rather long, and I will break it up into several parts, on successive days.

Questioner: I find it extremely difficult to understand myself. How am I to begin?

Krishnamurti: Is it not very important that one must understand oneself above everything else? For if we do not understand ourselves we shall not understand anything else for the root of understanding lies in ourselves. In understanding myself, I shall understand my relationship with another, with the world; for in me, as in each one, is the whole; I am the result of the whole, of the past. This concern to understand oneself may appear superficially to be egocentric, selfish, but if you consider it you will see that what each one of us is, the world, the State, society is; and to bring a vital change in the environment, which is essential, each one must begin with himself. In understanding himself and so transforming himself, he will inevitably bring about the necessary and vital change in the State, in the environment. The recognition and understanding of this fact will bring a revolution in our thinking-feeling. The world is a projection of yourself, your problem is the world's problem. With out you, the world is not. What you are the world is; if you are envious, greedy, inimical, competitive, brutal, exclusive, so is society, so is the State.

The study of yourself is extremely difficult for you are very complex. You must have immense patience, not lethargic acceptance, but alert, passive capacity for observation and study. To objectify and study that which you are subjectively, inwardly, is very difficult. Most of us are in a whirl of activity, inwardly confused and wandering, torn by many conflicting desires, denying and asserting. How can this enormously complex machine be studied and understood? A machine which is moving very rapidly, revolving at a tremendous speed cannot be studied in detail. It is only when it can be slowed down that you can begin to study it. If you can slow down your thinking-feeling, then you can observe it, just as in a slow motion picture you can study the movement of a horse as it runs or jumps a hurdle. If you stop the machine you cannot understand it, then it becomes merely a dead matter, if it goes too fast you cannot follow it; but to examine it in detail, to understand it thoroughly, it must go slowly, revolve gently. Just so must the mind work to follow each movement of thought-feeling. To observe itself without friction it must slow down. To merely control thought- feeling, to apply a brake to it, is to waste the necessary energy required to understand it; then thought-feeling is more concerned in controlling, dominating, than in thinking out, feeling out, understanding each thought-feeling.

Have you ever tried to think out, feel out each thought-feeling? How extremely difficult it is! For the mind wanders all over the place, one thought is never finished, one feeling never concluded. It flutters from one subject to another, a slave driven hither and thither. If the mind cannot slow itself down the implication, the inward significance of its thoughts-feelings cannot be discovered. To control its wanderings is to make it narrow and petty and then thought-feeling is expended in checking, restraining, rather than in studying, examining and understanding. The mind has to slow itself down and how is this to be done? If it forces itself to be slow then opposition is brought into being which creates further conflict, further complication. Compulsion of any kind will nullify its effort. To be aware of each thought - feeling is extremely arduous and difficult; to recognize that which is trivial and to let go, to be aware of that which is significant and to follow it, penetratingly and deeply, is strenuous, requiring extensional concentration.

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Sun, 08 Jul 2018 #2
Thumb_kinfonet_avatar Clive Elwell New Zealand 4362 posts in this forum Offline

Here is the continuation of the words of K that I posted yesterday.

I would like to suggest a way but don't make of it into a hard and fast system, a tyrannical technique or the only way, a boring routine or duty. We know how to keep a diary, writing down all the events of the day in the evening. I do not suggest that we should keep a retrospective diary but try to write down every thought- feeling, whenever you have a little time. If you try it, you will see how extremely difficult even this is. When you do write you can only put down one or two thoughts because your thinking is too rapid, disconnected and wandering. And as you cannot write down everything, because you have other things to do, you will find after a while that another layer of your consciousness is taking note. When again you have leisure to write, all those thoughts-feelings to which you have not given conscious attention will be "remembered." So at the end of the day you will have written down as much of your thoughts and feelings as possible. Of course only those who are earnest will do this. At the end of the day look at what you have written down during the day. This study is an art, for out of it comes understanding. What is important is how you study what you have written, rather than the mere writing down.

If you put yourself in opposition to what you have written you will not understand it. That is, if you accept or deny, judge or compare, you will not grasp the significance of all that is written, for identification prevents the flowering of thought-feeling. But if you examine it, suspending judgment, it will reveal its inward contents. To examine with choiceless awareness, without fear or favour, is extremely difficult. Thus you learn to slow down your thoughts and feelings but also, which is enormously important, to observe with tolerant dispassion every thought - feeling, free from judgment and perverted criticism. Out of this comes deep understanding which is cultivated not only during the waking hours but during sleep. From this you will find there comes candor, honesty.

But then you will be able to follow each movement of thought - feeling. For in this is involved not only the comprehension of the superficial layer but also of the many hidden layers of consciousness. Thus through constant self-awareness there is deeper and wider self-knowledge. It is a book of many volumes; in its beginning is its ending. You cannot skip a paragraph, a page, in order to reach the end quickly and greedily. For wisdom is not bought by the coin of greed or impatience. It comes as the volume of self-knowledge is read diligently, that which you are from moment to moment, not at a particular, given moment. Surely this means incessant work, an alertness which is not only passive but of constant inquiry, without the greed for an end. This passivity is in itself active. With stillness comes highest wisdom and bliss.

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Tue, 10 Jul 2018 #3
Thumb_kinfonet_avatar Clive Elwell New Zealand 4362 posts in this forum Offline

The first question arising from the above is simple, it is: have any of you ever tried this writing down of thought?

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Wed, 11 Jul 2018 #4
Thumb_kinfonet_avatar Clive Elwell New Zealand 4362 posts in this forum Offline

It seems that no one has tried out this writing down of thoughts as they occur. So I am on my own! :-). Perhaps so much the better, so that my experience is original. But before going into the writing down business, I would like to look at K's

Have you ever tried to think out, feel out each thought-feeling? How extremely difficult it is!

I seem to remember Tom bought this up not so long ago. As I said, I have the impression, I could be wrong, that K advocated the writing down of thoughts more in his earlier years of speaking, but the “thinking out”, or “feeling out” carried on to later years.
What does it mean? My difficulty in understanding it stems from the impression I get of duality in such a process. K asks have YOU ever tried ….. This may me the usual trouble with the structure of language, but I can’t quite imagine the process without an entity DOING the thinking out, the feeling out. And such an entity would be still thought at work.

Put it this way: At the moment I would say there ISN’T the thinking out (I think this means ‘to completion’) So what brings about the change from one state (when thought is not completed) to the other state?

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Wed, 11 Jul 2018 #5
Thumb_donna_and_jim_fb_bw Tom Paine United States 2256 posts in this forum Offline

Clive Elwell wrote:
My difficulty in understanding it stems from the impression I get of duality in such a process.

I see a duality there too....thinker vs. thought. Also K is bringing in time, which he often said is an impediment, or something like that...that there's no time involved in transformation. But to answer the first question you posed, no, I never tried writing out my thoughts. Since thought is so obviously limited I don't want to give it any more emphasis or importance than it already tends to take for itself in my daily living. I'm not trying to deny thought either....just not wanting to get more involved with it...analytically. I really don't see the point of that. But then again, I never tried it.

Let it Be

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Wed, 11 Jul 2018 #6
Thumb_open-uri20171115-31086-13da1wu-0 Dan McDermott United States 889 posts in this forum Offline

Without coming to a conclusion about this exercise (which thought is always doing, or trying to do) this exercise changes the normal dynamic of 'being' the 'thinker' to being the 'observer' who is waiting for the next thought or word to appear. It seems to me very valuable in the sense that we usually believe that 'we' are doing the 'thinking' but in this exercise, it is more that the thinking is being done (which it is!)... but now there is a state of awareness or observation accompanying the thought process. This reminds of K. saying that his secret was that he didn't mind what happens. In this mode of following one's thinking, it can be felt what he meant...when there is a dis-identification with one's thoughts.; they just 'come to one' and they are choicelessly watched. (or in the case here, watched and written down.)

I think that this writing exercise is just a different form of the crux of K. teaching which is that of being choicelessly aware of oneself. In fact if we are coming online here and writing our thoughts and not being aware of them as they appear, what are we doing? So this is the very place that the 'exercise' he suggested can always be tried!

This post was last updated by Dan McDermott Wed, 11 Jul 2018.

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Wed, 11 Jul 2018 #7
Thumb_kinfonet_avatar Clive Elwell New Zealand 4362 posts in this forum Offline

Tom Paine wrote:
Also K is bringing in time, which he often said is an impediment, or something like that.

That’s a very interesting question, that of time, and it not being involved in transformation. K did say we need to devote our whole life to the enquiry, which in one way certainly suggests time. Yet somehow I do not see this as a contradiction to (the act of) transformation not involving time at all – is it not the negation of time, in fact, the negation of becoming, and the negation of action based in the past? This deserves a thread of its own.

If we talk of “being involved with thought”, or “not being involved with thought”, does this not suggest we are somehow separate from thought? Is that a fact? Or is it that we ARE thought?

Indeed thought is limited as you say, We ARE that limitation, are we not? And thought is a fact, we cannot brush it aside, we cannot ignore it. It completely dominates our life, and it has created society itself. Thought is the problem, it seems to me. It is thought that needs to be understood, thought is not a tool FOR understanding. And I think it is fair to say that K has always said only through awareness of thought can it be understood and dissolved.

So can “following each thought through to completion”, and the writing down of thought, be regarded as tools of awareness? I am asking, not stating.

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Wed, 11 Jul 2018 #8
Thumb_kinfonet_avatar Clive Elwell New Zealand 4362 posts in this forum Offline

Dan McDermott wrote:
Without coming to a conclusion about this exercise (which thought is always doing, or trying to do) this exercise changes the normal dynamic of 'being' the 'thinker' to being the 'observer' who is waiting for the next thought or word to appear.

Yes, from my brief experience of the exercise so far, I would go along with that. Or rather I find that I oscillate between the two. Sometimes there is the feeling that I am DESCRIBING thought, and others that I AM thought.

Dan McDermott wrote:
This reminds of K. saying that his secret was that he didn't mind what happens. In this mode of following one's thinking, it can be felt what he meant...when there is a dis-identification with one's thoughts.

Are you saying, Dan, that one doesn't mind what happens because one sees one cannot do anything about what happens - in thought at least?

It seems to me that there is one simple, obvious fact about thought - that it arises involuntarily (can we use the word "spontaneously"?) to the mind. It is not that "I think". I cannot even determine what the next thought will be. This might seem obvious, but is it not contrary to all that we have been "taught"; all that we have absorbed from our upbringing/education. Yet is this not a revolutionary fact? The mind cannot carry on as it has always done if this is seen as a fact, no?

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Thu, 12 Jul 2018 #9
Thumb_open-uri20171115-31086-13da1wu-0 Dan McDermott United States 889 posts in this forum Offline

Clive Elwell wrote:
It is not that "I think". I cannot even determine what the next thought will be. This might seem obvious, but is it not contrary to all that we have been "taught"; all that we have absorbed from our upbringing/education. Yet is this not a revolutionary fact? The mind cannot carry on as it has always done if this is seen as a fact, no?

Yes it is "revolutionary", this movement or "pursuit" as K calls it. Without it all is static, with it,there is movement with the "eternal present". There is no 'technique' here, the technique is all that we have been "taught" and all that we have done before coming upon this.

But about can the "mind carry on as it has always done?"...yes...but it does not mean that this 'revolution' cannot be picked up again. 'Writing' can perhaps serve as one reminder.

This post was last updated by Dan McDermott Thu, 12 Jul 2018.

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Fri, 13 Jul 2018 #10
Thumb_kinfonet_avatar Clive Elwell New Zealand 4362 posts in this forum Offline

Dan McDermott wrote:
Yes it is "revolutionary", this movement or "pursuit" as K calls it.

The interesting thing about the discovery (and it is an ongoing discovery) that the thinker is the thought (and all the other expressions of this) is that it has its own action. “I” cannot act on the discovery - “I” am part of the illusion that the thinker is different from his thoughts. In fact can one say that the less the “I” tries to act, the more the discovery itself is free to act?

There is the perfume of freedom in this realisation.

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Sat, 14 Jul 2018 #11
Thumb_kinfonet_avatar Clive Elwell New Zealand 4362 posts in this forum Offline

In the thinking through of thought to each completion – that is my preferred way of putting it – and in the writing down of thoughts as they appear, I have made one discovery. Well, I probably “knew it” before, but this process has really bought it home to me – that generally each thought that appears is never completed. And I would say that it is never completely because it is always ‘interrupted’ by another thought.

I think this is another way of saying that thought B, in the guise of the thinker, arises as a reaction to thought A, in an attempt to modify it, control it, deny it, rationalise it, all the tricks that it plays. So thought A is not completed. And somehow this is registered in memory.

So memory becomes a huge reservoir of uncompleted thoughts. And this is what our conscious IS. By “our consciousness” I mean the common human consciousness, the stream as we have referred to it. Would it be extravagant to say this is how consciousness has been created over the millenia?

And further, I think – I could be wrong – that this a basic problem. This is why thought is so persistent, why it will not let go. All the time it is striving for completion. But it can’t find this completion, because the process of interruption described above is still going on. More and more incomplete thoughts are created. There is a sort of basic frustration in the mind, ever striving for fulfilment.

And this, perhaps, is why K lays so much emphasis on the thinking through of each thought to completion, or writing down of thought. Only then is a thought really finished with. Only then can there be an ending.

As I say, I could be wrong. The only way to find out if I am is by the continued watching of thought, What else is there?

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Sat, 14 Jul 2018 #12
Thumb_open-uri20171115-31086-13da1wu-0 Dan McDermott United States 889 posts in this forum Offline

Clive Elwell wrote:
that this a basic problem. This is why thought is so persistent, why it will not let go. All the time it is striving for completion. But it can’t find this completion, because the process of interruption described above is still going on. More and more incomplete thoughts are created. There is a sort of basic frustration in the mind, ever striving for fulfillment.

This is a good description of how 'out of place' thought/time is in the psychological realm. It always craves completion when no such thing happens in nature. Nature is always 'beginning' and thought is always craving 'endings' or solutions or conclusions (which are essential for survival and invention in the practical world.). Thought projects a 'time' grid on the world of nature which knows no such thing. In the "eternal now" there is no past, present, or future...those are thought's 'inventions' carried over from the technical, the practical into the psychological where they play their part in 'becoming' and 'desire': ("I am not this yet but I will be...I will one day understand" hopes the 'thinker')

This post was last updated by Dan McDermott 1 day ago.

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1 day ago #13
Thumb_kinfonet_avatar Clive Elwell New Zealand 4362 posts in this forum Offline

Dan McDermott wrote:
. Nature is always 'beginning'

Can you explain this more, Dan? it seems to me one could just as well say "Nature is always ending". From the moment a leaf bursts from a bud in the Spring, it is in decay, heading towards its fall in the Autumn. As soon as a star is created, it is growing old, like all living things.

Of course it is only the mind, with its trick of memory, that knows these things, that knows the mysterious thing called time. Otherwise there is as you say, only the eternal now.

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1 day ago #14
Thumb_open-uri20171115-31086-13da1wu-0 Dan McDermott United States 889 posts in this forum Offline

Clive Elwell wrote:
Otherwise there is as you say, only the eternal now.

I remember reading this and it struck me that this was a revelation for K., that things didn't 'end', they only 'began'...this for me, cut out the whole 'time' notion of beginnings and endings, that this was false. That there was only this 'movement' of creation that never ended...it was the living cell at the end of the branch...it is hard to describe because we think in terms of 'time': a beginning, a middle and an end, but that is just the 'overlay' that we impose on nature, how we have been taught to see it, but actually is it all and only, just 'creation'?

This post was last updated by Dan McDermott 17 hours ago.

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3 hours ago #15
Thumb_kinfonet_avatar Clive Elwell New Zealand 4362 posts in this forum Offline

Dan McDermott wrote:
That there was only this 'movement' of creation that never ended...it was the living cell at the end of the branch...it is hard to describe because we think in terms of 'time': a beginning, a middle and an end, but that is just the 'overlay' that we impose on nature, how we have been taught to see it, but actually is it all and only, just 'creation'?

That is a lovely analogy, Dan, of the living cell at the end of the branch. But the branch, and the tree, will die.

There is a defined “nature walk” near here, through native forest, along a mountain stream, that has some “educational” posters along the way. One of them concerns a large tree that must have fallen some years ago. Growing on the “dead” trunk is moss, lichen, fungi, and small saplings of new trees arising. Its decaying wood is being consumed, by grubs, all sorts of insects ……. The poster poses this question: “Is this tree alive or dead?”

Dan McDermott wrote:
I remember reading this and it struck me that this was a revelation for K., that things didn't 'end', they only 'began'...

Did not K say something like: "when things end, they create a space into which the new can be born?". This seems somewhat different.

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