Krishnamurti & the Art of Awakening
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What does it mean, "to understand"?


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Sat, 05 Jan 2019 #1
Thumb_kinfonet_avatar Clive Elwell New Zealand 4964 posts in this forum Offline

(copied from the "why does what happens matter to us?" thread)

Dan McDermott wrote:
The 'genie' can't be put back in the bottle, but 'understanding' deeply in ourselves, what is going on, is probably the only possible way out of the confusion caused by the (erroneous?) way we perceive life and the world?

This is question I have been on the verge of bringing up on the forum - what exactly is "understanding". But it doesn't seem right to usurp Jose's thread for that purpose, and so I will start a new one. But also hopefully there continue with your statement:

Life and death are one 'movement' but I see them as two

Do you mean that the ending of living is the start of death, and the ending of death is living? Or do you mean that death, dying, is contained IN living?

I am afraid that I am trying to translate your words into terms that I know, as a means of understanding.

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Sun, 06 Jan 2019 #2
Thumb_profiel Wim Opdam Belgium 804 posts in this forum Offline

Clive Elwell wrote:
Or do you mean that death, dying, is contained IN living?

Is time involved in understanding a question ?
If a question is understood It's no longer as question, right ?

The words 'living' and 'dying' have such a heavy connotation with the the physical but does they have the same meaning psychological ?

Truth will unfold itself to those who enquire their own actions.

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Sun, 06 Jan 2019 #3
Thumb_donna_and_jim_fb_bw Tom Paine United States 2508 posts in this forum Online

Wim Opdam wrote:
The words 'living' and 'dying' have such a heavy connotation with the the physical but does they have the same meaning psychological ?

Good question, Wim! We think we are a person inside the body ( the self image) and when the body dies this person will also die. So yes, we feel that this body is me. What are we afraid to lose at death? All our cherished memories and attachments...the ‘me’. I’ll never see my child again, for example. It’s my memories of the child I fear losing. I don’t own/possess my actual child(the living being), so how can I lose something I don’t possess?

Let it Be

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Sun, 06 Jan 2019 #4
Thumb_dm Dan McDermott United States 1199 posts in this forum Offline

Clive Elwell wrote:
Do you mean that the ending of living is the start of death, and the ending of death is living? Or do you mean that death, dying, is contained IN living?

If we look at what we call the 'life process' using time-lapse photography and speed it all up, it's interesting. The buried 'seed' shoots out roots and the plant bursts into the light...it grows, perhaps blossoms, withers and falls back to the ground where it decomposes. Where is the 'life' part and where is the 'death' part? It's all one never ending process of seed growing, producing seed, growing and more seed...if we could view a human life in the same way say, the whole process of 80 years reduced to 8 minutes, it would look the same. (except maybe for the 'blossoming'?)

But in those 8 blazing minutes of a human life, something happens that doesn’t seem to have happened with any other living thing here; psychological fear and specifically the fear of this specter called ‘death’ at some point enters. And it pollutes to one degree or another the whole process from seed to flowering to decomposition. (which goes on regardless) This being our life, this is what is being studied here as I see it and understood to the degree we are capable. This is why we’re here on this forum together, is it not?

This post was last updated by Dan McDermott Sun, 06 Jan 2019.

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Sun, 06 Jan 2019 #5
Thumb_kinfonet_avatar Clive Elwell New Zealand 4964 posts in this forum Offline

Wim Opdam wrote:
Good question, Wim!

Yes, I also find it a good question. We tend carry over meanings from the physical to the psychological, but this could be misleading.

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Sun, 06 Jan 2019 #6
Thumb_kinfonet_avatar Clive Elwell New Zealand 4964 posts in this forum Offline

Dan McDermott wrote:
.if we could view a human life in the same way say, the whole process of 80 years reduced to 8 minutes, it would look the same.

It wouldn't really. There would be so many activities going on, so much apparently meaningless, pointless actions. We are here, there, and everywhere. From the point of view of a visiting alien, with no knowledge of the human psyche, man's activities would be inexplicable - although clearly and puzzlingly destructive.

Where as for the plant - and for animals, all its movements are related to the whole movement of life. They are necessary, whereas mankind's 8 minutes would be filled with the unnecessary. So disjointed.

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Sun, 06 Jan 2019 #7
Thumb_dm Dan McDermott United States 1199 posts in this forum Offline

I agree Clive re all the activity but what I was picturing was the human body and how similar it is to all the other forms of life here: seeds (sperm,eggs) germinating creating more seeds and on and on...

This post was last updated by Dan McDermott Mon, 07 Jan 2019.

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Mon, 07 Jan 2019 #8
Thumb_profiel Wim Opdam Belgium 804 posts in this forum Offline

Clive Elwell wrote:
Yes, I also find it a good question. We tend carry over meanings from the physical to the psychological, but this could be misleading.

Take for example water, we have different words for the different circumstances, when It's cold enough we call it ice and if heated we call it steam. But in terms of matter it stays the same.

Also with ones components, the organs, the cells, the atoms, all on different levels of contemplation/observation and all are making the 'Me'.

Does this make it obvious that 'ME' belong to the levels of matter and the psyche is not matter?

And the flowering of the humankind is it
in the contemplation of 'not matter ' .?

Truth will unfold itself to those who enquire their own actions.

This post was last updated by Wim Opdam Mon, 07 Jan 2019.

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Mon, 07 Jan 2019 #9
Thumb_dm Dan McDermott United States 1199 posts in this forum Offline

This may be related in a broad way...I think it is with 'understanding'. The question came to me of what was the difference between Hitler say and Mother Theresa when they both were sound asleep with no dreams. Was there a significant 'difference' or just two human beings with human brains etc.? The differences arose when they awoke and their 'individual' preferences, beliefs, memories came to the fore...Tom had asked a question regarding 'being' of whether K. in the Stamp quote was speaking to the 'self' because why would he be speaking to 'being' which being "pure" would not need to be spoken to?...But is it 'being' which is actually trapped and entangled in this 'friction' of the self's beliefs of 'individuality' and that is who or what he speaks to in us? When he talks of 'setting man free' he is not referring to the 'self' is he? So what is it in us that is not free? Is it 'Being', 'Awareness'?

K. "That is, by under standing the things that we accept, by questioning them, going into them - by that very process we shall know the ways of our own thinking, our responses, our reactions; and through them, we shall know ourselves as we are. Surely, that is the only way we can find out the manner of our thinking, our responses - by studying, by going fully into the values, the standards, the beliefs that we have accepted for generations. And, seeing behind these values, we shall know how we respond, what our reactions are to them; and thereby, perhaps, we shall be able to uncover the ways of our own thinking. In other words, to know oneself, surely, is to study the responses, the reactions that one has in relation to something. One cannot know oneself through isolation. That is an obvious fact. You may withdraw to a mountain, into a cave, or pursue some illusion on the banks of a river, but if one isolates oneself, there can be no relationship, and isolation is death. It is only in relationship that one can know oneself as one is. So, by studying the things that we have accepted, by going into them fully, not superficially, perhaps we shall be able to understand ourselves."

QOTD

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Mon, 07 Jan 2019 #10
Thumb_donna_and_jim_fb_bw Tom Paine United States 2508 posts in this forum Online

When he talks of 'setting man free' he is not referring to the 'self' is he? So what is it in us that is not free? Is it 'Being', 'Awareness'?

Not sure about this Dan. But it is thought which is not free, right? You’re implying that there is something beyond thought inside ‘me’, but ‘me’ is a product of thought....IS thought. You might say that there is something beyond thought, but this something is not in ‘me’...the self...the attachments...is it? Attachments and ideas and beliefs are attachments and ideas....thought. Is there a ‘being’ inside this consciousness or does this being...intelligence ...love...exist in another dimension? Just questioning...

Let it Be

This post was last updated by Tom Paine Mon, 07 Jan 2019.

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Mon, 07 Jan 2019 #11
Thumb_dm Dan McDermott United States 1199 posts in this forum Offline

Dan McDermott wrote:
K."... perhaps we shall be able to understand ourselves."

And this "ourselves" mentioned here seems to be the 'impediment' to freedom. Unless our self is "understood" there can be no freedom from it? As long as it is not 'understood' our self will keep us 'trapped'? So who or what here is 'doing' the 'understanding'?

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Mon, 07 Jan 2019 #12
Thumb_donna_and_jim_fb_bw Tom Paine United States 2508 posts in this forum Online

So who or what here is 'doing' the 'understanding'?

Is there a who or what that observes...a who or what in observation?

Let it Be

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Mon, 07 Jan 2019 #13
Thumb_dm Dan McDermott United States 1199 posts in this forum Offline

Tom Paine wrote:
Is there a who or what that observes...a who or what in observation?

Well if there's 'nothing' that observes or 'nothing' that understands, what are we talking about? K. says that there is a 'state' of observation, what does that mean?

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Mon, 07 Jan 2019 #14
Thumb_donna_and_jim_fb_bw Tom Paine United States 2508 posts in this forum Online

Tom Paine wrote:

Is there a who or what that observes...a who or what in observation?

Dan: Well if there's 'nothing' that observes or 'nothing' that understands, what are we talking about? K. says that there is a 'state' of observation, what does that mean?

Observation with no separate observer. K’s ‘the observer is the observed’ would apply here, wouldn’t it?

Let it Be

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Mon, 07 Jan 2019 #15
Thumb_dm Dan McDermott United States 1199 posts in this forum Offline

As in the under stander is the understood?

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Mon, 07 Jan 2019 #16
Thumb_donna_and_jim_fb_bw Tom Paine United States 2508 posts in this forum Online

Dan McDermott wrote:
As in the under stander is the understood?

There is understanding, but no one who understands. The realization of the truth with no separate realizer.

Let it Be

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Mon, 07 Jan 2019 #17
Thumb_kinfonet_avatar Clive Elwell New Zealand 4964 posts in this forum Offline

I pick a talk of Krishnamurti’s at random, and I see almost every paragraph contains the word “understand”, multiply times:

“without understanding relationship there can be no cessation of conflict”

“we try to reconcile the effects without really understanding the causes”

“in understanding the individual problems we will bring about …..”

“our problem is how to understand suffering...”

“one can understand suffering only when explanation subsides..”

and so on. The very heart of K’s teachings, it seems to me, lies in “self understanding”, although he also uses the phrases “self-knowledge” and “self-knowing”.

So what does it mean, to understand? This seems a very elementary question, but I want to look at it anew, if that is possible.

I start by looking at dictionary meetings, expecting as with all words there will be a whole spectrum of possible meanings:

Perceive the intended meaning of (words, a language, or a speaker)
‘he didn't understand a word I said’
‘he could usually make himself understood’
with clause ‘she understood what he was saying’
1. 1.1 Perceive the significance, explanation, or cause of.
‘she didn't really understand the situation’
with clause ‘he couldn't understand why we burst out laughing’
• 1.2 Interpret or view (something) in a particular way.
‘as the term is usually understood, legislation refers to regulations and directives’
1. 2.1with clause Infer something from information received (often used as a polite formula in conversation)
‘I understand you're at art school’
with object ‘as I understood it, she was flying back to the States tomorrow’
• 2.2 Regard (a missing word, phrase, or idea) as present.
‘‘present company excepted’ is always understood when sweeping generalizations are being made’
• 2.3 with clause Assume to be the case; take for granted.
‘he liked to play the field, that was understood’
3.
• 3 Be sympathetically or knowledgeably aware of the character or nature of.
‘Picasso understood colour’
with clause ‘I understand how you feel’

All very interesting. I will leave it there for now.

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Tue, 08 Jan 2019 #18
Thumb_avatar Peter Kesting United States 629 posts in this forum Offline

Is it that to understand is to make a model in your brain? If it's a good model it is something truly understood. If it is an erroneous model the thing is not really understood. Perhaps every model is partial. Some things allow no model at all: time.. sentience....

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Tue, 08 Jan 2019 #19
Thumb_kinfonet_avatar Clive Elwell New Zealand 4964 posts in this forum Offline

Peter Kesting wrote:

Is it that to understand is to make a model in your brain?

Clive:I think this is one meaning to ‘understanding’. This is the way I learnt/understood, say, physics, - putting a series of models in my head, each model building on previous models that had been established there. So more and more complex models get built up (and the specialist eventually becomes unintelligible to anyone else, with his own complex model). And these models, of course, have to be common to all brains (although arguments over which is the “true” model always start to accumulate)

If it's a good model it is something truly understood. If it is an erroneous model the thing is not really understood. Perhaps every model is partial.

Clive: Surely every model is partial? And this is the weakness of this form of understanding, this model building. One of the weaknesses anyway. Another weakness is revealed when we try to make models where it is inappropriate, as images in relationship.

Some things allow no model at all: time.. sentience.…

Clive: people still try.

So Peter, would you say that this model building is what K meant by “understanding the self”?

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Wed, 09 Jan 2019 #20
Thumb_avatar Peter Kesting United States 629 posts in this forum Offline

Clive Elwell wrote:
So Peter, would you say that this model building is what K meant by “understanding the self”?

Can we ever know what someone else meant by something said?

As seen here, matter is completely mechanical. At the deepest resolution, the paths and interactions of all particles and waves are completely causal, determined. The self most of us take ourselves to be is that, only matter. Most people never see beyond this. Memory is material, stored in matter. The self of memory, ego, with all of its facets is matter.

What we actually are is the light of consciousness which is empty, and which is beyond time and matter... of another dimension, (literly another dimension). We, (there is no we there) are sentience, which has no attributes. Having no atributes it is the same one here as there. From that state, from beyond identification with the material self, one can watch the behaviour of the human animal self as mechanism.

All of this might be taken to be an understanding of the self.

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Wed, 09 Jan 2019 #21
Thumb_kinfonet_avatar Clive Elwell New Zealand 4964 posts in this forum Offline

Peter Kesting wrote:
Can we ever know what someone else meant by something said?

Probably not with any certainty. Although if we can see the same thing in ourselves, that is a strong indication of truth, no?

Peter Kesting wrote:
What we actually are is the light of consciousness which is empty, and which is beyond time and matter..

May I ask how you know this, Peter? How you UNDERSTAND it? Is this an ongoing reality to you, a constant perception? I am not saying it is true or otherwise, just inquiring.

Peter Kesting wrote:
All of this might be taken to be an understanding of the self.

Does understanding lie in the knowledge of the above, or the perception, from moment to moment, of the above? it seems to me if understanding is a matter of knowledge, then it must be partial. And if understanding is partial, then you and I may have different understandings. Of course you may have some understanding in say, mathematics, and I may not (or I may have a misunderstanding) but is that what we are discussing? But I see now that in asking "what is understanding?", I also have to ask, "understand what?".

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Thu, 10 Jan 2019 #22
Thumb_avatar Peter Kesting United States 629 posts in this forum Offline

Clive Elwell wrote:
Peter Kesting wrote:

What we actually are is the light of consciousness which is empty, and which is beyond time and matter..

May I ask how you know this, Peter? How you UNDERSTAND it? Is this an ongoing reality to you, a constant perception? I am not saying it is true or otherwise, just inquiring.

Can we go into what it means to "know"?

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Thu, 10 Jan 2019 #23
Thumb_dm Dan McDermott United States 1199 posts in this forum Offline

Peter Kesting wrote:
Can we go into what it means to "know"?

Does 'being' "know" that it is being? Does 'awareness' "know" that it is awareness.
Does 'light' know that it is light? Or are they like 'sunlight' which travels through black space until it strikes an object and then becomes what we call 'sunlight'?

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Thu, 10 Jan 2019 #24
Thumb_kinfonet_avatar Clive Elwell New Zealand 4964 posts in this forum Offline

Peter Kesting wrote:
Can we go into what it means to "know

Yes, indeed, that’s a meaningful question to me. But I find words refuse to be tied down, they always involve a spectrum of meanings.

The obvious meaning is to “have knowledge of something”. But that “something” has its own spectrum, like:

what I had for dinner last night

An appointment I have made for tomorrow

Pythagorous’s Theorem

How to plant leeks

foods that are bad for me

that I like a particular person

Krishnamurti’s teachings

Much of this knowledge can be questioned. Some cannot not be, in reason, it represents facts – things that happened and things that are. All of it is limited of course.

Then there is the question, who is the knower of this knowledge?

Knowledge of K’s teachings is particularly interesting. I may have it, I can recognise the teachings, I can explain things to others (hesitantly, hopefully in an inquiring manner), I can remember something that he said about the mind, and relate it to what I see in myself – but this movement seems to transcend the boundary of “knowledge”. And knowledge of K’s teachings IS NOT the teachings, and is really very very limited. Such knowledge is not transforming, is it? Is any knowledge transforming? Technically, socially, it may be – emails, forums, AI, robotics, social media ……?

Now is there another meaning entirely to “knowing”? I don’t know, but I suspect that there is. The distinction seems to be that “knowledge” is always from the past, from memory, but “knowing” may be in the present. And if knowing is accumulated, then it turns into knowledge.

It has always puzzled me that K talks of “self knowledge” - I think this has been discussed way back. Surely he is concerned with going beyond mere knowledge, which is in essence conditioning? He also uses the term “self-knowing”, which is more acceptable to my understanding. But still, why use the word “knowing” if it simply means “understanding”?

I will pause here, to give space to comments, replies.

This post was last updated by Clive Elwell Thu, 10 Jan 2019.

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Fri, 11 Jan 2019 #25
Thumb_profiel Wim Opdam Belgium 804 posts in this forum Offline

Clive Elwell wrote:
I will pause here, to give space to comments, replies.

Clive, if words are not important, why then stumble over it, you see what is meant or not and you share that meant,
I was clear after reading "K. about the Teaching" !

Truth will unfold itself to those who enquire their own actions.

This post was last updated by Wim Opdam Fri, 11 Jan 2019.

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Fri, 11 Jan 2019 #26
Thumb_avatar Peter Kesting United States 629 posts in this forum Offline

May I ask how you know this, Peter? How you UNDERSTAND it? Is this an ongoing reality to you, a constant perception? I am not saying it is true or otherwise, just inquiring.

The word know "to know something" brings up in this one the question "what do we really know?" Is there anything that we can know with certainty? It seems here that if there is any possibility at all that things could be other than we superficially take them to be, then those things are not actually knowns but are assumptions only.

For example It is possible that this life we live is a simulation. We don"t know, we can't know, that it is not. K talks about freedom from the known. So we can see how much we actually do not know, how much we are actually assuming. We live in assumptions. It seems unavoidable. None the less we don't know.

So is there anything that we know with certainty. We might say we know that we exist. "I think therefore I am". But we really don't know what we are, what even this I is. What we take it to be is an assumption. I think we can only say with absolute certainty (it has to be put negatively) this one thing:

"it is not the case that there is nothing"

But for this one, this being, This "light in oneself" is that certainty

This post was last updated by Peter Kesting Fri, 11 Jan 2019.

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Fri, 11 Jan 2019 #27
Thumb_kinfonet_avatar Clive Elwell New Zealand 4964 posts in this forum Offline

Peter Kesting wrote:

So is there anything that we know with certainty?

I would answer "certainly not" to that question, were it not for the fact that the statement "There is nothing we can know with certainty", implies a contradiction does it not?

Yes, thought is assumption, a series of assumptions. And it is also speculation, is it not?

But I ask again, what is knowing?. Not knowledge, not memory, but knowing, in the present. The warmth of the sunlight on my arm - is that 'knowing' the sunlight? If it is, then clearly there is no know-er in this .... can we use the word experiencing?

Perhaps knowing is just another term for awareness. The following is from K:

Self-knowledge is the beginning of wisdom. Self-knowledge is not according to some psychologist, book, or philosopher, but it is to know oneself as one is from moment to moment. Do you understand? To know oneself is to observe what one thinks, how one feels, not just superficially, but to be deeply aware of what is without condemnation, without judgment, without evaluation or comparison.

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Sat, 12 Jan 2019 #28
Thumb_donna_and_jim_fb_bw Tom Paine United States 2508 posts in this forum Online

Clive: Now is there another meaning entirely to “knowing”? I don’t know, but I suspect that there is. The distinction seems to be that “knowledge” is always from the past, from memory, but “knowing” may be in the present. And if knowing is accumulated, then it turns into knowledge.

What about insight...intelligence...love...beauty...compassion...truth? These are not based upon the known...upon assumptions..right? Isn’t insight related to understanding? Having insight into the cause of violence in oneself, for example...having insight into the nature of greed? This insight is not based upon the known. Yet, having insight into myself....anger or greed, for example...one might call this ‘self-knowledge’, right?

Let it Be

This post was last updated by Tom Paine Sat, 12 Jan 2019.

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Mon, 14 Jan 2019 #29
Thumb_profiel Wim Opdam Belgium 804 posts in this forum Offline

Tom Paine wrote:
Yet, having insight into myself....anger or greed, for example...one might call this ‘self-knowledge’, right?

Hi Tom,

Can 'having insight into myself ' taking place in the past ?
It doesn't matter how one might call this!
Are those titles 'self-knowledge or self-knowing or whatever one will name it ' not only for the sake of communication but factual, actual wasted words as long as 'having insight' not is taking place.?

Truth will unfold itself to those who enquire their own actions.

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Mon, 14 Jan 2019 #30
Thumb_donna_and_jim_fb_bw Tom Paine United States 2508 posts in this forum Online

Can 'having insight into myself ' taking place in the past ?

I think I understand your point, Wim. Insight cannot be accumulated as knowledge. Is that what you’re saying?

Are those titles 'self-knowledge or self-knowing or whatever one will name it ' not only for the sake of communication but factual, actual wasted words as long as 'having insight' not is taking place.?

I don’t know. K often spoke of self knowledge in order to communicate the importance of understanding oneself...not have knowledge of oneself. There’s a difference.

Let it Be

This post was last updated by Tom Paine Mon, 14 Jan 2019.

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