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Dialogue 24 - Bombay - 6th February 1971 - ‘The brain-cells and mutation’
Questioner P: We have not dealt so far with what seems to be the essence of your teaching and that is the problem of time, the silencing of the brain cells and what happened to the processes that operated in Krishnamurti. I am putting the three together because as one observes the horizontal movement of time, that is the life of K, one sees the boy born with his tradition of Brahminism, going through a certain preparation in the Theosophical Society, being initiated, writing certain books like The Search and The Path; books in which enlightenment is looked upon as an end, as a fixed point. In all these earlier books there is presumed to be a state which has to be reached and there is a great struggle through centuries towards it. Suddenly a change takes place in K; he negates salvation, eternity as a fixed point and so destroys the horizontal movement of time as such. Now what exactly took place? If we could understand and see as if through a microscope what happened to Krishnamurti, if we could examine what happened to his brain cells which contained this horizontal movement of time, it might be possible for us to understand time and mutation in relation to the brain cells.
Krishnamurti: I understand. Do you understand, Sir?
D: Yes Sir. A very important question.
Krishnamurti: I wonder if that so-called horizontal movement was not a very conditioned and superficial movement? The young man, repeated what he was taught and at a given moment, there was a break. You follow?
P: No, I do not. What is meant by a superficial movement of conditioning?
Krishnamurti: That is, the boy accepted, repeated, walked along the path laid down traditionally and theosophically. He accepted it.
P: All of us do just that.
Krishnamurti: All of us do it in varying degrees. The question is why did he pursue that journey?
P: No. The question is what was it that triggered that which suddenly made him say that there is no fixed point?
Krishnamurti: Look at it as if “K” is not here. He is dead. How would you answer this question. I am here and so may answer you or may not, but if I were not here how would you answer it?
P: One way of doing so would be to examine what you have said, along with the influences which have operated on you, at the time, to see at what point the break took place and what were the crises, inward or outward, that have been recorded, to produce that break.
Krishnamurti: But suppose you knew nothing of all that, and yet you had to answer the question seriously now, what would you do? What you say would take time, investigation. How would you find out now? How would you find out if you were faced with this problem that there was a young man who followed the traditional path, the idea of a fixed point, the fixed goal, using time, evolution, and at a given point he broke away. How would you unravel it?
D: It is like this. We boil water under heat. Up to a hundred degrees it is uniform and then there is complete transformation.
Krishnamurti: But to come to that point takes time.
P: If I did not have the historical background, the only way of investigation would be to see whether this process is possible within my consciousness.
D: I was driving at something else. The traditionalist would say there is a process which, like the boiling point of water, leads to transformation. Tradition only helps to take you up to the boiling point. You can negate tradition but the necessity of tradition up to a point is there.
P: If the historical data were not available of “K” being put through various sadhanas and one were just given the fact of this phenomenon of “K”, the only way to investigate would be through self-knowing.
D: How would you explain the phenomenon?
F: You seem to be creating a relationship between the former state of development and the present state of being. Is there a relationship between the two? You say one leads to another, one before another and you are arranging it in time.
P: The phenomenon of “K” is that he was born of Brahmin parents...the whole history we know. I look at his background, I notice that up to a point K talked of time, of salvation as a final point and suddenly the whole thing was negated.
Krishnamurti: “F” says why do you relate this movement, the horizontal movement to the vertical movement? There is no relationship between the two. Therefore keep the two separate.
P: When I look at “K”, I look at the whole background.
Krishnamurti: Look but do not relate the two.
P: The question is if what you say has to be meaningful, it is essential to under stand this process of time and the freedom from it. I therefore ask the question: What triggered it in you? If you tell me it happened, I will say all right. If it happens, it happens, if it does not, it does not. I will continue my life.
F: There is no trigger.
P: A certain brain made certain noises and suddenly started making other noises and “K” has been saying the brain cells themselves are time. Do not let us get away from that. So the brain cells of “K” which were time, underwent some kind of mutation.
Krishnamurti: I will show you very simply. The cultivation of a brain, of any brain takes time. Experience, knowledge and memories are stored up in the brain cells. This is a biological fact. The brain is the result of time. Now this man at a point breaks the movement. A totally different movement takes place, which means, the brain cells themselves undergo mutation. And “P” says you must answer and say what took place; otherwise what happened was merely chance.
D: If it is chance, then we will accept it.
B: An answer by Krishnaji may help us to bring about a mutation in ourselves.
S: Two explanations are possible. One is the theosophical explanation that the Masters were looking after “K” and so he was untouched by experience. Another explanation is that of reincarnation.
D: When “K” says that the boy K was not touched by experience, how does he know? The boy wrote The Path, The Search; I will not go into the end product where he was not touched.
Krishnamurti: Just leave that for the moment. How did it happen? What is your answer? Given these facts, faced with them, how do you answer this?
B: Sir, how can we answer the change in you which took place in 1927? Mrs Besant has said that the two consciousnesses would not be merged. We do not know. You alone can say what took place. We have no personal knowledge nor the capacity to know.
Krishnamurti: Let us investigate it together.
F: I will put it this way. The man woke up into another state. If you posit a causal link between the past and the present then what you say is so. One does no lead to another. There is no connection.
P: I say the brain cells themselves cannot comprehend time which is not a horizontal movement. Unless this is understood, we cannot explore at very great depth into the problem of time.
Krishnamurti: Let us explore. First of all, is there time involved at all?
If you ask me how did this happen to me, I really do not know. You understand? But I think we can investigate it together. If you ask me “did you go for a walk last night?” I would say yes. Whereas if you ask me “how did this happen to you?”, I really could not say how. What is wrong with that?
P: In itself, it is all right. But we are trying to comprehend the essential nature of this time movement and non-time movement – leave yourself out of it, it is important that we investigate into the nature of time, not at the level of chronological time and psychological time for we have gone into that sufficiently.
Krishnamurti: Begin with perception; is seeing involved with time?
P: What happens to the brain cells in the process of seeing?
Krishnamurti: The brain cells in the process of seeing, either respond in old terms or are held back in abeyance; they hold themselves back in abeyance without the past.
P: You say that in perception which is instantaneous, the brain cells hold back. If they are not operating, do they exist?
Krishnamurti: They do, as the storehouse of knowledge which is the past. The brain cells, we all agree, are the storehouse of memories, experience, knowledge which is the past. That is the old brain. In perception, the old brain does not respond.
P: Where is it?
Krishnamurti: It is there. It is not dead. It is there because I have to use knowledge to think. The brain cells have to be used.
P: What operates then? If the brain cells are not operating, what is operating?
Krishnamurti: A totally new brain. The old brain is full of images, memories, responses and we are used to responding with the old brain. You say perception is not related to the old brain. Perception is the interval between the old response and the response which is new, which the old does not yet know. In that interval there is no time.
F: There is a contradiction. In psychology, sensation is itself direct. In the interval between sensation and perception, memories jump in and distort. So sensation is timeless but the interval is time.
Krishnamurti: Let us get this clear. You ask me a question. The old brain responds according to its information, according to knowledge; if the old brain has no knowledge, no information, there is an interval between the question and answer.
F: The interval is due to the sluggishness of the brain cells.
F: Memory traces continue in the brain.
Krishnamurti: You ask me what the distance is between here and Delhi. I would not know. No amount of my thinking with the brain cells would help. The fact is not registered. If it were, I would then think about it and answer. But there is no knowing. In that no-knowing, there is a state in which time does not exist.
D: No amount of waiting will make me know.
Krishnamurti: The moment I know, the knowing is time.
P: You have said two or three things; you have talked of a new mind. The question is what has happened to the old brain? Krishnamurti: The old is quiet.
P: Has it existence?
Krishnamurti: Of course it has; otherwise I cannot speak the language.
P: The problem is of time as a horizontal movement which has continuity – I am asking the question; the moment you say the other continues to exist -
Krishnamurti: Otherwise, I cannot function.
P: When the new exists, the other, the old, does not.
Krishnamurti: Perfectly right. Hold on for a moment. Let us call it for convenience sake, the old and the new brain. The old brain has, through centuries, collected all kinds of memories, registered every experience and it will function on that level all the time. It has its continuity in time. If it has no continuity, then it becomes neurotic, schizophrenic, imbalanced. It must have sane, rational continuity. Now that is the old brain with all its stored-up memories. Such continuity can never find anything new because it is only when something ends, that there is something new.
F: Continuity of what? When you say continuity, it has a movement.
Krishnamurti: It is adding, taking away, adjusting; it is not static.
D: There is a circular movement; it is a continuity.
Krishnamurti: First let me see this continuity, the circular movement, as a repetition of the old. At a given point of time I call it the new, but it is still the old. I hanker for the new and invent the new within the circle.
P: There is the new which is a rearrangement of the old and there is the “new’, which is not a rearrangement of the old. What is the other new which is not the invention of the old? Is it recognizable, is it perceivable?
Krishnamurti: It is perceivable but not recognizable.
P: So it is not an experience?
Krishnamurti: It is a perception without the observer.
D: But not in terms of the past.
Krishnamurti: Perception means something new.
F: Sensation is without the past. Sensation is not loaded. It is direct.
Krishnamurti: The mind which has become mechanical craves for something new. But the new is always within the field of the known. You may call the movement within the field, horizontal, circular, infinity, but it is always within that field: I want the new in terms of the old. “P”'s question was about the brain, which is the result of time, experience, knowledge; what happens to that brain when there is a perception which is new, in which there is no experience, no observer; in which perception is not an experience to be stored up and remembered and therefore to become knowledge.
F: The brain does not respond:
Krishnamurti: What makes it not respond? How does this happen?
P: We should leave everything and remain here, because something of vital significance is happening here. We have still not got the feeling of it. I am listening to you. I am attentive. In that state of attention there is nothing else but sound and movement. Can I understand in that state what has happened to the whole weight of the past?
Krishnamurti: It is fairly simple. I understand the question. The past is in continuous operation; it is registering every incident, every experience, the conscious and the unconscious: Everything is pouring in, the sound, the seeing:
P: The brain cells are acting independent of whether I am conscious or unconscious.
Krishnamurti: Yes. Now when that brain is in operation, it is always acting from the past. First of all, what is wrong with it?
P: If you observe it, it is like ripples being thrown up, thought as ripples, and suddenly I am attentive and there are no ripples.
Krishnamurti: In that state of attention, there is perception. That state of attention is perception.
D: When I see the fact that my brain is registering everything and I suddenly realize that it is going on without the observer, that annihilates me. If it goes on without me then I am finished.
Krishnamurti: It is like a recording machine that is registering everything:
D: Why do I need to call it a machine? It is a wondrous thing. And I do not know the why and how of it.
Krishnamurti: You have heard that noise of the horn blowing. The brain cells have registered it. There is no resistance or acceptance.
D: There is more to it.
Krishnamurti: Go slow: This brain is a machine which registers. It is a tape-recorder that is registering everything all the time. You come along and challenge the brain. It will respond in terms of like, of dislike, you are a danger and she is not a danger. In that instant is born the “me”.
It is the function of the brain to register:
D: That is a partial statement. That it registers is a fact but there may be something more to it.
Krishnamurti: You are jumping ahead. The function of the brain is to register, to record. Every experience, whether conscious or unconscious, every sound, word, every nuance, is going on irrespective of the thinker as a separate entity. Resisting that noise which is unpleasant, listening to some flattery, to some insult, wanting more or less – out of this registration emerges the “me”.
P: When the registration takes place, I am conscious of the sound.
Krishnamurti: Which is what? That it is pleasant or unpleasant. At the moment of experiencing, there is no “I” in it at all.
P: There is a state with the sound and there is a state without the sound:
Krishnamurti: Now comes the new action. I register that noise – the hideous noise, the ugly noise – there is no response to it. The moment there is response, that response is the “I”. That response increases or decreases according to pleasure, pain, suffering.
Now, “P”'s question was how is that brain which is doing all this automatically, mechanically, all the time, how is that old brain whether it is running horizontally or in circles, how is that brain ever to see without the registerer or registration?
P: We have gone over this. I want to take it further from there. We listen. Sound passes through us. There is attention. In that state, for a second, horizontal movement has come to an end. What has happened to the old brain?
Krishnamurti: But it is still there.
P: What do you mean it is still there?
Krishnamurti: Look at it. See what has happened. There is that child crying. The sound is being registered, the child’s cry, why the mother does not look after it, all the rest of it.
P: Do you record all that?
Krishnamurti. No. I am purely listening. There is complete listening. Now what happens in that listening? What has happened to the old brain in that listening? Have you understood the question? We are taking the journey together. (Pause)
Let me put it differently. What is the essential need of a brain? (Pause)
Must it not feel safe, secure, to function?
One sees the brain needs security. Then some event happens and the brain sees the fact that to have presumed that there was security, comfort is not true.
D: The brain cannot see it.
F: We take the brain as an accumulation of impressions and storehouse of memories and so on, but the storehouse of memories is outside the brain and the brain is only a lens.
P: Why do we not observe our own minds at this moment, instead of talking of the brain in the abstract?
Krishnamurti: Listen – your brain demands security; it needs a great sense of protection, both physical and psychological. That is all I am saying. That is its function. That is the essential point.
D: What is the basic query?
P: The basic query is that when there is this horizontal movement of the mind as time, as memory, as brain cells operating, what is it that makes the “other” possible and what takes place when the “other” is?
Krishnamurti: I will tell you. The brain cells need security, protection, safety to survive. They have survived for millions of years. Now what takes place? In order to survive, the brain cells say I must have nationalities, which brings disaster. So in its search for security, the mind is always experimenting and gets stuck – the guru, nationalism, socialism – it gets stuck and has to be rooted out. Because the basic thing is that it wants safety and survival and therefore it has invented a time sequence of survival – horizontal or circular. When the basic necessity is granted, what happens? Is the perception in terms of security not entirely different?
D: It is the demand for security that resists the question you are asking.
Krishnamurti. No, I have got my security. So far for seventy years it has not been damaged because it says survival, not at the price of illusion. It says do not invent beliefs or ideas for in them there is no security at all. Wipe them out because they are illusory. Therefore it is completely secure; not in anything, but in itself it is secure. Before it sought security through something – through family, through god, egotism, competition, through seeking. Security through something is the greatest insecurity. It discards that. Therefore it can perceive. Because it has no illusions, motives, formulas, it can perceive. Because it does not seek any security, it is completely secure. The mind is then free of illusions; illusion not in the sense of Sankara, but just the illusion that I will find security in family, in God, in knowledge which is the past.
Now what is there to perceive? “It” is perceiving.
F: We are as we are made; we know we are at the mercy of the psychosomatic body and there we are very insecure. And there has to be a different approach to this. It is something very vulnerable because our bodies are so fragile.
Krishnamurti: So I will protect the body. There is no egotism involved in it.
F: Vulnerability is connected with ego.
Krishnamurti: I will protect the body without the ego. I will wash it, look after it. We think we protect the body through the “I”. Once we grant deeply the necessity for complete survival, for protection, for safety for the brain, we will solve all the other problems. Let us put it in this way: Is perception related to the brain cells which demand security, survival at any price?
P: My mind does not function in this way. Therefore I find it very difficult to listen. I am trying to work at a microscopic examination of the mind to see whether it is possible to arrive at a point when actually the brain cells cease functioning. Questions of security or of non-security have no relevance. At this moment if I raise these questions I am lost. Here I am before you and I want to understand this movement of time which is horizontal, to see whether there can be a state of the brain cells ceasing to function. Any queries, questions, answers, away from this will only lead to confusion.
Krishnamurti: Are you saying, having finished with what we have said, my brain cells are in perpetual movement in one form or another?
P: I say I am listening to you. There is no movement in my mind.
Krishnamurti: Why? Because you are listening with attention, attention in which there is no centre to attend, a state in which you are just attending?
P: Now I ask in that state, where is the weight of the past? I am asking that question to understand the problem of time, and not anything else.
Krishnamurti: When you say I am attending, giving complete attention, is there time in that?
P: Because there is no response, how do I measure?
Krishnamurti: When there is attention, there is no time, because there is no movement at all. Movement means measurement, comparison; from here to there and so on. In attention there is no ripple, there is no centre, there is no measurement. The next question is, what has happened to the old brain? Keep it there. It is your question. What has happened? (Pause.) I have got it. What has happened? Attention is not disassociated from the brain.
Attention is the whole body. The psychosomatic organism is attentive, which is also the brain cells. Therefore, the brain cells are exceedingly quiet, alive, not responding with the old. Otherwise you could not be attentive.
There is the answer. And in that attention the brain can function. That attention is silence, is emptiness; call it what you like. Out of that silence, innocence, emptiness, the brain can operate; but not the thinker in terms of seeking security in something.
P: Does it mean the whole brain has undergone a transformation?
Krishnamurti: No. What has taken place is mutation. The observer is not.
P: But the brain cells are the same.
Krishnamurti: Watch it. Do not put it that way; then you are lost. Watch it in yourself. Attention means complete attention – body, psyche, the cells; everything is there with life, alive. In that state, there is no centre, there is no time, there is no observer as the “me”. There is no time in terms of the past but yet the past exists because I speak the language. I have to go to the room. Right?
Then what happens to the brain cells? They are registering but there is no “me”. Therefore the “me” which is part of the brain cells is wiped out.