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Knowledge and the transformation of man
Knowledge and the transformation of man
J. Krishnamurti was born in South India and educated in England. For the past 40 years he has been speaking in the United States, Europe, India, Australia and other parts of the world. From the outset of his life's work he repudiated all connections with organised religions and ideologies, and said that his only concern was to set man absolutely unconditionally free. He is the author of many books, among them The Awakening of Intelligence, The Urgency of Change, Freedom From the Known, and The Flight of the Eagle.
This is one of a series of dialogues between Krishnamurti and Dr. Allan W. Anderson, who is professor of religious studies at San Diego State University where he teaches Indian and Chinese scriptures and the oracular tradition. Dr. Anderson, a published poet, received his degree from Columbia University and the Union Theological Seminary. He has been honoured with the distinguished teaching award from the California State University.
A: Mr Krishnamurti, I was very taken with a recent statement of yours in which you said that it's the responsibility of each human being to bring about his own transformation, which is not dependent on knowledge or time. And if it's agreeable with you I thought it would be a splendid thing if we explored together the general area of transformation itself and after we have done that perhaps the other related areas would begin to fall into place and we could bring about in conversation a relationship among them.
K: Don't you think, sir, considering what's happening in the world, in India, in Europe and in America, the general degeneration in literature, in art, and specially in the deep cultural sense, in the sense religion...
K: ...there is a traditional approach, a mere acceptance of authority, belief which is not really the religious spirit. Seeing all this, the confusion, the great misery, the sense of infinite sorrow, any observant and most serious people would say that this society cannot possibly be changed except only when the individual, the human being, really transforms himself radically, that is regenerates himself fundamentally. And the responsibility of that depends on the human being, not on the mass or on the priests or on a church or a temple or mosque or whatever, but on a human being who is aware of this enormous confusion, politically, religiously, economically, in every direction there is such misery, such unhappiness. And when you see that, it is a very serious thing to ask oneself whether a human being like oneself or another, whether he can really deeply undergo a radical transformation. And when that question is put to him, and when he sees his responsibility in relation to the whole then perhaps we can discuss what relationship has knowledge and time in the transformation of man.
A: I quite follow. We need then to lay some groundwork in order to move into the question itself.
K: Yes. Because most people are not concerned with the world at all. Most people are not concerned seriously with the events, with the chaos, with the mess in the world at present. They are only concerned very superficially. The problem of energy, problem of pollution and so on - such superficial things. But they are really not deeply concerned with the human mind - the mind that is destroying the world.
A: Yes - I quite follow. What you have said places in a very cardinal way the radical responsibility on the individual as such, if I've understood you correctly.
A: There are no five years plans that we can expect to help us out.
K: You see, the word 'individual' is really not a correct word because individual, as you know sir, means undivided, indivisible in himself. But human beings are totally fragmented, therefore they are not individuals. They may have a bank account, a name, a house, but they are not really individuals in the sense, a total complete harmonious whole, unfragmented. That is really what it means to be an individual.
A: Well, would you say then that to move or make passage or perhaps a better word simply would be change, since we are not talking about time, from this fragmented state to one of wholeness which could be regarded as a change in the level of the being of the person.
A: Could we say that?
K: Yes, but you see again the word 'whole' implies not only sanity, health and also the word 'whole' means holy, h-o-l-y. All that's implied in that one word 'whole'. And human beings are never whole. They are fragmented, they are contradictory, they are torn apart by various desires. So, when we talk of an individual, the individual is really a human being who is totally completely whole, sane, healthy and therefore holy. And to bring about such a human being is our responsibility in education, politically, religiously, in every way. And therefore it is the responsibility of the educator, of everybody, not just myself, my responsibility, it is your responsibility as well as mine, as well as his.
A: It's everyone's responsibility...
K: Absolutely - because we have created this awful mess in the world.
A: But the individual is the one who must make the start.
K: A human being, each human being. It does not matter whether he is a politician or a businessman or just an ordinary person like me in the street, it's our business as a human being to realise the enormous suffering, misery, confusion there is in the world. And it's our responsibility to change all that, not the politicians, not the businessman, not the scientist. It's our responsibility.
A: When we say our responsibility, and we have two uses of the word 'individual' now. There is the general use of it meaning a quantitative measure...
K: Yes - quantitative measure.
A: ...and then this qualitative reference that we simply needed, it seems to me, to discern as a possibility. I am reminded again of the statement that you made that I quoted earlier, that it is the responsibility of each, each human person.
K: Human being, yes.
K: Whether he is in India or in England or in America or wherever he is.
A: So we can't slip out of this by saying, we have created this therefore we must change it.
K: No, no, no.
A: We get back to, well if the change is going to start at all, it's going to be with each.
K: Yes, sir.
A: With each.
K: With each human being. Therefore the question arises from that: does a human being realise with all seriousness his responsibility not only to himself but to the whole of mankind?
A: It wouldn't appear so from the way things go on.
K: Obviously not, each one is concerned with his own petty little selfish desires. So, responsibility implies tremendous attention, care, diligence - not negligence as now it is going on.
A: Yes I do follow that. The word 'we' that we used in relation to Each, brings about the suggestion of a relationship which perhaps we could pursue here a moment. There seems to be something indivisible apparently between what we refer to by each or the individual person as the usage is usually construed. It seems to be an indivisible relation between that and what we call the whole, which the individual doesn't sense.
K: Sir, as you know, I have been all over the world, except behind the Iron Curtain and China - Bamboo Curtain. I have been all over and I have talked to and seen dozens and thousands of people. I have been doing this for 50 years and more. Human beings, wherever they live, are more or less the same. They have their problems of sorrow, problems of fear, problems of livelihood, problems of personal relationship, problems of survival, overpopulation and this enormous problem of death - it is a common problem to all of us. There is no eastern problem and western problem. The West has its particular civilisation and the East has its own. And human beings are caught in this trap.
A: Yes, I follow that.
K: They don't seem to be able to get out of it. They are going on and on and on, for millennia.
A: Therefore the question is: how does he bring this about, as an each, as a one? The word 'individual' as you have just described, seems to me to have a relationship to the word 'transform' in itself, and I would like to ask you whether you would agree in this. It seems that many persons have the notion that to transform a thing means to change it utterly without any relationship whatsoever to what it is as such. That would seem to ignore that we are talking about form that undergoes a change, which form itself still abides.
K: Yes sir, I understand.
A: Otherwise the change would involve a loss, a total loss.
K: So are we asking this question, sir: what place has knowledge in the regeneration of man, in the transformation of man, in the fundamental, radical movement in man? What place has knowledge and therefore time? Is that what you are asking?
A: Yes, yes, I am. Because either we accept that a change that is a genuine change means the annihilation of what preceded it, or we are talking about a total transformation of something that abides.
K: Yes. So let us look at that word for a minute.
K: Revolution in the ordinary sense of that word means, doesn't it, not an evolution, gradual evolution, it's a revolution.
A: It doesn't mean that then - right. I agree.
K: By revolution is generally meant, if you talk to a communist, he wants to overthrow the government, if you talk to a bourgeois he is frightened, if you talk to an intellectual he has various criticisms about revolution. Now, revolution is either bloody, or...
K: Or revolution in the psyche.
K: Outward or inner.
A: Outward, or inner.
K: The outward is the inner. The inner is the outward. There is not the difference between the outward and the inner. They are totally related to each other,
A: Then this goes back to what you mentioned earlier that there is no division even though intellectually you make a distinction, between the I and the we.
K: That's right.
A: Yes, of course.
K: So, when we talk about change, we mean not the mere bloody revolution, physical revolution, but rather the revolution in the makeup of the mind.
A: Of each.
K: Of human beings.
K: The way he thinks, the way he behaves, the way he conducts himself, the way he operates, he functions, the whole of that. Now, whether that psychological revolution - not evolution in the sense gradualness...
K: What place has knowledge in that?
A: What place has knowledge in something...
K: In the regeneration of man which is the inward revolution which will affect the outer.
A: Yes, which is not a gradual progress.
K: No, obviously. Gradual process is endless.
A: Exactly. So we are talking an instant qualitative change.
K: Again when you use the word 'instant', it seems as though, oh, suddenly it is to happen. That's why I am rather hesitant in using the word 'instant'. We will go into it in a minute. First of all, sir, let's be clear what you and I are talking about if we may. We see objectively the appalling mess the world is in. Right?
K: The misery, the confusion, the deep sorrow of man.
A: Oh, yes.
K: I can't tell you what I feel when I go round the world. The pettiness, the shallowness, the emptiness of all this, of the so-called western civilisation, if I may use that word; into which the eastern civilisation is being dragged. And we are just scratching on the surface all the time. And we think the mere change on the surface - change in the structure is going to do something enormous to human beings. On the contrary it has done nothing. It polishes a little bit here and there but deeply fundamentally it does not change man. So, when we are discussing change we must be, I think, fairly clear that we mean the change in the psyche, in the very being of human beings. That is, in the very structure and nature of his thought.
A: The change at the root.
K: At the root - yes.
A: At the root itself.
K: At the root. And therefore when there is that change he will naturally bring about a change in society. It isn't society first, or individual first, it is the human change which will transform the society. They are not two separate things.
A: Now I must be very careful that I understand this precisely. I think I discern now why in the statement you said, 'which is not dependent on knowledge or time'. Because when this person changes, this each human being changes, the change which begins in society is a change that is in a non-temporal relationship with the change in each human being.
K: That's right. After all human beings have created this society. By their greed, by their anger, by their violence, by their brutality, by their pettiness, they have created this society.
K: And they think by changing the structure you are going to change the human being. This has been the communist problem, this has been the eternal problem: that is change the environment then you change man. They have tried that in ten different ways and they haven't done it, succeeded in changing man. On the contrary man conquers the environment as such.
So, if we are clear that the outer is the inner - the inner is the outer, that there is not the division, the society and the individual, the collective and the separate human being, but the human being is the whole, he is the society, he is the separate human individual, he is the factor which brings about this chaos.
A: Yes, I am following that very closely.
K: Therefore he is the world and the world is him.
A: Yes. Therefore if he changes everything changes. If he doesn't change nothing changes.
K: I think this is very important because we don't realise, I think, this basic factor that we are the world and the world is us, that the world is not something separate from me and me separate from the world. You are born in a culture, Christian or Hindu or whatever culture you are born in. You are the result of that culture. And that culture has produced this world. The materialistic world of the West, if one can call it, which is spreading all over the world, destroying their own culture, their own traditions - everything is being swept aside in the wake of the western culture, and this culture has produced this human being, and the human being has created this culture.
K: I mean he has created the paintings, the marvellous cathedrals, the marvellous technological things, going to the moon and so on and so on, the human beings have produced it. It is the human beings that have created the rotten society in which we live. It is the immoral society in which we live which human beings have created.
A: Oh yes, there is no doubt about that.
K: And therefore the world is you, you are the world, there is no other thing. If we accept that, if we see that not intellectually, but feel it in your heart, in your mind, in your blood that you are that, then the question is: is it possible for a human being to transform himself inwardly and therefore outwardly?
A: I am very concerned to see this as clearly as I can in terms of two texts that come to my mind, which we could say possess an inner meaning, and because of this inner outer thing that we have spoken about in the divided approach that is made to scripture - there is a tremendous irony here - I am thinking of that, to me, wonderful text in St Johns gospel, in the third chapter, which says - and I will try to translate this as the Greek has it - 'The one who is doing the truth is coming to the light'. It isn't that he does the truth and then later he comes to the light.
A: And it isn't that we could say from the pulpit, I will tell you what the truth is, if you do it then you will see the light. Because we are back again to what you mentioned earlier, the non-temporal relationship between the action which itself is the transformation.
A: And the marvellous vista of understanding, which is not an 'if then' thing, but is truly concurrent. And the other one that I thought of, I was hoping you might agree is saying the same thing, so that I understand it well in terms of what you have said, is, and again I will try to translate it as literally as I can: God is love and the one abiding in love is abiding in God and God is abiding in him.
K: Quite, quite.
A: I put the '-ing' on all those words because of the character of the language itself. One wouldn't want to translate that for pulpit reading perhaps - but that's the real sense of it. And this 'ing-ing' along gives the feeling that there is an activity here that is not bound temporally.
K: Of course, it isn't a static state. It isn't something you intellectually accept, and leave it like that. Then it is death, there is nothing in it.
K: That's why you see, sir, we have divided the physical world as the East and the West. We have divided religions, Christian religion and Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist. And we have divided the world into nationalities; the capitalist and the socialist, the communist and the other people and so on. We have divided the world, and we have divided ourselves as Christians, non-Christians, we have divided ourselves into fragments, opposing each other, so, where there is a division there is conflict.
K: I think that is a basic law.
A: Where there is a division there is conflict. But in terms of that word knowledge it appears that people believe to start with that that division is there, and they operate on that radical belief.
K: That's why I am saying it's so important to understand from the beginning in our talk, in our dialogue, that the world is not different from me and that I am the world. It may sound rather, very simplified, simplistic, but it has got very deep fundamental meaning if you realise what it means, not intellectually, but inwardly, the understanding of it, therefore there is no division. The moment I say to myself, and I realise that I am the world and the world is me, I am not a Christian, nor a Hindu, nor a Buddhist - nothing, I am a human being.
A: I was just thinking when you were saying how certain kinds of philosophical analysis would approach that, and in terms of the spirit of what you have said, this really is almost a cosmic joke because on the one hand as you said, it might sound simplistic. Some would say it is, therefore we don't have to pay attention to it; others would say, well, it's probably so much in want of clarity even though it's profound that it is some kind of mysticism. And we are back and forth, with the division again, as soon as that happens.
K: I know, I have been...
A: So I do follow you.
K: So, if that is clear that human mind has divided the world in order to find its own security, which brings about its own insecurity, when one is aware of that then one must inwardly as well as outwardly deny this division, as we and they, I and you, the Indian and the European and the Communist. You cut at the very root of this division. Therefore from that arises the question, can the human mind which has been so conditioned for millennia, can that human mind which has acquired so much knowledge in so many directions, can that human mind change, bring about a regeneration in itself and be free to reincarnate now?
K: That is the question.
A: That is the question - exactly - reincarnate now. It would appear from what you have said that one could say that the vast amount of represented knowledge, an accretion of centuries, is a discussion we have been having with ourselves regardless of which culture we are speaking about as a commentary on this division.
A: Without really grasping the division itself. And of course since the division is infinitely divisible...
K: Of course, (laughs) the moment you divide...
A: Then we can have tome after tome, after tome, libraries after libraries, mausoleums of books without end because we are continually dividing the division. Yes, I follow you.
K: And you see that's why culture is different from civilisation. Culture implies growth.
A: Oh yes, oh yes.
K: Now growth in the flowering of goodness.
A: A lovely phrase, lovely phrase.
K: That is culture - real culture - the flowering in goodness - you understand sir? - and that doesn't exist. We have civilisation, you can travel from India to America in a few hours - you have better bathrooms - better this and better that and so on with all the complications that it involves. That has been the western culture which is absorbing the East now. So goodness is the very essence of culture. Religion is the transformation of man. Not all the beliefs, churches and the idolatry of the Christians or the Hindus. That's not religion.
So we come back to the point: if one sees all this in this world - observes it, not condemn it or justify it - just to observe it, then from that one asks: man has collected such enormous information, knowledge, and has that knowledge changed him into goodness? You follow sir?
A: Oh yes, I follow.
K: Into a culture that will make him flower in this beauty of goodness. It has not.
A: No, it has not.
K: Therefore it has no meaning.
A: Excursions into defining goodness is not going to help us.
K: You can give explanations, definitions, but definitions are not the reality.
A: No, of course not.
K: The word isn't the thing. The description isn't the described.
K: So we come back again.
A: Yes, let's do.
K: Because personally I am tremendously concerned with this question: how to change man. Because I go to India every year for three months or five months and I see what is happening there, and I see what is happening in Europe, and I see what is happening in this country, in America, and it's something... I can't tell you what shock it gives me each time I come to these countries - the degeneration, the superficiality, the intellectual concepts galore without any substance, without any basis or ground in which the beauty of goodness, of reality can grow. So saying all that, what place has knowledge in the regeneration of man? That is the basic question.
A: That's our point of departure.
A: Good. And the knowledge that we have pointed to so far that has emerged in our discussion is a knowledge which in itself has no power to effect this transformation.
K: No sir, but knowledge has a place.
A: Yes I didn't mean that. I mean what is expected of this knowledge that we pointed to, that is accumulated in libraries, is an expectation which it in itself cannot fulfil.
K: No, no. Now we must now go back to the word again - the word 'knowledge', what does it mean 'to know'?
A: Well, I have understood the word in a strict sense this way: knowledge is the apprehension of 'what is', but what passes for knowledge might not be that.
K: No. What is generally accepted as knowledge is experience.
A: Yes, what is generally accepted.
K: We will begin with that because that's what...
A: Yes, let's begin with what's generally accepted.
K: It's generally accepted - the experience which yields, or leaves a mark which is knowledge. That accumulated knowledge whether in the scientific world or in the biological world or in the business world or in the world of the mind, the being, is the known. The known is the past, therefore knowledge is the past. Knowledge cannot be in the present. I can use knowledge in the present.
A: But it's funded from the past.
K: Yes. But it has its roots in the past. Which means - that's very interesting - whether this knowledge which we have acquired about everything...
K: I personally don't read any of these books, neither the Gita, the Bhagavad-Gita or the Upanishads, none of the psychological books, nothing. I am not a reader. I have observed tremendously all my life. Now, knowledge has its place.
A: Oh yes, yes, in the practical order.
K: Let's be clear on this. In the practical, technological - I must know where I am going, physically, and so on. Now, what place has that, which is human experience as well as scientific knowledge, what place has that in changing the quality of a mind that has become brutal, violent, petty, selfish, greedy, ambitious and all the rest of that? What place has knowledge in that?
A: We are going back to the statement we began with - namely that this transformation is not dependent on knowledge, then the answer would have to be, it doesn't have a place.
K: Therefore let's find out what are the limits of knowledge.
A: Yes, yes, of course.
K: Where is the demarcation, freedom from the known - where does that freedom begin?
A: Good. Yes, now I know precisely the point at which we are going to move from. Where does that freedom begin, which is not dependent on this funded accretion from the past.
K: That's right. So, the human mind is constructed on knowledge. It has evolved through millennia on this accretion, on tradition, on knowledge.
K: It is there, and all our actions are based on that knowledge.
A: Which by definition must be repetitious.
K: Obviously, and it is a repetition. So, what is the beginning of freedom in relation to knowledge? May I put it this way to make myself clear?
A: Yes, yes.
K: I have experienced something yesterday that has left a mark. That is knowledge and with that knowledge I meet the next experience. So the next experience is translated in terms of the old and therefore that experience is never new.
A: So in a way if I understand you correctly, you are saying that the experience that I had yesterday, that I recall...
K: The recollection.
A: ...the recollection upon my meeting something new that appears to have some relationship to it, I approach on the basis of holding my previous knowledge up as a mirror in which to determine the nature of this new thing that I...
K: Quite, quite.
A: And this could be a rather crazy mirror.
K: Generally it is. (both laugh) You see that's what I mean. Where is freedom in relation to knowledge? Or is freedom something other than the continuity of knowledge?
A: Must be something other.
K: Which means if one goes into it very, very deeply, it means the ending of knowledge.
K: And what does that mean, what does it mean to end knowledge, whereas I have lived entirely on knowledge.
A: It means that immediately.
K: Ah wait, wait. See what is involved in it, sir. I met you yesterday and there is the image of you in my mind and that image meets you next day.
K: The image meets you.
A: The image meets me.
K: And there are a dozen images or hundred images. So the image is the knowledge. The image is the tradition. The image is the past. Now can there be freedom from that?
A: If this transformation that you speak of is to happen, is to come to pass, there must be.
K: Of course. Therefore, we can state it, but how is the mind which strives, acts, functions on image, on knowledge, on the known - how is it to end that? Take this very simple fact, you insult me, or you praise me, that remains a knowledge, with that image, with that knowledge I meet you. I never meet you. The image meets you.
K: Therefore there is no relationship between you and me.
A: Yes, because between us this has been interposed.
K: Of course, obviously. Therefore, how is that image to end - never to register - you follow, sir?
A: I can't depend on someone else to handle it for me.
K: Therefore what am I to do? How is this mind which is registering, recording all the time - the function of the brain is to record, all the time - how is it to be free of knowledge? When you have done some harm to me personally, or collectively, whatever it be; you have insulted me, flattered me, how is the brain not to register that? If it registers it is already an image, it's a memory - and the past then meets the present, And therefore there is no solution to it.
K: I was looking at that word the other day in a very good dictionary - tradition. It means and of course the ordinary word - tradere - is to give, hand over, to give across. But it also has another peculiar meaning - not peculiar - from the same word, betrayal.
A: Oh yes, traduce.
K: Traduce. And in discussing in India this came out: betrayal of the present. If I live in tradition I betray the present.
A: Yes, I do see that.
K: Which is knowledge betrays the present.
A: Which is in fact a self-betrayal.
K: Yes, that's right.
A: Yes, certainly.
K: So how is the mind which functions on knowledge - how is the brain which is recording all the time...
K: ...to end, to see the importance of recording and not let it move in any other direction? That is, sir, let me to put it this way, very simply: you insult me, you hurt me, by word, gesture, by an actual act, that leaves a mark on the brain which is memory.
K: That memory is knowledge, that knowledge is going to interfere in my meeting you next time - obviously. Now how is the brain and also the mind, to record and not let it interfere with the present?
A: The person must, it seems to me, take pains to negate.
K: No, no. See what is implied, I know, but how am I to negate it. How is the brain whose function is to record, like a computer it is recording...
A: I didn't mean to suggest that it negates the recording. But it's the association, the translation of the recording into an emotional complex.
K: How is it - that's just the point - how is it to end this emotional response when I meet you next time, you who have hurt me? That's a problem.
A: That's the place from which we in the practical order in our relation to ourselves must then begin.
A: Exactly. There is an aspect of this that interests me very much in terms of the relation between the theoretical and the practical.
K: Sir, to me theory has no reality. Theories have no importance to a man who is actually living.
A: May I say what I mean by theory. I don't think I mean what you think I mean by it. I mean theory in the sense of the Greek word theorea - spectacle, what is out there that I see. And the word is therefore very closely related to what you have been talking about in terms of knowledge. And yet it is the case that if we see something, that something is registered to us in the mind in terms of a likeness of it, otherwise we should have to become it in order to receive it, which in a material order would annihilate us. It seems to me, if I followed you correctly, that there is a profound confusion in one's relationship to that necessity for the finite being and what he makes of it. And in so far he is making the wrong thing of it he is in desperate trouble and can only go on repeating himself, and in such a repetition increasing despair. Have I distinguished this correctly?
K: You see religion is based on tradition. Religion is vast propaganda, as it is now. In India, here, anywhere, propaganda of theories, of beliefs, of idolatry, worship, essentially based on the acceptance of a theory.
A: Yes, yes.
K: Essentially based on an idea.
A: A statement, a postulate.
K: Ideas, put out by thought.
K: And obviously that's not religion. So religion as it exists now is the very denial of truth.
A: Yes. I am sure I understand you.
K: And if a man like me or... wants to find out, discover what that truth is he must deny the whole structure of religion, as it is - which is idolatry, propaganda, fear, division: you are a Christian I am a Hindu - all that nonsense, and be a light to oneself. Not in the vain sense of that word. Light, because the world is in darkness and a human being has to transform himself, has to be a light to himself. And light is not lit by somebody else.
A: So there is a point at which he must stop repeating himself. Is that correct?
K: Correct, sir.
A: In a sense we could use the analogy perhaps from surgery: something that has been continuous is now cut.
A: And cut radically - not just fooled around with.
K: We haven't time to fool around any more - the house is on fire. At least I feel this enormously - things are coming to such a pass we must do something - each human being. Not in terms of better housing, better security, more this and that - but basically to regenerate himself.
A: But if the person believes that in cutting himself from this accretion that he is killing himself, he is going to resist that idea.
K: Of course, of course. Therefore he has to understand what his mind has created, therefore he has to understand himself.
A: So he starts observing himself.
K: Himself - which is the world.
A: Yes. Not learning five languages to be able to...
K: Oh, for God's sake, no, no. Attending schools where you learn sensitivity and all that rubbish.
A: The point that you are making, it seems to me, is made also by the great Danish thinker, Kirkegaard, who lived a very trying life in his own community because he was asking them, it seems to me, to undertake what you are saying. He was saying: Look, if I go to seminary and I try to understand what Christianity is by studying it myself then what I am doing is appropriating something here, but then when do I know when I have appropriated it fully. I shall never know that point therefore I shall forever appropriate it and never do anything about it, as such, as a subject. The person who must risk the deed, not the utterance.
K: Of course, I understand.
A: As I said before, or not simply thinking through what someone has thought before but actually embodying the meaning through the observation of myself in relation to that.
K: Quite, quite.
A: And that has always seemed to me a very profound insight. But one of the ironies of that is, of course, in the Academy we have an endless proliferation of studies in which scholars have learned Danish in order to understand Kirkegaard.
K: Oh, no.
A: And what they are doing is to a large extent - if I haven't misjudged the spirit of much that I have read - is simply perpetuate the very thing he said should be cut. I do have this very strong feeling that profound change would take place in the academy of which you know I am a member, (laughs) if the teacher were not only to grasp this that you have said, but take the risk of acting on it. Since if it isn't acted on, if I've understood you correctly, we are back again where we were. We have toyed with the idea of being valiant and courageous, but then we have to think about of what is involved before we do, and then we don't do.
K: Quite, quite.
A: We think and don't do.
K: Therefore sir, the word is not the thing. The description is not the described, and if you are not concerned with the description but only with the thing, 'what is', then we have to do something. When you are confronted with 'what is' you act, but when you are concerned with theories and speculations and beliefs you never act.
A: So there isn't any hope for this transformation, if I have understood you correctly, if I should think to myself that this just sounds marvellous: I am the world and the world is me, but while I go on thinking that the description is the described. There is no hope. So we are speaking about a disease over here, and we are speaking about something that has been stated as the case, and if I take what has been stated as the case, as 'the case', then I am thinking that the description is the described.
K: Of course.
A: And I never get out.
K: Sir, it is like a man who is hungry. Any amount of description of the right kind of food will never satisfy him. He is hungry, he wants food. So, all this implies, doesn't it, sir, several things. First can there be freedom from knowledge - and knowledge has its place - can there be freedom from the tradition as knowledge...
A: From the tradition as knowledge, yes.
K: ...can there be freedom from this separative outlook - me and you? We and they, Christian - and all this divisive attitude or activity in life. Those are the problems we have to...
A: That's what we must attend to as we move through our dialogues.
K: So first can the mind be free from the known, not verbally but actually?
A: But actually.
K: I can speculate about the body's freedom and all the rest of it, but see the necessity, the importance, that there must be freedom from the known, otherwise life becomes repetitive, a continuous superficial scratching. It has no meaning.
A: Of course. In our next conversation together I hope we can begin where we have just left off.