Mind is a Myth/VI

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Mind is a Myth
by U. G. Krishnamurti
The Body as a Crucible ..
1041494Mind is a Myth — The Body as a Crucible ..U. G. Krishnamurti



U.G.: You are operating under a great many assumptions. The first assumption is that you think all human beings are exactly the same. I maintain that no two individuals are the same. Your attempt to arrive at the greatest common denominator is self-defeating.

Q: As scientists we want to find out if there is a uniqueness behind the apparent similarities in people. We are interested in human dissimilarities and exceptions. The yogins and religious leaders seem to offer us cases of really exceptional and unique persons. We want to study them, and you.

U.G.: Don't you have any other way of finding out than going to these yogins and claimants who are peddling their wares in the marketplace? The second-raters may submit to your scrutiny, but the real McCoy, if there is one, will never submit to your tests. This will be a very big problem for you. You can't get a J. Krishnamurti, a Sai Baba, or a Muktananda to cooperate. Those you can get to act as guinea pigs are cheaper by the dozen.

Q: But then how are we to go about finding the basis of inner transformation?

U.G.: I don't now. I would suggest, however, that you give no credence to the claims these people make. Everything must be tested.

Q: That is the whole point: we are trying to find a way to test their credibility on a scientific basis.

U.G.: I am afraid that you are making a horrendous mistake by even toying with the idea of giving any consideration to the claims that these people make. Everything must be tested.

Q: The only thing we have to work with is the statistics and data of what we call "normalcy", nothing more.

U.G.: The answers to this problem, as all your problems, have to come from you, not from these yogins and meditators. You may be making a tremendous mistake. This is what I tell the Western psychologists also. You have no objective relationship with the data and knowledge you collect. Your constant interpretation of data means that you are involved in what you are studying; there is no separate entity. It is the interpreter that is of the greatest importance.

Q: But, of course, it's possible and necessary to study man ...

U.G.: He has to understand himself first. Are the data and knowledge--and the theories you derive from them--going to help in this regard? From the point of view of knowledge, there is no way of understanding yourself. The computer machine never asks itself, "How am I functioning?" Really understanding yourself demands not the mere accumulation of data, but a quantum jump. I like to use the example of Newtonian physics. Within the Newtonian framework, things work in a certain way. Another scientist eventually comes along who is able to drop the Newtonian assumptions and thereby is able to perceive a whole new dimension of physics. Just as Newtonian principles eventually became a strait-jacket strangling creative thought, so your data about human uniqueness bars your looking at things, including yourself, anew. I like to use the example of Picasso. He had the same problem: he wanted to break new ground, find new techniques. He achieved a breakthrough and eventually became a model for others. Very cheap artists are now imitating his style. So, one day, Einsteinian physics will have to step aside for a fresh system of knowledge. I submit that nature is attempting to create a unique individual every time something is created. Nature does not seem to use anything as a model. When once it has perfected a unique individual, that individual is thrown off the evolutionary process and is of no further interest to nature. This is why whatever I am, whatever I say, cannot be duplicated by another. Therefore, being incapable of transmission, it has no social value. Nature has no use for me, and neither has society. By using the models of Jesus, Buddha, or Krishna we have destroyed the possibility of nature throwing up unique individuals. Those who recommend that you forget your own natural uniqueness and be like someone else, no matter how saintly that person may be, is putting you on the wrong track. It is like the blind leading the blind. When dealing with these yogins and holy men the first wrong turn you take is in trying to relate the way they are functioning with the way you are functioning. What they are describing may not be related to the way you are functioning at all. Uniqueness is not something which can be turned out in a factory. Society is interested only in the status quo and has provided all these so-called special individuals so that you'll have models to follow. You want to be like that fellow--the saint, the savior, or the revolutionary--but it is an impossibility. Your society, which is only interested in turning out copies of acceptable models, is threatened by real individuality because it [individuality] threatens its continuity. A truly unique person, having no cultural reference point, would never know that he is unique.

Q: But isn't it possible that the very presence of a unique person, a fully flowered individual, can be of some help to others, not in the sense of providing a model, but in possibly triggering change and uniqueness in others?

U.G. I say no. Because the unique individual cannot reproduce himself either physically or spiritually, nature discards him as useless. Nature is only interested in reproducing, and from time to time throwing out a "sport" or unique specimen. This specimen, not able to reproduce itself, is finished with evolution, and is not interested in making of itself a model for others. That is all I am saying.

Q: Don't you feel that that throwing up of uniqueness by nature is the flowering of uniqueness for the individual? U.G.: That is bound to happen in individuals who, through some chance or accident, manage to free themselves from the burden of the entire past. If the entire collective knowledge and experience of man is thrown out, what is left is a primordial and primeval state without the primitiveness. That kind of individual is of no use to society at all. Like a shady tree, this individual may provide shade, but can never be conscious of his doing so. If you sit under the tree, a coconut may fall on your head; there is a danger involved. For this reason society may feel threatened by this individual. This society, structured the way it is, can make no use of such a person. I don't believe in "lokasamgraha", the helping of mankind, compassion for the suffering world, lifting a little of the heavy karma of the world, and all that kind of thing. No one appointed me savior to mankind.

Q: So, you are saying, are you not, that no scientific approach, yogic approach, or meditative approach, can have any relationship to the uniqueness and freedom you are talking of, is that it?

U.G.: I will tell you a story about that. When I was young I did Yoga in the Himalayas for seven years with Sivananda Saraswati. It didn't help, so I dropped it. After my "calamity" in 1967 I felt that my body could not endure the tremendous outbursts of energy taking place there. So I conferred with a friend, Sri Desikachar, who was a yoga teacher. He said, "I don't know if I can be of any help. Perhaps my father (Dr. Krishnamacharya of Madras) may be able to help you." So I practiced some yoga techniques for a second time. But I soon found for myself that the whole yoga business runs counter to the natural way the body is functioning. I tried to discuss it with them. But what I said did not fit into Patanjali's "Yoga Sutras"[1], so we could not communicate. Eventually, I announced to them that I was dropping my yoga practice. When once the organism has freed itself from the stranglehold of thought, anything you do to try to bring about peace and harmony there only creates disharmony and violence. It is like using war to create peace in a peaceful world. When the search itself comes to an end, it comes to an end with a big bang, as it were. Then peace is something that cannot be practiced or taught.

Q: I don't think that we are really interested in any such big bang. We want some wisdom, some serenity.

U.G.: So, a hungry man is satisfied with some crumbs thrown at him. Soon he wants a full loaf and is promised such by the holy purveyors in the marketplace. It is not a question of satisfying hunger. Hunger must burn itself out without knowing satisfaction. The hunger, and the search it entails, is the problem. If you drop the fictitious models of the saint and holy man, you are left with the natural biological arrangement. The separative structure of thought, which was introduced into the consciousness of man long ago, has created the violent world, and will probably push man and the rest of life on this planet to the brink of extinction. But biologically each cell has the wisdom to avoid models and promises, and simply, out of sheer survival motives, cooperates with the cell next to it. Out of the terror of annihilation, man, like the cells of his body, will learn to cooperate, but not out of love or compassion.

Q: Behind this biological cooperation and the flowering of individuality is there not some transcendental thing trying to come out ...?

U.G.: I don't think so. It is highly individualistic, not in the usual sense as defined by culture, but in a different way. The control of the body through thought has destroyed the possibility of humans growing into complete humans, that's all. You may dispense with the notion, so prevalent now, that awareness can help bring about any qualitative change in you. Nature is trying to create a unique individual there. The potential is already there in you. But somewhere along the line mankind got off on the wrong track and there seems to be no way out.

Q: In relation to the flowering of individuality, the question that keeps arising is, "Why not me?"

U.G.: Just forget it, you haven't got a chance. There is nothing you can do. I don't know what to advise you to do. You are stuck. Perhaps the geneticists and microbiologists will come up with the answers.. I can assure you that the holy business won't help you one bit. Further, if the state gets a hold of the means to do genetic engineering, they will use it to take away the last vestiges of man's freedom. Then that will really be the end of it. It is possible to use, again, the simile of the computer. They, the computers, have become so sophisticated now that they are thinking and self-correcting themselves. We may, someday, just have to plug them in and then follow their advice. If you could let your body function like a computer you would have it. The extraordinary intelligence of the biological organism is all that is necessary for good living, but we are all the time interfering with its natural operation through the medium of thought. Your "natural" bodily computer is already programmed, pressed, and plugged in! You don't have to do a thing! We are a very long way from this primal condition. Somehow, you see, something hits you like lightning and burns the whole thing there. This man then is neither sinner nor saint; he is far outside the framework of society.

Q: So, all we can practice, if that is the word, is non-interference?

U.G.: Trying to stay out of the way implies that you are waiting for something marvelous to happen. Such waiting prevents the possibility of anything happening. I am telling you all this from my own experience. For forty-nine years I searched for a man called "U.G." The whole culture put me on the wrong track. I tried the dead gurus as well as the living gurus. Eventually, I realized that the search was useless, that the "enemy was me". Now the entire knowledge, and the search it engendered, has been thrown out of my system completely.

Q: And you feel no obligation to help others to understand this thing ...?

U.G.: It isn't a marketable commodity, sir! It is simply the absence of a false demand which has been put in there by society and culture. The demand to change one's self and the demand to change the world go out of the system together. I am neither antisocial nor thankful to society. I don't feel any bounden duty to play any part or to help my fellow men. All this kind of thing is balderdash.

Q: So wanting to change the world, no matter how noble one may feel about it, is a self-centered, egotistic activity. Is that what you are saying?

U.G.: The man who is trying to free himself from the world, or from what he calls "evil" is actually the most egotistical of men. The shattering perception that finally dawns on you is that there is no such thing as "ego" at all! This insight blows everything apart with a tremendous force when it hits you. It is not an experience that can be shared with another. It is not an experience at all. It is a calamity in which both experience and the experiencer come to an end. A man in such a state does not escape reality and has no romantic tendencies. He harbors no humanistic notions about saving the world, for he knows that anything that is done to save it only adds momentum to it. He knows that there is nothing you can do..

Q: But we must go on living and acting. How can we conceive of action that does not add momentum to the chaos of society?

U.G.: That's just another concept. Your actions and the consequences of those actions form one single event. It is the logical, cause-and-effect thinking that imposes a sequence to events. The sudden evidence of light and the throwing of the light switch which "preceded" it are actually one thing, not two. They appear to you as two or more events only because time has created a space between. But time and space, apart from the ideas of "time" and "space", do not exist at all. Creation and destruction are going on simultaneously. The birth and death of thought happen simultaneously. That is why I insist that there is no such thing as death at all. Even the body does not die; it can change form but does not cease altogether. Because death really does not exist, it is impossible for you to experience it. What you do experience is the void or emptiness you feel upon the disappearance of someone's ("dead") body. Death can never be experienced, and neither can birth for that matter. In your natural state, where the body is allowed to function without the interference of thought, birth and death are going on all the time.

Q: In this natural state you are talking of, are there any psychological entities, any personalities, egos, self, or identity at all?

U.G.: There are no persons, and no space within to create a self. What is left, after the continuity of thought is blown away, is one disjointed and independent series of interactions. What happens in the environment around me, happens in here. There is no division. When the armor you are wearing around you is stripped away, you find an extraordinary sensitivity of the senses that responds to the phases of the moon, the passage of the seasons, and the movements of the other planets. There is simply no isolated, separate existence of its own here, only the throb of life, like a jellyfish.

Q: Can you describe a little of this recurring death process you go through.

U.G.: It, of course, defies description. But I can mention that in this death state, the ordinary breath stops entirely, and the body is able to "breathe" through other physiological means. Among the many doctors I have discussed this strange phenomena with, only Dr. Leboyer, an expert in childbirth, gave me a sort of explanation. He says that newborn babies have a similar way breathing. This is probably what the original word pranayama meant. This body goes through the death process on a daily basis, so often that, in fact, every time it renews itself it is given a longer lease. When, one day, it cannot renew itself, it is finished and carted off to the ash heap. This death process is yoga, not the hundreds of postures and breathing exercises. When the thought process stops splitting itself in two, the body goes through a clinical death. First the death must take place, then yoga begins. Yoga is actually the body's skill in bringing itself back from the state of clinical death. This is supposed to have happened to a few people, like Sri Ramakrishna and Sri Ramana Maharshi. I wasn't there and have no interest or resources to find out if this is so. This yoga of renewal is an extraordinary thing. If you observe a newborn baby, you will have observed the way it moves and articulates its whole body, all in a natural rhythm. After the breath and heartbeat come to almost a complete stop, somehow the body begins to "come back". The corpse-like appearance of the body--the stiffness, coldness, and ash covering--begin to disappear. The body warms up and begins to move, and the metabolism, including the pulse, picks up. If you, out of scientific curiosity, wish to test me, I am not interested. I am simply making a statement, not selling a product. So, it is much more like the Chinese Tai-Chi than classical Yoga asanas". The movements and postures that the body performs when breaking down the stiffness left over from the death process are beautiful, graceful movements, like those of a newborn baby. Yogins now prescribe savasana, the corpse posture, after the performance of any moving postures. This is backward. You start yoga as a dead stiff body, then the body is renewed through natural rhythmic movements. Probably there was some guru who went through this natural death process and his disciples, watching him return to life, tried to duplicate this death process though breathing and posture techniques. They got it backward. First, you must die, then, there is yoga. This whole process of dying and being renewed, although it happens to me many times a day, and always without my volition, remains very intriguing to me. It just happens out of nowhere. Even the thought of the self or ego has been annihilated. Still there is something there experiencing this death. Otherwise, I would not be able to describe it here. With the absence of any demand to repeat or use this death process, the senses are given a field day. The breath, no longer under the domination of the separative thought structure, can respond fully to the physical environment. Upon seeing a beautiful mountain or sunset, the breath is suddenly drawn out of you, then back in, all in a natural rhythm. This is where the expression "breathtaking beauty" probably comes from. The only way you become conscious of things happening round you is through subtle changes in breathing patterns. It is a tremendous mechanism, and in it there are no persons, no things ...

Q: So this non-lung breathing is epiphenomenal to the death process, a side show as it were ...?

U.G.: Not necessarily. Sometimes you are just sitting there and you suddenly feel a shortness of breath, almost a gasping for air. It is something like a second wind. The yogins are trying to achieve this second wind through the practice of various techniques. So do the athletic runners. If you watch the runners you will see that they have to pass a "wall" of exhaustion and shortness of breath. Once through the "wall" they are running on a second wind. It is something like that for me. But even this passes, and finally breathing stops altogether and the body bypasses the lungs, breathing with the pulse of the body alone. Sometimes, when there is nobody to talk to, I sit and allow all these strange things to happen.

Q: Haven't western doctors attempted to describe the glandular changes that accompany this death process?

U.G.: Yes, but there is little understanding of this kind of thing in the annals of Western medicine. One paper, done by Dr. Paul Lynn of the United States, stresses the difference in the way my thymus gland functions. But there are other glands that are affected also---the pineal, the pituitary, and others. The pineal gland, which controls the whole movement, breathing, and coordination of the body, is greatly affected. When the separative thought structure dies, these glands and nerve plexuses take over the functioning of the organism. It is a painful process, for the hold of thought over the glands and plexuses is strong and has to be "burnt" off. This can be experienced by an individual. The burning or "ionization" needs energy and space to take place. For this reason the limits of the body are reached, with energy lashing out in all directions. The body's containment of that energy in its limited form brings pain, even though there is no experiencer of pain there. This painful death process is something nobody--not even the most ardent religious practitioners and yogins--wants. It is a very painful thing. It is not the result of will, but is the result of a fortuitous concourse of atoms. How all this fits into your scientific structure, I do not know. Scientists doing work in this field are interested in these changes, if they are described in physiological rather than mystical terms. These scientists envisage this kind of man as representing the end product of biological evolution, not the science-fiction superman or super spiritual beings. Nature is only interested in creating an organism that can respond fully and intelligently to stimuli and reproduce itself. That's all. This body is capable of extraordinary perceptions and sensations. It is a marvel. I don't know who created it. Scientists in the field of evolution now think that the present breed of humans we have on this planet probably evolved out of a degenerated species. The mutation that carried on the self-consciousness must have taken place in a degenerate species. That is why we have messed everything up. It is anybody's guess as to whether anyone can change the whole thing.

Q: Is it possible that a survivor of this total death process, a mutant of some sort, could change the course of human destiny, so to speak?

U.G.: The claims they make have really no basis at all, for they speak of affecting the whole of human consciousness. I think that human consciousness in its totality is a tremendously powerful thing, with a strong momentum of its own. I don't think they realize what they are talking about. The whole of human consciousness is a very formidable thing. The only consciousness they know of is that created by thought. The thinking consciousness of man can only be affected by propaganda, persuasion, or drugs. Any change from these sources is only within the old framework, and, therefore, useless. What can we change? Is change necessary? What for? I don't know.

Q: It sounds as if a certain soil is needed to grow the kind of mutants you describe. We are all brought up in barren, mediocre, and unnourishing soil. Will not some other soil help?

U.G.: The sensitivity is still there, despite the poor soil. The whole blueprint is there, like in the plant sitting over there. If you don't water and nourish it, it dies. Nothing is lost for mankind. Don't attempt to develop new soil compositions. That is what we have done with the trees and plants, and we are now polluting the whole planet. The same would happen with trying to cultivate a better strain of mankind.

Q: From the way you describe it, there must be a radical change in the source of one's identity after the collapse of the separative structure. Is there a self that remains after the "explosion"? Is the "I" only in the brain?

U.G.: There is no "I". "I" is only a first person singular pronoun. The totality of the thoughts, feelings, experiences, and hopes of mankind constitute the "I". It is a product of the past. That "I" is a symbol of the totality of man's consciousness. Actually , there is no separate, discreet psychological entity there, only the word "I". Similarly, there is only the word "mind", but no such thing as your mind and my mind. So the word "mind" has created us all for the simple reason that it needs each of us to maintain its continuity. The separative structure of what we call "the mind" vitiated the natural survival mechanism of the body to the extent that our society has pushed it to the limits of tolerance. The H-Bomb is an extension of the policeman there hired to protect me and my property. It is no longer possible to draw a line between the two. But the survival of the separative structure guarantees the eventual destruction of the physical organism.

Q: Why is it that your words do not trigger some radical action in us ...?

U.G.: What opportunity that might have been there is already lost because whatever has been said here has already been appropriated by and become part of your old framework. Your so-called sensitivity to what has been said does not go very deep. Everything that was standing as an obstacle before is still there. In fact, it has been strengthened by this conversation. The self will use anything to perpetuate itself; nothing is sacred. If you do try to go deep and demolish what is there, it is only with the idea and purpose of constructing a new superstructure.

Q: Why do you assume that?

U.G.: Because that's the way it works.

Q: Suppose I am serious about it and somehow find out....

U.G.: No suppositions, please! What happened to me was acausal; it just happened. In spite of all my efforts, struggles, and intentions, this thing happened to me, and that is the miracle of miracles. You cannot make this happen. It is not subject to duplication because when it hits you, it hits you at a time and place never before touched by life. It is not an experience at all, and, therefore, cannot be communicated or transmitted. It is not something you share. It is a rare bird, that's all. All you can do is to put it in a museum and look at it, but you can never duplicate or share it.

Q: It is frightening to think of living without a center, a self, a reference point....

U.G.: The reference point, the "I", cannot be eliminated through any volition on your part. In the final analysis, it is your genetically predetermined program, your "script". To be free of that miserable genetic destiny, to throw away the "script", demands tremendous courage. You have to brush everything aside to find out. Your problem is not how to get something from somebody, but how to reject everything that is offered by anybody. There is, in fact, no "how" to it. This demands a valor that comes before courage, for its existence implies the occurrence of something great -- the impossible. No amount of cultivation, of either meekness or courage, will be of any help whatsoever. There is not a thing you can do, for this thing is of one's entire being, and anything you do is fragmentary, partial. You must be helpless ... When I sit here and my eyes are open, the whole of my being is the eyes. It is a tremendous "vista-vision", with everything passing through you. Your looking is so intense and undistracted that the eyes never blink and there is no room left for an "I" that is looking. Everything looks at me, not vice versa. As it is with the eyes, so it is with the other senses, each having an independent career of its own. The sensual response, which is all that is there, is not modified, censored, or coordinated, but left alone to vibrate in the body. There is a sort of coordination that arises when the organism must function for survival and smooth mechanical operation. Only enough coordination is allowed which is essential to respond to a given situation. Then things lapse back into their independent, disjointed rhythm. Do not translate what I am saying here as "bliss", "beatitude", or "enlightenment". It is actually a frightening, bewildering situation. It has nothing to do with so-called mystical or transcendental experiences. I see absolutely no reason why a religious or spiritual slant should be given to it at all. I am describing nothing more than a simple physiological functioning of the human organism. Although all this is not apart from nature, it will never fit into any nature study or scientific form of knowledge.

Q: So you have to reject everything?

U.G.: Not reject. The thing you are rejecting, and the rejection itself, have no relevance to the actual way your organism is now functioning. When that is seen clearly, there remains nothing to reject or renounce. You are prepared to reject so that you can get, that's all. Your Upanishads say that it must be the object of your fondest and highest desires. But I emphasize, on the contrary, that the desire itself must come to an end. It is the search itself, no matter how noble you may think it to be, that is disturbing you. Forget about the petty little desires you have been advised to control. When the desire of desires is dispensed with, the others are of no importance.

Q: You are not saying that because what happened to you cannot be scientifically appreciated in all its fullness, that ordinary events, things, and people cannot be appreciated fully, are you?

U.G.: Certainly not. Within that framework everything is valid, relatively valid. But the "reality" you want to study is put together by the psyche or self, and I emphatically deny both. Therefore your search for reality, psychological authenticity, and self-realization is meaningless to me. They are the products of frightened people. The scientific procedure, not the self, gives you a reference point so that you may measure the truth or falseness of what I am saying. Look, I tried everything to find an answer to my burning obsession: "Is there such a thing as enlightenment at all, or have we all been fooled by abstractions?" That utter frustration and complete failure to answer that question created an intensity. The first third of my life was spent in India around Theosophists, J. Krishnamurti, yogins, holy men, sages, Ramana Maharshi, the Ramakrishna Order -- in short, all the associations that could benefit a person interested in spiritual matters. I found out for myself that it was all bogus, there was nothing to it at all. Totally disillusioned with the whole religious tradition of both the East and the West, I plunged myself into modern psychology, science and, whatever the material world could give me. I found out for myself that the whole idea of spirit or psyche was false. When I experimented with and studied the material world, I was surprised to find that there was no such thing as matter at all. Denying the spiritual and material basis of things, I was left with nowhere to turn. I began drifting on my own, unable to find an answer from any source. Then one day the futility of what I was doing dawned upon me, and the question which had obsessed me for almost my entire life got burnt, then disappeared. After that there were no more questions. The thirst burned itself out without ever satisfying itself. Not answers, but the ending of questions, is the important thing. Even though everything got burnt there, still embers remain to express themselves in a natural rhythm. What impacts this expression may have on the society around me is not my concern.

  1. Patanjali's Yoga Sutras: The aphorisms of Patanjali's yoga. The work contains discussion of the yoga conception of liberation and the means to attain it.