8. Being awake - now or never!

To use our human potential fully, mental order is required.

To use the full potential of our mind we must defeat two myths: the idea of a separate self and the concept of time. They are connected because the separate self lives in time.

Our personal journey on earth started one day and one day it will be over. We move from the past through the present to the future. The past is 'behind' us, the future 'ahead', but both are, in fact, only thoughts.

Experience of time is subjective and surreal.

Our past seems very real but, in fact, it is only a very subjective, somewhat surreal selection of memories. We remember random moments from yesterday.

If you draw your lifeline you probably start from your birth, even though you have no memory of your first years. You trust what other people have told you.

Memory twists our history.

Of course, our story started long before we were born. Our DNA shows our path further than our family tree, but even that will not teach us very much of who we are.

Our mind twists whatever we watch. It abstracts, leaves something out and adds something irrelevant. Memory is selective.

Our past is a collection of stories and our future is a collection of hopes, dreams, and fears, even more surreal than the past. We shape our future with our choices but life is not a jukebox. Surprises happen.

Now our mind cannot be trusted. It does not show us the whole but a very partial view. Additionally, it does not allow us to use our full potential.

Two kinds of time

All experts agree that human beings are conditioned by the past, but they don't agree with what we can do with our psychological conditioning.

If we want to be free, we must get rid of the psychological sense of time said Bohm and Krishnamurti in their masterpiece book The Ending of Time based on 15 dialogues in 1980.

All time is in the now! We imagine the past and the future. Chronological time is a fact but psychological time is part of our conditioning.

To Krishnamurti, the root of human conflict is our urge to become something that we are not. If we are not satisfied with what we are, we set a goal and try to become something that we want to be.

Inward goals are built on egotistic centre.

Bohm feels that outward goals are okay and help us, but inward goals are built on an egoistic centre, which will cause inner conflict. We took a wrong turn when the ego became dominant and introduced time as a means of evolving inwardly.

This does not solve our psychological problems, but in fact, it prevents us from solving them.

Time dominates our brain now and may be one cause of mental disorders. When memory leads us, we become irrational and ego-centred. We base our decisions on selfish motives and imagined needs. We become ego-boosted.

Philosophers and religious people have emphasized striving, struggling, controlling, and making efforts to defeat the ego. Using will power or prayer we hope that one day we and the world will be better.

Living is in the now. 

Bohm and Krishnamurti challenged this. They said that we are conditioned to a pattern that does not work. Ideas based on tomorrow suppose that there is one. We can imagine the future and many things happening as planned, but the only moment in our timeline that we can actually live in is the now.

The idea of self-improvement is based on an assumption that there is a self that can develop. There is a bundle of memories, knowledge, and experiences that we have gathered in life.

That is only a self-image living in time. If we eliminate the image, our life is not based on time, development and comparison anymore.

Why should we do this? For two good reasons: firstly, because of truth, and secondly, the idea of time causes all kinds of conflicts and mental disorders.

Break the ego pattern

To break our ego pattern, we need deep insight. Thinking will not help us because it cannot go deep enough. Insight comes from direct perception of the fact. It has nothing to do with thought.

Insight is immediate.

Insight is immediate. There is no time involved. We may use thoughts to express our insight but thought and time are not involved in the insight itself.

The essence of insight is to see that the observer is the observed. There is no separation between thoughts and the thinker. This transforms our seeing.

We are programmed to act from a centre, the ego. The manifested self is very important to us.

If we do not like what we are, we may want to "grow as human beings". If we feel that something is missing from our life, we invent time to get it. In Bohm's words, "Time is a theory which we adopt for psychological purposes."

Time is needed in practical matters, but using time when dealing with our self leads to double trouble: confusion and conflict. We need time to learn a language but awareness is what we need in order to know who and what we are now.

When we gather psychological knowledge about the self and our relationships to others, our brain shrinks and works in a limited area, not seeing the whole picture.

The shrinking of the brain may come as a result of the wrong way of using our brain. If we want to prevent this, we must reject the tradition fo analysis and introspection, and focus our attention on direct perception and immediate action. When the past twists our perception we are not rational.

We see this when we talk with fanatical believers. Whatever their faith is, they hear and interpret everything through that belief. They may tolerate opposite views, but will not question their conviction.

The logic is exactly the same with us all: if we think that our conviction is right, no reasoning will change our mind. Nothing can make us take a fresh look when our self is at stake.

Peter Senge talks about two basic mindsets: advocate and enquiry. The first one we apply to everything that we feel sure of. All learning comes from the latter. We need a mind shift from advocacy to free learning.

A flash of insight makes the brain quiet.

The occupied and self-centred mind does not listen or act properly. A flash of insight frees the brain from its past burden. It becomes silent and enters a limitless state.

In words we trust - and get lost

Cosmic order was the theme in Bohm's dialogue with Krishnamurti in 1980. They begin by saying that nature is in order, but our consciousness is not. We have accepted living in disorder because that is all we know.

Our bruised brain cannot find order.

Our brains are so contradictory and bruised that they cannot find any order within or without. Many factors are causing damage in the brain: strong sustained emotions like hatred, anger, violence, excessive excitation, fear, and emphasis on sustained pleasure.

Thought has entangled the brain in time and when we realize this the division between the universe and the mind vanishes. Then the mind is order. It enters a timeless world where thoughts can never go because they can only live in time.

There is no key to open this box. It is impossible to describe that dimension in words. In fact, there is no need to do so, because the box is open.

We live in a world of words. In words we trust, and in words we get lost. They define us, they are our life: past, present, and future.

When we are happy and whole there is no need for the illusion of psychological time. We are happy with what we are and have everything we need.

If we do not feel good, we set a goal and go after it. Wanting more is a curse. It binds us into gaining, achieving, comparing, advancing.

You may ask, what on earth could be wrong with having a better self or better life?

The harm is not in having, but in wanting. It means that you are not connected with life as it is.

Wanting ties us to a short rope. We live inside our territory of fears and hopes, pleasures and sorrows, likes and dislikes, preferences and prejudices. There is no freedom there. It makes life small.

Happy and free

There is no real love in the world of images. If we love images, we actually love ourselves. That is what images are: products of our imagination.

Our daily life is a series of reactions, struggling to bring order to disorder. Struggling sustains disorder, since the essence of it is conflict.

Many people think it is enough if we are happy within our limits, discover new thoughts, enjoy art and science, accept the human condition and make the best of it.

This is what we do but we are not happy people! We may pretend. And we do pretend. Happy people are not violent, cruel and competitive, they are free from conflict. We are not free. If you scratch the surface, you find a broken heart.

A serious consequence of living in conflict is that it is almost impossible to think and work together harmoniously, to have the same outlook, to give up our opinions and self-interest. When everybody has an opinion and wants to keep it, people fight over everything or live with the outcome.

Seeing what we truly are, we may say we want to change, but we also wish to remain the same. Our minds are too confused to see all the dangers of image-identity.

In trying to solve the concrete issues arising in daily life we get lost in ideas, in thinking and talking without end. There is no attention, no intelligence, no compassion and no end to human problems.

When we give all our attention to finding out what is true we will then be ready to make the most important move.

The future is now

The last published sessions between Bohm and Krishnamurti took place in June 1983 in England. They discussed the future of humanity. The key question is, Are we "ready and able to change the irrational and self-destructive program in which the brain seems to be helplessly caught up in?"

Krishnamurti argues that insight arising from undirected attention can change the brain cells and remove the destructive conditioning. It is "crucially important to give to this question the same intensity of energy that we generally give to other vital activities of life".

Bohm is quite optimistic about the possibility of profound change in human beings by insight.

"Modern research into the brain and nervous system actually give considerable support to this. It is well known that there are substances in the body that fundamentally affect the entire functioning of the brain and nervous system. These substances respond, from moment to moment, to what a person knows, thinks, feels and to what all this means to him. The brain cells and their functioning are profoundly affected by knowledge and thought, especially when these give rise to strong feelings and passions."

To save the world, we must stand back from our personal problems and urgent needs and take a much wider view. We must understand that our future is in the now, in the way we live.

To think in terms of psychological evolution may be our big mistake. In the material world there is, of course, growing and becoming, progress and decay, being more or less. The species has evolved to what it is now and an acorn will grow into an oak. Physically the movement in time is a valid and natural process. Even that is a cycle: there is nothing permanent in the material world, it is constantly moving.

The idea of psychological progress is something we made up. It is real only because we think it is real. Our psyche is our past, a recollection of things we have experienced and adopted. Our future is determined by our past. We can make some modifications, choose differently, but it all happens in an area limited by our past.

Thought is necessary in science, art, culture, technology, communication, travel, medicine, and surgery, but the sense of separation thought creates is an illusion that has created a colossal chaos in the world. We are so used to living in conflict that we do not even consider the possibility of living without it.

It is possible when there is no image, no psychological attributes of self, no judgments, no conclusions, no opinions, that one might perceive the totality of this movement instantly without words, reactions or memories entering into our perception. Only then can we have peace on earth.

To be free from suffering, fear and pain means the ending of ego. We are tied to belief systems and ideologies, dreams and goals like an animal to a pole. The length of the rope defines our living area.

Loving without limits

Psychological evolution will not lead to awakened consciousness. We need a psychological revolution! As long as the ego-system dominates our brain, we live a limited life. There is compassion and love, but only towards those we choose to care about. If we have a reason to love, that love is limited. It is a feeling between a subject and an object. It comes and goes.

Limited love does not make us whole. It is born in the ego-system and keeps us separate.

The programmed brain has no space and silence because it is all the time concerned with itself. When it is quiet, there is no ego. Then love is unlimited. Then there is beauty and intelligence born out of immense compassion.

The old brain lives in a stuffy prison where the light of life enters only in fleeting moments, as a hint of something that we long for. That brain is programmed to seek solutions from an area where there are only ineffective substitutes.

When one deeply understands that there is no escape from reality, the useless movement of thinking stops and the structure and function of the brain changes. When images are gone, only the actual is left. Then living means that we love without limits.

Why is this so difficult to understand?

Why don´t we discard the illusions that make our lives a misery?

Why do we accept brutalities, conflicts, intellectual and spiritual self-deception, the idiocy of isms?

Why do we want to go faster, although our way of life is leading us to global catastrophe?

Why don´t we take a look at the map and change direction now?

Is it that we do not see or that we do not care?

Can the mind find the truth?

We still think that our brain is or has the answer. It is not and it does not. On the contrary, the brain, as it currently works, is the essence of the problem. It sustains the issue.

Can the mind ever find the truth? Is there something that is common to us all? Our thoughts are too conditioned to find that out. When the movement of thought ceases, there is room in the mind for something much deeper. We can perhaps sense it, have an insight into it. That puts thoughts in order.

Ego is a waste of energy

We may feel that we lack energy to break through our conditioning. Bohm regards this as an excuse and it reveals misunderstanding of the nature of the energy needed. The process of ego is such a waste of energy! To avoid this waste we must see what is essential and universal. The universal belongs to everybody and covers everything.

The observations concerning reality are mainly reflections of our own mind. They are very shallow and mostly delusional. When we see things as they are, thought loses its power and an enormous amount of energy is released.

When we see the fallacy of individuality, our brain cells do not move in time. When there is no becoming something, not even being something, the cosmos is in a state of infinity.

Try it. Allow your mind to fly freely. Watch everything around you without words. Feel how your body reacts to sounds you hear. Follow your reactions, do not object, just watch.

Looking at the world without any pressure, without a motive or control, we can see how our self is tied to beliefs, persons, ideas, habits, and experiences.

Dependencies create disorder. Seeing this changes the mind. There is no self doing something.

Many people think that if they do not control their mind it will go wild. That is a wrong assumption. Controlling causes conflict and confusion. All human-made ideologies are based on control and lead to violence.

To find the solution to global problems, we must stand back from personal problems and urgent needs and take a wider view. We must open our heart and mind to real issues.

Our modern worldview is based on individuality and selfishness. It encourages us to seek our own happiness and fulfilment and the price is high.

If we realize that the limits of our thinking are not actual, then we enter a state full of insight and intelligence. In that state life stops being a problem and human beings live in a direct communion with the world.

What is left if we strip away our identity? The whole world.

The world dominated by thinking is partial. We try to change the world but the world is not the problem. It is our brain living in time that must change. It is often called awakening.

We are awake now or never.

It must happen now or never. We are either awake and aware, or we are not. Then we live in the world beyond.