No one is going to save you. That is an absolute fact. You have had various gurus, from the first, second, third, fourth, centuries, down to the present, and where are you having been led? Wanting to be still led?

It is the responsibility of each individual to bring about their own transformation which is not dependent on knowledge or time… J. Krishnamurti

As with the Emperor’s New Clothes, imagine that centuries ago deceptive swindlers wove a story that enchanted and hypnotized human populations into believing that there was an abstract, inorganic, alien, supreme superpower, far above the forces of nature that controlled humanity’s destiny. The enchantment goes something like this:

Forget Pan and the squabbling nature-goddesses and nature-gods of antiquity. “I am sacred, not nature,” was the enchantment. The earth is dirt. Trees are wood to build, not sentient living communities to care for and protect. Don’t look within. Don’t recognize and develop the sacred forces you call creation, which is your own nature and birthright. Don’t open your eyes and hearts ‘to see and act as the Gods’ see and act.’ Kneel down. Pray, Obey and Pay for your allegiance to the one supreme abstract authority. Invest all that energy and attention (your Nous), that is the true unfolding and development of humanity’s unique place in the cosmos. Instead of actualizing true dominion, meaning to Shepard, to care for, nurture and protect all living things, in place of that – let there be exploitation, conquest and control, by worshiping a false, nonliving, disembodied savior, the only one who can help you.

Nous, or Greek νοῦς, equated to divine intelligence, is a concept from classical philosophy for the faculty of the human mind necessary for understanding what is true or real.

Can you imagine a greater betrayal? For more, see: “Not In His Image, Gnostic Vision, Sacred Ecology, and the Future of Belief,” by John Lamb Lash.

There is no savior. Belief and allegiance to the abstract steals the energy, the attention and the resources necessary to develop what is real and embodied. Play out this genocidal, anti-nature betrayal over the past few thousands of years, and one easily sees why AI is the technocrat’s new God, how technology became the new nature.

The pervasive ways that self-deception worms its way into the very heart of our daily thought processes, something David Bohm explored for more than twenty-five years, is the juggernaut, the inability of the human mind to understand and perceive directly what is true and real, forever getting lost in fragmented self-created abstractions. “Housekeeping in a dream,” as one revered Tibetan described. The sage J. Krishnamurti succinctly summed up this ubiquitous capacity for self-deception:

All that we have invented, the symbols in the church, the rituals, they are all put there by thought. Thought has invented these things, invented the savior, invented the temples in India and the contents of the temple. Thought has invented all these things called sacred. You can't deny that. So thought in itself is not sacred. And when thought invents God, God is not sacred. So what is sacred? That can only be understood or happen when there is complete freedom from fear, from sorrow, and when there is this sense of love and compassion with its own intelligence. Then, when the mind is utterly still, that which is sacred can take place.

J. Krishnamurti, with Michael Mendizza

One can think of conditioned thought as piecing together fragmented memory chips, juxtaposing a temporary mental image mosaic, and acting on that virtual reality as if it were really real. This we call normal and sane consciousness. The enchantment begins with our own ‘self-as-image,’ our social ego. Below, David Bohm:

There is an assumption or concept which, if the self were real, it would be extremely important, would be the highest value of all things… If we assume there is a self, this stirs up the whole mind and brain inside so it feels, just from that assumption, that something is going on inside that corresponds to this assumed self and gives it an apparent reality. Once it has been assumed that this self is ‘real’ and not merely an image, it then takes first priority and everything else comes second, so everything is distorted… and this distortion becomes universal.

The main point is that we don’t really understand the nature of our thought process; we’re not aware of how it works and it’s really disrupting not only our society and our individual lives but also the way the brain and nervous system operate, making us unhealthy or perhaps even in some way damaging the system.

Thought, rational, orderly, factual thought, such as in doing proper science, is valuable but the kind of thought that is so dangerous is self-centered thought. At first, one might wonder why self-centered thought is so bad. If the self were really there, then perhaps it would correct to center on the self because the self would be so important, but if the self is a kind of illusion, at least the self as we know it, then to center our thought on something illusory which is assumed to have supreme importance is going to disrupt the whole process, and it will not only make thought about yourself wrong, it will make thought about everything wrong, so that thought becomes a dangerous and destructive instrument all around.

Existing knowledge cannot meet this challenge. Something much deeper is needed, a completely new approach.

David Bohm with Michael Mendizza

Add technology, propaganda, intentional misinformation, and censorship to this already weak foundation, shake and stir, and we have ‘The Mad Hatter’s Tea Party’ on a unified global scale. Krishnamurti is pointing to a fundamentally different state of direct perception and action. Self-deception plays no role in this state of complete attention.

We have to recognize two distinctly different states. One is endlessly preoccupied, ‘housekeeping in a dream,’ and the other is simply not dreaming. Rather, billions of years of adaptive organic intelligences, implicit in the very ground of our being, are resonating with the active living environment, eliciting epigenetic responses that best fit the well-being of all, at that moment. The limitations and fragmented nature of conditioned memory can’t touch the depth and complexity of the ‘practical wisdom’ implicit in this holistic, well-informed and compassionate response.

Try to imagine Mozart perceiving a full symphony in a flash of insight and not having notes to describe his experience. Mozart had to convert his direct experience into notes or knowledge, in order to share his experience with others. Not so with a mother and her newborn baby. With a silent mind mother and baby share the same attuned symphony in their own way. Something we all do, every day when we are quiet, sensitive, completely attentive, and present with another, human or not. This attuned shared meaning is shattered by normal conditioned thought. The phantom ego, his or her social status, judgments, and security, drives the bus, negating practical wisdom as collateral damage.

When Bohm notes: ‘Existing knowledge cannot meet this challenge. Something much deeper is needed. A completely new approach,’ he is saying that a problem can’t be solved at the level that creates the problem. Conditioned thought can’t self-correct. Something much deeper refers to what Krishnamurti calls silence, switching from thought to a state where thought is absent. The trouble is, thought is the only ‘state’ most believe exists.

From the earliest days of a young child’s life, we hammer them with words. Most of what we call formal education is all about language, so much so, that nonverbal states of perception-action don’t exist. Yet, this silence is the necessary state to perceive and act with sacred dimensions.

The prerequisite is first discovering what ‘embodied silence’ feels like. How the brain actually feels when thought and words are not active, complete attention with full spectrum embodied presence. From this grounded state, feel what happens when a new thought drops in, like a raindrop on a still pond, feeling how the brain ripples or constricts when activated. Let that release, returning simply to expansive stillness. Oops, there is another word-thought rippling the surface of the mind. You get the picture.

With attention, the embodied state Krishnamurti calls ‘silence’ normalized and becomes a new reference. The ideal is to live most of our lives in silence, using thought as a precise tool when needed, returning again and again to silence, which David Bohm called ‘the natural order of the mind.’

According to David Bohm, one of the functions of silence is insight, the activity of intelligence negating false and self-deceptive patterns thought unknowingly creates:

Thought is very powerful and has created many good things, but if we don't notice how it works, it can become very destructive, as with the present danger of nuclear war, pollution, and mass destruction of natural resources. Therefore, it is necessary to look at the structure of thought and knowledge, to see what the problems are and to explore the question ofinsight,” which is required to bring knowledge to order.

We are all familiar with abstract knowledge stored in memory; in books, in records, and computers, but knowledge goes further than this to include all sorts of skills. And there's tacit knowledge, that is, without words. Another part of knowledge is belief. Beliefs motivate us and are based on presuppositions. Our whole approach to life is full of presuppositions. They affect everything, our actions, our thoughts, our feelings, our urges, desires, and motivations. Thought and knowledge are active. They are participatory and affect everything, the way we behave, the way we respond, our perception, and every part of our life.

I suggest that we don't decide what to do with information. Information takes over. It runs us. Thought then creates the impression that it is our servant, just doing what we want it to do. That's the difficulty.

At any moment knowledge is a mixture of what is correct and what is incorrect. Often you cannot tell the difference and treat them both the same. We are saying that thought is not merely an intellectual activity. Every reaction to thought is simultaneously emotional, neurophysiological, chemical, and more. And it passes between people - as one whole process all over the world. The point is, that memory is something you never see and in many ways has been interchanged with perception.

The movement of the mind is far too subtle, complex, and rapidly moving to be grasped by thought. So we are caught, responding from memory without knowing that this is actually happening. Our perceptions are shaped and colored by memory in ways that are not conscious. This evidently leads to irrelevant actions and ultimately to conflict.

This can be changed by direct perception and experience, but in most cases, this change is limited to what fits the overall context provided by past knowledge, be it correct or incorrect.

From time to time challenges arise, however, which cannot be met by the existing framework. What is needed then is insight. Insight means "to look within." It implies looking into the essence of what is to be known and simultaneously looking into the mind that is engaged in the act of knowing. This new perception then permits new forms of response that may meet the challenge.

I have suggested that today's challenges cannot be met by existing knowledge. Attempting to solve the environmental, social, cultural, and ultimately political problems with the crude and fragmented structure of thought that is now common will never work. The point is, knowledge is limited. And proper application of knowledge requires that knowledge know its limitations.

For example, suppose you have a computer with a "virus" that is doing all sorts of crazy things. A number of computers could soon become so completely occupied that they no longer respond to the programmer, and necessary programs may even be destroyed. This is a good analogy of what has happened to the mind. This "virus" has communicated itself throughout society, and the brain is thoroughly occupied, as well as being disrupted in it function.

As a result, intelligence which can be compared to the programmer, is no longer able to properly affect the brain. We are overwhelmed by all sorts of meaningless misinformation, and the more television and newspapers we have, the more rapidly the virus spreads. I am saying that we need a perception or insight, which is not dependent on memory and therefore able to see the limitations of thought and knowledge.

As I said, knowledge is not just an accumulation of information waiting passively. It is an active and often dominant process that controls the general operation of the mind, without our being conscious of it. And it takes a high level of mental energy to be aware of this activity. Otherwise, it takes over, which is what it has done.

I propose that the essence of insight is this mental energy that perceives these subtle and powerful forces of knowledge, the emotional, social, intellectual, and still others that are beyond description, which make us very reluctant to give up fixed beliefs.

When this energy is present we could say that the mind is free of certain blocks that are inherent in knowledge. I want to emphasize that the general action of insight is in dissolving blocks and barriers, which allows the ordinary faculties of the mind, such as reason, to give rise to new ideas and approaches.

It's clear that any form of knowledge has to be able to yield to fresh perception or, rational behavior is impossible. Knowledge with absolute necessity cannot yield so it distorts, rationalizes, and pushes aside undesired facts so that nothing disturbs the general framework. This means that we are caught in self-deception.

Consider national sovereignty for example, which implies that each nation puts its own interests as the highest priority, and everything else takes a lower place, including morality and ethics, the life of the individual, and, if necessary, the whole existence of mankind, including that nation itself. This leads to unending chaos and conflict, especially in the modern world in which everybody clearly depends on everybody. To maintain the idea of absolute sovereignty against the fact of mutual interdependence requires great distortion and self-deception.

We do the same thing as individuals. Each one tends to put his self-interest as the highest priority. We all know the slogan, "Number one comes first." Or else he puts his group first, his family, his tribe, his race, his religion and defends this with the same sort of dishonesty and deception that is used to defend national sovereignty.

This way of determining priorities is full of contradictions that have been building up for thousands of years. So now there's a vast structure of meaningless nonsense that ultimately dominates most of knowledge, and knowledge serves this nonsense. No one in particular can be blamed for this. If you look into yourself, you will almost certainly find that all of us are caught in the same sort of absurdities.

We could say that knowledge is largely in the dark about itself, that knowledge doesn't know it's doing this. This darkness is self-created and in this darkness, the mind falls again and again into self-deception trying to relieve the pain that comes from this contradiction. We could say that knowledge has become self-centered by building up these contradictory commitments of absolute necessity, especially of the self.

Knowledge of the self then assumes supreme necessity which dominates, distorts, and leads knowledge into self-deception and destruction. This trap is very subtle because the unconscious presupposition of absolute necessity operates before one can think reflectively. By the time you begin to think in this way it's often too late. The mind has already begun to defend itself through various forms of self-deception. This activity generates a kind of darkness.

I suggest that what is needed to penetrate this darkness is insight. Not just particular insights such as those of Newton and Einstein. These are valuable, but there's something much greater, as Krishnamurti brought out in all his work. This is, an insight into the whole activity of knowledge, where the mind can actually see what it's doing.

To put it differently, we can say that people have been seeking enlightenment through knowledge without realizing that this has the possibility of creating endarkenment as well. Some knowledge may be enlightening, but other forms are endarkening and we need insight to see the whole thing. Then various questions regarding our values, our priorities, what to do with science, the environment, and education will become clear.

I have to emphasize strongly that knowledge without insight will ultimately lead to self-deception because of the pressures implicit in that knowledge. There is little realization of the ultimate inability of science to avoid the self-deception implicit in the active functioning of knowledge which is not penetrated by insight.

Insight is universal, and its origin or essence is not restricted to great scientific discoveries or to artistic creations, but rather is of crucial significance to everything we do. The negative operation of insight removes blocks and barriers, while the positive is the new perception that this removal makes possible.

Without interfering with the necessary and useful function of memory, insight dissolves the mind's attachment to all kinds of absurdities that hold us prisoner to the past. This affects all functions of the mind, physical, emotional, and intellectual as one undivided act which does not involve time in any basic way. It not only takes place in a flash with no sensible duration, but its essence cannot be captured in thought. There's no meaning in choosing to have an insight and then trying to find some means of producing this result. Rather, the action of insight is immediate, total and not analyzable.

The key point is that everyone must be able to question with great energy and passion whatever is not clear. It’s necessary to sustain this questioning in spite of whatever difficulties may arise. This questioning is not an end in itself and its purpose is not mainly to give rise to answers. Rather, it's essential in the whole movement of life which can only be harmonious when this ceaseless questioning frees the mind of the tendency to hold indefinitely to contradictory and confused knowledge. If you question in this way there may be the energy of insight which is crucial for opening up the mind to new directions. To do this is a tremendous challenge, not only because of our habit of wanting important ideas to be secure, but because of very deep and subtle questions involving how the mind operates.

At present insight is not generally given great value in society or in education. Rather, there's a very strong bias in favor of accumulating knowledge and doing this far beyond the point where it actually makes sense, while the spirit of questioning, necessary for insight, is ignored and, in fact, is discouraged if this questioning disturbs strong beliefs.

There's also a great deal of discussion about the need to foster creativity. When you look closely, however, what it is actually being done is often developing the imagination, which is not enough for creativity. Imagination may be part of creativity, but without insight, neither imagination nor reason nor anything else is going to be creative. We have to see that insight itself has very high value. Then we'll have a different attitude toward knowledge, values, and education. The whole of life will be a field in which there is no end to the possibility of fresh and original perceptions.

Used by permission Copyright David Bohm 1981

The movement of the mind is far too subtle, complex, and rapidly moving to be grasped by thought. So we are caught, responding from memory without knowing that this is actually happening. Our perceptions are shaped and colored by memory in ways that are not conscious. This leads to irrelevant actions and ultimately to conflict. We need a perception or insight, which is not dependent on memory and therefore able to see the limitations of thought and knowledge.

It takes a high level of mental energy to be aware of this activity. Otherwise, knowledge takes over, which is what it has done.

The essence of insight is this mental energy that perceives these subtle and powerful forces of knowledge, the emotional, social, intellectual, and still others that are beyond description, which make us very reluctant to give up fixed beliefs, which encourages self-deception.

So, as we began, it is the responsibility of each individual to begin with ourselves, distilling a new vision of who and what we think we are, our self-image, and our unique place in the web of life, with passion and clarity seeing through our own self-deceptions. We move forward from there.

No more saviors…