During the past century, a relatively small number of highly insightful books have been published among the gigantic piles of senseless information and other bullshit. One of the most comprehensive texts is without a doubt “Thought as a System”, by David Bohm, which brings together his theories of wholeness & implicate order and the essence of his dialogues with J. Krishnamurti. Since i somehow overlooked the importance of this highly underrated quantum physicist slash critical thinker in my last post, this is a little tribute.
And for the last time i am exposing some essential parts of my personal history to explain where i am coming from and what i am aiming at (after this one, no more exhibitionism or story telling, i don’t see the point).
You may wonder: what’s the link between the two? Well, noticing how very little interest people show(ed) for what Bohm had to say raises some serious questions and doubts about my own endeavors and where we are (not) going.
It is peculiar how i failed to recognize the impact of David Bohm’s words during his conversations with K. (cfr. “The Limits of Thought”, “The Ending of Time”, “The Future of Humanity”). He kept himself in the background, hesitating, always leaving the final word to Krishnamurti. He did steer things though, trying to get something “useful” out of the circular mystical answers. Only recently did i finally start reading his ideas on wholeness and the nature of thought, and i was surprised, because they very much resonate with what i am trying to convey. “Thought as a System” is a masterpiece in my opinion. It may only be a redacted transcript of a weekend of questions and answers among friends and colleagues, with its consequent shortcomings, but i do not know of a book that deals with thought in a more clear and concise way. Maybe Charles Tart gets very close as well. It is far from complete, but it highlights most crucial of errors or illusions in collective and individual thought, in only 240 pages. The difficulty is to help it get understood, to get it all across without falling back into the old traps of thought. The main point of the book is this: how can insight and creativity come about when there is all this confusion going on, both consciously and unconsciously, inside and outside? How can one become aware of thought’s deceptions and become free from all that, free from the past, and face the unknown? Bohm proposes the concept of “proprioception of thought“, which comes down to thought being aware of itself, just like one can be aware both consciously and unconsciously of his own body and movements with “classic proprioception”.In other words: no method, only permanent alertness, awareness, observation. Ontoscopy, yes sirree. Maybe “holoproprioception” would be a better term, but that sounds even more complicated i suppose.
Bohm’s seemingly outlandish physical theories of wholeness, his political stances and his inquiries into mysticism made it very simple for the establishment to ridicule him and neglect his contributions. Time will tell if it remains that way or not.
Are there any noteworthy scientists alive today that try to study the whole instead of focusing on a little fragment of reality? In the study of consciousness, nearly all energy is put into scientific research of other people’s brains and philosophical theories. The past centuries, there have been tremendous insights into the exterior world, giving rise to most of the scientific branches we have today. The past decades, there have been tremendous insights into the functioning of our minds and our consciousness, but these are all “external” looks the inside, no insights from the inside concerning the whole. Okay, there is some research being done on the effects of longtime meditation and mindfulness, and tons of data are coming out of all these and other studies, but who is putting this knowledge into action?
And with all due respect, but from what i have read and heard about mindfulness, it is primarily a series of methods to calm the mind, to have a few insights into life here and there. I can’t help but find most of the contemporary efforts superficial, not really addressing the deeper problems of our way of living and thinking. There is a lot of compromise and superficiality within 99% of the available teachings (if i am wrong on this, please correct me).
We should realize that science will never succeed at explaining the inner ways of the mind, as the observer cannot be separated from the observed in this case. The growing evidence of great plasticity of the mind and brain should only encourage people to look further and consider the possibility of radically transforming their way of thinking and doing, from within.
It can happen.
The last few months i personally have been somewhat trying to reverse engineer my own path to radical change, and i must say that, at this moment, seeing how predecessors such as Bohm have been set aside, i am less confident in continuing this thing i am doing right here. I begin to wonder if it really amounts to anything, as it diametrically opposes most of what society stands for. At the same time i know that there is not really anything else i can or will do, because nothing feels more urgent than this, but still… Maybe it’s just a phase i have to go through, i don’t know. It takes time to become a good “teacher”, to integrate all the pieces into a complete whole, and sometimes i lose patience, not acknowledging the necessity of the deepening process, of further meditation. To me this is serious business, and it involves a lot of responsibility, even if there is nobody around to correct me.
In retrospect, i guess a somewhat extraordinary combination of events and DNA has brought me to where i am now. I’ll try to recapitulate in a nutshell.
Not long after i went to university i started to discover the problems of adult life, on many scales, and somehow my inward rebellion and anger pushed me further to get to “truth”, what’s really real.
My intelligence is above average, and i have always felt somewhat an outsider, partly due to that i suppose. To make things worse, the repeated rejections by a number of girls made loneliness my main course for many years. This resulted in two booklets full angry, dark poems and prose, dissecting my own faults and pains and desires and the hypocrisy of the surrounding world. Maybe i got caught in a self-fulfilling reality from time to time, but the alienation was not really a choice to my knowing. Also, the realization that i had lost nearly all interest in my studies (IT), the effects of my weak digestive system and not having any worthwhile perspectives made my frustration rise sky high. Probably that has been a blessing in disguise, as i did not want to settle for anything less than the truth, and since my needs were never met, the fire of discontent kept burning strongly. I stayed off booze and other drugs, i did consume a lot of sugar, TV (praise is due to Seinfeld) and porn. Maybe i would have been diagnosed as “depressed”, i’ll never know, i refused to fall back into some sort of compromise, of being distracted from all the issues that were bothering me. I continued to do my thing, i wrote, i drew, i made music, got onstage a few times, i met people, …, i got my degree, i moved on, i pushed my limits and undid a lot of my inhibitions, but the blues stayed with me. And i watched it, watching myself and the world vigorously.
After these 4 or 5 years of wanting to get rid of my loneliness, a whole lot of questioning in all directions, trying to bring myself to complete integrity, reading some insightful texts (including J.K. and Bohm of course, but no traditional “spiritual” literature), and a short adventure at art college, i finally started to cut through the whole of my confusion and eventually everything changed forever at one point: gone were the artistic aspirations and gone were the deepest pains of loneliness. I was very skeptical at the time, brushing it off as a temporary thing that had happened. I somehow knew it was wrong to interpret in any way. It was as if i no longer consciously clung to anything, and gone were all inner conflicts and worries (in retrospect, i should say most of them). It felt so amazing, too good to be true, that i didn’t even write it down in my journal. I only proclaimed to my closest friends that i literally knew that i “would never be depressed again”. Things progressed further a year or two afterward and it was only then that i realized the significance of what had changed in me. My life would never be the same again. (see FAQ for a little more info)
This brings me back to the difficulty of what i am trying to say. I don’t know how much it takes for someone else to get to the same point, should they want to go there. On one hand, during those years i had the luxury few people have: a whole lot of solitude and time to think (i wasted most of the time though), but on the other hand, it is really a matter of not wasting time, of asking the right questions and seeing a lot of harmful patterns. I don’t think it has much to do with IQ or intellectual capacity, on the contrary. The smarter you are, the better your mind is at fooling yourself, at escaping in endless analysis and hiding behind tons of old and incoming knowledge. In the end, to get to the root of your suffering is somewhat a “battle” against yourself, against your wrong ways of thinking and seeing.
I have been my own teacher more or less throughout, and perhaps that is the safest way, to not lean on somebody else’s authority and to question everything, with the danger of getting totally lost of course. Maybe it would have helped if i had more “illusion cutting tools” at my disposal, it’s a tricky affair. Maybe now there is your potential “advantage” of me helping you cut away some of the confusion that still exists and is very much alive, but i could also involuntarily add to your confusion. Tricky indeed.
The whole “E” thing is not so perfect or lovely as most people fantasize it to be. I would never want to go back to my days of blindness, that’s for sure, but it is not so easy to position myself in society, for example. If i can’t get to share my insights – not the words, but the underlying truth – what is their meaning, what’s the use? Meaning only has real meaning when it is shared among a group of people, or am i missing something here? This is a serious question i am meditating over.
And in the end, i am still the outsider, maybe more than ever before, who still moves in solitude most of the time, and who still gets lonely every now and then. It is strange, the distance between me and people has never been further and it has never been closer.
I don’t buy the permanent happy buddha selfless doubtless mind state crap. It is all too easy to let all your feelings go, to ignore the facts and adhere to some self-aggrandizing belief. Facts remain facts, flesh and blood is flesh and blood. There is always some meaning to be found behind personal unease or worry, even in a messed up society. Oh well… We’ll see where it takes us. The doing is the seeing, to paraphrase an old friend i have never met.
Whether or not Bohm went beyond the “point of no return” does not matter, really. He had a very clear view on what is fundamentally going wrong with the mainstream way of thinking and acting. Rumor goes that K. got tired of Bohm because he did not “get it” and did not see through the whole thing, but from my point of view that is not essential. He was looking and moving in the right direction, and that is already a huge step to take, considering the immense outward and inward pressure not to do so.
Nowadays a lot of people are saying that human consciousness is changing at last. I have my doubts about that. It is not because we have become more aware of our environmental problems that we have suddenly turned or will turn to the root cause: the dangerous inconsistencies and blind reflexes in human thought. The danger of constantly living, thinking and communicating in images and not being aware of this and the underlying realities and truth.
As long as collective thought, which is corrupted in so many ways, weighs so heavily on all facets of our daily lives, and as long as there are not enough sincere voices that point out the incoherence, without getting into fluffy spiritual nonsense and beliefs, the chances of people getting free is around zero to none.