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16424Fw: Re: [Bohm_Dialogue] September 25, 1962 Dear Isidore,

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  • krishnan sundaram
    Nov 25, 2008

      --- On Tue, 25/11/08, krishnan sundaram <krish_cost@...> wrote:
      From: krishnan sundaram <krish_cost@...>
      Subject: Re: [Bohm_Dialogue] September 25, 1962 Dear Isidore,
      To: bohm_dialogue@...
      Date: Tuesday, 25 November, 2008, 11:24 AM

      Dear Isidore,

      I have been seeing things a bit more clearly since you left. I would say that our concepts are like mirrors that we hold up to reality.  If they are distorting mirrors, they may present many apparently different reflections of one thing.  Thus, if I tried to study my own ego, there appears the “me” with all its qualities, and an “I” that seems to be observing them.  Yet we know logically, that an "I" and “me," must be one entity.  How then do we come to see them as two?  I suggest that consciousness is a distorting mirror, which is able, in effect, to give two apparently different but related and interacting reflections of one process.  In reality there is neither "I" nor "me," but the individual in his totally (individual = undivided).  On the other hand, the ego process with the "I - me" division could be called the "dividual."  In the individual, perception is "going on" without the need for a "perceiver" to do the job.  Our language forces us to say that a subject is acting on an object.  Thus, we say, "It is raining."  But where is the "it" that is doing the raining?  Similarly, we say, "I am observing."

      Also, one can ask, "Is there really an 'I' that is ' doing' the observing or is there not just a process of observing that is going on?"  What a person is serious about what he is doing, the ego falls away, and the individual as a whole is perceiving and acting.  For instance, suppose that he is playing music.  When he is finished, the ego process comes back into existence, and takes the credit.  But in reality, the ego process never does anything at all, except to get in the way.  Imagine trying to play music, while the ego is saying, "I am now playing music.  Isn't it wonderful what I can do?"

      So it seems to me that at all times, when the ego exists, the individual is in a state of confused perception.  In this state, he sees "the world," and also, he hears the words  "This is' I,'" along with a feeling of ownership or possession of a whole set of qualities, memories, urges, relations, desires, etc..  This latter feeling can be called "identification."  The individual also has the illusory perception of a process in which the centralized collection of qualities is initiating actions.  But in reality, it is the individual as a whole who acts.  The confusion is that the individual is seeing the process as if it were the separate ego that was acting, as in a moving picture we see the image of a person as if it were "doing" things.

      I would say that as a man perceives, so he is.  Here I include in perception, all of seeing, hearing, feeling, sensing, going on up to understanding, and the seeing of what is true and false.  This latter is very important.  If a man is confused in his vision of what is false and what is true, then nothing else, that he does can mean much.  Thus, if he wants to do good, he may nevertheless do evil, since he cannot see whether what he does is truly good or not.  Probably even Hitler saw himself as doing good, but his vision was very confused.  Similarly, an insane man may be responding in a natural way to his confused vision of the world.  When a man sees differently (i.e., understands), then he is different.  A man with a confused perception must act in a confused way, and therefore he is confused.  As soon as his vision is really clear (not just in words, but in his whole being), then he turns away from confusion, and he is a different man.  So the transformation of man must come through a new vision, a new understanding.  Only the individual can do this.  So it is the individual who can change, and not the collective.

      The importance of perception by the whole man cannot be emphasized too much.  Suppose that a man sees what he takes for sugar, but suddenly, he reads the label "Potassium Cyanide."  His whole being immediately sees that this is poison, and he turns away from it without further ado, because he wants to live.  His intellect, his emotions, his nerves and muscles, etc., are all aware that "this is poison," and each does its job in carrying out the appropriate action.  Now, if we really had a corresponding total perception of the ego at work, we would see that it is as poisonous as cyanide.  However, what may happen is that the intellect says, "This is poison," while the emotions, being more conservative and attached to memory, say, "No -- it is sugar."  So we are confused, we are in a state of contradiction.  While we are in that state, all our thoughts and actions are confused, and each step only tangles us up worse.  It is as if a scientist were to say, "3 = 2."  Then he would feel uncomfortable because of the contradiction.  Every idea that he introduced to resolve the contradiction would only make it worse, as long as he accepted the notion that "3 = 2."

      When one is in a state of confusion, one can do nothing (as when one is lost in the woods, it is urgent to stop and try to understand, rather than go around in circles).  We cannot believe anything that is in our own minds, because it may only be an idea brought in to cover up our confusion.  But there is one thing that one can see, and this is "I am confused."  Here, one starts with the truth, and goes on from there.  It is an objective fact that I am confused, as objective as "the temperature is now 65°F."

      Then one must see the source of the confusion.  This is of course often quite difficult.  But here, it is helpful to ask the question, "Is there anything more important than seeing what is true and what is false?"  If your mind puts forth some emotional demand as more important, then you will see, on asking this question, that here is one of the sources of your confusion.  For it is plain to see that nothing can really be more important than to see what is true and what is false (not even the need to save your life, because if you mistake truth for falsity, you will act in a confused way, and will be more likely to lose your life then if you saw clearly).

      It is clear now that it is of no use to fight the ego, to "do" something "positive" about it.  For this would only be a confused process, in which the ego tried to improve itself, not noticing that the ego process is the essence of the illness.  When you understand confusion (i.e., see it deeply), then this perception will act of its own accord, and you will turn away from confusion, without further ado.  The ego need do nothing at all.  Indeed, if it acts, it must get in the way.  If I confuse my image in a mirror with another man who is imitating me, then everything that I do to stop this man from imitating me will only confuse me more when I understand that this is only a reflection of me in the mirror, then the whole problem disappears.  As long as I do not understand the problem, it is insoluble, because it is based on confusion.  As soon as I understand, there is no problem.  And this is what happens with all the problems created by the ego process.  They are all based on confusion, hence insoluble, until one understands.  But when one understands there is no problem.

      I would like to go a bit in to the origin of the confusion that is responsible for the ego process.  Now, an infant begins by not being able to recall to memory (in an internal image) and object that is absent.  But he can still recognize it when he experiences it (this is often true even of an adult).  How does it happen?

      It seems to me that every experience leads a kind of "negative trace" or imprint in the mind.  When the experience is repeated, it fits this imprint as a key fits a lock.  In this way one can recognize it.  One can also produce an internal image In the imagination, which is recognized in the same way that direct perceptions are recognized, i.e., against the "negative trace."  So memory is a positive internal imitation (in the imagination) of something that was once perceived, while recognition precedes imitation in the development of the infant, because it is basically a simpler procedure.

      One can compare recognition to a set of grooves and scratches impressed by past experience on the mind, while memory is like the "play-back" of the record as internal images, sounds, etc..

      It is important to notice that both recognition and memory involve the emotions as well as factual records of what happened outwardly.  Thus, if the infant has a certain experience that is pleasant, his recognition traces start to demand a repetition.  He tries to find a way to repeat it.  But if they are unpleasant, he tries to find a way to avoid it.  Here is the real beginning of the ego process.  Evidently, when the memory "play-back" develops later in the child, it too will be accompanied by emotional demands for or against the experience in question.  Since thought is based on recognition and memory, it is clear that thought and feeling cannot be separated.  They are two aspects of the one process, which is the response of recognition and memory to new perceptions.

      Out of thought is then born desire, the urge to continue, to enhance, to possess, to make secure that which is pleasant and to guarantee the avoidance of what is unpleasant.  Desire attaches itself to an object of the imagination, in order to attain permanence.  But the object of desire is always changing.  Firstly, the real object changes in one way, while the object imagined in desire changes in another way.  We then discover when we get the object of our desire that it isn't what we expected; we soon encounter satiety and boredom.  Other objects soon seem more attractive to desire.  Besides, objects of desire change in unexpected ways, grow old, and even pass out of existence.  So the attachment of desire to an object leads to contradiction (contradictory desires), and out of this comes confusion.

      Religious people and moralists then tell us to suppress desire, shape it, control it, direct it to God or to the triumph of Communism.  Psychologists and others tell us to sublimate it.  But doing this only heightens the contradiction and confusion.  Then comes fear that one will never achieve satisfaction of desire, a state of anxiety and despair, alternating with periods of hope, when there is the momentary belief that one can escape into a new job, a new religion, a new hobby, a new marriage, etc.

      So we see that the ego process, with its attachment of desire to an object, is inherently in a state of confusion.  What is the origin of this confusion?  It is very simple.  We mistake the demands made in the "play-back" of memory for true feelings.  True feelings arise only in fresh perception of what is new.  This perception is understanding on the intellectual side, and it has the wholeness of feeling sometimes called love on the emotional side.  It can also be called creativity.  But this creativity refers to creative living, and not just to the expression of creation in art, science, music, etc..  It is essential to understand that the play-back of memory and the recognition "scratches" are not creative in this sense.  They have their utility as factual memory to guide you in your life or your job (how to get home, etc.).  Memory is, like fire, "a good servant but a bad master."  And as soon as you take the play-back of emotions seriously, you are the slave of memory, since your actions will then be only a response to these "memory scratches," and not to reality as it actually is from moment to moment.  Since the "memory scratches" cannot fit reality (because reality is always changing), one comes into a state of contradiction between demands based on memory and reality, as well as between the different aspects of memory demands that contradict each other.  So the ego is inherently in a state of confusion and contradiction.

      What is to be done about all this?  The answer is, as I said before, nothing at all.  Whatever action is born of desire, will also be self-contradictory (e.g., the desire to end desire, which in fact, only continues desire in another form).  But the question is, "Why do anything at all about desire?"  Desire seems to be necessary to mental life.  It is like a mini-colored flame, very beautiful and full of energy, always changing.  When it is attached to something, it falls into contradiction and confusion -- the flame turns into dense smoke.  But if you understand the futility of doing anything at all about desire (satisfying it, attaching it to an object, shaping it, suppressing it, choosing "good" desires and getting rid of "bad" desires), then you will just turn away from these efforts, and let desire do what it will, to die as to unfold in its own natural way.  Then there will be no contradiction.  Desire does no harm if it is not attached.  In other words, desire is something different, when you understand it.  For recall, "As man sees, so he is."  If you see desire in a new way, then desire is different in its operation in you.

      If you don't let desire determine your actions, then what should do this?  The answer is: The perception of what is true and what is false will operate by itself, if it is deep enough.  For example, when one sees the poison, one simply leaves it alone, without bringing in a struggle between the desire on one side to live and on the other side to continue to take the poison.  Also, when you see the truth -- that you are confused, and the falsity of ideas that arise in the state of confusion -- then this perception acts, and your mind is already starting to clear its self, without any effort by the ego to bring this about.  You must ask yourself, "Is it possible for there to be such an extensive and deep perception of what is true and what is false, that the ego process as a whole will drop away like a dead leaf?"  There is no way to answer this in words.  It is foolish to try.  The answer can only come by looking at the problem concretely.

      Finally, it is interesting to compare all this with various forms of psychoanalysis, which also assert that self-understanding can lead to integration of the personality.  The main difference is that they all urge us to adjust to the "normal" life in society.  But this "norm" is confused and self-contradictory.  So we are asked to adjust to confusion.  Imagine a physicist who was asked to adjust to the assumption that "2 = 3."  He would end up by going mad.  Perhaps a similar fate awaits the one who tries to adjust to society.  What is needed is to see through it as inherently confused.

      Saral and I send you our love, also to Sheila and the children.

      Yours, Dave

      info: www.david-bohm.org/mailman/listinfo/bohm_dialogue

      How to kill the ego in order to get clarity ?
      "To get the ego to kill itself is like asking the thief to turn into a policeman.Self-enquiry is the only way" Sri Ramana(1888-1950)
      Refer:Paul Brunton

      --- On Mon, 24/11/08, ae.dropper@... <ae.dropper@...> wrote:
      From: ae.dropper@... <ae.dropper@...>
      Subject: [Bohm_Dialogue] September 25, 1962 Dear Isidore,
      To: bohm_dialogue@...
      Date: Monday, 24 November, 2008, 10:55 AM

      September 25, 1962

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