The conundrum

This is one of a series of dialogues between Krishnamurti and

Dr. Allan W. Anderson, who is professor of religious studies at San

Diego State University where he teaches Indian and Chinese

scriptures and the oracular tradition. Dr. Anderson, a published

poet, received his degree from Columbia University and the Union

Theological Seminary, he has been honoured with the

distinguished teaching award from the California State University.

A: Mr Krishnamurti I was very taken with a recent statement of

yours in which you said that it’s the responsibility of each human

being to bring about his own transformation, which is not

dependent on knowledge or time. And if it’s agreeable with you I

thought it would be a splendid thing if we explored together the

general area of transformation itself and after we have done that

perhaps the other related areas would begin to fall into place and

we could bring about in conversation a relationship among them.

K: Don’t you think, sir, considering what’s happening in the

world, in India, in Europe and in America, the general

degeneration in literature, in art, and specially in the deep cultural

sense, in the sense religion…

A: Yes

K: …there is a traditional approach, a mere acceptance of

authority, belief which is not really the religious spirit. Seeing all

this, the confusion the great misery, the sense of infinity sorrow,

any observant and serious people would say that this society cannot

possibly be changed except only when the individual, the human

being, really transforms himself radically, that is regenerates

himself fundamentally. And the responsibility of that depends on

the human being not on the mass or on the priests or on a church or

a temple or mosque or whatever, but on a human being who is

aware of this enormous confusion, politically, religiously,

economically, in every direction there is such misery, such

unhappiness. And when you see that it is a very serious thing to ask

oneself whether a human being like oneself or another whether he

can really deeply undergo a radical transformation. And when that

question is put to him, and when he sees his responsibility in

relation to the whole then perhaps we can discuss what relationship

has knowledge and time in the transformation of man.

A: I quite follow. We need then to lay some groundwork in

order to move into the question itself.

K: Yes. Because most people are not concerned with the world

at all. Most people are not concerned seriously with the events,

with the chaos with the mess in the world at present. They are only

concerned very superficially. The problem of energy, problem of

pollution and so on – such superficial things. But they are really not

deeply concerned with the human mind – the mind that is

destroying the world.

A: Yes – I quite follow. What you have said places in a very

cardinal way the radical responsibility on the individual as such, if

I’ve understood you correctly.

K: Yes.

A: There are no five years plans that we can expect to help us


K: You see, the word individual is really not a correct word

because individual, as you know sir, means undivided, indivisible,

in himself. But human beings are totally fragmented, therefore they

are not individuals. They may have a bank account, a name, a

house, but they are not really individuals in the sense, a total

complete harmonious whole, unfragmented. That is really what it

means to be an individual.

A: Well would you say then that to move or to make passage or

perhaps a better word simply would be change, since we are not

talking about time, from this fragmented state to one of wholeness

which could be regarded as a change in the level of the being of the


K: Yes

A: Could we say that?

K: Yes, but you see again the word whole implies not only

sanity, health and also the word whole means holy, h-o-l-y. All

that’s implied in that one word whole. And human beings are never

whole. They are fragmented, they are contradictory, they are torn

apart by various desires. So, when we talk of an individual, the

individual is really a human being who is totally completely whole,

sane, healthy and therefore holy. And to bring about such a human

being is our responsibility in education, politically, religiously, in

every way. And therefore it is the responsibility of the educator, of

everybody, not just myself, my responsibility, it is your

responsibility as well as mine, as well as his.

A: It’s everybody’s responsibility…

K: Absolutely – because we have created this awful mess in the


A: But the individual is the one who must make the start.

K: A human being, each human being, it does not matter

whether he is a politician or a businessman or just an ordinary

person like me in the street, it’s our business as a human being to

realize the enormous suffering, misery, confusion there is in the

world. And it’s our responsibility to change all that, not the

politicians, not the businessman, not the scientist. It’s our


A: When we say our responsibility, and we have two uses of the

word individual now. There is the general use of it meaning a

quantitative measure…

K: Yes – quantitative measure.

A: …and than this qualitative reference that we simply needed,

it seems to me, to discern as a possibility. I am reminded again of

the statement that you made that I quoted earlier, that it is the

responsibility of each, each human person.

K: Human being, yes.

A: Right.

K: Whether he is in India or in England or in America or

wherever he is.

A: So we can’t slip out of this by saying, we have created this

therefore we must change it. We get back to, well if the change is

going to start at all, it’s going to be with each.

K: Yes, sir.

A: With each.

K: With each human being. Therefore the question arises from

that, does a human being realize with all seriousness his

responsibility not only to himself but to the whole of mankind?

A: It wouldn’t appear so from the way things go on.

K: Obviously not, each one is concerned with his own petty

little selfish desires. So responsibility implies tremendous

attention, care, diligence – not negligence as now it is going on.

A: Yes I do follow that. The word we that we used in relation to

each brings about the suggestion of a relationship which perhaps

we could pursue here a moment. There seems to be something

indivisible apparently between what we refer to by each or the

individual person as the usage is usually construed. It seems to be

an indivisible relation between that and what we call the whole,

which the individual doesn’t sense.

K: Sir, as you know, I have been all over the world, except

behind the Iron Curtain and China – Bamboo Curtain. I have been

all over and I have talked to and seen thousands and thousands of

people. I have been doing this for 50 years and more. Human

beings wherever they live are more or less the same. They have

their problems of sorrow, problems of fear, problems of livelihood,

problems of personal relationship, problems of survival,

overpopulation and the enormous problem of death – it is a

common problem to all of us. There is no eastern problem or

western problem. The West has its particular civilization and the

East has it’s own. And human beings are caught in this trap.

A: Yes I follow that.

K: They don’t seem to be able to get out of it. They are going on

and on and on, for millennia.

A: Therefore the question is how does he bring this about, as an

each, as a one? The word individual as you have just described,

seems to me to have a relationship to the word transform in itself,

and I would like to ask you whether you would agree in this. It

seems that many persons have the notion that to transform a thing

means to change it utterly without any relationship whatsoever to

what it is as such. That would seem to ignore that we are talking

about form that undergoes a change, which form still abides.

K: Yes sir, I understand.

A: Otherwise the change would involve a loss, a total loss.

K: So are we asking this question, sir? What place has

knowledge in the regeneration of man, in the transformation of

man, in the fundamental, radical movement in man? What place

has knowledge and therefore time? Is it that what you are asking?

A: Yes, yes, I am. Because either we accept that a change that is

a genuine change means the annihilation of what preceded it, or we

are talking about a total transformation of something that abides.

K: Yes. So let us look at that word for a minute. Revolution in

the ordinary sense of that word means, doesn’t it, not an evolution,

gradual evolution, it’s a revolution.

A: It doesn’t mean that then – right. I agree.

K: By revolution is generally meant, if you talk to a communist,

he want to overthrow the government, if you talk to a bourgeois he

is frightened, if you talk to an intellectual he has various criticisms

about revolution. Now, revolution is either bloody, or…

A: Yes.

K: Or revolution in the psyche.

A: Yes.

K: Outward or inner.

A: Outward, or inner.

K: The outward is the inner. The inner is the outward. There is

not the difference between the outward and the inner. They are

totally related to each other,

A: Then this goes back to what you mentioned earlier. There is

no division even though intellectually you make a distinction,

between the I and the we.

K: That’s right.

A: Yes, of course.

K: So, when we talk about change, we mean not the mere

bloody revolution physical revolution, but rather the revolution in

the makeup of the mind.

A: Of each.

K: Of human beings.

A: Right.

K: The way he thinks, the way he behaves, the way he conducts

himself, the way he operates, he functions, the whole of that. Now,

whether that psychological revolution – not evolution in the sense

of gradualness…

A: No.

K: What place has knowledge in that?

A: What place has knowledge in something?

K: In the regeneration of man which is the inward revolution

which will affect the outer.

A: Yes, which is not a gradual progress.

K: Gradual progress is endless.

A: Exactly. So we are talking an instant qualitative change.

K: Again when you use the word instant, it seems as though

suddenly it is to happen. That’s why I am rather hesitant in using

the word instant. We will go into it in a minute. First of all, sir, let’s

be clear what you and I are talking about if we may. We see

objectively the appalling mess the world is in. Right?

A: Yes.

K: The misery the confusion, the deep sorrow of man.

A: Oh, yes.

K: I can’t tell you what I feel when I go round the world. The

pettiness, the shallowness, the emptiness of all this, of the so-called

western civilization, if I may use that word; into which the eastern

civilization is being grabbed into. And we are just scratching on the

surface. all the time. And we think the mere change on the surface

– change in the structure is going to do something enormous to all

human beings. On the contrary it has done nothing. It polishes a

little bit here and there but deeply fundamentally it does not change

man. So, when we are discussing change we must be, I think, fairly

clear that we mean the change in the psyche, in the very being of

human beings. That is, in the very structure and nature of his


A: The change at the root.

K: At the root – yes.

A: At the root itself.

K: At the root. And therefore when there is that change he will

naturally bring about a change in society. It isn’t society first, or

individual first, it is the human change which will transform the

society. They are not two separate things.

A: Now I must be very careful that I understand this precisely. I

think I discern now why in the statement you said, which is not

dependent on knowledge or time. Because when this person

changes, this each human being changes, the change which begins

in society is a change that is in a non-temporal relationship with the

change in each human being.

K: After all human beings have created this society. By their

greed, by their anger, by their violence, by their brutality, by their

pettiness, they have created this society.

A: Precisely.

K: And they think by changing the structure you are going to

change the human being. This has been the communist problem,

this has been the eternal problem: that if we change the

environment then you change man. They have tried that in ten

different ways and they haven’t done it, succeeded in changing

man. On the contrary man conquers the environment as such.

So, if we are clear that the outer is the inner – the inner is the

outer, that there is not the division, the society and the individual,

the collective and the separate human being, but the human being

is the whole, he is the society, he is the separate human individual,

he is the factor which brings about this chaos.

A: Yes, I am following this very closely.

K: Therefore he is the world and the world is him.

A: Yes. Therefore if he changes everything changes. If he

doesn’t change nothing changes.

K: I think this is very important because we don’t realize, I

think, this basic factor that we are the world and the world is us,

that the world is not something separate from me and me separate

from the world. You are born in a culture, Christian or Hindu or

whatever culture you are born in. You are the result of that culture.

And that culture has produced this world. The materialistic world

of the West, if one can call it, which is spreading all over the

world, destroying their own culture, their own traditions –

everything is being swept aside in the wake of the western culture,

and this culture has produced this human being, and the human

being has created this culture.

A: Exactly.

K: I mean he has created the paintings, the marvelous

cathedrals, the marvelous technological things, going to the moon

and so on and so on, the human beings have produced it. It is the

human beings that have created the rotten society in which we live.

It is the immoral society in which we live which human beings

have created.

A: Oh yes there is no doubt about that.

K: And therefore the world is you, you are the world, there is no

other. If we accept that, if we see that not intellectually, but feel it

in your heart, in your mind, in your blood that you are that, then

the question is, is it possible for a human being to transform

himself inwardly and therefore outwardly?

A: I am very concerned to see this as clearly as I can in terms of

two texts that come to my mind, which we could say possess an

inner meaning, and because of this inner outer thing that we have

spoken about in the divided approach that is made to scripture –

there is a tremendous irony here – I am thinking of that, to me,

wonderful text in St Johns gospel, in the third chapter, which says –

and I will try to translate this as the Greek has it – ‘The one who is

doing the truth is coming to the light’. It isn’t that he does the truth

and then later he comes to the light. And it isn’t that we could say

from the pulpit, I will tell you what the truth is, if you do it then

you will see the light. Because we are back again to what you

mentioned earlier, the non-temporal relationship between the

action which itself is the transformation.

K: Quite.

A: And the marvelous vista of understanding, which is not an ‘if’

then thing, but is truly concurrent. And the other one that I thought

of, I was hoping you might agree is saying the same thing, so that I

understand it well in terms of what you have said, is, and again I

will try to translate it as literally as I can: God is love and the one

abiding in love is abiding in God and God is abiding in him.

K: Quite, quite.

A: I put the ‘-ing’ on all those words because of the character of

the language itself. One wouldn’t want to translate that for pulpit

reading perhaps – but that’s the real sense of it. And this ‘ing-ing’

along gives the feeling that there is an activity here that is not

bound temporally.

K: It isn’t a static state. It isn’t something you intellectually

accept, and leave it like that. Then it is death, there is nothing in it.

A: Yes.

K: That’s why you see, sir, we have divided the physical world

as the East and the West. We have divided religions, Christian

religion and Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist. And we have divided the

world into nationalities; the capitalist and the socialist, the

communist and the other people and so on. We have divided the

world, and we have divided ourselves as Christians, non-

Christians, we have divided ourselves into fragments, opposing

each other, so, where there is a division there is conflict.

A: Precisely.

K: I think that is a basic law.

A: Where there is a division there is conflict. But in terms of

that word knowledge it appears that people believe to start with

that that division is there, and they operate on that radical belief.

K: That’s why I am saying it’s so important to understand from

the beginning of our talks, in our dialogue, that the world is not

different from me and that I am the world. This may sound rather

simplified, simplistic, but it has got very deep fundamental

meaning if you realize what it means, not intellectually, but

inwardly, the understanding of it, therefore there is no division.

The moment I say to myself, I realize that I am the world and the

world is me, I am not a Christian, nor a Hindu, or a Buddhist –

nothing, I am a human being.

A: I was just thinking when you were saying how certain kinds

of philosophical analysis would approach that, and in terms of the

spirit of what you have said, this really is almost a cosmic joke

because on the one hand as you said, it might sound simplistic.

Some would say it is, therefore we don’t have to pay attention to it;

others would say, well it’s probably so much in want of clarity even

though it’s profound that it is some kind of mysticism. And we are

back and forth, the division again, as soon as that.

K: I know, I know.

A: So I do follow you.

K: So, if that is clear that human mind has divided the world in

order to find it’s own security, which brings about it’s own

insecurity, when one is aware of that then one must inwardly as

well as outwardly deny this division, as we and they, I and you, the

Indian and the European and the Communist. You cut at the very

root of this division. Therefore from that arises the question, can

the human mind which has been so conditioned for millennia, can

that human mind which has acquired so much knowledge in so

many directions, can that human mind change, bring about a

regeneration in itself and be free to reincarnate now?

A: Now?

K: Now.

A: Yes.

K: That is the question.

A: That is the question – exactly – reincarnate now. It would

appear from what you have said that one could say that the vast

amount of represented knowledge, an accretion of centuries, is a

discussion we have been having with ourselves regardless of which

culture we are speaking about as a commentary on this division.

K: Absolutely.

A: Without really grasping the division itself. And of course the

division itself. And of course since division is infinitely divisible…

K: Of course.

A: Then we can have tome after tome, after tome, libraries after

libraries, mausoleums of books without end because we are

continually dividing the division. Yes I follow you.

K: And you see that’s why culture is different from civilization.

Culture implies growth.

A: Oh yes, oh yes.

K: Now growth in the flowering of goodness.

A: A lovely phrase, lovely phrase.

K: That is culture – real culture – the flowering in goodness –

you understand sir, and that doesn’t exist. We have civilization, you

can travel from India to America in a few hours – you have better

bathrooms – better this and better that and so on with all the

complications that involves. That has been the western culture

which has been absorbed in the East. So goodness is the very

essence of culture. Religion is the transformation of man. Not all

the beliefs, churches and the idolatry of the Christians or the

Hindus. That’s not religion.

So we come back to the point, if one sees all this in this world –

observes it, not condemn it or justify it – just to observe it, then

from that one asks: man has collected such enormous information,

knowledge, and has that knowledge changed him into goodness?

You follow sir – into a culture that will make him flower in this

beauty of goodness. It has not.

A: No it has not.

K: Therefore it has no meaning.

A: Excursions into defining goodness is not going to help us.

K: You can give explanations, definitions, but definitions are

not the reality.

A: Of course not.

K: The word isn’t the thing. The description isn’t the described.

A: Precisely.

K: So we come back again.

A: Yes, let’s do.

K: Because personally I am tremendously concerned with this

question: how to change man. Because I go to India every year for

three months or five months and I see what is happening there, and

I see what is happening in Europe, and I see what is happening in

this country, in America, and I can’t tell you what shock it gives me

each time I come to these countries – the degeneration, the

superficiality, the intellectual concepts galore without any

substance, without any basis or ground in which the beauty of

goodness, of reality can grow. So saying all that what place has

knowledge in the regeneration of man? That is the basic question.

A: That’s our point of departure.

K: Departure.

A: Good. And the knowledge that we have pointed to so far that

has emerged in our discussion is a knowledge which in itself has

no power to effect this transformation.

K: No sir, but knowledge has a place.

A: Yes I didn’t mean that. I mean what is expected of this

knowledge that we pointed to, that is accumulated in libraries, is an

expectation which in itself cannot fulfil.

K: No, no. I must now go back to the word again – the word

knowledge, what does it mean to know?

A: Well I have understood the word in a strict sense this way:

knowledge is the apprehension of ‘what is’, but what passes for

knowledge might not be that.

K: No. What is generally accepted as knowledge is experience.

A: Yes, what is generally accepted.

K: We will begin with that because it’s generally accepted – the

experience which yields, or leaves a mark which is knowledge.

That accumulated knowledge whether in the scientific world or in

the biological world or in the business world or in the world of the

mind, the being, is the known. The known is the past, therefore

knowledge is the past. Knowledge cannot be in the present. I can

use knowledge in the present.

A: But it’s founded on the past.

K: Yes. But it has its roots in the past. Which means – that’s

very interesting – whether this knowledge which we have acquired

about everything –

A: Yes.

K: …I personally don’t read any of these books, neither the Gita,

the Bhagvad-gita or the Upanishads, none of the psychological

books, nothing. I am not a reader. I have observed tremendously all

my life. Now, knowledge has it’s place.

A: Oh yes, yes.

K: Let’s be clear on this. In the practical, technological – I must

know where I am going, physically, and so on. Now, what place

has that, which is human experience as well as scientific

knowledge, what place has that in changing the quality of a mind

that has become brutal, violent, petty, selfish, greedy, ambitious

and all the rest of that? What place has knowledge in that?

A: We are going back to the statement we began with – namely

that this transformation is not dependent on knowledge, then the

answer would have to be, then it doesn’t have a place.

K: Therefore let’s find out what are the limits of knowledge.

A: Yes, yes, of course.

K: Where is the demarcation, freedom from the known – where

does that freedom begin?

A: Good. Yes, now I know precisely the point at which we are

going to move from. Where does that freedom begin, which is not

dependent on this funded accretion from the past.

K: That’s right. So, the human mind is constructed on

knowledge. It has evolved through millennia on this accretion, on

tradition, on knowledge.

A: Yes.

K: It is there, and all our actions are based on that knowledge.

A: Which by definition must be repetitious.

K: Obviously and it is a repetition. So, what is the beginning of

freedom in relation to knowledge? May I put it this way to make

myself clear?

A: Yes, yes.

K: I have experienced something yesterday that has left a mark.

That is knowledge and with that knowledge I meet the next

experience. So the next experience is translated in terms of the old

and therefore that experience is never new.

A: So in a way if I understand you correctly, you are saying that

the experience that I had yesterday, that I recall…

K: The recollection.

A: …the recollection upon my meeting something new that

appears to have some relationship to it, I approach on the basis of

holding my previous knowledge up as a mirror in which to

determine the nature of this new thing that I…

K: Quite, quite.

A: And this could be a rather crazy mirror.

K: Generally it is. You see that’s what I mean. Where is

freedom in relation to knowledge? Or is freedom something other

than the continuity of knowledge?

A: Must be something other.

K: Which means if one goes into it very, very deeply, it means

the ending of knowledge.

A: Yes.

K: And what does that mean, what does it mean to end

knowledge. Whereas I have lived entirely on knowledge.

A: It means that immediately.

K: Ah wait, wait. See what is involved in it, sir. I met you

yesterday and there is the image of you in my mind and that image

meets you next day.

A: Yes.

K: The image meets you.

A: The image meets me.

K: And there are a dozen images or hundred images. So the

image is the knowledge. The image is the tradition. The image is

the past. Now can there be freedom from that?

A: If this transformation that you speak of is to happen, is to

come to pass, there must be.

K: Of course. Therefore we can state it, but how is the mind

which strives, acts, functions on image, on knowledge, on the

known – how is it to end that? Take this very simple fact, you are in

sorrow, or you praise me, that remains a knowledge, with that with

that image, with that knowledge I meet you. I never meet you. The

image meets you.

A: Exactly.

K: Therefore there is no relationship between you and me.

A: Yes, because between us this has been interposed.

K: Of course, obviously. Therefore how is that image to end,

never to register – you follow sir

A: I can’t depend on someone else to handle it for me.

K: Therefore what am I to do? How is this mind which is

registering, recording all the time – the function of the brain is to

record, all the time – how is it to be free of knowledge? When you

have done some harm to me personally, collectively or whatever,

you have insulted me, flattered me, how is the brain not to register

that? If it registers it is already an image, it’s a memory – and the

past then meets the present, And therefore there is no solution to it.

A: Exactly.

K: I was looking at that word the other day in a very good

dictionary – tradition. It means and of course the ordinary word –

tradere – to give, hand over, to give across. It also has another

peculiar meaning – not peculiar – from the same word, betrayal.

A: Oh yes traduce.

K: Traduce. And in discussing in India this came out, betrayal

of the present. If I live in tradition I betray the present.

A: Yes I do see that.

K: Which is knowledge betrays the present. I betray the present.

A: Which is in fact a self betrayal.

K: Yes, that’s right.

A: Yes I do see that.

K: So how is the mind which functions on knowledge – how is

the brain which is recording all the time…

A: Yes.

K: …to end, to see the importance of recording and not let it

move in any other direction? That is, sir, let me to put it this way,

very simply: you insult me, you hurt me, by word, gesture, by an

actual act, that leaves a mark on the brain which is memory.

A: Yes.

K: That memory is knowledge, that knowledge is going to

interfere in my meeting you next time – obviously. Now how is the

brain and also the mind, to record and not let it interfere with the


A: The person must, it seems to me, take pains to negate.

K: No, no. See what is implied, but how am I to negate it. How

is the brain whose function is to record, like a computer it is


A: I didn’t mean to suggest that it negates the recording. But it’s

the association, the translation of the recording into an emotional


K: How is it – that’s just the point – how is it to end this

emotional response when I meet you next time, you who have hurt

me? That’s a problem.

A: That’s the place from which we in a practical order in

relation to ourselves must then begin.

K: Yes.

A: Exactly. There is an aspect of this that interests me very

much in terms of the relation between the theoretical and the


K: Sir, to me theory has no reality. Theories have no importance

to a man who is actually living.

A: May I say what I mean by theory. I don’t think I mean what

you think I mean by it. I mean theory in the sense of the greek

word theorea – spectacle, what is out there that I see. And the word

is therefore very closely related to what you have been talking

about in terms of knowledge. And yet it is the case that if we see

something, that something is registered to us in the mind in terms

of a likeness of it, otherwise we should have to become it in order

to receive it, which in a material order would annihilate us, It

seems to me, if I followed you correctly, that there is a profound

confusion in ones relationship to that necessity for the finite being

and what he makes of it. And in so far he is making the wrong

thing of it he is in desperate trouble and can only go on repeating

himself, and in such a repetition increasing despair. Have I

distinguished this correctly?

K: You see religion is based on tradition. Religion is vast

propaganda, as it is now. In India, here, anywhere, propaganda of

theories of beliefs, of idolatry, worship, essentially based on the

acceptance of a theory.

A: Yes.

K: Essentially based on an idea.

A: Statement, a postulate.

K: Ideas, put out by thought.

A: Right.

K: And obviously that’s not religion. So religion as it exists now

is the very denial of truth.

A: Yes. I am sure I understand you.

K: And if a man like me or… wants to find out, discover what

the truth is he must deny the whole structure of religion, as it is –

which is idolatry propaganda, fear, division, you are a Christian I

am a Hindu – all that nonsense, and be a light to oneself. Not in the

vain sense of that word. Light because the world is in darkness and

a human being has to transform himself, has to be a light to

himself. And light is not lit by somebody else.

A: So there is a point at which he must stop repeating himself.

Is that correct? In a sense we could use the analogy perhaps from

surgery: something that has been continuous is now cut.

K: Yes.

A: And cut radically – not just fooled around with.

K: We haven’t time to fool around any more – the house is on

fire. At least I feel this enormously – things are coming to such a

pass we must do something – each human being. Not in terms of

better housing, better security, more this and that – but basically to

regenerate himself.

A: But if the person believes that in cutting himself from this

accretion that he is killing himself, he is going to resist that idea.

K: Of course. Therefore he has to understand what his mind has

created, therefore he has to understand himself.

A: So he starts observing himself.

K: Himself – which is the world.

A: Yes. Not learning five languages to be able to…

K: Attending schools where you learn sensitivity and all that


A: The point that you are making, it seems it seems to me, is

made also by the great Danish thinker, Kirkegaard, who lived a

very trying life in his own community because he was asking them,

it seems to me, to undertake what you are saying. He was saying:

Look if I go to seminary and I try to understand what Christianity

is by studying it myself then what I am doing is appropriating

something here, but then when do I know I have appropriated it

fully. I shall never know that point therefore I shall forever

appropriate it and never do anything about it, as such, as a subject.

The person who must risk the deed, not the utterance, in its

essential form, or not simply thinking through what someone has

thought but actually embodying the meaning through the

observation of myself in relation to that. And that has always

seemed to me a very profound insight. But one of the ironies of

that is of course in the Academy we have an endless proliferation

of studies in which scholars have learned Danish in order to

understand Kirkegaard, and what they are doing is to a large extent

– if I haven’t misjudged the spirit of much that I have read – is

simply perpetuate the very thing he said should be cut. I do have

this very strong feeling that profound change would take place in

the academy of which you know I am a member, if the teacher

were not only to grasp this that you have said, but take the risk of

acting on it. Since if it isn’t acted on, if I understood you correctly,

we are back again where we were. We have toyed with the idea of

being valiant and courageous, but then we have to think about of

what is involved before we do, and then we don’t do.

K: Quite.

A: We think and don’t do.

K: Therefore sir, the word is not the thing. The description is

not the described, and if you are not concerned with the description

but only with the thing, ‘what is’, then we have to do something.

When you are confronted with ‘what is’ you act, but when you are

concerned with theories and speculations and beliefs you never act.

A: So there isn’t any hope for this transformation, if I

understood you correctly, if I should think to myself that this just

sounds marvelous. I am the world and the world is me, but while I

go on thinking that the description is the described. There is no

hope. So we are speaking about a disease over here, and we are

speaking about something that has been stated as the case, and if I

take what has been stated as the case, as ‘the case’, then I am

thinking that the description is the described.

K: Of course.

A: And I never get out.

K: Sir, it is like a man who is hungry, any amount of description

of the right kind of food will never satisfy him. He is hungry he

wants food. So, all this implies, doesn’t it, sir, several things. First

can there be freedom from knowledge – and knowledge has its

place – can there be freedom from the tradition as knowledge…

A: From the tradition as knowledge, yes.

K: …can there be freedom from this separative outlook – me and

you? We and they, Christian, and all this divisive attitude or

activity in life. Those are the problems we have to attend to.

A: That’s what we must attend to as we move through our


K: So first can the mind be free from the known, not verbally

but actually?

A: Actually.

K: I can speculate about the body’s freedom and all the rest of it,

but see the necessity, the importance, that there must be freedom

from the known, otherwise life becomes repetitive, a continuous

superficial scratching. It has no meaning.

A: Of course. In our next conversation together I hope we can

begin where we have just left off.


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