The Shambolic Mind - Entry 1

Maybe it’s the information that’s getting to me. Certainly there’s way too much of it. The information is even coming at me from everyday appliances—my overused toaster is telling me things I’d rather not know about my eating habits, my vacuous fridge is a constant rebuke to bachelor life. Its creaking door and cavernous echo is like a one-two punch joke told over and over by an aging comedian. When I walk outside, the city air brings yet more information. It carries the fallout of science right to my nose, the bouquets of pollutants generated by chemical reactions in nearby industrial valleys. What is a man supposed to do when he wants to just turn off? The modern citizen is either defeated by the information, or must learn to surf it. He must bob on the tide of bulletins, news briefs, memos, mission statements, apocalyptic warnings, dictator declarations, friendly advice, constructive and deconstructive criticism, late night sports scores, market analyses, spurious spam, monsoon warnings, the telltale headaches and abdominal pains, the little voice in his head cheering for his ruin, and the other more fulsome voice, telling him anything is possible, telling him to haul his little load of misery to the trash like a grownup.

Mind, Ego, Time, Space....Division

This, I think, is the essence of Krishnamurti's teachings:

The mind operates through division, which is the same thing as quantification. This is its fundamental activity. Every other activity of the mind--such as measurement or analysis--flows from division and is dependant upon division. Everything that the mind generates/perceives is as a result of that basic isolating, dividing or quantifying action. Anything that the mind cannot determine the limits of—anything that it calls "infinite"—also cannot be held in the mind and manipulated. That which cannot be quantified is essentially outside the capabilities of the mind and therefore useless to the mind.

The mind uses division to create the concepts of space and time, as well as its own ego or sense of separateness. So we see that space, as a concept, is not possible unless the mind can distinguish and separate visual phenomena, and then create a conceptual stage for those phenomena which it separates from all other concepts and calls "space." Likewise, time as a concept is not possible unless the mind can further subdivide appearances of phenomena in space along an imaginary continuum, and then take that conceptual continuum itself, separate it from other concepts and call it "time." The ego also cannot exist without the mind’s ability to separate one quantity from another--in this case that involves isolating/opposing the self and its attributes and desires in relation to others and their attributes and desires.

This whole discussion becomes more interesting if we then see that the mind is in fact also artificial because division itself creates it. Just like that which the mind creates, the mind as a concept is itself a creation of division and cannot exist without it. I think this is essential for Krishnamurti. If someone wants to deal with his or her ego and overactive, negative mind, it is a mistake to position the mind or ego as separate, something to be opposed and dominated. The awareness is falling into a trap if it itself isolates mind into a separate entity. If it does this then it is itself employing division (and is therefore more appropriately called mind). Instead the awareness should locate the urge to create division itself, and eliminate that from its fundamental worldview. From this point compassion and engagement can flow naturally. Other people, the earth, animals, all of it can be recognized as no more than appearences of one unified energy (or whatever you want to call it...being, god, etc), and cared for accordingly. It is important to note that this way of seeing the world is not conceptual, but is actually a mode or way of being--operating from pure awareness, and understanding that division is a practical tool for manifesting its essential nature (call it universal love) and nothing more.

Deflection Vs. Diffusion

Here’s an idea. The human awareness can be imagined as a directional flow of intent or interest. When I am reading a book, my awareness is—if I am able to concentrate—located somewhere within the content of the book. If I am taking a walk and observing my surroundings with interest, my attention will be focused on whatever comes into the field of my senses. I think, however, that there is an important distinction to be made between environments (and individual objects within them) that deflect the attention and those that absorb or diffuse it. In a city with advertisements on every wall and a million things trying to snag your focus, it is not abnormal to feel like your attention is caught in a pinball machine. Advertisements, snazzy dressers, fancy sports cars, are all calling out for your attention and are shrewdly designed to deflect it towards a specific target. In a natural environment, however, we are presented with a totally different kind of phenomenon. In nature our attention is gently absorbed, and diffused along the multiple lines of a beauty that cannot be measured or quantified. IN nature the observed presents us with no ulterior motive. There is nothing for the mind to do. In this sense, nature functions as a kind of ground zero for the mind, a beautiful black hole for its ambitions and motives.

Schizophrenia and “Enlightenment”--two sides of the same coin?

Does schizophrenia—in certain cases—provide an opportunity for the individual to effectively “pop” out of their mind and disassociate with it (a la Buddha). We might think of it as a sailor on a ship who jumps into the water before his boat crashes into a rocky shore. Could schizophrenia, then, be a kind of evolutionary pressure from the standpoint of consciousness? In that case, what opportunity is being missed for humanity if we are just labeling them, medicating them and locking them up?

Higher Dimensional Thought?

Higher dimensional thought might be something like being able to hold a great number of apparently contradictory or (superficially unconnected) concepts relating to one “zone” of thought in the consiousness at once. The quantum physicist needs to do this to get a sense of the underlying reality that the particle-wave duality points to. This is also apparently the mode of thought in eastern mysticism.

Capra makes a connection between the eastern mystic's thought style and that of the modern quantum physicist when he quotes Ashvaghosha in The Tao of Physics:

“The Eastern way of thinking consists in circling around the object of contemplation…forming a many-sided, multidimensional impression from the superimposition of single impressions from different points of view.” (p. 159 Tao of Physics).

Here “single impressions” would be what is seen and understood in standard 4-d thought. Combining multiple 4-d perspectives in relation to one idea will reveal that that single idea is itself actually a zone of thought that is better contemplated, as Ashvaghosha says, in a circular, synchronous way. Jiddu Krishnamurti seems to be pointing, without explicitly saying so, towards such a way of thinking. Attention, a word used frequently by Krishnamurti, is a state in which judgment is held in suspension, and curiosity is maintained. In this state one never says a categorical “yes” or a categorical “no” to anything, and therefore does not let the awareness close itself off to avenues of possibility.

Notes on Schizophrenia - The Moment of Truth

The essential element in the schizophrenic’s delusional reality is, I think, the dominance of the ego. It seems that the schizophrenic clasps the ego like a buoy in stormy seas as his mind is pulled deeper into an ocean of synchronicity. As the safe and ordered cause-and-effect reality fails (which is in fact in some ways as artificial as the world which the schizophrenic builds for themselves), and they get a glimpse of the synchronous universe, they recoil in fear (which is very understandable). Just what happens at this point is perhaps beyond description—it may be that the ego fights for its existence, or it may be that the schizophrenic clings to the ego--probably both--but the end result is the same. As the ability to adhere to socially condoned cause-and-effect strings falls away, and the open universe yawns before them, the ego becomes the last vestige of the old consensual reality for the schizophrenic. Their connection with the “real” therefore now funnels into them entirely through the ego—a bit like a grossly distorted lens. The awareness now stands “behind” the ego in the synchronous universe, clutching it in desperation.

Notes of Schizophrenia - Always On

The schizophrenic’s mind is always on. There are exceptions, but many schizophrenics report feeling like they are unable to stop thinking. The nightmares that schizophrenics often experience are sleeping mirrors of the paranoid schizophrenic state that they deal with during the day. The mind of the schizophrenic simply cannot be turned off, making wild connections and grandiose calculations or circling through the worlds they have created when the delusion-making has settled for a while. Much of the thinking is of course repetitive, since much of the calculating, connecting activity is rooted in obsessively thinking about objects of fear, and how those objects of fear may manage to inflict harm on the schizophrenic. The object(s) of fear will often become the central fixture in the schizophrenic’s thinking, the mirror(s)/shadow(s) of their ego.

Notes on Schizophrenia - Mixing of Properties

Mixing of Properties: Objects and concepts are mixed and matched, mostly as a means of attempting to hold together the world-view.

The schizophrenic's world-view cannot hold together without the creation of chimera or hybrid concepts. First the ego is aggrandized, and then the world-view is made to fall into place around the central axiom of: everything relates to me directly, and everything I do has an effect on some important aspect of the world. The connections will often have to be far flung (and this is not difficult for the schizophrenic), since placing one’s ego at the centre of the world is an untenable position logically and ethically. Once, for example, you have come to believe that aliens are transmitting messages to you through the sequences of your DNA, you will be forced to open a complimentary Pandora’s box of concepts and beliefs that will need to be equally fanciful and equally implausible (faulty logic requires faulty logic to sustain itself). At this point, regular intrusions from the real world (contact with loved ones and friends, etc) may become disturbing as these contacts will dispute or contradict the distorted world view the schizophrenic is fashioning. These "real-life" intrusions will need to be interpreted, warped, contorted in order for the schizophrenic to keep themselves from descending into a full blown psychosis due to untenable contradictions in the reality that they firmly believe, and the events of the “real’ world.

Notes on Schizophrenia - Ego Amplification

The schizophrenic’s mind makes connections that would strike most as inappropriate. The glue that holds them together, once the grip on consensual, everyday reality is lost, seems to be a general ego fixation with redirects all happenings in the world back onto the schizophrenic. The ego fixation replaces what is commonly understood as logical or sequential thinking in the average person, and now acts as directional scaffolding for the schizophrenic’s thoughts. In other words, the ego looks out, and sees the world—all of it—heading straight for it. This ego-centred perception becomes the basis upon which the world now seems to function.

Without the ego, the schizophrenic feels they would be lost in an unfathomable, synchronous world, so the ego amplification provides a last shred of conventional or everyday world meaning in an increasingly confusing reality. Fear forces the mind to cling to the ego for fear of going “around the bend.” Fear is also what often results from an intensification of the ego, since the external is seen as always wanting/trying to give or take something away from the schizophrenic (to harm or to benefit him).

The disinterested world, the neutral world, simply cannot exist for the schizophrenic.

The Paradox and the Synchronous Event

It might be worthwhile comparing the paradox to the highly coincidental or synchronous event, as there are some interesting conceptual points of correspondence. We can see that they are both pairings of events/concepts/ideas that hang together in a solid and compelling way, and yet which seem to have their point of connection outside the scope of the rational mind.