Thought is always doing a great deal, but it tends to say that it hasn’t done anything, that it is just telling you the way things are.

David Bohm, Thought as a System

For those who might not be familiar with him, David Bohm was a theoretical physicist who came up with seminal insights in quantum theory. He was also deeply influenced by Krishnamurti and had many interactions with the Dalai Lama.

I feel the above quote is very deeply profound for many reasons.

Firstly, hardly anyone questions the reporting that thought or the thinking process makes of our world. Most of us, most of the time, basically accept that our thought processes are reporting the world “accurately.” Thoughts that we feel are accurate can be about our physical environment (“gee, it’s such a warm day”), about our relationships (“she doesn’t love me as much as I love her”) or about ourselves (“I’m not successful enough”).

So for me the main challenge of the Bohm koan (that’s how I think of it) is to become very patiently aware of how thought is murmuring all the time, creating whole worlds within our skulls. When I begin to become aware of this, I also begin to become aware of how layered and textured and complex this thought-representation is–whether it’s the representation of myself or of someone else. There is hardly ever a pause. It would be fun and a learning experience for me to hear your views of this.

Second: the word thought also seems to be connected to emotion. We hardly ever feel thoughts ‘by themselves.” We also feel a visceral emotional representation–feeling good about the world, feeling bad– which both affects and is affected by our thinking process. For instance, if I am feeling jealous, that jealousy impairs the quality of my thinking, and my thinking can actually fuel my jealousy.

I would like to explore other implications of this koan (and other statements by Professor Bohm) in later posts. Do let me know what you think.



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