J Krishnamurti & Modern Science

By Dr. Sudip Patra

Recently I came across a book title somewhere as anti-method. Well, in this post-truth world, words actually mean very little, or as Krishnamurti always held words are not the things. However, the word anti-method conjures up in mind the image of Krishnamurti himself. J Krishnamurti was a seer (rather than the common word philosopher), who throughout his life lived for seeing the truth, and stubbornly refusing to accept any theory of truth, or any theory of ideals (what should become of humanity), or any specific path leading to truth which the gurus can then communicate to the bhakts. Krishnamurti refused all that. We may feel that the man was stubborn, very intense, at times repetitive, but we can never doubt his honest approach for seeing the truth beyond thoughts and language.

Krishnamurti had long and very productive conversations with David Bohm, one of the most noted scientists and critical thinkers of the last century. They had different fascinating areas to discuss the existence of the self, the existence of order, conditioning of brain, freedom from fear and thought, the list is pretty long. However, the common aim and theme were always to see whether we can move beyond dense layers of conditioning and thought and see the truth.
Krishnamurti, to my understanding, held tremendous conditioning of brain (social, cultural, scientific, through millennia) and seemingly eternal movements of thoughts to be the main hinderances in freeing ourselves. Not that he neglected intellect, but he wanted to embrace an infinitely larger intelligence, which is in the words of David Bohm, the undivided whole. Krishnamurti held that we can have a glimpse of that vast intelligence only if movements of thoughts ceases, and we see through the glass wall of language. Some may find some commonality with Patanjali’s Yogasutra: samadhi being the state of chitta-britti-nirodha (chitta, meaning “consciousness” or “mind-stuff”; vritti, meaning “fluctuations”; and nirodha, meaning “suppression” or “restraint”).

. This may be speculation. Was Krishnamurti closer to Wittgenstein in the attitude of philosophical problems caused by the nature of language?
Here, I would like to see what Krishnamurti would have seen about the present state of Science. It is now a public knowledge that Relativity and Quantum Mechanics have been two pillars of modern physics, which have dramatically changed our way of looking at the universe, and also ourselves. However, it is also a public knowledge by now that twain refuses to meet! Technically speaking we still are far from a complete understanding of how to merge gravity with the quantum view of space-time: so-called ‘quantum gravity’ which still eludes us. There are certainly brilliant candidates for the same: string theory, quantum loop gravity and alike highly complex mathematical theories. The undivided whole is still which we don’t see.

Is the problem with us? This question may seem unclear, but see what has happened to Quantum theory as a whole. There is no doubt at all that quantum mechanics since 1920s have been the most accurate science, predictions ranging from hydrogen atoms to black holes have been extremely successful. Science thrives in predictability. However, when it comes to understanding the theory itself, we are fragmented, there are too many interpretations of the theory: Copenhagen, Many worlds, David Bohm-De Broglie, Einstein’s assertion of incompleteness of quantum theory, modern-day perspectives aka Roger Penrose for example. Currently (as I have written occasionally in this journal) another fascinating area emerging is the fruitful application of quantum mathematics and logic to human decision making, which further raises interpretation issues: is reality conceptual like? Are there only ideas?

I am sure Krishnamurti’s presence is very deeply missed here. Are we refusing to see reality as it is? The quantum reality of pure randomness at the most rudimentary levels? For example- are we so accustomed or conditioned to think probability as a reflection of lack of knowledge of ‘actual’ hidden reality that we are still not ready to accept ontological randomness as clearly suggested in quantum mechanics?


Dr. Sudip Patra is Assistant Professor at Jindal Global Business School. 

Image Source: J Krishnamurti

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