00:00
Suzuki

David Bohm, I wonder for our audience if you could give us an idea of the kinds of problems you’ve been interested in in theoretical physics during your scientific career.

00:08
Bohm

Yeah. Well, I began always with an interest in the general nature of matter and the universe. But I did work, originally, on more restricted problems in nuclear physics and the construction of various machines like the cyclotron, and also what is called plasma—you know, the highly ionized gas. And gradually my interest moved more toward understanding the fundamentals of physics and quantum mechanics and relativity. And I became especially interested in how these fundamental theories are not clear; that their basic ideas are unclear and they contradict each other.

00:54
Suzuki

Okay. Before we get into those contradictions, which I think will form the bulk of our discussion here: as strictly a lay person, one of the things that intrigues me is that it seems to me physics, for many, many years, ran on the idea that nature could ultimately be understood in its most fundamental way. If we broke matter down into small parts we’d find out the properties of elementary particles, and then we could rebuild the whole universe. And certainly, in biology today, biologists feel if they understand the molecular basis of cells, that we’ll eventually be able to reconstruct life. I gather in physics this isn’t such an optimistic view anymore. That is, people are finding this may not be so. Could you tell us what that problem is?

01:41
Bohm

Yes. There are several problems. One is that it is not possible, actually, to analyze the world into particles. You see, what are called particles—such as electrons—also may behave like waves or something in between, according to the circumstance. They are not predictable, nor do they have the properties that a mechanical particle ought to have. That, when many of them get together, they have properties of the whole which cannot be analyzed through the parts. So that is one point. That’s what quantum mechanics says. And relativity also says in another sense the universe cannot be divided.

02:20

And even if we leave all that out, the search—see, physicists (in spite of all this) have generally believed, that eventually one could find the ultimate building blocks of the universe. First they thought it was the atom. The very word “atom” means indivisible. And then came the electrons and protons and neutrons, which were supposed to constitute the atom. Then later the protons and neutrons were found to have a structure. They could turn into many other new particles. And now they’re supposed to have smaller particles called quarks and partons. The attempt to find a fundamental particle has continually eluded us. See, every time you thought it was so it turned out that there was a finer constitution. And also, we have these properties of wholeness. To say that the very entities we discover cannot really be understood as particles anyway.

03:12
Suzuki

It’s all very mysterious. Every time I interview a physicist and they start telling me about the nature of photons, for example—they have no mass or energy, they behave like waves—it becomes a very kind of mysterious universe to me. What are the kinds of problems you found as you began to really delve into the nature of matter and so on?

03:37
Bohm

Well, the fundamental problem was just this one: that we were supposed to consider the world made of particles. The particle—it would begin as a small extended object like a tiny billiard ball. You find that the theory of relativity says it cannot be that. And the particle was supposed to move continuously and causally, its future determined, and locally in the sense that each particle existed in its own space independent of the others, just interacting mechanically. Now, the theory of relativity made it impossible to hold to the idea of a particle because, if you imagine it to be like a billiard ball, this would contradict the theory of relativity. It would mean an impulse could be transmitted across the particle faster than light. That would contradict the theory of relativity. So there were no particles. It was not possible to say the world was made of particles. And to avoid that, physicists went to the idea of a particle of zero extension; a point; a mathematical point. But that led into further contradictions of infinite fields, which have not really been resolved. And the third point is that quantum mechanics shows that the idea of entirely local properties of particles breaks down. That there are peculiar relationships between particles, which are really present both theoretically and proved in experiment, that cannot be understood as a causal connection across the space.

05:01
Suzuki

Now, dealing with that kind of difficulty, how do physicists then handle that.

05:08
Bohm

Well, they don’t handle it. Essentially, they ignore the problem. In the old days people used to want to explain things, you see? Now they feel it’s not necessary. If you can find equations that enable you to calculate the observations that we make, it’s called this is enough. That is, one has got to a much more pragmatic approach in the sense that, although people don’t admit it, they say the main purpose of physics is to calculate; results, you see? What they say is when students first take quantum mechanics, they finally can’t understand it. And about a year later, they say there’s nothing to understand. Because it’s just a system of computation.

05:50
Suzuki

Now, I don’t understand that. I mean, are people now getting so much into their machines and their analytical tools that the numbers they get out become all important rather than the phenomena that—

06:01
Bohm

Right. On one side, that’s—see, it’s confused. Because on the other side, people firmly believe that they’re going to find the fundamental building blocks of the universe. They feel they’re really real. But when it comes to discuss what they mean, and then say, “Well, they don’t mean, they’re just computations.” You see, I think people haven’t thought out the full… each person does his little bit, his fragments. Each person does his little bit and doesn’t worry too much about what’s beyond. And he may perhaps assume that somebody else has taken care of it. And so the whole thing just goes on without people generally worrying about what the whole thing means.

06:39
Suzuki

Well, take us into the Bohmian view of how we may look at these and deal with these real profound paradoxes or dilemmas.

06:49
Bohm

Yeah, well, the way I started was that one could see that relativity and quantum theory, the two most fundamental theories of matter, really contradict each other in the sense that relativity is local, it’s causal, it’s determined, it’s continuous, and quantum mechanics is just the opposite: it’s non-causal, it’s non-continuous, it has discrete jumps with things not passing through the intermediary space, and it’s non-local. It has these peculiar properties. Electrons connected at long distances. So with that absolute contradiction of the two basic theories I said we could try to find out what they had in common.

07:30

Now, what they have in common is what I call undivided wholeness. You see, the view of relativity which Einstein was pursuing was that there’s only a general field, particles are concentrated regions of a field which spread out through the universe and merge with others. So the particle is an abstraction according to Einstein. There’s only a whole field, which is undivided. And that’s the undivided wholeness that characterizes that theory. Now, quantum mechanics, in a very different way, comes to the same thing because it says energy exists in the form of indivisible quanta, and the entire movement of the universe is made up of unbreakable, indivisible links, you see? Which include the observer and the observed, it includes us as well as the atoms we’re looking at. And so relativity and quantum theory both agree on that. So I said that would be the starting point. To start from the whole and to say the parts are abstractions from the whole; they have no independent existence.

08:30

Now, I think you can get a simple image of that if you look in water and see a whirlpool or a vortex. See, it looks like an entity, but it isn’t. It’s nothing but a constant pattern of movement in the water. You put another whirlpool in, the two penetrate each other, merge, and produce one new pattern. They do not produce two separate whirlpools interacting. We want to propose the atoms are that way. That’s a very rough picture, but it gives you an idea. The electrons, the protons, the entire universe is built that way.

09:00
Suzuki

Well, I’m really struggling to hang on to this, because I can understand at the level of the particles that physicists study—and maybe even constructing matter like this chair or you and me—that there is this interconnection. But what about the vast spaces of outer space that connect various bodies in the heavens? Are you implying—

Bohm

That too, yes.

Suzuki

That too?

09:23
Bohm

Yes. To say that, as a field spreads… you can see immediately the field spreads. See, light is also carried by this field. So the entire universe is connected through that field—electric fields, light; you know, various forces are carried. Gravitational forces. And so that space is merging with matter. Matter, in that view, is a certain property of that space which is a bit more concentrated or something.

09:49
Suzuki

Okay. But you implied there that there is a wholeness, and yet it seems to me that, certainly, I have the conceit to think that I’m an individual, that I have my own uniqueness and individuality, and I run around. What I do here has no real connection with anyone else.

10:09
Bohm

That’s an abstraction. You see, if you just think a little while you see it can’t be true what you’ve said. You see, you’re surrounded by air and water and so on, and if you were not surrounded in that way it wouldn’t last very long. Also, you’re surrounded by people who feed you and keep you alive, and also give communications, which keep your mind going. Any person, totally isolated, would never even be human, right? So I think just a little observation shows that that view is not really true. That, at best, it holds as an abstraction. Also, materially—see, if you take waves passing through a pond, they pass right through each other as if there weren’t any. But if you put a rock in there, you see the rock scatters the waves. So the waves would show up that rock. They wouldn’t show each other up, right? Now, when we think of empty space as carrying matter and waves, and insofar as this movement passes through without deflection, we would say that that’s what we mean by emptiness. You see, it doesn’t necessarily mean that space is empty, but merely matter and waves of light and various things pass through it.

11:22

Now, there’s an interesting thing in physics. If you take a metal which is made of atoms that might be in a crystal form, very regular, at absolute zero temperature these atoms are in a perfect order. And if you pass electrons through you can show they don’t deflect, right? They go right through. Now, if you raise the temperature you get some irregularities. Now, if you were to pass electrons through the metal and use them to make an electron microscope, they would not show up the metal, they would only show up the irregularities apparently existing independently. Is that clear?

Suzuki

Yes.

11:55
Bohm

I think that this sort of analogy gives some idea of what I mean. That all these things which seem to exist independently are merely manifestations of something much deeper. It’s like the iceberg, as they say; the top of the iceberg—only far more so.

12:13
Suzuki

Okay. Now, let’s take where you’ve led us so far—and, as I say, I’m barely hanging on, I think—and go further into the way that you feel our very ideas and the way we look at matter can be altered with your ideas. That is, how has that perspective really changed your look at what physicists did?

12:36
Bohm

Well, I’ve developed a theory along these lines which I call the enfolded order or the implicate order. I don’t know if you want to go into that now.

Suzuki

Well, let’s have a try.

12:49
Bohm

Now, the ordinary idea of matter is: it’s an object which exists external to other objects, passes through space continuously, goes from here to there, and connects up with other objects. Makes the whole that way. Now, to just give the idea of what I mean: I saw once on BBC television a device which I realized would be very useful for my purposes. It was made at the Royal Institution in London, and it consisted of two glass cylinders, concentric, one inside the other. The inner one was held fixed, and the outer one turned slowly, and you placed a very viscous fluid such as glycerin in between the two cylinders. Now, as you turn the outer cylinder, the glycerin on the outside is turning, the glycerin on the inside is fixed, and in between it’s moving at an intermediate rate. So if you took a small bit of glycerin it would slowly get drawn out into a thread. Is that clear?

Suzuki

No, you’ve got glycerin in your tube, in your cylinder, and then you put a drop of…

13:55
Bohm

The next stage is to put a drop of insoluble ink, which consists of particles of carbon, for example.

Suzuki

So you can see this drop suspended in the glycerin.

14:04
Bohm

And each particle of carbon is now carried along by the glycerin at the speed of the glycerin. And since the outer parts of the glycerin move faster, the particles of carbon are carried apart. Eventually they become so fine as to be invisible, right? Now, you then turn this machine around slowly, and the particles retrace their paths, and suddenly it forms a drop, again, of glycerin, right? And that actually happens. I saw this happening for the first time there when it was shown on the program.

14:37

Now, I propose now that this droplet has been folded into the glycerin, right? And it is then unfolded. Now I want to say that that sort of process helps to explain the behavior of particles. It’s only an analogy; we mustn’t take it too literally. But for example, suppose I put two droplets in, one next to or near the other, and I fold it up. Now, the particles from one droplet are going to sort of mix with the particles of the other, so they’re indistinguishable. Yet, if we turn the machine around, each particle seems to know where it must go and it goes backward to help form its own droplet again, right?

Suzuki

Now, what does that illustrate?

15:22
Bohm

Well, that illustrates a new order, because… see, if we put in a number of droplets in a row, you have an order, right? And we could pull them all up. The order seems to be absent, but it’s still present, because when you unfold it it’ll all come right out again. So I say there’s a non-manifest order. There’s an implicate, enfolded order, right?

Suzuki

Okay.

15:43
Bohm

I say that that notion of order is a different notion of order from the one which science has been using, which is the unfolded or explicate order, in which we say only things outside each other count and only external relationships of things outside each other are to be part of the fundamental laws of physics.

15:59
Suzuki

Well, the scientist would look at what was in the cylinder at any given moment and then try to describe the relationships of the various streams of…

16:08
Bohm

That’s the way you would analyze it. But that’s why I say it’s only an analogy. But I say that that movement abstracted from this analogy is what I want to use. I say quantum mechanics has this process of unfoldment without being able to reduce it to the bits of glycerin and carbon. Is that clear? So the bits of glycerin and carbon are only an illustration of something which I want to call attention to, which is different, right? Is that clear?

Suzuki

Yes.

16:35
Bohm

Now, therefore, what I’m saying is that the fundamental properties of matter are moving in this order of unfoldment. And I’ll give you an idea. Let’s suppose we go back to that analogy and I put in a particle and turn it a certain number of times. I call it n times. I put a particle in a slightly different position and turn it n more times. The first one is 2 n, we go on, the third is 2 n, 3 n. We put in a large number. And we now turn it backward fairly rapidly. One droplet after another emerges, and it looks as if a particle is continuously crossing the space.

Suzuki

Right!

17:09
Bohm

Now, I say that’s the image that I want to give as to what a particle really is in quantum mechanics: that sort of movement. Therefore, the particle is present in the whole and is merely unfolding and manifesting as a separate thing, but its actual existence is not separate. It is an abstraction. That separate droplet is an abstraction due to our perception.

17:33

Now we say everything folds into everything, and I want to say that the entire universe is unfolding, and that this will explain many of the peculiar effects of quantum mechanics. For example, if we put in a different environment, it will unfold in a different way. More like a wave rather than a particle. And many other ways. That this will provide a way of not only understanding quantum mechanics, but bringing about a theory which would allow relativity and quantum mechanics to be particular theories with approximations within this more general affair.

18:09
Suzuki

Now, is there a way of showing or investigating that type of a universe, that is enfolded and unfolding? Do we have the tools to…?

18:21
Bohm

Well, at present I have to begin with: in one sense, I’d say, experimentally, that’s just what our electrons are doing. They’re behaving like waves and like particles. But our language doesn’t call attention to that very well, but tends to talk about building blocks all the time and prevents us from thinking that way. Now, the mathematics of quantum mechanics—which is a certain kind of algebra—does actually describe that. And I’m working on that to make an extension of that mathematics so that we could make a picture in which the mathematics and this particular way of thinking would agree. And it can be, first of all, investigated mathematically and theoretically. And when it is developed far enough it might lead to some new experiments.

19:11
Suzuki

What has the scientific community said about this way of approaching the…?

19:15
Bohm

Well, I’ve talked it over with a certain number, and different people have different responses. But quite a few people would like the idea to succeed. But they don’t feel that they want to bother with it until they see that it is succeeding. Others—I don’t know. But I’m saying that I think that if it were actually to work, that the community would accept it.

Suzuki

You hope.

19:39
Bohm

I hope. I feel reasonably sure they would, actually. I mean, having seen enough of the response, right? At least a considerable number would. Not all of them.

19:46
Suzuki

Okay. Now, I’ve had a very profound insight into what you’re saying, and I’ve got to go home and think about this. But I should say to the audience that the reason you’re here in Canada right now is: you’ve come over in association with a foundation or an organization whose leader is Krishnamurti. And in my mind—again, as a lay person—Krishnamurti I would associate with a religious or a spiritual group. And I’m wondering what a theoretical physicist is doing with this particular organization.

20:21
Bohm

This good question requires a rather long answer, I’m afraid. See, first of all, I think that my own interest in science (and many of the interests in science) is not entirely separate from what is behind the interest in religion or in philosophy—that is: to understand the whole universe, the whole of matter, how we originate, and so on. I think that was Einstein’s interest, for example: that he felt that he had some notion of a non-personal god who had created this universe, or which had created the universe. That man would somehow understand the plan on which it was created. But I’m not sure I share exactly Einstein’s view, but I wanted to give it.

21:09

Now, also, when I was younger I felt that, in the beginning, science would surely be a source of benefiting mankind. I had no question about it. But as things went on I found that it wasn’t doing that. That it was causing a lot of problems which made many things worse. Some things were made better, but many other things were made worse. I began to feel that something beyond science would be needed to approach this question, you see? That science alone could not guarantee that it would be used for benefiting mankind. The scientific impulse. In the beginning I thought it would—just truth alone.

21:55

Then I began to look into philosophy; Eastern and Western and so on, and some people with religious ideas. I mean, just simply looking at it when I was in Bristol and England. And my wife and I used to go to the public library, and she discovered a book by Krishnamurti. And she read in there the words the “observer” and the “observed.” And I had been interested in that because, in quantum mechanics, that is a key question in the sense that, because of its undivided wholeness, the two cannot be separated. So she assumed that this was a form of quantum mechanics! She showed me the book. But I became very interested in the book, which I felt opened up many new things. And I finally wrote to the publisher and found out where Krishnamurti was, and we met and had discussions. And after that I became more closely associated with him and his work.

22:47

Now, essentially, the point made by Krishnamurti was that the problems of mankind originate in thought itself; in consciousness itself, you see? And whereas, previous to that, I’d grown up believing that poverty was the main problem of mankind, and science would help eliminate that. And I could see that, no matter how far science went, it probably wouldn’t. And even if it did, it wouldn’t really make mankind happy.

23:17
Suzuki

You know, we’re always teaching our children that the more rational we are, the more knowledge we have, the more we think, the better we’ll be able to solve our problems.

23:25
Bohm

Well, I think what Krishnamurti made clear was that we’re going to be incapable of that rationality until we go much more deeply into ourselves. True, if we were really rational, it would solve these problems. But we cannot be that rational. We may be very rational in working out some problem in nuclear physics, but we cannot be rational in how we apply nuclear physics. For example, we’ve used it destructively. We can now overkill the population of the world I don’t know how many times, and we also destroy the environment, and we have produced destruction of natural resources, shortages such as the oil shortage, and thousands of other problems because of the basic irrationality—the irrational ends toward which we apply our discoveries.

24:09
Suzuki

Okay, I can understand that. But where do we… again, how do we get that link? It seems to me that science is one thing that you’ve done, Krishnamurti’s ideas on the world and the problems is another. Is there a link that connects the two?

24:26
Bohm

Yes. You see, the link is that thought itself, consciousness, is caught in a certain irrationality, a certain disorder, confusion. Thought is conditioned, you see? We ordinarily think that our thought is free, that we can just be free to think what is true, right? But we’re not that free because everything that happens is recorded in the brain—actually materially, we could almost think of a tape recording. And this record is replayed as a set of instructions (similar to a computer program) that makes us act in certain ways; to think, feel, and act in certain ways. So we may think that a certain thing is true just because it’s on the program, and we act accordingly to that program.

25:09

Now, see, that program was put in very early. Not merely the useful thinks like language and techniques and all that, but also all sorts of prejudices and hopes and fears and beliefs. Now, that program gives rise to many irrationalities. For example, there’s desire. You see, we are moved by desires. Now, desire—says Krishnamurti—comes from the program. Now, we’ve distinguished desire and true passion, which is a tremendous energy that is creative. Desire is programmed. And what you really want out of desire is some sort of state of perfection of consciousness. You want everything to be happy, and good, and right, and orderly, and harmonious, and everything just right, you see? That’s the ultimate aim of desire. Now, the object of desire is not really desired at all; it’s merely a means to the end—which is the state of consciousness, right? So we go through one object after another seeking this state, and it doesn’t work.

26:07

Now, it’s not merely that disappointment arises in there, but desire creates self-deception. That is, the quickest way to satisfy desire momentarily is to engage in wishful thinking—that is, to arrange your ideas according to what you desire, you see? So I think that this self-deception I’ve observed is one of the major components of human thought. That is, most thought is self-deception. In fact, the dominant thought is almost always self-deception, however rational you may be in applying your techniques. The end is always determined by self-deceptive thought.

Suzuki

Can you give us an example of how that would work?

26:41
Bohm

Yes. I’ll give you an example of self-deception. First I take flattery. You see, a person may have been hurt as a child and loses confidence in himself. It’s on the program. The program is always demanding overcoming that. So anybody who tells him he’s good and right and so on is believed to be true. And he can do anything. Everybody seeking flattery and becoming very annoyed with insults, getting angry. Also, people get angry, say, not just for a second as young children do, but for years and even hundreds of years with nations fighting each other, like northern and southern Irish and so on. And it all goes on the program, you see? Generation after generation.

27:23

So you can see that people—what do they want out of life? Their supreme value. Some people want money, some people want power, some people want security. Well, they will believe anything which will aid that aim. You can see the kind of self-deception that goes on, for example, about the oil shortage. It was known, say, in 1960 that there was going to be one. Nobody did anything about it. It became glaringly obvious in 1973. And since that period nothing has been done about it. And people are still saying that it’s a story invented by the oil companies to raise prices. Because it feels better to believe that than to…

Suzuki

They’d rather believe they’re going to still have their cars and…

Bohm

Yeah. That it’s all going to work out, you see?

Suzuki

Now, what does Krishnamurti offer as far as dealing with that self-deception?

28:14
Bohm

Well, what Krishnamurti is suggesting is that we have got to somehow get at that program, you see? Now, that is not easy to get at because the program is recorded in the brain cells somehow, not exactly known how. And we have no organs inside the brain, or nerves, to tell us what those programs are doing, right? You can even cut into the brain and not feel anything. All our sensations come from nerves that are connected to sense organs. Now, what Krishnamurti proposes is there is, nevertheless, a way to be aware of that program, to give it attention. As we give attention to an object outside, you see. The program is a material structure as this is, but one is inside, the other is outside. This thing outside—we don’t depend only on memory to know what it is, but our senses also tell us something directly, right? So our thought is informed by the senses. Now, when it comes to looking inside, we haven’t got any real senses and we depend mostly on memory, which tells us nothing because it’s just the program speaking.

29:16

So what we can do is to observe this program reflected in two ways. We make a mirror. Both in our relationships with others, which will show us our programs, and then also watching the feelings which those programs are producing in ourselves—like fear, anger, all the sensations all over the body. Seeing the connection between thought and that state of sensation and feeling and bodily action. For example, if you’re frightened you see whole body is tense, the heart beats faster, you may feel a sinking sensation in the stomach. And you say, “I am afraid.” Now, that is the mistake. You see, you don’t see that, generally speaking, any sustained fear is part of the fear program. You can actually see it if you really give it your attention and really work hard at it, and see that there’s a connection between a certain thought and a certain fear, or anger, or pleasure, or pain, or sorrow, or whatnot, right? Therefore, those feelings become the mirror of your program.

30:23
Suzuki

Now, with all of this, what are you saying that’s much different from what psychotherapy is in North America?

30:29
Bohm

Well, they don’t tell you to do this at all, you see?

30:32
Suzuki

I thought you look at yourself and you try to figure out—

30:33
Bohm

But they don’t tell you what to look at, you see? You see, for example, they may tell you to back to your past and find the incident which produced this thing, but that won’t change the program, right? Now, if they tell you to look at yourself, they’re not telling you what to look at. You see, if I say/ “Look at yourself,” what are you going to look at? I mean… you could say that I see that I’m in trouble in certain points, but I feel certain feelings which are me, right? See, they accept the ego. And once you accept the ego, there is no way out. They accept the ultimate reality of the ego as the physicist is looking for the ultimate particle instead of saying the ego is nothing but a structure in the whole which can come and go, right?

31:17

Now, if you say these feelings of anger—let’s say you’re angry. Somebody has said something to you, he’s hurt you and you’re angry. Now you say this anger is me being angry, and therefore my problem is: either I must show the anger as justified. Right? I think the anger is justified. Or I say I shouldn’t be angry. Both of those are merely modifications of the program. You see, your thought comes from the program like the computer. So your thought says this anger is justified and you’ll go on with it, or your thought says it’s not justified and I shouldn’t go on with it.

31:48
Suzuki

But you haven’t dealt with the fundamental question of being angry?

31:51
Bohm

No, because it’s on the program. See, if you had a machine which was angry—programmed to be angry—now, you could put on another program, “don’t be angry,” and they would just be fighting each other. Or you could put on a program saying it’s perfectly alright to go on being angry.

32:04
Suzuki

Okay. Once you have that perception though—that you’re not dealing with it properly—if you try to rationalize it or understand it, then what do you do at that point?

32:15
Bohm

Well, you see, what you have to do is to touch the actual material process of the program, right? See, awareness can touch that. You see, for example, this program is nonsense, really. It’s not clear. Some programs make sense, but this one doesn’t. Now, generally, when you see nonsense in a simple affair, it loses its power over you. If you said “I thought I was going north and I see I’m actually going south,” then you say “I don’t feel an impulse to keep on going north.” But you see, if you’re angry and you can see that this thing is leading you to all sorts of nonsense, but you find you can’t stop it. Because you haven’t gotten to the bottom of it. Now, if you can really see this thing at work—to see it is actually originating from memory, producing that feeling—then it becomes plain that its nonsense.; that there’s no point to just keeping this machinery going.

33:10
Suzuki

And in a sense that program then is erased or…

33:12
Bohm

It’s made null and void. Or erased, I don’t know.

33:15
Suzuki

Have you actually experienced that yourself?

33:17
Bohm

Oh yes. I can see it. Now, you see, it requires that you keep on giving it attention. There’s no guarantee that it won’t happen again. But when you understand what’s involved you can go into it each time, and when you’ve seen the basic point.

33:34
Suzuki

Now, the problem for me, I guess, is that I can understand that in terms of dealing with individuals, with people who come within your own sphere, so that you can touch and interact with them. This is a very important kind of insight to have. Meanwhile, though, the world is rushing by. All sorts of terrible things are happening at the level of nations, and groups of nations, and so on. I mean, does this kind of insight have any relevance to the great global forces that threaten our very existence?

34:11
Bohm

Well, in two ways. You see, first of all, the source of this global force is exactly the same as the source of what happens in the individual—that is, the collective programs. That, if they aren’t changed, nothing can be done. You see, people have tried by every means imaginable—by religion, by science, by politics—to change this, and nothing has happened, right? It has gone on much the same over thousands of years. Now, somehow that is not going to change fundamentally unless you get at the root of it. Society is basically identical with the individual at this deep root. The society is nothing but the totality of individuals who are caught in it; who are, in turn, reinforcing each other. So we first of all have to understand what the problem is. Because we may be just following a false hope by hoping that we’re going to straighten it out in some other way. It may produce a momentary improvement, but it cannot really get rid of it.

35:07

Now, the second point is that we cannot directly affect that thing. It’s almost like Niagara Falls, right? It’s going on its own way. But there may be a way in the sense that, if we had—see, each person who understands this in some way has removed himself from it. He’s not adding to it. But also, I think that if we could get a considerable number of people who are doing this, who are able to do this, they would be able to really think together. See, ordinarily, people can’t think together. Each one has his own opinion which is based on his own conditioning. And people really pay very little attention to each other when they try to think together, right? If, say, ten or twenty or thirty people could really think together with one mind, I think they would liberate a tremendous energy which would affect the others—not, perhaps, finally in the sense of getting rid of the whole problem, but at least that would make possible a diversion of the present stream to something less dangerous. You see, I think—

36:16
Suzuki

What makes you think there’s that much energy in just a small number of people to be able to do that?

36:20
Bohm

I think there’s tremendous energy in people, but they don’t allow it to develop, you see? Unfold. See, Krishnamurti likes to give various examples. Like saying people like Hitler and Stalin have had tremendous energy, although it was done with evil purposes and so on. But a few people can give a tremendous impetus to the whole society. And I think if somebody like Toynbee once said that, in the beginning, each civilization begins with a few people of very high energy who get things started. It sort of rises up to the top and then falls because the energy gets lost. And where I would say the energy gets lost is that the civilization accumulates traditions which are accumulated in the brain cells, and gradually the brain cells fill up with programs, and people can’t do anything new, right? So the civilization dies. So I think that you can see now that very few leaders, for example, have any energy. One looks at the politicians and they’re just repeating the same old story. Though anybody should be able to see that none of the things they propose is going to work.

37:28
Suzuki

You’re right on. We’re running in a Canadian election right now. You’re right on, yes.

37:33
Bohm

Somehow, some source of new ideas is needed of a much higher energy. Something both original and very full of energy and passion, which would be relevant to the actual problems. And I think that that would actually—I think if people could see that there was something which would really be relevant to the problems and would divert us from this disaster we’re approaching, it would take hold.

38:00
Suzuki

David Bohm, unfortunately we’ve run out of time and we’ve barely skimmed the surface. I always am very concerned about the electronic media because of the superficiality of the whole thing. And I think what we’re showing right now is that we’ve barely begun to penetrate your mind to share some of these ideas. And I’m just sorry we don’t have more time. Thank you very much for coming here.



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