Meaning & Action

” … minor twists of fate and individual decisions very often have much more dramatic consequences in dark ages than they do when the settled habits of a mature civilization constrain the impact of single events.”


“Failure provides clarity. We perceive that our knowledge is incoherent.”

David Bohm

Two comments that circle each other in their implications, addressing an “up-side” of difficulty.

John Michael Greer, JMG – The bearded one of the three names almost always reduced to these three letters, “jay-em-gee,” an appropriate spell for a wizard.  – is making a point of strategic and tactical significance. Dr. Bohm – Partner in Krishnamurti & Bohm, the “B” of “K & B…” – He preferred to be called Dave. – refers to the deepest points of contact as perception attempts to address what-is.

JMG reminds us that in these times we may find, even as constraints on what is possible bite most deeply, chance and individual initiative have more play. Catalytic moments present themselves to those who are lucky and aware as our inherited stability breaks down.

Bohm provides an insight into how we may navigate any form of uncertainty. That “failure,” instead of being the “bad” pole of a binary condition, is just a phase in a flow of cause and effect that cannot be untangled to produce a single judgement. That clarity, how we may approach coherence, appears at the moment we perceive the incoherence of our knowledge of a situation. Failure, in this light, is its self a powerful catalyst.

These statements share a focus on meaning as it intersects with action. A major theme here in these essays. A question searching for terrain leading away from the entangled enormity resulting from our habitual incoherence. If we are to arrive at a clarity that might lead to effective action we need to look between meaning and action. Awareness, conscious life, exists where they intersect.

Bohm reminds us that concrete has its roots in con-crescent, that which has grown together. Held together by a cement. It cannot be separated from the whole without doing it violence. A bond destroyed by any overt act that fragments the system in an effort to see how it works. A down-to-earth rewording of Heisenberg’s Principle. Meaning and action are concrete. How may we explore their connection without breaking the structure of the whole to which they belong?

The fundamental nature of coherence is that everything holds together. Incoherence is the result of violence destroying this bond. Fragmentation is both the cause and result of incoherence.

Force can be any energy available for an action.

Force outside intention, as in “a force of nature,” just is.

Violence is force aimed by an intention to impose a result.

Looking at failure…. A failure can be said to have occurred when an intention does not lead to its intended result. Failure then is, by definition, an occurrence when violence has been done. Coherence destroyed. The concrete broken. Such moments are opportunities to see the result of a violent action without intentionally bringing additional violence into the world.

Coherence is unlimited, partaking of the infinite. Incoherence, in our shattered mental state, appears infinite. It is held within coherence. The infinite, being unlimited cannot exclude what paradoxically appears to be an opposite.

Creativity partakes of coherence. Creativity is an expression of, and a pathway to, coherence. Creativity is our only means of access to the unlimited. Any other road to action is inherently limited and bound to increase incoherence.

The brutal limits of incoherence are all too familiar. Even as we are so often confused over issues of causality. We find our perceptions clouded, obscured by the violence inherent in each case of incoherent thought and action. History is the chronicle of our incoherence over the course of literate civilization.

Incoherence stems directly from a misunderstanding of the fundamental dynamics of thought. Dazzled by the spectacle thought produces in our minds we have come to think we are thought, “Je pense, donc je suis!”

As a culmination of converging explorations beginning at the heart of Eastern and Western traditions, Krishnamurti & Bohm discovered that the “I” this generates is no more than an illusion. The result of a misunderstanding of thought.

Standing before a rain soaked sun-drenched sky we point at “a rainbow!” Others standing nearby agree, “We are looking at a rainbow!”

We are not. We are taken in by a captivating illusion.

A rainbow is not a distinct object. The Ego does not exist “behind thought.” It is a projection of thought.

A rainbow is an appearance projected by millions of tiny points of refracted light. The Ego-self projected out of millions of self-perpetuating habitual thoughts generating the illusion of a “thinker.” Millions of spectral gleams upon millions of drops of water apprehended as a rainbow. A lifetime of stream-of-consciousness, begging the need for a narrator, a controller, we identify as the seat of a self.

This brings us to necessity. That which we cannot yield. On hearing the term, we rattle off what this is supposed to mean. Our current catechism, a recitation under the breath of Mazlow’s Law…. “A hierarchy of needs….” Little more than just another way to short-circuit intelligent investigation, confusing a map for the terrain. We are averse to opening the question of need to scrutiny. Too much of what we might find there, we fear, scares us.

This fear, one of the strongest mechanism holding us in incoherence. We tell our selves countless stories to defend our identification with the illusions projected by thought. Our very identity seen as identical with the need for thought to be defended, not examined. Our instincts for self-preservation hijacked by thought. We are ready to sacrifice life itself to defend its machinations.

Proprioception. The ability to recognize that an action is a result of an intention. Physical proprioception maintains the coherence of our movements in space as the result of our intentions to move. When these are broken we enter a realm of incoherence. Bohm’s stroke victim, or a pilot with crossed controls, are examples of a loss of physical proprioception.

Mental proprioception exists as a tacit form of knowledge just as physical proprioception does. Tacit physical knowledge, say the skill of riding a bike, is obviously apparent. Its failure when we “choke,” attempting to over-control a subtle physical skill, cannot be overlooked. We fall. Mental proprioception is hidden from us behind the illusion of a controlling, narrator-self. We have come to accept this form of “choke” as our natural condition. We call it the “Human Condition.” Shake our heads, and continue on the same failed paths.

There is so much in the way of uncovering our awareness of mental proprioception. But, as with any other form of insight that brings us to a deeper awareness, it does make itself known clearly and with sharp definition when we have encountered it.

To paraphrase Krishnamurti, We don’t change by trying to change. We just change. In a flash when we connect with a new awareness. This is a mirror to what happens learning to ride a bike. No amount of willing, trying, striving to “figure it out” gets us there. We stumble and scramble and finally give up trying. At this point we unleash tacit knowledge. All of a sudden we are riding. The change has happened in an instant. There is no going back. No one ever “forgets.” No “backsliding.” No need to “try harder to get it back.”

Unleashing tacit knowledge – tacit, what is there without the need for explanation – opens pathways to coherence.

This preamble…. Quite a stroll! Its purpose to provide some sense of why it is essential and so difficult for us to look at meaning and action in a different way.

Many things are hard. Some things are serious. Serious things can be hard. When we recognize something is serious we give it the effort it requires. This can be no more true than it is when we confront the question of coherence and incoherence.

We are so habituated to the forcing of our organism to comply with the incoherence of thought. We are worn out. We are neurotic, diseased by the effort to maintain an incoherent position. We fear we cannot do any more than just hold on.

As soon as we begin to see the dynamic of incoherence we are not only opened to the well of tacit understanding this makes available. We are brought into touch with the vitality at the heart of our organism and its efforts to maintain coherence.

Difficult times and mounting failure are our gifts. Our previous experience of the dominance of incoherency was confused and obscured by ease and apparent, short-term successes punctuating the long decline.

As we approach clarity via the lessons of our failures we are nearer to finding coherent responses. As the vicious resilience of an incoherent culture breaks down we find more and more possibility for action.

Let us bring these two convergent dynamics together.

Clarity and a field of action in which to bring it to bear. What more could we ever hope for!

Horizons of Sigificance footer

Published by Antonio Dias

My work is centered on attending to the intersection of perception and creativity. Complexity cannot be reduced to any given certainty. Learning is Central: Sharing our gifts, Working together, Teaching and learning in reciprocity. Entering into shared Inquiry, Maintaining these practices as a way of life. Let’s work together to build practices, strengthen dialogue, and discover and develop community. Let me know how we might work together.

3 thoughts on “Meaning & Action

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: