“Know Thyself” by Observing Thought. How Does It Operate?

Inquiry Into The Nature Of Thought

Concerned Global Citizen


What exactly is thought?

To the author it appears as follows:

The recall of registered experience, or the response of memory.

The accumulation of knowledge as memory, and then the responding according to that memory.

There appears to be something that is constantly “monitoring” the experience of living. Something that is constantly recording, or registering the present moment and then comparing “what is” to “what was”.

The brain must record as long as it’s trapped between the assertion poles of thought because it must constantly evaluate exactly where it is on the trajectory between the two poles, and this can only be done by measuring and comparing. To be able to measure and compare requires the ability to record.

An example might be:

We have thought of the form: “I’m a shadow of my former self”.

This thought is an assertion, and because everything affirmed contains its own opposite, It must also create the implied negative form of this thought as “My former self is much more preferable to my present self”.

So this thought forms a pair of assertion poles, a negative form, and a positive form.We then must record the present moment to be able to evaluate, or judge our progress, or lack there of, in “returning to our former “better self”.

To even be able to make such a statement requires the “memory” of a former self which must be recalled and compared to the self in the present. The result of this comparison is a judgement which produces either feelings of pleasure, or feelings of pain depending on either how “favorable” or “unfavorable” the result of the comparison is.

This comparison between the present and the past then determinations our basis for further thoughts/feelings/actions in the present.

Or, sometimes the result is just feelings of pure hell such as in the following example:

There is a comparison made of a “better” past with the now “worse” present, say for example, one is presently experiencing impending financial hardships due to lack of money. Suddenly the recollection of a time in one’s life when they had lots of money appears in them.

The recollection appears to produce a slight jolt of a “pleasure”, or comfort feeling at the remembrance of the better days. Furthermore, in order for this recollection to produce these feelings of pleasure, it must form a comparison between the memory of “the money that was” and the state of the money that presently “is”.

However, as is the nature of any comparison, there are always two sides.

And so while the one side produces pleasure at the comparison of the less pleasurable and painful side, the painful side had to first be created and so the painful side must also exist. And so if it’s easy for one to recall the “good old days”, it’s equally as easy for one to experience the existence of the opposite as “not good present day”. This experience then takes the form of feelings of immense, intense, and burning mental pain, anguish, and suffering.

At this point another question may be asked: How does this process of comparison work? It would seem that to be able to even make a comparison, we must first record the present moment.

So in effect what we wind up doing is first recording the present, so it too now becomes the past, and then we wind up comparing the near past to the not-near past.

Indeed, we appear to be addicted to the process of recording, measuring, and comparing itself.

If life is ever flowing, ever new, and ever fresh how can it be compared to anything? It would seem to the author that only still, frozen, and static things can be meaningfully compared.

It also seems that we regurgitate memories of prior thoughts and then re-record them. It appears as though we bring forward the memory and replay it, and then re-record the playing of the memory which appears to have the net effect of sustaining the memory.

Therefore, our behavior in any given moment is constantly being formed/informed by the past, and in this way, the same response is continually being repeated.

The process appears to run as follows:

  • Record/Register Experience (due to degree of pleasure or pain)
  • Recall/Remember Experience (movement of memory, or process of “thinking”)
  • Compare (near present memory to not-near present, or distant memory)
  • Judge (according to measurement, or comparison with the past)
  • Like/Dislike (causing pain or pleasure)
  • Pain/Pleasure — Fear/Desire
  • Act/React (according to degree of pain/fear or pleasure/desire being experienced as a result of the comparison)

As was previously mentioned, during this process of memory recall there appears to be a “reaction” which occurs when the memory is remembered/recalled/read/fetched. What is meant by reaction is the re-experiencing of some degree of either “pleasure” or “pain” as a result of the re-experiencing of the memory.

The degree of pleasure and pain being generated then intern appear to generate proportionate “feelings” of either “desire” or “fear”.

The degree of desire and fear being experienced then go on to generate the next type of thought, or “memory fetch”.

If we’re feeling any form/degree of pain or fear, then it appears that we do one of two things:

  • We re-remember the thing we DON’T want to happen, and therefore actually re-create the thing we don’t want to happen so we wind up unintentionally experiencing more of it, or
  • Attempt to cover up any unpleasant memory/feeling with a more pleasant one. The author would call this process “delusion making”. That is, this is how we generate the delusional state we currently live in.

If we’re feeling any form/degree of pleasure or desire we then appear to:

  • Seek to maintain the degree of pleasure being experienced.
  • Seek more of the same feeling, and so also re-fetch, or repeat the same memory/activity to intentionally have more of it.

And so the feelings being experienced then go on to again cause the generation of thoughts(memories) similar to those that generated the original feelings, and the cycle repeats ad infinitum with slight variations and fluctuations.

It’s almost as if we’re somehow addicted to the process of memory recall itself. Like an addict. Caught in a vicious downward spiral.

A Closer Look At Desire And Fear

The phenomena of “desire” and “fear”appear to take the form of the recall of an “I” used in the mental construct of either “I want…”, or “I don’t want…”.

The “I” appears to be the result of the process of this interaction with the memory.

The registering and remembering

The recording and recalling.

The writing and reading.

(Boy… sure sounds like a computer!)

The process of recording would appear to create a “recorder”.

As the process involves a something “that records”, and a something “to be recorded”.

Therefore, if there is “a one” that records, it follows that there also has to be “a one” who remembers.

This “one” is “the recorder”, the store of knowledge and experience, and therefore time. This “one” very strongly appears to be this mental concept “I”.

In addition to being limited by nature, this limitation also naturally produces the phenomena of fragmentation, or being broken up, non-continuous, or not whole and complete. It says things like “I will understand the whole universe”. However, it will only understand the universe according to what it has created, not the actual extraordinary nature of the universe.

Again, because memory is based on the recording of non-contiguous experiences which are limited and finite in nature, its nature is also limited and finite by extension. That is, all memories have a beginning and an ending. This means thought is very narrow, it cannot contain the whole universe. So the content of thought is a collection of the recordings of limited and finite experiences.

The movement of thought also means time. Any movement from here to there, both physically and psychologically, implies time.

Any movement.

Any movement means time.

Since thought is a movement it’s part of time.

Thought essentially acts as a replay(movement) of a prior experience or moment in time which is essentially stored experience as knowledge.

Therefore, because the growth of knowledge is based on time, and thought is the outcome of knowledge, thought is also based on time and so is forever incomplete due to the serial nature of time.

Or stated a bit differently, because time is never-ending and knowledge is accumulated in time, the accumulation of knowledge is also never-ending. This “never-ending accumulation” intern implies that knowledge by its very nature is never complete and again, will always be limited and therefore whatever it creates is also limited. The problem is that thought “thinks” it’s complete, it is unaware of its own limitation.

In addition, since the limited nature of thought implies that everything that thought does is finite, and everything that is finite is countable, then everything that thought does is “countable” and therefore “comparable”.

Lastly, we appear to associate accumulation to security and survival as outwardly this is necessary. Having a “store” of food is what gets one through the inevitable “lean times” that occur in life such as in the winter time for example. However, it would appear that the outer need for accumulation is being carried to the inner world in the form of the need to “store”, or accumulate more and more knowledge.

Is any of this true?

Please examine this for yourself without any motive, for if you have a motive it will dictate the answer.

J.Krishnamurti on thought:

J.Krishnamurti on the nature of knowledge: