Humans love a good fight. We love our teams, our good guys and bad guys, our us and thems so much we forget very quickly that we are all the same. We are all humans — even those of us who desperately try to separate ourselves from the mass of idiocracy. See, even THAT is a fight.
But understanding that — understanding that when I talk about “the idiots” I am setting myself up against them, against you — doing that kind of work, requires us to dig deep. Really deep. To step out of all of the labels and uniforms we wear, and walk naked into a different kind of understanding that our media, our gurus and heroes, our friends and neighbors cannot translate for us.
Many years ago, my dear friend Dale Carlson, introduced me to the writings of Krishnamurti. Jiddu Krishnamurti was an Indian speaker and writer, and is regarded globally as one of the greatest thinkers and religious teachers of all time.
His writings and talks are profound. Profound in the manner that requires you to leave your thinking-self at the door and settle into WHAT he is saying, because it is unlike anything you have heard before. At least I hadn’t.
In trying times like these, we need someone like Krishnamurti who can lead us out of our petty arguments, our us-versus-them mentality, our my-way-or-the-highway arrogance, and help us find a better way to exist here on this very small part of the infinite Universe.
I found myself this morning sifting through old Krishnamurti quotes, trying to find the ones that would bring me to a different understanding during these difficult days, that would help me meditate on my own role in the hatred and division, that might lead me down a better path.
I have been here before. Have you?
Are you curious? Dale recommends The Book of Life: Daily Meditations with Krishnamurti as a good starting point, but I always find her young adult books to be easy primers…maybe Relationships. To Oneself, to Others, to the World. You can find that and other K books on the Krishnamurti Foundation of America website.
For more about K in general, you might also want to visit jkrishnamurti.org.
We have a long road ahead of us, folks — win or lose, lose or win — and I think Krishnamurti would make a good traveling companion for all of us.
We see the world of hate taking its harvest at the present. This world of hate has been created by our fathers and their forefathers and by us. Thus, ignorance stretches indefinitely into the past. It has not come into being by itself. It is the outcome of human ignorance, a historical process, isn’t it? We as individuals have cooperated with our ancestors, who, with their forefathers, set going this process of hate, fear, greed, and so on. Now, as individuals, we partake of this world of hate so long as we, individually, indulge in it. The world, then, is an extension of yourself. If you as an individual desire to destroy hate, then you as an individual must cease hating. To destroy hate, you must dissociate yourself from hate in all its gross and subtle forms, and so long as you are caught up in it you are part of that world of ignorance and fear. Then the world is an extension of yourself, yourself duplicated and multiplied. The world does not exist apart from the individual. It may exist as an idea, as a state, as a social organization, but to carry out that idea, to make that social or religious organization function, there must be the individual. His ignorance, his greed, and his fear maintain the structure of ignorance, greed, and hate. If the individual changes, can he affect the world, the world of hate, greed, and so on? The world is an extension of yourself so long as you are thoughtless, caught up in ignorance, hate, greed, but when you are earnest, thoughtful, and aware, there is not only a dissociation from those ugly causes that create pain and sorrow, but also in that understanding there is a completeness, a wholeness.
— The Book of Life, J. Krishnamurti
Then there is the fundamental question of man’s relationship to man. This relationship is society, the society which we have created through our envy, greed, hatred, brutality, competition and violence. Our chosen relationship to society, based on a life of battle, of wars, of conflict, of violence, of aggression, has gone on for thousands of years and has become our daily life, in the office, at home, in the factory, in churches. We have invented a morality out of this conflict, but it is no morality at all, it is a morality of respectability, which has no meaning whatsoever. You go to church and love your neighbor there and in the office you destroy him. When there are nationalistic differences based on ideas, opinions, prejudices, a society in which there is terrible injustice, inequality -we all know this, we are terribly aware of all this- aware of the war that is going on, of the action of the politicians and the economists trying to bring order out of disorder, we are aware of this. And we say, ‘What can we do?’ We are aware that we have chosen a way of life that leads ultimately to the field of murder. We have probably asked this, if we are at all serious, a thousand times but we say ‘I, as a human being, can’t do anything. What can I do faced with this colossal machine?’ When one puts a question to oneself such as ‘What can I do?’ I think one is putting the wrong question. To that there is no answer. If you do answer it then you will form an organization, belong to something, commit yourself to a particular course of political, economic, social action; and you are back again in the same old circle in your particular organization with its presidents, secretaries, money, its own little group, against all other groups. We are caught in this. ‘What can I do?’ is a totally wrong question, you can’t do a thing when you put the question that way. But you can, when you actually see (as you see the microphone and the speaker sitting here) actually see that each one of us is responsible for the war that is going on in the Far East, and that it is not the Americans, nor the Vietnamese, nor the Communists, but you and I who are responsible, actually, desperately responsible for what is going on in the world, not only there but everywhere. We are responsible for the politicians, whom we have brought into being, responsible for the army which is trained to kill, responsible for all our actions, conscious or unconscious.
—Talks in Europe 1968, Social Responsibility, J. Krishnamurti