What Does It Mean To Seriously Examine Life?

"It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society." ~ Jiddu Krishnamurti

Most human beings lead a life conditioned by culture, tradition and education; a mechanical process with its round of desires, fears and sufferings. One chugs down this river of life accepting its superficial movements, scarcely examining it’s depths to see if there is another kind of life possible which is deeply creative, and free from all mechanical movements of the past.

There are a few who, seeing all suffering and recognizing it to be born of in-transience, seek a release from suffering by building an opposite state of permanence. This is where all the religions, and what we call spirituality, enters into one’s life. Whether it is release through a concept of absolute permanence or absolute impermanence, the religions of the world hold out a “carrot” in the form of a path and an end as “release from all suffering.” The spiritual path with its stages, achievements and experiences becomes another life which gives one a sense of “progress”.

But, if one is sincere enough, one is bound to realize at some point that all this is just another illusion created by “thought” – thought chasing another object, except that it has all the charm, mystery and grandeur that it can imagine. The guises of thought are amazingly intricate and complex. Here are some questions to ponder

Can thought, which is always a movement in the “known” go beyond itself and reach the “unknown”?

Can one have a path without having fixed a “known” concept as the end or goal to be achieved?

Can one live a life putting aside all preconceived goals, aims and paths in life?

One is not commenting on whether there is any reality beyond thought. One is just questioning whether such a state can be “reached” by any movement of thought – by any path. And if one clearly sees that thought being limited, a movement in time, that can only “conceptualize” the timeless and immeasurable, as an opposite of a time-bound and measurable reality, what is one left with?

One is left with the “actuality” of “what is”. Having understood that all movement is the movement of thought, whether cloaked and dressed in spiritual language or knowledge accumulated through science; one gives up all paths, all movement away from the fact of “what is”. “What is”, is our daily lives with its myriad problems, joys, sorrows and pleasures.

Can the immeasurable have any contact with the measuarble? If it does, will it not cease to be immeasurable?

Now, the observation of “what is” from moment to moment, without any desire to change it, without fitting it into the mould of any system, without interpreting it in the light of any teaching, guru or previous experience, without making any formula, aim or goal of it – all this requires a tremendously serious and alive mind.

Can one see the fact of one’s life from moment to moment without any movement away from it? Isn’t this a sane way to seriously examine life?

I am reproducing below an extract from J Krishnamurti in which he addresses the question of what it means to seriously examine life.

Questioner: What does it mean to be serious? I have the feeling that I am not serious.

Krishnamurti: Let us find out together. What does it mean to be serious – so that you are completely dedicated to something, to some vocation, that you want to go right to the end of it. I am not defining it, do not accept any definition. One wants to find out how to live quite a different kind of life, a life in which there is no violence, in which there is complete inward freedom; one wants to find out and intends giving time, energy, thought, everything, to that. I would call such a person a serious person. He is not easily put off – he may amuse himself, but his course is set. This does not mean that he is dogmatic or obstinate, that he does not adjust. He will listen to others, consider, examine, observe. He may in his seriousness become self-centred; that very self-centredness will prevent him from examining; but, he has got to listen to others, he has got to examine, to question constantly; which means that he has to be highly sensitive. He has to find out how and to whom he listens. So he is all the time listening, pursuing, enquiring; he is discovering and with a sensitive brain, a sensitive mind, a sensitive heart they are not separate things – he is enquiring with the totality and the sensitivity of all that. Find out if the body is sensitive; be aware of its gestures, its peculiar habits. You cannot be sensitive physically if you overeat, nor can you become sensitive through starvation or fasting. One has to have regard for what one eats. One has to have a brain that is sensitive; that means a brain that is not functioning in habits, pursuing its own particular little pleasure, sexual or otherwise.

J. Krishnamurti Impossible Question Part I Chapter 1 1st Public Talk Saanen 16th July 1970 `The Act of Looking’

And out of the state of choiceless observation of “what is” without any subtle aim or motive, the “known” is gradually and completely revealed in all it’s guises. It is only with the ending of all the layers of the known that the unknown can come to be. It cannot be reached or invited.


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