Living Like the Eagle with ‘What Is’

Every guru, teacher, school, religion or philosophy, even when expounding a path of freedom from all desires, actually embroil us in the very movement of desire. The ‘movement’ to be free from desire is still desire. In fact all movement is the movement of desire. Desires come to an end when every form of movement comes to an end.

The movement of desire is the movement from ‘what is’ to ‘what should be’. So till we are caught in the movement from ‘what is’ to ‘what should be’, one is caught in the field of the known. If one tries it, one finds out how difficult it is to stay with ‘what is’. One is constantly moving away from ‘what is’ to ‘what should be’. If one sees violence in oneself, one immediately moves away by erecting an ideal of ‘non-violence’, or one starts analyzing the roots of violence through different theories. Or one may escape the fact of violence by justifying it’s use, because to see oneself as violent, is painful to the image one has constructed about oneself.

Living with ‘what is’ is a tremendous revolution. It is dangerous, as it destroys all notions of bourgeois respectability and religious piousness which help us fit in society and maintain society. Living with ‘what is’ creates a sense of great fear. One is assailed with imaginations of great chaos, unrighteousness, disorder and conflict when one thinks of stepping out of bounds of ‘what should be’ – the standards erected by society to maintain a social order. Perhaps these fears are not totally unfounded. A person who stays with ‘what is’ is going to be a danger to all society, which has found a false peace in the stasis of accepted norms. Such a person is not going to ‘create’ a revolution because all ‘created’ things are bound to die some day. Such a person ‘is the revolution’. The revolutions created on the basis of ideologies are still about ‘what should be’ and so still within time and therefore not free from fear and desire. But living with the fact of ‘what is’ is a revolution that is beyond time. It is not about changing the society from one mode to another, from one pattern to another, from one idea to another. There is no mode, pattern, idea or value one is approximating to. One has let go off all security and shelter one finds in such standards because all of them are seen to be products of thought and therefore in the field of the known.

But living with ‘what is’ has it’s own order which is not constructed by thought, by the consciousness of man. This order cannot be verbalized into codes, concepts and values. It is a ‘living order’ which cannot be dragged into the net of the known.

Only when the known ends through fearlessly being with ‘what is’, can true freedom be found. And then one lives like the eagle in the sky.

Following is an excerpt from one of the dialogues with J Krishnamurti – The Urgency of Change

Questioner: I have read a great deal of philosophy, psychology, religion and politics, all of which to a greater or lesser degree are concerned with human relationships. I have also read your books which all deal with thought and ideas, and somehow I’m fed up with it all. I have swum in an ocean of words, and wherever I go there are more words – and actions derived from those words are offered to me: advice, exhortations, promises, theories, analyses, remedies. Of course one sets all these aside – you yourself have really done so; but for most of those who have read you, or heard you, what you say is just words. There may be people for whom all this is more than words, for whom it is utterly real, but I’m talking about the rest of us. I’d like to go beyond the word, beyond the idea, and live in total relationship to all things. For after all, that is life. You have said that one has to be a teacher and a pupil to oneself. Can I live in the greatest simplicity, without principles, beliefs, and ideals? Can I live freely, knowing that I am enslaved by the world? Crises don’t knock on the door before they appear: challenges of everyday life are there before you are aware of them. Knowing all this, having been involved in many of these things, chasing various phantoms, I ask myself how I can live rightly and with love, clarity and effortless joy. I’m not asking how to live, but to live: the how denies the actual living itself. The nobility of life is not practicing nobility.

Krishnamurti: After stating all this, where are you? Do you really want to live with benediction, with love? If you do, then where is the problem?

Questioner: I do want to, but that doesn’t get me anywhere. I’ve wanted to live that way for years, but I can’t.

Krishnamurti: So though you deny the ideal, the belief, the directive, you are very subtly and deviously asking the same thing which everybody asks: this is the conflict between the “what is” and the “what should be”.

Questioner: Even without the “what should be”, I see that the “what is” is hideous. To deceive myself into not seeing it would be much worse still.

Krishnamurti: If you see “what is” then you see the universe, and denying “what is” is the origin of conflict. The beauty of the universe is in the “what is; and to live with “what is” without effort is virtue.

Questioner: The “what is” also includes confusion, violence, every form of human aberration. To live with that is what you call virtue. But isn’t it callousness and insanity? Perfection doesn’t consist simply in dropping all ideals! Life itself demands that I live it beautifully, like the eagle in the sky: to live the miracle of life with anything less than total beauty is unacceptable.

Krishnamurti: Then live it!

Questioner: I can’t, and I don’t.

Krishnamurti: If you can’t, then live in confusion; don’t battle with it. Knowing the whole misery of it, live with it: that is “what is”. And to live with it without conflict frees us from it.

Questioner: Are you saying that our only fault is to be self-critical?

Krishnamurti: Not at all. You are not sufficiently critical. You go only so far in your self-criticism. The very entity that criticizes must be criticized, must be examined. If the examination is comparative, examination by yardstick, then that yardstick is the ideal. If there is no yardstick at all – in other words, if there is no mind that is always comparing and measuring – you can observe the “what is”, and then the “what is” is no longer the same.

Questioner: I observe myself without a yardstick, and I’m still ugly.

Krishnamurti: All examination means there is a yardstick. But is it possible to observe so that there is only observation, seeing, and nothing else – so that there is only perception without a perceiver?

Questioner: What do you mean?

Krishnamurti: There is looking. The assessment of the looking is interference, distortion in the looking: that is not looking; instead it is evaluation of looking – the two are as different as chalk and cheese. Is there a perception of yourself without distortion, only an absolute perception of yourself as you are?

Questioner: Yes.

Krishnamurti: In that perception is there ugliness?

Questioner: There is no ugliness in the perception, only in what is perceived.

Krishnamurti: The way you perceive is what you are. Righteousness is in purely looking, which is attention without the distortion of measure and idea. You came to inquire how to live beautifully, with love. To look without distortion is love, and the action of that perception is the action of virtue. That clarity of perception will act all the time in living. That is living like the eagle in the sky; that is living beauty and living love.


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