and philosophers and divines. With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do. He may as well concern himself with his shadow on the wall. Speak what ...
THE BIG IDEAS
Think on These Things
To Go Far
BY JIDDU KRISHNAMURTI · HARPERONE © 1989 · 272 PAGES
You must begin near.
Hobgoblins Behind walls.
Love what you do.
Has no contradictions.
The Roots of a Problem Don’t let ‘em get strong!
That has no perfume.
The Real Student Is ALWAYS learning.
“As long as you are afraid of anyone or anything, there can be no happiness. There can be no happiness as long as you are afraid of your parents, your teachers, afraid of not passing examinations, afraid of not making progress, of not getting nearer to the Master, nearer to truth, or of not being approved of, patted on the back. But if you are really not afraid of anything, then you will find—when you wake up of a morning, or when you are walking alone—that suddenly a strange thing happens: uninvited, unsolicited, unlooked for, that which may be called love, truth, happiness, is suddenly there.” ~ Krishnamurti from Think on These Things
& Watch things happen.
Let’s Go Infinitely Far Shall we? :)
The contents of Think on These Things were originally presented in the form of talks to students, teachers and parents in India and cover everything from culture, religion, politics, education and tradition. Krishnamurti isn’t the kinda guy who always gives you the warm and fuzzies but he *does* make you think and fires you up to break out of our conditioned sleep and rock it. (And, he obviously had a very big brain. :) With that, let’s begin our exploration of a handful of my favorite Krishnamurti’s gems!
TO GO FAR YOU MUST BEGIN NEAR “To go far you must begin near, and the nearest step is the most important one.” That’s genius. “To go far you must begin near, and the nearest step is the most important one.” “An intelligent mind is an inquiring mind, a mind that is watching, learning, studying.” ~ Krishnamurti
Too often when we explore ideas or imagine our ideal lives, we get stuck on the FAR and we forget the NEAR. The fact is, to “go far” we MUST begin with the near. And, there’s no question the nearest step is the most important one. This is the essence of effective living. We talk about it in different ways in various Notes, most specifically in The Power of *TED where we discuss the “dynamic tension” that exists between your ideal and your current reality—comparing it to a rubber band stretched between two fingers. If we want to reduce that tension without collapsing our ideal, we MUST accept where we are and then take the next step. Again and again and again. So, are you getting lost in the clouds? No sweat. As Thoreau says: “If you have built your castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.” What’s your next step? It’s the most important. :)
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“Intelligence is not knowledge. If you could read all the books in the world it would not give you intelligence. Intelligence is something very subtle; it has no anchorage.” ~ Krishnamurti
HOBGOBLINS BEHIND WALLS “A mind which says, ‘I have taken a vow to be something and I am going to be that for the rest of my life’ is called consistent; but it is really a most stupid mind, because it has come to a conclusion and it is living according to that conclusion. It is like a man building a wall around himself and letting life go by.” Wow. I think Krishnamurti and Emerson must’ve been separated at birth on this one. Emerson says: “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do. He may as well concern himself with his shadow on the wall. Speak what you think now in hard words, and to-morrow speak what to-morrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict every thing you said today. - ‘Ah, so you shall be sure to be misunderstood.’—Is it so bad, then, to be misunderstood? Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Socrates, and Jesus, and Luther, and Copernicus, and Galileo, and Newton, and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh. To be great is to be misunderstood.” So, let’s not be a little hobgoblin building walls around ourselves and staring at our shadows, OK? Thanks. :) Seriously. Are you locked in a position? Did you *really* strongly believe something yesterday and now find yourself feeling its opposite today? GREAT! As Rumi (see Notes) says: “God turns you from one feeling to another and teaches by means of opposites, so that you will have two wings to fly, not one.” Laugh. Roll with it. Quit taking yourself quite so seriously. Be fluid. Tear down the walls. Express yourself. Live.
THE KEY: TO LOVE WHAT YOU DO “Can you and I, who are simple, ordinary people, live creatively in this world without the drive of ambition which shows itself in various ways as the desire for power, position? You will find the right answer when you love what you are doing. If you are an engineer merely because you must earn a livelihood, or because your father or society expects it of you, that is another form of compulsion; and compulsion in any form creates a contradiction, a conflict. Whereas, if you really love to be an engineer, or a scientist, or if you can plant a tree, or paint a picture, or write a poem, not to gain recognition but just because you love to do it, then you will find that you never need to compete with another. I think this is the real key: to love what you do.” Loving what you do. Not for the material rewards or power or because you “have to” (have to? huh?), but because you LOVE doing it. Psychologists would call this having an “intrinsic” “Not knowing what you really want to do, your mind falls into a routine in which there is only boredom, decay and death. That is why it is very important to find out while you are young what it
motivation—a motivation that comes from WITHIN you. Contrasted, of course, by an “extrinsic” motivation—where you’re compelled by forces outside yourself to do something. Your emotional well-being can be tied to your source of motivation. Where’s yours come from? Do you love what you do? Or are you going (compulsively) through the motions cuz you feel you have to? If you do love what you do: YES!!!!!
is you really *love* to do;
If you DON’T love what you do: Ain’t no thang. Just time for some adjustments. Two ways to
and this is the only way to
transform: 1. Keep doing what you’re doing and change your perspective from a “have to” or a
create a new society.”
“should” to a heartfelt love of what you do; OR, 2. If you feel inspired, you can find something
that you *really* love to do. (And, in the transition, practice loving what you’re currently doing because if you don’t get good at that, you’ll soon get pissy about your new thing because we’re always dancing between that part of ourselves that gets all tied up in the external rewards and
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“There can be no freedom as long as you are merely trying
the part of ourselves that just loves the work itself!) And remember Ayn Rand’s wisdom: “You must be the kind of man who can get things done. But
to become somebody, or
to get things done, you must love the doing, not the secondary consequences.”
imitate a noble example.”
Back to Krishnamurti. He also says this: “Real life is doing something which you love to do with
your whole being so that there is no inner contradiction, no war between what you are doing and what you think you should do. Life is then a completely integrated process in which there is tremendous joy.” Amen. And, of course, remember: “I think this is the real key: to love what you do.” This is a REALLY big theme for Krishnamurti (particularly in this book where he’s addressing
“But freedom is really a state of mind in which there is no fear or compulsion, no urge to be secure.” ~ Krishnamurti
students). How ‘bout even more?
JOY HAS NO CONTRADICTIONS “Suppose you want to study painting because to paint is the joy of your life, and your father says that you must become a lawyer or a business man, otherwise he will cut you off and not pay for your education; there is then a contradiction in you, is there not? Now, how are you going to remove that inner contradiction, to be free of the struggle and the pain of it? As long as you are caught in self-contradiction you cannot think; so you must remove the contradiction, you must do one thing or the other. Which will it be? Will you yield to your father? If you do, it means that you have put away your joy, you have wed something which you do not love; and will that resolve the contradiction? Whereas, if you withstand your father, if you say, ‘Sorry, I don’t care if I have to beg, starve, I am going to paint,’ then there is no contradiction; then being and doing are simultaneous, because you know what you want to do and you do it with your whole heart. But if you become a lawyer or a business man while inside you are burning to be a painter, then for the rest of your life you will be a dull, weary human being living in torment, in frustration, in misery, being destroyed and destroying others.” Wow. That’s worth a re-read. We’re ALWAYS faced with a choice: acquiesce to the demands of our society (whether that’s our father or our spouse or our colleagues) or follow our deepest wisdom. One path leads to “living in torment, in frustration, in misery, being destroyed and destroying others.” The other path leads, quite simply, to joy. We talk about this A LOT. That’s deliberate. And, it’s impossible NOT to talk about this theme because ALL the great teachers point to the fact that we MUST honor our individual paths. Maslow (see Notes on Motivation and Personality) says:“What one CAN be, one MUST be.” [Emphasis mine. :] And, he admonishes us: “If you deliberately plan on being less than you are capable of being, then I warn you that you’ll be unhappy for the rest of your life.” Gay Hendricks, in his great book The Big Leap says: “You know deep inside you that you will never be fully satisﬁed until you have anchored yourself in your Zone of Genius. To do less would be to hold back, and long ago you made a handshake deal with the universe that you wouldn’t do that. The seductive comforts of success, though, can lull us into accepting the status quo. In that state of comfort, it’s easy to forget the deal you made with the universe to use yourself fully.” Castaneda tells us to follow the path with heart and when asked how we figure out what the path with heart is he tells us that we all know, only few of us have the courage to live in integrity with it. Abraham-Hicks tell us that our primary job is to seek joy—something we can only experience when we’re honoring our deepest desires. How about you? Do you have a “contradiction” in your life? Are you out of integrity? Living a life
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“But the very urge to get
planned by someone else? What do REALLY want to do with your life?!?
rid of desire is still part of
(And do you want to be on your deathbed wishing you went for it? As my friend and mentor Gay
desire, is it not?”
Hendricks once told me, he’s never met anyone who, on their deathbeds said, “I wish I had been
more reasonable.” Hehe. How about you? Now a good time to go for it?)
THE ROOTS OF A PROBLEM “Your mind is like rich soil, and if given sufficient time any problem that comes along takes root like a weed, and then you have the trouble of pulling it out; but if you do not give the problem sufficient time to take root, then it has no place to grow and it will whither away.” BRILLIANT. You have a problem? Alright. Welcome to humanity. :) Now, what do you do? Talk about it? Complain about it? Ruminate on it? That’s like tending to the weeds in your garden. NOT a good idea. (Unless, of course, you’re growing a weed garden, in which case, keep on cultivating the ugly stuff!) If, on the other hand, you’re committed to developing a beautiful life, be careful what you let take root in your mind. We’ve got an infinite array of ways we can keep the problems/weeds from getting solid roots and they’re all grounded in accepting what is (ideally: LOVING what is), choosing an empowering response to the challenge (why not look for the lesson in it?), and taking effective action (so we feel good or we feel bad, the only relevant question for the mature human being is: “Now what needs to be done?”). So, however you choose to respond to your problems, remember your mind is like rich soil. Don’t give your problems enough time to take root.
A FLOWER THAT HAS NO PERFUME “That is why you should have strong feelings—feelings of passion, anger—and watch them, play with them, find out the truth of them; for if you merely suppress them, if you say, ‘I must not get angry, I must not feel passionate, because it is wrong,’ you will find that your mind is gradually being encased in an idea and thereby becomes very shallow. You may be immensely clever, you may have encyclopaedic knowledge, but, if there is not the vitality of strong and deep feeling, your comprehension is like a flower that has no perfume.” Krishnamurti is basically all about removing the conditioned “shoulds” from our lives. Rather than do something because we’re “supposed to” or it’s the right thing to do or we “should” do it, we need to go for it, live intensely and discover for OURSELVES what is true for us. “In this country, unfortunately, as all over the world, we care so little,
Otherwise, we may do all the “right” things and be immensely clever, but we’ll be shallow, with no deep feeling, like a flower that has no perfume. Krishnamurti continues: “I remember watching two red squirrels, with long bushy tails and
we have no deep feeling
lovely fur, chase each other up and down a tall tree for about ten minutes without stopping—just
for the joy of living. But you and I cannot know that joy if we do not feel things deeply, if there is
no passion in our lives—passion, not for doing good or bringing about some reform, but passion in the sense of feeling something very strongly; and we can have that vital passion only when there is a total revolution in our thinking, in our whole being.” Here’s to the total revolution in our thinking that creates vital passion and sends our bushytailed selves up trees! :)
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THE REAL STUDENT “Do you know what it means to learn? When you are really learning you are learning throughout your life and there is no one special teacher to learn from. Then everything teaches you—a deaf leaf, a bird in flight, a smell, a tear, the rich and the poor, those who are crying, the smile of a woman, the haughtiness of a man. You learn from everything, therefore there is no guide, no philosopher, no guru. Life itself is your teacher, and you are in a state of constant learning.” Krishnamurti also says: “To be a real student is to learn all the time.” Reminds me of Confucius. I don’t know how many times he referred to learning in his classic book, The Analects (see Notes), but it was a LOT. Things like this: “In a hamlet of ten households, there are bound to be those who are my equal in doing their best for others and in being trustworthy in what they say, but they are unlikely to be as eager to learn as I am.” Plus: “Those who do not study are only cattle dressed up in men’s clothes.” And: “Even when walking in the company of two other men, I am bound to be able to learn from them. The good points of the one I copy; the bad points of the other I correct in myself.” How about you? Are a “real student”?!? Can you alchemize EVERYTHING into an opportunity to learn? ESPECIALLY the challenging stuff? See if you can take what used to annoy you and just use it as fuel to deepen your practice. “The real student is
As Marcus Aurelius says (see Notes on Meditations): “So here is a rule to remember in future,
studying, learning, inquiring,
when anything tempts you to feel bitter: not, ‘This is a misfortune,’ but ‘To bear this worthily is
exploring, not just until he
a good fortune.’”
is twenty or twenty-five, but throughout life.” ~ Krishnamurti
Life is our classroom!!! Let’s get our wisdom on, yo! :)
GET CLEAR AND WATCH THINGS HAPPEN “Sir, life is very strange. The moment you are very clear about what you want to do, things happen. Life comes to your aid—a friend, a relation, a teacher, a grandmother, somebody helps you. But if you are afraid to try because your father may turn you out, then you are lost. Life never comes to the aid of those who merely yield to some demand out of fear. But if you say, ‘This is what I really want to do and I am going to pursue it,’ then you will find that something miraculous takes place. You may have to go hungry, struggle to get through, but you will be a worthwhile human being, not a mere copy, and that is the miracle of it.” Joseph Campbell, who actually met Krishnamurti on a boat from the States to Europe when both were young men, said the same thing. He called it being helped by “hidden hands” (see Notes on The Power of Myth for more): Moyers: “Do you ever have this sense when you are following your bliss, as I have at moments, of being helped by hidden hands?” Campbell: “All the time. It is miraculous. I even have a superstition that has grown on me as a result of invisible hands coming all the time—namely, that if you do follow your bliss you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. When you see that, you begin to meet people who are in the field of your bliss, and they open the doors to you. I say, follow your bliss and don’t be afraid, and doors will open where you didn’t know they were going to be.” W.H. Murray, the explorer, recognized the same phenomena and captured it so eloquently in this passage: “Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness concerning all acts of initiative and creation. There is one elementary truth, the
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“Sir, anything truly revoluntionary is created by a few who see what is true and are willing to live according to that truth; but to discover what is true demands freedom from tradition, which means freedom from all fears.” ~ Krishnamurti
ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans; that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen events, meetings and material assistance which no one could have dreamed would have come their way. I have learned a deep respect for one of Goethe’s couplets: ‘Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now!’” So, what’re you waiting for? The Universe is ready if you are. Let go of the fear and go for it. Be you. Get intense. Experience the miracle of life. :)
LET’S GO INFINITELY FAR “If you can look at yourself without condemning what you see, without comparing yourself with somebody else, without wishing to be more beautiful or more virtuous; or you can just observe what you are and move with it, then you will find that it is possible to go infinitely far. Then there is no end to the journey, and that is the mystery, the beauty of it.” Well, we started our journey to the far from the near. Now we discover that it is possible to go infinitely far… Here’s to just observing what we are and moving with it, being danced by the rhythm of life and experiencing the divine, vital passion that springs from within,
Brian Johnson, Chief Philosopher
If you liked this Note, you’ll probably like…
About the Author of “Think on These Things” JIDDU KRISHNAMURTI
J. Krishnamurti (May 12, 1895 – February 17, 1986) was a well known writer
The Power of Myth
and speaker on philosophical and spiritual subjects. His subject matter
Meditations The Fountainhead Constructive Living The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success The Power of *TED
included: psychological revolution, the nature of the mind, meditation, human relationships, and how to enact positive change in society. He constantly stressed the need for a revolution in the psyche of every human being and emphasized that such a revolution cannot be brought about by any external entity whether religious, political or social. (from Wikipedia where you can learn more!)
About the Author of This Note BRIAN JOHNSON
Brian Johnson loves helping people optimize their lives as he studies, embodies and teaches the fundamentals of optimal living—integrating ancient wisdom + modern science + common sense + virtue + mastery + fun. Learn more and optimize your life at brianjohnson.me.
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