"Fearlessness is the first requirement of spirituality. Cowards can never be moral." -- Mahatma Gandhi

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Krishnamurti and Tolle: "Don't Mind What Happens"

In his best-selling book, "A New Earth," Eckhart Tolle recounts a singular moment in a lecture given by the great enlightened thinker, Jiddu Krishnamurti. Stopping his lecture momentarily, Krishnamurti asked his audience if they wanted to know his "secret" The lecture hall reportedly went silent as the audience waited to hear the pith of Krishnamurti's teaching, the kernel at the heart of the often obscure wisdom that Krishnamurti sought to convey. "This is my secret," he is purported to have said, "I do not mind what happens."

Tolle utilizes this story to emphasize the importance of being "in alignment with what happens." "To be in alignment with what is," he points out, "means to be in a relationship of inner nonresistance with what happens. It means not to label it mentally as good or bad, but to let it be."

This is undoubtedly part of Krishnamurti's "secret," after all sources as diverse as Shakespeare and the Ashtavakra Gita point out the truth that "nothing is either good or bad, but our thinking makes it so." And, on that level, Krishnamurti is surely pointing out that he does not make a judgment on whether what is happening at any moment is good or bad, positive or negative. However, contemplating on this singular event in Krishnamurti's teaching, I find additional (although related) meanings in this "secret."

Krushnamurti must, as set out above, have meant at one level that he does not "mind what happens" by judging its aspects as being positive or negative, good or bad. What happens, happens. It is what it is. And, Krishnamurti apparently took a position of neutrality and non-resistance to whatever happened as Tolle discusses.

At a second level, I suspect that Krishnamruti meant he does not "mind what happens" in the sense that at a deep level he does not take responsibility for what happens externally. Take, for example, the shopkeeper who leaves his store in the care of a clerk while he steps out to do the banking. "Mind the store while I'm gone," he might say. In this sense, I suspect that Krishnamurti knew that there is no one individual who can "mind what happens" collectively, although he undoubtedly recognized that most of us cannot resist trying vainly to shape and manage life's circumstances. The vast majority of us are heavily invested in things turning out the way that we think that they should. We seize responsibility to assure these outcomes, and thus "mind what happens."

"To pursue the unattainable is insanity," Marcus Aurelius observed, "yet the thoughtless can never refrain from doing so." How many of us seek to attain control of, and manage what happens all around us? The vast, vast majority I would guess. Thus, arises the insanity of "minding" what happens.

At a third level - and this may be the most basic level - I suspect that Krishnamurti meant he did not "mind what happens" in an active sense, with "mind" being the active verb. Krishnamurti, undoubtedly did not "mind what happens" by mechanically turning it over and over in his mind, by chewing on it figuratively, or by letting thoughts of what happens preoccupy his psyche. He did not mentally "mind what happens," or mentate upon it.

To not "mind what happens" in these three senses implies that one has acquired a radical acceptance of what is - neither judging, manipulating, or ruminating on what occurs in one's life. It is, as Krishnamurti notes, a "secret" that we do not have to come to grasps with reality in such manners, but need only accept what happens as it is on its face, as an isolated moment in our lives.

1 comment:

  1. K's intention was to stop thought. As his was stopped. To bring silence to minds. All else was secondary.

    No need to discuss his words. Read them. Listen to them. But don't form ideas and methods from them. That would be against K's intentions.