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Waking up to Wisdom
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Where Skillfullness and Clarity Meet

--by J. Krishnamurti (Mar 01, 2010)


We have become very skillful in dealing with our daily life; skillful, in the sense of being clever in applying a great deal of knowledge which we have acquired through education and experience. We act skillfully either in a factory or in a business and so on. That skill becomes, through repetitive action, routine. Skill, when it is highly developed – as it should be – leads to self-importance and self-aggrandizement. Skill has brought us to our present state, not only technologically, but in our relationships, in the way we deal with each other – not clearly, not with compassion, but with skill. Is there an action, in our daily life, which is skillful yet which does not perpetuate the self, the me, which does not give importance to one’s self-centered existence? […] To answer that one has to inquire into what clarity is; when there is clarity there is action which is skillful and which does not perpetuate the self.

Clarity exists only when there is freedom to observe. One is only capable of observing, looking, watching, when there is complete and total freedom; otherwise there is always distortion in the observation. Is it possible to be free of all distorting factors in one’s outlook? […]

One may describe what compassion is in the most eloquent and poetic manner, but in whatever words it is expressed, those words are not the thing. Without compassion there is no clarity; without clarity there is no selfless skill – they are inter-related. Can one have this extraordinary sense of compassion in one’s daily life, not as a theory, not as an ideal, not something to be achieved, to be practiced and so on, but to have it totally, completely, at the root of one’s being? […]

We’ve strengthened in our consciousness, through great development of skill, the structure and the nature of the self. The self is violence, the self is greed, envy and so on. They are the very essence of self. As long as there is the center as the me, every action must be distorted. Acting from a center you’re giving a direction, and that direction is distortion. You may develop a great skill in this way but it is always unbalanced, inharmonious. Now, can consciousness with its movement undergo a radical transformation, a transformation not brought about by will. Will is desire, desire for something and when there is desire there is a motive, which is again a distorting factor in observation.

--J. Krishnamurti, from “The Wholeness of Life”


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6 Previous Reflections:

 
On Mar 8, 2010 Achuthan S.Nair wrote:

Distortion triggered by the direction set by us.Direction is set by the centre point we create with our own perceptions.Our perceptions are the end product of our false identity we create steeped in our ignorance. JK is not refering to compassion as anything other than stating the  location as at our roots.Perhaps other than stating compassion as total he does not wish to distort the "Compassion".

There is so much peace in this simple truth as we awake in this intellectual appreciation of truth attempted to be stated - in words,but "words are not....the thing". What clarity ,all in a moment.

 



On Mar 4, 2010 Laval wrote:

All, here is the visual story of the cricket tournament I spoke about -- that we had put on for the slum children in Ahmedabad: And another one with more photos:  See full.

All, here is the visual story of the cricket tournament I spoke about -- that we had put on for the slum children in Ahmedabad:

And another one with more photos:

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On Mar 4, 2010 Dinesh wrote:

Here is the essence of the Kabir song I offered last night:

Like a bird leaving everything behind, we will all have to fly out alone one day.

As a falling leaf that is carried by the wind, we don't know where exactly we will land.

We don't know when the moment of death will arrive, but until then, keep doing your good deeds.

And the audio:



On Mar 4, 2010 Somik Raha wrote:

A fantastic Wednesday! Neil gave us clarity on selflessness with a very accessible example - that of point-guards in basketball. The best teams are those which have the most selfless point-guards, who are responsible for passing the ball instead of making the points on their own. Those teams also have the most fun.  Paul blew my mind with his story. He was in charge of a journalist team covering the Iraq war, and one of his embeds was a mother of a 3-year old, a very good journalist, who had undergone hazard training, etc. Paul used to have a hard time sleeping well in the bay area while his colleagues were in dangerous situations. One day, the phone rang at 3 AM, and it was his journalist, who, in a shaking voice, said that she had a decision to make. Her embed unit was returning, but she could join another one, which had just decided to attack Baghdad. What should she do? She had barely seconds to make up her mind, and was calling on the satellite phone. What Paul said nex  See full.

A fantastic Wednesday! Neil gave us clarity on selflessness with a very accessible example - that of point-guards in basketball. The best teams are those which have the most selfless point-guards, who are responsible for passing the ball instead of making the points on their own. Those teams also have the most fun. 

Paul blew my mind with his story. He was in charge of a journalist team covering the Iraq war, and one of his embeds was a mother of a 3-year old, a very good journalist, who had undergone hazard training, etc. Paul used to have a hard time sleeping well in the bay area while his colleagues were in dangerous situations. One day, the phone rang at 3 AM, and it was his journalist, who, in a shaking voice, said that she had a decision to make. Her embed unit was returning, but she could join another one, which had just decided to attack Baghdad. What should she do? She had barely seconds to make up her mind, and was calling on the satellite phone. What Paul said next is worthy of internalizing. Instead of telling her what to do (which he thinks is a bad response in any situation), he responded by, "I want you to know that I value your safety much more than anything else." She said, "Thanks, that really helps." She went on to Baghdad, and thankfully, returned safely. 

There is something deep and spiritual about Paul's response - so many people ask us for advice, and going back to our deepest values, while recognizing the other's free agency is a very powerful and authentic response.

Joel shared about his great-uncle who had just passed away, and how he, in the last years of his life, lived like a 20-year old. I remembered what some older people have said - "Youth is wasted on the young." :)

This passage was brilliant, and reminded me of a conversation I had with my professor about the Buddha. My professor, who has studied the Buddha in a very deep way, and teaches decision analysis, pointed out that the Buddha was probably the first decision analyst. I asked, "How so?" He responded, "The Buddha used to be a tremendous debater before he got enlightened. He is known to have remarked, "An argument that I cannot win I do not understand." (I hope I'm not misquoting here) Can you imagine the Buddha saying something so arrogant? This was pre-enlightenment. Post-englightenment, the Buddha retained all of his sharpness, while overflowing with compassion. I haven't encountered another character in history who could change the frame of his discussants with utter simplicity the way the Buddha could. In that sense, was an embodiment of clarity and compassion. In a nutshell, his life message for me was, "Cool head, warm heart."

Great damage is done in our society by "cool heads," who also have "cold hearts," as someone pointed out in the circle with a quote from Gandhi. The converse, in my mind, is equally true. Great damage is done in our society by "warm hearts" who also have "hot heads." Krishnamurti, in his own life, embodied the combination of the two just like the Buddha, and this is a tremendous ideal to aspire to.

On the subject of skill, when we are faced with situations where our skill breaks down, we get great moments of self-reflection. I had one such moment this week. I was scheduled to teach a problem session on Visual Basic for Applications (programming in Excel) on Monday. I postponed the preparation till Sunday night, and to my horror, when I was ready to begin preparing, Excel crashed! I was using Office 2003, an older version of office, and it was quite hard to find a source CD. Spent several hours unsuccessfully on Sunday night. Then, on Monday morning, I managed to get a source CD, and spent several hours, again unsuccessfully. Nothing made sense. I asked a colleague to get his laptop with Office 2003, but when he did, it turned out he was mistaken and he had Officer 2007. I had only a few hours to prepare and give the talk. As my stress level started rising, I decided to try an experiment.

Said to myself, "I have all the time in the world! I have all the resources I need! All is well!" and gave up. Took a break, and came back to my desk. And a miracle happened. There, sitting on my desk, was a laptop with a working copy of Office 2003. 

And guess what, it was my own laptop! I had a spare machine for such emergencies, sitting right next to my regular machine, and completely forgot about it in my stress! This time, with a calm mind, I prepared for the session and was done in 30 minutes. The session went well.

I was also worried about having to purchase an expensive copy of Office for my regular machine. Again, telling myself that all was well, decided to search online for Office 2010 - and there it was - the free beta version that would work till October, long enough for my purposes, and happy to be a guinea-pig for Microsoft.

I loved hearing about the couple who landed in San Jose, CA instead of San Jose, Costa Rica, and joined us last night. Neema shared four awesome breaths. Uncle sang a deep and wonderful Kabir song, which I've heard several times from professional singers like Kumar Gandharva and Kailash Kher, but never understood this clearly. Hopefully someone will post a translation for the benefit of those who don't follow Hindi - typical of Kabir's poetry, the song knocks listeners off their feet in an instant.

All is well!

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On Mar 2, 2010 Lucia wrote:

My understanding is that J.K. asks that we look at the light and the shadows, the good and the bad, without distortion, without fixing it according to our desire, our need. To do our inner work before engaging with the outside is primordial. Thank you for this gem.



On Mar 2, 2010 Kirti wrote:

 Its not that we develop skills to lead a clever life...its that the emotions die when the compassion of  heart is ruined at every point of life...leading us to the desperate endgame. The article is good, i was like good human, but my life turned me to lead a life that does not involves emotions...so that i can atleast smile when a thing to be smiled upon/laughed at, is spoken, forgetting all the pain i had in my heart.a