by Ananda Giri: It is true that we cannot continue with our same old habitual ways of thinking and expect our lives to be very different.
Can we? Is not all our inner suffering, (suffering experienced as fear, hurt, anxiety, disappointment, anger, guilt, etc) a result of our way of thinking? Fear or insecurity is the outcome of a particular way of thinking and so is every other disturbing emotion. If we really cared about changing our life and making a difference to the world we live in, it is essential that we act from a different state of being. A new state of being can only result from a whole new way of thinking. Our consciousness is dependent on our thinking.
“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking that created them.” – Albert Einstein
Now comes the big question, how does one transform one’s thinking?
We know it is possible for us to move into enjoyable states or transcendental experiences through meditation or through other forms of spiritual practice but do transcendental experiences really transform the way we think? As long as we are immersed in that intoxicating state, everything looks just fine and we have nothing to complain about, but eventually that state will be gone. Nothing lasts forever and we know that. Impermanence is the nature of every perceivable object and experience in this known universe and any glorified state of consciousness is no exception to this law. Any experience, whether mundane or transcendental cannot last forever and this is the law of our universe.
When that beautiful experience has finally left us, there is every likelihood that we will return to our old ways of thinking with the same old habitual reactions to life’s challenges. We would be back to where we were; experiencing those inner conflicts and suffering once again. At this point of time we are driven to believe that the only solution to our suffering is to return to that glorified spiritual experience. We then become very obsessed with our newfound spiritual experience. Very little do we realize that through this new obsession, all we did was to add one more suffering to our already existing list of sufferings. Obsession is suffering. Of course, to some of us this new spiritual obsession can become a convenient distraction from other disturbing issues in life.
I know this to be true because i have seen it happen to me and I believe that many spiritual seekers like myself could be experiencing the same. I can say with certainty that trying to hold on to a particular transcendental experience is a futile exercise and will lead you nowhere but to greater suffering. I have had many mystical experiences myself but the one question I had failed to ask in all those previous years of my life was, ‘did all these intoxicating transcendental moments actually transform the foundations of my thinking?’
Am I no longer interested in those higher states of consciousness? Of course, I would love for those beautiful moments to happen again and I feel deeply grateful when they happen. The difference is, I now know that they are only passing moments and will not stay with me forever. It is In a sense liberating to know this; you are no longer obsessed with them. Although I must say that when you have stopped obsessing about them, there is a greater likelihood to connect with those transcendental moments more often.
Everyone has a turning point and mine came in the form of an accidental conversation with a remarkably honest man. I was forced to bring attention to my thinking, which had only changed marginally despite all my years of profound transcendental experiences. It was a disturbing truth but truth nonetheless. I was at the beginning a little reluctant to let go of my attachment to all those spiritual experiences and the self created meanings and purpose I had derived from those transcendental moments. I did not want the conversation to go any deeper but I was already too deep into it for me to pull out now. I had to let go of my guard, give myself an opportunity to be a little vulnerable and it was a new beginning for me.
I was forced to question myself, ‘how do I call myself a seeker if all I care is to preserve my own points of view? How do I call myself a seeker if all I do in the name of learning is to reaffirm my own long held perceptions? How do I call myself a seeker if all I do is conveniently interpret the other to validate my own understanding? Why was I so terrified of letting go of the world I knew? I had no right to call myself a seeker in that case. I would then be just another pleasure seeker in search of security, merely interested in preserving the so-called truth that I have become attached to.
Isn’t spiritual wisdom and practice supposed to guide us to freedom?
Shouldn’t a seeker be relentless in one’s quest for freedom?
Shouldn’t a seeker be willing to discard his/her attachment to a particular point of view? If i called myself a seeker, I suppose I had to be willing to do it.
Was I ready to do it? Frankly I wasn’t sure but fortunately I had this man who was relentless in stripping me down all the way to freedom. I very gladly permitted him to do so as I was already beginning to sense something bigger coming my way, much larger than the pleasure experienced in certainty. If we cannot challenge our own points of view, may be we should let someone do it for us.
It was a turning point for certain but still only a turning point and not a point of no return. At least that is what I had understood by the time our conversation had come to a close. I realized the importance of bringing awareness to one’s thinking and the need for a whole new way of thinking if we are to hope for a new transformed world. I felt humbled. I was beginning to learn. Interacting with this man, I realized the utter simplicity of freedom; an experience born in awareness that needs no glorification. Looking at this man you find a new faith in awareness & freedom itself.
This conversation had a profound impact on me and I trust that it will do the same for you if you made yourself a little vulnerable.
I had known this man Krishnaji for more than twenty years at the time of this conversation. I always admired him for his sense of fearlessness & a refusal to project something that he was not. I had as well developed a deep liking for his thought provoking commentaries on life and purpose. He looked at things differently from most others I knew; he was radical in many ways. But the man I met with that evening at Walt Disney’s theme park in Anaheim sounded more radical than anything I could have imagined.
He had taken his daughter Lokaa to Disney Land in California to share with her the celestial experience of the “space mountain”, a popular ride In Disney’s theme park. She raves about the experience till date. I was in Northern California that weekend for a seminar and I was scheduled to return to Los Angeles that Monday to meet with Krishnaji and his family. Even as i turned on my iPhone just moments after my flight had landed in Los Angeles, I saw a text message pop up on my phone. It was from Krishnaji “take a cab and come over to Disney Land. We already have a ticket for you”. I got very excited seeing the message; it was always a delightful experience doing fun stuff together with him. After nearly an hour-long drive, I arrived at the Park and he was there at the security checkpoint to receive me. We ran in a hurry to the “space mountain”. They had already done the ride once that morning and they wanted to do it again with me. All this while, right from the moment I met with him at the security checkpoint, I could not stop noticing his deeply relaxed face. I hadn’t seen a face so relaxed before. It was as if every single muscle on his face had relaxed. His face had acquired the look of a distinctive quietness to it. While i didn’t notice anything different in his speech, his laughter appeared to have become more fuller than ever. I was pretty sure that something incredible must have happened to him during that weekend. I was very anxious to learn about what had happened but I decided to wait until the rides were done for the day. Disney’s gates closed, we walked to the parking lot and got in to our oversized SUV, which had three rows of seating. Lokaa and her friend took the very last row. Her mother Preethaji occupied the middle one. Krishnaji drove the car and I was seated next to him in the front. Lokaa was tired after an exhausting long day and she fell asleep right away.
We had a long drive home to Westwood and so I thought that this might be a good time to learn about what had happened. I asked & he shared and I must say that it was the most eventful drive in my life. I felt a spectrum of emotions race through me; frightened, thrilled, excited, desperate, happy and grateful. I contested his points of view and argued with him even as the much-glorified spiritual world I had known all these years was rapidly disappearing, leaving me with nothing to hold on to. I felt de-structured and it was a new beginning for me. Preethaji kept prompting me every once in a while not to distract him while driving but it was impossible not to continue with the conversation. I had to find out the realization that set him free.
In the year 2009, Krishnaji and Preethaji had accompanied their 5-year-old daughter Lokaa to the Big-Bear Lake near Los Angeles. Lokaa expressed a desire to jet-ski on the lake. And it was the first time they would all be jet-skiing. The jetski instructor at the lake was in a particularly sullen mood that day. Before he handed over the jet ski to them he gave them the option of either wearing the life jackets or not wearing them. After toying with the idea of not wearing the life jacket for a VERY few moments, krishnaji decided against it and he wore and he also made Preethaji and Lokaa wear the jackets. The instructor for whatever reasons told them that if the jet ski toppled by any chance they had to get it back upright within 7 minutes, else it would sink and hurriedly he showed them how to flip it back.
It’s a huge lake with waves in it and one could not really see the boundaries of it. Wanting to have fun after a few minutes krishnaji who was driving the Jet Ski took a sharp turn with it. And Suddenly, the jet ski toppled and everyone fell into the lake. The initial few moments were utterly chaotic and panic ridden, because Preethaji had inhaled & gulped huge amounts of water was struggling for breath. And after krishnaji and Preethaji bobbed up they saw lokaa too had come up, thanks to the life jackets. Krishnaji reached the jet ski that was now being carried away by the waves and tried to flip it back while it would not. And he recognized that none of their phones were working as they had got wet; so they were stranded in the middle of a lake that was snow fed, and was nearly 70 feet deep with the possibility of their jet ski sinking any moment. There was no one around to even call for help.
Krishnaji said they were the most agonizing moments for him to see Preetha ji struggling for breath and clinging to him and to see the shock registered on his 5 year old daughters face.
In Krishnaji’s own words, “My anger was mounting towards the jet ski instructor for not guiding us properly, for his careless attitude. There was immense fear. All kinds of thoughts were storming in my head: ‘what if something had happened to Preethaji and Lokaa? Is this karma, destiny or some negative energy that is looming over our family? Is this divinely planned to teach me some lesson?’ I was bombarding myself with all sorts of questions. ‘Is this negative karma? Is there a divine plan to all this?’- the only answer that kept coming to me again and again was, ‘I don’t know!’ I asked myself, ‘Is this meant to be?’ and the answer was ‘I am not sure. How do I even know if it is meant to be?’
In that moment while in the water with all these questions raging, he paused and asked himself why was he asking all these questions? Why were these questions not stopping? What was this suffering, this rage, this unbearable discomfort within? Suddenly it hit him – in his words, he said – “This anger was not towards someone else. I WAS ANGRY WITH MYSELF. This ceaseless unease and discomfort was because I was trying to avoid truth – the truth that I had been careless. That I had even for a few moments considered in my thoughts of going into the water without life jackets while Preetha ji and Lokaa did not know swimming and to think of what could have happened to my family. I was furious with myself for even having entertained that idea for a few moments in my head. His suffering had got him centered in himself. When he saw his self-centricity, he came to a place of choice or rather choice lessens. It was freedom
I saw the truth. I had been irresponsible. He said this total uncompromising acceptance of truth set him free. There was immense freedom and a deep stillness.
From that calm there was another question – ‘what am I supposed to learn from this situation? to which, the answer was, ‘You must learn how to drive the jet-ski properly and flip it back to normal in case it toppled!’ During this entire process of inward enquiry he had taken care that Preethaji and Lokaa were safely floating holding on to the Jet Ski. Because he had realized by then that the Jet Ski could not sink.
This inward process of enquiry was happening at an incredible speed and suddenly all he could see there was a confluence of several events. All he could see was that the man did not give us complete instructions and even if he did, in his excitement, he did not probably heed to the instructions to flip over the jet ski and hence they all had toppled. – All he could see time and again was that whatever had happened was a result of a confluence of several other happenings and so was every other experience or happening in life.
‘Is there a force, an intelligence behind all this?’ The answer was ‘How do I know if it is there or not and why does it matter?’ ‘Was it meant to be?’ He could not come to these conclusions any more. It was a very intense awareness inside him that was burning away everything that was baseless. He said, my mind could not take refuge in any idea, any belief, any assumption. It was ceaselessly cutting through every idea I had ever used for psychological comfort, for security. It could no more see meanings that were not obvious. In that relentless enquiry every form of conditioning that would ever hold me prisoner to suffering, to fear, to ignorance was being purged.
Now the journey had moved away from my individual life experience, it was for humanity. He saw in that moment that the more people look for a greater meaning; a spiritual concept to explain what was happening in their lives, suffering would live on in their minds, in their lives. The mind was asking all these questions about karma, destiny, higher intelligence etc. only in a desperate attempt to avoid truth, while truth alone can set anyone free.
Avoiding truth is to perpetuate suffering. And suffering is self centered. He saw the innumerable thinking structures we had created from this self-centricity.
His awareness was now vast, expansive. It had no limitations. He could see that every happening in the world was dependent on so many other happenings. The entire universe was dependently arising and ceasing and everything is connected to everything else. Life was coming together of innumerable factors. Death was coming together of innumerable factor. Birth was coming together of several factors. There was no death, there was no birth. Nothing arises or ceases by itself – this is all we see in the universe.
He realized that there was nothing like a separate you and me. There are no separate states of mind, no separate beings, no separate things, no separate events, no two separate forces. The entire universe is like one giant organism, one big process where everything is connected to everything else. There is no separate existence. All there is, is one process and in seeing that, I felt a profound sense of sacredness to everything. All he could see was “Brahman” or the indivisible cosmic reality timelessly changing forms. “A great freedom, an incredible sense of fearlessness arose in me. It felt like the deepest meditation – it couldn’t get better that that!”.
This entire journey happened in those 25 minutes, while he was in the lake with his family before help came. This flood of realizations, of ceaseless enquiry continued over the next few months with Preethaji, who not only happens to be his wife but also a great companion on his spiritual explorations. As Preethaji prodded, questioned, discussed and shared her own spiritual experiences and realizations, the core of One World Academy emerged.
What Krishnaji experienced in those few moments, was a timeless experience of freedom, of oneness, of one world, one consciousness. It is a state of being where there exists no division of any kind- physical, emotional, spiritual, religious, cultural or national. His insights and experiences have become paths, which when tread upon in awareness, could help anyone connect to the same timeless experience of One World Consciousness. In One World Consciousness you experience a connection, compassion and oneness with all life- you experience the sacred.
Dear goodness, what a ride that was! It was truly an eventful one.
How did I feel after this long bumpy ride? I felt de-structured. I felt free and the best thing, I didn’t care to preserve this freedom.
What did this brutally honest wise man teach me? HE TAUGHT ME HOW TO THINK. I now see the necessity of right thinking in order to live free
I was fourteen when i was first exposed to the teachings of a man named J.Krishnamurti, who in my opinion is the most radical teacher since the Buddha. I was introduced to his work in the school I studied and I took a deep admiration for his ruthless honesty in the way he lived and taught. I had then thought it would have been a great experience to have met with him in person. Today, I feel I am living with one. I feel very honored to have a friend and a guide like him although I must admit that it is quite challenging to be around him, as he would never allow you to get settled in to any idea.
I had to ask him one last question before we got off the car, “WHAT ABOUT GOD?” and his response was,
“No one can possible deny the presence of an intelligence. It is immanent in all we see. But to say that this intelligence has its own independent existence, I am not sure about that. An intelligence that is outside of and separate from what we see around us, such a God is not evident to me.”
The new Krishnaji I met with in Disney Land found it needless to take comfort in any view that is baseless. He questioned its actual relevance to human life. Freedom could never possibly be the outcome of a glorified idea. What would you call a person that refused to take refuge in any idea that appeared baseless; I would call him “THE RADICAL THINKER”.
Am I idolizing this man? I possibly cannot. He has taught me well.
Ananda Giri Senior Faculty Teacher at One World Academy