What is Wisdom?

To see the truth in the false is the Beginning of Wisdom

To see the false as the false is the Highest Comprehension

– J Krishnamurti


Understanding Mind – An Absorbent Mind


awareness (Photo credit: tobias feltus)

Understanding comes in the space between two words, in that interval before the word shapes thought.

Understanding is not verbal, nor is there such a thing as intellectual understanding. Intellectual understanding is only on the verbal level, and so no understanding at all. Understanding does not come as a result of thought, for thought after all is verbal. There is no thought without memory, and memory is the word, the symbol, the process of image making. At this level there is no understanding.

Understanding is neither for the quick-witted nor for the slow, but for those who are aware of this measureless space.

J Krishnamurti

Understanding is being. Being in the very moment. A child from birth till about eight years of age is very understanding. Children of that age have absorbent mind declares Maria Montessori in her book The Absorbent Mind. They absorb and understand each moment of life intensely, effortlessly, naturally, like a sponge. After eight, the logical and intellectual mind takes over. The capacity to understand, creative genius is then gradually lost.

Pratyahara and Dharana practices of Yoga – Antarmouna, Ajapa japa, Breath awareness, Yoga Nidra, etc., prepare us to develop this kind of mind. They help us to develop awareness and keep the mind alert.

Logically thinking and intellectually sharp mind is required to handle various day-to-day affairs. But, the mind is most effective only when it is aware, alert, absorbent and understanding.

– If you are aware and alert to the mental chatter that happens while you are listening… true listening, devoid of filters can take place

– If you are aware of the words you are about to utter, you can be more effective in your communication

– If you are able to understand yourself, you will be able to understand others better and have better interpersonal relationships

These are but some of the benefits one gains by developing an absorbent mind.

For Adults…

Acceptance of what they are now, coupled with persistence, patience, perseverance and continuous practice under right guidance helps.

For Children…

Introducing the practices early in their life as part of the process of education helps.

Noble Silence – A Quiet and Peaceful Mind

The word “Noble Silence” is attributed to Gautama Buddha. Scriptures mention few occasions when Buddha remained silent when someone asked a questions. Some people interpreted his silence as Buddha did not know answers to some of these metaphysical questions.  Buddha observed Noble Silence when he knew that the questioner did not understand the significance of the question and thus would not be able to comprehend the answer. On other occasions, he knew that questions were wrongly put. Some of the questions asked were:

Is the universe eternal?

Is the soul the same as the body?

Does the Tathagata (Beyond All Coming and Going) exist after death?

Buddha knew that our understanding of the universe is only through our limited human experience and thus the depth and dimension of these questions could not be expressed in simple answers. On such occasion when he knew that the questioner could not fully comprehend the answer, he chose to observe Noble Silence. His silence was more meaningful than any discourse on them. Although, he gave answer to these deep queries when he was sure that questioner had a temperament and capability to comprehend the discourse. He was a compassionate and wise teacher and knew that answers will come through insight and self-reflection.

Silence is employed to quiet the mind and refrain from making hurtful speech. Silence is not simply absence of noise but it is much more than that. It is employed to quiet the mind and it is the stillness and quietness of mind which is much more observant of self and ultimately becomes aware and mindful of ultimate Truth. Hindu scriptures and saints emphasize the importance of introspection in a serene environment and cultivating habit of silence within. It is a place where our mind is empty of all thoughts, stress and inner conflicts and become involved in self-observation. If we start listening to our inner mind and get in touch with our core, something Real has a possibility of entering our life. Our lives become rich, joyful and blissful. It’s been said that Silence Is Golden. In silence, the soul shines light on elusive and deceptive Maya and reveals Truth to us. We are in constant quest for this Truth.

There is a belief that only saints or spiritual leaders can observe noble silence (mauna), but this is far from truth. People from all walks of life engage in this practice by refraining from speaking for few hours or a day. Mahatma Gandhi observed a day of absolute silence one day a week. It appears that it a difficult to be quiet but once one gets accustom to observing silence, it becomes as easy and effortless as taking a breath. After observing noble silence, one starts to feel contented and in self-control by removing all the extraneous distractions. All thoughts come to end and then there is absolute silence in mind, a mind that is not touched by outside world and become nonjudgmental and devoid of all anxiety, anger and other non-productive thoughts.

J Krishnamurty said “When there is silence, there must be space, immense space because there is no self. When there is space and silence, then something new can be attained that is untouched by time/thought. That may be most holy, most sacred.  When there is that, then there is intelligence and impassioned and love”. Silence helps preserve energy which can be directed towards spiritual awakening.  Truth is in silence not in the language that man has created.  And there is peace in silence.

Silence is language of God, all else is poor translation.


Being a Responsible Social Being

Man is not alone in this world. He is in constant touch with his surroundings. He is a social being.

We are all aware about the ecosystem and importance of maintaining ecological balance. Every being in this world – a herbivore, a carnivore, an omnivore or even scavengers have an important role to perform in maintaining this balance. Absence of one element from the above will lead to ecological imbalance.

The same holds true for diversity in seasons and different parts of the day. While the day time and summers provide opportunity for expression of vibrant rajasic energies, cool winters and nights provide the needed rest through expression of rejuvenating tamasic energies, pleasant springs and dawn provide the opportunity for expression of reflective sattvic energies and healthy propagation of life forms on this earth.

While, in the west people enthuse on seeing the bright sun, in the east we revere and long for the rains. Whatever may be the season or climate we long for, when we understand the importance of various climatic conditions, we shall be able to appreciate and enjoy all seasons.

So there is nothing like which is important and which is not; which is desirable and which is not. What is important is understanding and maintenance of the right balance.

This understanding when extended to humans… their diverse thought processes and perspectives, will enable one to appreciate even contradictory view points.

This understanding will put ideas ahead of personalities and facilitate healthy debates and discussions.

This understanding will help one to appreciate and encourage the expression of free will of others and facilitate healthy interpersonal relationships.

This understanding – not mere intellectual understanding but through actual experience can happen only when one is able to understand himself better.

The more one is able to see the contradictions and conflicts within, better he is in a position to understand and appreciate the conflicts in the outside world.

The more one is able to find peace and emergence of new ideas in the midst of these conflicts and contradictions, better he is in a position to find the same in his interaction with the outside world.

The more one is able to see his longing to express his free will and perspectives, better he is in a position to appreciate the expression of free will and perspectives of others.

The more one is able to confidently lead himself, better he is in a position to lead others.

The more one is able to understand the importance and his dependence on various elements – living and non-living in his environment, better he is in a position to preserve and conserve the same for the overall well-being.

To quote J Krishnamurthi… “To understand ourselves, we must be aware of our relationship, not only with people, but also with property, with ideas and with nature. If we are to bring about a true revolution in human relationship, which is the basis of all society, there must be a fundamental change in our own values and outlook… if we apply our minds and hearts to the task of knowing ourselves, we shall undoubtedly solve our many conflicts and sorrows.”

It is this kind of growth and understanding that we need to give our children through education in schools. This kind of education can be given says J Krishnamuthi “by being in close relationship with him (the child). We have to talk things over and let him listen to intelligent conversation; we have to encourage the spirit of inquiry and discontent which is already in him, thereby helping him to discover for himself what is true and what is false. It is constant inquiry, true dissatisfaction, that brings creative intelligence…’

And it is by awakening of such creative intelligence within us will we be able to awaken the same in the child and help him grow into a responsible and lovable social being…

Discontent to Freedom… to Independence

J Krishnamurti says…

Conformity leads to mediocrity… Revolt is of two kinds: there is violent revolt, which is mere reaction, without understanding, against the existing order; and there is the deep psychological revolt of intelligence… which is not reaction, and which comes with self-knowledge through the awareness of one’s thought and feeling.

He further adds… “If those who are young have the spirit of enquiry, if they are constantly searching out the truth of all things, political and religious, personal and environmental, then youth will have great significance and there is hope for a better world… The Young if they are at all alive, are full of hope of discontent; they must be, otherwise they are already old and dead… Most parents and teachers are afraid of discontent because it is disturbing to all forms of security, and so they encourage the young to overcome it through safe jobs, inheritance, marriage and the consolation of religious dogmas… We must understand discontent, of which most of us are afraid. Discontent may bring what appears to be disorder, but if it leads, as it should to self-knowledge and self-abnegation, then it will create a new social order and enduring peace. With self-abnegation comes immeasurable joy.

Discontent is the means to freedom… It is the burning desire to inquire, not the easy imitation of multitude, that will bring about a new understanding of the ways of life…”

We are all aware that, if we want to have different results, we need to do different things and in different ways. But what is that different way? How do we know that? It is this creative discontent that is born out of SELF KNOWLEDGE AND INTELLIGENCE… will ultimately lead us to the right answer.

The emphasis here is on the words Self-Knowlegde and Intelligence. Intelligence is normally mistaken for knowledge or accumulation of information… Conventional Education focuses on equipping children with this kind of intelligence which is nothing but intellectual knowledge. Mere accumulation of information is only one part of learning… a part of Intelligence. Intelligence is the capacity to perceive the essential, the what is in its entirety as a whole. Intellectual knowledge is about the thought functioning independent of emotion, whereas, intelligence is the capacity to feel as well as reason; and we need to approach life with intelligence, instead of intellect alone or with emotion alone. It is through this integrated approach one can gain self-knowledge. When one observes his thoughts, feelings and actions in a dispassionate manner which is self-abnegation all about, he can gain self-knowledge. Such knowledge will make one inwardly rich, filled with love and free from fear and as a process of its natural expansion and sharing with the child, he will help the child to also become internally rich, full of confidence and free from fear.

Thus, it is a natural requisite for the parents and the teachers (who are educators) to first understand themselves and grow rich and independent, internally before moving forward to providing the right kind of education to the children. Such educators who themselves are filled with creative discontent, will be able to nurture the naturally available creative discontent and absorptive learning capacity in a child. They then will be able to understand and appreciate the inquisitive nature in a child… the discontent in them leading to revolt against the existing values (which is a reason for all the stress and strain in modern life) and establishing a new world order which is based on the foundations of Love.

Learn How to Think and not What to Think

I wonder if we have ever asked ourselves what education means.

Why do we go to school, why do we learn various subjects, why do we pass examinations and compete with each other for better grades?

What does this so called education mean…. Why do we go through the struggle to be educated?

Is it merely in order to pass some examinations and get a job? Or is it the function of education to prepare us while we are young to understand the whole process of Life?…

Surely, education has no meaning unless it helps you to understand the vast expanse of life with all its subtleties, with its extraordinary beauty, its sorrows and joys.

True Education is to Learn How to Think and not What to Think…

– J Krishnamurti

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