Jiddu Krishnamurti is a spiritual figure known for his radical dedication to understanding the actuality of day to day life. Krishnamurti emphasized a direct and perceptual contact with life and denied any necessity to external sources or authorities in one’s own self-understanding. Krishnamurti spent his life talking to audiences in various parts of the world about the actual facts of what we are doing to the world.
This beautiful talk, from 1953, starts off with the sentence: “It seems to me that it is one of the most difficult things to live simply, and perhaps this evening we can go into it not just at the superficial level but deeply, and try to find out what, in essence, it means to live simply.”
Now, our conception of a simple life is to possess only a few things or to have no possessions at all, but surely, that is not a simple life. We look up to those who lead a simple life in the physical sense, who have few clothes and no property, as though that were something marvelous. Why? Because we in ourselves are attached to things, to property. But is living a simple life merely a matter of denudation, the putting aside of physical things? Or is it much deeper? Though we may have but few things, inwardly we are always gathering, accumulating; we are bound to beliefs, to dogmas, to every form of experience and memory, and there is in us a ceaseless conflict between various wants, longings, hopes, desires. All this indicates not a simple life but a very complex inward life. So I think it is important to find out why the mind accumulates, consciously as well as unconsciously, why it cannot meet every incident, every reaction as though it were something new, fresh. Why must it translate each experience in terms of the old, in terms of what it has known? The mind is always accumulating experiences, reactions, storing them away as memory in order to use them for its own security. And is understanding, is intelligence the result of innumerable experiences? Or is it the capacity to look at things anew, to face life from moment to moment without the darkening effect of experience, of the past?
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