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Monday, December 22, 2014

Get off the “becoming treadmill”, just be!

Stop competing, drop all comparisons, and you will live happily ever after!

We were having tea with a friend who was visiting us with his family after many years. Our friend was schooled at the famous Rishi Valley School, founded by the thinker-philosopher J.Krishnamurti (1895 ~ 1986). It’s a school that spurs the spirit of inquiry in children and lets them enjoy the process of learning than drive them to acquire knowledge that can showcase them as achievers to society. Our friend told us how much he valued the Rishi Valley way and said that his whole Life and career had been blessed by his experience of learning at that school. Naturally, we asked our friend’s children, who were in high school in Doha, Qatar, if they ever wanted to go to Rishi Valley School. Our friend’s daughter answered that question. She said: “I love Rishi Valley and the ambience there. But I don’t think Rishi Valley prepares you for the real world.” Her mother, our friend’s wife, piped in, “Well, schools like Rishi Valley don’t make you street smart.”  

What could have been an intelligent conversation sadly ended there as samosas and dhoklas were served and everyone got distracted in the direction of all the food and tea.

But I couldn’t stop thinking about the observations that were made that afternoon – one by a child and the other by a parent! And I wondered if we really need to be street smart and prepare ourselves for the real world?

Think of what the real world really is: a place where everyone is busy running a rat race, where the spirit of inquiry and learning is stifled very, very early on in Life and people are only keen on their GPAs and placements, where top draw salaries are a means to acquire all material comfort and where innovation and enterprise and sacrificed on the altar of quarterly earnings and wanting to be seen as the number 1 and not necessarily striving to be the best! Competition has become the very basis of Life. No doubt competition, like in sport, brings out the best in a person. But to obsess oneself with competition, being street smart and constantly compare with others can ruin the joy of living. In fact, Krishnamurti has said, “Real learning comes about when the competitive spirit has ceased.” And he has also said, “The ability to observe without evaluating is the highest form of intelligence.” So, in effect, in the so-called real world that we have created today, there is no more learning. We have lost all our learning ability trying to grow our earning potential. And, obviously, at the cost of not employing our intelligence, we have begun to love, and therefore cling to, things and use people, whereas, it should be the other way round!

It is this obsession with comparing with others, with competing with a desire to vanquish others, that has made our world, this real world of ours, such a cold place to live in. Driven by the hunger to be successful you have stopped celebrating your uniqueness. Instead of just being, you are on this ‘becoming treadmill’ – wanting to become someone else or wanting to become like someone else. Running on a treadmill has an inherent pitfall – you keep running harder no doubt but, in the end, you are still at the same place! Comparison with others, being in continuous, endless, competition, breeds ambition. No problem with being ambitious. But when ambition makes you combative, restless and subconsciously violent – where you are fighting continuously with who you are because you are wanting to be someone else – then your inner peace and happiness are destroyed.

Krishnamurti urged us to look at nature. He used to say that the flowers bloom for the joy of blooming; the trees don’t compete with each other, they simply enjoy each other’s presence and growth; the sun rises and sets because it simply has to – there’s no attitude to nature’s magnificence. Osho, the Master, went a step further to clarify: “All that is divine is non-competitive – and your being is divine. So just sort it out. The society has muddled your head; it has taught you the competitive way of Life…when you are non- competitive, only then can you be yourself. This is simple.”

So stop trying to become – something, someone. Just be. Then, whether in the real world or not, whether street smart or not, you will always be happy and at peace with yourself! 

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