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Krishnamurti: “It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.”

krishnamurtiI once had a disturbed young man come to a meditation class I was teaching in Edinburgh. As we’d gathered and during the meditation instruction I’d noticed that he was unusually intense and that he had noticeably poor personal hygiene, but in most ways he seemed like a fairly typical young man.

In the discussion following, however, his conversation started to veer off into more bizarre areas. He’d had “cosmic” experiences during the meditation session — experiences whose details I no longer recall but which sounded very off-balance. His girlfriend was apparently an Iranian princess. He was being shadowed by various security forces. Later still, as we were winding up and preparing to leave, and he was able to talk to me more or less alone, his conversation became more delusional still. He had developed special powers through his spiritual practice and could make things happen in the world around him. As we talked a housefly smacked noisily into the glass door we were standing beside. “See!” he said, excitedly. “I made that happen.”

He was obviously ill and suffering, and I experienced that pang of knowing that there was little or nothing I could do to help.

I’m no mental health professional, but his behaviors reminded me of what little I knew about schizophrenia and so I suggested as kindly as I could that he might be misinterpreting his experiences and that he might want to talk to a doctor about what was going on. He was clearly having problems with his mental health, but here’s the thing: according to the Buddha, so were the rest of us. “All worldlings are mad,” he said.

“Worldling” is a translation of “putthujana,” which is simply anyone who isn’t enlightened. That’s me, and you. The Buddha had his own ideas about what constitutes mental health, and by his definition anyone who isn’t well on the way to Enlightenment is insane. Quite how literally he meant it when he said “All worldlings are mad” is hard to say, but when he looked at ordinary people like us going about their daily business he saw a world out of balance — and a world that by necessity is out of balance, because it is composed of those same off-kilter individuals.

He had a term for this imbalance, which was viparyasa in Sanskrit, although the less-well-known Pali equivalent vipallasa is a bit easier on the tongue and the eye. Vipallasa means “inversion,” “perversion,” or “derangement.” Specifically, in using this term the Buddha was talking about the ways in which we misunderstand the world we live in, and the ways in which we misunderstand ourselves. Just at the young man at my meditation class was constantly misinterpreting what was happening (“See! I made that happen”) so too do the rest of us live in a virtual reality of delusion, confusion, and distortion.

What’s more, we largely share the same delusions, which means that we don’t even realize that our minds are disturbed. And thus, as Krishnamurti suggests, it’s possible to think that we’re spiritually and mentally healthy because we share our mistaken values and understandings with those around us. Collectively, our ill minds create a society that is itself ill, and we consider ourselves healthy because we see our values reflected in our fellow worldlings.

When I think of the vipallasas in modern life I’m overwhelmed by examples, but the one that springs most to mind is to materialism. We keep thinking that the answer to our sense of existential dissatisfaction is to buy more stuff: more stuff, and better stuff. I guess I notice this most with gadgets, but for other people it’s houses, furniture, shoes, clothes, or cars — none of which I care about at all. I get a new gadget — the shiny MacBook Pro I’m writing this article on, for example — and I feel a sense of pleasure just looking at it. It’s better, faster, prettier than any computer I’ve had before. But then what happens over time? Newer, better, faster, prettier computers come on the market, and I start comparing my machine unfavorably with them. My gadget starts to look a bit old-fashioned (after only six months!), less cool, less capable. It feels less fast. And I’m no longer so happy with it. I now start to hanker after something new.

And I’ve been through all this craziness before. (Don’t they say that insanity is doing the same time over and over and expecting a different result?) Even knowing that I’m on a materialistic treadmill doesn’t entirely blunt the craving for a new computer, although to give myself credit I live without a television and rarely make impulse purchases. But on some level I really believe that the answer to the discomfort of my cravings will arrive in a box carried by a UPS truck.

I work with these cravings in my meditation and in my daily life, because the Buddha suggested that there was a better answer to the problem of craving. His advice was that we need to look deeply at our craving itself, and to realize the many levels of delusion that come packaged with it. The new gadget (or pair of shoes, or that lovely sweater, or sexy car) doesn’t contain a magical ingredient that will make us happy. The object of our craving is impermanent and therefore incapable of giving lasting satisfaction.

Our craving itself is impermanent! We can watch cravings arise and pass. As we watch them come and go, choosing not to act on them, they begin to develop an unreal appearance. As we start increasingly to see through them we no longer take them so seriously, and they become weaker and less frequent. And in the end we come to see what the Buddha himself saw, which is that the answer to the problem of our cravings is not acquiring the object of our cravings but letting go of craving itself.

It’s through abandoning craving that we will finally find peace, that we’ll come back to our senses, stop seeing things in a distorted way, and find true health and wellbeing. And having done that, to whatever degree, we can look around at the imbalance that surrounds us — really seeing it — and then compassionately reach out to others so that we can help them bring about their own healing.

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Comment from Scott
Time: January 2, 2008, 9:06 pm

Hi Scott,
This is an example of why I love studying Buddhism.

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Comment from karla
Time: January 3, 2008, 1:26 am

Dear Bodhipaksa,
Thanks for your writing! I recently did an ‘experiment’ with this craving/buying thing, namely a ‘buy nothing week’ (similar to the well-known US initiative of a ‘buy nothing day”). ‘Nothing” as in ‘nothing except food and toothpaste’. I just wanted to experience what it was like. And it was fun! I had more free time on my hands, and I had more free space in my mind as well. It saved me making lots of choices (shall I buy A or B or C???? etc). It made me realise that I do go out buying things to get away from worries and anxieties, and from things I should do but do not want to do. It made me realise that I need FAR LESS than I usually think I need. And the best thing was that the entire Christmas buy-buy hysteria completely passed me by… I saw it all happening but it was not ‘in’ me.
It was good, and I think/hope that this experimental experience will help me to do more of this in the rest of the year. I learnt that buying ‘nothing’ was actually much easier than I thought – and also that buying whatever your mind desires carries a price beyond money.

have a wonderful New Year my friend

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Comment from Bodhipaksa
Time: January 3, 2008, 1:26 pm

That’s a great experiment, Karla. My first experience of bypassing Christmas was when I went on retreat for the first time in 1982. I think it was early afternoon before I realize that it was the 25th. At that time I was sitting on some rocks, perfectly content, watching waves rising and falling on the Atlantic Ocean. It was probably the best Christmas I ever had — very simple, and very happy.

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Comment from Sharon
Time: January 3, 2008, 2:21 pm

Amazing – I loved the article – I too passed on the Christmas buying spree – It was the best Christmas EVER – No stress – Enjoyed my family and people I love – I have never looked at it as a craving – interesting – I am now aware – Thank you

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Comment from Dave B.
Time: January 3, 2008, 10:43 pm

Thank you,Bodhipaksa for those wise words.I suffer ? from depression.I have been trying to find the “cure” for ages now and what I really should do is to simply invite it in.Then I can say goodbye to it.Don’t you think?Dave.

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Comment from Janet Kelly
Time: January 7, 2008, 3:40 am

Yep, I really am a mental health professional and you are so on target Bodhipaksa. It is now 4AM in this group home for the severely permanently mentally ill and I am ever so grateful for your many insightful articles. This too shall pass is a concept that steadies me when I let it.

My screensaver here at work is “May you be happy……may you be well………may you be at peace.

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Comment from Purdy
Time: January 7, 2008, 4:00 am

This article backs what I have been thinking for a while which is that mental health problems are aided by our hugely unhealthy society. We need to look to society for answers as to why mental health problems are growing and what we need to change in order to address them.

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Comment from Stephen
Time: June 26, 2008, 5:34 pm

I really enjoyed the article. Mentall illness is usually socially defined; what ever is unusual to society has a tendency to become an illness. Ironically, conforming to the ills of society ends up being proclaimed sound mental health as you are just like everyone else in the sick society!

Our materialistic culture would therefore proclaim all of us as being mentally ill for not showing love to others by buying lots of stuff that our loved ones don’t want and can’t use come Christmas time.

Having grown up in the materialistic American culture where every holiday is an exercise in consumption, I grew tired of materialism a long time ago. And frankly speaking, I find not caring about keeping up with the neighbors in the consumption game makes my life better as I don’t hide my feelings and friendships for others behind shiny objects.

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Comment from Keith Johnson
Time: September 21, 2008, 9:09 am

Very nice article – indeed, craving is the root of suffering. For me Om Meditation has been a good technique to center in the Divine and in doing so, I am able to “let go” of many, many worldly desires and cravings. All The Best, Keith (www.ommeditation.info)

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Comment from Ann
Time: October 7, 2008, 10:57 am

This article is speaking to me in great lengths. Lately I have been fighting and depressing over the – I wants – vs- I need syndrom. This was a slap in the face and a well deserved one. I want to work my way back to peace and let go of this intense desire to WANT. It is so apparent how on healthy it is and how it impacts everything I think and feel. Janet your screen saver is being put on mine because it needs to be where I can read it daily. Thank you

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Comment from Patrick
Time: December 5, 2008, 6:49 am

Lovely article. Thanks!

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Comment from Rosana
Time: December 21, 2008, 12:19 pm

Hi Bodhipaksa

Thanks for your article. This is something that has always bothered me, I frequently ask myself – how real are my feelings, impressions etc at the moment? It seems so easy to be deluded by your own thoughts, to consider something so important at a moment and later we don´t even understand why we were so interested in it. I used to meditate a long time ago and now I´m trying to get back to it. My impression is that words can be so deceiving. When I meditate (though I have a very modest experience) is one of these moments I feel a little more ‘real’.

Rosana

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Comment from dragonfly
Time: February 3, 2009, 2:32 pm

it’s interesting that Buddha was a sexist who refused to allow women to join his circus until his #1 disciple Ananda pointed out how ludicrous that was… and when he grudgingly acquiesced it was only on the condition that women accept rules which made put them beneath all male monks… the last things any enlightened One will do is go around saying they’re enlightened (actions speak louder than words), accept ‘disciples’, start a religion with sexist dogmatic rules and put themselves up on a pedestal – ‘THE Buddha’… Krishnamurti, who gave us the quote at the beginning of the article, saw through all these ignorant limitations, was light years ahead of Buddha… Buddha was anything but enlightened – he was simply a very crafty charismatic…

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Comment from Dirk Johnson
Time: February 3, 2009, 3:28 pm

dragonfly: Your feelings about Buddha’s rejection of women for monastic life are valid because they are your feelings. But Buddha lived in India 2,500 years ago. The society was not an open society like ours is. Yet Buddha disregarded the caste system in his community. I’m not going to attempt to change your mind, because it already seems made up. But the very fact that Buddha ultimately let women into the monastic ranks was a revolutionary act in favor of women in context. This means that, out of step with most of the society in which he lived, he affirmed that women could reach the level of an Arhat. Yes, he resisted it. But his mind open and he accepted a change. And yes, there were different rules for men and women. The women’s rules were more strict. Can you think of any reason that might be other than sexism of one form or another on the Buddha’s part? How would have the exact same rules for men and women resonated in 6th Century B.C.E. India? Do you feel that most of the women of the time were participating in a movement for liberation? Have you noticed the large numbers of women worldwide even in the 21st Century C.E., who are not on the side of feminism? Are you aware of a perfect feminist even in 20th Century Europe or the Americas or anywhere else in the world? I feel that if you have an open mind and search your own heart, knowledge, and understanding you will realize that Buddha did not instigate the oppression of women in India. But obviously you are free to disagree. Apparently Buddhism is not your path. It isn’t everyone’s path. I hope you find the path that is best for you. Peace.

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Comment from FoxBill
Time: April 26, 2009, 10:23 am

Earthling. Earthling. Earthling.
Nine parts of the alphabet that label part of who we think we are. We, you and I, are not the same as the Earth. Still, we live here on this Earth. We utterly depend and rely on this Earth to care and protect us. The dangers and risk the Earth sends our way have little to do with you and I. . . with us. So we must constantly redefine who we are relative to our Earth. Now what is a culturling? A societyling? An Americaling?

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Comment from zeebus
Time: May 27, 2009, 11:57 pm

That’s a picture of U.G. Krishnamurti, and the article is evidently not from him and is more probably from Jiddu Krishnamurti or some other Krishnamurti.

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Comment from Bodhipaksa
Time: May 28, 2009, 1:15 am

Ooops. I’m travelling at the moment but I’ll look into this and get it sorted on my return. Thanks for the correction.

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Comment from regina
Time: June 12, 2009, 2:34 am

You write about desire and craving and consuming and underneath your article is this moving advertising to consume more budhism…LOL

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Comment from Bodhipaksa
Time: June 12, 2009, 7:34 am

Well I’m glad you noticed the ad. Even Buddhists need to eat.

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Comment from Alex
Time: June 27, 2009, 10:03 am

Namaste!
Sakyamuni Buddha learned the Hard Way about not eating…He could not deny his basic impulse to consume other life forms permanently. Luckily that girl with the bowl full of rice (her name eludes me) was there to nurture him back to health. I agree with all of you about the relativity and subjectivity of our own perception. That is the “double-edged sword” of the Middle Way, and I, (or at least the illusion of “I”) for one, am more at peace and contentment with my life than “I” ever was before “I” was exposed to Buddhism.
Peace be with you all.

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Comment from Mike
Time: July 24, 2010, 7:04 am

I first came across Krishnamurti in the film Zeitgeist Addendum, where he delivers the aforementioned quote. Watching this film and looking into The Venus Project is the first step toward creating a world in which we use technology for the benefit of all people, creating abundance for all, building products to last (or be easily upgraded) rather than wear out, a world free of servitude. I have been a determined Vipassana student and yogi for the past four years. It is very difficult, if not impossible to become enlightened in a system that forces us to compete with one another to the detriment of our fellow man and the planet. It is time to enter the age of co-operation and high tech minimalism. Please check out http://www.thevenusproject.com. Metta, Mike

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Comment from Gianna
Time: August 12, 2010, 12:30 pm

people with delusional thinking and that which is often labeled schizophrenia or bipolar can and do recover…(without medicine – or sometimes in spite of it, since it can stop natural processes)

http://bipolarblast.wordpress.com/recovery-from-extreme-states-psychosis-etc/

that link leads to stories of several people who moved passed the state of psychosis…in some cases I know people who have used meditation to achieve recovery…and a couple of the stories are included in the link above…

the most important thing is not fearing those who are suffering such confusion…and helping them make choices to support their growth while keeping them safe

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Comment from Bodhipaksa
Time: August 12, 2010, 7:28 pm

Thanks for passing that on, Gianna. One size rarely fits all! Meditation does seem to have had adverse affects on many people with schizophrenia, and I think they should be at the very least be very cautious about taking it up. I’ve had bipolar friends who’ve found meditation to be useful. There’s much less concern there, although meditating while very depressed can simply rub one’s nose in the unpleasant emotions depression brings.

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Comment from Gianna
Time: August 12, 2010, 7:45 pm

indeed it can rub one’s nose in unpleasant emotions…tho it’s my understanding that anyone who thinks meditation is all about bliss and ease is sorely misguided…and I don’t imagine you are.

yes, one needs to know when it’s appropriate to meditate and it’s not always, no question there…but avoiding the dark emotions altogether is hardly the way to enlightenment either.

my most profound growth was in facing such darkness…and many people I know, some of whom share their stories in the above links did the same.

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Comment from Bodhipaksa
Time: August 12, 2010, 8:29 pm

Yes, meditation involves being with our experience whether it’s pleasant or unpleasant, but often when people are severely depressed they one the one hand don’t have much in the way of resources to come back one, and on the other are prone to ruminating in an unhelpful way. So when they try to meditate they get a double whammy of being up-close to their pain, and finding that they react to their pain with further depression. Not always, of course, but that’s what often happens. In MBCT, they tend to work with people when they’re more “up” so that they’re better equipped with mindfulness and emotion-handling skills when the next episode comes along.

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Comment from Jan
Time: August 16, 2010, 2:44 pm

How can you write an article about how bad materialism is, and at the end encourage me to visit your meditation CD-store?

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Comment from Bodhipaksa
Time: August 18, 2010, 11:26 pm

Hi Jan,

Good question. There are several ways I could reply. One would be to say that it’s for the same reason that you’ll read a great article about transcending materialism in, say, Tricycle magazine, and yet find ads there: it costs a surprisingly large amount of money to run a website of this size.

But a more important point is that I think you’ve misinterpreted the purpose of the article. I wasn’t saying that buying things was “bad,” or that selling things is “bad.” (You used the term “bad” — I didn’t). What I did point out is that we often try to get something from our purchases that they’re not able to give us, and end up on a hedonic treadmill, constantly buying in a search for happiness. But of course buying doesn’t have to be like that. We can buy something because it’s useful, or helps us in some way, or brings beauty into our lives, or in order to support the seller — without over-investing in the thing we’re buying. We see the object we’re purchasing as being what it is, and no more. Of course some advertising tries to feed into our cravings, by making us feel that we’re inadequate without the product in question, but selling things doesn’t have to work like that, and I don’t think any of the advertising we do for the products we sell in our store is manipulative or deceptive.

You might also want to take a look at this post, which explains why we sell CDs and other meditation supplies.

Anyway, I hope this helps. Thanks for asking!

All the best,
Bodhipaksa

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Comment from Jan
Time: August 19, 2010, 8:29 am

You are not making the world better by pushing and distributing materialistic products. It’s environmentally bad and you’re making people buy self help books they don’t need. Everybody can figure this stuff out by themselves. You don’t need a whole lot of books and other garbadge to understand life.

I suggest you post your books and cds for free download and then see how many people you can get interested.

Oh you need the income ’cause you got to eat, huh? Well, don’t eat people’s minds.

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Comment from Bodhipaksa
Time: August 19, 2010, 8:33 am

Hi Jan,

You seem to be in a lot of pain. May you find peace.

All the best,
Bodhipaksa

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Comment from Jan
Time: August 19, 2010, 11:20 am

How can anyone benefit from you when you’re only interested in positive feedback?

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Comment from Bodhipaksa
Time: August 19, 2010, 11:23 am

May you be well and happy, Jan.

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Comment from Stephen
Time: August 20, 2010, 2:57 pm

Hi Jan

Materialism is not a black and white issue, it is a contiuum between extreme minimalist asceticism and obscene greed. Buying an obscenely expensive, gas guzzling car every couple of years is at one end of the extreme, buying a beautiful piece of ethically produced furniture which could be passed down generations is another. Both are about material products but have wildly differing values attached to them. We all use material objects to one degree or another, and in the bigger picture of things I find it odd to get so concerned about Wildmind’s alleged promotion of materialistic or environmentally dubious items.

I thought Bodhipaksa expalined very well the practical reason for selling these but more I can testify that they are an excellent product which I for one have been happy to pay for. If buying a couple of books and some MP3′s makes me materialistic, I can live with that. What I find very puzzling is why you are even on this site if you think it is all garbage? As Bodhipaksa says, you come across as being in a lot of pain, and I hope you find things on this site that despite your hostility speak to you.

best wishes
Stephen

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Comment from Jan
Time: August 20, 2010, 4:40 pm

Yes! I am in a lot of pain. Materialism hit me in the head and it’s hurting like hell!

Are you happy because you paid for Bodhapaksi’s products? Happiness for buying stuff is the first sign of materialism eating at your brain. And you can live with it? Materialism has already taken a big nasty bite of yours. Chances are you won’t ever recover after being infected this hard.

Why am I on this site? What else am I supposed to do? Go out buy stuff? I prefer to read about garbadge than spend my money on it.

You are right! Materialism is not a black and white issue. It’s a black tissue full of snot.

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Comment from Bodhipaksa
Time: August 20, 2010, 6:02 pm

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn07/sn07.002.than.html

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Comment from Bodhipaksa
Time: August 21, 2010, 8:24 am

Jan,

Your most recent comment has been marked as spam, and any further comments will automatically be deleted without anyone (including me) reading them. May you be happy and at peace.

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Comment from miss G
Time: October 9, 2010, 9:39 am

wow…you all pissed jan off. that was funny. so i just googled the quote “It is no measure…” which is my very favorite quote and can never rem how to spell the author’s name. anyway, ended up here. was reading discussion on cravings and materialism. i had already discovered the trick to letting cravings go by….as i had a problem with shoes…expensive jeans…the best cars…etc. i couldnt care less about ‘stuff’…but dang its hard to be that way when surrounded by people who dont get it…and who would think i’m crazy if i tried to share my bit of enlightenment. i guess my point is…i like being ‘insane’…and watching everyone around me proud of themselves because they are so sane…and successful…and good.
glad i found this site. kathy g. mother, wife, teacher, and seeker of the truth.

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Comment from Bernice
Time: December 23, 2010, 11:55 am

I was very disappointed in this article..I believe there is alot more to it than not buying items for a week etc. how shallow this was

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Comment from Bodhipaksa
Time: December 23, 2010, 12:27 pm

There was no mention in the article of “not buying items for a week,” Bernice. Perhaps you were commenting on something else?

The article was a discussion of how we fruitlessly try to seek satisfaction in the pursuit of material goods, and how meditative techniques can allow us to disengage from the materialism that not only makes us miserable but threatens to destroy our world. If you think that the article is shallow, please feel free to contribute some depth. I’d be very interested to hear what you have to say.

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Comment from Anonymous
Time: February 20, 2011, 7:33 am

very interesting article. having grown up in a borderline impoverished family, always having childhood wants not met, i began to crave through my pubescent years material things. not through conventional meditation or buddhist practices, but disengagement from craving material things in place of self-satisfaction all the same have i developed a heightened awareness to the manipulative nature of marketing/propaganda.

that’s all and well. but along with these repressed desires, i’ve also developed a sense of resentment with the way of world and find myself sometimes very quick to anger. i have a keen sense for detail and context. as much as it helps me with basic problem solving, it also leads me to notice and be dissatisfied with the behavior and actions of loved ones. through my own struggles, i’ve placed a rather high standard on myself – an unnecessarily heavy load – and indirectly on those around me. how can i loosen up? it’s hard to think about my immediate course of action logically when i am swept up by emotions. my overbearing nature has chased away those who are dearest to me. i read the “insult” link intended for jan and found myself very impressed with the content. unfortunately, a decade of bad habits is hard to undo with mere impressions.

can someone point me in the right direction to letting go of my need to control everything around me?

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Comment from Bodhipaksa
Time: February 22, 2011, 12:47 pm

Hi, Anonymous.

There can be a tension between awareness and positive emotion. Often people who are very happy just don’t notice, and don’t want to notice, the destructive things around them. People who do notice all the crap that’s going on are often very unhappy. They may be heavily involved in campaigning, and may think of themselves as acting out of compassion, but are actually acting out of aversion, and aren’t happy or at peace at all. I stress I’m talking about tendencies, here, and not saying that this is always the case!

I think the answer to being able to have awareness and maintain some kind of wellbeing starts with balancing the practices of mindfulness (as in the mindfulness of breathing) and of lovingkindness. These two practices are complementary to each other, and help us to have more equanimity as we face life’s difficult experiences. So I’d suggest with taking up those two practices, and that you try alternating them daily.

It’s hard, as you say, to undo years of habit, but part of the difficulty is just not having access to the tools. Research has shown that the brain has already been substantially “rewired” in just eight weeks of practice.

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Comment from Anonymous
Time: February 27, 2011, 9:09 am

thank you so much for responding.

i also browsed around on the “access to insight” site and found a lot of useful information. that information led me to recognize that i’d been putting too much of my happiness in the hands of others, making them responsible for how i feel when they already have enough to figure out for themselves. now i see that i should only be concerned with my part – that i offer what i can and expect nothing in return, because what i do for others is in its own way rewarding to me. doing for others is its own benefit because in essence i am defeating my own stinginess and tempering my expectations, becoming a better man. my gift to me is a better self. peace of mind will follow.

i understand that recognizing a truth and realizing it are two different things. i have been practicing mindful generosity this past week and have learned a lot regarding humbling my status, my possessions, my support, and abilities. and though i’m not doing it to gain outside incentives, small rewards find their way to me in meaningful ways.

i still catch myself resistant to change because it’s easy to slip back into old habits when i’m tired. the tenets are a foundation that i must rebuild everything on. that takes training. i know i must be vigilant. i still have a long way to go, a lifetime perhaps. but i am so thankful that through a few serendipitousi found your article and have access to the tools, as you put it, to work with. it is so much better that i endure what hardships i’d gotten myself into now and finally make my way towards a better understanding of myself, than to continue my old path and be rewarded for it. thank you again.

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Comment from Just a thought
Time: April 6, 2011, 4:30 am

I saw a friend of mine in a mental health institute following her one and only breakdown, and this reminded me of what I now believe. Most of the people there were looking for meaning in everything – the tea they drink, the amount of sugar they added, the number of people who came to visit them, ascribing meaning when there was none (apparent).
It seemed like their situation could have arisen from lacking a sense of purpose. She quickly found it, and has never been back since.
I’ve never seen a depressed person who knew where they were going.

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Comment from Bodhipaksa
Time: April 6, 2011, 9:21 am

I agree that both seeing purpose and meaning where there are none and being unable to find meaning and purpose at all are unhelpful states that are common in mental illnesses. I’d be doubtful, though, whether seeing meaning where there is none is some kind of compensation for lacking a sense of purpose. I think it’s more likely that for some reason there’s hyperactivity in the parts of the brain responsible for divining patterns and for creating stories.

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Comment from Karly Pitman
Time: September 22, 2011, 12:56 pm

Hi Bodhipaksa,

I enjoyed reading this article. I found it because I was looking for the J.Krishnamurti quote, but am glad I stayed to read your words.

I appreciate your perspective on craving because it resonates with my experience. Thank you for sharing what is on my heart and normalizing what I have been learning and feeling – this creates a feeling of community, of refuge, in my heart.

My challenges with craving have centered around a quest for the perfect body and overeating – two things that are opposing goals and yet share the same root – a fear, a terror, that this moment is not enough, that I can’t handle it, and that I need to either soothe my way through it or perfect myself to handle it.

I love Rick Hanson’s phrase of “I’m alright right now” to remind me that I am okay, in this present moment, without having to add to it with comfort food or the comforting lure of attaining a perfect body.

It’s been a 20 year practice for me, and one that has been a doorway into presence and the Divine. It’s also been a rich practice in self compassion, of recognizing that this search for pleasure and avoidance of pain “is a sign of the love I bear for myself,” to quote Sri Nisargadatta; not something to judge, blame, hate, or shame myself for. Neither is my brain’s reactivity! :) When I allow it to be there, I relate more wisely to it.

I’m reading Wayne Muller’s beautiful book on Enough right now and think you may enjoy it as he shares much of your perspective.

Warmly, Karly

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Comment from Bodhipaksa
Time: September 22, 2011, 1:06 pm

Thanks for writing, Karly. Self-compassion is so important. I find it very liberating to notice when I’m experiencing pain, and to send it lovingkindness. When I do this is cuts off all the reactive behaviors and emotions that arise from un-empathized and un-acknowledged suffering.

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Comment from BellaTerra66
Time: October 2, 2011, 8:33 pm

Dear Bodhipaksa, I was researching this quote when I came across your blog. I needed your words right now. Thank you.

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Pingback from The best of Wildmind, 2011 | Wildmind Buddhist Meditation
Time: December 31, 2011, 11:59 am

[...] Click to read more » [...]

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Pingback from food for thought « fail perfectly
Time: February 11, 2012, 5:55 pm

[...] blog post I found while googling this quote looks at it from a Buddhist perspective. I need to write about this article in a separate post because I have a lot to say about it, and I [...]

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Comment from Bryon
Time: February 17, 2012, 9:40 pm

Wow. Amazing article and even more amazing “discussion” after. On a side note, I hope Jan kept coming back to read what others had to say.

Alot of what has been said here speaks to me very personally and for what it’s worth, will try to keep these things in mind. I’m not going to detail them here, but just felt the need to make it known – I am grateful and hopefully this will benefit me in the long run. Thank you. Really, thank you. peace

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Comment from teddy
Time: November 24, 2012, 1:29 am

I guess any season is a good time to hear this message but it is particularly good for me today.

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Comment from latetotheparty
Time: February 12, 2013, 10:23 am

“(Don’t they say that insanity is doing the same [thing] over and over and expecting a different result?)”

indeed ~they~ do; however, it’s (not to put too fine a point on it) a rather terribly sloppy truism.
and now to perhaps put too fine a point on it!
- doing the same thing over and over, but in different ways, is perseverance (something rarely associated with disorder in and of itself).
- doing the same thing over and over in the exact same way with no clear purpose is perseveration (a symptom, not a condition).
- there is no clinical definition of ‘insanity’.
- there are legal (defense/damages) and dictionary definitions, but that jingle you have helped spread is not even close to any of them.

thank you so much for the rest of the post, though! peace.

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Comment from Bill
Time: March 28, 2013, 1:05 am

Hello

I was also just searching for the quote when I came to this article and decided to read it along with all the posted comments and found it very interesting. I also read the other two articles about insult and compassionate commerce. I do also have the discourse of the Buddha along with the Koran, Bible and the Torah. I read them all when I am in the mood and have spare time, just purely because of my own interests.

I am just wondering why Jan was blocked? Was her comments offensive in some way? I’m not saying it was wrong to block or mark it as spam since it is your website and you are free to do as you wish. However I was hoping to read more of her comments as I am curious into why she would have such views and her reasons for posting them.

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Comment from Bodhipaksa
Time: March 28, 2013, 10:07 am

Hi, Bill.

I didn’t publish Jan’s last comment — the one I referred to. I can’t remember exactly what she said, but it was quite vicious. I can’t stop people from sending me hate-mail, but I’m under no obligation to publish it.

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Pingback from Health Blog Nigeria | It’s About Time
Time: May 10, 2013, 7:57 am

[...] was unable to locate the exact context in which the quote was made. However as the meditation blog Wildmind explains, it appears that Jiddu Krishnamurti saw a world that was constantly out of balance , [...]

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Comment from miss understood
Time: September 18, 2013, 7:59 pm

Hello, like many I’ve come to this site seeking the origin of the quote. I just wanted to rant to perfect strangers, how intriguingly meaningless life can be. There are moments of delight, but it possible to become numb to elation as well as desensitized to ugliness. When both occur, it is like being a useful machine. And when it ceases being useful, well everyone has driven past a junkyard. I don’t wish to be placated, sooooo please don’t bother. I plan on exploring buddhist teachings, as my Christian background has done little to help. However, if materialism equals happiness, I encourage you to embrace it. Many of us cannot achieve our wants so we do as the fox in aesops fable and proclaim the unreachable grapes as being sour. I hope for my kids sake that I find something worthwhile in this trash heap of existence because I can’t change it.

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Pingback from It’s not the Extremists we have to worry about, it’s the Moderates | Scriptonite Daily
Time: October 14, 2013, 10:05 am

[…] “It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.” […]

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Pingback from The Interview: Niki Saccareccia Talks Yoga, Psychology & | The Black Dog Blog
Time: December 16, 2013, 7:40 pm

[…] “It’s no measure of health to be well adjusted to a sick society.” ~Krishnamurti (Click here for more on that.) […]

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Comment from Chris
Time: February 9, 2014, 7:09 am

There are people who live with us who have delusional beliefs that result from imbalances in the mind; however, not all crazy people are the same flavor. I consider myself one of the crazies and my symptoms often cripple me socially. I spend many hours alone. During these long periods of silence, I have the opportunity to settle my mind in order to see the world more clearly. I have a life-long, ongoing mental health concern; however, my spiritual practice is greatly enhanced by it and my meditation practice has helped me to more easily live with the bothersome symptoms. I don’t have delusional thinking as the young man from Bodhipaksa’s example but I do know what it is like to look at a sea of “wordlings”and see that I am not the only one who is crazy. I perceive that almost everybody is frighteningly insane and it is this impression that imprisons me in isolation. Yet, while isolated, I see more clearly. This is an example of how a devastating psychological condition can actually elevate one in spiritual pursuits. I have more time to practice, I have less interference by other people, I have a vantage point that is outside of human society.
I feel bad for the young man cited by the author because his mental condition may produce delusions for him to overcome that are advanced and in addition to the delusions we all must overcome in order to see the world as it really exists–or at least more clearly.

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Comment from caleb
Time: February 18, 2014, 6:25 am

But dont you think that , the end goal of suppressing or letting our craving go weak and forget about it or neglecting our cravings , is a craving in itself??

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Comment from Bodhipaksa
Time: February 18, 2014, 2:32 pm

No, not all desires are cravings.

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Comment from Ed
Time: May 31, 2014, 5:18 pm

One of the happiest times in my life was sailing in the 2002 Clipper round-the-world yacht race. All any of us had was the clothes we needed, some bedding, toiletries, a book or two, maybe some sort of personal music player, perhaps a knife or a torch; and we didn’t really consider ourselves ‘owning’ much of this stuff. Books were shared, knives and torches used by whoever needed them, and I doubt we would’ve let anyone go without whatever they needed.

Amongst other things, it felt liberating not to have – or need – keys, or television, or the vast majority of other stuff we fill our lives with.

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