Entertain oneself

How did we entertain ourselves!

A brief intro: I live in a bustling metropolis in the heart of the city. Recently, there was a severe flood, one of a century kind that left the whole city in chaos. We had to be without electricity, newspaper, Television, internet and mobility. We were cut off for the buildings were marooned with hip deep water, in some places chest high water. Situation was so for almost a week. We were getting restless having to spend our night in candle light and most difficult part by ourselves. This raised a question – how the heck we managed to survive in the time before television or internet.  That got this rambling going.

Time machine back to few decades.

I spent few years of my life in a village during my school days. A beautiful village surrounded by river on one side and a stream on the other. On the third side we had a railway line and beyond that mountains. It had a small temple.  There was electricity but no air conditioners.  Bicycle was the mode of transport if you are not planning to walk.

Now how did we spend our times.

During the day time everybody was kept busy depending upon their stage in life.  Most of the work has to done manually which meant you were occupied sufficiently in managing your day to day living requirements.  It was the evening, weekends and holidays that were different.

So there was limited newspapers, magazines and books. Radio was there for privileged few which was shared by the community mostly. No Television and No internet. So the duty of keeping oneself entertained was yours and yours alone.

Lack of television meant the airways were calm and clean. One can hear the rustling of the wind, smell the wind in it summer aridness, the smell of rain, musty smell of winter, the smell of flora and fauna, the flowing of the water, the conversation of the people around. Everything around you was magnified.

Evenings meant spending outside in open having conversations, listening to people singing, exhibiting the new song that one has learnt, playing on the road side light, listening with rapture to the wind, string and or percussion instruments.

The impromptu story telling session by the village elders, where mythology, folk lore and history was passed on from generation to generation. The personal experience of the elders was shared where in their stories they climbed Himalayas instead of the nearby hillocks, crossed amazon, faced phantoms where in others jumping in to tease them. Every other person was talented in some or the other art forms

Music was an integral part of life. you had song for every situation.  Either one was singing, composing or listening to it. Handiwork and art form were thriving. There were dramas and folk dances to learn practice and show case. The tradition had inbuilt festivals aligned with the nature and seasons. In summer it is swimming and boat race. In winter it is indoor games, recitation or poetry reading session. The younger generation, all of us were knowing at least three language – mother tongue, English and an additional language.  Word play was a game we played when legs got tired.

Roads were free. So we can play hide and seek. Hopping, jumping. Skipping, running, swing and other games under the watchful eyes of elders.

The generations worked, learnt and enjoyed together each contributing for welfare and growth of the community. One lived with nature, learnt from nature and learnt to adapt to it. In the absence of external entertainment one was forced to keep oneself occupied and entertained. Solitude was for a rare few. So everyone came together for entertaining and in turn being entertained. It was active participation where ones senses were well attuned to the world around you, observing and mimicking the time and nature, interacting with the trees, animals and people around you. You were involved with the sky, the stars, the sun, the moon, the river, the hill, the ground beneath you and around you. Your awareness was heightened. Every moment one lived with awareness. You were contended to be where you were and at that time. Life in effect was simple, full, thriving, happy, stimulating, growing, contended and peaceful.

Now back to current times

The whole world has shrunk. We discuss in the same tone and time the election in America, the immigration issue in Europe, the deflation in Japan, the growth of BRICS, and issues of Africa, South America and Australia from our drawing room. We have 24 X 7 TV, Radio, email, facebook, whatsup and internet to keep us occupied. Oh I forgot twitter. The boundary line of office and home life has blurred. The airlines and other modes of transportation has shortened the distance.  The concept of Space and time have changed beyond measure.  Thus we have a one section for whom 24 hours in a day is not enough and other do not know what to do with their time despite all these distractions.  We have lost the art of keeping oneself without external stimuli.  While this has brought the world together! It has taken man away from himself.

  • Karparation



Series in Living IV – J Krishnamurthi on Living

J Krishnamurthi on Life

Life demands that you listen to every movement of it.

Life is yourself, your thoughts, your feelings, your activities, your ways of life. How you react to all that is the movement of life. And you have to listen to it passionately, completely, totally with all your being. Then only does one understand the actual fact of life and the movement of life in which thought and mind can flow

Because our life is very short, we have to live so completely in the now. So we have to understand this movement of life with its tradition, with its brutality, with its agony, with its violence, disorder; and in understanding this movement of confusion, conflict, out of such understanding comes order. So, order has to come naturally not by your act of will as then it would create conflict.

All the characteristics of man, most of the characteristics of the human being are shown in the animal. Unless there is a transformation in each one of us as a human being – that is, freeing ourselves from the animal – we shall live everlastingly in conflict.

What brings about unity is the understanding of disunity? Nationalism, religious organizations, beliefs, dogmas, conceptual attitudes towards life – all these bring about disunity. You and I notice this; any intelligent man reading history, observing daily facts, knows all this; and yet we keep on repeating this pattern over and over again. So we do not learn through suffering, we do not learn through experience, we do not learn through history. But apparently we just want to live for the moment, suffer and die and not re-create a new world, a new sense of being.

As long as you are satisfied, as long as you are left undisturbed in your little backyard, as long as nothing threatens you, you live peacefully. But the moment there is any kind of threat, any kind of uncertainty – uncertainty about your relationship with your wife – you become violent; when there is uncertainty about your position, when you are not capable of fulfilling yourself, being somebody, having a position, prestige, when all those are threatened, you become violent.

So what you really want is not the ending of violence; what you really want is to be completely secure, both inwardly and outwardly. You want to be secure inwardly with your ideas, secure in your relationships, secure in your concepts. But unfortunately you can never be secure. That is one of the first things you realize: that life is not for the secure – which does not mean that you must be insecure or that you must seek insecurity. That is, each one of us, as a human being, wants to be secure within the pattern which we have created for ourselves as being secure, and that pattern will invariably contradict the pattern of another, and so there is a battle between us. And if you observe, not idealistically but factually, life is never secure. There is disease; there is death; nothing is secure. As a human being, can you understand for yourself – observing life, the every day incidents – that there is no such thing as security, that life is a movement, an endless movement? And a man who can move with it and go beyond this movement – he will find that peace, that joy, that eternity.

And seriousness leads to efficiency, clarity. It is only the serious, earnest man that lives, and the rest become merely either cannon fodder or useless human beings.

Revolution must begin within oneself. And then you will have peace, a state of non-violence, a state of freedom from violence and order. Without these we are not human beings; we are violent, destructive, incapable of order, and therefore we have no love thinking one thing and doing another; thinking marvellous thoughts, how you should be this and that and the other, and living contrary to them. So there is this contradiction. The more intellectual, verbal, theoretical, political you are, the greater is the contradiction: because you are living in theories, but not in facts. So this contradiction breeds conflict.

We are concerned with the life of each one of us, because each one of us has to live in relationship, and relationship is life. And when there is conflict in that relationship, then it is destruction, it is disorder. A man who is not in conflict with himself or with society – he has no conflict and therefore he is essentially peaceful.

So, we see all this – effort, contradiction, imitation, conformity to a pattern, this everlasting thinking, thinking which has very little meaning; that is our daily life, our daily problem of anxiety, of fear, of greed, of envy. Seeing all this how is a human mind which is the result of time, which is the result of violence – how is such a mind to bring about a mutation within itself.

The fragmentation of our lives in various roles that we carry- they are all contradictions, there we live in departments and each department is in contradiction with the other. And so our life is a series of contradictions and therefore conflicts, therefore misery and confusion. And unless we solve this problem of fragmentation for ourselves, as human being, we shall always be in a contradiction and conflict and therefore in sorrow.

Life has no significance. Life is meant to be lived, and in that very living one begins to discover the reality, the truth, the beauty of life. To discover the truth, the beauty of life, you must understand the total movement of it. And to understand the total movement of it, you have to end all this fragmentary thinking and ways of life; you have to cease to be a Hindu, not only in name, but inwardly; you have to cease to be a Muslim, or a Buddhist, or a Catholic with all the dogmas, because these things are dividing people, dividing your own minds, your own hearts.

Because life is not something outside, something that is flowing by, which we look at. Life is this movement in ourselves, of which we are a part; it is that which we have to understand, which we have to unravel, comprehend, love, pursue; and we have to imbibe deeply the full significance of it all. Life is action from the beginning to the end; the whole movement is action. But, unfortunately, we have divided action into fragments: noble action, ignoble action, political action, religious action, scientific action, the action of the reformer, the action of the socialist, the action of the communist and so on and on. We have broken it up, and therefore there is a contradiction between each action, and there is no understanding of the total movement of action.

All life is relationship; and till we understand clearly the problem of relationship in our life, at whatever level we may try to live, fully or fragmentarily, we will always be in a state of conflict, confusion and misery.

if you will make life a significant thing in itself, a life that has a meaning, a life that is rich, full, complete – is that you understand this question of fear and death. Without love, without this feeling of beauty, life naturally becomes utterly empty. And being empty we seek the gods which are man-made; being empty, beliefs, dogmas, rituals become very important; and we fill that emptiness with these tawdry affairs of things, tawdry affairs which have been put together by man. So if you would know what love is, there must be freedom from jealousy, from conflict, from the desire to dominate, the desire to be powerful – which means you must live peacefully to know what love is, not outside of life, but each of us, as a human being, is both society and the individual. The individual is not separate from society; the individual has created the psychological structure of society, and in that psychological structure he is caught. And therefore he tries to break away from that psychological structure, which is a mere revolt and therefore does not resolve any problem.

I see that violence, in itself, is destructive; in itself, it destroys the human mind because, if I am competing, fulfilling, struggling, battling with you and with everything, the brain wears itself out. There is no affection, there is no tenderness, no grace, no beauty. I see that, but I do not know how to change this thing called violence.

So we need to bring about a radical mutation in our relationship, economically, socially, politically and all the rest of it, and also in our relationship with ourselves, in the relationships which we have created as an image according to which we function. Unless there is a change in the image that each one of us has about oneself, about the society, about the various values that we have given to life, unless we look at all these problems with clarity, mere outward change brought about by communism, by socialism, by war, or by great inventions will have very little meaning. Because in ourselves the image of ourselves will project, and according to that image we live. Unless in that image there is a mutation, unless that image is completely shattered, we cannot possibly have right relationship and therefore a way of life totally different from that which we are living now.

We said that there must be in ourselves and in our relationships a great change, because we cannot as human beings lead the lives that we are doing: in battle with ourselves. The society is you, and you are the society. The psychological structure of society has been created by each human being, and in that psychological frame each human being is caught. And until the human being breaks that psychological structure within himself, completely and totally, he is incapable of living peacefully with a great sense of reality.

And nothing can function or blossom in hate, in confusion, in conflict. And as human beings we have to find a different way of living: to live in this world without inward conflict. Then that inward sense of peace expresses itself in action in society. Life has no significance. Life is meant to be lived, and in that very living one begins to discover the reality, the truth, the beauty of life. To discover the truth, the beauty of life, you must understand the total movement of it. And to understand the total movement of it, you have to end all this fragmentary thinking and ways of life; you have to cease to be a Hindu, not only in name, but inwardly; you have to cease to be a Muslim, or a Buddhist, or a Catholic with all the dogmas, because these things are dividing people, dividing your own minds, your own hearts.

And so you have to examine your own life voluntarily, you will find that you look with eyes which are full of affection – not with condemnation, not with judgment, but with care. You look at yourself with care and therefore you look at yourself with immense affection. And it is only when there is great affection and love, that you see the total existence of life.

  • Excerpts from J Krishnamurthy’s talks on Life and Death