We are so lucky to be living in a world where we can access the information of the ages with the touch of a couple of keys.
The other night I was listening to some talks given by a man named Jiddu Krishnamurti sometime in the 70’s. He was a revered “guru” although he may not have been comfortable with that term. His method of speaking wasn’t splashy. He wasn’t a great orator. It’s sort of hard trying to figure out what it is about his speeches that feels so soothing and so comforting.
I was struck by his humor. In one video I watched he invited some children to come sit around him as he talked about concentration and meditation. He was intent on helping the children come to their own understanding and like any good teacher he seemed to know where their questions were coming from and he didn’t lose focus in answering them.
I watched as he asked a young man about his ability to concentrate. The boy knew that it was a hard thing to do, he defended his inability to concentrate by telling Krishnamurti that it was hard to put all of your attention on one thing because of all the thoughts and ideas that would float through your head. I understood what the boy was saying and I wanted to hear Krishnamurti tell me how to fix it.
Instead he said that the word “how” is a tricky word. We all want someone else to show us what to do, or how things should be done. I felt quite humbled when he said that.
But as I have already mentioned I think Krishnamurti understood that the young man was highlighting a “teaching moment”. He asked the boy if he ever tried to focus all of his concentration on one thing. The boy looked confused. Have you ever put all of your attention on one idea? he asked. What happens when you do? What develops from that attention or concentration? What does meditating on that thing bring you?
I thought about that. It’s a little shocking to me but I think I’ve gotten away with not thinking too deeply about most things. I don’t ask myself how I feel as I’m thinking about things. I don’t notice how my heart races, or how my hands clasp and unclasp while I’m having certain thoughts. I’m not all that engaged in my own thinking. Recognizing that panicked me for a second. I mean, it couldn’t be true, I’m a pretty thoughtful person aren’t I? I’ve concentrated on things before! Haven’t I?
I can imagine Krishnamurti asking me “What does that thoughtfulness look like…What has it done in your life?…How does your concentration work in your life?”
I’d have to answer ” I don’t know.”
I can imagine him smiling at me and nodding.