I have been reading all day, confined to my room, and feel tired. I raise the screen and face the broad daylight. I move the chair on the veranda and look at the blue mountains. I draw a long breath, fill my lungs with fresh air and feel entirely refreshed. I make tea and drink a cup or two of it. Who would say that I am not living in the light of eternity? We must, however, remember that all these are events of one’s inner life as it comes in touch with eternity or as it is awakened to the meaning of “the now-moment” which is eternity, and further that things or events making up one’s outer life are no problems here.
From D. T. Suzuki, Mysticism: Christian and Buddhist (1971), pp. 124-125.
All major spiritual traditions point to the importance of living in the “here and now” of the present as a way of actualizing a paradox that is at the heart of all the questions and paradoxes with which we are involved on a daily basis: the timeless now. In the light of this paradox, every experience is an opportunity to become aware of the unity at the heart of reality. Why? Because every experience can remind us that what we are experiencing belongs to a reality that transcends it. And we do not need anyone to tell us that this is so, because even a small child knows that whatever experiences the “ups and downs” of everyday life may bring, they are temporary, because they are parts of the ever present and ever changing flow of time. So, whether what we are involved with brings enjoyment or sorrow, clarity or confusion, it can be a way of keeping us in touch with the infinite (transcendent) reality within which the finite circumstances of our lives unfold.
Because most of us now live in social environments where access to an abundance of information is at our fingertips, there is no shortage of opportunities either to voice one’s opinion about a current issue or event, or read the opinions of many others about the issues and events that capture our attention. So, my intent here is not to provide yet another platform for expressing personal opinions. Rather, it is focused more on reminding ourselves that we have both the capacity and responsibility to explore these issues and events through our own reflective activities and daily conversations. As all our major sources of spiritual wisdom remind us, the reality of divine, or ultimate wisdom resides within us: we do not have to look for understanding or inspiration outside of our own ability to look deeply within ourslves at any given moment. Jiddu Krishnamurti puts it this way: genuine meditation “is part of everyday existence; it is something that you have to do as you breathe, as you think, as you live, as you have delicate or brutal feelings.” And such meditation “has no goal, no end,” because it is indistinguishable from love, which is a “state of being” that embodies “all virtue.” [See: J. Krishnamurti, The Revolution from Within” (2009), pp. 291-291.]
Because the writings of Jiddu Krishnamurti have been an important source of insight and inspiration for me over the years, I often look to them when reflecting on significant issues and concerns. And recently, when reflecting on the incredibly distressing number of mass shootings that have occurred in recent years, I was reminded of Krishnamurti’s warnings about being “well adjusted” to societies that in many ways set the stage for such violence by promoting and rewarding self-focused, divisive activities such as “envy, greed, ambition, cruelty, the ruthless pursuit of one’s own fulfillment” and the justification of “killing on a large scale.”
Is it not the case that those who perpetrate atrocious, violent acts are primarily depicted and thought of as being societal misfits, as persons who are not well adjusted to the prevailing lifestyles of contemporary societies? And under the influence of such depictions and thoughts, are we not implicitly saying to ourselves that we, who would never think of perpetrating such atrocities, are, in fact, well-adjusted individuals, and have little, if anything, in common with those whose behavior is manifestly antagonistic and destructive to good order?
Yet, is it not the case that we do, in fact, have much in common with people who express themselves in violent and destructive ways? In the first place, every person responds to any situation with intellectual and emotional capacities that are activated largely by the immediate circumstances (both external and internal) of her or his life. So, it is the circumstances of one’s life that determine much of what a person does or does not do. Moreover, is it not fair to say that none of us can know with any degree of certainty what occurs within the minds and hearts of others, which implies that none of us can know with any degree of certainty what motivates any particular act, violent or otherwise.
Is it not time to focus our attention not only on the individual acts that are manifestly antagonistic towards various social groups, but also on the societal conditions that give rise to them? Ultimately, those who act in violent and destructive ways within our societies are doing so not as “outside” individuals, but as persons belonging to the same reality that we belong to. The world we live in is a world we share not merely with “some” others but with all others. So, we can help heal the divisiveness (the fragmentation) within our societies, which gives rise to acts of violence, first and foremost by learning to consider all individuals as co-participants in our own lives. Once again, Krishnamurti has a cogent reminder for us: “In love is all virtue. In the state of love, do what you will… without love we shall ever be at war with ourselves, and therefore with each other and with the world. It is love alone that transforms the mind totally.” [From, The Revolution from Within, p. 292.]