India seems to have won the race for a Covid-19 vaccine in record time. The vaccination process has begun in full earnest and will provide some peace to the millions living in fear. Active Covid-19 cases are dropping. It seems as if the crisis is starting to abate, at least in this country. Till, of course, the next big crisis hits us.
I say 'big' because each one of us goes through our 'little' crises in our everyday lives. In fact, it is this struggle and conflict in the face of numerous little crises that defines our lives. We rarely look at the ubiquity of these little crises that dominate our daily living. We react to the big ones and, when an apparent solution is found, we embrace our little crises without ever realizing that we are doing so.
Capturing this idea tellingly, J Krishnamurti, sage, philosopher, religious teacher and one 20th century’s more original and influential thinkers, said: “One is so accustomed to conflict and struggle; one even feels that when there is no conflict one is not growing, not developing, not creating, that one is not functioning properly.”
We invariably identify the origin of a crisis outside of us and so seek a solution ‘out there’. But look at the dictionary definition of crisis: ‘an emotionally significant event or radical change of status in a person's life’. It clearly puts any crisis firmly in us. It is our reaction to the changing times that makes it a crisis or not. As the pandemic has shown us, our way of living was challenged, and our response made it a crisis. It is so with the way we live our lives. A crisis is never out there: it is in us.
Krishnamurti put it clearly: “The crisis is there. The crisis is not in the world, it is not the nuclear war, it is not the terrible divisions and the brutality that is going on. The crisis is in our consciousness, the crisis is what we are, what we have become.”
The 20th century saw the most dramatic crises—an epidemic like the Spanish Flu that wiped out a third of our population, two world wars which killed more than 110 million, religious strife, terrorism, economic recessions, civil unrest and, most of all, the savage destruction of our earth. Yet, we continue to ignore the very origin of these crises—the individual you. Says Krishnamurti: “This catastrophic disaster has not come into being through some action of chance; it has been created by each one of us—by our everyday activities of envy and passion, of greed and the craving for power and domination, of competition and ruthlessness, of sensate and immediate values. We are responsible for this appalling misery and confusion, not another but you and I”.
Can humanity change? Can we alter our course? There is no answer to be found out there. It is for the individual to find out. Krishnamurti was emphatic: “In bringing about a radical change in the human being, in you, you are naturally bringing about a radical change in the structure and nature of society. It must begin not outwardly, but inwardly.”
To show how Krishnamurti developed this theme decades ago, the Krishnamurti Foundation of India has brought out a digital booklet that encapsulates his teachings relevant to our time. The Real Crisis – Digital Booklet can be downloaded for free from www.kfionline.org.
(The author works for non-profit consulting and is a member of J. Krishnamurti foundation that focus on his teaching and philosophy.)