(About a 3 minute read)
Jiddu Krishnamurti would sometimes tell his friends the mildly shocking story of once riding in a car with five other people, all of whom were discussing the different states of consciousness — or awareness. At some point during the discussion, the driver ran over a goat in the road — and no one else in the car besides Krishnamurti, not even the driver, noticed!
Of course, the story illustrates rather well how oblivious our normal, everyday consciousness or awareness can be to what’s going on. We might resist the thought that we are as unaware as the story implies — and most days we probably are not nearly as unaware — but then one day comes the moment we run over the goat even while discussing awareness.
All of the above talk might easily prompt a spiritually astute man like me to zone out and daydream most of the morning about how happy and alert he’d be if he could only constantly live in the moment like a decently enlightened individual — and not like one of those screwball bloggers who only post about living decently enlightened. I mean, really enlightened. Like, able to afford the robes and everything!
For living in the present is seriously described by many people — who can plausibly claim to have had at least some experience of it — in some quite positive terms, such as “liberating”, “free of unnecessary suffering”, “an experience of tremendous beauty”, and so forth.
Yet, it is important to reflect here that the people saying such things are always or almost always people who do not constantly live in the present, nor even claim to. So it is an open question how feasible is it to constantly live in the present.
And here is where Krishnamurti told people a second story. He and his companions were driving along a jungle road when they saw a tiger beside it. The driver stopped the car and the tiger began prowling about it. Krishnamurti himself was apparently enraptured by the sight of the tiger because he rolled down his window to reach out and pet the wild carnivore! Only his quick thinking friend saved him by snatching Krishnamurti’s hand back into the car.
Obviously, there is something to be said for — not living in the moment all the time — but at least taking a break from living in the moment in order to exercise some prudence or foresight.
But now there comes another question, one for which few humans are really qualified to answer. Do profoundly enlightened people live constantly in the present, but in such a way as to somehow allow them to exercise such things as foresight?
My guess is “no”, given what is commonly known about the fundamental nature of both foresight and “enlightened consciousness”, but the question is a bit unfair because only a profoundly enlightened person would know for sure. The rest of us are reduced to the respected and honored tradition of first taking a wild guess, and then ardently defending it with death threats and blades against all comers, foreign and domestic, in order to settle the truth of the matter.
On the other hand, I have the robes on order even as we speak, so I think it’s only fair you agree with me.
Questions? Comments? Pleas for relief funds for homeless millionaires? Protests you are not running a scam? Generous offers of sharing some tasty road-killed goat?
Please note: This post was inspired by a discussion of mindfulness posted by the Millennial Philosopher here.