Feb 3, 2022

Book Review: What are you doing with your life? by J Krishnamurti


Ever since the pandemic started in Mar 2020, life has been throwing challenges at me one after another. As I come out of one challenge, the next challenge arrives in a month, that's more harder, more intense and more complex. My innate problem solving nature and my need for control felt so pointless. Surrender to the situation and hope that things will resolve on its own seem to be the right strategy. I keep repeating Thalaivar's dialogue to reassure myself - "nallavangala Aandavan sodhipaan aana kai vida maattaan! Kettavangalukku neraiya kodupaan aanakadaisila kai vittuduvaan!"

Every challenge also brings in a lot of questions about life, birth, death, karma, purpose, locus of control etc. I keep looking for answers in spirituality, astrology and philosophy. Many books have helped me gain some perspectives in these 2 years - Karma by Sadhguru, The Subtle Art of not giving a f*ck by Mark Manson, Search inside yourself by Chade-Meng Tan to name a few.

Adding to the list of influential books is this latest read - "What are you doing with your life?" by J. Krishnamurti (JK). During these last 2 weeks of dealing with shock and grief, the author's perspectives felt like exactly what I needed to hear at this point of time. It gave me the much-needed breather from the numerous "What-if"s and "What-next" questions that were triggering my anxiety levels.

The book is a collection of teachings of JK, neatly compiled under 4 sections -
Education, work and money

Among these 4, my favorite were the chapters under Self-knowledge. Felt that "palaar palaar" feeling (hard-hitting) at multiple points.

I'd be lying if I said I have understood the complete book. There were many passages that I couldn't understand or make sense of. That's what the beauty of JK's writings is - digest, revisit, assimilate slowly and steadily.

The writing style felt more conversational, dispersed with a lot of questions, that will make you pause and reflect. There were a few hard-hitting sentences that brought in a lot of clarity. Here are a few lines that I had highlighted.

Life is always in movement, never static. But our minds are static. Our minds are conditioned, held, tethered to dogma, to belief, to experience, to knowledge.

You discover yourself, not in isolation, not in withdrawal, but in relationship. To discover how you react, what your responses are requires an extraordinary alertness of mind, a keenness of perception.

Relationship is action, and self-knowledge is the result of awareness in action.

The more we think over a problem, the more we investigate, analyze and discuss it, the more complex it becomes.

Dependence on things, on people or on ideas breeds fear.

When you accept that you are what you are, where is the problem? There is a problem only when we do not accept a thing as it is and wish to transform it.

The ambitious man is the most frightened man because he is afraid to be what he is.

What awakens anger is that our ideal, the idea we have of ourselves is attacked.

It's certainly not a one-time casual read. Rather, this book requires multiple visits and revisions. In fact, each chapter could be a prompt for journaling and self-reflection. If you are like me in a stage of your life, where more questions are arising about life, look no further. Pick up this book. You might find a few answers.

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