Krishnamurti & the Art of Awakening
A Quiet Space | moderated by Clive Elwell

Is deterioration inevitable as we grow old?


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Sat, 30 Jun 2018 #1
Thumb_kinfonet_avatar Clive Elwell New Zealand 4362 posts in this forum Offline

I don’t know if any of you are interested in going into the issue of growing old, and how we face that process. It is inevitable that the body starts to break down. We may delay that by paying attention to our physical being, to right nutrition, exercise, minimising as far as possible our exposure to pollution, etc, but although we may put off physical decline for a while, eventually it comes, with its reduced mobility, decline of the senses, pain, all the rest of it.

How is the mind affected as the body deteriorates? There are many questions, but I will start with this quote from K back in 1944:

Questioner: I am a very active person physically. A time is coming when I shall not be. How shall I then occupy my time?

Krishnamurti: Most of us are caught up in sensate values, and the world around us is organized to increase and maintain them. We become more and more involved in them and unthinkingly grow old, worn out by outward activity but inwardly inactive and poor. Soon the outward, noisy activity comes to an inevitable end and then we become aware of loneliness, poverty of being. In order not to face this pain and fear, some continue ceaselessly to be active socially, in organized religion, politically and in the business world, giving justifications for their activity and noisy bustle. For those who cannot continue outward activity the question of what to do in old age arises. They cannot become suddenly inwardly active, they do not know what it means, their whole life has been against it. How are they to become inwardly aware?

It would be wise if after a certain age, perhaps let us say forty or forty-five, or younger still, you retired from the world, before you are too old. What would happen if you did retire not merely to enjoy the fruit of sensate gatherings but retired in order to find yourself, in order to think feel profoundly, to meditate, to discover reality? Perhaps you may save mankind from the sensate, worldly path it is following, with all its brutality, deception and sorrow. Thus there may be a group of people, being disassociated from worldliness, from its identifications and demands, able to guide it, to teach it. Being free from worldliness they will have no authority, no importance and so will not be drawn into its stupidities and calamities. For a man who is not free from authority, from position, is not able to guide, to teach another. A man who is in authority is identified with his position, with his importance, with his work and so is in bondage. To understand the freedom of truth there must be freedom to experience. If such a group came into being then they could produce a new world, a new culture.

It is sad for him who, with old age approaching, begins to question his empty life; at least he has begun to wake up... A couple came to see me the other day. They were working in a factory earning large sums. They were old. In the course of conversation a suggestion naturally arose that they withdraw, considering their age, to think, to live anew. They looked surprised and said: "What about?"

You may laugh but I am afraid most of us are in the same position. For most of us thinking, searching, is along a clear cut groove of a particular dogma or belief, and to follow that groove is considered religious, intelligent. Right thinking begins only with self-knowledge and not in the knowledge of ideas and facts which is only an extension of ignorance. But if you, whether you are old or young, begin to understand yourself, you will discover great and imperishable treasures. But to discover, demands persistent awareness, adjustment and application; awareness of every thought-feeling and out of this the treasure of life is discovered.

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Mon, 02 Jul 2018 #2
Thumb_kinfonet_avatar Clive Elwell New Zealand 4362 posts in this forum Offline

It seems to me that the only way we can be "immune" to old age and the attendant decay of the body and brain is when we are not identified with the body.

This appears to be the greatest challenge. It is relatively easy to put aside the common identifications as with nationalism, religious belief, political ideology - easy because their stupity and contradiction is easily seen. Other identifications like with a person, possessions, things that bring pleasure are more complex. I am not creating an ideal of non-identification, something to be pursued - which would be only another identification But this things are naturally part of the ordinary process of understanding of oneself.

But identification with the body seems the most fundermental identification of all. Especially perhaps because the body needs constant attention, looking after.

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Mon, 02 Jul 2018 #3
Thumb_open-uri20171115-31086-13da1wu-0 Dan McDermott United States 889 posts in this forum Offline

Clive Elwell wrote:
But identification with the body seems the most fundermental identification of all. Especially perhaps because the body needs constant attention, looking after.

Actually the 'body' has its own intelligence, does it not? For many reasons this intelligence has been subordinated (destroyed?) by the 'needs' and desires of the 'self' (the me and mine). It is the ego/self that fears and in many cases is 'horrified' by the natural aging of the body. The self which feels itself to be 'timeless' (immortal?) mourns the aging of the body as if it were a kind of treason. It looks on with dismay at each new sign of deterioration. The culture treasures beauty and youth and as these disappear, the self-love scrambles. Women go 'under the knife', men 'work out' furiously (and futilely as well as resorting to the sadly comic invention for aging: Viagra)) It's the fight against the dreaded, inexorable, sagging of the skin. Pictures are shown of 80 year olds with muscles still firm with the message "See, you can do it too." ...I'd say it's the false 'entity', the self, that has to end, not 'identification', that disappears with the self-image doesn't it? Without its ending, it may latch on to some philosophy about 'aging is natural', 'aging is beautiful',etc., but the fear and the sorrow remain.

This post was last updated by Dan McDermott Mon, 02 Jul 2018.

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Mon, 02 Jul 2018 #4
Thumb_kinfonet_avatar Clive Elwell New Zealand 4362 posts in this forum Offline

Dan McDermott wrote:
Actually the 'body' has its own intelligence, does it not?

All that you say appears so, Dan. And it comes that body itself does not know if it is young or old. All it knows is that it is capable of doing a task or not. Or rather it discovers that when the time comes to find out.

This may be a tangent, but I have heard instances of the body being capable of extraordinary feats of strength and agility when there is a real, physical emergency. Indeed I have experienced it.

Dan McDermott wrote:
.I'd say it's the false 'entity', the self, that has to end, not 'identification', that disappears with the self-image doesn't it?

But Dan, is it not true that the self IS its identifications? Does the self exist without the identification process?

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