There’s a well-known spiritual quote from philosopher and teacher Jiddhu Krishnamurti. The story goes that he was speaking to a group of students (who saw him as an enlightened master), and he whispered, “Do you want to know my secret?” At this, the room fell silent and everyone leaned forward. Then he continued, “I don’t mind what happens.”
What I like about this idea is that it’s simple; it speaks of a state of transcendence of the ego and unshakable peace. But as an expression of absolute spiritual truth, it also lends itself to spiritual bypassing and illusions about spirituality.
The tricky thing about Krishnamurti’s statement is that he was presumably speaking not from his ego but from an expanded state of consciousness, his higher Self. Thus, while not minding what happens was his outlook from this state, it’s not necessarily the path that got him there.
In Krishnamurti’s case, he went through a series of spontaneous, often painful experiences over many years that caused an opening of his consciousness. That’s not something we can replicate at will. So what can we garner from this “secret”?
It’s a good opening to a discussion on how we relate to absolute spiritual truths while existing in a world of relativity. Even among non-dual spiritual traditions (meaning, all the world is considered to be an expression of one great Being, and separation is an illusion), there is often a distinction made between the Source in an absolute sense (which is formless) and the many forms it takes in the relative world.
In the realm of the relative, which is where the majority of human minds dwell, relativity directs nearly every aspect of our lives. For instance, when we say something is good, we’re usually not coming from the experience that the universe is fundamentally Good, and therefore all of its expressions are imbued with that same essence of goodness. What we mean is that things are good relative to some other way they could be. Thus, we’re directed toward things that we perceive as better than our other options and away from things that seem worse. And absolute spiritual truths – like “the universe is fundamentally good” – are simply lofty concepts to most people. We do get glimpses of them though (as I’ve written about in my articles on “gaps” in the dominant egocentric state), and these often fuel a drive for spiritual awakening.
People who have gone through a certain form of spiritual awakening (what’s sometimes referred to as enlightenment, liberation, or moksha) often describe it as an experience of becoming perpetually conscious of the absolute. This doesn’t make the relative disappear, but the awareness of the undying oneness that unifies all apparent differences enables them to play in relativity without the “high stakes” feeling – and the anxiousness and drama that go with it – that most humans experience. This is why it’s referred to as liberation, which can be a very appealing notion to anyone who wants to be happy.
So, apparently from this state, Krishnamurti said, “I don’t mind what happens” because, in an absolute sense, nothing is ever wrong. Nor is there such a thing as tragedy or victory. To win a race just means one part of the Source crossed the finish line before another part of the same Source (or God beat God, if you prefer that name). Likewise, the death of any given expression of the Source is akin to a red blood cell dying and being recycled into a new blood cell; the Whole has lost nothing in the process.
It’s important to recognize that an absolute spiritual truth is different from an uplifting life principle or a good piece of advice. If someone told you their “secret” is “Focus on the good” or “Don’t sweat the small stuff” or “Practice gratitude” or “Don’t take anything personally” you could immediately adopt it and start living it. But to a person who hasn’t realized and directly experienced it, an absolute truth isn’t actionable in the same way. And in relative terms, the absolute may make no sense at all.
Imagine that a dog is biting your leg and you think to yourself, “I’m going to be spiritual about this. What did Krishnamurti say? Oh yeah, I don’t mind what happens. I guess I’d better breathe through this. Whew, that’s a lot of blood. Do I just let him keep gnawing? I don’t mind. I don’t mind. I don’t mind. If I call 9-1-1, does that constitute “minding”?” I doubt many people would take an unrealized spiritual truth to this extent, but as you can imagine, it’s possible to get into some trouble this way.
Next week we’ll try to find the usefulness in statements of absolute truth and we’ll talk about what to do if you do mind what happens. Meanwhile, I always love to hear what readers think of these philosophical explorations.