The Stream of Thoughts


Observe the impact of labels, urged Jiddu Krishnamurti with great energy --- watch how you think, speak --- watch how you are conditioned by society.  “What is the big deal?” I wondered in disbelief reacting to his relentless insistence.  So much urgency over nothing, it seemed.  But then I began to watch.  Watching as the mind began to sway to the demands of duality.  Watching as the words impressed upon my mind --- watching as I succumbed more and more to the pull of words; but not before I was able to spend some time savoring the differences between the word and the thing.  That was enough for me to realize that relying upon words had a host of drawbacks.  The words seemed to come out of nowhere and soon the mind became enshrined in preoccupation.  I could dwell on them for ages and absent myself from the world at large.  It was my exclusive domain where I had complete autonomy.  That was a heady feeling.

 Sometimes there was an ad hock assimilation of facts, scrambling for associations.  It required an enormous amount of maneuvering to get things right in any context.  The mind worked slavishly to satisfy a demand for detail.  It was a real challenge but if I worked hard at it I could get it down pat one day, I consoled myself.  I was bound to get it right, everyone else seemed to.  But what a shame, what a strain it was to linger so long sorting out scenes from all kinds of scenarios.  Various narratives seemed to vie for space.  Facts and fiction combined into an unwieldy mess.  Sometimes the tedium and monotony of forging illusions dulled the brain immersing it in a cloud of despair.  I sang to myself dolefully walking down the street inventing a song to describe my endless pursuit of words, grasping at their meanings to weave a fabric worthy of the living landscape.

Life is like a dream,

hurtling down stream

over mountainous terrain

coursing through the valley

creeping through the woods

reaching the desert

sweeping through the sands

sparkling in the sunlight

flowing through the night.

It felt rather silly and I wasn’t happy.  I felt crestfallen instead.  I hadn’t succeeded.   I wanted the poem to fit life exactly.  It had to include the whole of life. I wanted words to capture it, to hold it … in a neat immaculate bundle.   Life included all the different landscapes, the mountains, valleys, woods, deserts, day and night.  I wanted to do it full justice in all its majestic display.  The words had to do that, I thought … stopping short.  How odd … what had happened to me, what had become of my scorn for the shadowy world of illusion I had set about creating for fun?  Initially I had no desire to uphold images.  Now I was driven by a consuming desire to capture life… with what?

 It was an impossible task, I counseled myself.  But I couldn’t stop trying.  Perhaps if I kept on trying I would become a poet.  I had fancied being a poet ever since we sang the “Three blind mice!” with our Kindergarten teacher.  Surely we could do better than that we had scoffed at the time. It seemed a great challenge.  We had so much fun singing that song…. as it brought all kinds of grotesque imagery to mind.  No matter how hard I tried I could not reign in the urge to capture life and encapsulate it but I had an uneasy premonition that I was treading on dangerous ground and would be hurtling downhill for a long time.  It wasn’t just child’s play.  It would encompass my whole life.  Every time I tried to capture the essence of life in words, I encountered the same problem, the same inadequacy of words to capture the whole.  It was an early insight into a forlorn endeavor … one which I cherish still. It awakened my mind to the intent behind the movement of thoughts.  I watched in fascination as they forged a tenacious course through my mind slowly but surely laying down a landscape that became my point of reference.  I began to believe that life itself depended upon words and images to validate its very existence.  It was soon to become an enormous preoccupation.

Geetha Waters

Feedback: geethawaters@gmail.com

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