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The Effects of the Environment on Human Beliefs and Actions Critical Essay

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Updated: May 1st, 2020

Jiddu Krishnamurti

Introduction

Jiddu Krishnamurti tries to explain human behaviour and the best principals to follow. In his discussion named the only revolution; he tries to discuss the effects of the environment on human beliefs and actions and how one can find the truth.

Socio-Cultural Background

During the times of Krishnamurti, cultural believes in the world were very divergent. In his homeland India, people were very observant of their cultural and religious beliefs. Everything that culture advocated for was taken seriously.

All the teachings of people were based on what their culture defines as being right or wrong. From time immemorial, religion has been the pillar on which society bases its principles.

In many societies including India, religion has been used as a guiding principle in determining the correct code of conduct, besides giving rules on what is considered as acceptable behaviour in society (Krishnamurti, 2010).

In a scenario like this, people are not able to free their minds and think on their own. On the other hand, Europe had a different culture at this period in time. People had extricated themselves from the chains of cultural beliefs (Krishnamurti, 2006).

They more or less engaged themselves in thinking how to advance their lives with less influence from cultural beliefs. There was a wave of change and modernization in the world especially in Europe.

Summary of the Teachings

In the search for truth, human brains play a very crucial role. Our brain can be able to freely think without pressure from the preconditions of society so as to find reality; Descartes suggested his concept of “Cognito, ergo sum” to shed more light on the mechanism of cognition process.

If we have predetermined expectations of what our results can be, then we cannot proclaim that we are able to find the truth. Society has been structured in a manner that outlines what is expected as being right and what is deemed wrong.

In this regard, we often find ourselves using the known facts in our search for the truth (Williams, 2004). However, as Krishnamurti argues, truth goes beyond the ordinary things that society has conditioned our minds to believe in.

Whatever people believe in is mostly what the social cultural teachings have made them to believe in, as Socrates explains in his theory of the mechanism of cognition. We seldom want to question whether the reality is the same as what our culture defines as being correct.

If we are asked today about time we gladly explain our answers. We say we did this and that yesterday. Nevertheless, Krishnamurti points out that people do not actually know the difference between yesterday and today.

Society has conditioned people to think that some things just happen naturally without any cause (Epstein, 2011). He disputes this fact arguing that nothing happens without any cause.

In his words, the cause and effect of everything in the world are so entangled that differentiation between the two is almost impossible. Thought is always in the search of how to do things better and different from other people.

As a result, letting the mind free to think is the beginning of finding truth. He is, however, concerned with the idea that human mind always works in fragmentation.

Consequently, the best education that one can get according to Krishnamurti, is the education directed to the mind thus eliminating fragmentation. Just as Socrates, Krishnamurti wants all people to be more concerned with their inner soul rather than the earthly things (Stephens, 2010).

Krishnamurti believes that people should be very objective in their search for truth. Any cultural preconditions should be removed when one is meditating.

This is because success of meditation is highly dependent on the freedom of mind to engage in reasoning without being influenced by environmental factors. In his view, human beings are similar and should treat each other as such (Hammerman, 2007).

However, the mental conditioning by the cultural and various religious beliefs bring about the difference in human beings. This brings about the difference in interpretations of various situations thus the difference in findings.

In the end, people are made to belief in various fashions of the truth when in reality only one truth exists.

Krishnamurti agrees with Plato that bodily desires and conclusions are in many instances inaccurate and misleading as far as a philosopher’s quest for truth is concerned (Dombrowski, 2006).

In this regard, the best realities of life, as well as the truth, are better approached in thought alone. Consequently, he advocates for people to first be human beings before sliding into their ethnical and religious cocoons.

What makes Hinduism one of the most complicated cultural phenomena to evaluate is its resistance to the numerous attempts at classifying it. Some view it as a philosophical theory, others consider it a religion; there is no method decide which category to refer Buddhism to.

In some sense, Buddhism owes the given specifics to the fact that it is composed of life experiences and revelations of a number of people, Jiddu Krishnamurti being one of them.

Despite the problems with defining whether Buddhism is actually a religious or a philosophical movement, the numerous discrepancies in the traditional Buddhist concept of the universe and the one provided by Jiddu Krishnamurti, as well as the differences between Jiddu Krishnamurti’s teachings and the postulates of other theories, both religious and philosophical ones, it must be admitted that Krishnamurti has provided people with life principles that allow for drawing parallels between Buddhism and other philosophical and religious movements.

  1. Presocratics
    Like Presocratics, Krishnamurti also concerns the nature of objects, phenomena and people (Curd, 2011).
  2. Socrates
    Like Socrates, Krishnamurti links virtue and knowledge.
  3. Plato
    In many ways, the principles that Krishnamurti declares to be the basis for Buddhist philosophy can be related to Plato’s universals. Much like the latter, Krishnamurti’s principles are hardy applicable to everyday reality and should rather be strived for that ever attained (Huard, 2007).
  4. Aristotle
    The elements of Aristotle’s ethics, as well as aesthetics, can be found in the key principles established by Krishnamurti. To be more exact, the idea of a single object, person or phenomenon having a cause can be observed both in Aristotle’s and Krishnamurti’s philosophy.
  5. Augustine
    While Augustine’s concept of the original sin does not quite comply with Krishnamurti’s postulates, the two philosophies have quite similar perspective on education.
  6. Sung Tzu
    Sung Tzu’s idea of managing conflicts can also be traced in Krishnamurti’s philosophy; Krishnamurti, however, is inclined towards avoiding conflict situations (Michaelson, 2007).
  7. Heloise
    Comparable to Socrates’ pursuit of knowledge, the need for education voiced by Heloise also complies with the key principles of Krishnamurti.
  8. Anselm
    On the one hand, the concept of redemption, which Anselm’s philosophy is shot through with, might seem alien to Krishnamurti’s idea of spiritual growth and search for Enlightenment. On the other hand, Krishnamurti also features the concept of repentance in his teachings, which means that the given work echoes with Anselm’s philosophy (Saint Anselm, Archbishop of Canterbury, 2002).
  9. Aquinas
    In contrast to Aquinas, Krishnamurti does not provide the account of his thoughts on the nature of God. However, Krishnamurti does introduce his opinion on the nature of Enlightenment, which brings two philosophers closer (Hibbs, 2007).
  10. Hobbes
    Hobbes’ social contract theory expands on the phenomenon of social justice, which Krishnamurti provides a detailed account of as well.
  11. Spinoza
    Another theory that links a human being and a nature, introducing ethics to the given mix, Spinoza’s concept rubs elbows with Krishnamurti’s concept of Enlightenment as a return to nature (Deleuze, 1988).
  12. Locke
    While Locke’s price theory is believed to be too down-to-earth to be compared with the basic postulates of Krishnamurti’s teachings, one can argue that Locke offers an interesting perspective on values in society and among individuals, which Krishnamurti’s works also touch upon.
  13. Hegel
    Though Hegel’s denial to accept religion cannot be observed in Krishnamurti’s works, it still must be admitted that the latter did not approve of considering Buddhism a religion in the sense of worshipping the Enlightened One. Instead, Krishnamurti stressed the necessity to strive for Enlightenment (Hegel, 2004).
  14. Rousseau
    Rousseau’s concept of natural human definitely shares similarities with Krishnamurti’s idea of spiritual growth. Both concepts relating people to nature, these theories allow one to reconcile with the humane and the animalistic entities within.
  15. Hume
    Hume’s in-out problem can also be traced in Krishnamurti’s ethics.
  16. Kant
    The elements of Categorical Imperative can also be tracked in Krishnamurti’s philosophy. Aimed at reducing the possibility of harm to others, Krishnamurti’s philosophy – or religion, for that matter – has a lot in common with the Kantian ethics.
  17. Marx
    At first glance, it might seem that the gap between economy-focused, materialistic theories provided by Marx and Krishnamurti’s theory of spiritual search and the discovery of one’s self is huge.
    On a second thought, though, Marx’s idea regarding social democracy can also be viewed in Krishnamurti’s teachings, which is rather weird for a philosophy that is labeled as a religious one.
  18. Engles
    Engels’ perspective on society as a result of cooperation between its numerous elements can also be found in Krishnamurti’s concept of self as a part of a major entity.
  19. Nietzsche
    Nietzsche’s concept of “Superhuman” can be interpreted as the need to reach the stage of Enlightenment, which Krishnamurti devotes a considerable amount of his work to.
  20. Sartre
    What Sartre envisioned as the need for personal freedom has been conveyed in Krishnamurti’s teaching as well.

Although Jiddu Krishnamurti’s ideas have been criticized heavily, and that his contribution into Buddhism has been questioned greatly, he left an admittedly strong impact on the way in which Buddhist philosophy was perceived all over the world.

More to the point, Jiddu Krishnamurti made it possible for Buddhism to find points of contact with other philosophical and religious thoughts of different cultures. An obvious step forward in understanding Buddhism, Jiddu Krishnamurti’s theory has clearly made a difference.

Relation to Real Life

The teachings of Krishnamurti still influence the current life that human beings lead. People still believe that life depends on explanations brought forward by different socio-cultural teachings. In any research that people want to conduct, priori theory is first used to explain the issue.

It therefore goes without saying that researchers do have prior expectations of how results of their endeavours should look like. Our behaviour is highly as a result of what our cultural backgrounds consider as being right or wrong.

When a baby is born, he or she is taken through the cultural beliefs by the parents (Krishnamurti & Blau, 2002). The baby is made to know that there is a limit as to what actions can be done and what one should think.

In this regard, our minds are preconditioned form the very beginning and all that we do is behave as per the limits imposed on us by the socio-cultural atmosphere of where we were brought up (Kumar, 2013).

The truth therefore becomes evasive because people fear going against what the society wants. Similarly, things happening in the world have a cause, and yesterday is a determinant of today. The future of everybody is dependent on how they prepare for it presently.

This is the same argument by Nietzsche’s who states that everything in the world is just but a replication of what happened in the past. According to the argument, the world is recurrent and will continue to recur infinitely.

Therefore, there is nothing new that happens in the world that has never been witnessed before (Valasquez, 2010). Pain, disasters, diseases and all other sorrows that are happening now or those that have happened in history will recur again.

Nietzsche argues that human beings have no control over what has happened, what is happening or what will happen in the future. The argument is similar to the reincarnation believe by the Hindu religion.

Krishnamurti’s argument that people should consider themselves as human beings first before subscribing into religious beliefs is crucial in the world of today. True to his arguement that religion is just a collection of rules that serve to drift human beings apart, religion has divided the world.

Various religious groups are nowadays claiming to be the only true religions instead of teaching spirituality to the congregation (Knight, 2007). Similarly, each person only wants to think to the extent that he or she does not seem to go against his or her religious beliefs.

Criticism of the idea

Unfortunately, the ideology that there is no spontaneous thing that happens might make people highly irresponsible knowing that they can only play a spectator role in the world.

Moreover, it is crucial to note that nobody has ever come forward and claimed to be aware of what happened in the last part of his or her life.

Consequently, subscribing to the idea will not change people in any way since they will be confident that their past deeds will not haunt them (Kreeft, 2002). People can be tempted to stop working towards the prevention of evil in society (Quinn, 2009).

Anyway, it will be pointless to work tirelessly wasting one’s energy in trying to prevent what will definitely recur. Moreover, it is erroneous to imagine that nothing changes in the world because definitely, the earth is not the way it was 1000 or even 50 years ago.

Much has changed; some things have become extinct like the dinosaurs, while others have emerged. Natural occurrences are definitely there. Not everything can be explained by human beings explaining why people believe in spirituality.

Moreover, Aristotle differs with Krishnamurti given that Aristotle highly encourages people to monitor natural phenomena (Knight, 2007). This implies that he accepts the fact that some things are natural.

Arguably, Krishnamurti’s argument that people should free themselves entirely from any mental preconditions in their search for truth is difficult. People become human beings because of the unique way of life that is imparted into them after birth.

They way of thinking of a person is also as a result of the cultural teachings that one receives (Ross, 2011). We live in the society and do everything with regards to how society wants it to be done.

On the same note, Aristotle states that material cause is important in understanding reality thus differing with Krishnamurti. Consequently, it is pretty difficult to argue that truth can only be found if the mind is freed from the societal and cultural ties.

Despite the argument of Krishnamurti which advocates for spirituality and not necessarily religion, religion is a very influential aspect in human life. Not only does religion impart social behavior, but it also sets out what is expected from each person.

It is important to note that though the influence of religion is fading away with the emergence of modernity, it still plays an important role in various societal issues.

Contrary to ancient times when people used to involve themselves in religious matters only to the extent allowed by religious beliefs, nowadays people can think outside the religious beliefs.

This is also Spinoza’s view which argues that scriptures should be interpreted solely on their own (Rocca, 2008).

Conclusion

Human beings are different by nature not only in character, but also in logic. Therefore, a single issue can generate many arguments each with a different perspective. However, it is how one defends his or her own view that matters.

Philosophers in particular are known to have diverse views regarding different issues including life and death. It is however crucial to note that the views of philosophers continue to influence the world in one way or the other.

References

Curd, P. (2011). A presocratic reader: Selected fragments and testimonia. Indianapolis, IN: Hackett Publishing Company, Inc.

Deleuze, G. (1988). Spinoza: Practical philosophy. San Francisco, CA: City Ligt Books.

Dombrowski, D, A. (2006). A Platonic Philosophy of Religion: A Process Perspective. New York: SUNY Press.

Epstein, R. (2011). The Quotable Krishnamurti. New York: Quest Books.

Hammerman, J. (2007). Desires and Illusions. Bloomington: Xlibris Corporation.

Hegel, G. W. F. (2004). Hegel’s philosophy of nature: Encyclopedia of the philosophical sciences, vol. II. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.

Hibbs, T. (2007). Aquinas, ethics and philosophy of religion: Metaphysics and practice. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press.

Huard, R. (2007). Plato’s political philosophy: The cave. New York, NY: Algora Publishing.

Knight, K. (2007). Aristotelian Philosophy: Ethics and Politics from Aristotle to Macintyre. Cambridge: Polity.

Kreeft, P. (2002). Philosophy 101 by Socrates: An Introduction to Philosophy via Plato’s Apology; Forty Things Philosophy is According to History’s First Wisest Philosopher. San Francisco: Ignatius Press.

Krishnamurti, J. & Blau, E. (2002). Meditations. Brockwood: Krishnamurti Foundation trust Ltd.

Krishnamurti, J. (2006). Inward Revolution: Bringing about Radical Change in the World. Boston: Shambhala Publishers.

Krishnamurti, J. (2010). Choiceless Awareness. Hertford: M-Y Books Distribution.

Kumar, A. (2013). Curriculum As Meditative Inquiry. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Michaelson, S. W. (2007). Sung Tzu for execution: How to use the art of war to get results. Avon, MA: Adams Business.

Quinn, E. (2009). Critical Companion to George Orwell. New York: Infobase Publishing.

Rocca, M. D. (2008). Spinoza. London: Routledge.

Ross, J. E. (2011). Krotona, Theosophy and krishnamurti: Archival Documents of the Theosophical Society’s Esoteric Center, Krotona, in Ojai, Calfornia. Taormina: Krotona Archives.

Saint Anselm, Archbishop of Canterbury (2002). Three philosophical dialogues. Indianapolis, IN: Hackett Publishing Company, Inc.

Stephens, M. (2010). Provolution: A Guide to Changing the World Through Personal Evolution. New York: John Hunt Publishing.

Velasquez, M. (2010). Philosophy: A Text with Readings. Stanford: Cengage Learning.

Williams, C. A. (2004). Jiddu Krishnamurti: World Philosopher (1895-1986) his Life and Thoughts. New Delhi: Mortilal Banarsidass Publishers.

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