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Mastery and Success

Picture yourself in total darkness. All you know is that you’re standing or sitting on solid ground.
You feel your way slowly and carefully along this surface until you encounter an obstacle or a
vacancy, every one of which you examine and familiarize yourself with.

Your survival depends on your ability to familiarize yourself with your environment. The more familiar you are with your environment, the less likely you are to bump into a wall or fall into a hole. So called “successful people” are those more familiar with the world they live in than most others in that world. Success is mastering your environment; making it work for you - not against you.

In the civilized world, you must familiarize yourself with the culture of the human community you find yourself in. If you can flow with the cultural current by appearing to be conforming to it, the more rewarded you are. In the civilized world you can be the master - not the slave. This is what defines civilization.

But what of the natural world? What of nature? It’s one thing to succeed in the eyes of your cultural peers, but quite another thing to live with natural processes rather than against them. Success in the natural world is not as showy and conspicuous as in the cultural world because it isn’t self-expression so much as respect for nature.

What does this have to do with Krishnamurti’s teaching? It has to do with the way we perceive our environment; how our familiarity with the prevailing culture is expressed. If I understand my culture, I’m free of its influence, yet familiar enough with it to avoid obstacles, pitfalls, and seize opportunities i.e., to succeed. One can be a conformist and a free human being simultaneously. Krishnamurti demonstrated that one can live “successfully” in society by conforming outwardly while being inwardly free.


Sounds legit - I’d just like to bring up the idea that human intelligence (in the colloquial sense) is cultural. When pitted against other primates, a human child shows only equivalent intelligence, apart from its ability to copy others.
And secondly, we (modern humans) see nature as weird and different from us, mostly because it is foreign, outside of our cultural conditioning - whereas an eskimo would not see the frozen wasteland as a dangerous place where everyone dies, but merely as their home.

"Although the name “Eskimo” was commonly used in Alaska to refer to Inuit and Yupik people of the world, this usage is now considered unacceptable by many or even most Alaska Natives, largely since it is a colonial name imposed by non-Indigenous people. Alaska Natives increasingly prefer to be known by the names they use in their own languages, such as Inupiaq or Yupik. “Inuit” is now the current term in Alaska and across the Arctic, and “Eskimo” is fading from use. The Inuit Circumpolar Council prefers the term “Inuit” but some other organizations use “Eskimo”.

“Linguists believe that “Eskimo” is derived from a Montagnais (Innu) word ayas̆kimew meaning “netter of snowshoes.” The people of Canada and Greenland have long preferred other names. “Inuit,” meaning “people,” is used in Canada, and the language is called “Inuktitut” in eastern Canada although other local designations are used also. The Inuit people of Greenland refer to themselves as “Greenlanders” or “Kalaallit” in their language, which they call “Greenlandic” or “Kalaallisut.” Alaska includes the Inupiat, literally “real people”, and other groups that are included under the overall designation of “Inuit”.”

colonial utilization of words - eskimo

I know of no one here where I live in B.C. (Canada) who uses the word “eskimo”.

Thank you for this info Charley - I see you - it did come to mind for a while as to whether my use of the word was problematic.

Such a nice inquiry, though we should be vigilant with words, who can easily betray us.

For example, I would not say “you must familiarize yourself with the culture”. There is no must, there is only you = the culture. There is no separation between “you” and the world that put together the “you”.

Secondly, reward implies some sort of a value system, which again is built into the culture / you. There is no separate action “to conform” in order to be rewarded, the “you” is constantly rewarded when its structure is not questioned.

Hence, it would seem a meaningful way to look at not being a slave, would be to question the very separation of you and the “civilized world” / culture / environment.

When you understand your culture, you are not one with it anymore. You are separated from it, freed by your understanding of how it enslaves those who don’t understand it,

That seems to be the case, when “understand your culture” means seeing the structure and process of culture. When that is exposed to oneself, then culture is put in its rightful place.

The question about separation “from it” feels trickier. It would seem that having insight to structures the mind has put together creates separation. What would that imply? Does it mean that we identify with this insight, make it our perspective and observe from there? When we see the process of thought and understand the danger in a mechanical mind, does that separate us from the mind?

Or is it that seeing such structures and processes creates action which is not conditioned? Action which is not conditioned by the mind is non-fragmented, non-divisive and whole. There is no separation.

The “danger in a methodical mind” is not methodical thinking, but being limited to methodical thinking. Method has its place, but it is always limited by its necessity. As for separating “us from the mind”, I can’t imagine what that means since I am the mind, conditioned as it is, and unless or until this condition ceases to prevail, I am separate from everything.

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My use of mechanical is probably same as your methodical, so we are aligned.

I am not sure we are communicating clearly. What did you mean earlier regarding culture; what is separated from the culture? Did you mean I/me/ego/thought? Or something else?

When I identify with my culture and conform to it reflexively, I don’t see it for what it is, and I am a pawn in a game I don’t comprehend, a slave of what I don’t understand. But when I do see it for what it is, I’m an individual in relationship with it. That’s what I mean by “separated” from it, and it’s obviously not the best way of putting it.

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Thank you that helps. It seems obvious that identifying with any object or idea creates division and conflict. Reflexive conformity implies conditioning. I think we are aligned.

Hope you don’t mind me asking further, because here we have three words that can easily create misalignment each on their own.

  1. What do we mean by “seeing” culture for what it is?

  2. What do we mean by individual?

  3. What do we mean by relationship?