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Why Don't We Change After All These Years?

I reflected a bit about what “being serious” could mean (putting aside definitions of course).

It came to my mind that essentially being serious means really wanting to do something and not only agreeing with K. or being convinced by his words. The point behind it is that when one really wants to do something one does it. I remember K. saying: “when you want to climb a mountain (or something equally difficult) you do it.

So, the problem often is that we are not serious because we don’t want to change. This is something which I’ve observed in myself. If someone ever asked me: “why did you not change after all these years?” My answer would be without hesitation: because I don’t want to. We must be extremely honest with ourselves and not pretend that one encountered too much difficulties.

Perhaps the discussion could be moved to the question: why we don’t want to change.

We all (or nearly all) see the necessity for an external change but when we turn to ourselves, we have the basic sensation that we are OK, even when we suffer, or when we see the inadequacy of our thoughts and actions. How to see the fallacy of this sensation?


I remembered a song of Joni Mitchel “Song for Sharon” which I think is a fine reply to our question.
Poets often hit the core of an issue in its simplicity.

"My friends were calling up all day yesterday
All emotions and abstractions
It seems we all live so close to that line
And so far from satisfaction

Dora says, “Have children”
Mama and Betsy say, “Find yourself a charity”
Help the needy and the crippled or put some time into Ecology
Well, there’s a wide wide world of noble causes
And lovely landscapes to discover
But all I really want right now
Is, find another lover"


I feel the same.

This is a most important topic to discuss. Probably the most pressing one.

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Why Don’t We Change After All These Years?

Change into what? What is it that you want to become? Is there a ‘dis-satisfaction’ with what you perceive yourself to be? You want to change to something other than what you are? What is that? Is it not ‘here’ now? Have you not ‘gotten there’ because the ‘there’ is just image? It is obvious that the desire for ‘changing’ is just ‘becoming’, isn’t it? Do we think the ‘silent mind’ is up there ahead somewhere? What is this ‘change’ all about?



No argument with what you are saying.

The propensity for change is the status quo. Real change would be no change. That is what we are discussing. Why is the dominant force in most of us an ongoing movement away from the present?

The ending of seeking is the “change” I suspect @voyager is addressing.

Quite right. There is no “there” there.

You asked the right question: “Change into what?” I guess being alive is no cake-walk and being the average Joe is a dead-end. If you asked me, I would like to change into a billionaire with a fancy yacht, a private jet and a fast colt for the Kentucky Derby.

First of all we must remember that we are discussing K.'s teachings. Now if you are familiar with K. you’ll know that K. uttered that question a number of times during his talks. I remember him asking this precise question in Saanen (sorry I can’t find the quotation, it was between 1979 and 1985, so the search would be too long). First he asked it to the audience and then he repeated it to a friend of mine - who knew him personally - who sat below the platform where K. was. The scene was funny and everybody laughed. K. said: “You, you came here for fifty years” - the man interrupted him and said: “fifty one”. “OK, for fifty one years, listening to these talks, why you did not change?”

So I think it’s quite clear what K. meant, isn’t it?

Your answer may be useful to a novice but still on a immediate, common sense level, you can’t deny either the necessity of change (which K. stressed in all his speeches) or the fact that we approached K. because we felt the necessity of changing the disorder of our life and so on.

I posted originally this post in the thread “Serious about living differently”, so obviously it referred to that theme. But the moderator split the discussion and moved my post in a new thread.

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Don’t we see change as what we are doing as the years pass? We would have seen many changes. From day to day there are changes. We have a petty materialistic view of all this and want a better outcome. This is what’s called becoming. We rarely see, or even understand the immediate, untouched, undivided, where it is all a living nature.

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We must be aware that in this problem of change there are two levels: the first natural reaction when one sees one’s own limits and faults is that of changing the situation which disturbs us, like an attachment or hurt. And our common approach to this problem of change is trying to achive an ideal situation negletting or escaping from the ongoing stituation. As we all know this approach does not work, yet it’s a compulsive reaction. K. suggested a completely different approach: that of remaining with the problem in order to have a deep understanding of its nature and roots. According to him this will produce a change in our psyche, breaking the pattern which caused the problem. This is the second level.

When we ask ourselves “Why didn’t we change after all these years” we are referring to this second level. As I stated in my previous post, I feel that the root couse of why we didn’t change is that we don’t want to. We want to reach an ideal, something gratifying (the first type of change) but the idea of remaining with a problem creates a strong psicological resistence. This could be what you call “the dominant force in most of us” . We are programmed to move away from the present, thought is essentially a movement towards the future, of achieving or accumulating something.

Our brain works according to certain patterns which were created long ago along the evolutive chain which lead to homo sapiens. When those patterns are challenged the nervous system reacts immediatley creating resistence.

I’m using the scientific jargon here because, in this case, I think is the simpler way to describe what happens. My job was that of working with motor patterns, i.e. the patterns we learn in our infancy and which determine the way we move, like crawling, walking, standing, running, using a tool, etc. One can easily improve one’s own way of walking, for instance, bypassing the old pattern and learning a more effective or functional one. This can be done without effort only with awareness (senso-motor awareness). Our nervous system can recognize a functional motor pattern from an ineffective one and so adopt immediatly the first. Granted we give it the opportunity to perceive the lack of functionality. While if you try to correct the old pattern you only create a conflict and it will be reinforced.
I think that there could be similarities with what K. meant.

Can you please explain some more about the kind of changes you refer to here? Of course thare are changes in society, and in us, but as K. pointed out - and I agree with him - they are only superficial changes. Essentially we have not changed because we are still violent, selfish, etc. and what worries me most in this moment, with a very limited perception of reality. And if we look at the world today, nothing has really changed. Terrorism has become more and more cruel, nationalism has divided even more nations, etc. So it’s evident that we need a fundamental change.

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“Becoming” whether it is the desire for Sree’s “yachts” or some sort of spiritual acheivement (K. used the word “breakthrough”) as long as the element of ‘time’ is present, we are ‘removed’ psychologically from the ‘what is’, and desiring a false future event. aren’t we? As I see what is meant by ‘change’ here is the total dissolution of the ‘individual’ reality bubble we live in. Insight into that situation, not just a glimpse here and there but a constant present and choiceless awareness of its (pernicious?) presence could possibly bring about the radical change or breakthrough.

I think we don’t change, by change I mean bring order to the disorder and confusion in our lives, because we don’t want to. We want to hang onto the images we have of ourselves, we want the shallow, temporary pleasures we are used to enjoying and so on.

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Ah,ah! Just so! That’s what Joni Mitchel spoke about! (:slight_smile:

Why don’t you change? What prevents you? These are good questions and ones that Krishnamurti explores briefly here:

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Thank you for posting the video. It’s just the exact theme of this thread.

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I’ll go with his second possibility rather than the first one: deep conditioning. It has to be remembered here that we are up against something that he wasn’t. Somehow as a child he avoided the conditioning that it seems we all received. So that was something he did not have to overcome. As it always has been we are on our own in this journey. It is this very conditioning that “terminates” the insight through thought’s conclusions as he has said…

“Now, if I radically change, surely that would affect the rest of the country, the rest of man(kind). So, what don’t you change?” asked Krishnamurti.

The above question from Krishnamurti was asked after he had pointed out the fractious state of the world in which we live without our seeming to care about our horrendous condition. Therefore, the change he was talking about must be the transformation from our careless, superficial, psychologically-conditioned, individualistic consciousness to …what?

What is that conditioning that you assume Krishnamurti had avoided as a child? If we know what that conditioning is, something that we are supposed to be suffering from, we can end it. Right?

I’ m afraid it’s you Sree :pensive:


We know that the brains of monks and others who are serious about meditation develop new neural circuits and abandon old ones. They change significantly - perhaps radically.

Krishnamurti’s teaching points to meditation, the observation of the mind’s activity. So to live the teaching is to be in a state of meditation, because to be in the usual, disorderly state of mind is insanity.

The meditative mind does not imagine what change is or lament that it hasn’t changed because learning about itself is changing. “The seeing is the doing”.

This is surely true. But the problem is what is a meditative mind, i. e. what is meditation? I’ve practiced various forms of so called “meditation” and found some kind of temporary peace. It was a refuge from the disorder and disturbances of the world. After a while I realized I was hypnotizing myself and quit it. At a certain level it’s better than the chaos of “normal” life. It’s good to have a refuge in time of difficulties. But it does not solve the problem.

I’ve met some Buddhist monks, nice people. We did meditation together, Vipassana, perhaps the best traditional form of meditation because is based on awareness. Still it is a mechanical practice, like all practices. Some aspects of it were even ridiculous like when you have to imagine to give your love to your neighbours and then gradually to the whole world. Such a nice intention! But you cannot pretend or fake love! An imagined love is not love.

So let’s go back to K. I’ve pondered a lot about K.'s teachings about meditation. His descriptions of that are not homogeneous, they vary from time to time and from one interlocutor to another, and it must be so.

But I think that this caused some false interpretations. Many people I met in K circles thought that it was useless to sit and observe one’s thoughts, so they did nothing. It’s true that K warned us of the dangers of a mechanical practice, especially when it’s done with a motive. And furthermore one can observe one’s own thought during the whole day, while walking, eating or doing anything, so sitting is not so strictly necessary, yet he often stressed the necessity to stop and sit down for a while… and he wanted a special room to be used as a meditation room in the Study centre in Brockwood. I was surprised during my visit in Brockwood to find no people in that room…