A few years ago I was lost in the philosophy section of a library in America and I stumbled upon a book by Jiddu Krishnamurti called The Awakening of Intelligence. I had been reading philosophy books regularly for over a decade and I had earned a BA in Philosophy, but somehow Krishnamurti had eluded me up to this point. As I flipped through the book reading various passages I began to recognize how profound his method of thought was and I was immediately captivated by it.
Krishnamurti advocates that the ability to be passively aware of everything that is happening, both within our minds and in our surroundings, allows one to function effortlessly and alleviates us from conflicts and struggles that are constantly developing. He proposes that effortless awareness, which brings about both inward and outward peace, can be achieved through mindful observation, and instead of trying to control or change our thoughts and emotions, he encourages us to simply observe them without judgment and see what happens. I had never experienced something quite like what happens when I began watching my thoughts in the manner Krishnamurti suggests.
During AIF orientation the Fellows were all brought to Ashram Paryavaran Vidhyalaya in the Himalayas, which is both a center for meditation and a grade school that practices a system of holistic education that promotes mindfulness through meditation. The AIF Fellows were given the opportunity to participate in a meditation session with the students that attend the school, which was led by Anand Ji, who had contributed to the development of APV’s curriculum and philosophy. During the meditation Anand Ji advised us to watch our thoughts, to be aware of the space between thoughts, and it felt very similar to Krishnamurti’s philosophy. After the session I asked Anand Ji if he was familiar with Krishnamurti’s teachings and he replied, “Yes I knew him.”
Having experienced the benefits of mindfulness and awareness in my late twenties I have a deep appreciation for its benefits, but I cannot imagine how different my life would have been had I been exposed to this from such a young age. I realized how fortunate these children were to be exposed to this and how the western education system somewhat neglects this aspect of childhood development. The ability to recognize anger, jealousy, anxiety, fear, frustration, and all the rest of it as it arises, to be aware of it and observe it, diminishes its ability to influence our actions and can have an enormous impact on ourselves and how we interact with others. It is inspiring to know that there is a place like APV that is fostering the development of cognizant individuals through mindfulness.