“Without knowing yourself, without knowing your own way of thinking and why you think certain things, without knowing the background of your conditioning and why you have certain beliefs about art and religion, about your country and your neighbor and about yourself how can you think truly about anything? Without knowing your background, without knowing the substance of your thought and whence it comes – surely your search is utterly futile, your action has no meaning, has it?” – J. Krishnamurti
What Krishnamurti is addressing in this quote is the “key” in all spiritual systems. The spiritual key is you. Until you understand your own nature and the programming of your own mind, you are simply watching the projection of a movie generated from within and living a subjective reality that you are unconsciously creating. This phenomenon is called Maya in the East and Hell in the West.
The 1999 movie, The Matrix, was centered around this idea. When Neo is trying to learn if he is The One, the human with the power to transcend the rules of the Matrix, he goes to visit the Oracle. She points to a message that is written in Latin above her kitchen door – “Know Thyself””. Neo didn’t understand it at the time, but this was the key to transcending the Matrix. This was the only message she was meant to deliver to Neo and the rest was up to him. In time, he came to understand that EVERY belief he held, had been programmed into him by the Matrix. He needed to simply let go of everything he thought he knew in order to tap into his unlimited internal wisdom and power and transcend this false reality.
Our patterns of thinking, our words, and our actions are based on the attachments to our belief systems, and we use these belief systems to navigate our terrain. But where did these belief systems come from and how valid are they? Did we arrive at these belief systems on our own, or were they taught to us? Who taught them to us and who taught them to them? What were the motivations involved in teaching these beliefs? What happens when we question these beliefs objectively and hold them up to greater scrutiny?
Most people go their entire lives without materially questioning their beliefs. The level of suffering from attaching to them is never unbearable and no catalyst ever emerges to prompt a change. This is unfortunate.
Some people experience trauma that makes the attachments unbearable. Addiction is a subset of this. Addiction literature points out there are only three destinations for the addict that does not change their belief systems and behaviors: jails, institutions, and death. Facing this type of annihilation often facilitates a need to challenge old ways of thinking. This introspection is the remit of 12-Step programs. People that have successfully recovered from addiction using these modalities talk of finding a newfound freedom and a new design for living. Maybe we can all benefit from this experience.
Happy, Joyous and Free.