What are you doing with your life? by J Krishnamurti is a guide to living a life in totality - without any past conditioning. The author guides us about how one can be free from the mental conflicts and experience pure joy in life.
Who should read this summary and why?
I recommend everyone to read this summary.
That's because this summary will give you clarity on life.
You will learn why most education sucks these days. And what true education really is.
You will learn about boredom. Most people get easily bored, right?
So you will also get clarity on why boredom is normal. And why you shouldn't be worried about it.
Also, you are going to learn why everything is nothing, but an extension of yourself. (That's deep.)
Also, this summary will uncover myths about meditation.
You learn what meditation is and how you can practice it 24*7.
There is a lot to learn, huh?
Alrighty, so let's not waste any more seconds, and dive right in!
What Are You Doing With Your Life Summary
"Education isn't only for the sake of earning a livelihood - it's to understand yourself"
Most people attain education to acquire skills and techniques necessary for earning a livelihood - or to get a job.
But the author suggests that this is a narrow way of looking at life.
People have learned science, built amazing scientific addictive gadgets to play with, but they have not understood the essence of life.
Look at the current education system.
What do you see?
It's a way to fit information in your brain. Isn't it?
Of course, you get knowledge about so many things.
You learn Maths. You learn science.
You pick up various skills.
And so on...
But do you learn about yourself?
Does any school textbook teach you how to live with freedom and without any insecurities?
Even our parents encourage us to study hard and achieve top ranks.
Does it solve any life problem?
Aren't people still struggling with puzzling life problems?
Aren't most people self-centered today?
Do we even know what love is?
Do we understand the beauty of life? Are we even capable of seeing it?
When you are only focusing on the money aspect of your life, you are only seeing a part of life.
Don't you think we should look at life as a whole?
Does the current education system make you free or stuck?
Do you even know why you need education?
Why isn't education solving the bigger issues in the world?
We have advanced a lot in the sector of technology. But are you happy with your life?
Do you feel satisfied with who you are?
Do you even know yourself?
Do you have all the answers to your problems?
You are hoping or expecting that someone will give you answers.
So what is true education?
How to differentiate between right or false information?
Are information and intelligence the same things?
Shouldn't the education system help you realize your intelligence and help you fix most of your life problems?
First, you must know that education isn't something that is made for the sole purpose of earning a livelihood.
Allow me to explain.
Although our current system requires us to have skills, education has only one goal - to help you live a quality life.
Right education liberates you from your worries.
You learn about the structure or model of your mind.
In other words, whatever education helps you discover your true self, that which breaks the conditioning of your mind, only that is the true education.
Yup, everything else is merely information.
What's the point of all the education system if it doesn't solve your big problems in life?
It's nice to have information. It's also necessary.
One can't deny the usefulness of the information.
What you are reading right now is also information.
But the topmost thing is self-knowledge.
True education brings you closer to your true self.
So what's the problem here with the traditional education system?
It only programs you to get a decent job.
When you live like that, you only see a part of life.
You don't experience the fullness of life.
Make sense? Okay.
You never really see the truth. You act like a robot with a conditioned mind.
The author says that a conditioned mind only brings constraints. It only attracts anxieties and insecurities.
Right education hits that conditioning hard. It breaks it.
That's how you change your life.
Another problem with the traditional education system is:
It puts you in a race where every person is competing to get on top.
Is it even necessary?
Isn't the idea of becoming successful by getting on the top forced on you?
Isn't it full of superficiality?
You are told to become successful. But why? Because everyone is trying to become successful.
Wow, great logic! (sarcasm)
One must ask himself:
"Why do I even need to compete for such education when the true education is about learning about your true self?"
Shouldn't you be competing with yourself?
Shouldn't you be thinking about how you can be a better human being instead of selfishly attaining a top position or rank in society?
Where do all these ideas come from?
How many of the above questions can you answer?
You are looking for answers. Aren't you?
If traditional education is not perfect, then why is that everybody is so fixated on it?
The point here is not to criticize the education system for all the world problems.
But to look at the reality.
And investigate the cause behind all the problems.
Education plays a big role in life, doesn't it?
So don't you think, it should be updated with better knowledge?
Unfortunately, our traditional education system only ends up creating more stress and burden on the minds of people.
Which again is a cause of frustration and a lot of other problems.
Why the traditional education system doesn't talk about the person who is taking the education?
It doesn't make sense, right?
Or does it?
"Boredom is an escape from the reality and may result in exhaustion"
If you find something interesting in this summary, you will be sticking around for a few more minutes.
You are expecting to learn something new.
And what if you stop getting new insights from this summary?
You'd get bored. Won't you?
And perhaps you are thinking about why this summary is so long.
Allow me to be a little less boring here.
Let's talk about boredom.
What is boredom? Why do you even feel bored?
The author says that boredom is simply an escape from reality.
We are constantly looking to get gratification from objects.
When we are bored with one, we switch to another.
Finally, when we get exhausted, we give up and sleep. And the next day, the same thing continues.
We are always dissatisfied.
Why is it so?
Why can't we stop running after objects?
The answer is:
We have desires.
Yes, as long as we have desires, we'll get bored. And we will look up to other objects to fulfill those desires.
Can we escape desires? Logically, if we had no desires, we would be in bliss.
Because desires, whether subtle or rigid, make us feel incomplete.
And by desire in itself is the idea that if we attain something like an object, sensation, status, etc., we will be complete.
But that doesn't happen. You know it too, right?
Do your desires ever vanish completely?
They sometimes do vanish. But sooner or later, they appear again.
The author says the best way to deal with boredom will be to allow yourself to get bored as much as you can.
The truth is:
Boredom is just an escape from reality.
We are afraid to see our true selves. So we find ways to avoid it altogether.
So get bored! And maybe then there will be a possibility where you will be able to find solitude.
The author says that only a still mind will be able to get rid of the boredom.
When you see what boredom really is, it vanishes. Because at the root of it, boredom is a desire to run away from reality and feel satisfied with your current self.
So first, you'll need a still mind.
And it's already pretty hard to have.
How many people do you see around yourself who have a calm and still mind?
We are trained to acquire or possess objects or sensations. It's not in our fundamental nature to get rid of things that give us gratification.
And unless we get rid of distractions or gratifications, we will find it hard to have a still mind.
Our mind is always doing something. It just never sits still - always looking or searching for something.
Why? Because it's incomplete.
And that sense of incompleteness causes the mind to look for other things in the hope of becoming complete.
It's a big problem. Which makes us waste a lot of energy.
"Meditation isn't about sitting in a certain posture and chanting mantras - It's about paying attention"
What do you know about meditation?
Probably, you might be having images of people sitting in a certain posture and chanting mantras.
Did I guess right?
That's what the media and society tell you.
True meditation is much more than that.
To understand what is the right way of doing meditation, you must understand what's the point of doing meditation.
Why do we need meditation?
You are probably saying that we need meditation to relax our minds.
Put aside your preconceived notions about meditation for a while.
The author says that meditation is about paying attention.
And attention can be paid anytime to anything, right?
The question is:
Is meditation a one-time event or it's a way of life?
From what I understood from this book, meditation is a way of living.
You don't even need to sit in a certain posture to meditate.
You simply have to pay attention to your mind. To your thoughts.
Can you see it now?
Meditation is easy!
Just pay attention to your mind.
Forget about what the media and society have told you all this time.
Here is what most people think about meditation:
They think that meditation is a technique or trick to get rid of bad thoughts.
The author wants to question this traditional idea here.
Why live a sick life in the first place?
Why not one should be in meditation 24*7?
If you are attentive all the time, you won't ever make your life miserable.
What's the bigger goal here: To live a vibrant life or to practice meditation all your life?
Obviously, all the techniques are there to help you live a life free of shackles, right?
You should become such that you won't even need any techniques to calm yourself down.
Why not live every moment of your life in such a way?
Why not be in the meditative state all the time?
Most people believe that meditation has something magical to it. They think that chanting a set of mantras will somehow change their lives.
I'm not saying that it won't help. It has its own significance, though.
But unless you understand what you are doing, it's simply a waste of time.
The idea here is: Why are we creating problems in the first place?
Why are we looking for techniques to solve the problems that are created by us?
Shouldn't we at the very least stop and look?
Are you getting my point here?
We are afraid to sit quietly and pay attention to our thoughts. And that's why, the author says, we keep looking for escapes.
We keep searching for methods.
When you all you need to do is to pay attention to your mind and understand it. Not with the information you have gathered, but with your own eyes or mind.
Remember what we learned about boredom.
Boredom is also an escape.
When you are in meditation all the time, there is no boredom. You are enjoying the drama going on in your own mind.
It's like watching a free show.
Remember, no technique will help you if you are so afraid to look at your true self.
People are using meditation as a means to escape.
To escape from the current reality.
This has to stop if we really want a solution.
Maybe then we will reach a point where all of our problems will be answered.
"The world is nothing but an extension of yourself"
So what does this mean?
Is this even possible?
Where does this entire world come from?
Probably, you are thinking about The Big Bang Theory, right?
We won't go deep into that here.
Here we will focus on how this world is an extension of ourselves.
You see, this world is created out of our minds.
Everything you see around you has come from someone else's mind.
Some guy invented a thing, then it got popular. And ultimately everybody started using it. So all you see around yourself is simply an expression of mind.
When we see ourselves as merely a body. Then it's hard to see this world as an extension of yourself.
But when you see yourself as a bundle of memories, opinions, and thoughts, it changes your worldview.
And where do all of those exist? They are present in our minds.
So can you see it now?
This world. Both you and me. We all are our minds.
Of course, not in a physical sense, but psychologically.
Psychologically speaking, everything is mind. Period.
You can make it harder by adding various elements to it. But ultimately whatever you think and see. It has all come from the mind.
Your mind and my mind aren't different.
We have all got the same mind.
Isn't it why we all have similar thoughts and emotions?
Of course, there are differences in opinions and perspectives.
But all of them are nothing but thoughts.
And all thoughts, no matter whose, are present in mind.
So what are we trying to achieve here?
How can you possibly apply this learning in your life?
Our objective here is to see everything as one.
"To see everything as a whole."
And according to the author, when you see reality as a whole, you are the most beautiful person at that moment.
That's pure beauty.
Don't you think?
That is true love: To see as a whole.
To see every moment of your life in totality.
To simply see without justifying with opinions.
Yes, judgment is important for us to survive, to differentiate between ideas and objects, to live, but that is not love.
Love unites. While envy and hatred divide.
Do you get it now?
When you see something or someone as a whole, you are expressing pure love.
At that moment, there is no selfish desire or opinion.
It's a thing of beauty!
"Attachment and possession create envy and fear"
We often get attached to things, persons, feelings, ideas, etc.
The author says that this attachment is the cause behind most of our problems.
Allow me to elaborate.
When there is attachment to anything, there is also the fear of losing it.
And when there is fear, there is also envy.
When we are attached to anything emotionally, we want to own it.
We want to keep it with us.
Doesn't it happen?
Now, you may jump to a conclusion and say, "Should I get detached from everything and go to the Himalayas? Sorry, not going to happen. I can't live like that."
Well, you don't have to.
You can live in the same place.
In fact, it's not about physical attachment. It's about psychological detachment.
When you are attached to anything mentally, be it status, power, money, or anything that is sought out by most people, there is also dependency.
For example, when a young kid is playing his favorite game, he is attached to it psychologically. He won't want to be away from it.
There is psychological attachment.
When you are psychologically attached to something, you are dependent on it.
For instance, most people get happy when there are security and comfort. So when it is taken away, their world is broken into pieces. There is a sense of fear.
So you see, psychological attachment creates dependency.
And dependency creates a sense of bondage.
Dependency breeds fear. Which then further breeds insecurities and envy.
Again, all that further breeds unwanted thoughts and feelings. And ultimately, it creates unwanted suffering.
This entire chain leads to chaos.
Most people struggle to solve these problems.
Because all their life, they are trained to live in attachment.
And as we just discussed, living in attachment brings all sorts of problems.
The problem is:
We only get attached to nice-looking objects.
So the dependency and fear are nicely packaged under shiny objects.
That's also the reason that most people struggle to avoid them.
Here is what you need to do right now:
Watch out for anything in your life that puts constraints on you.
Well, the good thing is we are never under physical constraints. There is only psychological bondage.
And it requires some work. Yes, talking about is easy. But actual implementation won't be easy. Be prepared for that!
Okay, so watch out for anything that brings you any sense of bondage.
The idea here is to live fearlessly and with freedom.
Not superficial freedom. The actual freedom at the level of your mind.
Pay attention to shiny objects around you that give you gratification or pleasure. Often those are the ones that create a sense of fear.
We are afraid to lose those things that give us a sense of security and comfort.
Unfortunately, we can't have only pleasure without pain.
What we are after is the real joy which only comes when there is no inner conflict.
Because where there is pleasure, there is also a sense of fear of losing it.
What Are You Doing With Your Life Quotes
Below are a few notable quotes from the author of this book - J Krishnamurti.
Meditation is self-knowledge and without self-knowledge there is no meditation.
When you come to that point where you are really allowing yourself to be as you are - bored, ugly, hideous, or whatever it is - then there is a possibility of dealing with it.
Our minds are so confused, caught in theory, that we cannot describe what significance life has to us.
We are not only conditioned by environment, but that we are the environment - we are not something apart from it.
What Are You Doing With Your Life Review
I highly recommend you to read this book.
This book is pretty well organized compared to the last book I read from the same author.
Even beginners will find it easy to finish.
I ordered a physical copy for this book too as usual from Amazon.
And didn't face any issue.
The print quality was nice too. And fonts were big enough.
If you've read Freedom From The Known by the same author, you'll find some of the ideas common in both the books.
First half of the book is kinda similar to the Freedom From The Known.
Give this book a read some day...
Other Recommended Book Summaries
If you enjoyed reading this summary, you might also like:
Now It's Your Turn
I hope you enjoyed reading this book summary.
Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.
And share this with your friends and help them too.
It takes me a lot of work and time to create these summaries. And also manage this website.
If you got any value from it, then consider supporting me by becoming a patron.