A fear that many people have is that if they don’t hold tightly to their goals and dreams and think about them all day long, they won’t accomplish them. Yet it is the very attachment to outcomes, to getting a specific result, that sets the stage for anxiety, the fear that you won’t achieve what you want. As you learn to release the attachment, new creative energies - as well as feelings of courage and confidence - spring forth, and actually move you closer to your objectives.
Worrying about the future is one of the main causes of stress in our lives. It is a habit that just perpetuates fear, the uncomfortable feeling that we aren’t enough as we are. It keeps us stuck in the belief that such-and-such must happen if we are going to be happy, and that if it doesn’t, our lives will be miserable.
There’s a story about J. Krishnamurti that speaks reams about what it means to be free of this limiting, fear-based pattern of thinking. Every spring he used to give talks in a beautiful oak grove in Ojai, in southern California. He had been speaking there for over sixty years. On this particular occasion when I went to hear him, in the late nineteen-seventies, there must have been close to two thousand people in attendance, sitting on the grass, or in their folding chairs.
It was always an extraordinary experience, hearing Krishnamurti in person. Aldous Huxley, who was a friend of Krishnamurti’s, described it as: “Like listening to a discourse of the Buddha - such authority, such intrinsic power.”
Part way through this particular talk, Krishnamurti suddenly paused, leaned forward, and said, almost conspiratorially, “Do you want to know what my secret is?” Almost as though we were one body we sat up, even more alert than we had been, if that was possible. I could see people all around me lean forward, their ears straining and their mouths slowly opening in hushed anticipation.
Krishnamurti rarely ever talked about himself or his own process, and now he was about to give us his secret! He was in many ways a mountaintop teacher - somewhat distant, aloof, seemingly unapproachable, unless you were part of his inner circle. Yet that’s why we came to Ojai every spring, to see if we could find out just what his secret was. We wanted to know how he managed to be so aware and enlightened, while we struggled with conflict and our numerous problems.
There was a silence. Then he said in a soft, almost shy voice, “You see, I don’t mind what happens.”
I don’t mind what happens. That is the essence of inner freedom. It is a timeless spiritual truth: release attachment to outcomes, and - deep inside yourself - you’ll feel good no matter what. You’ll feel good because you are connected to, one with, the energy of the universe, the beauty and power of creation itself. Or, as Krishnamurti himself put it:
‘When you live with this awareness, this sensitivity, life has an astonishing way of taking care of you. Then there is no problem of security, of what people say or do not say, and that is the beauty of life.’