In the modern world where there are so many problems, one is apt to lose great feeling. I mean by that word feeling, not sentiment, not emotionalism, not mere excitement, but that quality of perception, the quality of hearing, listening, the quality of feeling, a bird singing on a tree, the movement of a leaf in the sun. To feel things greatly, deeply, penetratingly, is very difficult for most of us because we have so many problems. Whatever we seem to touch turns into a problem. And, apparently, there is no end to man’s problems, and he seems utterly incapable of resolving them because the more the problems exist, the less the feelings become. Krishnamurti
Our days are full of feelings. In fact many of us would say that good feelings are the point of living. The greater, the subtler and the more ecstatic our feelings, the better our quality of life.
There are two points I would like to make on the quality of our feelings, based on my own experience and upon conversations with others.
Feelings seem to be mainly about me. It is very rare that I am carried away “outside” myself in the flow of feeling. It does happen, fleetingly: a haunting piece of music, a dark cloud in a clear sky, the sound of a bird on a still and quiet morning. But otherwise, everyday feelings are oriented towards myself.
I don’t think this is the quality of deep feeling that Krishnamurti is suggesting above. Rather, he points to the possibility of feeling that is primarily other oriented. Whether the other is an animal or another person or a tree or a sunset, the capacity that is being posited is that feelings need not carry us within the construct of the self but rather can help us float out of it. Usually, my problems entrap me within myself, and so the quality of feeling too becomes entrapped in me. Can I move beyond this entrapment and sustain for myself the question of freedom from daily psychological problems?
Secondly, feelings are mainly about the past. I reconstruct past events in memory, lavish them with elaborate detail and recreate a feeling of pleasure. In contrast, I think the quality of feeling suggested in the quotation is about present feelings and the ability to live and act through those, in an alive and aware manner.
Many mystics through the ages insist that it is only by moving away from feeling that we can become free or “enlightened.” I find this quotation so powerful because it suggests that the quality of authentic feeling is vital to a well-lived life.