The teaching has been to DO something to become “better” in Life. That conditioning entails to negate who we ARE to pursue what “should be.” It is thought that DOING (some goal oriented action) will attain a “better” state of BEING.
Observe how our society supports this view. We encourage young people to obtain more, gain more, acquire more to become “better.” We encourage greed through the separation of “I” vs. “you.” We call that “ healthy competition.” Our society is founded on that principle. We need to compete and win, to become “better,” but nowadays as the amount of “competitors” have increased tremendously, to “win” is even necessary to survive. Paradoxically, the most “intelligent” species of the planet basically lives Life, to survive.
That ideology has ill consequences for society and the common good.
The same principle is applied into religious teachings and spirituality for the “masses.” Here, the prize is in the afterlife, whereas in society; the prize comes in this lifetime after some years of “sacrifice.”
That “prize,” whatever it may be; becomes the motivation. Therefore, every action that we take to pursue something “better” has a motive; a “because” when someone asks “why?”.
J. Krishnamurti observed:
“How do you observe the fact that you are conditioned? Do you observe it with the desire or motive that you must be free of it? If so, you have created a contradiction. So can you be free to observe without a motive? Motives are born out of your conditioning.”
When we create a contradiction from “what is” into what “should be,” then; our actions are goal oriented; nevertheless, the goal is an ideal, and the ideal is never “real.”
“I want to be humble.” That is the ideal. There will be some actions to follow as to accomplish the ideal of “humble.”
Our idea of “humble” cannot be the full extension of BEING humble no matter how much we practice. Thought out actions cannot attain what is in the realm of BEING. Without deep observation, understanding, acknowledgment of “what is”, the outcome will bring fake transformation. In short, deep observation is action.
To observe, to become deeply aware is the “true” action, and that brings change without motive, thus; true change, for observation is not concerned with labels or moral standards.
Observation requires attention, it has to occur without motive; that is without the mental explanation: “I am doing this because…”
On attention, J. Krishnamurti pointed out:
“Attention may last a second. That is good enough. Don’t be greedy to have more. In the greed to have more, you have already created the centre, and then you are caught.”
There is a motive which brings the conditioned “I” to the surface; that is the one who “wants to be better,” but that wanting is the reason why we cannot BE.
Observe that this “self-improvement” of “not wanting,” is the complete opposite of what our society has conditioned us to believe.
Awareness and deep observation has been replaced by the pursue of an empty ideal, which may bring “economical progress” to our society, but where quality of life is lacking.
A world taught to compete by dividing itself into little groups and little flags is deep sleep, as it is incapable of realizing that those divisions are illusions, which participants are unable to break free from. It is a strong conditioning.
For them, “freedom” is merely to comply with the ideal of “going away from one country flag to stay in another,” without realizing that we are still slaves of the illusion of division which is fueled by competition, which in turn; provides a motive, a purpose to live Life in society, which is bound to exist in contradiction with the ideas and illusions of other human beings.