Routine, Another Cost of Efficiency

The ripples keep expanding from Krishnamurti’s insight into the way knowledge, especially psychological knowledge, locks us into routine responses that, as he put it, atrophy the brain. In my penultimate post, I speculated on how this could be a way to speak directly about a significant aspect of what’s led us to where we find ourselves and why it is so difficult for so many to even recognize that there is a problem with Business-as-Usual.

It strikes me that our acceptance of these conditions, our actively seeking out short-cuts, feeds this process. It’s like giving entropy a boost, jumping instead of falling into danger.

I began this post on the heels of a rather long – for me – series of a-post-a-day. It stalled in the middle of the last short paragraph.

That shouldn’t be surprising. I’ve been focusing on practice as opposed to explanation as much as possible, considering the strong didactic streak in me! To practice instead of preach in that situation meant to shut-up! I was getting stale, the writing was not flowing, I was suffering from exactly the kind of rut I was purportedly warning about.

It’s taken me a long time to make sense of a range of instincts I’ve had and the way they’ve led me to act in ways that don’t seem to “make sense” when viewed from any conventional perspective. An early breakthrough was discovering the distance between efficiency and efficacy. This latest insight, picked up through Bohm and Krishnamurti on the effects of routine deepening our conditioning and closing off our abilities to see around our illusions, is another. I continually spend rather short periods immersed in a particular activity and then I walk away from it and pursue another. Some of this happens in extremely short time scales, the way an hour is broken up. Others happen over months, and others over spans of years. The result has been a CV that “makes no sense.”

This is how it makes sense, at least the way I now see it. Somehow, I’ve been focusing on the questions surrounding stereotypical responses versus an attitude of attention to emergence for a long time. This has fed a hyper-sensitivity to futility. That has led me to step away from things when my internal resistance reaches a critical level. The funny thing is, I’ve never seen that as abandonment. I’ve not really walked away, simply stepped away. The concern remains and, with a growing trust in the workings of Mind, I have an assurance that the question, whatever it is in its specifics, is being addressed.

It used to bother me that I wasn’t more conventional in this. I felt phony trying to simulate dogged persistence or single-minded focus. Now I see that these attitudes underlie so much of what is dysfunctional in our culture’s approach to problems and predicaments. This brings added, shall I call it confidence? Perhaps not. It differs from confidence in that it isn’t an expectation that I know what to do. It’s more of a sense that I can trust Mind to show me when I’m veering far off course.

In the end, there isn’t that much to say on this topic. It’s not that difficult a point to understand once we look at it. That doesn’t make for a long convoluted post. It doesn’t mean it’s not important!

As with any other factor measured as an efficiency, routine, the cultivation of habits, has to be distinguished between those that feed our mental and physical coordination, like the routine within Qi Gong, and those routines that are strictly mental that serve to close off our abilities to see and to respond to reality. The former strengthen our coordination and increase stamina. As with any so-called efficiency, the latter are based on a fantasy that we can grasp a hold of our reality and isolate segments to manipulate without exposing ourselves to the extreme and unavoidable dangers of being blind-sided. It’s a fool’s trap. A cost of being clever.

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3 thoughts on “Routine, Another Cost of Efficiency

  1. Routines do have something of the fool’s gamble at their heart: in cutting ourselves off from vulnerabilities, we deaden ourselves to life. As though control were higher than love. Yet the fool lingers long.

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    1. What’s radical about Krishnamurti’s conception of routine as including psychological knowledge of the self, of our relationships, is that these too are routines that lead us to react on what we think we know instead of acting on what is there. This broadens our understanding of what is foolish to include much we tend to consider, if not wisdom, at least prudence.

      For me the key was in the distinction between a repeated action that strengthens and coordinates mind and body versus those that dig ruts in which to bury direct perception.

      As with the critique of efficiency in other areas, this cuts through the ill-considered justifications for taking short cuts that are really short-circuits. It shows that steering clear of foolish cleverness is no simple matter, nothing to check off the list and get past, but an ongoing engagement with reality that must, with the aid of practice, continually tread an edge where failure is always a possibility. Vulnerability lived, not worn as a badge.

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