What Are You Doing with Your Life? Book Summary - What Are You Doing with Your Life? Book explained in key points
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What Are You Doing with Your Life? summary

Jiddu Krishnamurti

Explore answers to some of life's most difficult questions

4.5 (485 ratings)
18 mins
Table of Contents

    What Are You Doing with Your Life?
    Summary of 6 key ideas

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    Key idea 1 of 6

    Your conditioning stops you from seeing things as they are.

    Stop a moment and consider the way that you perceive the world. 

    Consider, for instance, the way you see love. From the moment you were born, you were subjected to ideas about love that shaped the way you think of it. For you, perhaps love is epitomized by a picture of a happy couple on their wedding day, or a bunch of flowers given as a surprise gift. 

    No matter what, you’ve been conditioned to see love in a particular way, depending on your social, economic, and cultural background. But this means that your perspective may be very narrow, and the complex truth of love may be lost on you. 

    The key message here is: Your conditioning stops you from seeing things as they are.

    Your conditioning stops you from perceiving the world in all its complexity. Life is constantly in flux, but because of the way you see the world, you tend to think of it as fixed. Your mind is tethered by your cultural background, belief systems, and dogma. 

    To see how life continuously changes and evolves, you need to be able to change your mind and your perspective along with it. If you don’t attune yourself to life’s subtle, continuous changes, you won’t see the full picture – just your own tiny, static snapshot. 

    For instance, if you were to watch a flower bloom and change, your description of it would vary from one day to the next if you were to be truthful about that flower. Life is just like that – it requires intimate attention.

    To look at life more truthfully, you have to free your mind from all the grand theories and systems that try to explain it in its totality. This is the hard part. For instance, maybe you think of yourself as a socialist, a capitalist, a Christian, or a Hindu. If you adhere to an ideology or religion, any number of situations will be forced to fit your worldview, even if what they’re telling you contradicts your belief system. 

    So how do you attune yourself to the world? You must watch the way your mind moves very carefully. You must observe its workings, almost as if you were watching from the outside. Only then will you begin to understand how your conditioning limits the way you see. 

    In this way, you’ll begin to understand yourself and your relationship to the world. That’s the first step toward grappling with the many problems we face – problems that are always changing and evolving, just like life itself.

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    What is What Are You Doing with Your Life? about?

    What Are You Doing with Your Life (2001) attempts to answer some of life’s most important questions. From considering the role of happiness and personal transformation to the purpose of life itself, it sets out a philosophy to guide you through every stage of your journey. 

    Best quote from What Are You Doing with Your Life?

    It is only the free mind that can meet life, not the mind tethered to any system . . . .

    —Jiddu Krishnamurti
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    Who should read What Are You Doing with Your Life??

    • People who feel a little lost and are looking for direction 
    • Those into philosophy and deep thinking
    • Budding gurus and life teachers

    About the Author

    Jiddu Krishnamurti was born in southern India in 1895. He was a philosopher, speaker, and writer. The Theosophical Society, a global philosophical organization, regarded him as the coming “World Teacher” they were waiting for. He would reject this moniker, and spend the rest of his life speaking to large groups of people all around the world. He died in 1986. 

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