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What Are You Doing With Your Life Summary and Key Lessons

“What Are You Doing With Your Life?” is a collection of talks and writings by Jiddu Krishnamurti, an Indian philosopher, speaker, and writer known for his in-depth explorations of the human mind, meditation, the nature of fear, love, and the quest for peace and understanding. 

This book is particularly geared towards young people, addressing the challenges and questions they face in the journey of life.

Full Summary


The book begins by exploring the essence of self-understanding, a recurring theme in Krishnamurti’s teachings. 

He emphasizes the importance of self-awareness in daily life, arguing that true understanding of oneself is the foundation for understanding the world. Krishnamurti delves into the nature of the self, questioning the constructs of ego and identity. 

He challenges us to reflect deeply on our own thoughts, feelings, and actions, urging us to recognize how societal influences and personal experiences shape our perceptions and beliefs. 

This introspection, he posits, is key to breaking free from the constraints of conditioned thinking and achieving true freedom.


Krishnamurti also addresses the nature of relationships and love, insisting that love cannot exist where there is dependency, jealousy, and possessiveness. 

He views these negative emotions as products of self-centered thought, which distorts true affection and connection. The book will encourage you to examine their relationships with others and understand how their self-images, fears, and desires impact these interactions. 

Through this understanding, Krishnamurti suggests that individuals can cultivate genuine relationships based on true affection and mutual respect, free from the constraints of societal norms and expectations.


Another significant aspect of the book is its exploration of the role of education and learning. 

Krishnamurti criticizes traditional education systems for emphasizing conformity, competition, and the mere acquisition of knowledge. He advocates for a holistic approach to education that nurtures critical thinking, creativity, and a deep understanding of oneself and the world. 

This form of education, he argues, is essential for the development of free and responsible individuals who can contribute to a more peaceful and harmonious society. 

He stresses the importance of educators who are not only knowledgeable but also deeply self-aware and capable of guiding students in this holistic learning process.


Lastly, the book delves into broader philosophical and existential questions, such as the meaning of life, the nature of change, and the pursuit of happiness. 

Krishnamurti challenges the us to question conventional wisdom and societal norms, encouraging a journey of personal discovery that transcends traditional beliefs and ideologies.

He discusses the importance of being in tune with nature, understanding the transient nature of life, and finding peace in the present moment. 

Throughout, Krishnamurti’s message is clear: a profound transformation in the way we perceive ourselves and the world is essential for individual and collective well-being, and this transformation begins with the individual’s journey toward self-awareness and understanding.

what are you doing with your life summary

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Key Lessons

1. The Importance of Self-Understanding and Awareness

Krishnamurti emphasizes that true knowledge begins with understanding oneself. He urges us to engage in deep introspection, to question our thoughts, feelings, motivations, and the very nature of their consciousness. 

This self-examination is critical for uncovering how our backgrounds, societal influences, and personal experiences shape our perceptions and beliefs. 

Krishnamurti believes that by understanding our inner selves – including our fears, desires, and the conditioning that influences our thoughts – we can break free from automatic, conditioned responses and live more freely and authentically. 

This lesson is pivotal not only for personal happiness and freedom but also for fostering more meaningful relationships and engaging with the world in a more thoughtful, compassionate manner.

2. Redefining Relationships and the Nature of Love

Krishnamurti challenges conventional views on relationships and love, proposing that true love is not possessive, jealous, or dependent. 

He suggests that these negative emotions arise from self-centered thought and a lack of true understanding of oneself and others. The lesson here is about cultivating relationships that are based on real affection, mutual respect, and a deep understanding of each other as individuals. 

Krishnamurti argues that this can only be achieved when individuals are free from their own psychological barriers and societal conditioning. 

This approach to relationships calls for a significant shift from seeking personal gratification or security in relationships to fostering genuine connections grounded in true understanding and empathy. 

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3. Holistic Education as a Tool for Transformation

This lesson is about reimagining education as a holistic process that not only imparts knowledge but also encourages students to understand themselves and their relationship with the world. 

Krishnamurti believes that such an education can develop individuals who are not only intellectually capable but also emotionally intelligent and ethically responsible. This approach to learning is seen as essential for the development of individuals who can contribute to a more peaceful, just, and harmonious society. 

The lesson extends to educators as well, emphasizing their role not just as dispensers of knowledge, but as guides who help students in their journey towards self-awareness and understanding.

Final Thoughts

“What Are You Doing With Your Life?” is a profound and challenging exploration of human consciousness and society. 

Krishnamurti’s insights are as relevant today as when they were written, offering a deep and sometimes unsettling look at what it means to live a truly aware and meaningful life. 

The book will encourage you to question not just your actions, but the very foundation of your thoughts and beliefs, leading to a potentially transformative session of self-contemplation.

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