T Nation

The Competitive Way of Life


-If I may add, he said, I would like to ask a question to set the ball rolling. It is not an idle question, and it has somewhat disturbed me since hearing you a few evenings ago. Among other things you said that competition and ambition were destructive urges which man must understand and so be free of, if he is to live in a peaceful society. But are not struggle and conflict part of the very nature of existence?

Society as at present constituted is based on ambition and conflict, and almost everyone accepts this fact as inevitable. The individual is conditioned to its inevitability; through education, through various forms of outward and inward compulsion, he is made to be competitive. If he is to fit into this society at all, he must accept the conditions it lays down, otherwise he has a pretty bad time. We seem to think that we have to fit into this society; but why should one?

-If we don't, we will just go under. I wonder if that would happen if we saw the whole significance of the problem? We might not live according to the usual pattern, but we would live creatively and happily, with a wholly different outlook.

Such a state cannot be brought about if we accept the present social pattern as inevitable.
But to get back to your point: do ambition, competition and conflict constitute a predestined and inevitable way of life? You evidently assume that they do. Now let us begin from there. Why do you take this competitive way of life to be the only process of existence?

-I am competitive, ambitious, like all those around me. It is a fact which often gives me pleasure, and sometimes pain, but I just accept it without struggle, because I don't know any other way of living; and even if I did, I suppose I would be afraid to try it.I have many responsibilities, and I would be gravely concerned about the future of my children if I broke away from the usual thoughts and habits of life.

You may be responsible for others, sir, but have you not also the responsibility to bring about
a peaceful world? There can be no peace, no enduring happiness for man as long as we
- the individual, the group and the nation - accept this competitive existence as inevitable.
Competitiveness, ambition, implies conflict within and without, does it not? An ambitious man is not a peaceful man, though he may talk of peace and brotherhood. The politician can never bring peace to the world, nor can those who belong to any organized belief, for they all have been conditioned to a world of leaders, saviours, guides and examples; and when you follow another you are seeking the fulfilment of your own ambition, whether in this world or in the world of ideation, the so-called spiritual world. Competitiveness, ambition implies conflict, does it not?

-I see that, but what is one to do? Being caught in this net of competition, how is one to get out of it? And even if one does get out of it, what assurance is there that there will be peace between man and man? Unless all of us see the truth of the matter at the same time, the perception of that truth by one or two will have no value whatever.

You want to know how to get out of this net of conflict, fulfilment, frustration. The very question implies that you want to be assured that your endeavour will not be in vain. You still want to succeed, only at a different level. You do not see that all ambition, all desire for success in any direction, creates conflict both within and without. The ''how'' is the way of ''how'' is the ladder to further success. But we are not now thinking in terms of success or failure, rather in terms of the elimination of conflict; and does it follow that without conflict, stagnation is inevitable? Surely, peace comes into being, not through safeguards, sanctions and guarantees, but it is there when you are not - you who are the agent of conflict with your ambitions and frustrations. Your other point, sir, that all must see the truth of this problem at the same time, is an obvious impossibility. But it is possible for you to see it; and when you do, that truth which you have seen and which brings freedom, will affect others. It must begin with you, for you are the world, as the other is. Ambition breeds mediocrity of mind and heart; ambition is superficial, for it is everlastingly seeking a result. The man who wants to be a saint, or a successful politician, or a big executive, is concerned with personal achievement. Whether identified with an idea, a nation, or a system, religious or economic, the urge to be successful strengthens the ego, the self, whose very structure is brittle, superficial and limited. All this is fairly obvious if one looks into it, is it not?

-It may be obvious to you, sir, but to most of us conflict gives a sense of existence, the feeling that we are alive. Without ambition and competition, our lives would be drab and useless.â

Since you are maintaining this competitive way of life, your children and your childrens children will bread further antagonism, envy and war; neither you nor they will have peace. Having been conditioned to this traditional pattern of existence, you are in turn educating your children to accept it; so the world goes on in this sorrowful way.

-We want to change, but... He was aware of his own futility and stopped talking.

From ''commentaries on living serie 2'' by Jiddu Krishnamurti


oh yes I am bumping this


this is OWNED by "Game Theory"


Ambition does not require violence.




True achievement is modest and humble. It comes from realizing ones own limitations, shortcomings, weaknesses, and overcoming them. In the process one comes to a new understanding and peace with ones place in the world. The world is completely 100% perfect as it is, the difficulty is truly realizing that.

There is a buddhist practice that I like. You just go about your day pretending the world is 100% perfect as it is. The pain, suffering, and injustice in the world is just the way it was meant to be and perfect. Try not to have an emotional, physical, or mental response to anything, good or bad; everything is just the way it was meant to be and perfect. Try to maintain this state throughout the day.

An individual may find that ones quests for achievement and all the conflict they experience on a daily basis really is based on trying to get the recognition of others. This is healthy and normal to a point, but we live in a neurotic culture where many people have created an ideal based on the world around them of what the world wants them to be. Churches, schools, parents, friends, societies and cultures, have their own ideals. People are constantly consumed by trying to attain a conglomeration of this ideal, as it is what they have been told to be. This is bad as bolsters one's own ego and give them a false sense of recognition by others, hiding what they really are.

When one stops worrying about the ideals of others, they start to see what they are meant to be. It may not be what they have been told, but it is something 100% perfect. Upon realizing this, many interior and exterior conflicts go away, mental energy and physical energies wasted chasing rabbits down holes is regained, and one automatically start doing the things they need to be doing to become what they were really meant to be.

I remember after doing some hard drugs in college, I realized that at least half of the thoughts I had on any given day involved trying to gain a higher sense of recognition and status by others. After realizing this, it went away for a bit. It still comes back regularly and gets in the way of shit I really need to be focusing on. This post reminded me, so thank you for posting.


I have to completely disagree with the first post.
Why is ambition worse than peace? How are they even mutually exclusive? Why would anyone want stagnation?
Whoever wrote this sounds like a hypocrite who tries to boost his own ego by pretending to be "enlightened."
Being ambitious does not make you mediocre. Being not ambitious makes you a mediocre and weak pussy. He clearly did not have enough T to experience true ambition. If you are truly ambitious, you do not need the approval of others to do what you do.
Trying to be successful not only benefits yourself, but benefits the entire society indirectly. The author claims that the self is brittle and superficial, but fails to explain why or show anything that is not. This article is full of petty BS without any real strong arguments or examples to back them up.

Edit: Looked this Jiddu Krishnamurti up on Wikipedia. He's vegan and bullied has a child. No surprise that he has some low T issues.


This J Krishnamurthy guy never had any practical skill to talk about. His talks and teachings are pseudo philosophical garbage and its weird that many actually took this man seriously. Being ambitious is to remain rooted to the essence of life, if that is mediocre to him , it is because he never knew what ambitions and result-oriented action are. He wouldn't know because all he did was spew over simplistic garbage throughout his life.
None in India took him seriously until he was taken seriously in the West. Funny and superficiality at its best.


wow just wow, i know im young and stupid as fuck but the stuff that the dude said in his book, just didnt catch on with me, i mean if i hear shit that makes sense i'll believe it, but the stuff that that dude said made me really break shit down and think, and it was . . . . . unbelievable


Krishnamurti is mediocre at best - he is NOT enlightened in any way shape or form. His "intellectual/spirituality" teachings hit a minority target audience of people who "all just want to get along" (victims of their own blind, self-indulgent humility), so he has managed to sell some of his books - I even own a few. He may as well have said, "if a frog had wings, he wouldn't bump his ass every time he jumps - wouldn't that be nice?..."

None of this is grounded in any sense of reality or understanding of how the world is or how humans evolved. If he is so "un-ambitious", then why has he published more than 50 books?

He is hypocritical and weak and is probably kicked back right now enjoying a soy latte, "un-ambitiously" dreaming of more passive garbage to spew forth.

jasminecar, are there any other philosophers that you follow? Why Krishnamurti? You strike me as someone who is intelligent with a critical mind... Honestly, I am a little confused...


John Nash's Game Theory is curbstomping this!!!!!


"When the highest and strongest drives, breaking passionately out, carry the individual far above and beyond the average and lowlands of the herd conscience, the self-confidence of the community goes to pieces, its faith in itself, its spine as it were, is broken: consequently it is precisely these drives that are most branded and calumniated. Lofty spiritual independence, the will to stand alone, great intelligence even, are felt to be dangerous; everything that raises the individual above the herd and makes his neighbour quail is henceforth called evil."

Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil, 1886, 201



Then again, Nietzche was a freaking lunatic.

Edit: Overly dismissive but something to keep in mind.

Only the insane are reasonable in an insane world or something like that.


The thing is that when you try to control yourself into not having any response to anything what you do is you create conflict within yourself because there is the entity that wants to control and the entity being controlled.

Your intellect is still running in thin air, I don't know how to say it in english, like the wheels of a car spinning, making smoke but the car isnt moving at all. When you try to silence yourself the attempt to silence yourself is noise. I dont see the point in calling this buddhist or muslim or anything.


His moustache and his craziness due to siphilis simply makes him an even more awesome character!


He never said he were. There is no enlightenment

I found him by accident at the library (when they were closing temporarily and they were letting people borrow 50 books in one shot; I was just taking random books and reading them for the lulz). I didnt have any pre-conceived idea about him and I found that what he say is radically different. What he say is not intellectual at all.

If you try to compare intellectually what he says to what you know and see if you agree or not, you will never see . That's why he is not a philosopher at all. What is there left when there is no intellect, no memory of your life, no tought at all,no movement of you tought, no ego? Is there anything not mechanical about life?

No one can see for you and I dont feel the universality of this cater in particuliar to the ''feel good let's just get along'' crowd. it's hard, so hard to just look that maybe that's why he gets so much hate in this thread

This is obviously not the truth but logically it makes no sense that he would have spent his life like that, talking all his life about ego and ambition and all you supposely read, but that in reality he is doing it to b f4mous and to party on the weekends?

Wow, one insult and one flattery in the same paragraph. Why should I record any of those two? That's another thing he talks about. The thing is that you can't argue intellectually like that on a forum because the only thing we are doing is confronting ideas and it's not what it's about. Also I know the only thing I can do is distort what he says so you win.

Also I have stopped following any idea, any system or any philosopher. No one can tell me any answers and beside following someone is living a second-hand life.I know I wont convince you of anything but if that's how you see him it's sad.

I wasn't aware he as a philosopher was already cruxified like that but still what I read definitely changed everything for me. Not like I havent read anything before, I was a book guy. Not that it makes any difference. I read alot of book, wow I am good! or I can lift heavy weight wow! who gives a fuck in the grand scheme of things

I dont even know what I am doing here typing that. Basic social intelligence would tell me not to defend that but I guess I dont even care over the internet even if I was full of shit (read ambitious like everyone in reality)


I disagree. Are you from india? If so you must be aware more than anyone that result-oriented actions and ambition are the reason everything is going well in your country. It's a good thing no one in India took him seriously


Either that or the "invisible hand," a la Adam Smith. I will admit I didn't read this whole rant. Holy wall of text Batman.


Well by mentioning India in my post I meant a section of the population that jive to the hype and an acceptance from the West (again a sectional populace) automatically gets a "brand" recognition in India and a blind superficial following without any thorough thinking or research on their part. Didn't mean to generalise either India or the West.
As far as Eastern or more specifically Indian philosophers there are far more interesting and practical philosophers such as Sri Aurobindo (there are many but he just comes to the mind atm).
And no not "everything" is going "well" in our country, in fact far from it and I don't think that is at all relevant here.