First, put your house in order


I am writing this blog post on a bumpy minibus journey to the outskirts of Bangalore. The road that we are on has been turned upside down as a new metro line is under construction in its very centre. Such chaotic cityscape makes me wonder why there is so much disorder in the world and reminds me of my internal fragmentation and my longing for outer harmony.

“First, put your house in order” is one of the earliest phrases that I heard from Krishnamurti when I was studying at Brockwood at the tender age of fourteen. This statement is both meant literary and metaphorically, for as we embark on understanding ourselves and meeting the challenge of change, it seems essential to have a certain amount of order not only in our physical surroundings but internally. Thirty-three years later, I find myself not anywhere closer to having put my house in order. Why?

To be honest, until now I have never taken this advice very seriously, nor did I really understand what it really entailed. In the last week or so, I have been provoked to contemplate the issue a little deeper, and I feel quite clear that it is something that I want to work on. As I find myself in a new environment, with few belongings and little commitments, there is an opportunity to reevaluate the source of disorder and clear the  clutter. A great amount of energy can be gained from having a healthy rhythm: going to bed and getting up early and being regular about it; eating and enjoying fresh, nutritious, modest meals; practicing a balanced and gentle exercising regime; walking and having quiet meditative moments; participating in meaningful work with others; and giving and receiving affection.

Once the body and our emotional needs are taken care of, it is valuable to start putting some order in our head. If the mind is busy like a cityscape, it may be hard; on the other hand, if it is more like the wind in branches, then the work seem more tangible.

It would seem that it is not something that is done once for all, but rather something that needs to be regularly maintained. If we take the metaphor of the house, it is easier to keep a house tidy if we keep on top of the disorder as it arises, and inversely, it becomes much more difficult if things accumulate to the point of being overwhelming. But perhaps the most important step is to have the clarity that one wants ‘order’ in the first place and that one is ready to commit time and energy to it. The decision to do something about it is instantaneous, the act of tidying takes time and consistency.

Finally, one needs to remember that making order is probably just the first step – for the real work is more complex and requires even more energy to address.

We have reached our rural destination and the environment seems so much more harmonious and conducive to meaningful relationships and learning.

So are you ready to put your ‘country’ house in order?


Photo credit: Terri Bleeker