# 317: BOOK OF THE WEEK — “The First and Last Freedom”
Story behind the Book Choice
Krishnamurti has been on my reading and learning list for a long time. In a way, his teachings have already reached me via different channels. Still, it needed the project I am currently working on to finally read one of his books. This one can count, more or less, as a compendium of his thoughts. I also want to emphasize how truly blessed and grateful I feel that we live in the YouTube age in which we can listen to the real person behind the book in just one click. I know that people often think that boring “intellectuals” just read books and never “consume” all the other alternatives out there. That is bullshit. Even though I often highly criticize the YouTube and Instagram generation, I am not saying that the material you get there is bad. I am just saying that you need some brain to use it wisely. But I am getting off track here.
What I wanted to say is that, if you watch some of the talks with him online, you see what it means to be speaking the TRUTH. But a book like this one still gives you the opportunity to really have it all in one place and to also engage with his words in a way that only books allow you to do. Yes, there is usually repetition in it but that repetition is necessary for your brain to establish new connections. By just watching something online, you might be “impressed,” but that is basically it. When reading a book, marking things, taking notes, you get all it takes for developing yourself and your thinking. Now, thinking is something that is relly the evil of many things as you will learn as you engage more with questions of self-knowledge. Still, it is part of what I consider essential. And in order to keep it essential here, I am going to be brief about this book because everything else would destroy the beauty and the legacy of this man’s words.
Kishnamurti places great emphasis on the aspect of creativity. It is a central component which he regularly returns to in many other chapters. For all those who experience creativity, who live it, it should be very easy to understand what he is saying in this passage. For all others, I recommend going on this journey to find out. It is nothing hard. We all have it. We all do it. We just need to forget about all the conventional definitions of what “creativity” means. It is not painting. It is not drawing or singing. It can be anything that puts you into this selfless state in which there is no thinking or in other words in which thinker and thinking become one, as K. would say.
This passage appears in the chapter “Relationship and Isolation.” I wrestle with it — not with the content but with the practice it suggests. K., just like any wise man and woman, teaches a middle path. And he also teaches that basically all the institutionalized religious teachings are worth nothing. This also concerns relationships. For sure, we are used to this idea that, in order to reach enlightenment or even stay in a highly conscious state, you need solitude, even up to the point of becoming a hermit or living in celibate. But K. differs from that. He does put relationship at the center of self-knowledge. Society, to him, consists of the relationship between two people — at least. I believe it. I see it. I do learn from it. Still, to me, a period of isolation is necessary before entering relationships again — also between people and things — in a transformed way.
This is the only real “problem” I have with him. But I suspect that problem is more one of language than of content. K. somewhat demonizes experience in many instances as the cause of division. He does say contradicting things in other passages. Still, his general claim is, more or less, that experience is in the way of self-knowledge, peace, and awareness. I obviously have a different take on that, simply because, I guess, I define experience differently. Experience to me is the source of all insight. Yes, it divides, because certain people have certain experiences and other people have other experiences. Also, two people can have the same experience but emerge with different findings. Obviously, for me, experience means something that happens, some sensory perception that then gains meaning based on the entire story and thinking of the person. To K., experience is something different, which I need to get into more.
This slight, merely “intellectual” difference, does not make a difference to what I want to say: Read him. Listen to him. Contemplate.
And because I typed this book discussion this morning before hearing the news from Afghanistan — here is another quote I want to close with from the chapter “On War.”
“What causes war — religious, political or economic? Obviously belief, either in nationalism, in an ideology, or in a particular dogma. If we had no belief but goodwill, love and consideration between us, then there would be no wars. But we are fed on beliefs, ideas and dogmas and therefore we breed discontent. The present crisis is of an exceptional nature and we as human beings must either pursue the path of constant conflict and continuous wars, which are the result of our everyday action, or else see the causes of war and turn our back upon them.” (Krishnamurti 199–200).
1) How do you think about figures such as Krishnamurti? Do they make a practical difference in the world?
2) Do you share the thought that relationships teach us self-knowledge? Why/not?
3) What is your take on the current situation in Afghanistan?