Name: Freedom From The Known
Author: J. Krishnamurti
Publisher: Rider Books
Edition/ Impression / Year of Publication: First Edition / 2010
Cover Design: Two Associates
Cover Photograph: Krishnamurti Foundation Trust
About: This book is a compilation of the selections made by Mary Lutyens of the talks given by J. Krishnamurti during 1963-1967.
A Zen fable goes this way. Once, early morning, two Zen students of rival Zen schools encountered each other. ‘where are you going?’, one asked. ‘I go where the feet take,’ the other replied. The boy who asked was stunned by the answer. He informed the case to his teacher, who after listening to it responded, ‘tomorrow, ask the same question again to that little boy and when he gives that answer question him, suppose if you have no feet, where is it that you go?’
The next morning the boy asked the same question again, ‘where are you going?’, all prepared to give the reply that his teacher has taught. To this, the other boy replied, ‘wherever the wind blows.’ The boy again took his defeat and told about the incident to his teacher. To this, his teacher suggested, ‘ask him where is he going when the wind is not blowing?’ Next morning both the students met again and the one, prepared well this time asked the same question again to the other, ‘where are you going?’ ‘I am going to fetch some vegetables from the market,’ the other replied.
The story might sound amusing, but it often happens that amusement overpowers the real subtle lesson inherent in such short stories. We are by and by deceived by the ready-made answers and the teachings that our parents, teachers, politicians and religious gurus give us. We are well prepared by everybody to face the such and such situation with the ready-made guidance that has spoonfed to us, but life does not present before one the same questions under the same conditions. All these people, who mistakenly think that they are doing a great benefit to the society does not realize that they are imposing their past upon the young and fertile present, and they bury the individual under the burden of customs and rituals that died long ago.
Krishnamurti, asks the reader to be free from the past and its teachings, hence the title ‘Freedom From The Known.’ We have been conditioned by the society, to refer to the same dictionary to look up at the meaning of the word that life threw at us. We find the meaning to the word in the dictionaries that are available in the form of parents, teachers, guardians, pundits and the other religious gurus, forgetting that life does not crops up with the same question again. Most often it happens that the word that we are looking is not even there in the dictionary and most of the problems that we face in life are almost always out of the course and syllabus.
Krishnamurti, born 1895, was the major part of his life, nurtured and educated under the guidance of Annie Besant, who in 1907 became the President of the Theosophical Society, and who later also became the legal guardian of Krishnamurti. The Order of the Star of the East, an organization which although was not affiliated but established by the leaders of the Theosophical Society, presented Krishnamurti as the Messiah, more precisely portrayed him as the Maitreya, the Buddha that is believed to arrive when the Dharma would be on the verge of its dissolution.
Krishnamurti, in 1929, in a rebellious act dissolved the organization. Krishnamurti maintained that the pathless Truth could not be approached through any organized path whether it be a religion or a sect. One cannot seek the Truth under a religious authority and think that one has become spiritual. Spirituality is not the development or the creation of one’s self but the discovery of who that one is. Spirituality is the search for the Truth, and an organized system of beliefs or paths cannot lead one to it for it is an independent quest, a process of self-inquiry and not someplace which the whole society could follow.
The spiritual path is open only to the individual, and for the groups we have societies. Krishnamurti encourages the reader to be more courageous to experience life on one’s own and not living life as per the way the society prescribes.
Most feel the anxiety that they are caged but what cages them are their thoughts that they are caged. Every member of every community has a particular inclination to follow the herd, in it, there is a relief, an absolute convenience. The search for Truth and peace is never convenient but worth it, and most people seek comfort, an easy route.
A few might object that a particular blueprint to life is a requirement to live with least disturbance and so that one knows when to take and when to avoid detours. Krishnamurti maintains that what is required is not a philosophy, ideology or belief that could work as a blueprint to provide convenience to life but an awareness towards the subtle that is happening every moment in our life, on the inside and the outside.
It is only when the past is not clinging onto one’s mind that the meditation is possible. Moreover, when one is meditative, when the history is forgotten, when one has even forgotten the social identity that one adheres to, only then one truly finds oneself. It is then when one is Awake; it is then when one witnesses one’s Buddha Nature. It is only then when one actually lives. It is then when one is actually free. One becomes free when one has known oneself.