Different approaches are necessary for different types of books; Novels and most popular science books are meant to be read cover to cover. Dictionaries, encyclopedias and other factual texts are meant to be looked up for specific information. Philosophy is meant to be read a little at a time and chewed over a longer period of time. And that is what I intend to do with this book by Jiddu Krishnamurthi.
I went to a Krishnamurthi (K) school, participated in philosophical discussions, asked questions and overall enjoyed the stimulation offered by K philosophy. It got me thinking about the world, about people, existence and life. It allowed me to accept myself for who I am. But I have never finished a K book in all this time; while still in school or in the years since.
So I want to outline my thoughts during each chapter I read in this book : The First and Last Freedom.
After talking about how difficult true communication is and true listening is, he touches upon ‘what is’. At this time, I start connecting it to ‘thathaagatha’ as spoken of in Buddhism and Hinduism. I reflect on why it is that most of the peace loving philosophies and religions seem to say the same things. Then I think about Islam and Christianity and a recent podcast I heard in which a man seriously insults them both on the same grounds they use to condemn non-believers like him. A reply of condemnation to condemnation is just violence returned. Surely, that is not the right path. I wonder about whether there is a path that would appeal to all Humanity which would actually make sense.
As I continue to read I am reminded of Krishnamurthi’s suggestion. He talks about how we are ‘spectators’ and never ‘partake in the game’ and he asks for our response to this chaos and suffering which is the state of both our individual lives and the state of this world. He says that the more chaos we perceive in this world (by seeing the world for ‘what (it) is’) the more desperately we start to look for security in a system or set of beliefs that will take us away. We look in religion, leaders, books, science and political philosophies etc. Then we become willing to give up humanity itself for those very ideas.
He points out that humans can change systems but systems cannot transform humans. We make up society. The way we are with ourselves and in our relationships to others is reflected in a larger scale in the chaos and violence of the world. Without quoting Gandhi’s famous saying “Be the change you want to see”, he says the same. So we can look at ourselves and the way we interact with those around us. If we can transform that, change in the world is possible.
When I think about it, it would mean the awareness and willingness of every single person. It would mean a wide spread simultaneous and on-going spiritual awakening. Where we need to be aware of how we treat each other and our environment at every moment. Not get lost in the mundane daily emotions of frustration, insensitivity, apathy or rut of habit we find so easy. He doesn’t ask this of us – he is no one to make such demands. He merely points out that if we want a different kind of world, we will have to think and be different. No organised religion, mortal guru or taught ideology that we follow can help. In fact, the fact that we follow anything will only deter awakening.
So can we let go of all that we follow? And trust in ourselves to find our own awakening?
Rather than to ask humanity these questions I ask myself about the way I interact with people and this world. Although I am mostly sensitive in the way I interact, I have noticed myself growing some mean streaks of late. I am recognising my capacity to be nasty to people and have observed myself thinking uncompassionate thoughts. I have almost started to believe that being pushy and capable of hurting others seems necessary to live in this world. It also seems as though if you don’t feel a certain suspicion of strangers, and towards potential ulterior motives behind any kind act, you are considered naive, and idealistic.
I wonder if it possible to take this journey alone or whether it will fail unless it is taken up by a larger number of people. Either way, now that I have started reading, I can begin to question myself again and be more aware of my place and responsibility in all this.