Book Review: Freedom from the Known

Jiddu Krishnamurti is a Jedi Master of the First Order.

Born in India in 1895, Krishnamurti was a philosopher, writer, and global speaker on topics of psychological revolution.

I had never heard of him until I came to India. In fact, I don’t recall any Indian authors being on my high school or college reading lists, which is clearly some sort of Western Colonialist cover-up.

But fear not, Renegades Logbook is here with its first book review.  

Krishnamurti’s Freedom from the Known is an exploration of total freedom, the thing people claim to want, or believe they already have, but will never achieve because they are trapped within their societies and fears.

It’s a short book at 129 pages, but finishing just one chapter is like getting hit in the head with a baseball bat, waking up and thinking, “What the fuck was that?”

What is total freedom?

According to Krishnamurti, to be free you must first abandon all authority including your society, nationality, religion, position, family, and teachings.

These authorities all breed competition, jealousy, greed, acquisitiveness and ideals of right and wrong. And when you are free, there is no right and wrong, he writes, accurately.

“All authority of any kind, especially in the field of thought and understanding, is the most destructive, evil thing. You have to be your own teacher and your own disciple. You have to question everything that man has accepted as valuable, as necessary.”

Now I see why he’s not on the academic reading lists.

“To be free of all authority, of your own and that of another, is to die to everything of yesterday, so that your mind is always fresh, always young, innocent, full of vigour and passion. It is only in that state that one learns and observes,” he writes.

In other words, you need to be a psychological solo-traveler.

“If you do not follow somebody you feel very lonely. Be lonely then. Why are you frightened of being alone? Because you are faced with yourself as you are.”

So what are you afraid of?

Do you know your own fears? Fear of not having enough money, of losing your job, of what people think of you, of not being a success, of not being loved, of your partner leaving you; of the anxiety in your head, of utter boredom, fear of your own body growing old and alone, and contracting diseases and death.

“Living in such a corrupt, stupid society as we do, with the competitive education we receive which engenders fear, we are all burdened with fears of some kind,” Krishnamurti writes.

“And what do you usually do about your fears? You run away from them, don’t you, or invent ideas and images to cover them? But to run away from fear is only to increase it.”

First we must face the concept of pure fear itself.

“Can you look at your fear without trying to resolve it – actually look at it and not try to escape from it – perceive total fear, not what you are afraid of?”

“Can you watch fear without any conclusion, without any interference of the knowledge you have accumulated about it? If you can than you are watching fear for the first time.”

Only once you face pure fear, can you seek pure freedom.

What are you searching for?

There’s something out there. Maybe it’s freedom, or love, or a sexual-spiritual awakening to fill the emptiness in your heart. You can’t really define it but you’re searching for it. How do you invite it in?

“You cannot invite it,” he writes. “To invite it, you must know it, and you cannot know it. It doesn’t matter who says it, the moment he says, ‘I know’, he does not know. The moment you say you have found it you have not found it. If you say you have experienced it, you have never experienced it.”

Jiddu: such a savage writer.

“The moment you have achieved anything you cease to have that quality of innocence and humility; the moment you have a conclusion you are translating every living thing in terms of the old,” writes Krishnamurti.

“A confident man is a dead human being.“

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