‘What is true religion?’ is a question often posed by Krishnamurti in all his talks and writings. Implied in the question itself are the two aspects of his approach to the subject: what religion is not and what it is. This booklet addresses these timeless questions in the light of the current world situation, the latter being only an occasion to reflect on the former.
Words such as computer, robot, and artificial intelligence were not in vogue when Krishnamurti spoke in the late ’50s and early ’60s about man’s technological progress; instead, he used words such as electronic brains, cybernetics, machines, and mechanical intelligence. But the prophetic vision of the sage saw, much ahead of time, the challenges that humanity is facing today from its own creations. This digital booklet brings together some of the compelling statements on the subject he made over the decades and their relevance in this age of artificial intelligence.
In The Life and Death of Krishnamurti, the biographer Mary Lutyens gives a delightful account of the origin of Freedom from the Known, which Krishnamurti asked her to compile, in 1967:
K asked me out the blue if I would do a book for him. To my amazement I heard myself saying, ‘Yes’. Then I asked, ‘What kind of a book?’ ‘Something based on the talks. I leave it to you’, he replied. The rest of my summer was overshadowed by the enormity of what I had let myself in for. . .. The first thing obviously was to read some of K’’ talks which I had not done for nearly forty years.
Later, after completing the book, she says the title was chosen by Krishnamurti himself and adds: ‘The chapter on love in the one I find the most beautiful and the most shattering.’ It is easy to see why this is so, for, she links what Krishnamurti says about love with almost every emotion that is not love: security and the demand to be safe in relationship, companionship, loneliness, jealousy, attachment, possessiveness, pleasure, sex, morality, respectability, fear, death, sorrow…
This digital booklet is a reproduction of that chapter.
As schools reopen after a long Covid-induced hiatus, they must grapple with a new education policy that addresses the structure and pedagogy of our education system. There is the inevitable wrangling over the content of the textbooks as well as over the language of instruction. Those in power tend to redefine the content and language based on their perspectives: ideological, religious, social.
Knowledge, especially technical skills, are the most valued in our society, and so education, as we know it today, is built on the transfer of knowledge into the brain of the child. The focus of many educators, therefore, is to find ways to do this ‘creatively’ so that concepts are grasped well. In our digital times, information is plentiful, and all sorts of digital learning tools including ‘tuition classes’ in a new avataar are available to enable this knowledge transfer.
From very early on, children are taught to create an identity for themselves starting with their name. Most of our lives, then, is lived in relationship with people, with ideas and with things as a means of enhancing this identity. We are taught to project a future and then do what we can to achieve it. Making our dreams a reality is considered integral to the way our society functions. Of course, Life has its own rhythms, and such dreams rarely fructify, leaving the child frustrated, fearful, and anxious. Our society is built on this, and education is meant for the child to fit into this unhealthy environment. So, education is nothing but a system for the continuity of our society.
More than seventy years ago, J. Krishnamurti, one of the greatest religious teachers of all time, foresaw the chaos and deepening crisis that our society is in and how education contributed to it. Seeing this, he asked: “Are we prepared, as parents and teachers, to bring about a new generation of people, for that is what is implied—a totally different generation of people with totally different minds and hearts? Are we prepared for that?”
What was his vision for the ‘right kind of education’? This digital booklet has a brilliant excerpt from his book, Education and the Significance of Life, besides powerful quotes from other books. Every moment is a moment filled with the potential for change. It is up to us to see it.
Every war ends with the hope that there would be lasting peace. In five thousand years of recorded history, there have been more than 5000 wars. Peace is always short-lived. One would think that after two world wars in the 20 century, with an estimated 100 million casualties, we would have learnt our lesson well enough to avert war and live in relative peace. If anything, this world is in far greater strife—nations warring to annex more land, religions fighting to prove whose God is real, countries waging economic warfare to gain ascendancy, political ideologies battling to be in power and thousands of other localized conflicts.
Why is it that despite our wanting to live in peace and harmony, we find ourselves in chaos, time after time? Is there a way out? And if there is, how do we find it? Delving into the human condition, J. Krishnamurti, one of the greatest religious teachers of all time, lays bare why we find ourselves caught in the pattern of conflict and war. ‘War’, he says, ‘is a spectacular and bloody projection of our everyday lives’. What we are inwardly is what is projected in the outer world. What Krishnamurti said and wrote for more than five decades is contained in this digital booklet of fifteen excerpts which provide a brief but clear glimpse into the causes of war and the way out of it.
History seems to be the story of man-made catastrophes, and these seem to
occur regularly, repeatedly and unfailingly, always taking the world by shock and surprise, disproving all the predictions and promises of the pundits and experts, setting at naught the calculations of the intellect, defying logic and reason, and leaving human beings baffled and helpless. Between one crisis and the next lies what we call our normal life. In that so-called normal life we give our time and energy to everything except serious inquiry and reflection on the purpose of human existence in general and our life in particular. We never ask whether our present way of living itself is not the cause of the next global crisis. The question may never occur to us and, even if it does, we dare not face it.
This is precisely the challenge J. Krishnamurti throws at us—make us aware of a number of fundamental questions, some of which are given here as excerpts from his talks and writings of nearly five decades, covering the years from 1934 to 1985.