Synopses & Reviews
Chapter OneThe Role of the Teacher"Conversation between J. Krishnamurti
and Professor J. NeedlemanNeedleman: * There is much talk of a spiritual revolution among young people, particularly here in California. Do you see in this very mixed phenomenon any hope of a new flowering for modern civilisation, a new possibility of growth?Krishnamurti: For a new possibility of growth, don't you think, Sir, that one has to be rather serious, and not merely jump from one spectacular amusement to another? If one has looked at all the religions of the world and seen their organised futility, and out of that perception seen something real and clear, perhaps then there could be something new in California, or in the world. But as far as I have seen, I am afraid there is not a quality of seriousness in all this. I may be mistaken, because I see only these so-called young people in the distance, among the audience, and occasionally here; and by their questions, by their laughter, by their applause, they don't strike me as being very serious, mature, with great intent. I may be mistaken, naturally.Needleman: I understand what you are saying. My question only is: perhaps we can't very well expect young people to be serious.Krishnamurti: That is why I don't think it is applicable to the young people. I don't know why one has made such an extraordinary thing out of young people, why it has become such an important thing. In a few years they will be the old people in their turn.Needleman: As a phenomenon, apart from what is underneath it all, this interest in transcending experience -- or whatever one wants to call it -- seems to be a kind of seed-ground from which certain unusual people aside from all thephoneyness and all the deceivers, certain Masters perhaps, may spring up.Krishnamurti: But I am not sure, Sir, that all the deceivers and exploiters are not covering this up. "Krishna-consciousness" and Transcendental Meditation and all this nonsense that is going on -- they are caught in all that. It is a form of exhibitionism, a form of amusement and entertainment. For something new to take place there must be a nucleus of really devoted, serious people, who go through to the very end. After going through all these things, they say, "Here is something I am going to pursue to the end."Needleman: A serious person would be someone who would have to become disillusioned with everything else.Krishnamurti: I would not call it disillusioned but a form of seriousness.Needleman: But a pre-condition for it?Krishnamurti: No, I wouldn't call it disillusionment at all, that leads to despair and cynicism. I mean the examination of all the things that are so-called religious, so-called spiritual: to examine, to find out what is the truth in all this, whether there is any truth in it. Or to discard the whole thing and start anew, and not go through all the trappings, all the mess of it.Needleman: I think that is what I tried to say, but this expresses it better. People who have tried something and it has failed for them.Krishnamurti: Not "other people." I mean one has to discard all the promises, all the experiences, all the mystical assertions. I think one has to start as though one knew absolutely nothing.Needleman: That is very hard.Krishnamurti: No, Sir, I don't think that is hard. I think it is hard only for those people who have filled themselves with other people's knowledge.Needleman: Isn'tthat most of us? I was speaking to my class yesterday at San Francisco State, and I said I was going to interview Krishnamurti and what question would you like me to ask him. They had many questions, but the one that touched me most was what one young man said: "I have read his books over and over again and I can't do what he says." There was something so clear about that, it rang a bell. It seems in a certain subtle sense to begin in this way. To be a beginner, fresh!Krishnamurti: I don't think that we question enough. Do you know what I mean?Needleman: Yes.Krishnamurti: We accept, we are gullible, we are greedy for new experiences. People swallow what is said by anybody with a beard, with promises, saying you will have a marvellous experience if you do certain things! I think one has to say: "I know nothing." Obviously I can't rely on others. If there were no books, no gurus, what would you do?Needleman: But one is so easily deceived.Krishnamurti: You are deceived when you want something.Needleman: Yes, I understand that.Krishnamurti: So you say, "I am going to find out, I am going to enquire step by step. I don't want to deceive myself." Deception arises when I want, when I am greedy, when I say, "All experience is shallow, I want something mysterious" -- then I am caught.Needleman: To me you are speaking about a state, an attitude, an approach, which is itself very far along in understanding for a man. I feel very far from that myself, and I know my students do. And so they feel, rightly or wrongly, a need for help. They probably misunderstand what help is, but is there such a thing as help?Krishnamurti: Would you say: "Why do you ask for help?"Needleman: Let me put it like this.You sort of smell yourself deceiving yourself, you don't exactly know...Krishnamurti: It is fairly simple. I don't want to deceive myself-right? So I find out what is the movement, what is the thing that brings deception. Obviously it is when I am..."*Jacob Needleman is Professor of philosophy at San Francisco State College; author of The New Religions, and editor of the Penguin Metaphysical Library.
This comprehensive record of Krishnamurtis teachings is an excellent, wide-ranging introduction to the great philosophers thought. With among others, Jacob Needleman, Alain Naude, and Swami Venkatasananda, Krishnamurti examines such issues as the role of the teacher and tradition; the need for awareness of ‘cosmic consciousness; the problem of good and evil; and traditional Vedanta methods of help for different levels of seekers.
About the Author
Total Freedom is both an introduction to Krishnamurti and an essential, extensive collection. It includes selections from his early work to his later Krishnamurti to Himself: His Last Journal, and his valuable insight into the nature of the self, meditation, sex, love, and the mysteries of life and death. Revealing his core teachings in all their eloquence and power, these writings incite us to recognize the "Truth is a pathless land," to accept no spiritual authority--not even himself--and to think critically, that we may free our minds and see clearly on our own personal journey.