To Read: "Freedom from the Known" by Jiddu Krishnamurti
A weekly book recommendation with my favorite quotes.
In 2020, I started an ongoing series via my Instagram Stories (@conktales) where I posted a handful of quotes from whichever book I’d just finished—but only if it were one I’d recommend to others.
I would like to continue and add to that idea here on Substack; and if you have any book recommendations of your own, I beg you to please share them in the comments for all of us to benefit.
To purchase this week’s recommended book, please consider using the provided Amazon affiliate link here or at the bottom.
My rating: 8/10
In sum: In ties to last week’s recommendation, I first discovered Jiddu Krishnamurti through Henry Miller’s writing, though he’s also been credited as an influence to some of my other favorite writers, including Aldous Huxley and Alan Watts.
This book, like Krishnamurti’s others, is a compilation of excerpts from speeches and lectures that support the overarching theme, which for this book is summarized as showing “how people can free themselves radically and immediately from the tyranny of the expected, no matter what their age--opening the door to transforming society and their relationships.”
I read this book right before making a big decision in my life—whether or not to quit my job. At the time, I was afraid of the unknown which would follow my decision; and I was also afraid of the known of staying in my current situation. This book helped me to release that fear. I realized that if I was going to be afraid either way, it was better to do so while pursuing the things I wanted out of life. And I do not regret my decision.
“We are second-hand people. We have lived on what we have been told, either guided by our inclinations, our tendencies, or compelled to accept by circumstances and environment. We are the result of all kinds of influences and there is nothing new in us, nothing that we have discovered for ourselves; nothing original, pristine, clear.” p.10
“So we are afraid of the known and afraid of the unknown. That is our daily life and in that there is no hope.” p.13
“When you reject something false which you have been carrying about with you for generations, when you throw off a burden of any kind, what takes place? You have more energy, haven’t you? You have more capacity, more drive, greater intensity and vitality. If you do not feel this, then you have not thrown off the burden, you have not discarded the dead weight of authority.” p.18
“A mind which is not crippled by memory has real function.” p.36
“Fear is one of the greatest problems in life. A mind that is caught in fear lives in confusion, in conflict, and therefore must be violent, distorted and aggressive. It dare not move away from its own patterns of thinking, and this breeds hypocrisy. Until we are free from fear, climb the highest mountain, invent every kind of God, we will always remain in darkness.” p.40-41
“That is one of the most dreadful statement you can make, ‘I will try’. There is no trying, no doing your best. Either you do it or you don’t do it.” p.57
“When you do not compare at all, when there is no ideal, no opposite, no factor of duality, when you no longer struggle to be different from what you are —what has happened to your mind? Your mind has ceased to create the opposite and has become highly intelligent, highly sensitive, capable of immense passion, because effort is a dissipation of passion—passion which is vital energy—and you cannot do anything without passion.” p.64
“When you can look at yourself without comparison you are beyond comparison.” p.64
“None of the agonies of suppression, nor the brutal discipline of confirming to a pattern has led to truth. To come upon truth the mind must be completely free, without a spot of distortion.” p.67
“You cannot be frightened of the unknown because you do not know what the unknown is and so there is nothing to be frightened of.” p.75
“We have separated living from dying, and the interval between the living and the dying is fear. That interval, that time, is created by fear. Living is our daily torture, daily insult, sorrow and confusion, with occasional opening of a window over enchanted seas. That is what we call living, and we are afraid to die, which is to end this misery. We would rather cling to the known than face the unknown—the known being our house, our furniture, our family, our character, our work, our knowledge, our fame, our loneliness, our gods—that little thing that moves around incessantly within itself with its own limited pattern of embittered existence.” p.76
“But death is extraordinarily like life when we know how to live. You cannot live without dying. You cannot live if you do not die psychologically every minute. This is not an intellectual paradox. To live completely, wholly, every day as if it were a new loveliness, there must be dying to everything of yesterday, otherwise you live mechanically, and a mechanical mind can never know what live is or what freedom is.” p.77
“Freedom from the known is death, and then you are living.” p.78
“Most parents unfortunately think they are responsible for their children and their sense of responsibility takes the form of telling them what they should do and what they should not do, what they should become and what they should not become. The parents want their children to have a secure position in society.” p.83
“Really to care is to care as you would for a tree or a plant, watering it, studying its needs, the best soil for it, looking after it with gentleness and tenderness—but when you prepare your children to fit into society you are preparing them to be killed. If you loved your children you would have no war.” p.83
“What I say has very little value. You will forget it the moment you shut this book, or you will remember and repeat certain phrases, or you will compare what you have read here with some other book—but you will not face your own life. And that is all that matters—your life, yourself, your pettiness, your shallowness, your brutality, your violence, your greed, your ambition, your daily agony and endless sorrow—that is what you have to understand and nobody on earth or in heaven is going to save you from it but yourself.” p.121
Have you read this book? Or any of Krishnamurti’s books? Feel free to comment below for a discussion.