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The First and Last Freedom Paperback – March 26, 1975
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In philosophical terms I think that it's important to say that what K taught falls into what is termed the "via negativa," which are paths like Zen that promulgate "the way that is no way," the system that is no system, that the only way to realize the eternal is to simply *be,* be aware, at every moment, to face life and who one is with absolute honesty, directness, and clarity. Let me also say as caveats that you do not need to want to realize the eternal to study K, and that realizing the "ineffable" is surely a path that many people could care less about! To each his own, for sure.
K is not going to be popular to self-absorbed New Age types who are at times superficially talking about "enlightenment" and "love," while other times taking their spiritual temperatures to see if they are aware of themselves enough. On the contrary he often referred to our petty concerns as silly and stupid, not to insult us, but rather to try to effect a kind of catharsis where we simply see ourselves exactly as we are, w/o pretense, w/o belief systems, w/o indentifying with the sundry crutches that many of us surround ourselves with, precisely to avoid just seeing exactly who we are. The term K coined for this constant self awareness was "choiceless awareness." To my mind choiceless awareness is like the occham's razor of spiritualilty - the clearest, most direct way to realize the eternal is simply to know who you are, at each moment, to face yourself absolutely squarely, w/o judgement,
choicelessly, w/o beliefs, w/o any systems of thought or philosophies. I have always seen the truth of his simple saying, "beliefs separate." Think of how many wars and conflicts there have been because people confuse the symbols that lead to "truth" with the actuality of just seeing what is from moment to moment.
Some of the spiritual teachers these days seem to be saying that the the spiritual path is an easy one, that if we see ourselves as spiritual that is enough, something I call spirituality by proclamation. K himself realized that choiceless awareness can be a very arduous path.
While K's choiceless awareness certainly leads to a life of contemplation, he never advocated withdrawing from society as many such paths of "renunciation" suggest. In fact he said many times, in this book and almost all others, "life is relationship." Part of the process of knowing oneself is in relationship to other people, individually and collectively. As we observe ourselves choicelessly we must also learn to relate to others in the same way, especially w/o the psychological memory that taints many moments when we are present with another but crowwded with memories of past hurts and desires. I often like to think that all of us simply bounce off or resonate with one another; no one has the absolute truth, and each of us can learn from others in relationship, if we can simply just *be* present.
There has, I guess since the time of the Greeks, been a philosophical conflict between being and becoming. K's teaching emphasizes the former, unequivocably. Whether or not you agree with K, I do feel it is very instructive to see the conflicts and tensions that are created by those who are obsessed with ceaseless doing in order to become, who have to identify with some tribe, nationality, or belief system, who cannot seem to just be who they are w/o such crutches.
On a personal note, I believe (!) that I have evolved more from K's simple path of choiceless awareness than from any other teaching I've studied because I feel that it is the most direct way to whatever truth is possible to realize. Unfortunately I do find it painful to see my own faults and desires so clearly! I am not certain that an adult who comes to K's work can rid themselves of all the psychological garbage so deeply conditioned from the past, to heal oneself completely and in so doing go beyond the ego. I actually prefer Jung's individuation to egolessness.
Of course this one review is not doing justice to K's teaching. Fortunately he wrote more than 30 books, many of which were collections from talks and discussions he had, with many "gurus" and the very important physicist David Bohm. There are also many videos and tapes of fascinating dialogues available from the Krishnamurti Foundation in Ojai, CA. The introduction to TFaLF was written by Alduous Huxley, who therein defined the spiritual crises that K's teaching addressed and outlined K's direct approach to the "truth" as well as anyone who wrote about K.
The reading here is easy, but the thinking is more difficult. Krishnamurti doesn't attempt to speak what people might want to hear, but speaks from his heart, from his innermost being. So he doesn't give an easy path to follow nor does he promise such a path. Actually, to provide a path for others to follow would contradict his philosophy.
The answer according to him is in self-knowledge, but that knowledge can not be gained through effort. Nor, says he, can it be passed on to you by a guru. It won't be found in books. (I can't help but be amused by those who emphasize that the Truth isn't revealed in the printed word, and of course they use the printed word to share this message with us.)
The first half of the book is comprised of writings and portions of talks. The second half consists of questions asked after his talks, and in his answers you will find repetition sometimes as he clarifies. He has a way of emphasizing the main points by asking "Is it not?" or words to that effect.
I admit to having difficulties with much of what he says, but this isn't criticism as much as a compliment. The very difficulties I might have benefit me so so that I learn through resolving them. If you don't get this book, do at least read some of his other material. You will be rewarded.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
When I heard how JK had resigned from his appointed position as world spiritual leader, walked away from assured fame & fortune, I knew this must be...Read more