Total Freedom by Jiddu Krishnamurti

Krishnamurti is a fascinating character.

He was basically tagged to be a major leader in the theosophical-spiritual movement of the early 1900s, and was made head of a major organization in 1911 which was to “proclaim the coming of a World Teacher.” He stayed in that position — as head of the Order of the Star — for 18 years. Then, at their annual meeting, before thousands of members, he dissolved the entire organization. The talk he gave at that meeting is … Well, here’s some of it:

“I maintain that Truth is a pathless land, and you cannot approach it by any path whatsoever, by any religion, by any sect.

Truth, being limitless, unconditioned, unapproachable by any path whatsoever, cannot be organized; nor should any organization be formed to lead or to coerce people along any particular path.

Truth cannot be brought down; rather, the individual must make the effort to ascend to it. You cannot bring the mountaintop to the valley. If you would attain to the mountaintop you must pass through the valley, climb the steeps, unafraid of the dangerous precipices. You must climb toward the Truth, it cannot be “stepped down” or organized for you.”

I love this one question he asks, about how to know whether a belief actually matters, whether it is helpful or valuable or true or worthy of your attention. I’m paraphrasing a bit:

“In what matter has such a belief swept away all the unessential things in life? That is the only way to judge: in what way are you freer, greater, more dangerous to all which is based on the false and the unessential? In what way have you become different?”

And then his call to quit looking for authority, for anyone outward, for any organization or person or set of beliefs to save us or make us happy:

“Again, you have the idea that only certain people hold the key to the Kingdom of Happiness. No one holds it. No one has the authority to hold that key. That key is your own self.”

Finally, he describes what can happen between people are similarly committed to their own journey toward truth, who strive together to keep taking responsibility for their own happiness and growth. It is a kind of benchmark for me now, a standard I hold up for myself as the kind of friend I want to be and the kind of relationships I want to cultivate:

“But those who really desire to understand, who are looking to find that which is eternal, without beginning and without an end, will walk together with a greater intensity, will be a danger to everything that is unessential, to unrealities, to shadows. And they will concentrate, they will become the flame, because they understand. Because of that real understanding there will be true friendship. Because of that true friendship, there will be real cooperation on the part of each one.”