The Book of Yourself Newsletter

Issue 25: December 2023

Dear Friends,

The new year is speeding ahead and already into its second week. We have all spent time with our dearest and nearest, exchanged our best wishes and most likely made some resolutions and declarations of intent. The rate of success turns out not to be very high, but the chances apparently improve if the goals are realistic. I suppose that goes without saying. But what is realistic? A few of us who have been dialoguing for the past three years recently shared our plans to pursue a series of creative projects, among them writing books on K and dialogue, learning about film making and mastering Joseph Albers’ theory of color.[1]We have also expressed our hopes for universal understanding, cooperation and peace. Nothing exists in isolation. We all share one world, one humanity and one consciousness. So everything that is being done affects everyone. So all these beautiful endeavors of ours share the same existential and psychic space with the horrors of war that we are made to witness daily from the comfort of our living rooms. The atrocities being committed are reported as though killing others by the thousands were a perfectly natural and legitimate affair and not the tragic spectacle of a sick humanity that refuses to face its own barbaric cruelty. This killing has been going on for ages, causing untold destruction and suffering, and we carry on regardless.

“Man has killed man in different states of mind. He has killed him for religious reasons, he has killed him for patriotic reasons, for peace, killed him through organized war. This has been our lot, killing each other endlessly. Sir, have you considered this kind of killing, what sorrow has come to man – the immense sorrow of mankind which has gone on through the ages, the tears, the agony, the brutality, the fear of it all? And it is still going on. The world is sick. The politicians, whether left, right, center, or totalitarian, are not going to bring about peace. Each one of us is responsible, and being responsible we must see that the slaughter comes to an end so that we live on this earth, which is ours, in beauty and peace. It is an immense tragedy which we do not face or want to resolve. We leave it all to the experts; and the danger of experts is as dangerous as a deep precipice or a poisonous snake.”
Krishnamurti to Himself, pg. 34

For K the responsibility for ending this slaughter lies with each one of us as human beings, not just with the politicians and the experts, whom he considers as dangerous as poisonous snakes. It is in our daily lives where we can put an end to violence. The experts may have their own part to play if they wise up to the full implications of their own being beyond their area of expertise. The diplomats represent specific power groups in competition with each other, which is a cause of conflict. The ethologists have studied animal behavior, through which they have explained a good deal of the evolution of our own. Unfortunately, that has not brought about an end to our seemingly innate aggression. That aggression is us. We have to become aware of its scope and implications in our lives and of the total contradiction involved in terms of the sociopolitical and moral values.

“With a word or a gesture you may kill a man’s reputation; through gossip, defamation, contempt, you may wipe him out. And does not comparison kill? Don’t you kill a boy by comparing him with another who is cleverer or more skillful? A man who kills out of hate or anger is regarded as a criminal and put to death. Yet the man who deliberately bombs thousands of people off the face of the earth in the name of his country is honored, decorated; he is looked upon as a hero. Killing is spreading over the earth. For the safety or expansion of one nation, another is destroyed. Animals are killed for food, for profit, or for so-called sport; they are vivisected for the ‘well-being’ of man. The soldier exists to kill. Extraordinary progress is being made in the technology of murdering vast numbers of people in a few seconds and at great distances. Many scientists are wholly occupied with it, and priests bless the bomber and the warship.”
Commentaries on Living, Third Series, pg. 166

While all this may seem to be self-evident, we might nonetheless be skeptical about the ability of any of us ordinary human beings with no power and no influence to put an end, for example, to the current massacre in Gaza. We can inform ourselves the better to understand the nature of the conflict. We can lend our voice to the cause of peace and sanity. We might donate to or join some humanitarian organization. But the catastrophe does not stop because of our knowledge, our calls for peace or our charity. On the contrary, the ongoing reality on the ground keeps adding daily to the unending stream of violence and sorrow. So aren’t we actually impotent to stop it? This seems to be true. But we also know that it is a consequence of deeper and more universal causes. And where there is a cause, there is an ending of that cause. We might not be able to stop this massacre, but we can become fully cognizant of our own intrinsic responsibility as human beings and see about ending its causes in ourselves.

“No external imposition, laws, systems, will ever stop the killing of man. Nor will any intellectual, romantic, convictions stop wars. They will stop only when you, as the rest of humanity, see the truth that as long as there is division in any form, there must be conflict, limited or wide, narrow or expansive, that there must be struggle, conflict, pain. So you are responsible, not only to your children, but to the rest of humanity. Unless you deeply understand this, not verbally or ideationally or merely intellectually, but feel this in your blood, in your way of looking at life, in your actions, you are supporting organized murder which is called war.”

Krishnamurti to Himself, pg. 62

[1] Joseph Albers (1888-1976) was a craftsman and artist in the Bauhaus whose book Interaction of Color (1963) is considered seminal in the field of color theory, specifically as applied to art.
The ground of our total responsibility lies in each one of us perceiving the truth that where there is division there must be conflict. So division is the cause and unless we realize this and put an end to division in our lives, we will continue to contribute to violence and war. We therefore must inquire into the causes of division, of the endemic enmity between one human being and another. This takes us ultimately to the very creation of the idea of a separate psychological entity or self, but even that may have a more general source in the search for security through the building of images with which we identify.

Man has built in himself images as a fence of security—religious, political, personal. These manifest as symbols, ideas, beliefs. The burden of these images dominates man’s thinking, his relationships, and his daily life. These images are the causes of our problems for they divide man from man. His perception of life is shaped by the concepts already established in his mind. The content of his consciousness is his entire existence. The individuality is the name, the form and superficial culture he acquires from tradition and environment. The uniqueness of man does not lie in the superficial but in complete freedom from the content of his consciousness, which is common to all humanity. So he is not an individual.
The Core of the Teaching

The term ‘image’ hardly begins to convey its vast psychosocial implications. An image is per definition a reflection, a representation, an abstraction of something real. But these ‘images’ dominate our thinking and condition our outlook on life. They are the content of our consciousness and determine our whole existence. They define what we are, how we see and relate. In other words, they become our reality. The content of consciousness may vary from one group and individual to another, but the structure and the motivation is the same. This is what allows K to say that such a consciousness is common to all humanity and that, consequently, we are not individuals. From this he generally draws the natural consequence that the perception of the shared or universal nature of consciousness is one key factor in the dissolution of division between human beings and, as such, a source of compassion. That means seeing through the false separation and danger of the image as a cause of conflict.

“The image is, after all, the past – the past, which has been accumulated through experience, pleasant or unpleasant; and with that image you look at your wife, your children, your neighbor, the world; you look with that image at nature. So what is in contact is your memory, the image which has been put together by memory. And that image looks and therefore there is no direct contact. You know when you have pain there is no image, there is only pain, and therefore there is immediate action. You may postpone going to the doctor, but action is involved. In the same way, when you look and listen, you know the beauty of immediate action in which there is no conflict whatsoever. That is why it is important to know the art of looking, which is very simple – to look with complete attention, with your heart and your mind. And attention means love, because you cannot look at that sky and be extraordinarily sensitive if there is a division between yourself and the beauty of that sunset.”
The Awakening of Intelligence, pg. 213

Here K establishes a direct relationship between love and the way we look and listen. After all, we relate according to how we perceive. If we look with images, then we see everything through the eyes of the past and our perception and action are mediated and distorted by memory. This is what separates one human being from another and makes for conflict in relationship. This conflict is the denial of love. We all understand that love is the great panacea. However, love is normally part of the image-making process and what we love in the image is ourselves. Such ‘love’ falls into the egocentric pattern of possession, domination and conflict, which denies love. The key to love would seem to be the ending of conflict. For conflict to end there must be an understanding that conflict is a necessary consequence of division. To end division we must perceive the dangerous nature of the psychological images in which we seek security, because they create division and conflict. The pursuit of psychological security in images is thus a total fallacy which endangers our universally needful physical security. This requires an insight into the falseness of the image, especially the self-image. Being an image is being a representation, an abstraction of ourselves made by thought. To pursue our being through abstractions implies a movement of escape and denial of what we actually are, of our total humanity. Those abstractions are the past and living according to the past is to feed on the ashes of memory. These ashes of tradition may feel like an enrichment of our identities, but they are the quintessence of dust. So if we want peace, we need to die to the past and stop dwelling in the ghostly and isolating bubbles of the image, for we are not dead images but living beings. Maybe then conflict will end and we will have love and peace on earth.

Be well, amigos, and may our senses, hearts and minds be free from these dangerous illusions,


Photos by J. Gómez Rodríguez: 1. Solitary tree, Lelystad; 2. Linden trees, Hollandse Hout, Lelystad.
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