The Book of Yourself Newsletter

Issue 6: May 2022

Dear Friends,

It is raining and there is a slight breeze blowing from the great lakes. It is a gentle drizzle. The unusually warm temperatures we have been experiencing this Spring, combined with the humidity, have turned everything green. The elderberry bushes are now bedecked in white and the roses are bursting in profusion. The evenly grey dome of heaven makes for a quiet interior and a delicious somnolence. I am nostalgically taken back to my native village in Galicia where this same soft rain, bourgeoning greenery and bird song were very much a part of the joy and poetry of childhood. The very newness and freshness of it conveys not only the fragile rootedness of life but a quality of innocence. The blackbirds sing more quietly and stop earlier as the rain keeps tapping on the leaves that roof their shelter. And I recall the astonishment when as a kid I beheld for the first time the purest colour of their blue eggs. I then feel like saying under my breath and in the Buddhist way: peace to all sentient beings.

“There is in Sanskrit a long prayer to peace. It was written many, many centuries ago by someone to whom peace was an absolute necessity, and perhaps his daily life had its roots in that. It was written before the creeping poison of nationalism, the immorality of the power of money and the insistence on worldliness that industrialism has brought about. The prayer is to enduring peace: May there be peace among the gods, in heaven and among the stars; may there be peace on earth, among men and four-footed animals; may we not hurt each other; may we be generous to each other; may we have that intelligence which will guide our life and action; may there be peace in our prayer, on our lips and in our hearts.”
Krishnamurti’s Journal, pg. 63

Peace, that precious quality that as human beings we long for but which we find so hard to find and sustain, both in our relationships as well as in ourselves. The ongoing war in Ukraine, which we are beginning to get used to – as we get used to almost anything – is the latest reminder of our historically brutal ways which seem to have no end. The question has been often asked as to why violence seems to be our preferred option rather than peace. We might even consider that conflict signifies a crisis, and it is in moments of crisis that we learn, which is a hopeful way to look at it. But we have not learned much after all these millennia of conflict. The learning needs to happen at a deeper level, at the level of consciousness, where these crises are generated. Perhaps we need to consider that the crisis is in consciousness, and it is to it that we must look if change is to take place and there is going to be peace.

Recently (May 20-22) I conducted, in collaboration with the Krishnamurti Educational Centre of Canada (KECC), an online workshop under the title ‘Wisdom in a World on Fire – The Relevance of Krishnamurti’s Teachings in our Time’.[1] Some two thousand five hundred years ago, in ‘The Fire Sermon’ the Buddha diagnosed lust, greed, hatred and illusion as the causes of universal disorder. This is still very much the same in our unprecedented time of crisis. Due to the increasing menace of climate change, the image of a world on fire is no longer a mere metaphor but a tragic fact. And no sooner do we come out of a global pandemic than we are plunged into a new war. Our violence towards nature and towards each other is the real source of this unending conflagration. Historically, this destructiveness appears to be our lot generation after generation, and as human beings we find it difficult to step out of this vicious cycle, both collectively and in our own personal relationships. Some accept it as an inevitable fact of life, while many of us consider that this is not at all natural or unavoidable. On the contrary, it is totally man-made and has its roots in our ignorance of ourselves. So, can we not wise up to this fact and change it, thus giving peace and goodness a chance? That is the question.

The KECC then approached me with the proposal to conduct a series of monthly meetings on a similar basis, namely as a one-and-a-half hour meeting, with about 45 minutes of presentation followed by 45 minutes of exchange with the participants. I agreed and these meetings will take place on the second Sunday of the month from July to December.[2] After some back-and-forth about it, we settled on the title “To Be Human – Examining the Core of the Teachings”.

[1] The recordings of the three sessions (1. Being in the World; 2. Life is Relationship; 3. The Quest for Wholeness) can be viewed by going to the website and clicking on the YouTube icon.
[2] For more information, please visit the KECC website:

‘The Core of the Teachings’ (21 October 1980) was a unique attempt by K to put the teachings in a nutshell. Mary Lutyens, his biographer, had written a short note to that effect. When K read it, he redrafted the whole thing. Whenever K was asked what the teachings were, he would often reply that he didn’t know and that he could not put it in a few words. But he accepted the challenge and this one-page statement lays out some of the key themes of the teachings:

The Core of Krishnamurti’s Teachings

“The core of Krishnamurti’s teaching is contained in the statement he made in 1929 when he said, “Truth is a pathless land”. Man cannot come to it through any organization, through any creed, through any dogma, priest or ritual, not through any philosophical knowledge or psychological technique. He has to find it through the mirror of relationship, through the understanding of the contents of his own mind, through observation and not through intellectual analysis or introspective dissection.

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.

Freedom is not a reaction; freedom is not choice. It is man’s pretence that because he has choice he is free. Freedom is pure observation without direction, without fear of punishment and reward. Freedom is without motive; freedom is not at the end of the evolution of man but lies in the first step of his existence. In observation one begins to discover the lack of freedom. Freedom is found in the choiceless awareness of our daily existence and activity.

Thought is time. Thought is born of experience and knowledge, which are inseparable from time and the past. Time is the psychological enemy of man. Our action is based on knowledge and therefore time, so man is always a slave to the past. Thought is ever limited and so we live in constant conflict and struggle. There is no psychological evolution. When man becomes aware of the movement of his own thoughts, he will see the division between the thinker and thought, the observer and the observed, the experiencer and the experience. He will discover that this division is an illusion. Then only is there pure observation which is insight without any shadow of the past or of time. This timeless insight brings about a deep, radical mutation in the mind.
Total negation is the essence of the positive. When there is negation of all those things that thought has brought about psychologically, only then is there love, which is compassion and intelligence.”
(Copyright ©1980 Krishnamurti Foundation Trust Ltd.)

In this series, we will examine the meaning and implications of the following central themes:
  1. Truth is a Pathless Land: what is the nature of truth as K understands it?
  2. The World of Images: are we aware that our lives are dominated by images?
  3. The Common Consciousness of Mankind: do we really see the truth of this?
  4. Freedom: what is the meaning of freedom in the context of the teachings?
  5. Thought and Time: what is the nature of thought and time and their place in our lives?
  6. The Way of Negation: why does K approach love and intelligence in the negative way?
The expression ‘To Be Human’ is the title of a book that was put together around the core of the teachings and that is a good companion to this series. This work expands on these themes with additional texts as an aid to their deeper understanding. I’d recommend this work to those who might be interested to join in this study of the teachings.

The question is indeed what it means to be human. Curiously enough, the word human comes from the Latin ‘humus’, meaning earth or ground, which should remind us of our origins in nature. To be human has come to mean a highly evolved species of ape whose larger brain allows for more abstract functions of thought and the development of complex forms of culture. This is supposed to distinguish us from the animals and to elevate us to a state of rationality beyond the brutish and savage ways of survival. But as our history amply demonstrates, we are still behaving in rather cruel and inhuman ways. Some say we have been systematically dehumanizing ourselves, which means reducing ourselves to lower forms of life than those belonging to our own true potential. If the flowering of this inherent potential is the meaning of being human, how shall we set about it?

One way is to consider that we are not fully human because we are ignorant of ourselves. We make false assumptions as to what we are or what is important and significant in life. We live in abstractions, distort the facts and ascribe the wrong values to things. This makes for a sustained general condition of misperception, misconception and collusion in the resulting lies, with their resultant grave dangers. One place we might begin to reverse this process for ourselves is in the consideration of truth in our daily lives:

“Truth is something to be understood, to be discovered in every action, in every thought, in every feeling, however trivial, however transient. Truth is something to be looked at, to be listened to – to what your husband says, or what your wife says, or what the gardener says, what your friends say, or what your own thinking is. To discover the truth of what you think – because your thoughts may be false, or your thoughts may be conditioned – to discover that your thought is conditioned is truth. To discover that your thought is limited is truth. That very discovery sets your mind free from limitation.”
To Be Human, pg. 7

To live in truth may be the essence of freedom and the meaning of being human.

You be well, amigos,


Photos: J.Gómez Rodríguez

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