The Book of Yourself course consists of a series of 14 thematic chapters.
Chapter 1: Krishnamurti’s biography and teachings.
Since Krishnamurti’s work forms the basis of our exploration, we begin our journey with a brief review of Krishnamurti’s biography and a general first approach to the nature of his teachings.
Jiddu Krishnamurti (1895-1986) is widely recognized as one of the great religious teachers or philosophers of all time. Born a Brahmin in central India, he was identified by the leaders of the Theosophical Society as the vehicle of wisdom in our time. After a profound experience of inner transformation, K began to impart his message of liberation, culminating in the revolutionary statement he made in 1929 when he said that “Truth is a pathless land”.
His passionate intent was to set human beings unconditionally free from the psychological factors of division, conflict and suffering, so that a quality of inner harmony can emerge, transforming our relationships and society at large. For K, this was the one fundamental task of humanity and the only revolution capable of bringing about a true culture and a peaceful world. And he set the responsibility for that squarely on each and every one of us, for as we are, so is the world. His teachings involve no affiliation or authority for they are an invitation to be a light to ourselves.
- The core of the teachings
- The nature of self-knowledge
- Keeping an inner journal
- What it means to meditate
Chapter 2: The art of living
To understand the contents of this book, we must first be able to read it. This implies learning how to observe without bias or distortion, the essence of which is being aware of the facts without the interference of the past. In this act of non-dual perception K finds the key to truth as it unfolds in our daily lives and to a quality of living free from division and conflict. For K such undivided attention is the first and last step on this journey of liberation and the essence of the art of living.
- The arts of seeing, listening and learning
- The art of dialogue and thinking together
- Concentration, choiceless awareness, attention and insight
- The art of dying to the known
Chapter 3: Nature and causes of disorder and conflict
The evidence of history and what is currently happening in the wider world as well as in our more immediate environments points to a persistent and pervasive state of contradiction, disorder and conflict in our relationship with nature and with each other. K maintained that division is the primary source of conflict and that order flows naturally out of the understanding of disorder. So, this understanding is our first and foremost responsibility.
K traced the cause of contradiction and disorder to our identification with a particular confessional or ideological group or tradition and the following of authority, all of which are an expression of our pervasive self-concern.
- The wide field of contradiction and disorder
- Three causes of disorder: tradition, belief and authority
- The central factor of egocentric activity
- The vicious circle of conflict
Chapter 4: Violence and the quest for peace.
Violence and its untold suffering have been with us since time immemorial and we seem unable to put an end to it. While violence may have its roots in our animal background, that instinctual aggressiveness is now part of our social organization and psychological constitution. We may talk about peace on earth and create organizations to bring it about, but that will not happen as long as we sustain the causes of violence.
History is the record of the untold cruelty human beings have inflicted on each other for political, religious and economic reasons. We have dehumanized ourselves in the name of ideals and beliefs and have sacrificed the living present for a utopian future through the coercive impositions of authority, with its imitation and conformity. We have accepted ambition and competition, mutual exploitation and use as a way of life.
Behind all this violence lies the demand for security, for being safe and certain in all our relationships. This is what drives our will to possess, which creates dependence and fear, from which violence follows. But there is no permanent security in any relationship, in any belief, in anything, either inwardly or outwardly. Peace requires a quality of inward freedom from this demand for security, with its possessiveness, fear and aggression.
- The meaning of violence
- War and peace
- Progress, culture and aggression
- The nature of inner peace
Chapter 5: Life, relationship and action.
We exist in relationship. The quality of relationship is of the greatest importance because as our relationships are, so is our life. However, our relationships with nature, things, people and ideas are generally marked by use and convenience, which involve dependence and violence. It is very important to realise that our life is our relationships and that these relationships are the essence of society. So, if we can bring about a change in our relationships, we can transform the world. For this we need to see through the destructive nature of our material, sensate values.
Life is action in relationship. Action is generally the result of yesterday’s experiences and ideas, which denies the living immediacy of action. Such action, being from the past, generates an inadequate response and misses the fullness of the present. So, although memory has its place in all kinds of practical fields, in relationship we have to learn the art of acting from direct perception rather than from the inert preconceptions of yesterday.
- Life as action in relationship
- Relationship with nature and things
- Relationship between human beings
- Isolation and loneliness
- The nature of action
Chapter 6: Love, attachment and the search for security.
The essence of relationship is love. But we don’t seem to know what love is. We know it as attachment, possessiveness and the search for security, which lead to domination, jealousy and conflict, which are not love. It is in the negation of these things that love can come into being.
Attachment is an escape from the hollowness of the self. The things to which we are attached become all-important because without them the self is not. Attachment and possessiveness are fuelled by the fear of not being, which breeds the bondage to things, people and ideas. Attachment and possessiveness are the ways of the mind in its demand for security. But there is no such thing as material or psychological security. The only security resides in intelligence, which is seeing the true as the true and the false as the false.
- Love and beauty
- Attachment, possession and domination
- The search for security
Chapter 7: You are the world.
We are not separate individuals because we all share the same structure of consciousness and go through the same process of experience, independently of our culture and background. Such complete identity between self and world dissolves the standard divisions and conflicts of nationality, ideology and belief and is the ground of compassion and its total responsibility.
As we are the world, changing society means changing ourselves. Modifying the outer structure through political and economic reforms won’t work without the corresponding psychological change. To realise that one is the world means that one is no longer a separate entity. We have to function, earn a living, but there is no possessive attachment, greed or envy. We must have food, clothes and shelter, but we are no longer functioning from the centre of the me. This is a revolution that can transform the world.
- The inner and the outer movement
- The common consciousness of humanity
- Responsibility and cooperation
- The vast movement of life
Chapter 8: Nature and content of consciousness.
Reading the book of oneself means understanding consciousness, which is the way of self-knowledge and the key to our education as human beings. Consciousness is its content, and this content is common to all mankind. One of the key structural aspects of consciousness is the movement of desire, with its three principles of pleasure, pain and fear. This emotional movement is one of the key psychological factors conditioning our lives and relationships.
K defined desire as sensation plus thought: thought forming an image of the sensation and pursuing that sensation through the cultivation of the image. This is the way of pleasure, which goes together with pain and fear. Fear is brought about by the thought of the future and is therefore intimately bound with time. So, to understand fear one must understand time and its relation to thought. It is in thought that the roots of pleasure, fear and sorrow are to be found.
- The nature and content of consciousness
Chapter 9: Thought, time and self.
Thought is the operating principle of consciousness. Thought is time because it is based on memory, which is the past, which then projects itself through the present into the future. This grounding of thought in memory limits it and makes it incapable of meeting life. Time is limitation and therefore the quintessential factor of psychological division. This very partiality makes for fragmentation and conflict at every level. So, the understanding of the proper place of thought is essential in bringing about peace, order and creativity in living.
In its attempt to establish inward order and give itself a measure of permanence, thought builds up the notion of the ego or self. This notion of the self is given substance through a series of identifications with things, people and ideas. The self is intrinsically divisive and the primary source of conflict in relationship. This psychological entity is an illusory escape from the ache of loneliness, from the fundamental emptiness or nothingness of our being. It is in facing this emptiness of the self that a radical transformation can take place.
- Memory and thought
- Chronological and psychological time
- Nature of the self
- Being what one is
Chapter 10: Conditioning and freedom.
In our inward journey we are confronted with a series of apparent oppositions. Beginning with the wide panorama of fragmentation and conflict and its universal suffering, we are then faced with our ultimate responsibility for the world, for all humanity, at the core of which lies the necessity of self-knowledge and transformation. One way to bring together all the various aspects involved is to consider the fundamental antithesis between conditioning and freedom.
We discover we are conditioned when our pride, pleasure and security are threatened. The mind is conditioned by environment, by the social and cultural tradition. Without freedom from conditioning humanity will always remain a prisoner of the past and reduce life to a battlefield. Freedom lies outside the pattern of society, but society is the product of the mind, so to be free from society one must understand the mind, one must understand oneself.
- Conditioning and self-knowledge
- Nature of conditioning
- Nature of freedom
- Being a light to oneself
Chapter 11: Becoming and the ending of time.
As already indicated, thought is rooted in memory, in the past. This time-bound quality of thought is the ground of its limitation and the origin of the will to become. Physically we try to improve our material and social condition. Psychologically we are driven to become something or someone in order to escape from the emptiness within. This flight from what is to what should be is what time implies psychologically, so that such time is not the answer to our problems but the problem itself. The ending of becoming and psychological time is therefore of the greatest importance, as it restores the wholeness of life. The ending of psychological time opens the door to a timeless dimension of tremendous order and creativity.
- Thought and time
- Becoming and the ending of time
- The essence of being
Chapter 12: Meditation and the religious mind.
Thus far our concern has been to lay the foundation of order psychologically and in our relationships. This implies a quality of wholeness or goodness which is the essence of the spiritual quest, at the heart of which lies meditation. Such meditation is the ethical foundation that allows the mind to go beyond its time-bound and self-centred conditioning as well as establish the inward freedom and wholeness of the religious mind. An ethical life is not the following of social morality but freedom from envy, greed and the search for power.
The religious mind implies an inner state without any sense of security or fear, without any escape from what is. It implies a depth of space and silence that comes from choiceless awareness, attention and meditation, from observation without the observer. In that emptiness and silence there is a wholesome quality of energy that is free from all division and conflict.
- Attention and insight
- Religion and the religious mind
- Space and silence
Chapter 13: Beauty, intelligence and compassion.
While the ending of time would seem to be the last chapter in the book of yourself, that ending is but the beginning of a deeper inward journey. The movement of meditation brings about the emptying of the psychological content of consciousness. This emptying is variously described as freedom from the known or the dissolution of the psychological self. Out of the resulting self-abandonment, the essential qualities of beauty, intelligence and compassion emerge.
The absence of the self is the key. From this arise humility, austerity and simplicity. Such qualities go together with love, for love is complete self-forgetfulness and what brings about the state of creative inward beauty. Intelligence does not only imply the ability to observe objectively and to think rationally, but the capacity to see the whole of something at a glance. Compassion springs from a measureless source in the depths of inward serenity.
- The passion of beauty
- The awakening of intelligence
Chapter 14: Death, creation and the sacred.
The teachings take us on a journey through the whole field of life, through the tidal movement of the inner and the outer, through the existential and psychological patterns and vicissitudes of time. But this journey would be incomplete without the integration of life and death. Death is not only the ending of the physical organism but dying to the known. This dying to the dead past is the essence of holistic living and the doorway of creation.
Living and dying are one when we understand ourselves and go beyond the time-bound content of self-centred consciousness. Living in the past is not living. If we die to the known, then dying is living. This living and dying from moment to moment is a creative state of mind. In this creative state there is the discovery of the sacred. This is the ground of ethical order in which there is virtue and peace. Out of that blossoms goodness, which is the only revolution that can transform consciousness and bring about a new and holistic culture.
- Life, love and death
- Death and creation
- The sacred
- The timeless movement of wholeness
The intent of the course is to take Krishnamurti’s teachings as a mirror in which our humanity is compassionately and insightfully reflected in an attempt to see and understand ourselves and thereby become fully responsible for our lives.