J. Krishnamurti Freedom from the Known-Book summary

Jiddu Krishnamurti “Freedom from the known” is a hand-book meant to transform the human life by projecting the mistakes humans are committing, in various fields of social, political, religious, personal and relationships.

Krishnamurti has focused on changing the perspective or thinking of an individual. We mostly live our life based on old beliefs, ideals, truth, circumstances, past experiences and common sayings. We mostly suffer because we try to find the solutions of fresh problems in old books, scriptures, thoughts, and beliefs. It is to be noted that for new problems, there is always a fresh solution. To get solutions, we need to change our perspectives by interpreting the various dimensions of a particular problem. For Krishnamurti, faith is righteous until it supports you in growing. In case, it is pulling you back, and causing a hindrance towards your spiritual goals, then there is no usage of keeping old faith.

In the understanding of individual and humans, krishnamurti has a little different observance. For him, individual is one who is trapped in an old conditioned psychology, beliefs, biased traditions, and self-life. And human being is one who live in a whole and equally cares for others problems. Krishnamurti sees “unknown” as those of which we aren’t aware of- “the death, poverty, after-life” is all the unknowns for which humans fears most part of their life. In understanding of all the knowns and unknowns, it is not essentials to create philosophy of life. The utter need is to understand the problems and make a daily observance of all this. We almost take ideologies for granted and often ignore the thoughts coming from our inner self. It is a greatest misfortune that Humans has turned completely used to orders and commands that they have no courage to reflect upon the inner self. For the transformation, many humans undergo through a common question- “I want to change, tell me how to.” For knowing ‘how to’, humans are seeking some other authority to take care of their problems and impose the rules upon them. Quest to knowing about self from others, would reveal about ‘others’ and not about our ‘own self’. When we are depending upon the dead authorities, then we are missing the major parts of our own potentialities. To know about self, we need to start as if we know nothing.[i]We often fear to commit the wrongs and we fail to take the right steps on our own behalf. Krishnamurti has said that, “there is no such thing as doing right and wrong when there is freedom”[ii]. If we act from our centre, our root, then fear doesn’t arise. In case, we act from our surface, then fear, miseries, troubles, disbelief, non-harmony automatically takes its form. Like Krishnamurti, there are other sages and gurus who guided us to act from our centre. The very action to act will pull us away from the unknown miseries of life.

“Acquiring knowledge” and “learning” is two different things. The process of acquiring generally deals with the past knowledge and conditions. It is accumulating the events and forming memories. Whereas the learning occurs in present living. It is mostly related to present- awareness. To look at the things with uncertainty, curiosity, freedom reveals different dimensions of it. To become confident in a subject, closes the doors for any further learning. “A confident man is a dead human being.”[iii] 

Krishnamurti has revealed the very subtle meanings of words of common usage. He has brought a different outlook on two words “concentration” and “attention”. In concentration, you look for the knowledge of a fixed subject. You are very specific and to the point for the type of knowledge to gain. In contrary, attention means complete awareness. You are so aware that you don’t differentiate between the knowledge you are gaining from the inner and outer world. You are ready to take all the learnings, study different dimensions, and still keeping space for more knowledge and awakening. Moreover, attention doesn’t exclude anything.

People talk about gaining freedom of thought. But, in reality there is no such term as ‘freedom of thought’ because there is only ‘freedom from thought’. Thought brings so many miseries, difficult times, bad memories, uncontrolled desires, pain, fear, and uncalculated goals of life. Once you are free from your thoughts, you are purely attentive and aware of life. In pure attention and awareness, you find freedom of your life.

Krishnamurti has analysed violence as a very subtle, and raised need to inquire into very depths of it.

‘When you separate yourself by belief, by Nationality, by Traditions, its breeds violence’.[iv] You are not only separating yourself from all this concepts, but also from the individuals who are part of it. You are not allowing anyone enters in your periphery who possess a certain belief, belongs to a particular Nationality, follow a particular tradition, and so on. You think that violence is physical because it creates pain. But you forget that the root cause of violence is mental. It arises mentally, and if given a space in memory to develop, it takes the physical form. Then, all the riots, misunderstandings, non-adjustments, uncultured actions take its form.

 “To live with ‘what is’ brings peace.”[v] We are often placing a comparison and different form of analysis with ‘what is’,’ ‘what was’, and ‘what must be’. Comparison causes conflicts in mind, memories, and actions. You are trapped in a dilemma of what to follow and what to avoid. This creates a total complexity in life and flushes your inner energies. In case, you want to be free from all the comparison and conflicts, then the best solution is to be in the present, and to be content with ‘what is’. Another kind of conflict arises in the process of becoming into something else. There is nothing wrong in choosing one’s ideal in life. But following it completely and losing one’s own identity is that which brings conflicts, contradictions, confusions, and pain.

“The youth of today, like all youth, are in revolt against society, and that is good thing in itself, but revolt is not freedom because when you revolt it is a reaction and the reaction sets up its own pattern and you get caught in that pattern.”[vi]Krishnamurti believes in action rather than reaction. Reaction is a representation of a pattern. It is an addition to already established contradictions. In order to come out of chain of conditioning, you are again forming other one. By reacting, participating and causing revolution, you are not bringing any change. If you want to go against something, then don’t participate or involve in it. Your very silence and non-involvement in a phenomenon are breaking the chain and disrupting the revolutions to take any further shapes.

“If your eyes are blinded with the worries, you cannot see the beauty of the sunset.”[vii]  Most of us are living in present by still revisiting the memories of past. Lack of awareness and partial attentiveness could take away the beauty of present. The mixing of past memories and present moment is very dangerous. You could get diverted from your goals without even realizing.

Krishnamurti has given a new direction to religious mind which is absence of subject- object, the observer-observed and attainment of complete awareness.

In many paragraphs, Krishnamurti has discussed about the limitations of thoughts and claims that human being has turned a slave to one’s own thought. Our thoughts are ruling our mind by provoking us into various emotions of anger, upset, pride, ego, etc. Thought brings misery by taking away the peace of a moment. To get rid of thoughts, humans need to develop the state of complete awareness. ‘In a state of complete awareness, the observer, the thinker, the centre, the ‘me’, comes to an end. In that state of attention thought begins to wither away.’[viii]  To bring awareness to our centre, we need to get rid of all “burdens of yesterday”[ix] or all memories of past. Krishnamurti’s prescription for the transformation of life is not only useful to get rid of miseries in human life but also to avoid miseries in complete universe. Overall, Krishnamurtis philosophy is way more than human transformation, it is Universal transformation.    

PS: This summary is never enough than a full reading of book. But my main purpose was only to present the main ideas mentioned in the book. If my summary has raised a tiniest of interest, curiosity, excitement to read Krishnamurti’s Philosophy, then I will believe that my effort is fruitful. Thanks for Reading!


Krishnamurti, Jiddu. Freedom from the Known. Rider, 2010.

[i] Page 13

[ii] Page 12

[iii] Page 19

[iv] Page 50

[v] Page 63

[vi] Page 68

[vii] Page 91

[viii] Page 107

[ix] Page 109

Author: Madhvi

A philosopher, Writer, Traveler, PhD Scholar, Vegan and pet-lover.

16 thoughts on “J. Krishnamurti Freedom from the Known-Book summary”

  1. I must quote these from your above excellent article.
    “Krishnamurti has said that, “there is no such thing as doing right and wrong when there is freedom”[ii]. “If we act from our centre, our root, then fear doesn’t arise.”
    Whereas the learning occurs in present living. It is mostly related to present- awareness. To look at the things with uncertainty, curiosity, freedom reveals different dimensions of it. To become confident in a subject, closes the doors for any further learning.“

    Liked by 1 person

  2. ‘When you separate yourself by belief, by Nationality, by Traditions, its breeds violence’.[iv] You are not only separating yourself from all this concepts, but also from the individuals who are part of it.
    The first verse of The Geeta is when Dhritraashtra asks Sanjay about what is happening between his son and Pandwa’s son in the battleground of Kurukshetra. However Sanjay answers but he was gifted with ‘Divya chakshu’ that can see the beyond or ‘the invisible part that makes a thing whole’ like seeing fragrance in a flower for example. So in heart he knew that Dhritraashtra is going to loose this battle because he has differentiating mind between his own son and son of his Elder brother, Pandava. How come a differentiating mind can be able to perceive God in whom Shiva and Parvati both melt and merge as one. So not only on battleground but in attains very purpose of human life this is important that one must have non divisiveness. Mind divides everything and the invisible is beyond the realms of mind or senses that is why only the eyes, Loving eyes, that have additional quality of having additional quality as ‘Divya Chakshu’ or ‘Third eye’.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wonderful interpretation of Bhagavad Gita. It’s true that mind divides everything, and that is the reason spirituality and meditation focuses on calming the mind to a level of No-Mind.


  3. ‘In a state of complete awareness, the observer, the thinker, the centre, the ‘me’, comes to an end. In that state of attention thought begins to wither away.’
    In this statement ‘comes to an end’ means the circle completes instead of ‘the observer is no more there’ but actually only the observer remains in the end. The one who is being observed becomes one with the observer. So there is no act of observing but the ultimate experience of enlightenment remains. It brings immediate transformation in a person from body to ‘being’.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, this is correct explanation. I am weak in explaining in English, but write what is flowing from my heart. So there are many words, punctuations and sentences that the reader has to add to get a complete picture of what I wish to speak to him/her.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Yes. Words matter a lot in philosophy. That’s the reason many philosophers fail to provide correct theory and misled other with ambiguity and unclear thought expressions. If you have any suggestions on , “how to bring meaning to philosophical expressions regardless of words?” then kindly share with us.


      3. Real philosophical experience is Philosia ie Love of seeing. It is impossible to express one’s experience into words. Experience can only be transferred by creating a situation where the other experiences it by himself and that is the right way to bring meaning to what cannot be expressed. Osho’s all healing, no-mind, mystic rose and awareness intensive are best way to experience it. His whole life he tried all possibilities and updated time to time so that they give quick and best results to the sannyasin. Osho no-dimension was developed by Gurdjief on the basis of Sufi Mystics literature/scriptures. Osho learned from it and applied all wisdom available in Indian scriptures to convert them into experiential form.
        Like in music, one has to learn the basics and then master them and then only a person develops a new raga, that is named after him/her. Like that one has to experiment all these Osho meditations and after enlightenment one can add anything to them or device a new one for people of that time.
        Hope this will be sufficient to satiate your thirst. You may like to visit my FB Page Philosia. There an email is given to send messages for further queries directly.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. The known is just a tool to be able to reclaim the unknown that we all lived in our childhood. Ego is the biggest barrier in it. Kabir said: बाल अवस्था खेल गँवाई, जब जोबन तब मान घना रे। बीत गये दिन भजन बिना रे।
    A man is always young is said in this reference because the ego in man is very subtle and most difficult to dissolve, with young age it came. Jesus said those who are ‘child like’ ie egoless, can only be able to enter ‘the kingdom of God’ ie Ramrajyam in his words to those people. When a human being attains his purpose he becomes King of all Kings.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Absolutely, Ego is the biggest barrier and root cause of all sufferings. A child-like can only enter the Kingdom of God because they are all open to absorb the finest essence of being and act in the purest way.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. My son told me that ‘…… wish to drink water, he is thirty’. One day he asked me that he wish to change the name and I accepted. So he started ‘calling himself’ as Tess. This is living example that they actually lives in ‘Essence of being’ in first person from birth or even before because nature of the mother to be changes according to nature of child in womb.
        For a women ego is not that big a hurdle but the attachment is. That is why Osho respected his women sannyasins, who left everyone to learn meditation.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I do not know whether this is right platform to suggest you but for today’s generation I can suggest as below:
        Suggested readings to understand Buddhism from western philosophical viewpoint.
        Osho mentioned this book below link in Kathopanishad and now Christopher Nolan is making films on Reality.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s