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

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