Freedom from the Unknown lead image

Freedom From Conditioning

Over the past 6 months or so I’ve been reading some collected & booked thoughts from Jiddu Krishnamurti. I’ve found his ideas immensely thought-provoking, profound, and somewhat daunting. In his book Freedom From The Known (and several others), he examines the human condition in one’s search for meaning, existence, fear, consciousness, conditioning, anger, relationships and plenty more.

Each idea, or topic, is presented as a chapter. Each begin in an immediate fashion, then underwent serious dissection until they are nothing. His thoughts are definitely easily read and understood, but daunting as they roll around in your head. I will often read half a chapter or so, reach for a pause, ponder the ideas for some time, and finish. More often than not, I can only handle one chapter per reading session – as I typically read on the train to work in the morning. The rest of the day is filled with an intense thought about what I have read. Jiddu does not present himself as a teacher, religious figure, deity or anyone special. He actually goes out of his way to steer you away from thinking of him as such. He does not hold a distaste for anything in the world. There is no hostility or preaching, just ideas for possibly living a better life. In my opinion, they inspire a more free life. I feel like I have been searching for his words my whole life. Not that I would have been lost without them or anything, but because he so eloquently phrases ideas better than I have thought them. I have often had similar lines of thinking over the years and held them tightly.

When you call yourself an Indian or a Muslim or a Christian or a European, or anything else, you are being violent. Do you see why it is violent? Because you are separating yourself from the rest of mankind. When you separate yourself by belief, by nationality, by tradition, it breeds violence.

On the religion front, I have never been a religious person. I have never called myself by a label or necessarily agreed with organized religion as a whole. In many ways, I feel religion does nothing but separate people, or disguise itself as religion and finds itself stirred in with political agenda. But I will stop there. I will not elaborate on my personal beliefs – people are divided when it comes to religion and politics. I will keep further thoughts to myself.

The notion of conditioning resonates throughout every idea Jiddu presents. We endure conditioning from the moment we are born. From elementary school teachers, classmates, friends, our parent’s ideals, prejudice, religion, to high school, work life, and beyond. He presents each condition like they can be dissolved from within. You have it within yourself to stop them. From a human feeling, such as fear, to the relationships you hold dear. He wrote that we, as an individual, are fear and can stop ourselves from inflicting it upon ourselves.

When you see that you are a part of fear, not separate from it – that you are fear – then you cannot do anything about it; then fear comes totally to an end.

The chapter on fear is beautifully constructed. His final thought is perfectly imagined. I have enjoyed each chapter in the book so far, but this is definitely my favorite.

Freeing yourself from conditioning is no easy task. It is not as simple as saying “OK, I am not going to think that way or feel like that”. That very thought and line of thinking has been conditioned. We are conditioned to respond to things in certain ways. Whether it is love, hate, fear; we retain and in many ways rely on conditioned responses. To be completely free from conditioning would entail beginning each day as if it were the first day you have been alive. Every experience is new to the point that it really is not an experience anymore. This idea makes me incredibly happy, liberated and inspired. Rather, it blows my mind. In practice, it would be tremendously difficult, if not impossible. How does one make a living, eat, breathe, if not for capitalism, or any ism? We need money to live, we need work to make money. We need to adhere to a conditioned regimen of some kind to live. By adhering to that regimen you are perpetuating that conditioning and likely many other manifestations. That is the very extreme way of interpreting Jiddu’s thoughts. I am somewhat in love with the idea. To feel such freedom; everything is new. Each day holds something breathtakingly new. Which brings forth questions.

If I could have a conversation with Jiddu Krishnamurti today, I would have many questions for him. Namely, “if one successfully frees themselves from all conditioning, how does one measure their life, their experiences, their pain, their love, their purpose?” I think he might respond by telling me that I missed his point entirely. Knowing that we’re conditioned is enough. If you think about resisting conditioned behavior you are adhering to another line of conditioning. Acknowledging that you are conditioned frees you from being conditioned. Talk about a cycle, but it does make sense.

None of the agonies of suppression, nor the brutal discipline of conforming to a pattern has led to truth. To come upon truth the mind must be completely free, without a spot of distortion.

Krishnamurti thrived around people, both speaking with and observing human interaction. I like to think of him as a wise observer. One whose ideas will echo throughout eternity. I feel fortunate to have found his work and will continue reading, immersed in thought, forever. Thank you, eyedea.