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book reviews

reviews, summaries and extracts from some of the books in the library
"Letters to a Young Friend"                                                                     book #7.09

Between 1948 and the early 1960s, Krishnaji was easily accessible and many people came to him. On walks, in personal meetings, through letters, the relationships blossomed. He wrote the following letters to a young friend who came to him wounded in body and mind. The letters, written between June 1948 and March 1960, reveal a rare compassion and clarity: the teaching and healing unfold; separation and distance disappear; the words flow; not a word is superfluous; the healing and teaching are simultaneous.
 
 
 
“Krishnamurti and the Rajagopals” by Mary Lutyens                                           book #9.11
and
“Statement by the Krishnamurti Foundation of America about
the Radha Sloss book ‘Lives in the Shadow with J Krishnamurti’ “              booklet #9.12
                                
In 1991 a book was published entitled “Lives in the Shadow with J Krishnamurti".  It was written by Radha Sloss, daughter to Rosalind Rajagopal. She and her husband had been almost life long associates of Krishnamurti, and K had had a physical relationship with Rosalind. Rajagopal was head of KWINC, an organisation which published K’s writings in America and held various copyrights. The Krishnamurti Foundation of America brought lengthy lawsuits against Rajagopal to recover these copyrights and titles to certain properties.
 
The book made many accusations against Krishnamurti, and was critical of him in various areas.
 
These two books are a refutation of many of Sloss’s claims. Mary Lutyens (a biographer of K and a long term friend) writes in her book:
“It contains many misstatements of fact, false inferences and snide innuendoes, and it is heavily biased to justify the author’s parents at  Krishnamurti’s expense."
 
 
Talks by Krishnamurti in Ceylon - 1957                                             booklet #1.025
 
This is a new addition to the library, and the talks are older than much of the other material (with the exception of “Talks in Auckland” 1934 and Ojai 1944). It is a 37 page booklet, and contains a series of 5 talks.
 
Each talk is followed by questions from the audience, and the nature of the questions reflect the Buddhist and Hindu background of the audience. They include “What is the religious Life?”, “Methods of ending thought”, “What is Karma”, “Meditation”, and others.
 
To borrow this book, or any other material, click here. The minimum cost is just 90 cents for postage
 
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One Thousand Moons - Krishnamurti at eighty five                         books #9.09 & 9.10
and
One thousand Suns
 
In 1984 Pupul Jayakar, a friend and biographer of Krishnamurti, put this question to him: 
“Who is Krishnamurti? What is his lineage?” 
K replied:
“ . . . keep the challenge – work with it – forget the person.
Look what religions have done: concentrated on the teacher and forgotten the teaching. Why do we give such importance to the person of the teacher? The teacher may be necessary to manifest the teaching, but beyond that, what? The vase contains water; you have to drink the water, not worship the vase. Humanity worships the vase, forgets the teacher”.
 
However, people continue to be fascinated by the person of Krishnamurti, and he did in fact approve the publication of several books of a biographical and descriptive nature. Some of these are held in the library (#9.). The one richest in photography is called: One Thousand Moons, Krishnamurti at Eighty-Five.
 
From the front piece of this book: 
In One Thousand Moons, Krishnamurti is sensitively presented by Asit Chandmal, an India businessman, who has known him from childhood. Chandmal’s fascinating photo-essay and text reveal Krishnamurti at the age of eighty-five, vigorous and active, a source of continuing inspiration.
 
More than 150 illustrations, including 120 photographs in full colour, depict the private person behind the world renowned figure. Krishnamurti is seen in the activities of everyday life – with friends, walking and contemplating. Chandmal also tells of the reaction of crowds listening to Krishnamurti speak: the calmness he elicits, and the reverence he evokes. The phenomenon of Krishnamurti is here revealed intimately and respectfully, through the eyes of one who is profoundly convinced of the value of his teachings.
 
A revised version of this book, called “One Thousand Suns” was published at the centennial anniversary of Krishnamurti’s birth. This contains Chandmal’s moving and personal account “The Last Walk”, which includes a poignant look at Krishnamurti’s final days. He was with K until the end.
 
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Krishnamurti A Biography By Pupul Jayakar                                   book #9.08
This substantial book (hardback, 516 pages) was published in the year of Krishnamurti's death, 1986. As is written in the front piece:
"From her unique vantage in Indian society – as recognised philosopher, cultural leader, and close associate of Krishnamurti himself – Pupul Jayakar has written a major biographical interpretation of one of the greatest spiritual sages of our times."
Jayakar draws from her long years of friendship with Krishnamurti, and sources never before published, including her own diaries and Krishnamurti's letters and conversations. She reveals the full story of his early years as a child-teacher-saviour and media darling and offers behind the scenes insights into his later years as an influential and unique teacher and thinker". 
The biography can be considered as complementary to the set of biographies by Mary Lutyens. It focuses on his life in India, although not exclusively so. There are quite a few dialogues between K and friends included not published elsewhere.  For example: 
Is it possible to keep the brain very young?
Negation and the ancient mind.
Doubt as the essence of the religious enquiry.
The nature of God.
The meaning of death.
How far can one travel? 
An excerpt: 
In mid-February of 1948 I went to see him again. He asked me whether I had noticed anything different in my thinking process. I said I was not getting as many thoughts as I did before. My mind was not as restless as it used to be.
He said, "If you have been experimenting with self-knowing, you will notice that your thinking process has slowed down, that your mind. is not restlessly wandering!' For a time he was silent; I waited for him to continue. "Try working out each thought to its completion, carry it right through to the end. You will find that this is very difficult, for no sooner does one thought come into being than it is pursued by another thought. The mind refuses to complete a thought. It escapes from thought to thought. . . .
"If you follow each thought to its completion, you will see that at the end of it there is silence. From that there is renewal. Thought that arises from this silence no longer has desire as its motive force; it emerges from a state that is not clogged with memory.
"But if again the thought that so arises is not completed, it leaves a residue. Then there is no renewal and the mind is caught again in a consciousness which is memory, bound by the past, by yesterday. Each thought, then to the next, is the yesterday-that which has no reality.
"The new approach is to bring time to an end," Krishnaji concluded. I did not understand then, but came away with the words alive within me.
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Education and the Significance of Life                                      book  #2.01

Education and the Significance of Life is a penetrating inquiry into the nature and requirements of the kind of education which can lead to self-fulfilment and to world peace. Krishnamurti stresses self-knowledge and creating an environment free from fear to help create an atmosphere in which real education can take place. Krishnamurti had a lifelong interest in education and founded schools on three continents. In this seminal book he critically examines what is wrong with education as it stands, relating it to society at large and the need for a new and different world order. The book speaks practically of such matters as class size and the function of leadership, while never losing the central vision that "true culture is founded... on the educators."
"WHEN one travels around the world, one notices to what an extraordinary degree human nature is the same, whether in India or America, in Europe or Australia. This is especially true in colleges and universities. We are turning out, as if through a mould, a type of human being whose chief interest is to find security, to become somebody important, or to have a good time with as little thought as possible. 
 
     Conventional education makes independent thinking extremely difficult. Conformity leads to mediocrity. To be different from the group or to resist environment is not easy and is often risky as long as we worship success. The urge to be successful, which is the pursuit of reward whether in the material or in the so-called spiritual sphere, the search for inward or outward security, the desire for comfort - this whole process smothers discontent, puts an end to spontaneity and breeds fear; and fear blocks the intelligent understanding of life. With increasing age, dullness of mind and heart sets in. 
 
     In seeking comfort, we generally find a quiet corner in life where there is a minimum of conflict, and then we are afraid to step out of that seclusion. This fear of life, this fear of struggle and of new experience, kills in us the spirit of adventure; our whole upbringing and education have made us afraid to be different from our neighbour, afraid to think contrary to the established pattern of society, falsely respectful of authority and tradition."

 (Page 9 of " Education and the Significance of Life" )

 
 
"Krishnamurti for the young"                                                           books  #2.10,  #2.11, #2.12
 
To suit the needs of the younger children – perhaps from around 11 to 14 years — the Krishnamurti Foundation of India is now bringing out a series of small books entitled "Krishnamurti for the young".
The books contain simple and short excerpts on themes that children can easily grasp, besides Krishnamurti’s answers to questions from children.
Attractive colour drawings and ‘Things to do’ are the other features of the books (28 pages).  So far available titles in the series are: 
 
#2.10     What is it to care?
#2.11     What does freedom mean?
#2.12     What does fear do to you?
 "Krishnamurti for the young" is a series of books designed to help young people to understand and deal with the world within themselves – the world of hurts, fears, pleasures, ambitions, success, failures and so on.
Isn't there another whole area of life that you would like to be aware of, be introduced to – the world of thoughts and feelings inside you? Must you not learn how you are hurt sometimes, what are the things that make you angry and how to deal with them or what your fears are and how they affect your relationship with teachers and parents or friends? Don't you want to know how you respond to the beauty of life in trees and plants and animals around you or how you feel when you see human beings suffer? Would you not like to find out what you love to do most so that what you do later as you grow up gives you a lot of joy?

                                From the introduction to the series "for the young"


 
 

 

 
What Are You Doing With Your Life?               A book for teenagers  #7.08
 
- published 2001 -  compiled from the talks of J. Krishnamurti 
   
"If you really love to be an engineer or a scientist, or if you can plant a tree, or paint a picture, not to gain recognition but just because you love to do it, then you will find that you never compete with another. I think this is the real key: to love what you do."
 
This is what rediff.com had to say about this book:
·        Don't you want to find out what you really love to do in life, instead of merely aiming at a career?
·        Are ambition and competition really necessary in order to live in this modern world?
·        What is your response to the problems of society, such as poverty, corruption, violence?
·        What is your relationship to your parents and teachers based on? Rebellion? Understanding?
·        How do you deal with your own psychological problems like boredom, jealousy, hurt, pleasure, fear, and sorrow?
 
- J Krishnamurti's investigation of these questions constitutes a most original and authentic contribution to the educational thought of the twentieth century. In holding discussions with students in different parts of the world, what he sought to impart was not a 'philosophy' of life but rather the art of observing directly one's life. And he talked to them as a friend, and not as a guru or an expert on these issues.

The book is organised very clearly in sections and sub-sections, typically half a page long. For example: Self-Esteem; Success and Failure; Loneliness; Depression; Confusion; Nature and Earth; Truth: God; Death.
It is also indexed for ready access to any topic.
Krishnamurti never dictates, never prescribes – rather he invites one to enquire together. Life, he said, is a voyage on an uncharted sea. He said of his own work:
"There is no belief demanded or asked, there are no followers, there are no cults, there is no persuasion of any kind, in any direction. And therefore only then we can meet on the same ground, at the same level. Then we can together observe the extraordinary phenomena of human existence".
 
Reviews from amazon.com:
·        A deftly presented spiritual as well as practical work.
·        A very highly recommended addition to school, and community library philosophy collections for adolescent and young adult readers.
·        I highly recommend this book to teens, their parents, and anyone else looking for love and silence at the heart of their everyday lives.
 
 "When you are young one must be revolutionary, not merely in revolt . . .
To be psychologically revolutionary means non-acceptance of every pattern."
 

 
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A Dialogue with Oneself                                      booklet  #8.11
 
This nine page booklet is a succinct analysis of the problems involved in human relationship. The extract is from a discussion meeting. But it seems as if Krishnamurti is here addressing himself rather than the audience. In doing so, he reveals brilliantly the subtle process of enquiring into oneself, into one's attachment, loneliness and lack of love.
"I started out having a dialogue with myself. I asked myself what this strange thing called love is; everybody talks about it, writes about it – all the romantic poems, pictures, sex and all the other areas of it. I ask: Is there such a thing as love?"
 
"I am not trying to tell loneliness what it should do, or what it is; I am  watching for it to tell me".


 
The Last Talks                                                       book  #1.15
At the age of Ninety One Krishnamurti returned to India in the words of friends to 'say goodbye'. Despite his terminal illness, he visited many places and gave public talks and participated in the discussions with all vigour and passionate concern of the previous sixty years of his working.

This book comprises three discussions with Buddhists at Varanasi, talks with teachers at Rishi Valley, and finally two talks at Vasanta Vihar in Madras (4th January 1986). There is an introduction by Radhika Herzberger which describes Krishnamurti's last weeks in India. He was to die in the USA on 17th February.

Being aware that these talks were going to be the last talks Krishnamurti tried to summarize what he had been saying for the previous fifty years. He touched all the important issues like meditation, love and intelligence. In his last talk, at Vasanta Vihar, he enquired into the origin of life and said:
"Creation is something that is most holy, that's the most sacred thing in life, and if you have made a mess of your life, change it. Change it today, not tomorrow".