I remember years ago picking up a copy of Krishnamurti’s slim but powerful book Freedom from the Known. Krishnamurti is a complicated figure, as likely to arouse conflict as anyone else, but I think beyond the level of opinion, his articulation of the human condition in relation to what might loosely be its spiritual search is clear and helpful. It is natural to ask what, if any, relationship can be found between Krishnamurti and A Course in Miracles.
In Freedom from the Known, Krishnamurti neatly frames the dilemma.
Truth has no path, and that is the beauty of truth, it is living. A dead thing has a path to it because it is static, but when you see that truth is something living, moving, which has no resting place, which is in no temple, mosque or church, which no religion, no teacher, no philosopher, nobody can lead you to – then you will also see that this living thing is actually what you are – your anger, your brutality, your violence, your despair, the agony and sorrow you live in. In the understanding of all this is the truth, and you can understand it only if you know how to look at those things in your life. An you cannot look through an ideology, through a screen of words, through hopes and fears (15).
As soon as we say that is the truth – whether we are pointing to the Catholic Church or Islam or A Course in Miracles – then we are no longer talking about truth. We can accept this insight intellectually, of course – most of us are quite sophisticated about these things now – but that is different than understanding it at the level of mind, where change is actually possible, and where change must happen, if it is to happen at all.
On the one hand, I think Krishnamurti would have been quite dismissive of A Course in Miracles. It is a clearly Christian text and relies entirely on Christian ideas, images and symbols. To the extent that the course aims to undo all of this – and I believe it does – it still does it in the first place.
Krishnamurti urged his followers to a sort of radical attention. This is not so dissimilar to what quantum physicist and philosopher David Bohm taught in his work on dialogue and creativity. We need to make contact with thought outside the lens of the self: our judgments, our opinions, our feelings and all of that. We have to pay attention to the movement of both the observer and the observed.
Lee Nichol has written clearly and helpfully that this sort of engagement – the radical undoing that facilitates contact with Truth, with Reality – can only happen when one has done considerable work on themselves.
Bohm claims that the ramifications of the ego process – both individual and collective – are at the root of human fragmentation and suffering. At the heart of his dialogue proposal was the prospect that awareness of the movement of ego, willingly engaged in by a number of people simultaneously, might quicken insights into the ego process that could take much longer if approached only on an individual basis.
In other words, we have to work on who we are – we have to make contact with our own ego experience before we can begin to make contact with the Truth that it obscures.
This is very much in the wheelhouse of what A Course in Miracles teaches. Indeed, one could say that what A Course in Miracles is about is simply making contact with all the ideas and opinions and idols that obstruct our capacity to see and know Truth. Truth is given. When we see this, the need for learning is over.
Love is not learned. Its meaning lies within itself. And learning ends when you have recognized all it is not. That is the interference; that is what needs to be undone. Love is not learned because there never was a time in which you knew it not (T-18.IX.12:1-5).
This is what Krishnamurti refers to when he talks about the need to go beyond the level of teachers and ideology and words.
There is no guide, no teacher, no authority. There is only you – your relationship with others and with the world – there is nothing else . . . when we look at what is taking place in the world we begin to understand that there is no inner and outer process; there is only one unitary process, it is a whole, total movement, the inner movement expressing itself as the outer and the outer reacting again on the inner (Freedom from the Known 15, 16).
One of the charges sometimes laid against A Course in Miracles is that it is too dense and metaphysical and thus encourages an ultimately unhelpful intellectual approach. Certainly I have been guilty of this in my own practice. And yet, reading Krishnamurti often feels even more risky in this regard. He is clear what is needed – attention, freedom, courage and so forth – but somewhat less clear in what to do when we can’t seem to bring that about. In many ways, he was an incredibly disciplined teacher in refusing to allow his teaching to be codified or reduced to a system.
I don’t doubt a lot of human beings are okay with that. But others – and I am one – needed a better map. A more practical map. The Truth might be a pathless land, as Krishnamurti observed when dissolving the Order of the Star, but some of us need to pretend there is a path in order to figure out – sooner or later – that here is no path.
I don’t think Krishnamurti is especially helpful in that regard. I speak for myself of course. While I find his writing deeply inspiring and clear, I often fumble in their application. It was not so different from reading a lot of Christian mystics, from Saint John of the Cross to Thomas Merton. One felt such longing to be where they were and believed that such a longing could be satisfied and yet . . .
This was caused Bohm to be frustrated near the end of his life with how his work on dialogue was being received and practiced. Certainly, it is connected to Nichol’s observations. If you have only a vague sense of where you want to go but no earthly idea how to travel or what direction to face or who to turn to for guidance, then you’re going to foment more of the separation and fragmentation that you want to avoid.
This is where A Course in Miracles is especially helpful. It is a course! It is a year-long class that one can take at one’s own pace and return to as necessary. Its sense of order – a text, a workbook, and a manual for teachers – is precisely the sort of framework that can move one to that place where understanding and following Krishnamurti can actually bear fruit.
Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all of the barriers within yourself that you have built against it. It is not necessary to seek for what is true, but it is necessary to seek for what is false (T-16.IV.6:1-2).
Thus, however much one disparages guides and authorities and teachers, one can also be grateful that some helpful ones exist. A Course in Miracles has proven a critical system in helping to clear my mind of the detritus that clouds truth. It is as we dissolve those clouds – according to a sacred rubric, guided by the Holy Spirit – that we begin to understand at last what Krishnamurti was getting at.
To be able to look at this seems to me to be all that is needed, because if we know how to look, then the whole thing becomes very clear, and to look needs no philosophy, no teacher. Nobody needs to tell you how to look. You just look (Freedom from the Known 16).
We must be true to ourselves. We must be honest. And we must be rigorous. If we need help, we need to ask for it. If one teacher does not work, then perhaps another will. Krishnamurti and A Course in Miracles can be a good fit. There are others. You know.
Interesting blog on Krishnamurti. I really like J. Krishanmurti and have quite a few of his books. In many ways I see a parallel between Jiddu and the course. But like you said, J. K. often calls organized religion nonsense, because it separates and labels people as this or that.
In a way, the course says the same thing about organized religion, but then defines religion as experience.
As you mentioned, J.K. says that Truth is a pathless land, and to a course reader, they may agree, but feel that they need a path nonetheless. The course says this also, when it says that this is a journey without distance, and we need no healing to be healed. It then ironically gives us well over a 1,000 pages with 365 lessons to help us with this journey without distance.
I don’t know what J.K. would say about the course. Probably it is more nonsense, but I am not J.K. so for now, I need the course. I completly understand his POV though, but I still have to look at through my present POV too.
One of the ideas that I really like about J.K. is the idea that for 1,000’s of years, nothing has really happened in humanity. He speaks of the need for a revolution in the mind, because we are the world. We cannot be separate from it. Without a change in the mind, there can be no change in the world. This echoes the course’s, “Seek Not to Change the World, But Instead Change Your Mind About the World.” When true cause changes, this brings about real change in effects.
I find J.K. to be one of the best course teachers, even though he is not a course teacher 🙂 The reason being, is he doesn’t/didn’t get caught up in the theology/mythology of Heaven’s like this or like that, or this is why we’re here and this is what happened, and this is the diagram of the separation that some of the course teachers get caught up in.
One thing I can definetly thank J.K. for, was getting me off of the continuous reading of course authors about the course when I first started studying it. I was reading so many authors and so many books about the course, and one day I was reading one of my J.K. books and in it there was a conversation between J.K. and an audience member on what Truth was.
The audience member asked J.K. what truth was, and J.K. responded that maybe they should go into it together and see what they could find about this. The audience member kept interrupting J.K. by continually asking J.K. what truth was. Finally J.K. fed up, said, “Do you want Truth or do you want an explanation?”
I realized this is what I had been doing by reading all of these books. I was looking for the easy explanation about what the course says, even though I had read the text about 6 times in my first 5 or 6 months. I decided then that I would study the course itself and not rely on others to tell me what the course says. I’m so glad that I did, because I have found such a deeper understanding of the course in doing so.
My advice to other course students is to study the course itself. While it maybe helpful to read others materials about the course, one should try not to go into studying the course with conclusions of what they think the course says based off accepting and adopting 2nd hand explanations of what an author told them it says, because that is not real learning. It is taking a conclusion and then trying to match the course up to that conclusion. Get enough people to do that, and then it just becomes another organized religion.
The thing about the course is it is not McSpirituality. It can’t be broken down into a few formulaic ideas as some teachers try to do. It is much more comprehensive and profound than that. Doing so, only gives a superficial idea of the course, that are sometimes pontificated as facts. Taking the time to study the course and meditate on passages can really bring such a richer experience to the student, rather than just accepting and adopting 2nd hand explanations.
Thank you Eric. Your insights and sharing are so helpful . . . thank you.
I agree. The course is a course, it must be done fully or better go for something else. It is even said in the course that it may all sound nonsense, but nevertheless to try it. 1 exercise a day maximmum. I wonder how much ACIM students did that…
And the JK conversation you reffer, i think I saw the video, that he sits with a boy also, isn’t it? I may be melting videos but I do remember the reply, it was so good. Like WOW.
People wanna feel the cup when actually is about emptying it to get a clear mind… It’s not about intellect, but about mindset…
” . . . better to focus on the process rather than comparing, leveling or framing stuff” is sound ACIM advice. Thanks, Alejandro.
Saying that a course of miracles is a Christian book is understanding nothing of what it is. It is just a course for practicing the self observation towards connecting with the self/all truth. It uses Christian SYMBOLS as it was canalised through a Christian woman. It even talks about the illusion of the course itself. Instead of God, call it the Spirit Unity. Instead of holy spirit, call it the highest self. Instead of Jesus, call it a chanel symbol of the highest self. Then Christianity is no more there.
It is just a mind training. The effects of it is what matters.
I really recommend to read Gary Renard’s books if you don’t understand the book, which you may not even finishing to do it (takes more than a year).
Thanks for reading and sharing Alejandro. I don’t know that I disagree with any of what you’ve said here. The post I wrote literally says what you’re saying – that ACIM utilizes Christian symbols en route to a healing of mind that cannot adequately be limited to a single doctrinal tradition. Getting worked up about its semantic origins – which are, clearly, Christian 🙂 – strikes me (as I imagine it would strike you too) as a distraction from the healing it offers.
Oh yes, I mean, first of all this article is your opinion, not facts, and actually I had very similar feelings and I can agree with what you’re saying… And for sure I’m not the only one.
I want to apologize if it seemed a crític to your text, its not at all.
My message was more to give an alternative mindset about the Christian based concepts of the book, that clearly discourages people from doing it due to that ‘Christian smell’. To offer another point of view of form to be able to reach the content.
I was so lucky a friend of mine told me about Disappearance of the universe. Gary’s books had been basic for me to get into the course with the good understanding of it… And even that, that book I had to let it for couple of months because, as you comment, all the Christian commenting was bit hard to chew for me (coming from a very agnostic context: my family were Spanish refugees from Franco)
But eventually I came back and gave it a try… Then I could look behind the veil of words and these last years has been radically good, different and peaceful. Even now on these crazy times i feel better than ever…
Coming back to what you comment in the article, from J. K. I kind of understand the path is to observe and observe and observe, metiate, be aware of mindsets, not making differences between inwards or outwards if possible, towards the silence and ‘no will’ of the mind: the truth. But this is something quite hard to practice constantly, if that make sense (however, I find this text quite helpful: https://jkrishnamurti.org/content/meditation-and-sacred-mind/Unconditional%20love )
What I feel is that at he wanted to share a very pure and straight idea and way of ‘truth’, even if he knows it was hard to understand for most of humans, and even harder to apply.
And ACIM proposes a radical, literal, straight edge system towards same truth.
And both approaches are different.
But my answer is clear :
PEOPLE HAVE TO TRY.
Or the Course, or JK way, or whatever they follow or decide to believe in, just go all in and put it in practice. Go for it totally.
Read the full Course
Or meditate as much as possible
Or be as compassionate as possible
Or etc etc.
Because at the end of the day, it seems to me it is the mental habit what matters in this reality.
Thanks for sharing all these info, very interesting stuff!!!
Thanks, Alejandro. I love this: ” the path is to observe and observe and observe.” Yes. Yes to that. When we do that – just that – then everything changes. Maybe slowly, maybe quickly, the timing isn’t the point, but we change. We go slower, we sidestep conflict easier, we remember peace and thus have peace to share . . . I have my differences with Krishnamurti for sure but I am deeply grateful to him, and for his student Tara Singh, who more than anyone showed me in his writing and teaching how to read and apply A Course in Miracles.
And yes – we have to go all in. Whatever the path is, whatever the call to practice is, we have to be whole-hearted, no half measures.
Thanks for being here, brother. I am grateful.