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The Complete Krishnamurti

In the mail yesterday, I received most of the The Collected Works of J. Krishnamurti (1933-1967) (the complete set is out-of-print), which I ordered from the Krishnamurti Foundation in California. The collection compiles Krishnamurti's talks (as recorded by tape or shorthand) over a forty-five year period. Each talk is followed by questions from the audience on a comprehensive variety of topics. For those with a serious interest in meditation, or more broadly, are challenged by Socrates' dictum to "Know thyself," Krishnamurti's writings form an invaluable record.

Each volume of the collection contains a brief preface about Krishnamurti. As Krishnamurti himself often said, what is important is not the person, but the words. However, it's interesting to see how Krishnamurti is presented biographically. The challenge is to balance the personal details while expressing the content of Krishnamurti's concerns. The preface in this collection does an admirable job of it:

Jiddu Krishnamurti was born in 1895 of Brahmin parents in south India. At the age of fourteen he was proclaimed the coming World Teacher by Annie Besant, then president of the Theosophical Society, an international organization that emphasized the unity of world religions. Mrs. Besant adopted the boy and took him to England, where he was educated and prepared for his coming role. In 1911, a new worldwide organization was formed with Krishnamurti as its head, solely to prepare its members for his advent as World Teacher. In 1929, after many years of questioning himself and the destiny imposed on him, Krishnamurti disbanded this organization, saying:

Truth is a pathless land, and you cannot approach it by any path whatsoever, by any religion, by any sect. Truth, being limitless, unconditioned, unapproachable by any path whatsoever, cannot be organized; nor should any organization be forced to lead or to coerce people along any particular path. My only concern is to set men absolutely, unconditionally free.

Until the end of his life at the age of ninety, Krishnamurti traveled the world speaking as a private person. The rejection of all spiritual and psychological authority, including his own, is a fundamental theme. A major concern is the social structure and how it conditions the individual. The emphasis in his talks and writings is on the psychological barriers that prevent clarity of perception. In the mirror of relationship, each one of us can come to understand the content of his own consciousness, which is common to all humanity. We can do this, not analytically, but directly in a manner that Krishnamurti describes at length. In observing this content we discover within ourselves the division of the observer and what is observed. He points out that this division, which prevents direct perception, is the root of human conflict.

His central vision did not waver after 1929, but Krishnamurti strove for the rest of his life to make his language even more simple and clear. There is a development in his exposition. From year to year he used new terms and new approaches to his subject, with different nuances.

Because his subject is all-embracing, the Collected Works are of compelling interest. Within his talks in any one year, Krishnamurti was not able to cover the whole range of his vision, but broad applications of particular themes are found throughout these volumes. In them he lays the foundation of many of the concepts used in later years.

The Collected Works contain Krishnamurti's previously published talks, discussions, answers to specific questions, and writings for the years 1933 through 1967. They are an authentic record of his teachings, taken from transcripts of verbatim shorthand reports and tape recordings.

Of course, by concluding in 1967, this collection doesn't cover the entirety of Krishnamurti's output—he continued speaking until his death in 1986. A more ambitious project is in the works. The Krishnamurti foundations in the U.S., England, and India, have begun work on the Complete Teachings Project, which will comprise the full body of his work from 1933-1986. The Krishnamurti Foundation of America's Fall 2004 newsletter (PDF File) describes the project:

As you may know, the scope of this project is enormous, encompassing Krishnamurti's public talks, dialogues and question-and-answer meetings, small group discussions, radio and television interviews, seminars, educational material, dialogues with individuals, notes, statements, and poems. In addition, books written or dictated directly by Krishnamurti will be included in their complete published version. The full title for the project is The Complete Teachings of J. Krishnamurti 1933 to 1986. It requires the collaboration of the Krishnamurti Foundation Trust in England, and the Krishnamurti Foundations in America and India. Mark Lee, of the Krishnamurti Foundation of America, is the project director. The purpose of the Complete Teachings Project is to provide an authentic historical record of Krishnamurti's teachings, for preservation and dissemination. It will be distributed free to interested libraries and universities throughout the world, either in book (75 volumes of 500 pages each) or CD format.


Some talks included in The Collected Works of J. Krishnamurti are archived online at

Selected scanned chapters of Krishnamurti's books, including some from each volume of The Collected Works

March 30, 2005 | Meditation | Permalink


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