WOW | Coffee Break

A BOOK THAT CHANGED MY LIFE

Saguna Shah
Educator/ Founder of bOOkahOlics (a forum that promotes reading culture through book discussions)

Being a very free spirited individual, I’d pick Jiddu Krishnamurthy ‘s ‘The First and Last Freedom’ as one of my most influential reads. Having said this, I might be conditioning myself to the author’s philosophical doctrines without actually being conscious of it. All of us beings willingly or unwillingly are conditioned to the societal norms and values simply because we aren’t given the freedom to question and argue or to be ourselves. We are trapped in the projection of ideals and therefore torn between conflict in our desires, beliefs and knowledge. One of the fundamental causes of the disintegration of society is imitation, and following the societal codes and conducts. This worship of authority in disguise of morality or ideals, and the need for validation without having the freedom to question and reason is the root of evil. There are hoards of books which preach the pursuit of peace and happiness because that is what mankind pursues but what makes Jiddu Krishnamurthy stand apart is that he makes the readers ponder over the topics rather than shove their throats with what he says is right. ‘The First and Last Freedom’ is divided into two sections, the first half of which throws light on the fundamental aspects such as love, knowledge, desire, awareness, relationships, isolation, death etc. In the second half, Krishnamurthy answers to the questions regarding the same issues.

It is impossible to isolate ourselves from the extrinsic issues pertaining in the society but if one is not to conform to them, self actualization and working on the intrinsic self is very important. Personally as well as an educator this pillow book for me has been very influential in understanding the self and other aspects of life. It has made me more open minded and accepting in nature. I have often used excerpts from this book in classrooms for critical thinking and the students have loved discussing over various issues. One noticeable change I have felt in myself is that I have stopped seeking for validation and the need to prove myself as I did earlier. I find my respite from the chaotic life and thoughts with books like ‘The First and Last Freedom’.