Saved by the book — a case for superconsciousness

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There are certain experiences we have that go on to chart the course of our life. Looking back at such watershed events, we begin to feel a mysterious and ineffable sense that the experience was ‘meant to be’ and that it found us for a reason.

The right book can pave the way for your enlightenment... if such a thing exists at all beyond being a concept alone.

At 17, when I could have been reading books on the October Revolution of the Communists in the then USSR, I was deeply engrossed in J Krishnamurti's book The Only Revolution.

The term ‘revolution’ here is strangely fitting given that in our teens we tend to rebel and gravitate towards groups and parties that defy conformity and offer new ideas. At that age, some of us become atheists or perhaps get fancy notions about spirituality and begin to withdraw from the world. Not all of us experience such an inner churning, of course — only the few who think that something is awfully wrong with the world. Moreover, only some of us have this weird idea that “I am different from the rest”. These sort of young persons might start growing a beard, sporting a pony tail or dressing carelessly. This form of acting out is essentially an attempt to communicate some message to the world. These outward modifications are useful — if not essential — in a way, at the beginning. They prevent the world from pouncing on us with all its force. The distinctive traits, though superficial, do give us some amount of freedom.

So, at 17 I didn’t become a Marxist or a Maoist but turned into a Krishnamurti-ite, a term which ironically doesn’t gel with the philosophy of JK, who abhorred all kinds of labels that we human beings love desperately to hold on to. (Krishnamurti even says that 'You are nothing without your labels'.) But still, at the cost of doing injustice to my ‘master’ — again, a term which he rejected — I call myself a Krishnamurti-ite.

I don’t know why it happened that way.

Why didn’t I become a Marxist even though the mental soil in me was fertile enough to allow such ideological seeds to take root? Around me were well-fed people who were secure. They had good clothes. They didn’t know hunger pangs that guys like me suffered. I saw all that but I didn’t envy them, though I don’t call this a virtue — the idea that haves should share their money and food with the have-nots just didn’t occur to me.

If I had come across socialistic ideas I might have embraced them, I guess. But that didn’t happen at all. On the contrary, I had no idea what communism or socialism was. No Das Capital in my bookshelf, no Marx nor Lenin nor Stalin. All I knew about communism was that there was a party office in my town and one of our family friends’ dad was a member of the party. What the party did, what its members did, I had no idea. And that ignorance persisted for decades.

Probably I didn’t have the brains for communism.



Instead, J. Krishnamurti's The Only Revolution grabbed all my attention. When it presented itself to me in a library in Salem one morning it knocked over my idea of the world. It shook all my beliefs — beliefs that were centuries old. The torrent of his words swept away my gods and temples. My Rajaganapathy temple was gone; my Easwaran temple was gone — these were the famous shrines in my town and even now are. My sacred thread was gone. My tenuous relationship with my dad dissappeared, which strengthened only after two decades.

The book made me into a sort of timid revolutionary, not a bold sort such as Marx could have made. Weak or strong, I was nevertheless a revolutionary. My path was set. I was red colour–blind. Krishnamurti’s “intense blue sky” (he makes the description in his book, Commentaries on Living) hid the Great Wall of China of the Reds.

Did the book appear before me without any reason, at random? Or was there a specifiable deterministic cause behind it?

I tend to think that the book itself had some volition. Some say even rocks are imbued with consciousness. If rocks — immovable lifeless rocks — can be presumed to have consciousness, why not books? In the case of a literary work, which is dense with a proliferation of ideas through the active distillation of an author’s mind, the possibility of its hosting consciousness is, if anything, greater, no?

It could also be that something in us gravitates towards — perhaps, even attracts — certain kinds of books. Maybe the memories we are born with, or have accumulated, propel us toward specific books.

Maybe it’s some kind of synchronicity, a term Carl Jung coined to speak of events that seem mysterious. So, a book comes to us mysteriously, knocks at the door of our rocky self, penetrates it and takes up residence in the secret cave of our control room to change us for good or bad, creating new relationships, ending the old, already existing ones, causing pain, loneliness and some sort of happiness as well. The old beliefs pave the way for the new ideas. All these changes are caused by the mysterious ‘book’ that comes to us at one point of time in our lives. It makes us say, “I was blind, now I see” in biblical fashion. I know I am crossing the limits of reason here. But what to do, the thirst in me is not satisfied with rational limits.



The idea of a book having wings and flying towards you sounds like a juvenile notion. And the idea that some forgotten memories of one’s past lives (or, if you prefer, genetic make-up) suddenly come alive on seeing a particular book may be guilty of being steeped in superstition.

A rationalist cannot have any truck with those entertaining these unscientific ideas. With due respect to their views, I, nevertheless, wish to have small doses of fantasy that don’t harm others or me.

After all, what is life without fantasy?

By the way, during a chat yesterday, I heard one of my colleagues remark to another that I am a real Commie. What a compliment that was for me; I got the title of Communist even though I never toiled for the party.

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