Jiddu Krishnamurti, We Salute You

2006-11-11 02:50:00

Jiddu Krishnamurti, pre-balls droppingIn 1929, Jiddu Krishnamurti had it made. Theosophists had been awaiting the arrival of their "World Teacher" and they had decided he was none other than Jiddu Krishnamurti.

You may remember the story of how the devil and a friend of his were walking down the street, when they saw ahead of them a man stoop down and pick up something from the ground, look at it, and put it away in his pocket. The friend said to the devil, "What did that man pick up?" "He picked up a piece of Truth," said the devil. "That is a very bad business for you, then," said his friend. "Oh, not at all," the devil replied, "I am going to let him organize it."

I maintain that Truth is a pathless land, and you cannot approach it by any path whatsoever, by any religion, by any sect. That is my point of view, and I adhere to that absolutely and unconditionally. Truth, being limitless, unconditioned, unapproachable by any path whatsoever, cannot be organized; nor should any organization be formed to lead or to coerce people along any particular path. If you first understand that, then you will see how impossible it is to organize a belief. A belief is purely an individual matter, and you cannot and must not organize it. If you do, it becomes dead, crystallized; it becomes a creed, a sect, a religion, to be imposed on others. This is what everyone throughout the world is attempting to do.

....this is no magnificent deed, because I do not want followers, and I mean this. The moment you follow someone you cease to follow Truth. I am not concerned whether you pay attention to what I say or not. I want to do a certain thing in the world and I am going to do it with unwavering concentration. I am concerning myself with only one essential thing: to set man free. I desire to free him from all cages, from all fears, and not to found religions, new sects, nor to establish new theories and new philosophies.

---full text of speech available here.

It's worth noting for any serious student of the Occult that although Krishnamurti did this, Theosophy is still around today. However, if you examine their history and dogmas, you will probably conclude that having their leader and teacher abandon them is probably among the least of their problems.


Salient Quotations

"Is the problem not one of refusing to accept a leader? This alone brings equality in social and economic relationships. When thrown on his own responsibility, man will inevitably question. And in questioning there is no higher, no lower. Any system based on acceptance of capacity differences to establish status must inevitably lead to a hierarchical society, and so breed class war. . . . What is it that gives dignity to man? Self-knowledge--the knowledge of what you are? The follower is the greatest curse."

---from "Krishnamurti: A Biography"

"We think that living is always in the present and that dying is something that awaits us at a distant time. But we have never questioned whether this battle of everyday life is living at all. We want to know the truth about reincarnation, we want proof of the survival of the soul, we listen to the assertion of clairvoyants and to the conclusions of psychical research, but we never ask, never, how to live--to live with delight, with enchantment, with beauty every day. We have accepted life as it is with all its agony and despair and have got used to it, and think of death as something to be carefully avoided. But death is extraordinarily like life when we know how to live. You cannot live without dying. You cannot live if you do not die psychologically every minute. This is not an intellectual paradox. To live completely, wholly, every day as if it were a new loveliness, there must be dying to everything of yesterday, otherwise you live mechanically, and a mechanical mind can never know what love is or what freedom is."

---from "Freedom From the Known"

"It is always difficult to keep simple and clear. The world worships success, the bigger the better; the greater the audience the greater the speaker; the colossal super buildings, cars, aeroplanes and people. Simplicity is lost. The successful people are not the ones who are building a new world. To be a real revolutionary requires a complete change of heart and mind, and how few want to free themselves. One cuts the surface roots; but to cut the deep feeding roots of mediocrity, success, needs something more than words, methods, compulsions. There seem to be few, but they are the real builders--the rest labor in vain. One is everlastingly comparing oneself with another, with what one is, with what one should be, with someone who is more fortunate. This comparison really kills. Comparison is degrading, it perverts one's outlook. And on comparison one is brought up. All our education is based on it and so is our culture. So there is everlasting struggle to be something other than what one is. The understanding of what one is uncovers creativeness, but comparison breeds competitiveness, ruthlessness, ambition, which we think brings about progress. Progress has only led so far to more ruthless wars and misery than the world has ever known. To bring up children without comparison is true education."

---"Freedom From the Known" again

The Original Freestyle Master

Krishnamurti and David BohmWhen Jiddu Krishnamurti speaks, it is a collaborative effort. Despite the fact that his audiences were mostly staring at him in mute rapture, he drew from those he spoke to as he shaped the conversation. Krishnamurti is constantly asking questions, and the astute reader will notice he seldom resolves any of them, even when he's explicitly answering his own queries. Dig the following:

"Fear and pleasure are the two principal things in us, driving forces, demanding more and more and more pleasure, and warding off fear. Right? Now what do you do with pleasure? You want more of it, surely--both physical, psychological pleasures. And in looking at pleasure very closely, one asks oneself: what is it? what is pleasure? Please sirs, do discuss with me. Come together. What is pleasure to you? Physical sensation, psychological factors. Audience: For me pleasure is an escape. K: For me, the gentleman says, pleasure is an escape. Escape from what? Am I escaping through pleasure? Escaping from fear of not having pleasure? Do look at it. Please sirs do look at yourselves and you will find out very simply this thing. Most of us are pursuing pleasure, aren't we? Why? Not that we should or should not. It would be absurd to say, `Don't have pleasure', when you look at the sky and the trees and the lovely countryside there is a delight. But why this pursuit of pleasure? Audience: I feel that I sustain myself in pursuing pleasure. K: Sustain yourself? Who is yourself? This is much more complex than that. Do go into it a little bit. First of all let's be very clear what we mean by pleasure. Pleasure is entirely different from joy, isn't it? No? When you are joyous, when you think about it, it becomes pleasure doesn't it?"
---from this link riiiiiiight here Jiddu Krishnamurti chilling with chiltinsAnyone familiar with NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) will recognize every single one of these patterns. The more dedicated students of NLP are probably thinking "holy f***ing jeebus, this dude is good". It's important to note, even if it's only in passing, that most of the cracker "innovations" like NLP are merely a re-formulation of a much older and vaster tradition, which once upon a time was called "magic" with a straight face. (And no fruitly little "k" at the end, either.)

One More Big Quote

Having lost self confidence, our problem is how to get it back -- if we ever had it at all. Because, obviously, without the element of confidence we shall be led astray by every person we come across -- and that is exactly what is happening. Therefore, never accept any authority. Sir, after all, acceptance of authority indicates that the mind wants comfort, security. A mind that seeks security either with a guru or in a party, political or any other, a mind that is seeking safety, comfort, can never find truth, even in the smallest things of our existence. So, a man who wants this creative self-confidence must obviously be burning with the desire to know the truth of everything, not about empires or the atomic bomb, which is merely a technical matter, but in our human relationships, our relationship with others, and our relationship to property and to ideas. If I want to know the truth, I begin to enquire; and before I can know the truth of anything, I must have confidence. To have confidence, I must enquire into myself and remove those causes that prevent each experience from giving its full significance. We have lost it, or we have never had it; and, because we do not know how to judge anything, we have been led here and pushed there, beaten up, driven, politically, religiously and socially. We don't know -- but it is difficult to say we don't know. So, that is the first requirement, is it not? To know the truth of anything psychologically, you cannot seek comfort; because, the moment you want comfort, security, a haven in which you are protected, you will have what you want, but what you have will not be the truth. Therefore, you will be persuaded by another who offers a greater comfort, a greater security, a better refuge; and so you are driven from port to port, and that is why you have lost confidence. You have no confidence because you have been driven from one refuge to another by your own desire to be comfortable, to be secure.

Internet Legacy

Hilariously enough, Krishnamurti has spawned inevitable organization, such as The Krishnamurti Foundation of America, or Krishnamurti Teachings International, or the Krishnamurti Information Network. On one hand --- boy, talk about not getting the point --- but on the other, these are of course nescessary and valuable to you and anyone else seeking to learn more and read more.

Naturally, the digital age has led to a "skeptical" scrutiny of Krishnamurti's work. I would refer the reader to this essay by Martin Gardner which aims to "critique" Krishnamurti, mostly via snide condescending remarks and mere gossip:

There were two Krishnamurtis. One was the persona presented to the world through lectures and books; a man without ego who led a sanctified life of celibacy and high moral purity. The other Krishnamurti was a shadowy, self-centered, vain man, capable of sudden angers and enormous cruelty to friends. He was also a habitual liar. Krishna, as his friends called him, freely admitted his compulsive lying. He blamed it on simple fear of having his deceptions detected. Krishna's closest associate was Raja, whose full Indian name was Desikacharya Rajagopalacharya. A native of India, Raja was as handsome as Krishna, and for almost thirty years a devoted disciple who served as his master's business manager, secretary, literary agent, and editor. It was Krishna's good friend Aldous Huxley who introduced Raja to his editor at Harper and Row, the firm that published Krishna's many books. Krishna had little interest in writing or publishing, but he allowed Raja to cobble books out of his talks and notebooks, and to edit this material into volumes.

....and Martin Luther King was an adulterer. Ghandi had a weird thing about young girls (commonly diagnosed as "being a man", but that's just my unqualified opinion). JFK was banging Marilyn Monroe (I know, somehow that's a "bad thing" to some actual, living human beings).

We live in a culture that wants our heroes sanitized and stuffed, because the real message behind Martin Luther King day is this: he could do it, you cannot, so you honor him. His dream is dead, we have embalmed it, and you will pay respects. The most dangerous concept in our culture is a human hero, with human flaws, human weaknesses. Because then the message is: you know what? ANYONE CAN DO THIS.

Closing Words

My strongest and most emphatic suggestion would be that you not let your exploration of Jiddu Krishnamurti end here. The man had a great deal to say, all of it unspeakably valuable to you and your life. As LeVar Burton often reminded our generation, though, "don't take my word for it." Dig for yourself, but please, for the sake of all that is holy, for the survival of the human species, dig. And keep digging.

All authority of any kind, especially in the field of thought and understanding, is the most destructive, evil thing. Leaders destroy the followers and followers destroy the leaders. You have to be your own teacher and your own disciple. You have to question everything that man has accepted as valuable, as necessary.

---from Freedom From the Known

Read another?