The Mind of J. Krishnamurthi by Vas and Luis S.R. by Vas and Luis S.R. - Read Online



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The Mind of J Krishnamurti is a must read for those who want to know the brilliant mind of J. Krishnamurti. Call him what you like, a philosopher, theosophist, psychologist, spiritualist or a teacher he has carved a place among the greats. The book contains a collection of commentaries, reviews and evaluations of his thoughts. It is a compendium perceived and understood by his many admirers among who were Aldous Huxley and Henry Miller.
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Part I


Chapter 1

J. Krishnamurti: The Man and His Mind

by Luis S.R. Vas

The quest for self-discovery is forever new. From Socrates to Sartre, from Sankara of India to Suzuki of Japan, both the East and the West have produced thinkers who have contributed in varying degrees to the understanding of man’s condition here on earth.

In our age, this quest is divided between philosophy, psychology and the social sciences, and many thinkers have stretched their intellect to cover all three disciplines, while others have departed completely from the beaten track, to seek in regions yet unexplored. J. Krishnamurti undoubtedly belongs to the latter category.

As a renowned ‘non-Guru’, Krishnamurti differs fundamentally from most philosophers in that he has resisted the tendency to weave his insights into a system, though they have much in common with such schools as the existentialist and the Zen.

Jiddu Krishnamurti’s career is an extraordinary one by anybody’s standards and is of considerable interest to students of human nature and, of course, of Krishnamurti’s mind. He was born in 1895, (or thereabouts, for the records are not very reliable) in a large South Indian family of strict, if poor, Brahmins. At the age of 12 he was adopted along with his youngest brother Nityanand by Mrs. Annie Besant who had an uncanny knack for discovering and encouraging talented minds: among her finds can be counted B. Shiva Rao, Sri Prakash, V.K. Krishna Menon and Rukmini Devi.

Krishnamurti was fitted into a role designed to fulfil a curious prophecy of Charles Leadbeater, a demi god of the Theosophical Society, that a Divine World Teacher descends to earth periodically to lead mankind through the right path. Krishnamurti was proclaimed to an astonished Theosophical Society and the world at large as the next World-Teacher in line with Krishna, Buddha and Christ! In due course the Divine spark was to manifest itself in the new Messiah.

Almost immediately after the announcement, scandals broke out in the T.S. A book, AT THE FEET OF THE MASTER, was published by the T.S. under the authorship of ‘Alcyone’, the ‘occult’ name of Krishnamurti. It created a sensation and the authorship was heatedly disputed. Now it is widely believed that Leadbeater actually wrote it; Krishnamurti himself remembers nothing of the episode.

Simultaneously rumours were spreading of pederast activities of Leadbeater in the T.S. This was too much for Krishnamurti’s father who now decided to reclaim his guardianship over the boys. The case went to Court, but after a series of battles between Annie Besant who defended herself, and Sir C.P. Ramaswami Aiyer, counsel for the plaintiff, the Privy Council took the unprecedented step of allowing the two minors to choose their guardians. Both chose Mrs. Besant.

To avoid further parental interference with the boys’ careers Mrs. Besant sent them to England, placing them under the care of Emily Lutyens, wife of the famous architect of Delhi. There and later at Sorbonne the boys studied privately.

An Order of the Star of the East was set up with Krishnamurti as its head to spread the teachings of the World-Teacher. Thus all was set for the coming of the Messiah. Then in 1922 Nityanand, who was ailing, grew worse and the two brothers moved to California in the hope that he would recover. The trip however, did not have the desired effect and Nityanand’s death followed in 1925.

This event had a profound effect on Krishnamurti. The shock made him experience a ‘total change’ in himself. He began to reexamine his thoughts and values, reconsidered his plans for the future and finally decided on a course of action: in 1926 he dissolved the Order of the Star, a decision all the more remarkable according to a Times Lit. Supt. reviewer, in that he had in fact had mystical experiences of great intensity … but his role as he saw it was… not that of a Messiah of the T.S., nor that of a private guru, but that of an independent thinker, and in this capacity he has been writing (FIRST AND LAST FREEDOM, LIFE AHEAD, THIS MATTER OF CULTURE, THE ONLY REVOLUTION, FREEDOM FROM THE KNOWN) and lecturing to whoever will listen in the five continents. He still pays periodical visits to India and lectures in its principal towns.

As one listens to this handsome, silver-haired and intense looking man, one is struck by his genuine concern for the human condition and by the lucid, analytical style in which he dissects man’s perennial problems.

His talks have little of the customary manner in which speakers generally address their audiences. They are exercises in self-analysis. In the process of thinking aloud he probes the depths of the human mind and attempts to unravel its intricacies.

The reason for Krishnamurti’s unorthodox methods lies in the fact that he does not seek to expound a theory, formulate a concept or prove a thesis: to do this would mean indulging in abstractions and propaganda, to any form of which he is totally opposed. Instead he undertakes the task of developing in his listener a new attitude towards life. Life, he says, is movement in relationship. And he sets out to analyse our relationship to whatever surrounds us: the fellow men whom we love, hate or are indifferent to; the universe of science and its omnipresent effects; the world of our profession; the field of our emotions; our unconscious mind. This analysis paves the way for our understanding of the process of psychological conditioning to which most of us willingly or unwillingly submit.

Little do we realise how even the commonest events of our daily life evoke in us some emotion and control our actions. Thus, for instance an insult hurled at us may generate rage; flattery may create pride; a compliment to a rival may produce envy, and so forth. Now some of these emotions are pleasant and these we crave, the others — the unpleasant ones — we consider undesirable and try to get rid of. So, invariably, we invite situations calculated to bring us pleasant emotions and try to avoid those that evoke unpleasant emotions. The causes of both agreeable and disagreeable feelings are not always easy to find, and once found, once we realise their power over us, they are never easy to dispel. The following episode serves as an illustration:

"One morning an irresistible force propelled MIT Professor Marvin Minsky to one corner of his class room and pinned him there as securely as a butterfly impaled in a museum showcase. It was force of habit — a brand new habit imposed upon him on the spot by a group of playfully experimental students. The boys had him at their mercy, as if he were a robot slave and they the masters at the controls.

They ‘robotomized’ Minsky with a psychological ruse much like the methods for teaching rats to run through a maze, or training a dog to fetch a newspaper. Soon after class had begun a few students started manipulating him. Whenever he paced to the right, they whispered softly to each other, rustled papers, dropped pencils, and created other minor distractions. But when he happened to take a few steps to the left, they sat up and obviously paid close attention to the lecture. In short they conditioned Minsky by repeatedly punishing him for moving in one direction and rewarding him for moving in the opposite direction. Within half an hour he stopped pacing altogether and stood like a cigar store Indian near the left hand edge of the blackboard. So subtly had he been habituated that he did not realise an experiment was in progress, and that he was the guinea pig — ironically so, since Minsky is a leading authority on the theory of automations. (Think, November-December 1969)

Habit, then, is a conditioning factor too. It permits us to view everything as a routine, as a repetition of what happened the previous day and is expected to happen the next day, and saves us the trouble of thinking anew, from ‘moment to moment’.

Consequently we are only partly conscious of what affects us and react to it automatically, living a life of somnolence, doing what the interplay of emotions and habits will have us do.

In his book, THE ACT OF CREATION, Arthur Koestler says, There are two ways of escaping our more or less automatised routines of thinking and behaving. The first, of course, is the plunge into dreaming and dreamlike states..…The other is also an escape from boredom, intellectual predicaments and emotional frustrations — but in the opposite direction. It is signalled by the spontaneous flash of insight which shows a familiar situation in a new light and elicits a new response to it..…it makes us understand what it is to be awake, to be living on several planes at once..…

Koestler’s book is, among other things, an attempt to formulate the theoretical foundation of this phenomenon. But it gives no more than an inkling of how this ‘escape’ can be effected, of how the ‘flash of insight’ can be made to occur. On the other hand this is precisely what Krishnamurti seeks to do, so as to enable us to live a life free from psychological conditioning by acquiring a ‘sensitivity’, an ‘awareness’.

With life being in a state of constant movement, he argues that we must not regard any of our relationships from a fixed standpoint. We must be willing to accept change in others and be willing to change ourselves. This willingness must be, not merely an intellectual disposition to change, but a desire to feel this change continually.

And how does one get to feel the change? In Krishnamurti’s words, "by being what you really are. By trying to see what is. You see, sir, (somehow) I have acquired a certain character. Now I must try and see myself as I am and I must make no effort to be anything else.…I am not advocating self-indulgence, that a thief remain a thief. I must not submit to my weakness but I should not indulge in the opposite of my weakness either, as a way of getting rid of it.…"

Let us imagine that we are at a given moment, envious or bored. These emotions are painful. We do not like them and so we try to avoid them. This creates a conflict between what we are and what we want to be, between envy and non-envy, between boredom and excitement. As a result, we do not really get away from envy and instead grow progressively displeased with ourselves. If, on the other hand, we were to observe this envy in a passive and dispassionate way, with a receptive mind determined to examine the phenomenon without passing judgment, without condemnation, seeking the cause of these emotions with our total attention, but never trying to push it away, then we would find there is no conflict and the envy can be apprehended from an entirely new angle. Suddenly I will discover that a transformation takes place in myself without any planning on my part, a creative transformation. My sensitivity has come into play. The radically transformed envy has now abandoned its original form and we no longer wish for it to leave us. And what is true for envy is no less true for boredom, hate, anger, fear or for that matter joy; for even joy and other pleasant emotions condition us.

Now impervious to all these emotions, we take to living richly and fully; always intensely conscious of our existence and of our relationships, assuming once again, full control of our lives, which until then seemingly ran on automatic pilot mode, making of us creatures of habit.

Krishnamurti emphasizes that only constant and complete awareness can achieve this result. No amount of discipline and concentration can do it for you. By disciplined effort and concentration you can at best produce a state of self-hypnosis and through it a feeling of well-being and peace which, far from being an escape into the unconditioned state of mind, is merely a flight to a yet more unreal level of self deception.

Although the aim of Krishnamurti’s analysis is ‘freedom from the known’, he covers the gamut of human thought, aspirations and endeavour; he discusses the relation between idea and action, the contradictions of effort, the perils inherent in the uncritical acceptance of tradition and dogma, and a host of other subjects. Nobody can read and listen to him and in the end not know himself better for it.

Chapter 2

Introducing Krishnamurti

by B. Sanjiva Rao

The story of Krishnamurti’s life is one of the strangest that one can imagine — men have given up many things for the sake of Truth; money, power and even life itself. The Buddha renounced a throne to become a monk and walk the streets with a beggar’s bowl. Krishnamurti set aside deliberately the allegiance, the devotion of a well organised band of a hundred thousand followers for the sake of coming down the steps of the spiritual throne erected for him by Mrs. Besant and becoming an average man for no greater reason than that for him there was no condition or state more blessed than love. I dare not use the word ‘renunciation’ to describe the action — for it is so palpably absurd and false an expression to use in connection with Krishnamurti.

The world has almost forgotten the legend that was woven around him. Mrs. Besant recognised the extraordinary promise of unusual spiritual gifts in the young lad of 12 — she prophesied that in due course of time he would be a World Teacher and usher in a new era, a new order of things. Within 17 years a huge organization was built up consisting of a remarkable group of men and women drawn from all the important countries of the world. A great stadium was built for him at Sydney to enable him to broadcast his message to the world. All the resources which Mrs. Besant’s great organising ability could secure were freely poured into the movement.

Krishnamurti was most carefully educated. He had at his disposal all the facilities which money and social influence could obtain for him. He deliberately set aside all such advantages and chose the strangest of courses. He rejected wealth, he renounced every adventitious aid, he approached life directly instead of through the thoughts of the learned. He read the faces of men and women, loved them, suffered with them and therefore understood them as hardly anyone of our generation had done. Of the many people who loved and helped him, no one rendered greater service than Mrs. Besant. She gave him an indescribable love and a supreme understanding. She was so reverent that she did not seek to interfere with his freedom of movement and action. She allowed him to break up the order that she had founded for his work. She acquieseed in his decision to be free of all organisations, including the Theosophical Society of which she was the President. She allowed him to go out alone in his search for Truth.

Such a life in spite of the halo of glory and sanctity around it has its tragic side. Men and women of the world today have built round themselves enclosing walls which effectively isolate them, the one from the other. There are a few — and surely Krishnamurti is one of them — who have broken their walls and come out of the prison of self-hood. The lives of such liberated men are in a sense more lonely than those of the hermits, the solitaries living in the hills or the deserts. The hearts of men are closed against them. They wait in patience, often weary of their long vigil for the time when the doors of the hearts of men will open to let in the light.

Krishnamurti has read few books. He is a graduate of no University. Yet he draws abundantly from that great book — so inexhaustible in its variety and profundity — the book of life. He has met thousands of people who gladly reveal the most intimate workings of their hearts and minds. They know that he loves them and understands them. He offers no false consolations. He cries with them, for the tragedy of life moves him to the depths. He suffers with them. He would save them if he could. For the world with its mounting sorrow, he has an indescribable compassion. The cry of the beggar, of those who are bereaved, of those whose hearts are desolate, of those who are unloved, throws him into a state of agonising sorrow. He does not make one false gesture. He knows that no one can make another happy, that man is his own saviour, that redemption does not come from outside. So men and women go to him, conscious of his great love, but conscious also of his utter and complete allegiance to Truth.

He knows many men and women of outstanding achievement in Literature, Art and Science. He is very humble. He listens to everyone with such closeness and understanding that he almost appears to put on the cloak of the humble learner. If he uses any of the words or thoughts of some of his highly learned or intellectual friends, he says with a real feeling of humility: "Sir, I have not read this, but have heard this from so and so — you see I hardly read books.’

To one with the supreme capacity to read the book of life directly and who combines with it a matchless gift of loving understanding which unlocks the secrets of all hearts, every situation in life is ever new and of absorbing interest. It is not strange, therefore, that books, however great, however true, have no great use for him. The thoughts of others, however wise, are but screens between him and Reality. He looks at life directly without the glasses of erudition and traditional wisdom — of course he is not the first of the seers of Truth. Others have seen as he does. But to see the Truth directly is ever a new experience and therefore his message bears the stamp of an authentic and original contact with the Real and the Eternal.

What is wrong with us? Krishnamurti says that we have forgotten how to love. We have enclosed ourselves within walls made by ourselves — and so husband and wife, father and child, the labourer and the employer of labour have built walls of separation, of isolation. So there is no communion between man and man. There is no love, no real affection. And where there is no love, there is no beauty. All our values are sensate. Because there is no love, false love and lust have become important. Because there is no richness of inner life, outer wealth and luxury have assumed such vast significance. Because there is no beauty of living, of feeling and thinking, no real beauty even of the body, all the devices to create false beauty have come into existence.

Krishnamurti has already created a flutter in the hearts of those who come and listen to him. There is such wonderful poise, such unutterable love and compassion not without a touch of sadness, there is a beauty and simplicity of Truth and Wisdom that men begin to ask, who is this mysterious figure that moves so quietly amongst us, who seems to bring a certain luminous quality into all the things that he says. He evinces the strange power of reading the inmost secrets of our hearts. Yet we never resent it, as we do not resent the entrance of Light into the dark places of the world. He seeks to help us to understand the confusion and the sorrow in our midst. He almost makes us believe that if we could only love, the world would be saved.

Was Mrs. Besant right, after all, in her intention about Krishnamurti? After having done his best to destroy the legend about himself is Krishnamurti going to fulfil in the most unexpected way the prophecy of Mrs. Besant? He renounced the role of the Teacher and has come to us as a man among men. He is one of us: He is, and says he is, nothing, and yet, to be nothing, is that not the height of spiritual attainment? For when one is nothing, one is all things.

Krishnamurti refuses to accept the role of a teacher. ‘I cannot ‘teach’ another’ he says: ‘the perception of Truth, of Reality, of what is, is essentially an individual process.’ I will report a discussion which took place on the 27th January at Carmichael Road, Bombay. I was one of a large group of nearly 250 people that gathered together on a terrace. The background was perfect, the open sky, the setting sun and the view of the sea — we all sat on the ground except a few who sat on chairs at the edge of the crowd. He sat on a raised seat and asked us to follow what he was saying not verbally, but at our own level — i.e., as he spoke we were expected to watch the processes of our own thinking. To report his words would be a dead process. I will, therefore, give an account of the way in which I tried to carry out his intention. He took up the simple problem of dullness. He asked: are we aware that we are dull? One gentleman thought that we were not dull all the time, that sometimes we were bright — there were many answers from the audience. Each answer was a self-revelation. To some it was a verbal discussion; others were puzzled a little bit — we are being asked the strangest of questions. Here is a teacher of great distinction anxious that we should have a perception of God, of Reality , of Truth, starting the discussion with this odd query: ‘are we dull; aware that we are dull?’ I asked myself: what is meant by dullness; am I dull? Judged by the ordinary standards of the word I felt that superficially I would not be justified in calling myself dull. But I felt sure that that was not what Krishnamurti was saying. So I began to examine myself and as he went on repeating in many ways the same persistent query: ‘are you aware that you are dull? Did I watch the sunset and the beauty of the sky? Am l alive, sensitive to the beauty of the landscape, do I see the face of my neighbour and see the havoc, wrought by suffering on that face. Some of them laugh, but am I sensitive to the cry of pain which the laughter is intended to cover? When I walk into the crowded streets, how do I react to the beggar, to the refugee who has lost everything, home, property, friends, all that is usually considered worthwhile. I hear the sound of the flute of a passing flute player — how do I react to it? In fact what is my response to the tragedy of the world, to its laughter and tears, to beauty, to ugliness, to squalor? Am I aware of what my wife thinks and feels? What do the boys and girls that I have taught think and feel? Am I aware that they live in a world different from my own, that they have their own values different from my own — am I aware of their many desires, their frustrations? Or am I so wrapped up in my own cares and anxieties, that I am insensitive both to the beauty and the ugliness, the joy and the suffering of the world? I watch all these thoughts passing through my mind as Krishnamurti goes on repeating are you aware that you are dull? and then the question is slightly altered: why are we dull?" I ask myself that question. Why do I not feel the immense sorrow of the world, how can I spend my life in such inhuman isolation, that I can have peace and joy amidst the holocaust that is going on all the time? What is wrong with me? What has made me so narrow-minded, so small, so childish in my desires, so petty in my pursuits? As I keep on asking myself I discover that at no time did I ask these questions, that never before was I so alert, so eager, so deadly serious about my dullness, my superficiality, my lack of real interest in myself or others and the thought struck me: ‘but now, just now, I am not dull!’ The very awareness of my dullness, my feeling really sorry to be dull, has made the difference! I am not dull at all, I am concentrated, full of vigour and affection as I keep on following Krishnamurti’s advice and observe myself in my daily comings and goings, thoughts and feelings, words and actions, I learn about myself, I discover the man I am; the man I have made of myself by not caring, not looking, not knowing, by not seeing myself against the background of others, in relationship with others. To discover others is important; to discover oneself is crucial; we are limited most when we do not know our limitations.

And suddenly the feeling of ‘all-this’ hits me like a tidal wave. I am no longer thinking ‘all-this’ — I am living it. I realize suddenly and powerfully the self-made hell in which I am keeping myself and in the very agony of realization I perceive that I am ‘not-all-this’, that I am no-kind-of-this; thought loses hold and ceases; the apparent solidity of a whirling mind is no more when it stops rotating and is at peace at last. The peace is also bliss. Anxieties and longings disturb our mind easily, for we are lacking in virtue, which is freedom from disturbing elements.

Krishnamurti is never tired of repeating that without self-knowledge, the fruit of attentive and persistant self-observation ‘free of approval and disapproval’, man is not complete, not mature, not fully human. His mind and feelings are still on the subhuman level, distorted by false desires, corroded by false pursuits, serving a non-existent entity, a fiction, he remains a creature of false imagination. To know the ‘I’ as false, to realise from moment to moment that it is only a mental habit, a way of thinking, is the gateway to liberation.

Chapter 3

The Language of Krishnamurti

by Rene