Friday, October 15, 2010

KRISHNAMURTI AND THE TRUE ESSENCE OF MINDFULNESS

When I was an undergraduate Arts/Law student at the University of Sydney in the 1970s - a wonderful time to be alive - I spent probably more time in the Adyar Bookshop, in Sydney, run by the Theosophical Society, than I did in the university library.

It was during those years that I "discovered" the great debunker and iconoclast J. Krishnamurti, and I have been in love with his "teachings", and the man himself, ever since. I am not alone. Others have written eloquently of the tremendous impact Krishnamurti had upon them.  For example, Kahlil Gibran wrote, “When he entered my room I said to myself, ‘Surely the lord of love has come’,”  and even the ordinarily cynical George Bernard Shaw exclaimed about Krishnamurti, “He is the most beautiful human being I have ever seen.”

Now, for the benefit of the uninitiated (or perhaps just the uneducated or at best uninterested), during the first 3 decades of last century a number of Theosophists proclaimed that a young Brahmin by the name of Jiddu Krishnamurti (1895-1986) [pictured above] was to be the vehicle of the World Teacher (also known as the Lord Maitreya, the “Living Christ”, the Lord of Love), the supposed head of the occult hierarchy, whose coming the Theosophists had predicted. Note, not the World Teacher himself, but perhaps a “vehicle” through which the World Teacher would speak, that is, that Krishnamurti would or at least might be “overshadowed” by the World Teacher. These people even set up a special order known as The Order of the Star in the East, and made young Krishnamurti its head.

The Theosophical movement in Australia had quite an impact, particularly in the 1920s and 30s. Indeed, Sydney became a major Theosophical centre in the 1920s, with much of the attention focused on the building, by The Order of the Star in the East, of a large Grecian Doric style amphitheatre, known as the Star Amphitheatre,
 at Balmoral Beach, in 1923-24 (see photograph below). [For more information on the Star Amphitheatre, here is an interesting document produced by Mosman Council.]

However, things didn't go according to plan ... well, not according to certain peoples' plans. In 1929 Krishnamurti dissolved The Order of the Star in the East and repudiated the supposed Messianic status that some had conferred upon him. In his historic and oft-quoted speech delivered at Ommen, in Holland, on 3 August 1929 Krishnamurti explained why religious organizations cannot lead us to Truth. This is just a small part of what he had to say on that momentous day:

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. Truth is narrowed down and made a plaything for those who are weak, for those who are only momentarily discontented. Truth cannot be brought down, rather the individual must make the effort to ascend to it. You cannot bring the mountain-top to the valley. If you would attain to the mountain-top you must pass through the valley, climb the steeps, unafraid of the dangerous precipices. You must climb towards the Truth, it cannot be "stepped down" or organized for you. ...  

Here is some very rare film footage of Krishnamurti in New York (in 1928) and Ojai, California (in 1930), reading what he had said at the Ommen Star Camp on 3 August 1929 on the occasion of the dissolution of The Order of the Star in the East:


World Teacher or not, to millions of people all over the world, including myself, Krishnamuti spoke with deep authority and always from a position of integrity. He was the embodiment of Truth. Yes, truth is a "pathless land" and you cannot approach it by any creed or path whatsoever. Religions, belief systems, rites, rituals, ceremonies, saviours, priests, mediators, intermediaries of all kinds, gurus ... none of the foregoing can lead you to truth. Indeed, they are barriers to truth, says Krishnamurti.

Buddha himself said when explaining to the Kalama tribespeople what was his authority, "Let experience be your guru.  If what I say accords with that, accept it, if not, discard it." Then there's the story in the Avadhuta Gita which talks of the Avadhuta who stopped at a wayside inn and was asked by the innkeeper, "What is your teaching?" The Avadhuta replied, "There is no teacher, no teaching and no one taught," before proceeding to walk away.

So it was with the great saboteur J. Krishnamurti. He would invariably say, in his "dialogues", to those who came to listen to him, "This is not a lecture. This is not an entertainment. You are not here to listen to me. You are here to listen to yourself."

Direct perception of truth is, however, possible, when there is what Krishnamurti called “choiceless awareness” of life as it really is. The important thing is life itself. Whatever life may be, it is all here now, and all we have to do is to learn to perceive it here and now. We need to see each thing as it really is - as a new moment. Every experience is a memory. Thought is memory. The "I" of us is habit, and the "me" is brought about through thought. As Buddha also taught, those mere mental constructs have no reality by themselves. We must learn to view each new experience without judgment, condemnation or evaluation. Don’t try. Let.

Between 1929 and 1986 Krishnamurti travelled the world telling others that there was no “technique”, “path” or "system" to the direct perception of truth.

Krishnamurti spoke and wrote much on the subject of meditation even though he never taught any particular "system" or "type" of meditation other than the direct and choiceless awareness of both the world and the whole movement of oneself.

Meditation, he made clear, is not concentration or control of thought. It is being aware of every thought and feeling, just watching and moving with them, without judgment, but only with choiceless awareness. It occurs when the mind understands its own movement as thought and feeling with complete attention, for meditation demands an alert mind ... a state of mind which looks at everything with complete, but bare, attention ... a state of mind that is entirely free and unconditioned. Freedom, he always said, was the beginning, not the endpoint or object, of meditation.

Meditation, which Krishnamurti saw as a lifelong inquiry into what it means to be truly present and aware, occurs when you live in the action of the present moment, as opposed to the so-called present moment itself, for the moment you say the present moment you are in the past, you are involved in memory, and thus not living in the present moment. One can only be said to live in the present when the mind is free from all ideas of "self". When you have the idea of "self" (that is, of "I" and "me") you are living either in the past or in the future. Pure Krisnamurti!

Krishnamurti taught that selfishness is the essential problem of our life. We need to be set unconditionally free ... from ourselves! Self-liberation is possible, and it takes only one form ... a psychological mutation ... and it can happen instantaneously. Don’t ask how. There is no method or technique. Stop seeking a reality promised by others. Stop believing in someone else’s version of truth. If it can be explained, it is not truth.

Krishnamurti was perhaps the first world teacher who said that “you have to be your own teacher and your own disciple”. Now, that was new, and original. No wonder His Holiness the Dalai Lama referred to Krishnamurti as “one of the greatest thinkers of the age”, and Time Magazine named him “one of the five saints of the 20th century”.

Here is a copy of an expanded version of an address I delivered in Sydney in September 2006 entitled "Krishnamurti and the Star in the East".

For more information on J. Krishnamurti visit the Krishnamurti Australia website.


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1 comment:

  1. Amazing you tube video. So clear and so young looking.....his wisdom at such an early age is inspiring. Your blog is getting better and better.

    E

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