Tuesday, 20 December 2016

The Reluctant Buddha, The Reticent Messiah - Jiddu Krishnamurti

As much as Jiddu Krishnamurti would have dismissed all claims made by others that he was something extraordinary still there are those who suggest he was. During his lifetime, when in the land of his birth, Indian's would kowtow to him, revere and praise him, try to place garlands of flowers around his neck in their adulation of a man they perceived as holy. He would politely resist, forever dismissing their adoration of him saying he was nothing. They thought otherwise, they thought him special. 

Many Zen Buddhist's maintain the man the world knew as K was the reincarnation of Siddhartha Gautama, The Lord Buddha. They drew comparisons with The Buddha's teachings and those of Krishnamurti's. Krishnamurti dismissed such suggestions saying he didn't believe in reincarnation only incarnation. Others have voiced opinions that Krishnamurti presented the ultimate Tao. Many of his views were, and remain, remarkably similar. Those that follow The Tao still think he was special.

Doctor Motwani, a long-standing friend of K, once said, "Krishnaji, (an affectionate term used by many) whenever I am with you I feel I am in the holy presence of the Buddha."

K smiled and asked, "But have you ever been in his presence?"

During his lifetime Krishnamurti was fetéd by a host of people including the likes of Aldous Huxley who said: "Hearing Krishnamurti speak was like listening to a discourse of the Buddha - such power, such intrinsic authority."  Physicists Fritjof Capra and George Sudarshan, Theoretical Physicist and Quantum Theorist Doctor David Bohm, biologist Rupert Sheldrake and psychiatrist David Shainberg all met with Krishnamurti with David Bohm becoming a fast friend for the greater part of twenty-seven years until the two men had a falling out. Author Henry Miller found: "Krishnamurti's language is naked, revelatory and inspiring."  Whilst Van Morrison had this to say: "I feel the meaning of Krishnamurti for our time is that one has to think for oneself and not be swayed by any outside religions or spiritual authorities."

It was Annie Besant, along with Charles Webster Leadbeater who promoted Krishnamurti as being the new world teacher, the embodiment of Lord Maitreya - a Theosophist concept of an advanced spiritual entity - a reincarnation of those legendary figures throughout the ages, like Moses, Siddhártha Gautama, Zarathustra, Jesus of Nazareth, Muhammad ibn 'Abdulláh but it was Leadbeater who first saw the boy child on a beach in India. It was 1909 and the long search Theosophist's had undertaken to find the 'chosen one' finally was over. Krishnamurti was just thirteen. For the next six years, Leadbeater oversaw the education of Krishnamurti ensuring the young man had the very best advantages one could desire. Feeling his task finished, Leadbeater left India in 1915 and moved to Australia. Funny enough at first it wasn't Jiddu that caught the attention of Leadbeater, it was his younger brother, Nityananda, who captivated the older man's imagination.

Jiddu Krishnamurti was born in 1895 in Madanapalle, Madras, India. The son of Jiddu Narayaniah and Sanjeevamma. His father was an unexceptional man who worked for the British as an administrator. He was very close to his mother who died when he was only ten leaving a large gap in Krishnamurti's life. It was Annie Besant who filled that gap when she adopted the brothers. 

Following an extensive and exhaustive education which revealed Krishnamurti as having problems with formal schooling - he was not particularly academic even though he learned to speak several foreign languages fluently and was good at sport which seems ironic now in view of the path he took later in life - the Theosophical Society formed the Order of the Star of the East to prepare the world for a new teacher, one who would help to create a better, brighter future for humankind. At its head was to be the sixteen-year-old Jiddu Krishnamurti. A role he had long been prepared for yet a role he felt uncomfortable with. In the same year, 1911, Jiddu and his brother Nitya were taken to England.  It was here that Krishnamurti gave his first public speech. It was to be the first of many.

Eleven years later, on 17th August 1922, Krishnamurti felt a sharp, piercing pain at the nape of his neck. The pain lasted for two days leaving him with a loss of appetite along with delirious ramblings. To those who witnessed this event, Krishnamurti appeared to slip into unconsciousness. He later said this was not the case, that he was very aware of all that was going on around him. The next day these symptoms grew stronger, more intense leaving K feeling as though he had had a "mystical union." This was followed the day after by a huge sense of peace. This episode was to repeat throughout his life specifically at night. It was a thing he called "the process."

"... woke up early with that strong feeling of otherness, of another world that is beyond all thought... there is a heightening of sensitivity. Sensitivity, not only to beauty but also to all other things. The blade of grass was astonishingly green; that one blade of grass contained the whole spectrum of colour; it was intense, dazzling and such a small thing, so easy to destroy..."

 There were those you chose to turn this nightly happening into something supernatural but with typical rationality and lucidity Krishnamurti dismissed such notions. 

"It is strange how during one or two interviews that strength, that power filled the room. It seemed to be in one's eyes and breath. It comes into being, suddenly and most unexpectedly, with a force and intensity that is quite overpowering and at other times it's there, quietly and serenely. But it's there, whether one wants it or not."

Of course, rumours soon spread about this event giving fuel to the Theosophist's claim that here was the New Messiah. Then, three years later in 1925, Nitya died of TB. His brother's death shook K to the core. The whole episode was made all the worse as the Theosophist's had promised that no harm could fall Nitya as he was fundamental to the cause. 

Over the next few years, whenever publicly speaking, Krishnamurti moved his talk away from the Theosophist terminology as he embraced a deeper sense of spirituality. One freed from dogma. It was now 1929, Krishnamurti's throne awaited, all he need do was step up and seat himself as the Head of the Order of the Star of the East. But he didn't. Instead, he refuted all claims to his messianic attributes and dissolved the organization saying ...

"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 coerce people along a particular path. ... 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."

If he were the New Messiah then this single act was the equivalent of Jesus dismissing the false claims made about him thereby destroying Christianity before it even started. 

Of course, there were those who boldly stated he was extraordinary, that h performed supernatural acts. Author, Susunaga Weerraperuma was one.In his book, "J.Krishnamurti as I Knew Him," he writes a long passage on how K healed the sick. Oddly, the author then publishes Krishnamurti's disavowal that he ever did any such thing. All, he says he did was to help others.  By this he means he showed others how to 'heal' themselves by first healing their minds, a case of 'physician  heal thyself.' There was nothing magical about Jiddu Krishnamurti yet there was something remarkable about him that would give those seeking a leader a method by which to elevate the man to godhood.

Krishnamurti disavowed all guru's, all priests, all need for organized religion suggesting that all the human race need do was change themselves to change the world. For sixty-five years had traveled the globe where he attracted large crowds eager to hear his wisdom. He always referred to himself as the speaker and about what he said as the teachings, not his teachings.

"He engaged in dialogues with religious leaders, scientists, teachers, authors, psychologists, students, celebrities and other interested people."

"Krishnamurti’s life in the valley was quiet. Wearing a large Mexican hat to shade him while walking, he mingled and sang songs with the orange pickers working in the East End groves. He walked all through the hills and to the top of the Topa Topa ridge and Chief Peak. He went to the Ojai Theater, if a Disney movie, animal film, or American musical classic such as “Oklahoma,” ” Brigadoon,” or “Annie Get Your Gun” was playing."

"Some have said that Krishnamurti indirectly established the intellectual and social climate of the Ojai Valley. From his earliest days here, he attracted people from all over the world who traveled here to interview him and attend his yearly talks in the Oak Grove in Meiners Oaks. Among those were Aldous Huxley and Dr. David Bohm, Jackson Pollack, Christopher Isherwood, and Ann Morrow Lindbergh. Hollywood stars such as Charlie Chaplin, Elsa Lanchester, Greta Garbo, and Charles Laughton also came to the valley to hear him, as his reputation grew worldwide."
"Krishnamurti met with everyone – famous or unknown, intellectual or not – listening and asking questions about the deeper issues of life that are relevant to all people. Those thought-provoking discussions and talks were initially recorded as verbatim reports, and in later years on audio and video tapes. But most people have come to know of these teachings through books." - http://ojaihistory.com/krishnamurti-and-the-ojai-valley/
Like Jesus or Muhammad, he was human therefore flawed. He married, had a child then divorced. He had a long lasting, clandestine affair which ultimately failed. All of which does not distract one jot from the wisdom he imparted any more than the Christian Messiah's did him it just reveals him as being like anyone of us which means that anyone of us can be like him if we only seek to know ourselves.

Jiddu Krishnamurti spent a lifetime showing those who had the wisdom to listen how to be free of indoctrination, of dogma, of ritual. He has shown to me the need to think for myself. He has shown to me that those of faith need not go through vicars, priests, imams or rabbi's or Pope's when they seek to talk to God they only need to go direct.

God is just a word for the indescribable, the unknowable, a thing greater than ourselves and yet which we are part of. There is no mysticism concerning its existence it is simply there. 

During the last decade of his life, Krishnamurti grew ever frailer. At times he looked like a bag of bones held together by cloth and determination. He continued to travel and to speak. Films exist of these talks and in them, you can see the hand of K shake as he wipes the corner of his mouth. Where he got his energy from is any body's guess. He died of pancreatic cancer in February 1986 aged ninety. Nature makes no mistakes. Even if we think it cruel at times nature merely is.

A lot of what he said, and of what he wrote was repetitive but for a good reason; the message was worth repeating. Only we can change this world. We as individuals. For only by changing ourselves can we change that which prevents our governments, our leaders, out Kings and Queens, our Presidents, our corporations, for dictating the manner in which we live.

There are a great many books by Krishnamurti, all worth a read but I would recommend these as starters - "The First and Last Freedom," "Freedom From the Known," "The Only Revolution," This Light in Oneself," and "The Book of Life."

Jiddu Krishnamurti's name is now, having slipped quietly from public consciousness, resurfacing. Not as the New Buddha but as a man of enlightenment who knew himself and whose one desire was to show others how to know themselves. I  thank him for that.

Russell Cuts the Corn From The Brewers Whiskers.

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