Mental peace and happiness are threatened by depression, anxiety, fear, jealousy and disintegrating personal relationships. Divisions, fragmentations and violence threaten the world as never before In these troubled times, sane guidance of J. Krishnamurti could be a light to the humanity.
THE EARLY YEARS
Born in 1895 at Madanapalle- a small hill town between Chennai and Bangalore, Jiddu Krishnamurti was identified as a world teacher by Annie Besant (President of Theosophical Society) when he was a small boy. Mrs. Besant adopted K and his brother Nitya, took them to England and took care of them as a mother. She arranged for K’s education and mentored and prepared him to be a world teacher. K later rose to become a leading teacher for Theosophical Society and was made the Head of the Order of the Star which had thousands of followers, scores of branches and centers and properties all over the world.
But destiny had other scheme for K. After acquiring enlightenment in his early thirties, K severed himself from the Theosophical Society in 1929. Glimpses of the path K had to take thereafter, came from his last address as the head of the Order of the Star:
“Truth is a pathless land and you cannot approach it by any path whatsoever, by any method, by any religion, by any sect. Truth being limitless, unconditioned, unapproachable by any path whatsoever, cannot be organized. You must climb towards the Truth, it cannot be “stepped down” or organized for you. If an organization is created for this purpose, it becomes a crutch, a weakness, a bondage, and must cripple the individual, and prevent him from growing. Therefore, I don’t want to belong to any organization. I am not a guru. I have no disciples. If there are only five people who will listen, who want to live differently, who have their faces turned towards eternity, it is sufficient.”
With these words, K disbanded Order of the Star and entered life afresh as an ordinary man- unattached and unburdened by any bondage whatsoever.
COMING OF A MASTER
Thereafter, K continued on his chosen path to alleviate human suffering- travelling, talking, discussing and questioning people who were serious. K’s communication was largely interactive- small group discussions, dialogues with scientists and philosophers, discussions with sanyasis, Q/A sessions with children, youth and common people. Participation in his talks was meditation in action. In fact, K taught us to live differently so that living itself becomes meditation. All his life, till his death in 1986 at the age of 90, K asserted that his words should not be followed blindly. Like Buddha, K advocated questioning, reasoning, critical thinking- depending only on realities of everyday life as evidence not on any scriptures or theories, however high sounding. He invited some of the leading global scientists, philosophers, educators, psychologists to discuss, challenge and refute what he was saying. Main reason for the lack of popular awareness of K’s teachings is his conscious efforts that no organization should be formed to interpret and evaluate his teachings for others. Fortunately, many books authored by K and videos of his talks and discussions are available as direct and unadulterated tools to guide future generations.
Initially, K was shy and reluctant to write. In 1938, a new friendship with eminent intellectual and author Aldous Huxley brought K’s teachings to the notice of the world. When Huxley first heard K speak, he remarked: “This was among the most impressive things I ever heard. It was like listening to a discourse of the Buddha- such power, such intrinsic authority, such an uncompromising refusal to allow any escapes or surrogates, any gurus or saviours.”
LESSONS FOR LIVING
Huxley persuaded K to write his observations as a daily journal. This journal was later published as a three volume series titled “Commentaries on Living”- a refreshingly new style of prose containing recordings of K’s observation of nature, his thoughts on life and accounts of his interactions with individuals and groups (keeping identities confidential). Some of K’s important books are “Freedom from the Known”, “The First and Last Freedom”, “You are the World”, “Ending of Time”, “On Self Knowledge” et al. Significant videos include a set of dialogues with scientists and psychotherapists titled “The Nature of the Mind”. These discussions are about the roots of psychological disorders and how a healthy mind can be developed by ending conflicts and suffering.
Another profound video is titled “The Transformation of Man”- a series of seven one hour dialogues with Dr David Bohm and Dr Shainberg (a prominent psychotherapist of USA) discussing why change is so difficult for human beings.
What are Krishnamurti’s essential teachings? Difficult to comprehend by eminent philosophers and psychotherapists, but easy enough to heal the suffering of an uneducated old lady, K’s teachings are sure to influence modern thought.
Nobody understood K’s teachings better than Dr. David Bohm with whom K had discussions on “Nature of the Mind”, “Psychological Time” and “Reality”. Dr. Bohm, whom Einstein regarded as his intellectual successor, was a foremost physicist and one of the greatest scientific minds of the 20th century. He was an authority in diverse fields like Quantum Mechanics, Theory of Relativity, Philosophy of Mind and Neuropsychology. Says Dr. Bohm: “Krishnamurti’s major discovery is that all the disorder, widespread misery and sorrow, is because we are ignorant of the general nature of our thought processes. To put it differently, it may be said that we do not see what is actually happening when we are engaged in the activity of thinking.
Krishnamurti’s work is permeated by what may be called the essence of the scientific approach- in its very highest and purest form.”
Some of K’s quotations are given hereunder:-
Regarding our mind: “Observer is the observed. Analyzer is the analyzed. There is no thought if the thinker is not?”
“Identification with any group or religion or caste or nation inevitably leads to divisions, conflicts and wars”
“Right thinking comes through self knowledge. Without self knowledge, what you think is not true.”
“Relationships are the mirror through which self knowledge can take place”
“Life has no meaning without right relationships and right relationships are not possible if we have images about self and others”
These quotations are presented out of context, but have huge implications for right living. Real meaning of these quotes can be understood if we seriously go a little deeper.
TOWARDS A NEW EDUCATION
Krishnamurti believed that change in human beings and therefore in society, is possible only through right education. Some alternate/ experimental schools, based on K’s teachings, were established in India, England and USA. New areas of learning like “self knowledge”,” living together through global outlook”, “development of intelligence and creativity without competition and comparisons”, “critical thinking” etc. were introduced in these schools about 50 years ago. These areas, identified recently by UNESCO as “Learning to Be” and “Learning to Live Together”, are now being recognized as the most important pillars of modern education and are being implemented in some of the best schools everywhere.
This is the story of an extraordinary man who was an original thinker, a sage, a philosopher of the mind, a psychotherapist, a teacher of teachers, who taught us a different way of living.