This month's missal takes a look at the 'anti-guru', U.G. Krishnamurti (1918-2007). UG was born in July of 1918 into a Brahmin family of means in South India. His mother died soon after, and he was raised by his maternal grandfather, who brought UG up in an atmosphere of religion and Theosophy. His early education was in the Hindu scriptures and spiritualism, with many of the early Theosophists, such as Colonel Olcott, coming by to visit his grandfather. This early training left an important mark on UG. He realized early on that even religious Indians and Theosophists were kept from knowing the truth through belief, rather than finding it for themselves.
"So, one thing I discovered when I was quite young was that they were all hypocrites: they said something, they believed something, and their lives were shallow, nothing. That was the beginning of my search. "
He continued his education in philosophy and psychology as well as in spiritual matters, eventually lecturing extensively, marrying in 1943. In 1955 he and his wife and four children moved to the United States in search of treatment for his eldest son's polio. He continued to lecture, and met with some of the great teachers of the time, including Ramana Maharshi and J. Krishnamurti
(no relation). He became increasingly frustrated with his search, feeling that no one had anything to give him, but that he must find an answer.
"I was so young, but I was determined to find out if there was any such thing as moksha, and I wanted that moksha for myself. Everybody is talking about moksha, liberation, freedom. What is that? I want to know for myself. These are all useless fellows, yet there must be some person in this world who is an embodiment and apostle of all those things. If there is one, I want to find out for myself." - "I must find out what that state is. Nobody can give that state; I am on my own. I have to go on this uncharted sea without a compass, without a boat, with not even a raft to take me. I am going to find out for myself what the state is in which that man is. I wanted that very much, otherwise I wouldn't have given my life."
His search for truth was beginning to be formulated by the question: what is that state, the state of moksha, of liberation? By 1960 the money he had inherited from his grandfather was spent, and he began to feel an inner upheaval, a change occurring within which led him to end his marriage and move to London. Though his friends thought he was headed downhill fast, he did not resist the urge, and remained homeless, spending his time wandering the streets of the city. He led this transient life for several years, eventually moving to Saanen in Switzerland, where as luck would have it, he met Valentine de Kerven. She took care of him, providing his basic needs along with a bit of grounding confrontation, while the change deepened,
His question now became: if I am in that state now, the state of moksha, how do I come to know this, how do I know?
"The search went on and on and on, and "What is that state?" was my question, and the question had an intensity of its own. The question "What is that state?" had a tremendous intensity for me -- not an emotional intensity -- the more I tried to find an answer, the more I failed to find an answer, the more intensity the question had. Then -- very strange -- that question "What is that state?" transformed itself into another question "How do I know that I am in that state, the state of Buddha, the state I very much wanted and demanded from everybody? I am in that state, but how do I know? I didn't have any answer for that question -- it was like a question in a whirlpool -- it went on and on and on. Then suddenly the question disappeared. Nothing happened; the question just disappeared."
The search had ended, not with an answer, but with the disappearance of the problem. UG calls this experience the "calamity ". Here is his own description:
The disappearance of his fundamental question, on discovering that it had no answer, was a physiological phenomenon, UG says, "a sudden 'explosion' inside, blasting, as it were, every cell, every nerve and every gland in my body." And with that 'explosion', the illusion that there is continuity of thought, that there is a center, an 'I' linking up the thoughts, was not there anymore. - "Then thought cannot link up. The linking gets broken, and once it is broken it is finished. Then it is not once that thought explodes; every time a thought arises, it explodes. So, this continuity comes to an end, and thought falls into its natural rhythm. "
"I call all these events the 'calamity'. I call it the 'calamity' because from the point of view of one who thinks this is something fantastic, blissful, full of beatitude, love, ecstasy and all that kind of a thing, this is physical torture -- this is a calamity from that point of view. Not a calamity to me, but a calamity to those who have an image that something marvelous is going to happen. It's not the thing that you had sought after and wanted so much, but totally different. What is there, you really don't know -- you have no way of knowing anything about that -- there is no image here".
After this sudden experience, on his 49th birthday, he underwent a series of changes to his senses and how his mind functioned, much akin to what Douglas Harding
describes as "headlessness". He then lived a nomadic live, never staying in one place for long, adamantly refusing to give formal lectures or correspond with anyone. Nevertheless, his talking and ranting, mostly about how he has no message to give, fill volumes. He insisted that he cannot help anyone, and that his life served no pupose as a guide in helping others to find realization. That said, his books and the websites devoted to him have a large following. He is described as being the anti-guru, the anti-Krishnamurti (a reference to J. Krishnamurti), and that his words are like grenades lobbed into the mind, destroying the hopes and fantasies of the thought-based ego that liberation will be a wonderful experience.
"I have no particular message for mankind, except to say that all holy systems for obtaining enlightenment are bunk, and that all talk of arriving at a psychological mutation through awareness is poppycock. Psychological mutation is impossible. The natural state can happen only through biological mutation. " - "It is an act of futility to relate my description to the way you are functioning. When you stop all this comparison, what is there is your Natural State. Then you will not listen to anybody."
Despite the fact that he denounced himself as a teacher and professed not to be able to help anyone, UG's work can be useful in confronting those whose spiritual egos may be the main stumbling block and attachment. Contrary to his rhetoric of having no message, I can't see any explanation of why he talked at such length of his history and experience, except that UG does care about those who hear him. Otherwise, the contradiction is hard to explain. He passed away in March of 2007.
- All above quotes by U. G. Krishnamurti -
- Related Sites -
"To read U.G. is to be introduced to a "spiritual terrorist": he overturns all of our accepted beliefs -- God, mind, soul, enlightenment, religion, humanity, heart, love, relationships -- and gives us a totally different picture of who we are. The result is a grenade in the brain." Web site contains archive of UG's books for viewing and download.
U.G Krishnamurti, an enigma:
"--a person who defies all classifications-- a philosopher, a Non-guru, guru, call him what you may. But, once you have read even a few words, seen a photo of his, your psyche will never be the same. He will permeate your being. His words and images will infect your mind like a virus. So, proceed with caution in exploring these conversations, quotes and photos." http://www.ugkrishnamurti.org/
Tricks and Traps
Trap: thinking that Liberation, or moksha, is a conclusion, a deduction: a product of thinking. If we are identified with the mind, we become trapped into believing it will eventually solve the problem of self-definition and thus leave us in peace. But the mind being a problem creator as well as solver, it will simply lead us into a new problem complete with a new, better solution, and so on, without end. Even worse, if we're lucky, it may force us to constantly defend, project, and renew any thought-based solution until we wear ourselves out, and are forced back to honest self-observation.
Trick: there is no solution, for there is no problem. Peace of mind is dependent on nature and circumstance; liberation is our true and present nature. While a quiet mind is a necessary step and found through effort, it is not the final goal. By a combination of watching our thoughts and looking at the looker, we become detached from the mind, and find that true peace lies beyond it. Then, circumstance and our daily life will no longer be the problem, since a solution is no longer sought in thought, world, or mind. No longer hounded by the mind to fix ourselves, our lives simplify, and we reside in peace within, while the mind and its world of thought is relegated to practical matters, only.
* * * * * *
The Hi-Jacking of Thought: The Paradox of Fear and Death
In spiritual work, we hear a lot about the so-called 'false self'. We may then decide, based on our new found information, to distance ourselves from this 'self', and look for something else we have heard of : the real 'Self'. This splitting of our 'selves', sad to say, becomes just another trap of the mind to keep us lost in the realm of thought. After some honest self-observation, we may see that we have invented a problem so that we might continue unabated in our love affair with thought. Fearing a loss of continuity of thought, which we equate with death, we enter a new 'spiritual' realm in which we can become lost for years, perhaps lifetimes. Let us take a look at this realm of thought and its various selves, and see why we worship it so, this paradox, this trap of mind and fear from which few escape.
Let's take a look at a man involved in ordinary life, and see how the circle of his mind works. He has a bad day at the office, where his boss berates him, causing a loss of self-esteem. He returns home and starts his daily meditation practice, intent on regaining some peace of mind after the trauma of the day. He meditates on things holy, on the words of wise men that tell him he is immortal, infinite and serene, and that it's just that false self thing that is troubled and disturbed. His body calms down, and he finds a bit of energy, feels renewed, and the holy words of how he is Everything and One pump up his deflated ego until he feels he can face life once more. He is now reassured that the self he seeks through his spiritual ambition is the real one, and the false self the one that was deflated in daily life. He has convinced himself that one day he will make the real self permanent, and ditch the false one for good. But come later that night, his wife points out some fault of his, the kids are being kids, and he finds himself back in the dumps again. His resolve to be the better self is forgotten amid the onslaught of circumstance.
Now, if your goal is just to be a better person and get by as best you can, this all might not make sense, but if you've had the intuition that life, in thought alone, is a zero-sum game, let's take a look at the basis of our man's dilemma. He has, first off, become lost in thought, and secondly, believes that more thought will somehow release him. His ego has split itself into several objects. One is the judging, critical man who resolves to change, and dumps all problems on the heads of the others, including his false selves. These unlucky saps are the pairs of polar opposite selves, including the everyday man of action, whom he calls his 'false self', and its twin illusion, the 'real self' he aspires to, projected as innocent, perfect, and always just out of sight. The common ground of this menagerie is thought. All are patterns of thought. In any valid sentence structure we have a subject, an object, and a verb. It is the same in our man with one difference: he is lacking the verb, and changes from subject to object at the drop of a hat. The subject/object is the ego, or self, which splits and changes according to circumstance, and the missing verb is our basic seeing, the observer.
Our man's subject/object thought-patterns can be seen as two movies: one an inner drama of thought, memory and concepts, being basically reactions to the other movie: the outer world of the body. When the outer world, say the man's boss, delivers a negative shock, an affliction to the man's individuality sense, he is then forced to counter this in the inner drama with positive thoughts in order to maintain his ego. This is the real function of his so-called meditation; an attempt to get his ego back on its feet, and reaffirm his sense of existence. This cycle is self-perpetuating and circular; it never ends of its own accord. It is simply thought maintaining a belief in itself, through the fear of thought coming to an end. It is not spiritual, good, bad or even real. It will only end when we no longer fear its end. Only when we can face the moment alone, without running headlong back into the realm of thought, do we have a chance of facing our self, much less actually going within.
This pattern of identification with thought is rationalization of fear and desire; it is not proper thinking. Thinking has been hi-jacked and is now used to keep the idea of our 'self', itself a thought, alive. It is lying to one's self to keep the storyline intact. Thought is used to manufacture a 'real self', which we aspire to, or believe in. We then reject our present state, the 'now' of seeing, the verb, in favor of an illusion that we desire, or an image we are running away from. Thus we are unreal, a thought. A thought endlessly forced to modify itself to avoid the present moment, for that would bring the facts into play and end the continuity of thought, which is seen as death. If we could just look, or observe, rather than thinking about what we think we see, we could 'sit with' or accept what we see. This is to go within, rather than the seeking to bolster the 'self' by thinking our way out of the moment. Thought is hi-jacked through fear, the fear of the end of thought. What a paradox, and what a trap, one in which the only true escape is through the very death of the fear of the end of thought. This dis-identification with our own mind will usually be considered only if it is forced upon us, by utter failure or trauma, baring intense true earnestness. We must uphold our pride in order to avoid facing the end of thought, our basic fear, and thus until our pride, our knowing, is so badly shaken that we can once again see clearly, we will not consider anything outside of our pride in our mind.
As U. G. Krishnamurti points out, we can never return to our natural state of enlightenment by the rearranging of our thoughts: psychological mutation. We must actually change what we are, our basic identity, and thus leave thought aside. We return to our true state, that of seeing rather than thinking. But how? The trap is almost foolproof. Any effort on our part is just more thinking, an unreal self trying to catch it's tail, going ever faster until it flies up its own you know what. Some teachers tell us that earnestness is the key, that we must become so earnest in our search that we become a living vector towards truth. True, but definitely the exception to the rule. For most of us this lies farther down the road, and a little convincing might be in order first.
To gain this conviction, this earnestness, we can do two things. First, we take care of ourselves. We save our energy, however we can, and lead a simple, directed life. This gives our intuition a chance to mature, and our reason a chance to purify. Secondly, and here's the hard part: we learn to look, to listen, to observe. We learn to return our thinking to what it does best, which is running the practical matters of life, such as earning a living and fighting spam. Then, free of plotting and planning our future victory over the universe and ourselves, we instead take up the arduous task of self-observation. Life will give us plenty of opportunities for this, if we are brave, and learn to sit in the silence within. We can't look directly within at first, we would only be indulging in fantasy and escape. But we can learn to look at our sense of 'self', when life threatens this sense. Next time you feel a threat to your basic sense of existence, to the thought of who you are, instead of running away or countering it with another thought, simply look at it. Thus we retreat from thought, backing within, in an oblique manner. This also gives one a sense of direction, of where 'within' really lies. When thoughts arise and the spin of thinking comes rushing back, don't go with it, but sit quietly and just look. Accept the pain of the ego in its fear of death, and look at its root. Look at the fear, the need to run away into distraction and thought. Stay focused, quiet and brave, and allow yourself to be in the moment. After a time, you will come to know this direction, the way within, and will come to look at your troubles as opportunities for further meditation. The sense of being the doer or subject will fade, the attention will be freed, and thought will be seen for the reaction it is. Motion and mind will no longer be your 'self', and listening with attention will be valued more than plotting. This is true meditation, and the road Home.
- Quotes of the Month -
" All experiences, spiritual or otherwise, are the basic cause of our suffering.
" The plain fact is that if you don't have a problem, you create one. If you don't have a problem you don't feel that you are living.
" Sexuality, if it is left to itself, as it is in the case of other species, other forms of life, is merely a biological need, because the living organism has this object to survive and produce one like itself. Anything you superimpose on that is totally unrelated to the living organism. But we have turned that, what you call sexual activity, which is biological in its nature, into a pleasure movement.
" It is fear that makes you believe that you are living and that you will be dead. What we do not want is the fear to come to an end. That is why we have invented all these new minds, new sciences, new talks, therapies, choiceless awareness and various other gimmicks.
" You love fear. The ending of fear is death, and you don't want that to happen. I am not talking of wiping out the phobias of the body. They are necessary for survival. The death of fear is the only death." - U. G. Krishnamurti
" Fear, I realized, was the result of my own imaginative world I created, and that is how I was trapped. When you are able to release yourself from your own imagination then all of a sudden you are free." - Bryce Dallas Howard
" Imagination and fiction make up more than three quarters of our real life."- Simone Weil
" The ability to delude yourself may be an important survival tool." - Jane Wagner
" The highest form of spiritual work is the realization of the essence of man. You never learn the answer; you can only become the answer." - Richard Rose
"Tell the truth and run." - Yugoslavian proverb
"...They discovered only a small asteroid inhabited by a solitary old man who claimed repeatedly that nothing was true, though he was later discovered to be lying."- Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
"In the end, everything is a gag." - Charlie Chaplin
Copyright 2004 - Robert Fergeson. All Rights Reserved.