"The Mind of J Krishnamurti" edited by Luis S R Vas 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. The editor is being too modest to call the book an introduction to Krishnamurti's thinking. It is a compendium perceived and understood by his many admirers among who were Aldous Huxley and Henry Miller.
Krishnamurti gave up fame, wealth and a well organised group of 100,000 followers under the Order of the Star for his inherent belief in liberation and truth. He has had a chequered history. He was discovered at the age of 12 by Dr Annie Besant, herself a genius and a great theosophist and the first foreigner to hold the post of President of the Indian Congress, a rare achievement. She brought Krishnamurti and his brother up like her own children. She gave them the best of education and an environment conducive for their intellectual development. Dr Besant herself was a noted clairvoyant. She saw in him the making of a world teacher, the ability to bring a new era. Indeed, he was heralded as an awatar.
He, however, did not want anything to do with power and organisational structure. He wanted to find his way alone and unaided. He dissolved the society, "Order of the Star", gave back all that Dr Besant and her colleague, C W Leadbeater had raised to ensure his economic independence.
He renounced the role of a teacher and considered himself just a man among men. "I cannot "teach" another, he says, "the perception of Truth, of Reality, is essentially an individual process." He believed that man being free is wholly responsible to himself unguided by any plan, by any spiritual authority, by any divine dispensation whatsoever.
He saw "personality" as the result of past experiences. One tends to see the present only in relation to one's past and plan the future with the data gathered from it. The only way to solve problems, he postulates, is through total awareness- that is direct or first hand experience of the living reality. We can achieve that by living in the present- here now.
He reminds us that fundamentally it is not what we do that matters but how we do it and why. He asks us to abandon invented rites, to go into the substance and the meaning of daily actions. To him liberation is never a result. It can not be promoted or stimulated. Many hold on to rites and ceremonies for the sake of the pleasant emotional responses they provoke. Such people seek sensory and emotional satisfaction rather then liberation. They are like the worshippers (me included) who prefer God's favours to God himself. Liberation cannot fall into greedy hands.
In his writings on "What is the religious Mind?" (Appendix A) Krishnamurti explains that "believing this dogma and denying that dogma, going from prison to prison, from temple to temple, doing endless puja- all that is not a religious mind at all, it is merely traditional mind bound by fear." The Dissolution of the Order of the Star" (Appendix A) is of historical interest and epitomises his belief- that there is no salvation outside oneself and no Guru or society can save one. It is a passionate and eloquent speech and is considered one of the greatest speeches of the last century.
It is difficult to understand what Krishnamurti says. Sometimes it appears to be contradictions. Sometimes it is difficult to separate our materialistic baggage from his spiritual connotations. How does one give up one's past? There is a saying that one must look at the past in order to understand the present and prepare for the future.
One great critique of Krishnamurti was Geoffrey Hodson, a respected Theosophist himself. In his book, "Krishnamurti and the Search of Light (1939)" Hodson takes Krishnamurti to task on many issues. While appreciating Krishnamurti's "flashes of transcendental wisdom and penetrating intelligence" Hodson also sees Krishnamurti's utterances as being prejudicial, intolerant and vituperative.
Ravi Ravindra, who knew Krishnamurti at close quarters, sums up very aptly Kirshnamurti's personality in his book "Two Birds on One Tree (1995). Krishnamurti had two distinct parts. When he spoke with his deep spiritual essence it was as if "the heavenly choir were singing. The listener felt blessed and in total accord." Then there was also "the relatively superficial personality, formed by his personal history and his struggles to be free of spiritual tyranny." When in that state he was like a discordant note.
From the Publisher:
The present volume is a study of this rare phenomenon as reflected in the life and thought of one man who had greatness thrust upon him early in life and who later achieved a different kind of greatness, only to give it all up: J. Krishnamurti. It is a strange story, now almost forgotten largely due to Krishnamurti's own efforts. And it uncovers a strange mind, still very imperfectly understood.