The man whom no one understood!

People say it is difficult to understand Jiddu Krishnamurti’s philosophy. I agree. But if you think you have to understand Krishnamurti’s philosophy, you are already on the wrong path. For there is nothing called Krishnamurti’s philosophy. There is only one thing - understanding yourself. Krishnamurti is just a mirror for you to look into yourself. Looking into yourself requires infinite patience and tremendous courage. It is not an easy thing to do. No wonder people never understood Krishnamurti.

I first heard of Krishnamurti when I was reading a Telugu magazine article on “overcoming your fears”. It had a side-note on Krishnamurti who said - Fear is created by thought - thought which is the operation of past memory, past experience and past knowledge”. I thought it was an interesting way of looking at fear and remembered his name. So years later when I found Krishnamurti book stall at the popular Vijayawada annual book festival, I immediately stepped inside to explore his writings. I purchased an introductory book which is a compilation of his lectures and discussions. I did not understand much of what he said but the simplicity and novelty of his ideas intrigued me. The spiritual books I read till then (Vivekananda, upanishads etc) all started well but later went into too much spiritual jargon that bored me! So I found Krishnamurti’s approach very fresh and direct. Usage of plain English and conversational style to discuss profound topics of life is something I first found and loved in Krishnamurti, which I later found in other Gurus like Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev and Osho.

But inspite of his simple language and his avoidance of stereotypes, Krishnamurti is not easy to understand. “Sir, please, we are talking over together. This is not a lecture, where you listen, you are told, or given certain concepts, certain formulas, certain cliches, and you accept them and go home. But here we are not lecturing, we are having a conversation to find out, to enquire deeply. And I hope that you are going to do this, not merely listen to the speaker but also use the speaker as a mirror in which you see yourself. And when you have seen yourself you can throw away the mirror.” - Krishnamurti would often begin his talks with words similar to these. Inspite of his repeated requests to not “believe in anything he says” but “think through and find it out yourself”, people “lost” him and formed “theories and concepts” around his teachings! We are not trained from our childhood to observe our thoughts impartially and silently, but I feel this is a prerequisite to understand Krishnamurti. Instead, our minds are trained to form concepts and theories from what we read but again and again Krishnamurti insists that “all ideas lead us away from truth”. For him truth is like a flowing stream, fresh and ever changing, but our minds are too impatient to observe and assimilate the minute by minute wonders of the creation.

That is why I feel it is not accurate to call Krishnamurti a “philosopher”, in the normal sense of the word. “Philosopher” implies the existence of a philosophy, but Krishnamurti had no philosophy. Even though he published what he called as “core of the teachings”, it is neither a philosophy nor even a method to approach truth. He was against all methods, all teachings, all philosophies, all ideas and ideals! He proclaimed, “Truth is a pathless land. Man cannot come to it through any organization, through any creed, through any dogma, priest or ritual, not through any philosophical knowledge or psychological technique!”. If all this is still too confusing, let me give a specific example to illustrate how Krishnamurti’s mind operated. Once he was asked what would he do if his mother or sister is attacked before his eyes. The questioner had possibly heard of Krishnamurti speaking against violence and so wanted to know how he would react in a violent situation. Krishnamurti replied something like this - “Sir, you ask me, what will I do if my sister is attacked. I will say, I don't know. I will know when the attack happens. I will act at that moment. My intelligence, because I love, have compassion, that compassion creates that intelligence, that intelligence will operate at that moment.

If Krishnamurti did not believe in any teaching or method or philosophy, what exactly did he want to convey through his talks? The answer can be found in the “core of the teachings” itself - “Man has to find Truth through the mirror of relationship, through the understanding of the contents of his own mind, through observation and not through intellectual analysis or introspective dissection”. So in a sense, what Krishnamurti is saying is this - “I am not the light, I cannot dispel your darkness. You have to do it yourself. My work is just to make you realize this truth”. This “essence” may be the same as what many other great preachers like Buddha taught but Krishnamurti had an unique approach where he was always cautious to not give any impression that he was an “authority on Truth”. He knew that his teaching can become an obstacle to truth and tried in all sincerity to prevent it from happening.

But people disappointed him! Even though Krishnamurti warned against “intellectual analysis or introspective dissection”, his approach is understood only intellectually by many. I remember once checking out an Orkut group of  “Krishnamurti followers” and was not very surprised to find them busy in intellectual debates and arguments on mundane topics. Sometimes I think it is also partly Krishnamurti’s fault because his talks are often dry and abstract and seemingly intellectual. It is said that Krishnamurti died in regret that “no one got transformed by his teaching”.

I have to agree. Personally, I have tried Krishnamurti’s teachings on myself and did not get any significant benefit. In fact, I find myself misusing his teachings such as “Don’t resist anything”, to give excuses to myself to continue my pleasurable old patterns! But I will take the blame on myself instead of accusing Krishnamurti. I am guilty of ditching him. In the age of self-serving Gurus with their corrupt organizations and cult behaviors, Krishnamurti stands tall as a man who realized that “Truth cannot be organized” and practised it all through his life. His passion for Truth and his concern for humanity are ever inspiring. This is how I remember him - as an inspiration. Though I may never be able to grasp or apply his teaching, I have no doubt that his teaching fuels my journey on the “path”. He is one of my many inspirations.

When Krishnamurti died, Osho, who often criticized Krishnamurti’s approach and teachings, gave a touching tribute to him where he said -

“If you hear him, if you allow him, if you open your doors to him, he is pure fire. He will burn all that is rubbish in you, all that is old in you, and he will purify you into a new human being. It is risky to allow fire into your being—rather than opening the doors, you immediately close all the doors”

As Osho rightly said, Krishnamurti is a fire. Most of us (including me) are just content to derive some “warmth” from him to keep ourselves cozy in our shells. One day, if we ever become courageous, we may attempt to bathe in that fire and then may be the “transformation” which Krishnamurti hoped for will happen!


Vasu said…
Wow! What a great post.
Phanindra KSM said…
Vasu gaaru, glad that you liked the post!
Vinita V. Ott said…
I enjoyed reading this. Krishnamurti is inspiring to me as well. He certainly stood alone in his sharing & never compromised his beliefs.
Phanindra KSM said…
Thanks Vinita! Glad that you liked it. Dint know you read K too, we will discuss next time we meet.
Anonymous said…
Great post. You have gotten to the points that Krishnamurti puts across in the true sense. I too am discussing with him these days and enquiring into many issues. I suggest you stop worrying over disappointing him and start to live by the knowledge you have gained. This is what he wished. He wished for us to be educated in things that matter while we are young.
Phanindra KSM said…
@Anonymous: Thank you for the understanding and the advice!
Shekhar said…
Very well written!! Could not agree more. I'm too in the journey of understanding myself through Krishnamurti
Phanindra KSM said…
Thanks Shekhar! All the best in your journey of understanding yourself through K!
I liked your post. I found Jiddu's teachings to be impractical to put into practice. That said, there will definitely be some people that are easily oriented to self observation/reflection and reap some benefits from his talks. For majority of seekers, he is very dry. It is important to note that he himself practiced yoga and meditation before some transformational events happened to him. For most of us, Hatha yoga and pranayama are necessary steps to develop
keen sense of observation and reflection.
Phanindra KSM said…

Yes, I understand it when people say K is dry or impractical. Even I felt the same and often got frustrated with his approach. But after I got more maturity, I realized that he is in fact quite clear in his communication (even if he is dry). The thing is we need to listen to him deeply. You should be in a meditative state and he is giving you "pointing out" instructions. Doors can open if we listen to him attentively.

Did you read his "Commentaries on living" series? They are my absolute favorite and K is at his best in commenting on real life problems of people. Often I think his teaching is most clearly summarized in these books and not in his formal lectures. It is possibly also because K is a better writer than a speaker and these books are from his notes.

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