Centered Self Without Being Self-Centered

Morning Light Press, Sandpoint, Idaho, U.S.A.2003.
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(also published in India by the Theosophical Publishing House, Adyar, Chennai)


Sample Excerpt

The beginning Section:

Krishnamurti’s chief contribution to the transformation of his listeners and followers was frustration.

In spite of his protestations to the contrary, for the last seventy years of his life in his interactions with others, K was always in the role of a teacher. Everyone came to him more or less in the role of a pupil, wishing to listen to him, even to argue with him because he was saying something important. Certainly I did. Over a twenty year conversation, I don’t ever recall thinking otherwise. It is not that I declared that he was my teacher and I was coming to him as a pupil. This is not what I am speaking about. I am speaking about a mutuality of interaction. In any case, K did not go to anyone else to learn. Besides, he took to this role of a teacher like a fish to water. So, we need to look at K’s actions as that of a teacher.

But K was not a teacher in the sense of a university teacher or a systematic philosopher. If we search for consistency in his statements we are likely to be frustrated, and also likely to become somewhat small-minded. He even said, “Do not have a unifying or a binding system of thought. Be free of the entanglements of creeds, customs, and traditions. Think simply” (LBL).

There may not be a consistency in what K said, but there was a constancy and an integrity. He was not interested in giving explanations or justifications, or footnotes and references. There was always an invitation to be free and to see directly, and above all to bring passion to one’s inquiry. Once I had been asked by the editors of an encyclopedia to write an article on Krishnamurti. I prepared the outline, made extensive notes, and had a special interview with him to make sure that what I had written reflected his thought accurately. I asked him whether ‘intelligence beyond thought’ was the central thing he spoke about. He agreed, but without much feeling. Suddenly, he was animated: “Take the risk, sir. Say what you wish. If you speak from the heart, I’ll agree. Take the risk.”

This kind of total permission, this kind of willingness to be represented in words which are not his, as long as I would speak from my heart, this is real compassion, real love. As K said: “When one gives one’s heart, it is a total action. And when you give your mind, it is a fragmentary action. And most of us give our minds to so many things. That is why we live a fragmentary life – thinking one thing and doing another; and we are torn, contradictory. To understand something, one must give not only one’s mind but one’s heart to it.”

The constancy of his role and method largely consisted in his repeated attempts to free us at that moment from whatever we were stuck in or at or on. In the process he would say things which were not consistent in any rational sense. We misunderstand his role and his mission if we imagine that he was proposing a consistent rational system of philosophy. Sometimes, Krishnamurti would say things which were not true in any ordinary sense of truth. A specific example of this was in a conversation I had with him when he told me that his favorite book in the Bible was the Song of Songs. I was not surprised by this, for this book is, much like the Gitagovinda, mystical poetry in the mode of love par excellence, speaking about the union and separation of a lover and the beloved, as in some of K’s own poems. Later in the conversation, I said, “But Krishnaji, it says in the Bible . . .” because, being an academic, I turned to an academic mode of discussion out of habit. He said, “Sir, I have not read your Bible.” This completely changed the situation. I saw that I was speaking to him about the subtle truths in the Bible in my usual rational mode of thought. I saw that I was speaking from a low level, from habit. Maybe I could not help myself, for this had been my training. But now, all of a sudden, I saw myself.

From one point of view, to say that he had not read the Bible was a lie, for he had read at least some portions of the Bible. He had said so himself only ten minutes earlier. However he was not interested in the record of the history of his reading. He wished to free me from being stuck in the momentum of habitual thinking for, as he repeatedly said, ordinary thought is not an avenue to truth and he was primarily interested in the truth. What he needs to say or do or how he needs to look or stand or whether he should just walk away, in order to free me from my own habit; all this I don’t know. But this is what a master judges at the moment of the existential encounter with someone wishing to engage with him. Sometimes, he would simply be silent, looking intently. On other occasions, he would carry a look of great sorrow, although not personal, as that of a wounded doe, largely I suppose, at my incomprehension. What seemed to him to be obvious was not clear to me, and I was just arguing, asking this and that. My impression is that sometimes the most direct help from him was just this look of great sorrow…

Excerpts from Reviews

“I was particularly moved by its scope, its insight, and intimacy of this. I think you say things about K that are very true but not generally understood. I also think you go a long way to dispel some of the inevitable mythology that accrues, in time, to any teacher, mentor, or charismatic ‘religious’ figure. This is especially important as regards Krishnamurti. I realize how much there is in it and how truly wonderful it is.” Alan Kishbaugh, the Executive Director of the Krishnamurti Foundation of America in 2002.

“This book may be one of the shortest I read this year… but it is sure to be one of the most memorable since Ravi cuts to the centre of the spiritual path. Perhaps the pivotal point is when Ravi remarks that a bridge cannot be built from here to There and asks if it can be built from There to here. In other words, the divided and fragmented rational mind cannot reach a unitive understanding but it can be permeated or infused by it from another level. The book is a real gem for the serious seeker.” -- Reviewed by David Lorimer in Scientific and Medical Network Reviews.