There is no point in me repeating all the details of the life and work of this remarkable man. There is a lot of information in books and some on the web (not all of the information about Krishnamurti on the web is true and neither is all of it well-researched but this is the nature of the web).
It is wrong of me to interpret what Krishnamurti was saying in over 50 years of talks and dialogues, generally known as ‘The teachings’, and I hope I do not do this. However, I can say what the teachings have meant to me.
I want to make sense of a people who can do both things of great beauty, for instance, build beautiful buildings such as Cathedrals and also, at the same time, commit acts of pointless violence against their fellow man such as burn them alive (sometimes slowly to prolong their agony) because they believe in something other than the belief system of the rich and powerful. (It is nearly always men who do these extreme things) and this while we all live in a beautiful, supporting world of plenty which we pillage and destroy for short term gain and sometimes for no reason at all.
It is wrong. There is no other way of looking at or seeing this. We have one environment and we are all one family and yet we behave worse than any animals - worse than reptiles even who react to everything as ‘the other’.
I wanted to know why and to see the other way - the sane way to live with people and the world - free of conditioning and control and living with and helping people instead of competing and killing. Put simply, I wanted to be pleasant with people and I want people to be pleasant with me - and the world. Was this too much to ask? Was this too naïve?
To help me to understand this bizarre behavior of humanity I have read widely and some writers have enlightened my understanding - HH The Dalai Lama, Sogyal Rinpoche, some of the European philosophers, Thich Nhat Han, David Bohm, Various Zen masters (especially Chien-chih Seng-ts’an, 3rd Zen Patriarch), Dr Suzuki and many others - but over the last 20 years or so I always come back to the work of Jiddu Krishnamurti. For me, Krishnamurti cuts through all the stupidities - the rituals, the pointless and harmful beliefs, the superstitions, the concretions, the obscuring language - that people always adorn their ideas - or the current versions of their ideas.
There is also one important and fundamental difference between the long-past masters and the thoughts and explorations of Krishnamurti. Everything that Krishnamurti said in his dialogues and talks is documented and he was adamant that nothing be interpreted into something that he did not say. I have always known that if I want pure water I have to go to the source and I feel this is the case with Krishnamurti. Of course, I did not agree with everything he has said. There were some points I would have liked to have dialogued (see the Bohm article) with him but this is no longer possible so I had to work through them myself.
Personally, I did not find the teachings of Krishnamurti easy to grasp. It took me quite a few years to begin to understand what he meant (or what I thought he was meaning). I felt, at a deep layer (probably intuitive or instinctively or insightly), that he was right (in a way that many others who ‘have the truth’ do not). I had an inner feeling that he held a truth of great value and this led me to carry on exploring what he was saying. I say ‘with him’ because he is guiding an exploration of the meanings together. Krishnamurti was not an authority. He disliked ‘gurus’, ‘leaders’, authoritative teachers, ‘people who know’.
This apparent difficulty to understand what Krishnamurti is saying gives rise to much of the ill-founded criticism seen on the web. One of the reasons for this difficulty, as I see it, is the inadequacy of language to convey the seemingly difficult ideas that Krishnamurti was addressing.
Many of these ideas had not been looked into in great depth at the time Krishnamurti was talking about them and this was at the time when people were becoming aware of the failure of their long-held belief systems (Christianity, Judaism and others) to change anything for the good after thousands of years of blind trust and the growing technological danger and the worsening behavior of people with power, killing millions of people in senseless wars.
I found that reading Krishnamurti’s books, listening and watching his recorded talks and dialogues with other great thinkers got me so far and when I got stuck I would read around him. I always found what I was looking for to get me through the next door.
Reading Buddhist principles (I have done this most of my life) gave me a good grounding, reading Occam helped me to see clearly, David Bohm illuminated what Krishnamurti was saying for me. There are many intelligent people who help me understand but I always come back to Krishnamurti’s talks. It wasn’t until I had read some other writers that I realized how good Krishnamurti is with language. (English is Krishnamurti’s second language, his first was Telugu. He also spoke French and Italian). Krishnamurti has a way of using everyday language to explain his teachings and often to young students at the schools he set up in India, America and England. His teachings are available to all people - ‘educated’ or not, rich and poor, young and old. Everyone is the same and no special knowledge is needed. In many ways, the less knowledge one has the easier it is to see what he is saying. An open mind is essential.
David Bohm was working on language (among many other things) and has a lot of interesting and valuable things to say about this. He formulated a mode of english language (The Rheomode) to explain what he was saying and some people have experimented with this mode. It goes a long way to showing how we are conditioned and fragmented by the language we use and how this Rheomode helps us to observe this fact as we are using it - just as Krishnamurti himself pointed out - that we are fragmented by our conditioning and we cannot see the whole reality.
Krishnamurti was living when the world was in the grip of a power-based madness: two pointless and destructive ‘world wars’, the so-called ‘cold war’, the american war in Vietnam, Korea and others too numerous to mention but all shameful acts by people to people. 30 years since his death the world is closer to the abyss that looms unless mankind changes - not soon but now. There are many who think it is already too late to stop the coming catastrophe caused by the myopic stupidity of mankind, his competitive actions and his idea that he is separate from the environment.
I really think that unless we all understand what Krishnamurti was saying and act on it then the future of humanity, as a part of this beautiful world, looks limited indeed.
Of all the teachings available in the world (that I am aware of), I have found the teachings of Krishnamurti to be the most useful in helping me to understand how to see, more clearly, the environment, the world of which I am a part and the people I meet in it. I am not saying that I can do this but I do see more clearly than I did over 20 years ago when I started reading the first book.
Krishnamurti: A Biography written by a highly perceptive and intelligent friend of Krishnamurti, Pupul Jayakar. It contains interesting photographs and the latter part of the book is illuminating. I recommend this book highly.
J Krishnamurti: The Awakening of Intelligence, edited by George and Cornelia Wingfield Digby. If you only want one book of Krishnamurti’s teachings then I recommend this. It contains photographs and the text is sublime. This is considered essential reading and goes into some depth.
As the River joins the Ocean: Reflections about J Krishnamurti by G Narayan. Narayan was Krishnamurti’s nephew and knew him well. This is a beautiful book written by a gentle man and which helps the reader to understand Krishnamurti. Read a meditation by Giddu Narayan.
Total Freedom: The Essential Krishnamurti, edited by Mary Cadogan et al, 1996, HarperSanFrancisco. This is an excellent book to dip into.
That Benediction is where you are: The last Bombay talks 1985. J Krishnamurti. Seemingly simplistic but deeply profound and important. The Bombay audiences were probably the largest that ever attended the talks given by Krishnamurti. There is a sense of poignancy about these last talks.
All the books are available from the Krishnamurti Study Centre at Brockwood Park, Hampshire in England. They have an online bookshop where you can buy books, audio tapes, DVD video recordings of all Krishnamurti’s talks and dialogues.
Over the last 20 years there has been a growth in the number of study groups in towns and cities all over the world where people meet to listen to and watch recordings and enter into dialogues. I find this reassuring.
If the above interests you then please see my ebook, The Future is You which discusses how the teachings of Krishnamurti can help us all to avoid the avoidable, social state that we are all now in. I hope that many people will read it and change society. I think that what is said in the book is important for everyone.
This particular image of Jiddu Krishnamurti © copyright K. Gascoigne, England to protect it from commercial use or abuse. The original image is © copyright by either KFT, Brockwood Park, Hampshire, England or Chetana, Bombay, India or both.