Category Archives: Philosophy

Wounded

Since the book has been published I no longer own it, except for the self within myself. Bloggers are now assessing , labeling , acquiring it within their idiosyncratic perceptions; and what they have written makes sense here and there, but it is all rather ineffable. It is as if I, the artist, no longer can claim his provenance. What I have written is only an approximation of what I felt because my very language and  skills are often in insurrection against what I intend. As I read and reread the book, I see where I had choices to make in terms of making this or that sentence clearer, of condensing the sentence to make it more terse, or of having a more felicitous way of expressing the thought or feeling.  An odd and temporary kind of ruefulness but one that makes one wag one’s head rather than become despairing or depressed. I can only do so much and do it so well or not.

I feel at moments a little distressed when, in one instance, the book and I are fused and I am assessed as being cynical. I have often heard this throughout my life and perhaps there is a measure of that in myself; if so, I can see the roots of that, but I also feel that part of this cynicism, if you will, is grounded in reality, and that (and here I hope this is not a rationalization) what I have to say or write which reads “cynically,” may in reality be what is, rather than a splash of my own characterological faults. An old quotation that I walk about with is: “Cynicism is the last refuge of an idealist.” I believe that is so. The cynic wishes that it were better, and since he often cannot change it to better, he falls back on sniping with his embitterment or venom.

Apparently a protective device from further hurt and disappointment — much like the fox and the grapes, I subscribe to that, feeling that I have done so in the past and in the present. However, no man and no woman can be easily summed up into a word, the “art” form of media and this culture. When I am called a cynic, part of me gently withers, as if to say that it is so and it is not so and how come you cannot see what I see.  Aren’t I more than my cynicism?  I feel I have been wounded since a child and it is a childlike self that says that. The feeling is very ancient in me.

A very close friend who had read the book, or I hope most of it, for he is on in years and ailing, tried to sum up my effort in a therapeutic way, as a kind of “defensive suffering.” He viewed it through his eyes and for that he cannot be faulted. But I bridled, for I dislike being summed up, assessed, or therapeutically “analyzed.” He did not do that, but in his own loving way it was his “picture” of who I am, his “truth.” Perhaps I should put everything in this little essay in quotation marks, as if to say it is all suspect. As I know, as I have written, we don’t know ourselves at all, much less others, for the blind cannot see the blind. We are forces controlled beyond the unconscious of Freud; for now evolutionary psychology has shown us that genes rule our roost and most of what we do as individuals and as cultures are driven by genes trying to survive or replicate better aspects of themselves — and what is maddeningly to grasp is that the genes themselves are just evolution doing its number, like an orbiting planet.

I just finished reading The Moral Animal  by Robert Wright which is a discussion of Darwinism  in present day science and how more advanced it has become. I walked away from the book, which I found disturbing and difficult to read (resistance?) because it confirms a natural and deterministic fact. In short, we are sacks of fats, fluids, bone and tissue, completely, totally gene driven.  We are collections of genes and that which is the whipped cream and cherry on top, our consciousness, our supposed awareness, our free will and nature, all the philosophical doodads is a monstrous deception we sustain. It is below and nether that we are controlled and truly inhabited by molecular bits and bytes. Humorously, I can see myself becoming even more cynical.

And even more humorous is the complete irrelevancy of God and myth. I see that as just living mold on the human mind. I have no more to say, ran out of gas.

Well Now.

Coming to terms with Krishnamurti is coming to terms with yourself, always will be so. The Stockholm Syndrome has been roughly defined as the unconscious need or  willingness to identify with your aggressor, another one of man’s psychological quirks. When reading about K’s education and rearing as a Theosophist and his breaking that bond forever, striking out on his own for decades after, defining who he was as a thinker and man, he still gathered about him an entourage, highly educated spiritual groupies. Ironically K spoke and write about the misfortunes of identification with a cause,  brand,  religion or a spiritual thinker, or himself. Constantly in his writings he cautions the reader to forget him and to focus on his own self. The teacher was not important essentially. The more he shunned disciples and condemned the very concept of acolytes K was enmeshed and surrounded by disciples, if you will, who managed his expenses, saw to his needs, facilitated his talks and meetings to individuals and thousands across the globe, here in Ojai, California and in India. You know, if your body is covered with honey, it is hard to shoo away the gnats. Granted, he was no administrator, but on certain levels I believe he brought this about. For all of his life he had evinced and expressed a need to have women, or “mothers” about him. His personal history with the Theosphists is replete with examples of at least two women being present with the “messiah” at all times.

I sense that being close to him, beneath his spiritual umbrella if you will, followers aspired to be transformed by him. Personally, and in part by reading K, I abhor following anybody. I don’t need a leader. Do You? And what  does that imply if you need the other to direct you? Role models, in short, are for empty selves. And I suspect as I dimly and inarticulately experienced when I first read him, how admirable and wondrous it might be if I, too, could be like him. What more delectable prospect would it be to attain a spiritual realization that gave me insight into my  self and others, that allowed me to make subtly astute prognostications about human relationships, that might imbue me with the clarity of language so often revealed in spirtitual masters. Ah, the temptation to lose oneself to another; perhaps this is why we say people fall in love rather than stand in it. I will not be swooned.

This enthrallment of the other, especially if gifted, or divine, really is a kind of corrupt emptying of self, allowing who you are to flow into the other with the crazed expectation that you will be enhanced, given some vital blood serum  that the other has so as to make you ultimately one with the other. According to Greek mythology, the gods did not have blood in their veins. Rather, it i was ichor, a kind of ethereal fluid.   It is a kind of psychological magic which individuals are often dimly aware of as they kiss the “divine” one’s ass. This need to leave oneself and to become in some fashion the other is fascinating to observe and to reflect about. All religions use merger as an engine to power their systems. I believe it is the core of collective behavior and if perverted to its extreme end becomes totalitarianism. And I write this because I think when you go about reading K, it is healthful to take him in, to incorporate him, if you will, like we did with our parents and so established in our unconscious minds templates to follow, to obey. And with our parents we have had to separate out if we are to attain maturity. The classic twins are attachment and separation. I experienced an early and powerful attachment to K, ballyhooed his existence to my self and to others and serendiptiously and surreptitiously separated out from him. I think he says as much in his writings, learn from me, now get lost. Unfortunately I see those very close to him never really defined themselves nor  separated out from their self-imposed rapture. K was someone very special. I can see how his burnished spiritual and charming patina was forever fabulous.

As I  look back over the decades with my eastern buddy, I see patterns in myself in relationship to him, some of which I have explored here. I have no need to  make peace with K, because we are not at war. What I always want to sustain in our relationship is my capacity to differentiate myself out from his testimonies. I think that is critical in reading him. For decades he has always addressed the reader not to just read but to take what he is reading and apply it immediately to his present state of mind. He believes change can be instantaneous, a far cry from the therapist’s mind. K can cloud your mind with wonderful wisdoms, shoot you full of amazing realizations about school and society, for example. Yet one has to filter out the brilliance and settle in on what is good for your own regimen. I will try to say it better. If you become in any way intimidated by what you read with K, you will become lost. Indeed, that is the first battle, I think, you have to have with him. If you don’t know yourself, a major part of his teachings is to help you arrive at that insight, you will fall prey to self-delusion, of inordinate respect if not awe for the “master.” The real task is to become spirtually scintillating yourself and to leave K behind. It takes a long time as I am testifying to here. In short, do not exalt him because all along as you read him, or study his works, it is my feeling that you experience in relationship to him jealousy, envy, spiritual greed, comparison, anger and annoyance, a need to belittle him, to find fault in the man, all those human aspects when we come up against the unusual, the different, the splendid and creative. In a wild association I just had, I imagined early man, having learned to throw a rock as a missile, aimed at his first target, another man’s cave painting.

K is a spiritual wizard, and when you deal with wizardry you had better understand to have your wits about you or you will be blown away. He is intellectually astounding, no ifs and buts. Whatever happened under that pepper tree decades ago profoundly altered this man’s brain for the rest of his life. And if you imagine yourself under some tree or shrub trying to replicate his example, you are forever lost in the pit of identification. We all want special and magical powers, fairy tales are swollen with that; growing up as children our make-believe games and fantasies are equally saturated. Our science fiction literature, all literature, has a magical element. Ancient magic has continued to this day, religions practicing it, so-called “primitives” acting it out in their rituals, from the silly salt thrown over the shoulder to cannibals who devour their enemies’s brain so as to incorporate their powers — and that makes sense on one level of thinking. The world and civilization are swollen with magic and thank god for scientists who empirically stab at it like harpoons into a whale. One of the seductions of reading K is to allow oneself to be swallowed by the whale. Reading Luytens book I sensed she is so enmeshed in the man and his enlightenment that she is out of focus, her writing about him doesn’t allow a goodly dose of of objective thinking come in. She relates his life as if he were a kind of saint, whereas Vernon’s book brings in the pepper of dissent and presents K warts and all, although Vernon does find him and his teachings remarkable.

Dear K, the future acolyte says, I want to be just like you. That temptation has to be restrained if not rejected. When you read K, take the apple from the tree and that’s about it.

Midway Reflections

Ducks and Drakes with Krishnaji is about half done. I have no idea how many pages it will be. I’ll know when it is about to end. While preparing for this effort I’ve been reading two books about K. One is by a fairly impartial biographer and is a recent book about K that came out in 2000, Star in the East by Roland Vernon. The other one is by Mary Lutyens, friend, colleague of K for decades and it is called The Years of Awakening. a hagiographic biography which presents little disagreement or objective sifting of evidence about the World Leader. What is appalling in her story about the Theosophists, Annie Besant and Charles Leadbetter especially, is the grotesque adherence to what is essentially occult bullshit. One reads about astral travel, clairvoyance and clairvoyant messages idiosyncratically interpreted to serve conscious and unconscious purposes, delusional thinking creating more delusions among others, the servile pampering and coddling of two Hindu boys, K and his brother Nitya, the upper crust of English society donating and giving this house, this mansion, and this castle and its estate to the new messiah, expensive cars and free apartments, staying at top-notch hotels, across Europe, Australia and India for the comfort of the all-seeing, all-knowing elite is sickening. Into this goulash K and Nitya are cast and indoctrinated thoroughly until K has a transformative experience under the famed pepper tree in Ojai, California.

At no time does Lutyens pull back and make some observations of how splendid dinners, volleyball and tennis matches, skiing, riding in limousines and all the other appurtenances of the rich are all part of the cult ethos that they alone are in “possession” of a messiah — by the by, how does one rear a messiah? At least Jesus knew carpentry; K until his late twenties beginning at 14 or so, learned how to tie a cravat, polish his own shoes and that was about it. In sevral letters he curses and damns the environment that has him tied to Theosophy’s silken strings. Annie Besant, the grand doyenne, he calls “mother,” and he is so enmeshed in her and his love for her that the word merger comes to mind, big time. He is saturated with her fats. Leadbetter, who was his tutor, is most likely a pederast who often escapes punishment by stonewalling accusations. Luytens goes so far as to say he is an “enigma” to her. Really? Imagine Miss Besant, an occult true believer, as a deranged Miss Havisham and you have only a taste. Imagine, you have a messiah to raise!

K is a before and after act. Before his transformative experience, there is much to dislike about him, for he gathered a kind of hauteur to himself. What is to be expected? Brainwashed and I use that word carefully, indoctrinated and conditioned by the Theosophists with  the very utensils of mind control that K in his after act tore into had made him something of a dandy, whipped cream on a charlotte russe. What he accomplished as a spiritual thinker later in life as he freed himself of this occult drivel and movement overshadows the bleak early years. He was a true and committed believer in what he had been  taught.  He came to believe in it thoroughly, he used it, he maligned it as well, for he felt he was trapped in a bell jar environment which he was. K could not breathe as a young adult in this insidious environment that awarded badges, had priests clothed in silken robes, put people on probation as inititates so that they could rise to a high spirtual plane and the needy, competitive lust for that, created jealousy and envy among the acolytes, shared mystical lunacies that any outsider would see through immediately. Give Houdini ten minutes with these “Magi,” espcially their fondness and reliance on messages from this Hindu deity and that one, direct lines to the eternal powers, Ouija board par excellence.

Reading about the Theosophists is reading about the Jazz Age and Jay Gatsby, and it occurred in about the same time period, the Twenties. A kind of  soft decadence wafts from this group, a moral blindness as well, and a delusional grandiosity that is grotesque. They had a rabid devotional belief in their occult systems and doctrines so as to remind us of  Druids in secret rites at Stonehenge. I feel that to be a member of this group was to enter into a psychotic world, thus bordering on hysteria. I have no doubt that there exists a store that contains relics from K’s earlier life as a Theosophist, a vial of the World Teacher’s urine; a pin cushion made from his pillow’s tickings; a monogrammed handkerchief; one of his gold knobbed malacca canes; his car which was a donation to the great teacher; his turban, a robe perhaps, forever and forever on. In a footnote Luytens mentions that in the 70s or later on a store did open that contained paraphernalia about him. Stifling and stultying and aggravatingly pompous, the milieu of the Theosophy Society was decidedly creepy.  What we have to deal with is K’s second act which is mostly unexplainable.

Luytens cites extensively from a letter by his brother, Nitya, describing the famous experience K underwent at Ojai under the now fully grown pepper tree, much like Buddha under the Bo tree. I cannot account for what it says except to extract what I feel is the mystical scent that the observers of K put into the account, not deceitfully but expectedly from their own conditioned minds. The experience is real and I will deal with that later on; however, it meshes beautifully into what the Theosophists and his close friends expected to emerge from him, although it came sooner than expected. I associate to the discovery of Christ’s tomb as being empty. Any number of  theories other than the biblical account offer possible explanations, but in the environment of that time amid and among his disciples and followers it didn’t take much to say that he had risen. My mind says look for the yeast before you make such claims. In short a self-fulfilling prophesy did come to pass for the Theosophists, a “messiah” who renounced the group itelf, sending the entire society into a spin. K was a fully “realized” Avatar, Buddha, godhead, guru, teacher, pick your synonym. His later teachings are what mostly attract me, but his past as a Theosophist is just weirdly fascinating and outre. Like tinsel at a party, some of that you take home on your person.

K was an imperfect man with flaws like the rest of us. I am so glad to say that, to spit it out, to free myself of any idolatry within my own self. However, there is a special blindness caused by a flashbulb going off in your eyes. Recent accounts of being around K as a friend or even his chef, reveal that this bright light exposure often was self-sustaining and so K was seen through long time distortion. He could drop friends just like that if they no longer seemed attractive to him in terms of their mind or values, much as he did the same with others as a youth under the influence of the Theosophists, a peremptory manner about him. A young woman, Helen Nearing, nee Knothe, appears very early in K’s life and one could say that he was infatuated with or in love with her, perhaps his first sweetheart. The World Teacher had to be celibate so that was the fly in the ointment. Their relationship was strong, and most likely did not involve any sexuality, although intimate. It was so powerful that almost 50 years later Helen, who had married by this time, chose to visit her old friend. What she has to say in her own account is telling.

He meets with her and behaves as if he had never met her before, a kind of detachment as if a complete stranger which she most definitely was not. Helen is perturbed as if she had never existed in his life and says, “He had no more care for me or interest than he had for the fly on the wall.” She goes on to say that he had a greatness to him, no doubt, and as Vernon states, “Krishnamurti lacked ordinary human compassion and kindness; he was intolerant, even contemptous, of those who could not rise to his own high plane.” Helen goes after his belief that he was unconditioned, living a life free of attachments to things or people by remembering their past decades ago. Helen recalls “the Krishnamurti who slept in comfortable beds in costly houses, who got up in the morning, gargled, abluted, combed his hair, and dressed in fine clothes bought in elegant shops . . . He was conditioned and affected every second of his life, just as everyone else was and is.” It is this kind of reasonable slap in the face that is lacking in Luytens work, but Vernon cites this account and he should. Helen Nearing had a remarkable life herself, this was no spurned lover.

As I look over these words, the elephant in the room is K himself after he left Theosophy for all time. I am intrigued by what had occurred in this man to make him so different from what he had been and to imbue him with extraordinary insight and intuition, a remarkable perspicacity. It is more than this. He seems to have been  drastically changed intellectually and psychologically and to attain levels of human erudition which far exceeds the usual intelligence of man or the creative artist. He is much more than a spiritual savant. Lucky is the reader who first comes upon his works for that initial experience is stunning if not baffling, asking the reader to consider, to wonder about who is this man who seems to have such innate wisdom and erudition, who shaves close to the truth, who has the ability for expression of one’s own thinking in a shared and lucid translation of feelings and thoughts. One comes away with a kind of awe. It does take time, a great deal of time, to separate out personal issues of self as they rise against what K is teaching. For me, it has and continues to take years, if not decades.

If you are lucky, if you are mentally brave, you will not be cowed or at best shade your eyes with your hand as you approach his testimonies. I do believe that his practice of kundulini yoga played a significant role in his transformation. I do believe he was “realized” man to a degree not seen for centuries. He was not special, and he was not different — he was sui generis. I do not believe him to be divine and all that rot. I do believe he suffered from physical pain, the “process,” as he called it, all his life. If you read his Notebook (1961), you will absorb the daily phenomenon he had in which in some way he communed with nature and his own consciousness in ways that are not bizarre, but relentless, completely penetrating his mind, offering in ways we can only imagine bursts of acute awareness, as he functioned during the day. The “process” was unique to him. He felt it to be a “benediction.” Since I am unrealized man, I see it as the cost for being so enlightened, which is a good word for how I understand his experience. I think we always have to go to his body of work and extract from that what we can use to further our own spiritual adventure. And in a very real sense, forget about Krishnamurti, which I think he would revel in. If we adore the man beyond a reasonable respect for what he owns and what he can offer, we become servile, fawning, sycophantic and consequently disciples. However his life story is a grand attraction much like Kazantzaks’ life, both knowing suffering, both , in a fashion, transcending.

Ducks and Drakes, 9

As I look back upon the decades of reading Krishnamurti, I’ve sensed that the essential teachings I was attracted to are these: K’s concepts of seeing, choiceless awareness, the observer is the observed, and the understanding of what is. Other ideas came along for the ride: K’s comments and definitions about conditioning, how to look as if for the first time, his thoughts about radical revolution within the individual person, his questioning of all authority, indeed, even of what K had to say; his putting the onus of his dialogues on the listener or questioner; his commentaries on society and religion which I delighted in, subversive that I was. Like preaching to the choir, we often like what we already know at some level of intelligence or understanding, and so it was with me, except he said what I was feeling, more than thinking, so lucidly, so eloquently. I am one of those human beings who feels first, thinks later — Shoot me!

I almost blocked out an association I just had. At my age I go for broke, as my writing has that characteristic to it because I am constructed in this way. I want to stay free as a man and writer. Sometimes I feel, in my younger days, there was an air of servility in me, that is, as a learner I wanted to please, or be the good child or son. It was not a measurable substance at that, but it smacks of pleasing the other so that I would be favored, adored or recognized in some fashion. I see some of that when I went about “acquiring” Krishnamurti into my orbit. I was Jacob, not Esau. Make of this as you will. To return —

K’s writings infiltrated my teaching, practice as a therapist, and  life, to some degree. I wonder, as I reflect, if I wasn’t a parrot, good for a few vocabulary words and that’s all. Once you manage to get  a hang on K you have a ready lexicon to use, much like religion — eucharist, consubstantiation, transsubstantiation, the trinity, et al. And for some years, I imagine, I tried K on for size, working out his thoughts into my own language in a small array of articles, and as you’ve read, a novel. I was searching to apply his constructs, observations and testimonies in my own life and I can say it did not work as I imagined it might. Rather, I sponged his reflections inwardly and they leak out and are applied even to this day; they just dwell within me. I see his thinking reflected in my own personal attitudes often inextricably wound up in my psychoanalytic thinking and perceptions.  I find his idea of societal and religious conditioning monumentally freeing (especially so for me), once you allow yourself to enter, for if anything, you have to enter K as mercury seeking egress beneath a door. You have to come to K, for assuredly he will not come to you, nor should he, as is apparent in his writings. As he wrote, he wanted to set man free everywhere, yet he did not cajole, advise, stir up, appeal, persuade or any other human quirk to convert. He did not need or wanted disciples, but they did flock to him.

So in the human juice each one of us exudes everyday, K is part of my flavor. However, what is healthier now is a more balanced appreciation of the wizard of what is. Call it a good skepticism if you like. I am not capable as an academic philosopher raised in the West to abstract K’s testimonies and make comment, but they are decidedly experiential. I can more clearly view K dispassionately at this point in my life, see his flaws as a man, where before I challenged him, but overlooked “things.” Having read more about him as a man, I realize, as I didn’t before, how much of him was imperfect, not much of an insight. Rather, I’ve come to admire his teachings as one thing, his behavior as another — oh, the split. K has not changed, I have seasoned. I look back not with a jaundiced eye, for his genius was unique. I relent, that is, I am easier on myself for what I cannot grasp in his work, as if I was his doppelganger. He is K, I am me. I extract his presence which was too close, all a consequence of my own behavior, and hold him apart and away in order to see him better and his influence on me which was significant if not dramatic. I was a seeker, still am, have a philophical bent to my mind, quite useless in the land of Palin and Bachmann. He touched that in me, the desire to learn, to change, to better one self in ways other than capitalistic tracks set down for us all by this society.

Characteristically for all my life, I have had atendency to build up the other, over-esteem that person, and then if piqued, irked or hurt, degrade and demean that person. This cyclical behavior is seen by me and there is such an element for K in this writing. I have an appointment next Wednesday at 7.00.

As I write I think of an interaction I had with the next door neighbor, a likable woman in her forties with two youngsters in elementary school. She revealed an incident in which she came across two children in a local park who were left there by the father, the older sister to “watch over” the younger brother, both children under seven in an illogical, stupid and child abusive fashion. Concerned about these children, rightfully so, she called 911. Police arrived and in essence informed her, after speaking to the children, that under Nevada law, they could do so much, and in essence not very much in this instance, aggravating as it is to relate. What the father did was unimaginable, but a reality nevertheless. For my purposes here, in her telling of this incident our neighbor felt guilty in the sense that she called 911, but she did act appropriately — and she knew that. She was just feeling uncomfortable. I listened to her guilt feelings and then she said in passing, “As a Christian mother…” Everything was in all that; in fact she mentioned “Catholic guilt” in the telling. I did not smartass her and query what an atheist mother might feel, although it did cross my mind. What I found sad, if not appalling, was the conditioning in her, the religious lacquer that had polyurethaned her existence. So unnecessary, is it not? I see it, blind elsewhere in my own life, and she does not see it. This Krishnamurti and psychotherapeutic sensibility is always present in me.

What this anecdote just elicited in me was the feeling of being free, free of priests, rabbis and mullahs, of dogma and doctrine, of the deadening imposituion of school “learnings,” of a capitalistic system, in this instance, that defines poverty as a moral defect, and all the rest we imbibe in our mother’s milk. K spoke to that latent feeling in me to be free, free of my own parental and internalized injunctions about sex, of a defense system that camouflaged a child that needed to be felt, that caused me to use symbolically my own extremities to strangle my very self, to make me robotic, a stranger in a strange land, or to put it melodramatically, to never have had a close encounter with myself. To be free overrides the pursuit of happiness which is an insane idea to begin with, another American external we are taught to seek, much like the American dream which is entirely a nightmare, the soma, K might have opined, we give to one another, like Jim Jones ladling out cupfuls of cyanide in his compound.

Ducks and Drakes, 8

In may 1987 I wrote this for my column in a local Forest Hills, Queens newspaper. In this instance I used a question by a student of mine, Debra Cavaler, age 16. Question: Why is it that when I read columns, everyone recommends counseling every time a question is asked? It isn’t that I disagree with counseling. There is nothing wrong with it, but I feel it builds dependency. Don’t you think it  builds character to cope with and solve’s life’s problems on one’s own?

By this time, eleven years into reading K, my response reveals how saturated I had become. The “Answer”:

The great spiritual teacher Krishnamurti (1895-1986) said that the way to truth is a “pathless land.” His desire was to set man free. “I desire to fee him from all cages, from all fears, not to found religions, new sects, nor to establish new theories and new philosphies…I have no disciples, no apostles, either on earth or  in the realms of spirtuality.”

A psychotherapist should not convert his client into a Freudian, or Jungian. At termination of therapy, a client should be free of the therapist and the therapy. Although a therapist is a kind of secular healer working from a body of immense clinical knowledge, the issues are perennial — to see, to know to choose, to be autonomous and inner-directed, to be in relationship.

Life is a great teacher — if lived profoundly. Psychoherapy is one of many paths to tgruth and not for all.

Most of what we on interiorly is second hand, other people’s smarts. It is hard to be original. Some human beings are followrs, chamelons. Some find it hard to act from within an internal compass.

I believe we are conditioned, asleep in life. Our task is to decondition ouirselves, to defeat fear and anxiety.

Existentially, we are alone. Yet you are the world as well. The observer is the observed, Krishnamurti says.

Do you not sense that you rife, at moments, is driven by an engine and combustible not of your own making?

Some of us are seekers. Others work the soil of job, family and security. Some go along, quietly desperate. Some choose tofollow, for their emptiness needs grounding in a cause or leader. These are the hollow men.

Psychotherapy, a guru, a belief, a movement, a religion answer certain needs in men and women. A transcendent effort, altered state, awareness is sought by few.

Imagine mankind as a midnight croaking in an indifferent universe. We alone give meaning to ourselves. The task of anty significant philosophy, therapy or tent is to set someone free of any method or belief system.

Dependency is on a continuum. The human being’s lengthy childhood is a estament of the need to be succored. A dependency which inhibits,enfeebles, cripples, or narrows is a deteriorating relationship. Toask for help is not to be weak. And to give help to someone who is “weak” is to uplift both of you. The real task is to help each one of us to be internally, externally free.

So, to be in relationship is the crux of the matter, not solely one of dependency. The nub of your question rests on giving up something that you feel is vitally authentic, human and inherent in your very concept of who you are.

To see a need in oneself is not a kind of weakness, rather a point of departure. To ask for help dfoes not necessarily mirror an impaired sense of self. At times is iimportant to know how to lean. Some artists mistakenly feel, for example, they will lose their talents if they were analyzed. It is an untruth. Artists find new and more fertile fields to till in analysis.

Insight liberates. Seeing releases energies. Any therapeutic dialogue frees the individual from shadow, self-deception and conditioning.

The material world gives temporal pleasure and that is not to be denied. Putting on a brand new shirt feels good. Owning a new car gives a kind of empowerment. However, it is meaning and purpose, relationship, kindness, the love of a close one, friendship which enable us to live creatively, to live well anonymously, to accept our daily dying, our mortality, to leave worth behind us, and not chaos.

Psychotherapy is a significant collaboration of two people, no master and no disciple. It is a quest as well, a search, and at parting at the end. It’s nutrient is rich, mutual respect.

In society experts offer all kinds of answers, balms. Some of us are thrown off balance by questions and prefer the rock hard surface of an answer. Answers are a variety of finality, a kind of sediment that accrues, calcifying into rigid beliefs and systems.

A question unlocks and gnaws. It bites and signs. It challenges, riles and dares. It shatters; it sheds light. Perhaps the way to an answer is to pose another question and then another.

Your question provoked more questions than I’ve been able to answer. And like all intelligent questions both people, in dialogue, go away with more questions. This is very good.

To sit on the cusp of ambiguity, to entertain doubt, to question without need of answer is to create an internal awareness.

Think on these things! Krishnamurti might say.

After 24 years I would not change much except to be more felicitous in the writing of it. At 47 I could fling hash with all the rest of the Krishnamurti’s devotees. K had gotten under my skin and I was using what I had learned to experiment with, and that testing continued in other articles as well as you will see.

Ducks and Drakes, 7

In the last several days I’ve ordered two biographies about Krishnamurti. I feel I need to dwell within his context. His writings are so voluminous, his collected works in 17 volumes, in addition to many other transcriptions of talks, several films about him, videos, tapes and CDs is all beyond my ability to comprehend or assess. At his deathbed his chef, Michael Krohnen, whose book I have read, The Kitchen Chronicles gives his response to a question put to him. “‘What really happens to that extraordinary focus of understanding and energy that is K after his death?’ His answer was immediate, short and unambiguous, ‘It is gone.’ Almost as an afterthought, poignant and poetical, and not without an enigmatic touch, he added, ‘If you only knew what you had missed — that vast emptiness.'” Think on that. I see it as pure, unadulterated emptiness, the exquisite negation of it all.

I went to my bookcase and took down several books I have on him, two by a philosopher, Raymond Martin, another is a collection of his writings over the decades, another is a collation of different readings, all of them not really helpful for my purposes. Scouring the introductions and the bibliographies, I am seeking something, some scrap of information that I can peg my feelings on and continue to write about him, but to no avail. I am not a biographer, I am not a scholar. I just read or sampled Krishnamurti’s writing as they interested me, a kind of buffet browsing you might say at a very good bar mitzvah. Yet what I read has impacted upon me and I feel inadequate in any way to do him justice. That is not my task, I have realized of late. I want simply to assay what he has affected within myself, feeling that I may have only the barest threads of his total measure as a spiritual thinker. So here in these essays may rest the expression of a dilettante revealing his superficialities about K. However, what “truth” I do possess is only what I know about myself as I came into contact with his writings. He awakened something in me and that I can try to struggle and to reveal to you. Other than that there is the entire cosmic world contained within his own world for you to explore. I can say that I have nibbled around the edges, and what I devoured was very illuminating. And what I can also say is that when I cannot go any further into understanding K, you will be the first to know it as I will call time out and take a rest.

There is much to K that I cannot grasp or comprehend; much that eludes me, no matter how many times I read him. I don’t think I am alone in that judgment. However, I have detected much of that idiosyncratic scent he gave off. He is so different, so new, that I found it alluring and difficult at the same time. He made me struggle, he made me think, he made me annoyed and angry with him. He challenged ancient belief systems in me, he made see into my society and my own ethnicity; metaphorically he threw ice water at my face. He left me to brood and brew in my own slosh, he was Socrates for the Twentieth Century. Other than Kazantzakis, I have never read a writer with so much zeal on my part. Perhaps this small book is a fool’s errand; yet I want to write it. It explains me more than it explains Krishnamurti and if that is of some interest as I encountered this spiritual thinker, take it for what it is. I think K might proffer that all this is to the good, for he should be removed from all this as any radical and revolutionary change should come from me. He is not even the tour guide.

As previously said he touched me in areas that were of psychological and emotional concern. I was especially drawn to his questioning of authority; what compels us to obey and heed, the good Nazi in us? What is the herd instinct in humanity  that leads to the ovens at Auschwitz? And what would it take in me to question my parents, my friends, my boss, my culture? All of society is given to us throughout the lengthy years of our childhood and if it is not questioned (often not) we carry this stale pablum to our graves unaware. All this K termed conditioning and if you take the blinkers away from your eyes you can see how we swim in a sea of visual, media, societal and religious pollution, conditioners.

As an example, poor unaware Sean Hannity of Fox News. If you look at him and the way in which he inquisitorially goes about his reporting, how he is trapped forever in his own political opinions which allow for little or subtle gradations of gray, if you observe the hardness, the brittleness in him, if you see the rigidity, you can see how paralyzed he is as a human being, and strongly conditioned  by his church beliefs. It cascades from his pores, that he has the religious answer, the one true faith. Send him to the Incas with a sword in one hand the Bible in the other. His mind is closed, his thought processes arthritic, because he has swallowed whole the calcified bromides of his two thousand year old religion. Hannity, alas, is inhabited by dogma and doctrine.  I believe him to be a man who has never dared intellectually or psychologically. He cannot be retrained. He cannot learn another way. That will only occur if he comes to it, which is unlikely.  He cannot come upon the new and fresh, for his religious background is old, state and inflexible. He does not inhabit his self.

I think I can comment on Hannity without denying my political point of view which is an antithesis of his politcal views. Nevertheless, I do see him (psychotherapeutically so) as a highly restricted, self-confined human being who believes in god and all that and is so sure that Christ exists and the rest of it. I wholly subscribe to Freud’s comment that a man becomes fully mature when he puts away or outgrows the illusion of religion, his childhood blocks, pun intended. Perhaps psychotherapy, especially in this country, causes such antipathy, rejection or negative humor is that what it offers is insight, or awareness at levels most Americans shun. We rather not know. Oh, yes, we rather not know. I call that FEAR. Someone like Krishamurti is totally anathema. I make the case that one has to be prepared or ready at some level of consciousness to allow Krishnamurti’s thinking to enter one’s mainstream, one’s very arterial passageways. And so it was with me.

Ducks and Drakes, 6

While writing these short essays I am struggling to get through Krishnamurti’s Notebook, a diary he kept of his daily observations that went on for seven months in 1961. What he does here is to make minute observations of his environment, streams, waterfalls, meadows, mountains, stars, sun and moon, the seasons at the places he was giving talks. And then he slips into his observations about all and everything and sometimes it is rather dense. Each comment more like the nut in an acorn in that it has to be driven out. Experiencing this is somewhat tedious, for the method, nature then mind , repetitively, throughout the book, I find tiresome, regardless of the insights. Quite frankly, I tire of his working out his own reflections. Perhaps after all these years the shine has worn off and I am left with a patina not at all to my liking in some instances.  So it is not a “happy” book for me, one that is compelling. It was written about 50 years ago.

Gnarly, condensed, knotty, his prose or his thinking rather is resistive to easy comprehension; it needs to be read and read again, if you feel it is worth it. Often I feel as if I need a forceps or a tweezer to get at the nub. I admit at times I feel stupid which is not the most requisite feeling to continue reading. I dread the doctoral theses that will be written about his writings years hence, a deadly dross as a footnote to his testimonies.  In all instances the Notebook is dated, the location made clear, Paris, the Eiffel tower, et al. He writes of the zinc roofs of the buildings from his balcony and I have seen that as well as French zoning prevents houses above six stories in Paris until you get out of town. And then he usualy speaks of the “benediction” or the psychological nature, if that is what it is, of a very palpable pain he is experiencing or a sensation that cannot be measured by him, only observed, for as he insists the word is not the thing itself, for language can not encapsulate the unencapsulated. So one is reminded of the admonition in the editor’s introduction that all this is  a real and physical process he experienced for almost all his life which has nothing to do with drugs, etc. If this is so, and I have no reason to doubt it but curiously intrigued and fascinated, he was in a measure of pain to the end of his days and yet from that pain he was gifted with something remarkable and he fashioned a creation of his own. I associate his psychical pain, a consequence no doubt of Kundalini yoga and that special day in Ojai in which he was transformed, or “awakened,” to the statue of Laocoon.

So the Notebook describes the day, the light, the pain (what has been called the “process,” stemming from that momentous and tranformative experience under the pepper tree in Ojai) and then he very often moves into some conceptual idea and describes it, again, with care and definition, often hard to extract, although I am sure if I had a greater mind I would see into it. I don’t have that mind. What am I left with? At times nothing; often irritation at what I cannot grasp. It is like seeing a beautiful picture of a Weber grill in an ad, buying it, laying out all the parts and then reading the directions which are in early Mayan. At times one wishes to return the whole shebang, stomp it, or as I do, hand it over to a greater and more tactile mind, my wife, Jane. K attracts, often at a personal cost.

I mention this because there were years in which the idea of going to my bookcase and taking down one of his books was met with resistance. What generally came to mind was that I had to work, not read, and so I stayed away for long stretches of time. I still do, although I do recall and savor the refreshing  shock of my earlier readings of K. The therapist in me rose to the fore and decided that I wasn’t to put myself in a punishing position. Some of his works are like gnawing on teflon, some, I suppose, are above my level of awareness, some of them are too deep and hard for me to grasp no matter how I try. (Freud’s writings can tie you up into knots as well.) I tired, which may be a consequence of reading him extensively, of getting into this brilliant man’s mind. I had enough trouble accessing my own belfry. Perhaps he was a kind of spiritual firecracker and all we can do is observe, approach, but never get really close for it was all his immolation, not ours.

And so I would hang suspended between two bounces of the stone across the water for months if not years at a time. However, K left residues of worth  in me, deposits of ore that I still mine in my writing and thinking. I recall the first terrifying tremors and then quakes he brought about in my mind, he appeals mostly to one’s mind. A few words about that. If anything else, K expresses the passion of the mind. I remember reading what a fellow Indian spiritual thinker, a woman in this case, had to say about K. That he was too much of the mind and not enough of the feeling basis in men, which might account for his own austere and ascetic personality. However, it is on the level of the mind that he made an appeal to me which goes a long way in explaining why I incorporated him into my self, clung to his side. I am too intellectual and so is he and it is at this place I could accept his magnificent thinking if I could understand it. As the years went on and feeling became paramount to me rather than the passion of the mind which I did not cast aside, for it was so much of my nature, I began to feel that K, for me, was lacking. Oh, how we find warts and all in father figures. And why not, for we are all mortal men and women. What was missing in him, which I needed, was the passion of the woman’s mind for instance, something else, for if anything, it smacks of nurturance that sidesteps reason and rational thinking processes. Perhaps the old and chronic jeers at women drivers reveal that men dislike the lack of directionality in their driving, a lack of purpose, and gnash their teeth when a left turn is just an intuitive guess, answer or response, especially when the Pekinese is in her left arm and she is texting. We need women drivers.

When K spoke about conditioning, questioning authority, challenging I grasped his hand and we both jumped off the diving board. For in my life’s context he touched that which was inexpress in my life,  deeply frustrated me, and kept me from fulfilling any personal fantasies I may have had for myself. Additionally, as I read him, he touched that which I felt in my core, much like any great novelist who makes you feel in such a contiguous way that he is personally addressing your needs as a reader, as a fellow human being, for literature, in my eyes, is the true internet among human beings. As I look over this paragraph I know I fall short of what I want to say and so I will struggle a while longer. I often think of what I could have done or been. I am not looking at this with regret or ruefulness. I am just trying to look as if for the first time. And what do I see?

Born apparently by random chance or unconscious drives to experience inordinate amounts of frustration, untutored in the ways of social skills, bereft of real parenting and so tasting for much of my first eighteen years benign neglect, I grew up as a very wired, tight ball of anxieties, imagined fears, tremendous self-doubt, stifled passions, unrequited dreams, and  unfulfilled hopes. I could not express myself, like Billy Budd.Consequently I presented to the world an inhibited, shy, withdrawn, if not depressed young boy and young adult who had difficulty expressing his feelings, of touching, of being open and express, fearful of extending my limited self to others, dreading the impact of young women on me lest I know not what to do, which was a reality, and all the while wanting to unfurl like a flag, to wave in the wind, to beat wildly against the flagpole. Needs gone unmet were my youth. The milieu of the times, the Fifties, a period of repression and suppression of wants, in which schools were rigid and authoritarian, white lines down the high school corridors that students couldn’t cross over to get to their classroom, but had to go to the end of the hallway and then turn around and proceed up are mild instances of the rigidity of the Eisenhower years. It was a time in which Elvis had the lower portion of his body cut off from view on the Ed Sullivan show. When looking back, that hunched shouldered  and Nixon grimace on Sullivan himself, aptly expresses in gesture and posture the “square” of the time and the attitude of the time. Sullivan only knew the missionary position, believe it. So self and society were beautifully matched in my case.

It was not until my early thirties did I emerge from the dead tissue which encased me, molted. I began to self-debride dead matter, thanks here to the tag end of the Sixties. I see my life as I look back over the decades as one of a very tardy and very slow emergence. The old adage says that we grow old too soon and smart too late. Agreed! The exoskeleton had been shed but you know, as well as I do, memory traces remain of the old self which we carry to our graves, often responding in new instances within the ancient framework. However, it is here that K has helped me to see and so has my working on myself throughout the decades, for I am besmirched, affected by, infected with the tenor of Kazantzakis’ injunction, “reach what you cannot,” which was advice given to him by his intuitive Cretan grandfather when he was a child of eight or nine, a remarkable child at that. Earlier Nikos rejected his grandfather’s first advice, “to reach what you can.” He shook that off as not demanding enough. I relate very well to that. I have been demanding of my “weak” self for all my life, trying to make me rise like yeast to demands I have self-imposed upon me, for we can be more injunctive and demanding than our parents ever were. We internalize all that parental should and should not junk, and as Alice Miller has written, in our later years we turn around and flagellate ourselves in harder fashion than we were originally treated, a unique perversion of the past. That is a psychoanalytic truth that I value as much as any other of Krishnamurti’s axioms. So I attained a superego the size of Manhattan.

I worm my way through life, a double helix of Krishnamurti and psychotherapy, contradictions in and of themselves, an uneasy truce but like everything else, a composite of good, bad, and indifferent. I can say clearly as I clear my metaphorical throat that all systems get in the way, all methods close our eyes, but I do need to learn how to drive before I can buy a car. Absolutisms are not the way. K is one of many contending “systems” before we evanesce, although he constantly reiterated that he offers no philosophy — true! On my stone will not be a bibliography of what I have read in life. Kazantzakis’ epitaph reads: “I hope for nothing. I fear nothing. I am free.” Kind of like that, don’t you? I’ll probably request something existential, something that sums up my existence on this planet. Here goes: “Duh.” Don’t be put off by the colloquialism, for it says it all, doesn’t it? reader.

Ducks and Drakes, 5

In the selections from “Gruffworld” which follow, substitute the writer for each time the Gruff muses about self and other in this apocalyptic world.

Finally, the largest slab gave more than all the rest. It fed continuity and brought about sense. The gruff was no longer diffident, but vastly curious and concerned. Could it be?

Woe. All is woe. The sound itself runs downward into my pith, my soul. Crag to crag, I live, a splinter of flesh seeking hearth, respite — anywhere. All is egress. I flee more than any other ever runner. I ache. I lack the solace of a mate. I am bereft of all outward gestures, of any kind, for so long have I been absent from other men. I am among animals, a sparkle of intelligence easily destroyed. What folly! I find it hard to go on, so I glyph (write out runes) these slate sheaves for any other awareness to see. What folly! How I record and how foolish is this effort, yet I persist or I will be driven mad in scape…I must give meaning. How ironic, indeed. Mad in a mad world –how sane that is. To be aware, wanderer, is to bite fate upon the amstring, bitterly. Yet i cannot capitulate. I will not cede. I will endure. Although I am not gruff nior any longer friend ofthe greart gruff, I will make do. Or e devoured as I try to make my way in this sinkhole of existence.

So after many adventures the gruff has reached a point at which he is becoming aware, the awakeening of intelligence. And now he decides to record what he feels and thinks, to leave a record of his presence in the very world which inanimately seeks to destroy him. It is, of course, a pronouncement by me, the writer, of my intent. We go on.

Indeed, the gruff’s first breakthrough to awareness was his intensely rude and shocking realization that he was in his world, and not a device or fabrication of the heavenly abyss above.

As a remembrance the gruff chose to create a monument. He wrought havoc upon the walls of a cliff, and composed several great stele in a semicircle, rubbed smooth ith the abrasive rock about, until their amber yellow limestone shone glumly, ready for sign or symbol.

For a moment he could not write. It did not come easily, all was evanescent in his mind. Then, almost feverishly, the dam burst within, and the gruff carved deeply his own script into the cheap resiliency of the steles, flakes falling lustily upon his horned soles.

To you, exile and wanderer, my friend, I send my love and fondest thoughts. Like everything else upon these barrens I came aross your cairn by accident. You and I, are we not? an event of such randomness, and so was our friendship. It is as if a prime mover moved over the firmament of scape and punctuated it with both of our awarenesses. I have read closely and behind word your lonely memento of a life spent in flight from my kind and I am sorrowful. I cannot protect you from them. I cannot protect man. The task is too much. I can only share what awareness forms a bond between us. I urge you not to ‘capitulate.’ I urge you not to fall prey to such guilt, for it is awareness that is our father and mother, not our species; a species is just the flesh and blood expression of that. We each inhabit a bruyise. Awareness carries nointegument.

Here the gruff left space,paused for a moment, and continued his efforts.

We are a rare happenstance, you and I. Let us reunite when and if we can upon scape. We cannot rush that. It will occur when we least expect it. Since we haveparted I have taught one other gruff to see. He has become my son. And like you, he has gone on his way. We three share knowing, the spiritual lightning of within. It is our relationship no matter how far we travel from one another, or what fate decides to give us as our reward for such suffering. When you are alone and in the grasp of awareness, torn and harried by its demands, what best remedy is there than to think of we three, ‘scape shapers,’ all thinking, feeling, worrying about one another?We are very much part of each other, and we drink fromn the same tarn. When and if you can, leave your mark, for we are a testament. It is allwe have,our curse,our blessing — and I am beginning to blieve, our real meaning: to express ourselves in act, creatively,  when we meet our death maker in scape, we only surrender ouyr weary husks and no more.

In the final chapters I reveal the struggle of awareness, the awakening of intelligence, the need for relationship, to express one’s self creatively. I try to reach an apotheosis. And what better way to attain all this than to have gruff become an artist of a kind. I write:

Breathtaking in its scope, intensely subtle in every detail for its mammoth size, the sculpture evoked a constellation of feelings in the observer, a galaxy of mood; and the galactic effect was brought down to the real grit and grub of scape by an all encompassing resonance that spoke gently to the artist, to all men and gruff who wish to create from their very essences a magnificent expression, in loving defiance of death — To the gruff, he had read and deciphered it with ease.

Artist, it has been given tyo you to be your own expression, for you are the inheritor of awareness, life giving life. Artist, you areyour own beauty and truth. Rejoice!

HereI am beginning to bring all aspects of my own personal struggle, latently so, for I was not conscious at all of what I was writing so embedded was I in the gruff’s apocalyptic awareness, but the engine driving all this was my own unconcious needs, to express, to be, to transcend, to learn very much, to be the perennial learner, to evolve, to grow, to ascertain self, to be a presence unto myself.

In a fantastic spasm of creativity the gruff creats a monument from all the riven cliffs and scarps about him; he creates his “David.” When writing these last chapters I recall how quickly they flw by, because of how quickly I was tapped into my unconscious and simply lifted the flodgates to whatever flowed within, down to a sunless sea.

And after making his masterpiece which was a huge enclave of promenade and statuary, I write:

One day, near dusk, filled with such mystical issue within — he impulsively carved into a slabs the following sentiments: —

What you see before you is mind speaking to this world. What you see is within you, stranger. And not to make of yourself a work of life is to add insult and injury to the world. Whether you raise monuments such as these or attain great heights of intelligence, it does not matter. What matters is that you see as clearly as the pydhawk’s eye…that you are in relationship to all. In that there is much truth and wisdom…Look about you…even scape struggles to be..Look as if it were the first time!

Clearly this is swollen with what I was reading and metabolizing from Krishnamurti. So another duck and drake entered my blood system.

In the penultimate chapter, “Choiceless Awareness,” I finally am able to stammer out all that has preceded the gruff’s adventures.

So It came to pass that the great gruf lived moment to moment, in action, free of idea and ideology. Acting in one fell swoop of process, experience in itself, free of the split between experience and the experiencer, he was all, and he truly saw what is, free of the accumulation of past experience, thought, and meory, and his life was whole.

He was happy. He entered the deep stream of life unconcerned about endings or beginnings, but to see what is. fully and completely, rid of the tempestuous thought of nhis past. And his mid was swift and true, for he discovered truth in what is, in the moment, and he chose to be choicelessly aware, not give truth meaning or taint it with label or give it flesh and bone.

For once the gruff categorized, identified, condemned, judged or justified what is, it became old and weary, a truth to be remembered. Since memory was conditioning, it prohibited seeing what is freshly. In his genius the gruff realized all this, and consciously avoided any system, any method that would arrest him in dealing with his world. For him the world was his relationship with his gruff son and man friend. It was in this relationship that he knew himself, and it was this knowledge that changed his world.

Clearly it was who he was that he projected upon the world. Scape took on that sense and sensibility of his  inward projection. If he could psychologically revolt, he could be in his world, a free gruff, for all else was imposition from without. All his life, in one way or another, aware and unaware, he had been in revolt. The gruff saw deeply, split realiy into deep furrows, and plowed life energetically.

Themes aboud galore in the book, many come from psychoanlytic thought — loss, attachment and separation, trust, and from K’s focus on choiceless awareness, the awakening of intelligence, being as opposed to becoming, one denotes sruggle and evolution which he would say involves time and memory, or the heavily gritted emory board we apply to ourselves.in order to “become” wealty, et al. So K gave me nothign and that is what should be. I took from him what I needed to grow, to become aware. he entered surreptitiously my fiction at the time and in “Gruffworld” I work out, I do hope so, and I work in what I needed from Mr. Ducks and Drakes. Never met K. I only saw pictures of him, read about his life and read his testimonies. Fascinating, isn’t it? how casually we pick up stones on a shore and in casual play come upon all kinds of wonderful realizations.

Ducks and Drakes, 4

In the summer of 1975 or 1976 I began to write a series of short stories which later developed into a science fiction fantasy, called “Gruffworld.” When I look back upon it, Krishnamurti and Langs were fused together as I depicted an apocalytic existence in an apocalyptic world. That is, a merger of spiritual and psychoanalytic truths. Essentially I write of an emerging presence, a creature evolving from childhood into adulthood, bereft of parenting, abandoned and lonely and alone, separation the very mode of his being. As I review it in mind now it is all an allegory about my own benign neglect as a child. Gruff struggled with one appalling thing: awareness, the “kind” that K spoke of, the kind of awareness which is free of choice — come for the ride as I go into this. K posits in many of his writings as I understand them that choice is a divider, the very act of deciding is a split, and that causes conlfict and personal sorrow. Ironically as a therapist I was working with clients to think in terms of choices, for many of them were so constipated as selves that they could not flex their minds in order to see options other than the straight-laced ones they had come upon by default, serendipity or accident. This flies in the face of what K was dialoguing about. I was on Maugham’s razor’s edge.

So for K choiceless awareness is the ability to be aware in the moment without the incoming streams of past thought or memory, knowledge, instruction, conditioning. He explained that this kind of awareness, if free of the need to choose, a kind of negative space, brings one into a place of clear cognition and understanding. In the fantasy I was writing I was attempting to bring Gruff into that kind of state, going so far as calling a chapter “Choiceless Awareness.” In fact, now as I think about it, a symbolic attempt to  integrate, to bring together disparate parts of myself, for I believe I have struggled in some fashion to become whole for my entire life. If I were to crave an epiphany, it would be a moment of wholeness. Struggle ceases when one is entire.

It is only after 300 pages that I really got down to business. I had the creature carve into steles near a broiling, tempest-ridden sea, in which hideous, malformed creatures swam, what he had learned. I will later on incorporate a few paragraphs from the novel so as to let you see how I failed, but that the struggle I was enduring is metabolized onto these steles. The significance as I see it is that I was living a parallel existence and that in my novel I was trying, unlike this memoir, fictionally, to describe what I was undergoing, seeking to emerge into another state, or at least evolve. I was not into transcending, that is another spiritual matter. What is truthful is that I had no idea at that time what I was working out on an unconscious level; only years later did I see the book differently, as I diary of a kind, a Bilsdungroman. Perhaps, to some degree, it was my own awakening of intelligence. Thirty-five years later I view the book as my first completed novel, one which taught me many things about the art or craft of fiction. Rereading it now, it could use an editor’s scapel, for it is long-winded here and there, but there are nuggets of personal insight which give me pleasure. By the way, have I ever attained choiceless awareness? I can say definitely not. Wouldn’t know it if it bit me on my ass. Like many of K’s thinkings or insights, I personally find them unattainable except for a handy few, much like a kid with a select grouping of marbles in his pocket and one good shooter — less is more. Never would make a good acolyte.

The very first story of the book was later published as a short story, “Covenant,” in Owlflight,  a reputable science fiction magazine. No more after that. Only now do I consider going back to that novel and see if I can edit it. I grow impatient as I read the pages because so much change has occurred in myself that other than a possibly good story, if thinned out, who that person is in that book is no longer the writer I am now, or the person I am now. It is more of a record of a younger self trying to improve or better himself as a person, to garner insight, to grow, to enlarge his personal spectrum about the world. I was having a literary dialogue with myself, which might be a good definition of any decent novel.

Writing has served me as a way to, a tao to comprehend who I am, for in writing I define and explicate myself, although beset and confronted on all sides by doubts, weak thinking, false self prophets, and all the rest that assails each one of us as we set out to say who we are in between the poles of pre-existence and death. I associate to K as a kind of handrail on a bridge which I use to steady myself as the heights below are sickening. As the years went on through the eighties and nineties after K’s death I continued to throw  stones across the water, but my interest in him waxed and waned and I discovered if I was faced with significant issues in my life I went back to read his thoughts on such and such. He was not my bible, but more of a Baedecker: after all, life was a demented tour, was it not?

As I suffer from cardiovascular disease, I have a fairly good idea of how I will close out my sentence here on earth. With that in mind almost every day I see as the last day. One does not run around with that knowledge like a chicken in a coop. One just gets on with it, a ruefulness descends and like everyone of  us we accommodate ourselves to the inevitable. What learnings we have gathered or I have learned really do not hold me in good stead. As  I observed K in his writings over the decades he was evolving. A deepening occurred in what he had to say and earlier themes were dropped or developed in different fashion. One cannot account for any creative expression; it just is. You cannot follow K, nor can you condense his teachings into some kind of mental or emotional flashcard to use at the moment. Like the flight of an eagle, it leaves no mark. I wonder what his purpose is for me. What is it that I require from him other than his illuminating psychological insights into human behavior. It is like asking, what is I want from Freud, what is it I want from my parents? what is it I want from the world? Am I a passive student or an active doer? What does Man want?

Once asked by a companion what did he think he attained after all these decades of teaching, for many listened but did not hear,  that societies were still riven, war continued on, religion exploited the masses, he replied, a rose has to give off its essence. I think ducks and drakes with K was perhaps just observing a fascinating presence work out his own existence in so many different ways as if he were modeling for us what we could do in our own idiosyncratic ways with our own idiosyncratic lives. I associate to the idea that we mere mortals often got too involved with what was really his litter, that which he dispensed with after he worked out things in his mind. I think of a friend of his, Nikos Kazantzakis, one of the great poets of the Twentieth Century. I can only imagine the conversation these two engaged in. Kazantzakis was a mystic, diplomat, novelist, who broke out with stigmata at times, and in his The Last Temptation of Christ and his magnificent confessional Report to Greco exposed his own struggle as a man to transcend, or as he wrote “to reach what you cannot.” Often I think of his epitaph: I hope for nothing. I fear nothing. I am free.” Double Wow! and Whew! Kazantzakis and Krishnamurti have touched upon that latent, perhaps slumbering spiritual sciatica that has lain dormant within me.

Essentially how frou frou of me to be absorbed by ambition, greed, making money when my existence is so very short. Can’t I be serious about life?

Ducks and Drakes, 3

During the seventies when I was engaged or “infected” by K’s teachings I began to integrate what I had learned as a therapist in training, all those readings of a different kind of masters and the writings of K. I spent an inordinate amount of time working on an extended essay in which I attempted to integrate psychotherapeutic learnings with that of K’s teachings. It never came to fruition. Essentially K had written  that psychotherapy is a method and inherent in a method is that someone or something is doing something to another. By applying a method you turn the other into an object, like a saw applied to wood. Someone is used or a victim of an application of a thought process or a method. For K this meant that psychotherapy, I gathered and assumed, really is not an engagement of the other but the use of a theory or method in the therapist’s mind being used on another. There is much truth to that; take a look at the diagnostic manual (DSM IV) used by psychiatrists, psychologists and social workers for within its pages are a plethora of definitions of mental behaviors, dysfunctions or diseases as well as many diagnostic “trees” splayed out with all their contingencies, all further adumbrated by examples and instances of this or that malady. So the therapist goes into his office with this armamentarium within himself. And, in effect, if I follow K correctly, the client, the person disappears or is reified, made much of a thing.

I sought to find a way in which choiceless awareness (that is a stunning concept that took me years to grasp) of  learning to see , and all that entails, to see clearly what is, essential concepts for K, could be brought into treatment. I had read a book in which Zen had been used but it suffered from too much theory in my eyes. In any case it was a conflictual experience for me, but I did try. What I observed about this wreckage was that I needed to read K for what he could give me, rather than  what I could extract from his teachings.Maybe they could not be applied as a rule or to others, but only as a self-discovery. Could be?

In the back of my mind was that therapy was method and I wish it wasn’t. I wish I could use what I had learned from K in some fashion and in some way in treatment. I wanted to integrate his teachings within myself. As I look back it did sneak in, my suggesting him to certain clients, my using words such as conditioning and deconditioning so that clients could understand what I was trying to achieve in their treatment. Here K might step in and go for half an hour about what I was doing was in many ways conflictual, sorrowful in the end, and a waste of time. I stick my tongue out at him. We can only do our best and at times I felt he was infatuated with intellect rather than with feelings. I associate to how it was with Freudians many decades ago. If you disagreed with them, especially if you were in supervision, you were labeled as resistive, defended, having oedipal issues with father Freud, suffering from this or that neurosis. A hermetically sealed trap, it was reductive and you could not escape. In Dan Wakefield’s wonderful New York in the Fifties he describes in detail his own treatment with a freudian, for this was the high time of psychoanalysis, and how ultimately he felt it had caused him inordinate pain; in one instance one could describe one psychoanalyst as cruelly indifferent to his anguish. In like fashion, K can be used to self-mortify the very person he chooses to teach. For his is also a worldview, of a kind, a unique way of seeing or thinking, but a worldview nevertheless, as I define it, as I see it, as I feel about it. Atmoments I did see him as a kind of freakof nature.

I wonder if others such as myself initially begin to imitate K, trying to be like him — a foolish and weary escapade, of course, but there were hints of that, as if trying to be like the master, but I soon relinquished this “craving” and chose to select from the buffet what I could eat without indigestion. indeed, K’s works have to be ingested, not sampled or tasted. He is not a boutique spiritual thinker, this is no Rachael Zoe, a stylist for the spiritual dilettantes. I wonder if the disciples of Jesus weakened their own sense of self and resolve as they latently tried to manifest the master’s internal and very special characteristics. If I can out mendicant the mendicant, might I not become better than he. Ah, competition, envy and ambition, and what a religious/spiritual racket it is.

At this time period Krishnamurti died in 1986 and I wrote a short story and a very short essay, both melancholic and depressed, about  the impact of K’s death. As I reread them now they are not worthy of being included here for they smack of the  state of imbroglio I was experiencing at the moment and at the struggle I was going through. I have surpassed all that and they are reminders of my life in which angst ruled as I dreaded on a daily basis my daily indoctrinal work as a teacher. I resented and abhorred the very occupation for it was all drill and conditioning and preparing the next generation of dimwits to vote for the Tea Party. In my book, This Mobius Strip of Ifs, I clearly set forth my displeasure in three essays which describe my feelings and thoughts about teaching in America, or what Paul Goodman called “growing up absurd.” I was part and parcel of the Eisenhower expectorate of the Fifties.

In the mid seventies I was reading the works of a Freudian, a unique psychoanalyst at that, Robert Langs. As I began to take in his teachings which were very complex but quite telling, like K, he was one of a kind, and a school grew up around his teachings. At the same time I continued this and that book of K which struck my fancy. The Flight of the Eagle, Think on These Things, The Awakening of Intelligence were  read in that order and then followed, I believe, by The First Freedom, You Are the World and a few others in addition to whatever books I could read by friends of his as he grew up under the hovering wings of the Theosophists, and Anna Besant who he called “mother.” Years after he would reject all this and set out on his own as a thinker. Intrigued by the boy “messiah,” any details I could garner I thought might help me lasso or corral this most unusual thinker — to no avail. However, what I learned about him was delicious gossip.

He was spotted on an Indian beach by Charles Leadbetter who was a Theosophist and rumors were that he was something of a pedophile, although that hasn’t been determined. In any case he experienced the young Krishnamurti as having an unusual aura about him and reported back to Besant about what he had observed. Shortly after, he was somehow finagled, weaned, absconded with,  whathaveyou into her home and she became his adoptive parent, taking the young Krishana and his adored younger brother to England. He was separated from his father, his mother having died previously. What I learned was that he was dressed by the finest tailors in London, sent to school where he was a nondescript student, reared in this peculiar environment which smacked of esoterica, illusions, incantations and astral projection in which one has the capacity to leave the body and soar eleswhere — combine all this together and it makes for fascinating reading, a touch of Madame Blavatasky who had studied with the lamas in Tibet and Gurdjieff, the perennial wisdom, some salt, some pepper and you have an odd goulash for a young boy to be thrown into. I feel he was imperialistically nabbed as an Indian boy to serve the fantasies of mother Besant. In Yiddish this would aptly be described as meshuge or crazy.

I learned he was an English dandy, foppishly loved new clothes, enjoyed racing cars and quite mechanical with them, and before his experience in Ojai which changed him forever, one would not expect this coming messiah as amounting to much. According to Anna Besant and the Theosophists, his coming had been predicted and in Pupul Jayakar’s Krishnamurti A Biography she goes into exquisite detail about “The Young Krishnamurti 1895-1946,” with such chapter headings as “In Space One Is Born and Unto Space One is Born,” and “The Personality of J. Krishnamurti Has been Swallowed Up in the Flames.” It makes for good reading, delicious in its absurdity. The true story goes that Samuel Goldwyn offered a role as the Buddha in a new film he was producing which K rejected. He was an exceedingly good-looking young man and the press made much about this messiah who was in preparation to be the new world teacher, if I recall that lingo. In short he was coddled and pampered and infused with all kinds of esoteric junk, partial truths to my eyes. However, I cut him a lot of slack, given that environment, a stolen child serving adult and bizarre interests, a crypto-pedophile lurking about and who was his teacher and an impending old woman who had an interesting philosophical career herself in the arcane sciences of the east. In short this all happened and you can’t make it up. K was brewed like a good cup of English tea in this melange.

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