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.