In any case it’s a working title for my next book which will be on the spiritual teacher, Krishnamurti, sometimes called K, or with the honorific used in India, Krishnaji. While doing my mandatory one hour peripatetic lap walk in a local gym, in the inevitable battle to lose weight and to keep my other carotid artery from becoming plaque-ridden, I think about K. Presently I am reading Krishnamurti’s Notebook which is a spirtitual diary that comes with the adviso that K was not on drugs when he wrote this, and I believe that to be so, for he was too much the ascetic, a vegan. watched his body, and he was taken care of by others for much (coddled, then pampered) if not all of his life since he was declared a messiah, if you will, in his early life by Anna Besant and the Theosophists. More on that later. K never had a 9 to 5 job in his life, never had an argument with a boss, never was fired; he was out and apart from his society and others made it work for him. If they were not disciples, they were something close to that. For a while I resented that, although I worked that through, for what he has to say, his testimony, as someone said, is more than worth intense scrutiny for what it offers. If I am swine, at least let me take a pearl back to the sty — might give some class to the joint.
Gossip is rife about him. He may or may not have had an affair; he deserved at least one shtupp in his life. He was said to have the capacity to heal, but he put that aside for his own reasons. We do know in the twenties in a town north of Los Angeles, Ojai, he had an intense spiritual awakening which lasted for days and weakened him. In the Notebook and elsewhere this continued in one way or another all his life, he was almost 90 when he died. He practiced Kundulini yoga which is supposed to have been an intense variant and I do believe he had a lifelong unique experience with that. I believe in some way his brain “exploded,” and what I mean is that somehow he was able to see much deeper than the rest of others. In fact, his confidants sometimes suggested that he was a freak which he sometimes said that may very well be true. Given his teachings, I felt at times that he was beyond grasp because he was just different, remarkably so.
Ducks and drakes is not a game nor a sport, but something that early man most likely engaged in. Simply stated, one is by a lake or pond, settled waters. A flat stone (think David’s sling) is selected from the shore and cast sideways across the surface waters. One observes how many times it hits the water and by friction or physics unknown to common man skips again and so on. The idea is to see how many surface hits one can get the missile to make before it submerges. A natural effort, a simple effortless exercise — stone, throw, sight and it is all over. What is to be gained? I will not hazard a guess. Metaphorically it means something else for me as I observed for more than three decades reading K’s work, often occasionally, not consistently, mind you; but I do return to his wisdom under certain anxiety states to see if he has something to say to me. For the purposes of this “memoir” ducks and drakes represemts my off and on again distant relationship with an intriguing presence; if he is to be accused of selling anything to me, it is not philosophy, or a way-to, it is not a Dr. Phil. Deepak Chopra, Wayne Dyer product of Emersonsian-tainted bromides. K offers awareness, not his, but yours.
So I am the duck and the drake. This reminiscence is an effort to record the distant relationship with him. In 1975 I decided to enroll in the school of social welfare at Stony Brook University at the eastern end of Long Island. It was about an hour or so away from my home in Glendale, Queens. At 35 I was in a second marriage with one child. After work at a high school on exit 51 in Suffolk County it was not too far away a commute to the university. I went at night. And then a long trek back through Suffolk and Nassau counties into Queens. I did that for three years. When you are young, it doesn’t get to you, you’re not even aware of it. In a course called “How Humans Change,” the professor recommended Krishnamurti’s The Flight of the Eagle. I do dimly recall hearing a record of K in class with that often parodied sing song chant of the Indian speaking English, you know, Sam Jaffe doing his Gunga Din bit. So I entered the book and realized by the end of page two that it was the equivalent of reading Plato at 18 and being dumbstruck by the idea or ideas being explained or having entered Buber’s I and Thou and being lost immediately, for if you don’t get his definition of I and Thou in the first pages you might as well give up. Immediately I sensed that K had to be read slowly and with care, that yellow marker readily in hand. The sonofabitch made me work!
Intensely practical, written in that lucid style of his, plain, matter-of-fact, as if steel wire being slowly, deliberately spun about a coil, I realized it was philosophical in ways I was not used to. It did not present a theory or a personal point of view, let us say of Spinoza or Marx. It was beyond that. Inherent in the book as I recall it, I, the reader, was being asked in so many words to participate in the colloquy, for it was not so much what K was making clear or adumbrating, as the metaphor of being escorted through Kane’s castle and the good citizen stepping before you to open each door as you went through that castle maze. By the way, implicit in all this was not that you were entering a labyrinth nor a maze. You were entering you. It was a book about awareness. I know that I can quote passages or that I can read him again so as to be clearer but it would be a cheat. I want to share what has stayed in me without resorting to books. Facts or data I need to share with you about his personal life I may look up or I may not. I prefer to write about him as if I were speaking of a friend I have known casually over the years. There is no need for research on that, is there?
One major idea in that book was the observer was the observed; that took some while to settle in my mind. K has always argued that division creates conflict, that in negation we come upon that which is whole. I struggled to understand this idea and others in the book. I now see the truth in his observation that we are that which we see or look at; or we project upon others and situations all that we are so we are blinded by what we see. Elsewhere he comments that we should look as if for the very first time, and I found that valuable when I went to practice as a psychotherapist, to see the client, the person, from moment to moment, with fresh eyes free of judgment and personal coloration. From insight to insight the book was strewn with tight-fisted insights about mind and relationships, all new to my western mind. I knew that I had read and grasped and struggled with something unique and I tried to understand what I did not understand by searching out other books of his. I came across Think on These Things which is a popular book of his and much more accessible than The Flight of the Eagle. Here in transcribed dialogues he speaks with young people in schools throughout India discussing all kinds of ideas and answering questions from students. I began to grasp some of his ideas and found them appealing. I now wooed him.
More in another blog.