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Krishnamurti in the Press

The Travel section of the New York Times recently highlighted Ojai, California, a town twenty miles inland from Santa Barbara, and the place where J. Krishnamurti made his home when in the United States. Among his stops in Ojai, the writer visits the Krishnamurti Library, but unfortunately refers to Krishmanurti in the article as:

...the guru who was labeled the ''vehicle for the reincarnation of Christ in the West and of Buddha in the East.''

I'm guessing that the writer took the "vehicle for the reincarnation..." phrase from the Krishnamurti Foundation of America's biograpical note on Krishnamurti. However, the phrase is misleading because it is taken out of context. The designation of Krishnamurti as a new Christ or Buddha was made by the Theosophical Society, a Victorian spiritual organization, which took custody of him as a child and prepared a worldwide religious organization for him, the Order of the Star. However, as the biography notes, at the age of thirty-four, Krishnamurti repudiated both the role and the organization: 1929 after many years of questioning himself, he dissolved the Order, repudiated its claims and returned all the assets given to him for its purpose.

When disbanding the organization, Krishnamurti made his most well-known statement:

Truth is a pathless land. Man cannot come to it through any organization, through any creed, through any dogma, priest or ritual, not through any philosophic knowledge or psychological technique. He has to find it through the understanding of the contents of his own mind, through observation and not through intellectual analysis or introspective dissection.

Krishnamurti went on speaking to people for the rest of his life, but never claimed the mantle of guru or teacher. In fact, he made a regular point of criticizing "gurus" as deceivers of themselves and others.

Upon his death in 1986, the New York Times obituary of Krishnamurti presented him more accurately. An excerpt:

Jiddu Krishnamurti, the religious philosopher and teacher, died of cancer yesterday at his residence at the Krishnamurti Foundation in Ojai, Calif. He was 90 years old.

Failing health last month forced Mr. Krishnamurti to cut short his final visit to India, where he gave his last public talk Jan. 3 in Madras, the place of his birth. His last appearances in New York were at a gathering at the United Nations in April 1985 and two talks before capacity audiences at Carnegie Hall in March 1982.

Mr. Krishnamurti continued to draw young listeners as well as elderly admirers who remembered the years when many revered him as virtually a new messiah, a notion he firmly renounced more than 55 years ago.

His teaching — he was distrustful of the word — was based on self-reliance and unflinching self-knowledge. People, he said, must understand themselves without delusions, a challenge that only they can meet and that they must meet to change society for the better.

Mr. Krishnamurti renounced all organized religions and ideologies in 1929, saying that religions with their prescribed teachings and worship services, retarded self-awareness. In that spirit, he carried his message to audiences in many countries.

Later in 1986, John Russell, the longtime respected art critic at the New York Times, favorably reviewed Pupul Jayakar's biography of Krishnamurti for the paper:

Alike in this country, and in his native India, Krishnamurti (1895-1986) was for generations the epitome of the unaligned spiritual teacher who founded no sect, never tried to collect disciples and successors, and regarded the craving to "belong" as a weakness, if not positively an aberration....

But the fundamental value of the book lies primarily in its day-to-day and often word-by-word record of what Krishnamurti said, year after year, both in public and in private, and how he dealt with people who went to him for straightforward answers on fundamental questions. When enjoined simply to "be tremendous — be awake," they were bemused. Late in life he said the idea of teacher and taught was basically wrong. "It is a matter of sharing, rather than of being taught," he went on to say. Fundamental questions had to be answered, but it was for each person to find the answer within himself.

It was not, therefore, by telling people what to think, but by telling people how to think that Krishnamurti impressed himself on people of every age, outlook and nationality as one of the last bright hopes of mankind.


Krishnamurti's talk at The United Nations where he was presented with the 1984 Peace medal

The British newspaper The Guardian reported on Krishnamurti's talk at Madison Square Garden in 1984

May 17, 2005 | Culture | Permalink


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