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Krishnamurti--Love and Freedom:
Approaching a Mystery

Peter Michel
(Woodside, CA: Bluestar Communications, 1992; Translated from German)


In order to be considerate to all those who have legitimate different viewpoints of Krishnamurti, anybody writing about him would do well by trying to view his subject from at least four angles: academic (historical, sociological, etc.), Theosophical, philosophical and in terms of Krishnamurti's own teachings. These are arguably also the four categories of people with the most interest in Krishnamurti. For reasons of space I will limit this review to 1) a short view on Michel's contribution to our understanding of K on a scholarly level and 2) a Theosophical view, especially regarding Michel's use of the Scott and Anrias material.

Michel's Thesis

Starting with the scholarly point of view I like to see whether the author came up with a thesis about his subject and how well he makes his points. The title of the book refers to love and freedom and about these two qualities Michel says "they are the key to understanding the mystery of Jiddu Krishnamurti."(p.144) Freedom being the door to the mystery, which essence is love (p.145). In his chapter on freedom Michel makes it quite clear how freedom was for Krishnamurti "an absolute value, a solitary, sacrosanct object," and became the leitmotif in K's mission, which was, as K said in his landmark 1929 speech, "to set men absolutely, unconditionally free." The following chapter on love very well expresses the author's feelings and thoughts about K's capacity of great love and compassion and the way it could have an impact on those who were touched by it.

Though not strictly reasoned, Michel makes his point mainly by giving a great wealth of biographical and anecdotal stories, illustrative quotes and his own lucid, sometimes even poetic, commentaries. Obviously Michel himself was also deeply touched by K. Probably he could not give a strictly reasoned demonstration because he feels that K was "inconceivable, filled with mysticism, enveloped by an aura of mystery, with an irresistible radiation and characterized by an abundance of strange phenomena." (p. 67) Here the sub-title of his study--Approaching a Mystery--becomes relevant. Michel categorizes the mysteries under the headings "Spiritual Healing', "Clairvoyance", "The Masters"," The Process", "The Overshadowing" and ending with the mysteries regarding the statements K made about himself. Michel's exploration of possible explanations of the mysterious side of K leads him into the bosom of Theosophy, where he finds the ideas and terminology to get at least a conceptual framework for understanding these mysteries.

Interestingly, K can also sometimes be found thinking within the Theosophical framework in accepting the existence of the Masters, feeling his chakras work and being intrigued by an old Tibetan prophecy about Maitreya manifesting through someone named "Krishnamurti." In this latter case Michel thinks he is getting "very close" to the essence of the K-mystery. Though K objected to the idea of Maitreya manifesting ("The Maitreya cannot manifest, it would be like the sky manifesting. It is the teaching that manifests."), Michel asks "what is the essential difference between the 'entity' Maitreya and his teaching?" (p.84) Michel seems to imply here that, if the essence of Maitreya is his teachings, then the statements "Maitreya manifests" and "the teachings manifest" refer to the same phenomenon. Therefore Michel can state that the "old Maitreya-Theory" comes very close in solving the mystery of Krishnamurti. On one side--defending K here with some exoteric philosophical means--it is obvious that there is an essential difference between a person and his statements. Maitreya as a conscious unity is a personal, temporal phenomenon. His teachings are trans-personal, trans-temporal entities, which are true (or false) regardless of Maitreya's existence. On the other hand--defending Michel's more Theosophical leanings--it could be argued that Maitreya, as an allegedly enlightened being, is himself a trans-personal, trans-temporal entity, whose essence is the living and being of the World Teachings. Therefore, if K manifests the World Teachings, it can be argued legitimately that Maitreya overshadowed K.

In a final analysis of the K-mystery Michel makes the observation that only "the like can recognize the like"(p.90) and therefore only an enlightened consciousness could reveal the mystery of K. This obvious opens the possibility that only the Masters themselves--if construed as enlightened beings--could have something insightful to say about K. Here it gets interesting because Michel actually does mention some ideas that, "from a theosophical point of view," have some explanatory relevance, and those can be traced back to a source with an allegedly Mahatmic status.

The Scott and Anrias Material

The issue is Michel's problematic use of the writings of Cyril Scott and David Anrias, both of whom made strong claims of being connected with several Masters of Wisdom and provided elaborate Theosophical critiques of K's teachings in the early 1930s.(n.1) For example, in discussing K's relationship with the Masters (pp.73-75) Michel observes that it was only in the period that K separated himself from the Theosophical Society that he was rejecting the Masters, but obviously not before that period, nor afterwards. His explanation was that that period had to do with a specific phase in K's initiatic trajectory in which the Masters temporarily withdraw all help and guidance. This was the so-called Arhat or 4th initiation in Leadbeater's scheme.(n.2) To make his point Michel refers to a discussion of K's Arhat initiation, which can be found in Cyril Scott's The Initiate in the Dark Cycle.(n.3) The problem here is that Michel incorrectly implies that Scott's thoughts on K's Arhat initiation was that K was only temporarily disconnected from the Masters and that he had passed through the ordeal with success. The truth is that in Scott's book the claim is made by a Master that K made mistakes during the initiation, and that, as K knew he was "about to be given notice, he gave notice first" and in so doing had "cut himself adrift from the White Lodge, and repudiated all of us."(n.4) The disconnect between Krishnamurti and the Masters was not temporary and due to the demands of a complex initiation, as Michel interprets the case, but the rift was permanent due to K's dropping out, as Scott's allegedly Mahatmic interlocutor makes clear.

There is another problem in that same footnote. Michel refers to page 66 of Anrias' book Through the Eyes of the Masters in order to disclose "an interesting hint" explaining some of "Krishnamurti's peculiarities" connected to "his close connection to certain high Devas." (p.193) The passage in question in Anrias' book is the following:

You who have studied the horoscope of Krishnamurti know that he is incapable of compromising with the past; also that he was reinforced in his seemingly destructive work by those great Devas of the Air, who, under direction of the Lords of Karma, are helping Man to polarize himself towards spiritual rather than material conquests.
In order to co-operate more completely with the Devas, Krishnamurti took initiations along their line of evolution. The essential nature of these Devas, used as agents of the Great Law, being perforce impersonal and detached, it came by degrees to influence his whole point of view, making him appear unsympathetic and even inhuman. Furthermore, since he had attained these initiations in the causal body by a positive effort of consciousness, it became all but impossible for him to be used any longer as my medium.(n.5)

Two issues here. First of all the hint is not necessarily by David Anrias, though he is the purported author, but comes allegedly from no one else but Lord Maitreya himself with Anrias acting as his messenger. Michel doesn't mention this important point and just designates it as merely a "theosophical point of view." Secondly, and more importantly, the view, from a Theosophical perspective, is of such profound and probably controversial importance, that Michel should have laid it out in detail and analyzed its components indicating where and why he might agree and disagree. Unfortunately Michel doesn't indicate the gist of the view and only refers to the book and page number.

The problems with this passage on K's Arhat and Deva initiations don't end there. Once he laid out and hinted at these Theosophical reservations regarding K's metaphysical status, he brings K himself on stage in order to refute them: "Krishnamurti resented this explanation because it only affirmed old dependencies." (pp.74-75) Again, a further explanation is missing and Michel only gives in a footnote a reference to "Krishnamurti's remarks about the accusations in The Initiate" (ftn.139, p.193) to be found in one of K's early talks.(n.6) The problem here is that the only accusation lifted from The Initiate in the Dark Cycle brought forward by a questioner at this talk was not regarding the alleged failure of K's Arhat initiation. The question was regarding the accusation made that K was teaching "Advaitism, which is a philosophy only for yogis and chelas, and dangerous for the average individual" as the questioner put it, summarizing the relevant remarks made in The Initiate book. K's answer only addressed explicitly this alleged danger, not the initiation. "What is there in what I am saying that is so difficult or dangerous for the average man?" he said. K then addresses in his usual ad hominem way other similar accusations: "People who write books of this kind are consciously or unconsciously exploiting others. They have axes to grind, and having committed themselves to a certain system, they bring in the authority of a Master, of tradition, of superstition, of churches, which generally controls the activities of an individual." In short, Michel is not correct in stating that K refuted allegations regarding K's metaphysical status in connection to failed or passed initiations. K only defended his teachings from the allegation that they were dangerous.

To complete this discussion of Michel's use of the Scott and Anrias material an analysis should be made of a large quote lifted from the Initiate book finding its way into footnote 113 of Michel's book. The context is a 2-page paragraph (pp.64-65) in which Michel levels some of his most critical remarks regarding K and his teachings. Michel states that K's remarks about other teachers are "often marked by intolerance" and based on an "unreflected aversion." He points that there is a contradiction between K's dismissal of other claimants to wisdom and making extraordinary claims for himself, and a contradiction between K's dismissal of book knowledge and the fact that K did write, edit and publish many books himself. Michel then reports being "struck" by some advice the Masters had given K in his early days, which K obviously disregarded later on. From At the Feet of the Masters Michel lifted a quote in which the advice is found to "respect them [old beliefs and ceremonies] for the sake of those good souls to whom they are still important."(n.7) And from a message--allegedly from a Master for K, delivered through Leadbeater--Michel lifted a quote in which a similar counsel can be found: "Be tolerant of divergences of views and method…." (n.8) Michel's evaluation of this issue boils down to his disagreement with a foundational assumption of K's teachings, i.e. that anyone, anywhere, anytime could execute a lasting radical transformation. Michel's reservation is that "[p]erhaps Krishnamurti, in his radical attempt, did not pay enough attention to the limitations of mankind in its present state of evolution. … Krishnamurti wanted to lead people to a freedom for which they were possibly not sufficiently mature." (p. 65) As an example he presents Emily Lutyens' desperate reaction to K as recorded in her Candles in the Sun: "He had cut the ground from under mine and I felt I was dropping into nothingness."(n.9) Within the footnote referring to Lutyens' book (pp.191-92), Michel adds a substantial quote from Scott's The Initiate in the Dark Cycle in which two Masters in dialogue evaluate K's teachings. The quote, as lifted by Michel, reads:

"Well did my Brother Koot Hoomi say that Krishnamurti had destroyed all the many stairways to God, while his own remains incomplete."
"And would never be suitable for all types, in any case," J.M.H. put in. …
Sir Thomas nodded assent. "And while he has directed them to repudiate all Masters, he refuses to act as Guru to them himself." The old gentleman was silent for a moment, then shook his head mournfully. "Children crying in the night of spiritual darkness, and no one to comfort them. ... He who could help, won't, and we who might help, can't, for Doubt has poisoned their belief in our very existence. No wonder Koot Hoomi's face looks a little sad."(n.10)

My issue with Michel here again is that he doesn't provide sufficient context and analysis of the quote to make clear where he stands and how deep he thinks its relevance goes. The quote is said to be "in this connection … adequate," which word my Webster Encyclopedic Dictionary defines as "fully sufficient" and my Duden German Dictionary translates back into German as angemessen (suitable), ausreichend (sufficient) or annehmbar (acceptable). My question would be: Fully sufficient unto what? Explaining Lutyen's disappointment in K, as seems to be the case? Or to point out the woeful insufficiency of K's teachings, which would be my interpretation?


Bringing this review to an end, and leaving philosophical issues to the side, I have to conclude that Michel's study goes quite far in understanding K along Theosophical lines, which makes the book quite recommendable. But he falters in trying to adequately integrate the Scott and Anrias material and thereby muddled his approach to the mystery of K and saddles his thesis with an inner tension that needs to be resolved. I think he either has to develop more consistently the very critical implications regarding K contained in the works of these two Theosophical writers, like Baileyite esoteric astrologer Phillip Lindsay tried to do,(n.11) or distance himself from Scott and Anrias, like Jean Overton Fuller did in her Krishnamurti biography, Krishnamurti & The Wind. (n.12) And if he knows a third way, I'd like to know.

Govert Schuller
October 15, 2009


1) These critiques can be found in: His Pupil [Cyril Scott], The Initiate in the Dark Cycle (London: Routledge, 1932), pp. 65-77 and 133-143, and David Anrias [Brian Ross], Through the Eyes of the Masters: Meditations and Portraits (London: Routledge, 1932), pp. 65-69. For a synopsis of their critique see Krishnamurti and the World Teacher Project: Some Theosophical Perceptions (Fullerton CA: Theosophical History, 1997), pp. 12-13.

2) See Leadbeater's discussion of the Arhat initiation in The Masters and the Path, pp. 218-231, with p. 220 being the most relevant.

3) Unfortunately Michel makes a strange mistake here by referring to the wrong book. In endnote 138 he referred to Scott's The Initiate in the New World, p. 300, instead of referring to The Initiate in the Dark Cycle, pp. 135-136. Another mistake is that in footnote 113 he refers to The Initiate in the Dark Cycle as the second of the "three volumes of the Initiate," while it is actually the third volume, The Initiate and The Initiate in the New World being the first and second respectively.

4) The Initiate in the Dark Cycle, 136.

5) The full text with an editorial introduction can be found here.

6) J.Krishnamurti, Early Talks IV, (Bombay: Chetena, 1972), p. 100. Second talk at Eddington, Pennsylvania, June 14, 1936.

7) Alcyone (J. Krishnamurti), At the Feet of the Masters (Adyar, India: Theosophist Office, 1910).

8) Originally published in Mary Lutyens, Krishnamurti: The Years of Fulfillment (New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1983), p. 147.

9) Emily Lutyens Candles in the Sun (London: Rupert Hart-Davis, 1957), p. 183.

10) The Initiate in the Dark Cycle, pp. 138-140.

11) Phillip Lindsay, The Initiations of Krishnamurti: An Astrological Biography (Palmerston North, New Zealand: Apollo Publishing, 2002)

12) See especially chapter 20 "Scott And Anrias: Wood And The Blind Rishi" in Jean Overton Fuller, Krishnamurti & The Wind (London: The Theosophical Publishing House, 2003), pp. 165-173.



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