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.
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
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
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
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.
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 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,
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,
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,
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.