KRISHNAMURTI AND THE
SEARCH FOR LIGHT
By GEOFFREY HODSON.
Krishnamurti's utterances are an extraordinary blend
of rare flashes of transcendental wisdom, penetrating
intelligence, incomprehensibility, prejudice, intolerance
and vituperation. In these chapters I offer some thoughts
upon his various teachings.
I am moved to do so partly because after arrival
in Australia I became aware of the influence of the
teachings of Krishnamurti upon the membership of The
Theosophical Society. One Lodge had just sustained
severe losses in the resignation of some of its most
talented and promising students.
In addition, the most prominent workers in The Theosophical
Society have received in silence the continuous and
vituperative denunciations of Krishnamurti. They could
afford to be silent knowing that truth is certain
to prevail and falsehood to be exposed.
I confess, however, that as a member of the Society,
I have not always been able to achieve the philosophic
calm of the leaders. The principles of justice, fair
play and common courtesy have been so flagrantly outraged
for some seven years that at last I am moved to a
I have kept in touch with Krishnamurti's teachings,
attending his gatherings when possible, and reading
his published addresses. In Australia I also sought
an opportunity of learning direct by
what line of thought these ex-members had arrived
at the conclusion that Theosophy was valueless, was
indeed a hindrance in the process of self-illumination
and the fulfilment of life. I sought first those truths
in the teachings of Krishnamurti which had proved
so enlightening. Second, I wanted to know in what
way these truths differ from or are outside of Theosophy.
Third, end perhaps most important, I desired to discover
why one must discard Theosophy, self-purification,
study and service, must resign from all movements
and give up all good work in order to receive enlightenment.
These for me have been important questions for some
Two long sessions of exposition and question and
answer with one ex-fellow of the Theosophical Society
who, following Krishnamurti, had resigned from various
organisations, failed completely to convey one single
idea to which my mind could wholly assent, saying:
"this is a great truth, and one, moreover, which
is outside of Theosophy"
A genuine mutual liking existed between my informant
and myself, and the occasion seemed to be the most
promising I had yet found; for here was one who was
willing to analyse, to be questioned freely, frankly,
and one moreover who, by theosophical study and self-training,
was accustomed to logical processes of thought.
The first statement with which I was confronted was
"that there is no purpose in life." Seeking
confirmation, I w,, informed that experience does
not teach us anything. This is true to the doctrine
of Krishnamurti, who positively affirms that there
is no purpose even in suffering.
The next statement was that liberation was for all,
at whatever stage in the life-process they happened
to stand. whether dustman or Univer-
sity professor, primitive man or genius. All could
achieve immediate and complete self-fulfilment if
they would. "Why do they not do so?" I naturally
asked. "Because they don't want to," was
the reply. "Why do they not want to)" I
asked. "Because they have not had enough experience."
"Then experience has a value)"
So there we were, in the first of a succession of
closed circles of thought, of contradictions from
which, despite my every endeavour, it was impossible
to escape. Eventually, because of this, the discussions
were discontinued. My friend frankly confessed his
inability to present to me a logical case. He said
that my perpetual challenge of every inconsistency
and contradiction rendered exposition of Krishnamurti's
ideas impossible. He said that you have to take a
very great deal which appears incomprehensible and
illogical and hold it in your mind without immediate
rejection if you would understand.
I replied that such confusion of thought, such housing
of mental concepts against which reason and intuition
utterly rebel would plunge me into a kind of a hell
of mental confusion. Since suffering is said to be
purposeless, I was not prepared to go so far. It was
clear to me that, like many in the same position,
my friend was himself experiencing mental darkness
and anguish. As a result of cutting himself off from
his friends, his life work and his highest ideals
of human conduct, as so many others have done at the
bidding of Krishnamurti, he found himself in misery
and loneliness. He admitted this, and said that Krishnamurti
taught that it was necessary to pass through this
stage in order to achieve discern-
ment. I could not forbear to say: "And yet experience
is valueless and life has no purpose?" Happily
with friendship unaffected, we were constrained to
leave the matter there.
This experience would appear to be not uncommon.
At Ojai, a questioner asked Krishnamurti, "Do
you not see, sir, that your ideas can lead us but
to one result the blankness of negation and
ineffectiveness in our struggle with the problems
of life? " *
Similar confusion has arisen for many others who
heroically have essayed the same path through negation
and self-isolation in pursuance of the theme enunciated
At this point I wish to make it clear that I am not
judging the case. I do not feel competent to do so.
Such heroism may produce heroic results, despite the
fact that Krishnamurti constantly warns against any
course of conduct with a view to attainment.
Here are his words on the subject: "When we
understand profoundly the significance of our existence,
of the process of ignorance and action, we will see
what we call purpose has no significance. The mere
search for the purpose of life covers up, detracts
from the comprehension of oneself." *
That quotation is a perfect example of the closed
circle of thought outside of which I for one continually
find myself to be shut when endeavouring to comprehend
these teachings. For the opening clause, "When
we understand profoundly the significance of our existence,"
is for me the end, not the beginning of the search.
This phenomenon is constant throughout all Krishnamurti's
expositions. He seems to me to
* Ojai 1936 Talks, p. 108.
* Ojai 1936 Talks, p. 28.
put the very goal itself as the first step towards
its attainment. If I may presume to say so, of one
so much greater than myself, he does not appear to
appreciate the enormous gulf between himself as a
very great and illuminated being and the rest of humanity
in which he appears to be trying to initiate the process
of thinking for itself.
Krishnamurti himself apparently finds little or no
favourable response from those whom he addresses.
Evidently they find, as I do myself, their existent
mental equipment unequal to the task of following
the exceedingly abstruse concepts of which his talks
are presumed to be expositions.
Here, for example, is a question put to him in various
forms more than once: "I have listened to your
talks for several years, but to be frank, I have not
yet grasped what you are trying to convey."
The answer, as usual, is itself as unacceptable (to
me!) as the teachings which produced the question.
Krishnamurti says, "All that I am trying to do
is to help you to discern for yourself that there
is no salvation outside of yourself, that no Master,
no society can save you." * Obviously that
is not all he is trying to tell us; for such a statement
is to be found in every one of the world religions
and philosophies, and especially is it part of the
central message of the one society which Krishnamurti
has singled out as the chief target for his arrows
of criticism and iconoclasm The Theosophical
What is wrong? Who is at fault, if fault there
be? Are we not expected to understand?
Is the whole purpose to throw us into a profound
* Question and part of an answer,
p. 4I, l936 Ojai Talks.
mental confusion out of which enlightenment will
For Krishnamurti, the whole world and, therefore,
his audiences, his questioners, and especially 'the
continually vilified leaders and members of The Theosophical
Society all these are wrong, are knaves and
fools, whilst he alone is right. At least, so he continually
seems to suggest.
What is to be done about this? I can find but one
answer. We must bring the best powers of heart and
mind to bear upon Krishnamurti's teaching. We must
respect his greatness, and approach his message
even if he denies that he has one without bias,
or, if possible, with a leaning towards his way of
He himself demands much more. He says that one must
discard every opinion, every belief, all knowledge
wrested from life, throw overboard every experience
however lofty, beautiful, ennobling and profound.
For all these are contemptuously dismissed by him
as superstitious beliefs, self-deceits and ways of
escape from reality. As long as we hold to one single
idea which life has made true for us we cannot know
the truth. We must become mentally virginal. We must
render our minds like a white sheet. Then, perhaps,
but certainly not till then, a faint glimmer of light
may dawn upon us.
Since Krishnamurti so greatly stresses it, let us
examine this concept of self-denudation. Students
of the Ancient Wisdom know full well that two major
psychological changes quite naturally both precede
and accompany illumination. They consist first of
psychological simplification, and second of self-unification,
or the fusion of hitherto separated aspects of human
a unit. As a result of the first change, personal
desire gradually disappears. The individual "wants"
no more. Emotionally and intellectually he becomes
independent of externals, for he has found a well-spring
of life, of happiness and of truth within himself.
His feelings become pure, white, still. His intellect
is free of supposition, free of doubt, "simple,"
calm, direct. His mind, freed from a confusion of
externally imposed creeds, dogmas and beliefs, is
established in recognition of not obsession
by certain basic metaphysical formula which
have become for him the keys of life, his theo-sophia.
The second change of self-unification, or the fusion
of emotion and intellect into a single centre of awareness
and action quite naturally accompanies this.
Clear-minded and unified, the individual has symbolically
become "as a little child."
If one understands Krishnamurti rightly, he insists
on bringing this condition about by force, artificially
as it were. There must be positive action to eject
all previous concepts of life. "When we begin
to free ourselves, through experiment, from these
false divisions with their special significances,
pursuits and ideals, which have caused so much harm
and falsely complicated our lives, then we shall release
creative energy and discover the endless movement
of life." *
My own idea of this self-clarification is that it
is entirely a natural process; it is the result of
interior changes, of the unfoldment of the life within.
It is, therefore, not forced. Indeed, it seems doubtful
whether it can be brought about artificially. Rather
is it an inevitable occurrence,
* Ojai Talks, p. 7, para. 4.
utterly spontaneous, perfectly natural, even thoughtless,
or, at any rate, thought-free. Tagore beautifully
expresses the spontaneity of this change in his words:
"He who can open the bud, does it so simply."
Perhaps the most phenomenal concomitant of this condition
of spiritual "budding" is its physical result.
The karma of material adversity begins to be outworn.
In consequence, although no direct effort is ever
made to obtain even the necessities of physical life,
the "new-born" is never in need. All his
wants are supplied, sometimes in abundance. Symbolically,
the kings of the earth unite to lay their treasures
at the Christ Child's feet.
What remains after this interior death and rebirth?
That which remains is the individual centre of awareness.
But the word "individual" does not imply
separated individuality. For one of the great experiences
which follow the process of denudation is the progressive
fading of the sense of separateness. A state of unity
with all is entered, first, in exhilarating flashes,
and later as a permanent condition of consciousness.
This individual centre of consciousness, this sublimated
selfhood, displays three attributes or powers
those of intuition, reason and will. Intuition and
reason are gradually fused into one, and they, with
the fruit of their combined activity, remain as constituent
attributes of the new-born Self.
The third attribute of the Self consists of an awakened
and burning will to know, to ascend, to conquer. This
arises from fathomless depths within the centre of
existence. Its presence and activity is experienced
as a continuous and mounting determination to break
pierce all resistance to its own free, full and perfect
manifestation. Once awakened it never sleeps. Although
its decrees may not always be ratified in action,
especially at first, such temporary frustration has
no effect upon it. Ever the will to victory mounts
to become the one increasing purpose of life, the
one exalting power.
Though concentrated at burning-glass intensity in
the individual, this will is known by him as impersonal,
universal and in this resides its potency. Unconquerable,
undiminished, pertaining to eternity, it becomes the
fiery centre upon which individual existence is established.
Thus the One Will crowns, completes the three-fold
centre of awareness in man which remains when all
else has been "slain." Intuition, reason
and the intellectual light which is the result
of their blended activity these, fused in.
and empowered by the fire of will, these remain.
Krishnamurti appears to carry this process very much
further. Apparently the very thought of an ideal,
a quest or any purpose in life is anathema to him.
One in whom the awakening of the will to fulfilment
has begun, who sees the goal of liberation before
him and is moving deliberately towards it, cannot
possibly comply with his demand for interior emptiness,
agnosticism as an essential to illumination.
As to will-consciousness Krishnamurti says little.
But he does demand as an essential to illumination,
at least as a result of listening to him, the complete
ejection from the centre of awareness of all memory
and all the distilled essence of the fruits of life's
experiences. Apparently everything must go, and, moreover,
the future is mortgaged. In his own words: "When
a man says, 'I know,' he is dead." One must neither
remember one's own past nor be interested in one's
future. One must not admit of or answer to interior
illumination outside of his views, and one must not
employ reason when listening to him. Apparently one
must listen with empty, actionless mind and purposeless
will. At least, that is the impression I receive when
listening to him or reading his utterances.
This negation appears to me to be implicit if not
fully expressed. For if one does apply reason to certain
of his teachings one must reject them as illogical
and unsound. His denunciation of Theosophy as untrue,
as poison, and, by implication, of a person like his
"mother," Dr. Besant, as an exploiter of
the people, is an example. This denunciation is impossible
of acceptance by any individual who has studied and
tested against life the one and has truly comprehended
the other. To deny the Ancient Wisdom to a mind illuminated
by it is comparable to denial of the existence and
value of the sun to forms which derive from it their
life and energy. For, throughout all ages the Ancient
Wisdom has been as the sun to the unfolding mind of
man. Yet Krishnamurti does deny the Ancient Wisdom
albeit in terms which suggest that he knows little
or nothing of its true light, its profundity and its
beauty. "... Schools of thought are nothing but
imitative jargons which merely create divisions and
encourage exclusiveness and vanity of mind. These
systems of thought have really no validity, being
founded on illusion." *
Dr. Besant was one of the greatest women and greatest
servants of humanity of this age, and one moreover
who dearly loved and
* Ojai Talks 193 , p. 5, para.
deeply reverenced Krishnamurti. In the face of his
denial of Theosophy and his denunciation of Dr. Besant,
both intuition and reason, stimulated by moral indignation,
forbid either positive acceptance or empty-mindedness.
In succeeding chapters I propose to continue this
consideration of Krishnamurti's teaching. I shall
frankly challenge him and them as he bids us challenge.
Where they appear to me to be incompatible with reason
and fact I shall respectfully declare them so. I hope
very much that others will participate, particularly
those who claim to have found the light through Krishnamurti.
For it seems to me that it cannot be right and good
at this critical period of history for someone to
travel continuously about the world producing confusion
of thought wherever he goes.