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II. Escape


Prominent amongst the reasons for Krishnamurti's denunciation of ideals, disciplines and lives devoted to the service of great causes, is that they are all means of escape. The existence of pure idealism, sacrificial love and selfless service by these condemnations is denied.

This is an example of the excess by which, in my humble opinion, Krishnamurti's teaching is so greatly marred. Perceiving the excesses, repelled by them, one is in danger of casting aside the whole body of his ideas. This I think would be a profound mistake; for even in the extreme statements, one is not infrequently able to perceive more than a germ of truth. Granted, the ideas thus perceived are in no sense new. One has learnt of them in the course of one's theosophical study. Indeed, everything which is comprehensible and rings true in Krishnamurti's utterances is recognisable as part of the Ancient Wisdom.

Krishnamurti's denunciations may apply to some people. But very definitely they do not apply to all. The wise student will use them as a touchstone to his own character and conduct, thereby gaining much of self-purification and reorientation.

The brand of "means of escape, fear, search, reward" which Krishnamurti appears to place upon all ideals and all idealists, whilst falsely applied, nevertheless can lead the thought to a great truth.

One's theosophical studies show one that the true fruits of life's experiences can only be harvested when they are accepted, entered into in their fullness, examined until their full significance is indelibly impressed upon the consciousness.


This is, of course, true of both joys and sorrows. But it would seem to be especially true of sorrow. If those in suffering and sorrow would be wise, they would not, as Krishnamurti would seem to say, run away from these experiences. The waters of such sorrow must be allowed to flow over one, even if one is temporarily engulfed. For in the process of acceptance, examination, and even of being temporarily overwhelmed, the true essence of the experience is distilled within the crucible of the heart.

This essence is peace born of comprehension, and he who is able to accept all pain, especially mental pain, with understanding will always find his peace. He who runs away will ever find escape impossible, peace unattainable. This truth is most beautifully expressed in Francis Thompson's wonderful poem, "The Hound of Heaven." The word "Hound" in the title may be taken as a verb meaning "hunt."

Krishnamurti expresses this most beautifully – at least, I think he does – as follows: "When you begin to suffer, do not say, I must get rid of this or that want or cause, but silently observe, without denial or acceptance (I cannot agree to "without acceptance" – G.H.), and out of this choiceless awareness, want, with its fears and illusions, begins to yield place to intelligence. This intelligence is life itself, and is not conditioned by the compulsion of want."

This idea seems to be susceptible of extension beyond the individual who suffers. There is only one Divine life, and when, intelligently and without morbidity, we unite ourselves with our own suffering, we unite ourselves with the suffering of all. We become one with them, and in so doing find the peace of the Everlasting Arms –


or the Divine compassion without and within – into which we sink, and in which, as we then know, the world is forever safe.

This is a mystical experience, which comes as the waters of pain and sorrow are allowed to close over one. In the utter loneliness which accompanies this profound experience, nothing external can aid one. In this complete aloneness beneath the waters of sorrow, comes not only the great peace, but the great illumination of one-ness. The illusion of separateness is gone for ever afterwards and with it the illusion of death. A self-conscious awareness of immortality is born out of such an experience. Thus we see the value of life's experiences – Krishnamurti's positive denial notwithstanding.

Theosophy tells us that it is in experience frankly faced, studied, accepted, that light is found. Pain borne without retreat and without reproach either to life and the pain or to its personal agent, if one exists, karma accepted without bitterness, fear or weakness – in this valiant acceptance, free from the slightest trace of despair or rebellion, lies the way of light.

In one of his most beautiful and revealing utterances, Krishnamurti also expresses this as follows: – "As you do not wish to change a lovely form, the glow after sunset, the vision of a tree in a field, so also do not obstruct the movement of sorrow. Let it ripen, for in its own process of fulfilment there is comprehension. When you are aware of the wound of sorrow, without acceptance, resignation or denial, without artificially inviting it, then suffering awakens the flame of creative intelligence."

There speaks the poet, the seer, the illumined. In such phrases of pure beauty and deep wis-


dom, Krishnamurti places all lovers of beauty and of truth heavily in his debt. Here we see how true in one sense is Krishnamurti's affirmation that all men, irrespective of evolutionary stature, could enter by this way into this light. Nothing objective bars the way. This liberation is truly available to all. The difficulty is – and we had better face it – that all men are not able to accept suffering without an attempt to evade it and without bitterness or reproach. For such an acceptance demands a certain level of development, a certain almost exalted mental attitude. And to this the average man cannot attain. Furthermore, it is folly, I submit, either to expect him to do so or to condemn him for not doing so. If you do, you break him. His memory drives him instinctively to seek escape from all that is unpleasant; for he thinks that self-preservation lies that way. Yet both his instinct and his thought are wrong. He needs to be instructed in the meaning, cause and cure of pain. This – pace Krishnamurti – is where Theosophy is of so great a value to humanity. For this – the meaning and purpose of life and all of life's experience – is part of its great message to the world.

All this would seem to be contained in the story of the Baptism of our Lord, in which He voluntarily entered and was submerged in the waters of Jordan – symbol of the sorrows of humanity. He came forth illumined and empowered, as indeed do all who thus receive and welcome the experiences of life.

Such, according to Theosophy, is part of the great secret of the cessation of sorrow. Krishnamurti undoubtedly does at least hint at this secret which in its essence is less a teach-


ing or description than a vivid experience. For the truth is only fully comprehensible to those who have passed through the experiences. Largely by virtue of one's own experience of life, one is on occasion able to receive from Krishnamurti flashes of illumination, to assent to an idea almost with wonder, so great is the light. Sometimes, however rarely, with a thrill of enlightenment one finds arising from the depths of one's own experience an inner spontaneous answer to his words.

But – and here is the special warning I venture to give to all who study him, including myself – because he proves illuminating on occasion, do not let us throw overboard all the happiness, beauty and usefulness which our own religion and philosophy have hitherto brought to us. To do so is the wildest folly, and can lead only to sterility, misery, a darkened life.

Questions put to him demonstrate very clearly that Krishnamurti has led people into this darkness. I speak feelingly, for I have seen and known so many who have made just that mistake. Once radiant, they are now in darkness. Once loving friends to all, they, like Krishnamurti himself, are now scornful and bitter opponents of their old friends and co-workers. Once useful citizens, they are now idle. Not only are they idle, but they scorn those who remain active in the service of city, country and race. Once self-controlled, vegetarian, teetotallers and refined of speech, they now scorn all systematic discipline, eat meat, smoke, take alcohol and are addicted to coarse language. All this is justified by the plea of fuller self-expression. Great is the tragedy of such temporarily ruined lives – a tragedy all too common since Krishnamurti took up his mission.


Are we to estimate him by such fruits of his teaching alone? Not entirely, I submit. There is, however, a test which suffices, and for me is final. That test is the extent to which the teacher displays and evokes the quality of compassion.

True illumination draws the seer nearer to the world, nearer to his brother man and draws his brother man nearer to him. The fact of the oneness of life becomes a living experience. From that experience spring divine love and divine compassion, and at the risk of sounding sentimental I would add, divine sweetness.

Wisdom, be it ever remembered, "mightily and sweetly ordereth all things."

The true teacher comes "not to destroy, but to build," as some fourteen years ago, and apparently with prescience and purpose, we were all forewarned.

To the extent that Krishnamurti or any other both displays and evokes compassion and in the measure in which he "builds," in that measure is he a great teacher.

Some seven years ago Krishnamurti publicly parted company with The Theosophical Society. Since then iconoclasm has been a marked characteristic of his utterances. Is it possible that his life is divided into seven-year cycles, each with its own keynote? If so, a new cycle is now opening. Who knows what it may bring?







Copyright © 2001 - G.W. Schüller