The Inner Life of Krishnamurti

To the editor of the Quest:

Please allow me to add a few thoughts to Mr. Moody’s fine article on the inner life of Krishnamurti (Quest, Fall 2015), especially to Krishnamurti’s experiences of immense vastness, energy and sacredness which he described in the diary he kept in 1961.[1] My additional comments fall in four different categories by which one could try to make sense of these experiences. In keeping with the special subject matter of the last Quest, i.e. God, I will first make [A] a more or less theological comment, to be followed by [B] a view within a Theosophical perspective, then [C] a more personal note, and I will finish with [D] a secular, scientific hypothesis regarding these extraordinary experiences.

[A] It could be argued that Krishnamurti, in and through these experiences, had reached the ultimate as far as consciousness is concerned. There is nothing else beyond and he connects it with creation.

On waking there was in the very depths, in the measureless depths of the total mind, an intense flame alive and burning furiously, of attention, of awareness, of creation. … The fire of creation that is destruction is life. In it there is no beginning, no ending, neither tomorrow or yesterday.[2]

Could this “fire of creation” be Krishnamurti’s ‘God’? If so, and in more theological terms, this God is indeed beyond the human mind with its self-centered activities, but can still be experienced. And it is also quite impersonal. In none of Krishnamurti’s descriptions there is any sense of anything personal to this sacredness. It just is, comes and goes without warning, and does not leave a message. The Sanskrit concept of Satchitananda comes in my opinion closest, capturing maybe the three essential elements of this experience: Consciousness-Being-Bliss, or in a more phenomenologically structured way, blissful consciousness of being. But Krishnamurti’s meditations did not stop at this level.

Apparently he went one step deeper and claimed to have reached “the source of all energy” during one of his meditations in the middle of November 1979. This experience was so momentous that he dictated an account of it in the third person to a friend, in which he also shared a little, though ‘negative’ theological reflection.

“This must in no way be confused with, or even thought of, as god or the highest principle, the Brahman, which are the projections of the human mind out of fear and longing, the unyielding desire for total security”.[3]

[B] Ten years ago I discussed these experiences with an acquaintance and tried to capture the whole arc of Krishnamurti’s psychic experiences within an explicit Theosophical framework.[4] I made a differentiation between eleven states of mind, starting at the mundane Kama-Manas level, then going through different mystical states Krishnamurti experienced between the crucial formative years 1922 and 1927, temporarily culminating at the level of fusion between the Bhuddic and Atman principles. From this level he dissolved The Order of the Star, distanced himself from The Theosophical Society, and developed his teachings over the years. Then in the middle of 1960, while in Italy, he started to have the intense experiences of bliss and benediction described in his diary, which I interpreted as Satchitananda to be only experienced at the Buddhi-Atman level. I then reasoned about his 1979 experience of the source of all energy that as Atma is equated with Brahm and Krishnamurti was arguably at that level of consciousness, it could very well be that the ‘source’ was beyond Brahm, i.e. Para-Brahm. One could discuss, as I did with some Theosophical friends, whether this interpretation is Theosophically sound, because it was argued that a person from the fifth root race could hardly go beyond the Buddhic level at the current state of humanity’s spiritual evolution.

[C] To dispel any notion that Krishnamurti’s extraordinary experiences were just his and his only, there are numerous references in his diary that others were feeling the same bliss and energy when he was with them in the same space. And I can witness to the fact that when I was for the first time in Saanen, Switzerland, at the 1980 Krishnamurti summer gathering, I had, together with another person I had befriended, these very same experiences numerous times. It would befall us like a cloud of quiet but intense ecstasy while walking before sunset through the Saanen valley. The remarkable effects were that the mind would considerably quiet down, though not necessarily go into total silence; the senses would get very acute; the speed of walking would spontaneously slow down; and we would create a bit of a space between our bodies. These experiences might have lasted, I guess, between five and twenty minutes. I have always wondered what the possibility conditions were for this to have happened. One important ingredient was that I had just started reading Krishnamurti’s Notebook before hitchhiking to Saanen and was still reading it while there, which might have, psychologically speaking, primed me to be open to its possibility. Other ingredients might have been the fact that I was already exercising a kind of nature mysticism while having long walks in nature, and was engaging Krishnamurti’s teachings at a very serious intense level, which had only become more intense at the gathering while listening live to Krishnamurti and having great conversations with other attendees. But the most important factor was, I think, the fact that Krishnamurti, through his presence in the valley and having these experiences on an almost daily basis, somehow had anchored this vibration of ecstasy throughout the valley, which then could be accessed by anybody in the right sensitive state of mind. It was only at that gathering where I had these experiences in a clean and clear fashion. The next year at the gathering I only had some echoes of it and much later in 2008, while participating at a workshop of the very Krishnamurtian Steven Harrison, there was a short but very recognizable come-back of the experience.[5]

[D] Besides a Theosophically framed interpretation of Krishnamurti’s mystical experiences there is also the possibility to interpret those in a more secular, naturalistic manner. One possible venue is to extrapolate from the very intriguing scientific-philosophical ideas on the second law of thermodynamics by Eric Schneider and Dorion Sagan, who make a good case about how the inherent tendency of all energy towards disorder and decay actually is also the driving, creative force of its exact opposite, that is, towards all order and complexity.[6] Nature abhors energy differences between warm and cold, high pressure and low pressure, etc., and the cosmos is continually and all-pervasively trying to overcome these differences, but does so through creating order and complexity to hasten or smoothen the process, including, as the authors argue, through organic live, evolution, human behavior and the functioning of the mind. Though the authors discuss religion and the purpose of life, they do not address mystical states of mind. The extrapolation I suggest is that when the mind is very, very silent, it senses at an objective level this palpable, vast cosmic energy flux of which the body is an integral part—thereby contributing to the spatial and energetic component of the experience–, but also, on a more subjective level, the brain itself and its hormonal activities might be impacted by it (an issue Krishnamurti himself brought up a few times)– thereby contributing to the blissful aspect of it. Of course the experience, because of the absence or near absence of thought, is a unitary experience, but only qua experience, because thought, through science and careful thinking, can analyze its contributing components. How far Krishnamurti would go along with such an idea is, I think, quite open. He was not necessarily looking to Theosophical ideas to understand what happened to him and was definitely interested in a more physical, scientific way of explanation.

In short, Krishnamurti’s experience of bliss and vastness are indeed extraordinary, but not to the extent that they were private, nor that such experiences could not be tentatively explored within different frameworks of understanding.

Govert Schuller, Naperville

Sources

[1] Moody, Edmund. “Krishnamurti’s Inner Life“. Quest 103/4 (Fall 2015): 143-147.

[2] Krishnamurti, J. Krishnamurti’s Notebook (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1976), p. 25.

[3] Lutyens, Mary. Krishnamurti: His Life and Death (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1991), p. 168.

[4] “Krishnamurti Discussion”. Alpheus, 2005. 

[5] “About Steven Harrison”. Web site: Doing Nothing: Post-Spirituality and the Creative Life.

[6] Schneider, Eric D. & Sagan, Dorion. Into the Cool: Energy Flow, Thermodynamics and Life. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2005).

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