Spiritual leader & author
For some days, there had been much discussion about the Theosophical Society, headed by Annie Besant, and about Krishnamurti, who was being promoted by her as the "New World Teacher." On June 26th, Meher Baba remarked to some visitors who questioned him about the theosophists :
Krishnamurti, a New World Teacher? God forbid!
You cannot compare the Sadguru Ramakrishna of Calcutta with Krishnamurti. Ramakrishna was Rama and Krishna personified! Krishnamurti is living in all majesty and splendor, pomp and power, and moving about England in aristocratic, fashionable circles, playing tennis and golf, leading a most comfortable life. He does not have the slightest idea – not even a wisp – of the Real Truth.
So it is also with these funny, showy theosophists. Their greatness lies only in editorship – writing and speaking with high-sounding words about planes, powers, colors, secret doctrine, society and caste. Truth is far, far beyond this.
If you desire to aspire for Realization, you should hold your very life in the palm of your hand, ready to give it up at any moment! Then alone will you be deemed worthy and be able to experience Truth.
Lord Meher ; Bhau Kalchuri - Vol.3 p.816
Courtesy of ; HEART TALK – Letters between Beloved Baba and Dr. Ghani –
Avatar Meher Baba P.P.C. Trust, Archives, Meherabad
Our Heart Talk posting this week from Baba to Dr. Ghani is undated, but was written by Baba from Meherabad in mid-December 1925.
"The world teacher of Mrs. Besant" refers to J. Krishnamurti, who was hailed as such by Dr. Annie Besant and the Theosophists, but about whom, Baba later commented: "It is all humbug. The Theosophists, including Mrs. Besant and Krishnamurti, do not have even a whiff of the Truth."
During his final interview on November 24th, Paul Brunton asked Baba, "How do you know you are the Messiah?"
Dictating from his board, Baba replied:
I know! I know it so well. You know that you are a human being, and I know that I am the Avatar. It is my whole life! My bliss never stops!
You never mistake yourself for some other person; so I cannot mistake who I am. I have a divine mission to fulfill and I will do it! My manifestation will occur in the near future, but I cannot give you the exact date.
"There are others who claim to be the Messiah," said Brunton.
Baba smiled, and then remarked:
Yes, there is Krishnamurti, Annie Besant's protege. The Theosophists deceive themselves. Their chief wire-pullers are supposed to be somewhere in the Himalayas – Tibet. You will find nothing there but dust and stones. Besides, no real spiritual Master ever required someone else's body for his own use. Such thinking is ridiculous!
Baba then commented about America:
America has a tremendous future and will become a spiritually-minded nation. Whenever I visit a place and stay there, however short a time, its spiritual atmosphere becomes greatly elevated – and I intend to visit America.
Baba ended his meeting with Brunton by urging him, "Go to the West as my representative! Spread my name as that of the coming Divine Messenger. Work for me and you will then be working for the good of mankind."
Brunton looked startled and said, "I don't know if I can do that; the world will probably think I'm mad."
Baba assured him that he was mistaken, "I will help you to render service to me in the West."
Baba then directed Brunton to meet Hazrat Babajan in Poona, and to see the Tiger Valley cave in Panchgani, and then to visit Kolhapur High School and the Madras Centre. Accompanied by brother Jal, Brunton soon left for Poona to meet Babajan.
Lord Meher ; Bhau Kalchuri - Vol.4 p1350
SEVERAL PEOPLE were staying at the Harmon ( New York ) retreat. One couple was Max Wardall and his wife Lillian. Max had a deep inclination for the spiritual path and had read several books on Eastern thought.
On one occasion, Baba explained to him:
"There are four states on the path: first, faith; then renunciation and experience; fourth, regaining normal consciousness. The last state after Realization involves duty – work for the universe – as Christ, Buddha and Muhammad all had."
Max Wardall, who had formerly been associated with the Theosophists and had traveled throughout India with Krishnamurti, Annie Besant and Charles Leadbeater, asked Baba about Krishnamurti.
Baba commented, "He is not as advanced as some think. He does good and will come to me one day. I will help him advance on the path."
When he was young, Krishnamurti had been acclaimed by the Theosophists to be the modern Messiah; however, he was not self-deluded and renounced all such divine claims. During September of 1931, Malcolm Schloss wrote to Krishnamurti, informing him of Baba's visit to America. Krishnamurti wrote back from Holland on October 1st, expressing his gratitude to Malcolm and that he would very much like to meet Meher Baba in America. He also conveyed his greetings to Baba.
Later, after Meher Baba left America, Malcolm sent Krishnamurti several press clippings about the visit, suggesting that he write directly to Baba in India. Krishnamurti replied from Ojai, California, on March 18th, 1932:
It is very good of you to have sent me newspaper articles regarding Meher Baba. I do not see how I can write to him as I have nothing to say to him, but I hope I shall meet him some time, either in India or in Europe. I hope you understand that it is not rudeness on my part not to correspond with him, but I really have nothing to say. After meeting in person, perhaps we can correspond together.
Meher Baba once related:
"Krishnamurti possesses great possibilities within himself. He is on the right path, but he will not fulfill himself or become truly great as long as he does not come to visit me."
Lord Meher ;
Bhau Kalchuri - Vol.4 p1469
On the afternoon of April 11th, Baba went to the studio of sculptor Edward Merrett to have a sitting from 2 to 3 P.M. This was the first time that Baba had ever permitted any sculptor to depict him. Merrett made some rough carvings, and two days later, Baba was to return for a final sitting.
Baba and the mandali went to the home of Maud Foulds' on the evening of the 12th, accompanied by Kitty. An ardent seeker, Mrs. Foulds was eager to arrange a meeting between Baba and Krishnamurti, but it was not meant to take place.
Lord Meher ; Bhau Kalchuri - Vol.5 p1564
Deshmukh was well read and, having been influenced by Krishnamurti's writings, asked Baba, "Is it not possible to progress on the spiritual path without the aid of a Guru?"
Baba answered, "Bandage your eyes, and then go and find my brother Adi Jr. Bring him here!"
Adi was in the next room, so Deshmukh asked, "How can I find him while blindfolded?"
"First blindfold yourself," responded Baba.
Deshmukh hesitatingly tied a scarf over his eyes and Baba motioned to Chanji to lead him to Adi Jr.'s room. Accordingly, Chanji did so and Deshmukh soon returned to Baba, who asked, "Why couldn't you go to Adi's room alone?"
"I was unable to find the way blindfolded," he said.
"So you needed the help of one who knew the way?"
"Yes, I suppose," Deshmukh acknowledged.
Baba then elaborated, "In the same way, you will not be able to find the path. You are blindfolded by illusion. If you want to traverse the path, you will have to seek the aid of One who knows where to find it, else you will wind up meandering here and there, probably breaking your head and both legs in the process. You will gain nothing."
Baba's clarification freed Deshmukh of his misconception and Baba jokingly asked, "Can you not understand such a simple thing, you doctor of philosophy? Or is it your philosophy that is confusing you?"
Four days later, Deshmukh returned to India and immediately got a job as a professor at Nagpur University.
Lord Meher ; Bhau Kalchuri - Vol.5 p1793
In a later letter during 1944, Elizabeth wrote to Baba:
I forgot to mention that while in Santa Barbara, we motored over to see Krishnamurti at Ojai Valley. Norina knew him previously and had a good talk with him. He said it would be a privilege to meet you.
I also gave a lecture in Chicago. You mentioned Chicago as a spiritually important city before we left India, but the turnout for my talk was not large.
Baba cabled Norina on July 13th, 1944:
Am happy to find in all your letters about Myrtle Beach, everything that I personally and spiritually approve of and sanction. All my lovers should cooperate to make Myrtle Beach the Spiritual Abode for one and all.
J. Krishnamurti, 1924
May 12, 1895 (1895-05-12)
Madanapalle, Andhra Pradesh, India
February 17, 1986 (1986-02-18) (aged 90)
speaker, author, philosopher
|Parents||Narainiah and Sanjeevamma Jiddu|
Jiddu Krishnamurti (Telugu: జిడ్డు కృష్ణ మూర్తి) or J. Krishnamurti (Telugu: జే . కృష్ణ మూర్తి, Tamil: கிருஷ்ணமூர்த்தி), (12 May 1895 – 17 February 1986) was a writer and speaker on philosophical and spiritual issues. His subject matter included psychological revolution, the nature of the mind, meditation, human relationships, and bringing about positive change in society. Maintaining that society is ultimately the product of the interactions of individuals, he held that fundamental societal change can emerge only through freely undertaken radical change in the individual. He constantly stressed the need for a revolution in the psyche of every human being and emphasized that such revolution cannot be brought about by any external entity, be it religious, political, or social.
Krishnamurti was born into a Telugu Brahmin family in what was then colonial India. In early adolescence, while living next to the Theosophical Society headquarters at Adyar in Madras, he encountered prominent occultist and Theosophist Charles Webster Leadbeater. He was subsequently raised under the tutelage of Leadbeater and Annie Besant, leaders of the Society at the time, who believed him to be the likely "vehicle" for an expected World Teacher. As a young man, he disavowed this idea and dissolved the worldwide organization (the Order of the Star) established to support it. Denouncing the concept of saviors, spiritual leaders, or any other intermediaries to reality, he urged people to directly discover the underlying causes of the problems facing individuals and society. Such discovery he considered as being within reach of everyone, irrespective of background, ability, or disposition. He declared allegiance to no nationality, caste, religion, or philosophy, and spent the rest of his life traveling the world as an independent individual speaker, speaking to large and small groups, as well as with interested individuals. He authored a number of books, among them The First and Last Freedom, The Only Revolution, and Krishnamurti's Notebook. In addition, a large collection of his talks and discussions have been published. His last public talk was in Madras, India, in January 1986, a month before his death at his home in Ojai, California.
Supporters, working through several non-profit foundations, oversee a number of independent schools centered on his views on education – in India, the UK, and the United States – and continue to transcribe and distribute many of his thousands of talks, group and individual discussions, and other writings, publishing them in a variety of formats including print, audio, video and digital media as well as online, in many languages.
 Family background and childhood
Jiddu Krishnamurti came from a family of Telugu-speaking Brahmins. His father, Jiddu Narainiah, was employed
as an official of the then colonial British
Administration. Krishnamurti was very fond of his mother Sanjeevamma, who died when he was ten. His parents were second cousins, having a
total of eleven children, only six of whom survived childhood. They were strict vegetarians, shunning eggs, and throwing away any food that the "shadow of a European" had
He was born on 12 May 1895 in the small town of Madanapalle in Chittoor District in Andhra Pradesh. In accordance with common Hindu practice, as an eighth child who happened to be male, he was named after the Hindu deity Krishna.
In 1903 the family settled in Cudappah, where Krishnamurti during a previous stay had contracted malaria, a disease with which he would suffer recurrent bouts over many years. He was a sensitive and sickly child;
"vague and dreamy", he was often taken to be mentally retarded, and was beaten regularly at school by his teachers and at home by his father. Several decades later
Krishnamurti referred to his state of mind during childhood: "Ever since he was a boy it had been like that, no thought entered his mind. He was watching and listening and nothing else. Thought
with its associations never arose. There was no image-making ... He attempted often to think but no thought would come."
Writing about his childhood and early adolescence in memoirs he composed when he was eighteen years old, Krishnamurti described psychic experiences such as "seeing" his sister, who had died in 1904, and also his mother, who had
died in 1905. Elsewhere he mentions another aspect of his childhood - a bond and closeness with nature - that apparently persisted
throughout his life: "He always had this strange lack of distance between himself and the trees, rivers and mountains. It wasn't cultivated."
Krishnamurti's father Narainiah retired at the end of 1907, and being of limited means wrote to Annie Besant, then President of the Theosophical Society, seeking
employment at its headquarters estate at Adyar. The Society, a quasi-mystical organization founded 1875 in New York City, had attracted international media and public interest and was then influential in Indian
society; in addition to being an observant orthodox Brahmin, Narainiah had been a Theosophist since 1882. He was eventually hired by the Society as a clerk, and he and four sons (his remaining family) moved there in January
1909. Narainiah and his sons were at first assigned a small cottage that lacked adequate sanitation, located just outside
the Theosophical compound. Apparently as a result of poor living conditions, Krishnamurti and his brothers were soon undernourished and infested with lice.
 His "discovery" and its consequences
It was in late April or early May 1909, a few months after the last move, that Krishnamurti first met influential Theosophist Charles Webster
Leadbeater. During regular walks to the Theosophical estate's beach at the nearby Adyar river, Leadbeater, who claimed clairvoyance, had noticed Krishnamurti (who also frequented the beach with others)
and was impressed by the "most wonderful aura he had ever seen, without a particle of selfishness in it." In contrast, Krishnamurti's outward
appearance was according to eyewitnesses pretty common, unimpressive, and unkempt. He was also considered "particularly dim-witted"; he often had "a vacant expression" that "gave him an almost
moronic look". Leadbeater remained "unshaken" that the boy would become "a spiritual teacher and a great orator", and likely to be used as the "vehicle for the Lord Maitreya" - the latter,
according to Theosophical doctrine, an advanced spiritual
entity that periodically appears on earth as a World Teacher to guide the evolution of humankind. This would happen, Leadbeater added, "unless something went wrong".
Pupul Jayakar, in her biography of
Krishnamurti, quotes him speaking of that period in his life some 75 years later: "The boy had always said, 'I will do whatever you
want'. There was an element of subservience, obedience. The boy was vague, uncertain, woolly; he didn't seem to care what was happening. He was like a
vessel, with a large hole in it, whatever was put in, went through, nothing remained."
Following his "discovery" Krishnamurti was taken under the wing of the leadership of the Theosophical Society in Adyar and their inner circle. Leadbeater and a
small number of trusted associates undertook the task of educating, protecting, and in general preparing him as the likely "vehicle" of the expected World Teacher. Krishnamurti (or
Krishnaji as he was often called) and his younger brother Nityananda ("Nitya", 1898–1925) were privately tutored at the Theosophical compound in
Madras, and were later exposed to a comparatively opulent lifestyle among a segment of European high society, as they continued their education abroad. In spite
of his history of problems with school work and concerns about his capacities and physical condition, the fourteen-year-old Krishnamurti within six months was able to speak and write competently
in English. He later came to view his "discovery" as a life-saving event: "Krishna [Krishnamurti] was often asked in later life
what he thought would have happened to him if he had not been 'discovered' by Leadbeater. He would unhesitatingly reply, 'I would have died'."
During this time Krishnamurti had developed a strong bond with Annie Besant, and considered her a surrogate mother. Following his early close relationship
with his biological mother, this was the first of several important and intimate relationships that Krishnamurti established with women during his lifetime. His father, who had initially assented
to Besant's legal guardianship of
Krishnamurti, was pushed into the background by the swirl of attention around his son and in 1912 sued Besant and the Theosophical
Society to protect his parental interests. After a protracted legal battle, Besant took custody of Krishnamurti and Nitya. As a result of this separation from his family and home, Krishnamurti and his brother (whose relationship had always
been very close) became more dependent on each other, and in the following years they often traveled together.
In 1911 the leadership of the Theosophical Society at Adyar established a new organization, called the Order of the Star in the East (OSE) to prepare the
world for the expected appearance of the World Teacher. Krishnamurti was named as its head, while senior Theosophists were installed in its various other positions. Membership was open
to anyone who accepted the doctrine of the Coming of
the World Teacher – however, most of the early members were also members of the Theosophical Society. Controversy erupted soon after, within
the Theosophical Society and without, in Hindu circles, and in the
Indian and international press.
 Growing up
Mary Lutyens, in her biography of
Krishnamurti, states that there was a time when he fully believed that he was to become the World Teacher after correct spiritual and secular guidance and education.
Another biographer describes the daily program imposed on him by Leadbeater and his associates, which included rigorous exercise and sports, tutoring in a variety of school subjects, Theosophical
and religious lessons, yoga and meditation, as well as instruction in
proper hygiene and in the ways of British society and
culture. At the same time, Leadbeater personally assumed the role of guide in a parallel, mystical instruction of young Krishnamurti; the existence and progress of this instruction
was at the time known only to the leadership of the Society and a close-knit circle of associates.
Unlike sports, in which he showed natural aptitude, Krishnamurti always had problems with formal schooling and was not academically inclined. He eventually gave up university education after
several attempts at admission. He did take to foreign languages, in time speaking several (French and Italian among them) with some fluency. In this period he apparently enjoyed reading parts of the Old Testament, and was impressed by some of the Western classics, especially works by Shelley, Dostoyevsky and Nietzsche. He
also had, since childhood, considerable observational and mechanical skills, being able to correctly disassemble and reassemble complicated machinery.
His public image as originally cultivated by the Theosophists "was to be characterized by a well-polished exterior, a sobriety of purpose, a cosmopolitan outlook and an otherworldly, almost
beatific detachment in his demeanor." And in fact, "all of these can be said to have characterized Krishnamurti's public image to
the end of his life." It was apparently clear early on that he "possessed an innate personal magnetism, not of a warm physical
variety, but nonetheless emotive in its austerity, and inclined to inspire veneration." However, as Krishnamurti was growing up,
he showed signs of adolescent rebellion and emotional instability, chafing at the regimen imposed on him, being highly uncomfortable with the publicity surrounding him, and occasionally having
doubts about the future prescribed him.
Krishnamurti and Nitya were taken to England for the first
time in April 1911. Two of the people they first encountered there were Mary Lutyens, Krishnamurti's future biographer and lifelong friend, and her mother Emily - who was to become another
surrogate mother for Krishnamurti, forming a strong and intimate bond with him. During this trip Krishnamurti gave his
first public speech, to young members of the OSE in London. The first writings of his had also started to appear, published in booklets by the Theosophical Society
and in Theosophical and OSE-affiliated magazines. Between 1911 and the start of World War I in 1914, the brothers visited several other European countries, always accompanied by Theosophist chaperones.
After the war, Krishnamurti (again accompanied by Nitya, by then the "Organizing Secretary" of the Order) embarked on a series of lectures, meetings and discussions around the world related to
his duties as the head of the OSE, and also continued writing. Like most of his contemporary writings, the content of his talks revolved around the work of the Order
and of its members in preparation for the Coming, while his vocabulary reflected the prevailing Theosophical concepts and terminology. In the beginning he was described as a halting,
hesitant, and repetitive speaker, but there was steady improvement in his delivery and confidence, and he gradually took command of the meetings.
 Start of "the process" and the death of Nitya
In 1922 Krishnamurti and Nitya travelled from Sydney to
California on their way to Switzerland. While in
California, they stayed at a cottage in the relatively secluded Ojai Valley, offered to them for the occasion by an American member of the Order. It was thought that the area's unique climate would be
beneficial to Nitya, who had been diagnosed with tuberculosis; Nitya's often-ailing health would become a near constant source of worry for Krishnamurti. At
Ojai they met Rosalind Williams, a young American who became close to them both, and who was to later have a significant role in Krishnamurti's life. For
the first time the brothers were without immediate supervision by their Theosophical Society minders; they spent their time in nature hikes and picnics with friends, spiritual contemplation, and
planning their course within the World Teacher Project. Krishnamurti and Nitya found the Ojai Valley to be very agreeable, and eventually a trust formed by
supporters purchased for them the cottage and surrounding property, which henceforth became Krishnamurti's official place of residence.
It was in August–September 1922, during the initial stay at Ojai, that Krishnamurti went through an intense, "life-changing" experience. It has been simultaneously and
invariably characterised as a spiritual awakening, a psychological transformation, and a physical conditioning. The initial events happened in two distinct phases: first a three-day spiritual experience which
apparently lead, two weeks later, to a longer-lasting condition that Krishnamurti and those around him would refer to as the process; this condition would reoccur, at frequent intervals
and with varying intensity, until his death.
According to witnesses it all started on 17 August 1922, with Krishnamurti complaining of extraordinary pain at the nape of his neck and a hard, ball-like swelling. Over the next couple of days
the symptoms worsened, with increasing pain, extreme physical discomfort and sensitivity, total loss of appetite and occasional delirious ramblings. Then, he seemed to lapse into unconsciousness;
instead he recounted that he was very much aware of his surroundings, and that while in that state he had an experience of mystical union. The
following day the symptoms and the experience intensified, climaxing with a sense of "immense peace".
I was supremely happy, for I had seen. Nothing could ever be the same. I have drunk at the clear and pure waters and my thirst was appeased... I have seen the Light. I have touched compassion which heals all sorrow and suffering; it is not for myself, but for the world... Love in all its glory has intoxicated my heart; my heart can never be closed. I have drunk at the fountain of Joy and eternal Beauty. I am God-intoxicated.
Following - and apparently related to - these events, in early September a strange condition, which came to be known as the process, started as an almost nightly,
regular, occurrence. These new incidents continued with short intermissions until October; later, the process would resume intermittently. As in the separate three-day experience of
August, the process involved varying degrees of pain, physical discomfort and sensitivity, occasionally a lapse into a "childlike" state, and sometimes an apparent fading out of
consciousness explained - by Krishnamurti or those attending him - as either his body giving in to pain, or as him "going off".
These experiences were accompanied, or followed, by what was interchangeably described as presence, benediction, immensity, and sacredness, a state distinct
from the process. This state - said to have been often felt by others present - would later, and increasingly, often reoccur independently of the process. Krishnamurti regularly
substituted the other or the otherness as shorthand description for this particular experience; also as a way of conveying the sense of impenetrability regarding this otherness,
the strange sensibility it effected, and the unusual state of consciousness it precipitated, as described in his diaries and elsewhere.
Several explanations have been proposed for the events of 1922 and for the process in general. Leadbeater and other Theosophists expected the "vehicle" to have certain paranormal experiences, but were nevertheless mystified by these developments and unable to explain the whole thing. During Krishnamurti's later years the continuing process often came up as a subject in private discussions between himself and his closest associates; these discussions shed some light on the subject, but were ultimately inconclusive regarding its nature and provenance. Whatever the case, the process, and the inability of Leadbeater to explain it satisfactorily, if at all, had other consequences according to biographer Roland Vernon:
The process at Ojai, whatever its cause or validity, was a cataclysmic milestone for Krishna. Up until this time his spiritual progress, chequered though it might have been, had been planned with solemn deliberation by Theosophy's grandees... Something new had now occurred for which Krishna's training had not entirely prepared him... A burden was lifted from his conscience and he took his first step towards becoming an individual... In terms of his future role as a teacher, the process was his bedrock... It had come to him alone and had not been planted in him by his mentors ... it provided Krishna with the soil in which his newfound spirit of confidence and independence could take root.
Nitya's persistent health problems had periodically resurfaced throughout this period and were a continuing cause for concern; on 13 November 1925, at age 27, he died in Ojai from complications of influenza and tuberculosis. Despite Nitya's poor health, his death was completely unexpected by Krishnamurti, and fundamentally shook his belief in Theosophy and his faith in the leaders of the Theosophical Society. Jayakar wrote that "his belief in the Masters and the hierarchy had undergone a total revolution." Moreover, Nitya had been the "last surviving link to his family and childhood... The only person to whom he could talk openly, his best friend and companion". According to eyewitness accounts the news "broke him completely". He struggled for days to overcome his sorrow: "Day after day we watched him heart-broken, disillusioned. Day after day he seemed to change, gripping himself together to face life ... He was going through an inner revolution, finding new strength." Jayakar stated that in later years "Krishnamurti accepted that perhaps the intensity of sorrow had triggered a vast, wordless perception" while Vernon suggests that in the end, "[Krishnamurti] discovered, at the root of sorrow, an emptiness that could be not be touched by hurt". Twelve days after Nitya's death he was "immensely quiet, radiant, and free of all sentiment and emotion"; "there was not a shadow ... to show what he had been through." The experience of his brother's death seems to have shattered any remaining illusions, and a "new vision" was now "coming into being":
An old dream is dead and a new one is being born, as a flower that pushes through the solid earth. A new vision is coming into being and a greater consciousness is being unfolded ... A new strength, born of suffering, is pulsating in the veins and a new sympathy and understanding is being born of past suffering - a greater desire to see others suffer less, and, if they must suffer, to see that they bear it nobly and come out of it without too many scars. I have wept, but I do not want others to weep; but if they do, I know what it means.
 Break with the past
Over the next few years Krishnamurti's new vision and consciousness continued to develop. New concepts appeared in his talks, discussions, and correspondence, together with an evolving vocabulary that was progressively free of Theosophical terminology. The main themes in his meetings started to diverge from the well-defined tenets of Theosophy and from the concrete steps the members of the Order of the Star had to undertake, and into more abstract and flexible concepts, which would be Happiness one year, Questioning Authority the next, or Liberation the following. His new direction reached a climax in 1929, when he rebuffed attempts by Leadbeater and Besant to continue with the Order of the Star. Krishnamurti dissolved the Order during the annual Star Camp at Ommen, the Netherlands, on 3 August 1929 in front of Annie Besant, three thousand members, and a radio audience. In the so-called Dissolution Speech, he stated that he made his decision after "careful consideration" during the previous two years, and said among other things:
You may remember the story of how the devil and a friend of his were walking down the street, when they saw ahead of them a man stoop down and pick up something from the ground, look at it, and put it away in his pocket. The friend said to the devil, "What did that man pick up?" "He picked up a piece of the truth," said the devil. "That is a very bad business for you, then," said his friend. "Oh, not at all," the devil replied, "I am going to help him organize it." I maintain that truth is a pathless land, and you cannot approach it by any path whatsoever, by any religion, by any sect. That is my point of view, and I adhere to that absolutely and unconditionally. Truth, being limitless, unconditioned, unapproachable by any path whatsoever, cannot be organized; nor should any organization be formed to lead or coerce people along a particular path.
This is no magnificent deed, because I do not want followers, and I mean this. The moment you follow someone you cease to follow Truth. I am not concerned whether you pay attention to what I say or not. I want to do a certain thing in the world and I am going to do it with unwavering concentration. I am concerning myself with only one essential thing: to set man free. I desire to free him from all cages, from all fears, and not to found religions, new sects, nor to establish new theories and new philosophies.
Following the dissolution some Theosophists turned against Krishnamurti and publicly wondered whether "the Coming had gone wrong". Mary Lutyens states that "after all the
years of proclaiming the Coming, of stressing over and over again the danger of rejecting the World Teacher when he came because he was bound to say something wholly new and unexpected, something
contrary to most people’s preconceived ideas and hopes, the leaders of Theosophy, one after the other, fell into the trap against which they had so unremittingly warned others."
Krishnamurti had denounced all organized belief, the notion of gurus, and the whole teacher-follower relationship, vowing instead to work in setting people absolutely, totally free. There is no record of him explicitly denying he was the World Teacher ; whenever he was asked to clarify his position, he either asserted the matter was irrelevant, or gave answers that, as he stated, were vague on purpose. In reflection of the ongoing changes in his outlook, he had started doing so before the dissolution of the Order of the Star. The subtlety of the new distinctions on the World Teacher issue was lost on many of his admirers, who were already bewildered or distraught because of the changes in Krishnamurti’s outlook, vocabulary and pronouncements – among them Annie Besant and Mary Lutyens' mother Emily. He eventually disassociated himself from the Theosophical Society and its teachings and practices, yet he remained on cordial terms with some of its members and ex-members throughout his life.
Krishnamurti would often refer to the totality of his work as the teachings and not as my teachings. His concern was always about the teachings; the teacher had no importance, and all authority, especially psychological authority, was denounced:
All authority of any kind, especially in the field of thought and understanding, is the most destructive, evil thing. Leaders destroy the followers and followers destroy the leaders. You have to be your own teacher and your own disciple. You have to question everything that man has accepted as valuable, as necessary.
This includes inward authority:
Having realized that we can depend on no outside authority ... there is the immensely greater difficulty of rejecting our own inward authority, the authority of our own particular little experiences and accumulated opinions, knowledge, ideas and ideals.
However such pronouncements were not endorsements of social or personal disorder; on the contrary, the total freedom he advocated, rather than leading to societal and personal disorder would in his view result in complete order:
Order is necessary, complete, absolute, inward order and that is not possible if there is no virtue, and virtue is the natural outcome of freedom. But freedom is not doing what you want to do nor is it revolting against the established order, adopting a laissez faire attitude to life or becoming a hippy. Freedom comes into being only when we understand, not intellectually but actually, our every day life, our activity, our way of thought, the fact of our brutality, our callousness and indifference; it is to be actually in contact with our colossal selfishness.
Krishnamurti resigned from the various trusts and other organizations that were affiliated with the defunct Order of the Star, including the Theosophical Society. He returned the monies and properties donated to the Order, among them a castle in the Netherlands and 5,000 acres (20 km2) of land, to their donors. He spent the rest of his life holding dialogues and giving public talks around the world on the nature of belief, truth, sorrow, freedom, death, and the quest for a spiritually fulfilled life. He accepted neither followers nor worshipers, regarding the relationship between disciple and guru as encouraging dependency and exploitation. He accepted gifts and financial support freely offered to him by people inspired by his work, and continued with lecture tours and the publication of books and talk transcripts for more than half a century. He constantly urged people to think independently and clearly. He invited them to "easily, affably" explore and discuss specific topics together with him, "as two friends" who, in a break with the past, make a fresh start towards a "journey of discovery":
And to take such a journey we must travel light; we cannot be burdened with opinions, prejudices and conclusions - all that old furniture ... forget all you know about yourself; forget all you have ever thought about yourself; we are going to start as if we knew nothing.
 Middle years
From 1930 through 1944 Krishnamurti engaged in speaking tours and in the issue of publications under the auspice of the Star Publishing Trust (SPT), in which he was involved with
Rajagopalacharya Desikacharya (commonly D. Rajagopal or "Raja"), a close associate and friend from the Order of the Star. The base of operations for the new
enterprise was in California, where Krishnamurti, D. Rajagopal, and Rosalind Williams (by then the wife of D. Rajagopal), lived in close proximity at the Ojai property that was
Krishnamurti's official residence. The business and organizational aspects of the SPT were administered chiefly by D. Rajagopal, as Krishnamurti devoted
his time to speaking and meditation, "content to leave all practical matters, which bored him, especially financial matters, in Rajagopal's undoubtebly capable hands." The
Rajagopals' marriage was not a happy one, and the two became physically estranged after the birth of their daughter, Radha, in 1931. In the relative seclusion of Ojai,
Krishnamurti's close friendship with Rosalind deepened into a love affair that continued for many years, a fact not made public until 1991.
During this period of time the Rishi Valley School, the first of several schools based on Krishnamurti's educational ideas, opened in India.
Proper education, incorporating a holistic approach and the
rearing of children into sane, whole individuals free of conflict, had been a major, continuing concern of his. This school and others in India and
elsewhere continue to operate under the auspices of the Krishnamurti Foundations. However as of 1980 Krishnamurti's
concern regarding right education remained unsatisfied. When asked about the result of - by that time - nearly 50 years of educational work at the
various Krishnamurti Schools around the world, he answered that "not a single new mind" had been created.
After the dissolution of the Order of the Star and the break with Theosophy there was no falling off of the audiences attending the talks, with new people taking the place of those that
abandoned him, since several of the old devotees "were unable to follow him in what seemed to them mists of abstraction." New people also joined the camps,
which were by then open to the general public, and Krishnamurti was invited to many new parts of the world. Mary Lutyens states that "his audiences were to become, increasingly, of a different
calibre, people interested in what he had to say, not in what they had been told he was."
Throughout the 1930s Krishnamurti spoke in Europe, Latin America, India, Australia and the United States, garnering favorable interest, although in a few occasions he encountered hostility or opposition during this period of growing global turmoil. Another matter was the audiences' apparent inability to grasp his message; he expressed exasperation over this both privately and publicly, and one of the reasons for his shifting vocabulary was the lifelong effort to convey the teaching in a way that was both precise and easy to understand. He wrote to Emily Lutyens that the meetings had "quantity without quality" and he was vexed by the refusal of ex-Order of the Star and Theosophical Society members to let go of the past. He acknowledged that what he was articulating could seem just like another hard-to-understand theory; he asked his audiences to act on it instead:
To awaken that intelligence there must be the deep urge to know but not to speculate. Please bear in mind that what to me is a certainty, a fact, must be to you a theory, and the mere repetition of my words does not constitute your knowledge and actuality; it can be but a hypothesis, nothing more. Only through experimentation and action can you discern for yourself its reality. Then it is of no person, neither yours nor mine.
Krishnamurti introduced several new concepts and terms which became recurrent themes in later talks and discussions. One such was the idea of
choiceless awareness, a type of awareness that is from moment to moment, without the implicit or explicit choices that accompany biases and judgments.
Another new concept was his challenge of the existence of division between the conscious and the subconscious mind, maintaining that such division is artificial, and that in reality there is only a single
consciousness. Spurred by the relative isolation at Ojai, and the long sessions of meditation he was engaging in daily,
Krishnamurti started talking about right meditation. He would touch on this subject in practically every subsequent talk or discussion.
In 1938 he made the acquaintance of Aldous
Huxley, who had arrived from Europe during 1937. The two began a close friendship
which endured for many years, until Huxley's death. They held common concerns about the imminent conflict in Europe which they viewed as the outcome of the pernicious
influence of nationalism. Krishnamurti's stance on World War II was often construed as pacifism or even subversion during a time of patriotic fervor in the United States, and for a time he came under surveillance by the
did not speak publicly for a period of about four years (between 1940 and 1944). During this time he lived and worked
quietly at the Ojai property, which during the war operated as a largely self-sustaining farm, its surplus goods donated for relief efforts in Europe. Of
the years spent in Ojai during the war he was later to say: "I think it was a period of no challenge, no demand, no outgoing. I think it was a kind of everything held in; and when I left Ojai it
Krishnamurti broke the hiatus from public speaking in May 1944 with a series of talks in Ojai, which would again become a regular venue for his talks and discussions. These talks and subsequent material were published by Krishnamurti Writings Inc (KWINC), the successor organization to the Star Publishing Trust. This was to be the new central Krishnamurti-related entity worldwide, whose purposes were the dissemination of the teaching and the administration of his itinerary. Meanwhile, he continued to introduce new concepts and concerns that were to become constants in his later talks, such as the idea that there is no duality between the observer and the observed or between the thinker and the thought. The nature and qualities of the enquiring mind would become another favorite subject:
It seems to me that the real problem is the mind itself and not the problem which the mind has created and tries to solve. If the mind is petty, small, narrow, limited, however great and complex the problem may be, the mind approaches that problem in terms of its own pettiness... Though it has extraordinary capacities and is capable of invention, of subtle, cunning thought, the mind is still petty. It may be able to quote Marx, or the Gita, or some other religious book, but it is still a small mind, and a small mind confronted with a complex problem can only translate that problem in terms of itself, and therefore the problem, the misery increases. So the question is: Can the mind that is small, petty, be transformed into something which is not bound by its own limitations?
Krishnamurti had remained in contact with associates from India, and in October 1947 embarked upon a speaking tour there, attracting a new following of young intellectuals. It was on this trip that he first encountered the sisters Pupul Jayakar and Nandini Mehta, who became lifelong
associates and confidantes. The sisters subsequently attended Krishnamurti throughout a recurrence of the process that took place during a 1948 stay in Ootacamund.
In several of these talks and discussions in India he introduced another future favorite subject and integral part of his message: the proper place of thought in daily life and the necessity, meaning, and consequence of its ceasing. He considered the importance of the "ending of thought" vital in understanding reality, and in discovering the new:
Very simply put, thought is the response of memory, the past. The past is an infinity or a second ago. When thought acts it is this past which is acting as memory, as experience, as knowledge, as opportunity. All will is desire based on this past and directed towards pleasure or the avoidance of pain. When thought is functioning it is the past, therefore there is no new living at all; it is the past living in the present, modifying itself and the present. So there is nothing new in life that way, and when something new is to be found there must be the absence of the past, the mind must not be cluttered up with thought, fear, pleasure, and everything else. Only when the mind is uncluttered can the new come into being, and for this reason we say that thought must be still, operating only when it has to - objectively, efficiently. All continuity is thought; when there is continuity there is nothing new. Do you see how important this is? It's really a question of life itself. Either you live in the past, or you live totally differently: that is the whole point.
At the urging of Huxley he had started to write prose again after a
gap of many years. In 1953, the first book of his to be published by a mainstream, commercial publisher was released. One of the elements of his contemporary and future writings were meditative, unsentimental, and succinct
observations of people and nature; another, his avoidance of the first-person-singular. The majority of his writings would be in third-person, a mode that since
the late 1930s he had been increasingly using in his talks and dialogues. He remarked that this was done in a deliberate attempt to divert attention from the messenger to the message, in accord with his often declared view that only the teaching - and not the personality of the teacher -
Krishnamurti continued to attract audiences in public lectures and individuals in personal interviews. He had remained popular in India,
where there had been a long tradition of wandering "holy" men, hermits, and independent religious teachers; a number of contemporary ones met with Krishnamurti, or otherwise regarded him favorably. Krishnamurti had a "special tenderness for the true sannyasi or Buddhist monk", yet he consistently and unequivocally criticized their "rituals,
disciplines, and practices". He became friendly and in the following decades had a number of discussions with well known Hindu and Buddhist scholars and leaders; several of these
discussions were later published in print and other formats. He also met with other prominent personalities in India, including the then young Lhamo Dondrub (Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama) and Prime Minister
 Later years
Krishnamurti continued speaking around the world in public lectures, group discussions, and with concerned individuals. His inner life was also active, with
continuing occurrences of the process throughout 1961, first while in Great Britain and then in Switzerland. In the early 1960s he made the
acquaintance of physicist David Bohm, whose philosophical and scientific concerns regarding the essence of the physical world and the psychological and sociological state of humankind found
parallels in Krishnamurti's philosophy. The two men soon became close friends, and started a common inquiry in the form of personal dialogues - and in group discussions with other participants -
that periodically continued over nearly two decades. Several of these discussions were later published in a variety of formats and introduced a wider audience (among
scientists) to Krishnamurti's ideas than was previously the case. Also through Bohm, Krishnamurti met and engaged in discussion with several other members of the
scientific community. Their long friendship went through a rocky interval in later years, and although they overcame their differences
and remained friends until Krishnamurti's death, the relationship did not reattain its previous intensity. However one result of Krishnamurti's
contact with Bohm and the scientific community was the introduction of greater precision in his vocabulary, and the carefully defined use of terms such as consciousness.
In the early 1960s his associates again started noticing deep changes in Krishnamurti. Jayakar wrote that "he would never be the same again. The Krishnaji who had laughed with us, walked with us
... this Krishnaji would vanish. A new Krishnaji would emerge - stern, impatient, questioning... He would be compassionate, but he would also be the teacher, demanding answers to fundamental
questions. All great laughter and play had ended." His audience was also changing: reflecting the cultural changes of the 1960s, which included an intensified search for alternative lifestyles and
experiences, there was a noticeable influx of young people in his talks and discussions, while his books, both new titles and older, generated renewed and wider interest. Krishnamurti’s evolving philosophy apparently proved too austere and rigorous for many of the new young
participants; however new regular gatherings, such as the ones at Saanen, Switzerland, eventually became a focus for "serious ... people concerned with the enormous challenges to humankind".
Along with his changing audience and outlook, Krishnamurti's subject matter had evolved to encompass several new and different concepts: the idea that individuality is an illusion, the notion that true love, beauty, peace, and goodness, have no opposites - such duality being only a construct of thought - and the need for a radical psychosomatic mutation. In the early 1970s he mentioned that the new approach represented an "unfolding ... the teaching is in the same direction", but "it is holistic rather than an examination of detail." As far as he was concerned the fundamental teachings remained unchanged. He denied that there had been any "inner change" in himself, or any evolution in the teaching, "since the beginning". The only changes he admitted were in "expression, vocabulary, language, and gesture." This was in line with one of Krishnamurti's later themes, the non-existence of psychological time, by which he refuted any psychological, inward, evolution or "becoming". In late 1980, he took the opportunity to reaffirm the basic elements of his message in a written statement that came to be known as the Core of the Teaching. An excerpt follows:
The core of Krishnamurti's teaching is contained in the statement he made in 1929 when he said: "Truth is a pathless land". Man cannot come to it through any organization, through any creed, through any dogma, priest or ritual, nor through any philosophical knowledge or psychological technique. He has to find it through the mirror of relationship, through the understanding of the contents of his own mind, through observation, and not through intellectual analysis or introspective dissection. Man has built in himself images as a sense of security - religious, political, personal. These manifest as symbols, ideas, beliefs. The burden of these dominates man's thinking, relationships and his daily life. These are the causes of our problems for they divide man from man in every relationship.
In the 1970s Krishnamurti met several times with then Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, with whom he had far ranging, and apparently in some cases very serious discussions. His true impact on Indian political life is
unknown; however Jayakar considers his attitude and message in these meetings as a possible influence in the lifting of certain emergency measures Gandhi had imposed during periods of political
During the late 1960s and early 1970s Krishnamurti and his associates reorganized previous institutions into four geographically dispersed non-profit Foundations, designated the Official bodies
responsible for disseminating the teachings and sponsoring the schools. Meanwhile, Krishnamurti's once close
relationship with the Rajagopals had deteriorated to the point where Krishnamurti took D. Rajagopal to court in order to recover donated property and funds, publication rights for his works,
manuscripts, and personal correspondence, that were in D. Rajagopal's possession. The litigation and ensuing cross complaints, which formally began 1971, continued for many years. A substantial
portion of materials and property was returned to Krishnamurti during his lifetime; the parties to this litigation finally settled all other matters in 1986, shortly after his death.
Beginning in the late 1960s and continuing until his death, Krishnamurti and close associates engaged in private discussions - some of which have been at least partially made public - regarding himself, his "discovery", his later development, the meaning of the continuing
process, and the source of the teaching. It seemed that Krishnamurti "in later life begun to delve into the mystery of his
background in an attempt to come to terms with his own uniqueness." The discussions also broached subjects that Krishnamurti would not usually approach in public, such
as the existence of evil, a feeling of protection he had, or the nature of the
otherness – the non-personified presence that he, and sometimes others around him, felt. The discussions did not reach any
conclusions; Krishnamurti several times stated that he did not know what the truth was relative to these inquiries, and whether he could, or should, find it out. He nevertheless examined several
approaches, some of which he considered more likely than others. He insisted that he did not want to make a "mystery" out of all this; Mary Lutyens comments, "yet ...
a mystery remains."
In early 1980 he reported that his continuing, "uninvited and unsought" inner experiences, apart from increasing in intensity had taken a qualitative leap into a "totally different and new" stage. He described it by saying that "the movement had reached the source of all energy". In language reminiscent of his description of the events that first occurred in August–September 1922 he added, "There is only a sense of incredible vastness and immense beauty". In related remarks during a later discussion, he commented on his decades-long effort in trying to point the way to such perception:
And as I have been talking for sixty years, I would like others to reach this - no, not reach it. You understand what I am saying?... Now ... how is one not to teach, not to help, or push - but how is one to say, "This way leads to a complete sense of peace, of love"? I am sorry to use all these words. But suppose you have come to that point and your brain itself is throbbing with it - how would you help another? You understand? Help - not words. How would you help another to come to that?
In 1980 longtime Theosophist Radha Burnier,
a friend and associate of Krishnamurti, was elected President of the Theosophical Society Adyar. This event set the stage for a
"historic" occasion: Krishnamurti's visit to the Theosophical Society headquarters at Adyar in November 1980 - the first such visit in almost half a century - where he encountered a respectful
and moving reception. He was to become a frequent visitor at the Society estate during his remaining trips to India.
In 1984 and again in 1985 he spoke to invited audiences at the United Nations in New York City. In late October 1985 he visited India for the last time, holding a number of what came to be known as "farewell" talks and discussions between then and January 1986. These last talks included the fundamental questions he had been asking through the years, as well as newer concerns related to then recent advances in science, technology, and the way they affected humankind. Increasingly, Krishnamurti's physical and intellectual resilience and vigor was showing signs of abating - after lifelong, almost constant travel, and a lifetime of frail physical health. He had commented to friends that he "did not want to invite Death, but he was not sure how long his body would carry on" as he had already lost considerable weight, and had stated on several occasions that once he could no longer talk, he would have no further purpose. In his final talk, on 4 January 1986 in Madras, he again invited the audience to examine with him the nature of inquiry, the effect of technology, the nature of life and meditation, and the nature of creation:
That computer can do almost anything that man can do. It can make all your gods, all your theories, your rituals; it's even better at it than you will ever be. So, the computer is coming up in the world; it's going to make your brains something different. You've heard of genetic engineering; they're trying, whether you like it or not, to change your whole behaviour. That is genetic engineering. They are trying to change your way of thinking. When genetic engineering and the computer meet, what are you? As a human being what are you? Your brains are going to be altered. Your way of behaviour is going to be changed. They may remove fear altogether, remove sorrow, remove all your gods. They're going to; don't fool yourself. It all ends up either in war or in death. This is what is happening in the world actually. Genetic engineering on the one side and the computer on the other, and when they meet, as they're inevitably going to, what are you as a human being? Actually, your brain now is a machine. You are born in India and say: "I'm an Indian". You are encased in that. You are a machine. Please don't be insulted. I'm not insulting you. You are a machine which repeats like a computer. Don't imagine there is something divine in you - that would be lovely - something holy that is everlasting. The computer will say that to you too. So, what is becoming of a human being? What's becoming of you?
So, we are enquiring into what makes a bird. What is creation behind all this? Are you waiting for me to describe it, go into it? You want me to go into it? Why (From the audience: To understand what creation is). Why do you ask that? Because I asked? No description can ever describe the origin. The origin is nameless; the origin is absolutely quiet, it's not whirring about making noise. Creation is something that is most holy, that's the most sacred thing in life, and if you have made a mess of your life, change it. Change it today, not tomorrow. If you are uncertain, find out why and be certain. If your thinking is not straight, think straight, logically. Unless all that is prepared, all that is settled, you can't enter into this world, into the world of creation.
Krishnamurti was concerned about his legacy, about being unwittingly turned into some personage whose teachings had been handed down to special individuals or groups rather than to the world as a
whole. He did not want anyone to pose as an interpreter of the teaching. He warned his associates on several
occasions that they were not to present themselves as spokesmen on his behalf, or as his successors after his death. In his last formal meeting with
trustees of the Krishnamurti
Foundation India in January 1986, the future of the institutions was discussed; their dissolution and liquidation was considered in order to prevent them from becoming, after
Krishnamurti's death, authorities (de facto or otherwise) on him and his philosophy. It was decided the institutions would not be dissolved (among other concerns, the
legal complexity of such action was noted) however at his request an amendment was inserted in the rules and regulations, in effect reaffirming the Foundations' limited mission - it being solely
the preservation and distribution of the teaching as he delivered it.
A few days before his death, in a final statement from his sickbed at home in Ojai, he emphatically declared that "nobody" - among his associates or the general public - had
understood what had happened to him (as the conduit of the teaching) nor had they understood the teaching itself. He added that the "immense energy" operating in his lifetime would be gone with
his death, again implying the impossibility of successors. However he offered hope by stating that people could approach that energy and gain a measure of understanding, "if they live the
teachings". In prior discussions he had compared himself with Thomas Edison, meaning by it that he had done the hard work, and now all that was
needed by others was a flick of the switch. In another instance he talked of Columbus going through an arduous journey to discover the New World whereas now it could easily be reached by jet; the
ultimate implication being that even if Krishnamurti was in some way special, in order to arrive at his level of
understanding, others did not need to be.
J. Krishnamurti died at home in Ojai,
California on 17 February 1986 at age 90, from pancreatic cancer. His remains were cremated and scattered by friends and former associates in the three countries where he had spent most of
his life: India, England, and the United States.
Interest in Krishnamurti and his work has persisted in the years since his death. Many of his books as well as audio,
video, and computer materials, remain available and are carried by major online and traditional retailers. The official Foundations continue with the maintenance of archives,
dissemination of the teachings in an increasing number of languages, new conversions to digital and other media, development of websites, sponsoring of television programs, and with organizing meetings and dialogues of interested
persons around the world. According to communications and press releases from the Foundations, their mailing lists, and individuals'
inquiries, continue to grow. Similarly, the Foundation-affiliated schools and educational institutions report continuing growth, with new
projects added in support of their declared goal of holistic education. In addition, there are unofficial
Krishnamurti Committees operating in several countries, as well as independent educational institutions based on his ideas.
Biographies, reminiscences, research papers, critical examinations, and book-length studies of Krishnamurti and his philosophy have continued to appear. Cursory (and necessarily incomplete)
examination of internet search traffic and group discussion forums indicates that among similar topics, interest in Krishnamurti remains high.
During his almost constant presence on the public stage, few details of Krishnamurti's personal life were known; he rarely wrote, or spoke in public about himself, and his friends and associates
consistently and actively safeguarded his privacy. The private side of Krishnamurti was eventually addressed by authorized and unauthorized biographies and memoirs of people who knew him, the
majority of which treated him sympathetically. However the 1991 publication of the autobiography Lives in the Shadow with J.
Krishnamurti by Radha Rajagopal Sloss was the cause of adverse publicity and controversy regarding Krishnamurti. The
controversy was centered on the author's depiction of his relationship with her parents, primarily (though not exclusively) as it concerned a secret extramarital affair between Krishnamurti and her mother
Rosalind Rajagopal that had
lasted many years. In addition, the book contains a number of allegations, and presents an assessment of Krishnamurti's personality
and life that often differs sharply from that offered by other biographers. The allegations and other statements regarding Krishnamurti and the ambivalent, often negative portrayal of his by
Sloss, provoked rebuttal publications such as a "personal response" by Mary Lutyens. Others, such as Helen Nearing, who had known
Krishnamurti in his youth, questioned whether his attitudes were conditioned by privilege, as he was supported - and in Nearing's opinion often pampered - by devoted followers starting as far
back as his "discovery" by the Theosophists.
Biographers and associates of Krishnamurti acknowledge another complaint against him, one that relates to his demeanor during talks and discussions: that Krishnamurti often comes across as too vague or too assertive, or both. David Skitt, who edited several Krishnamurti books, attempts to deal with this issue in the "Editor's Introduction" of the book To Be Human. He also comments on a point that Krishnamurti often made, one that Skitt admits could at first glance be thought of as "condescending" or "arrogant": that before considering any of the questions Krishnamurti was concerned with, there was a need to understand "the nature of a mind capable of going into" such questions. Krishnamurti often linked this issue with another recurrent theme, his contention that the human brain is deeply conditioned by evolution, experience, tradition, and culture. Skitt puts these utterances by Krishnamurti in the context of recurring statements that Krishnamurti made in talks and dialogues: The proclamation (usually in the beginning of each talk) that his message should not be taken at face value, but that it should be shared critically, and be appraised by each listener; and also, the accompanying additional proclamation that he did not consider himself an authority of any kind.
What is important is to listen to what he has to say, share it, not only listen, but actually participate in what he's saying. You may agree, or disagree, which you are perfectly right to do, but since you are here and since the speaker is here, we are talking over together... Don't just listen to me ... but share in it, tear it to pieces. Don't, please accept anything he says. He's not your guru, thank god. He is not your leader. He is not your helper.
The fact that Krishnamurti was - and conceivably, after his death may continue to be - looked upon as a world teacher or guru despite his aversion or denials, has been considered ironic by associates, detractors and biographers.
Conversely, people who knew him in his youth found his eventual transformation hard to fathom, as Mary Lutyens professed a few years before his death: "I find hard to reconcile the shy gentleness
and almost vacant mind of the sixteen-year-old-boy ... with the powerful teacher who has evolved a philosophy that cannot be shaken by the most prominent thinkers of the day - particularly hard
since there is so much of that boy remaining in the man." Such observations may then lead to the question of the source of Krishnamurti's inspiration and of
any originality in his work, "the mystery that he preferred not to clarify for fear it might be leapt on in judgement or cheapened by the spiritually ambitious."
The perceived originality of Krishnamurti's message has been a subject of discussion by a wide variety of commentators. His teaching has been compared to diverse traditions and disciplines, of both the East and the West, and its uniqueness has been questioned. Krishnamurti sometimes fielded such questions from his audience. During a talk in 1956, when asked, "Is there anything new in your teaching?" he replied:
To find out for yourself is much more important than my asserting yes or no. It is your problem, not my problem. To me, all this is totally new because it has to be discovered from moment to moment; it cannot be stored up after discovery; it is not something to be experienced and then retained as memory - which would be putting new wine in old bottles. It must be discovered as one lives from day to day, and it is new to the person who so discovers it. But you are always comparing what is being said with what has been said by some saint, or by Shankara, Buddha, or Christ. You say, "All these people have said this before, and you are only giving it another twist, a modern expression" - so naturally it is nothing new to you. It is only when you have ceased to compare, when you have put away Shankara, Buddha, Christ, with all their knowledge, information, so that your mind is alone, clear, no longer influenced, controlled, compelled, either by modern psychology or by the ancient sanctions and edicts - it is only then that you will find out whether or not there is something new, everlasting. But that requires vigor, not indolence; it demands a drastic cutting away of all the things that one has read or been told about truth and God. That which is eternal, new, is a living thing; therefore, it cannot be made permanent, and a mind that wants to make it permanent will never find it.
Because of his ideas and his era, Krishnamurti has come to be seen as an exemplar of those spiritual teachers who disavow formal rituals and dogma. His conception of Truth as a pathless land, with the possibility of immediate liberation, has
been mirrored, or has been claimed as an influence, in the work of diverse movements and personalities. However his very emphasis on the
uselessness - if not detriment - of outside help and guidance gave rise to complaints, as such emphasis was sometimes perceived as lack of compassion.
Others have cautioned against approaching Krishnamurti's message in the hope of finding psychological support, emotional indulgence, or any ready-made solutions: "[Krishnamurti's] uncompromising
refusal to offer comfort is one of the things that distinguishes him ... He refuses to be our guru; he will not tell us what to do; he merely holds up a mirror to us and points out the causes of
... all the ... miseries that affect mankind, and says: 'Take it or leave it.' ... Our problems can be solved by no one but ourselves."
Krishnamurti's own indication of success remained the same throughout: whether individuals had truly understood, and therefore "lived and breathed", the teaching. Such understanding requires "hard, arduous work" and the highest level of personal commitment; yet also a "meditation which is absolutely no effort" and a seriousness that in his view, is not necessarily devoid of fun. He had remarked in 1929, at the dissolution of the Order of the Star, that he was not interested in numbers, stating: "If there are only five people who will listen, who will live, who have their faces turned towards eternity, it will be sufficient." In his later years he was sometimes asked why he kept on teaching, what motivated him after all these decades, as by his own admission, so few, if any, had changed. He answered one such question in 1980:
I think when one sees something true and beautiful, one wants to tell people about it, out of affection, out of compassion, out of love... Can you ask the flower why it grows, why it has perfume? It is for the same reason the speaker talks.