Chapter 9:

Krishnamurti and Transformation

When Krishnamurti came on the theosophical scene, the universal understanding in all the theosophical and other new age organizations was that theosophy--or the perennial philosophy under whatever other name--is primarily a metaphysical system, a logical construct of concepts and ideas.

It was thought (and still is) that theosophy consists of a series of teachings that, in their reasonableness, lead human beings to live the spiritual life, which was understood as following a number of set rules. Nevertheless, a careful perusal of all the original sources (the letters from the Masters, HPB's writings, and the writings of some of the chelas) shows that the real teaching was never meant to be merely a "rational" exposition of "reality."

Rather, it was presented first and foremost as a series of intuitive injunctions and exhortations to inspire interest in the life of transformation, the life of brotherhood and unconditional acceptance of that which is the case. That is part of the reason why there have been so many apparently disparate versions of the teaching, why most of them are in disagreement with the others on crucial points, and why in the early years (when the Masters' influence was more ostensive) there was such a great confusion among the members about what the actual teaching was.

Most members were looking for--and others were writing and giving lectures about--a "rational" picture of the world. The Masters and HPB, on the other hand, were teaching a way of living that implied discarding the intellect as the source of wisdom, and implementing brotherhood in one's life. This meant partly not paying much attention to what anyone (including oneself) believed or did not believe. As was pointed out by Master KH to Mrs. Besant,

No one has a right to claim authority over a pupil or his conscience. Ask him not what he believes... The crest wave of intellectual advancement must be taken hold of and guided into Spirituality. It cannot be forced into beliefs and ceremonial worship.1

Krishnamurti and theosophy

The presence of Krishnamurti in the midst of the theosophical world can then be perceived as not having been a mistake nor a bizarre coincidence. It was through Krishnamurti that the first lesson of the teaching of Shambhala was spotlessly given to the world at large.

What he spoke of throughout his life addressed the necessity for dying from moment to moment (in the theosophical terminology, the death of the personality), as in the statements quoted in previous chapters. He further addressed the problem of our not being able to understand, to really "know," anything, so long as perception comes from conditioning, from a point of view. The life of concepts and conditioning is clearly also the life of the personality, of the conditioned mind, so (again, putting it in theosophical terms) he was pointing to the need to allow something other than the personality to determine our understanding of things.

But he absolutely refused to give a name to that "other" that came about when the conditioned mind is not there, such as is done in some theosophical, Hindu and Buddhist schools. This refusal of his baffled many, who demanded to be given a "rational" picture of the world. He would never say "this is Buddhi we are speaking of," or "I am referring to the upper triad," as is done in metaphysical, purely conceptual expositions.* Whenever words are used to refer to this "other" beyond the conceptual mind, everything is thereby relegated to the plane of the conditioned mind, no matter how "profound" or "spiritual" it may sound.

It does not seem as if the real Buddhi of theosophical literature could refer merely to a word or a concept. Nor does it seem as if it could credibly be categorized on a pyramidal chart in which it would be placed near the "top." Terms such as "top," "bottom," "above," and "below," with their connotations of "superior" and "inferior," ought not to be expected to have any place in the world of the actual "upper triad" spoken of in perennial literature. But to speak of these things as if one know what one was talking or writing about can have the effect of demeaning them. It encourages the pretense that they can be spoken about rationally with words and concepts, contrary to the teaching of Shambhala. That teaching proposes, as shown above, that the beginning of learning takes place with the death of the conditioned mind--and with it of all concepts.

A litmus test

Krishnamurti showed uncompromisingly what a serious and dangerous mistake it is to categorize sublime notions. Anyone who only believes in "the oneness of life," for instance, and is not actually existing in the state of being all life, is thereby almost certain to be falling asleep and going astray from the life of transformation, in which there can be no such concept. It may very well be that, upon the actual dying of the conditioned mind with all its concepts and conditionings, there may come the discovery that life is one, after all. But that also is a very dangerous idea to pursue, because that sort of speculation is but another conceptual distraction from the life of transformation.

In other words, Krishnamurti's presence in the 20th Century has made it possible for each of us to have a real litmus test for how serious we actually are about theosophy, about that which is. It implies that a theosophist is not necessarily someone who holds certain beliefs, but rather someone who lives the life of transformation. Another implication in all this is that anyone who believes in or presents theosophy to others as if it were a series of fixed teachings, would be, despite good intentions, most lamentably misrepresenting the truth, and possibly doing a disservice to the esoteric teaching.

It should then perhaps come as no great surprise to read in Pupul Jayakar's biography of Krishnamurti, statements made at the turn of the century by two practicing tantrikas of the Kalachakra lineage whom Mrs. Besant consulted regularly in Benares:

Pandit Jagannath Upadyaya of Varanasi, who had found a copy of the original text of the Kala Chakra Tantra, and who was undertaking research into it, told Krishnaji that Pandit Gopinath Kaviraj maintained that the Theosophical Society drew much of its hidden teaching from this secret doctrine. He went on to say that Swami Vishudhanand and Gopinath Kaviraj, in the early years of the twentieth century, had spoken to Mrs. Besant of the imminent coming of the Maitreya Bodhisattva and his manifestation in a human body; according to the swami, the body chosen was that of Krishnamurti.2

Unfortunately, such statements about Krishnamurti have been widely interpreted as meaning either that he was a very great authority whom we all must follow to the letter, or that those who made such statements were mistaken. Hopefully, it has been shown here that there is a very clear and incontestable intimate relationship between the Kalachakra lineage, Nagarjuna and Zen, the Masters who began the theosophical movement, the teaching of the perennial philosophy, the Secret Doctrine, and Krishnamurti. However, this need not mean that Krishnamurti (or the Masters, for that matter) need be accepted a priori as a supreme authority in spiritual matters.

Authority, after all, can be seen to be but another concept of the conditioned mind--accepted or rejected according to its prejudices--so anyone who follows authorities is not likely to be living the life of transformation. It is the conditioned mind that arbitrarily creates the notions of the "superior" and the "inferior," so indispensable for having authorities. But in reality, such distinctions have absolutely no meaning.

Krishnamurti, was not an authority, in part precisely because he can now be seen to have been an integral part of a much larger picture--of a Tibetan t'angka scroll painting, one might say, created in Shambhala.


* In the graphic--and therefore purely conceptual--picture provided by Victorian Theosophy, "Buddhi" is the level of awareness just beyond the "concrete" mind, and is one of the three elements composing the "upper triad" or Atma (spirit), Buddhi (intuition, love) and Manas ("upper" mind).

1 C. Jinaradasa, ed., Letters From the Masters of the Wisdom, First Series, Adyar: Theosophical Publishing House, 1964 [1919], p. 99.

2 Jayakar, Krishnamurti, op. cit., pp. 30-31.

The Secret Doctrine | Victorian Theosophy | Victorian Zen | The Mystery Language | Seven Keys
The Stanzas of Zen | The Voice of the Silence | The Kalachakra Tantra | Krishnamurti and Transformation

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