UG Krishnamurti: A Life

  The Encounter  ·  Early Years  ·  Life Among Theosophists  ·  Locking of Horns  ·  Adrift In London  ·  Endings  ·  What Is That State?  ·  Calamity  ·  Aftermath  ·  Years After  ·  The Never-ending Story  ·  A Taste of Death  ·  Conversations


What Is That State?

'If a heap of rice chaff is ignited it continues burning inside; you don't see any fire outside but when you touch it, it burns you.' U.G.

'His name is Douglas Rosenstein. He was there in Saanen when this calamity occurred. He knew me even before the calamity,' answered U.G. as we drove into Carmel, California. I had asked him if I could meet someone who had known him before the events of 1967, so that I could find out for myself if there was any major change in him because of the event. 'Don't worry, you'll meet him during your stay here...'

The house that we live in here in Carmel is like a palace, a little too silent perhaps to my liking. Tranquility kills creativity. Work starts tomorrow. A sense of apprehension overtakes me. I stare into the night, fighting this feeling of inadequacy. Will I stand up to the task?

Finding a co-sufferer can be comforting. The visit of Scott Eckersby brought me the much-needed relief. His visit worked like a balm. Scott and I had spent a long time together in the year 1978-79 in Mahabaleshwar, India with U.G. It was there that he had narrated to me about his first encounter with U.G.

Scott, now a craftsman and a builder, was once the director of Live Oak School in Ojai, California. The school's educational philosophy was based on the teachings of J. Krishnamurti. In June, 1969, at the end of the academic year, the board of directors of the school sent Scott and his entire staff to Switzerland to have daily discussions on education with Mr. Krishnamurti. Krishnamurti and Scott were locking horns more often than not. They were getting nowhere. Scott stopped going to these discussions. A few days later he was fired from his job as director. This began a period of the most profound loneliness in Scott's life. He was isolated from his friends and was abandoned by the Krishnamurti community. Broke and alone, he took refuge in a tiny tent in a waterlogged campground near Saanen. Here an acquaintance dropped by and said that he wanted Scott to meet another Krishnamurti:

I cannot describe nor do I remember anything that we talked about on our first meeting. However, soon after leaving his chalet, I realized that things were quite different. My despair was gone. In its place an odd sort of peace and calm descended upon me in just a few hours. I felt happy and secure. Scott had, however, no idea of the terrifying pain that was about to visit him a short while later. The next day he woke up with a 'flu'-like ache in his spine and an awful headache. His condition deteriorated over the next few days, and soon he could not even crawl out of his tent.

Early one evening at about sunset time, he had a very real feeling that he might die that night. He asked his friend if she would try to carry him out of his tent so that he could watch the sunset 'one last time'. Desperate, the next day he asked his friend who had introduced him to U.G. to ask U.G. if he ever did any healing. U.G. sent a message back saying that he could do no such thing. Later that day, however, U.G. showed up at his tent. U.G. was alone. And it was raining. This was only the second time that I had seen him. He crawled into the tent and asked if we could just sit quietly together. I remember feeling honored by his visit. Whether or not U.G.'s visit affected my recovery I don't know. Two days later, exactly seven days after it began, my torment disappeared. This illness was to recur again and again in my life. About every other year and only after a visit with U.G. It took me several years for me to connect my illness with U.G., and when I did, he would always brush it off with his favorite phrase he uses several times a day, 'Just forget it!'

Nine years later when this illness occurred once again in Frankfurt, on his way back from Bombay where he had spent an intense period with U.G., Scott realized that whatever was going on between U.G. and him had to stop. He wrote to U.G. explaining everything and thanked him for his help in clearing away the many cobwebs in his mind. Scott didn't hear from him or write to him for almost three years. Ever since then Scott and U.G. reconnected many times, and his illness, he says, has never returned. That evening I asked him how he would sum up what U.G. meant to him, having known him for so many years. He had this to say: He is a festering splinter that never goes away. The pain and the blister is always there. It would be worse when he dies. That's when the infection will set in, because when he dies he will become immortalized. That's when the whole thing will really start. Then people will get together and start discussing, 'What did U.G. really say? What did he really mean by that...? What was he saying?' J. Krishnamurti was easy to get rid of after his death, Mahesh... There is enough positive stuff in this world. There is enough real philosophy out there. But there is no anti-philosophy. U.G. is really calling it like it is. How many people take away your hope? How many people pull out the rug under your feet? Nobody does that. Sometimes being with U.G. gets to be overwhelming. You just have to go away. Sit in the woods for a while. Because there are things that you need as you get older. And one of them is the sense of self that isn't there. A little bit of self-esteem. I didn't need it when I was young. But now I find that there is some remnant self that really needs something to go on. If you are staying with what U.G. is saying, there is nothing to go on. And that's tough. Really tough. Especially when you age. You know when you are younger you deal with these things in a haphazard way.

With U.G. I have been going around for some 20 years with this hope issue. He's always said that there is no hope but that it is not hopeless. There is a hint of something there that I am missing. I want to get my hands on that. But U.G. said that there is nothing to get. You know, if you face that, if you are really entrenched in that, it is not something you can joke about. It hurts. Sometimes I have to run away from him. Really run from him, put my mind on something else. But he comes on you like a shadow.

... U.G. is a man of many moods. And I always enter his domain with caution. There is so much that I don't understand about him, and I have given up thinking that I ever will.

He can be very cruel to some people—I mean verbally. Most people eventually get blasted if they hang around him long enough. And yet he has never blasted me or even so much as raised his voice at me in all these 22 years. He will verbally mop the floor with his closest friends to the extent that they will want to walk out and never return. But with me he is always tender, soft and forever humorous.

You cannot express affection to U.G. It obviously bothers him, and he simply will not allow it. He has always gently pushed aside my expression of love for him as just so much sentimental nonsense. And so it may be. But in my heart I cannot believe it. The world is a lonely place, and I just can't accept the fact that I will grow old and die without U.G. Krishnamurti, the most profound influence in my life, ever returning my love, or even acknowledging that he ever cared. Later in a note he mailed Scott expressed that whatever he had spoken that evening was not complete. He implored me to conclude his account with the following sentiment: One last thing, Mahesh. I want to close this out with a personal sentiment for U.G. that will no doubt rattle his cage, ruffle his feathers and get stuck in his crow. He is sure to instruct his biographer to edit it out of the story. Don't do it Mahesh! If any of this story is used in your biography, then what I am about to say must remain unedited as my summation. So U.G., are you listening? For fear of your rejection, I have never told you directly: I love you. In July 1967, U.G.'s life went through another phase. The question, 'What is that state?' had a tremendous intensity for U.G. But it had no emotional overtones. The more he tried to find an answer, and the more he failed to find one, the more intense the question became in his mind. 'It's like rice chaff. If a heap of rice chaff is ignited, it continues burning inside; you don't see any fire outside, but when you touch it, it burns you, of course.' In exactly the same way, the question was going on and on: 'What is that state? I want that state.' U.G. was a finished man. Krishnamurti had said, 'You have no way...,' but still U.G. wanted to know what that state was, the state in which the Buddha was, Shankara was, and all those teachers were.

That year J. Krishnamurti was again there in Saanen giving talks. One day U.G.'s friends dragged him there and said, 'Now at least it is a free business. Why don't you come and listen?' When U.G. listened to him he had this peculiar feeling that Krishnamurti was describing U.G.'s state and not his own. 'Why did I want to know his state? He was describing something, "movements", "awareness", "silence"—"In that silence there is no mind; there is action."' I said to myself, 'I am in that state. What the hell have I been doing these thirty or forty years, listening to all these people and struggling, wanting to understand his state or the state of someone else, Buddha or Jesus? I am in that state. Now I am in that state.' Thus U.G. walked out of the tent and never looked back.

However, 'What is that state?'—that question transformed itself into another question, 'How do I know that I am in that state, the state of the Buddha, the state I very much wanted to be in and demanded from everybody? I am in that state, but how do I know that?' As destiny would have it, this question would resolve itself the following day.