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Dialogue 21 - Rishi Valley - 23rd January 1971 - ‘The guru, tradition and freedom’
Krishnamurti: Cou1d we enquire – not only from the traditional point of view but also relate the who1e field of tradition to what we have been talking about, to see the divergence, the contradictions, the similarities and dissimilarities? And a1so see if there is anything new in what we are saying. Let us discuss this; question it back and forth.
A: We might start with the four purusharthas – dharma, artha, kama and moksha. If we examine the traditional approach to living, we see that tradition begins with the fact that human existence has these four aspects and each of them is vital, essential for the development of understanding.
Krishnamurti: Should we not begin with the meaning of it all?
A: The fundamentalists started with the meaning of it all, with the four aspects.
Krishnamurti: Should we not enquire what it all means – human existence, human sorrow, conflict? What does it all mean? How do the professionals answer this question?
SW: In the tradition, we find two clear directions. The orthodox direction which goes by verbal interpretation of facts and the breakaway tradition, as seen in Dattatreya and the yoga vasishtha. The seers who broke away, said “no guru”, “We have discovered it for ourselves”, “I will not swear by the Vedas”, “the whole of nature, the whole world is my guru”, “observe and understand the world”. In Buddha also, there was a breaking away. His teaching represents the core of the breakaway pattern. Those who broke away were closely linked with life.
If you read the yoga vasishtha, it says that the mind is full of thoughts, conflicts; and these conflicts arise because of desire and fear; unless you are able to resolve them, you cannot understand. It talks of negative thinking. Max Mueller and some others misinterpreted the word nirodha. The word does not mean suppression, it means negation.
A great deal is said about gurus. The yoga vasishtha says that giving initiation and such other actions are meaningless. Awakening of the disciple is in right understanding and in awareness. That alone is the most primary responsible fact. These essentials are the core of the breakaway tradition.
R: And yet there are many places in the yoga vasishtha where it says without a guru, you cannot find anything.
A: Breakaway from what? If it is a breakaway from the social system, the breakaway tradition also continues the social system.
SW: To the problem of understanding, tradition gives a formal verbal approach. In the breakaway tradition, this is not so. The breakaway is not from society. Both these traditions exist. In the mathas or monasteries, they talked of the Vedas but what they said had nothing to do with life; there were others who related all that they understood to life. But whatever was said had nothing to do with the society.
R: How is it that the guru tradition has become so important?
Krishnamurti: Shall we discuss this question of guru? Shall we begin with that? What does the word “guru” mean?
SW: “Desika” is the right word, not guru. Desika means one who helps to awaken the disciple; one who helps the seeker to understand. The word means one who learns.
R: The disciple is called shishya. Shishya is one who is capable of learning.
SW: Guru means vast, beyond, great.
Krishnamurti: The guru is one who is great, beyond, one who is profound, then what relationship has he to a disciple?
SW: In the Upanishads, it is one of love and compassion. The Upanishads maintain that compassion is the contact between the guru and the disciple.
Krishnamurti: How has the tradition now become authoritarian? How has a sense of discipline, of following, of acceptance of whatever the guru says, how has that been introduced into the relationship? The authoritarian, compulsive, destructive relationship comes in the way of real thinking, it destroys initiative. How has this relationship come into being?
SW: It is difficult to say. The two approaches must have existed for a long time. In one tradition, the guru is taken as a friend, as a person the disciple loves; in that the guru is not authoritarian at all. The other tradition exploits. It wants authority, followers.
A: Swamiji’s main point is that there has not been a homogenous stream. There is the outsider and the conformist. A non-conformist is one who rejects society; he is outside society.
R: We come back again to your first question – what is it all about, apart from the question of gurus what is the fundamental answer to life?
Krishnamurti: I wonder if we could find out. Could you dig into it? Could you dig everything out of me? You understand what I mean? You come to a well and you get water according to the size of your bucket; whatever vessel you carry, that amount of water you get. You have read a great deal of the ancient literature, you have practised, you have read what we have talked about. You are well-equipped from the traditional point of view, and you know what is happening in the world. Now, you and I meet. Dig out of me as much as you can. Question me about everything, from the beginning to the end. Ques- tion deeply as the conformist and as the non-conformist, as a guru, as a non-guru, as a disciple and as a non-disciple.
It is like going to a well with tremendous thirst, wanting to find out everything. Do it that way, Sir. Then I think it will be profitable.
SW: Then can I be absolutely free?
Krishnamurti: Break all the windows, because I feel wisdom is infinite. It has no limits, and because it has no frontiers, it is totally impersonal. So with all your experience, knowledge and understanding of tradition and the breakaway pattern which also becomes tradition, with what you know and what you have understood, from your own meditations, from your own life, you come to me. Do not be satisfied by just a few words. Dig deep.
SW: I would like to know, how you came to it yourself?
Krishnamurti: You want to know how this person came upon it? I could not tell you. You see, Sir, he apparently never went through any practice, discipline, jealousy, envy, ambition, competition, wanting power, position, prestige, fame. He did not want any of them. And therefore there was never any question of giving up. So when I say I really do not know, I think that would be the truth. Most of the traditional teachers go through, give up, practice, sacrifice, control; they sit under a tree and come upon clarity.
SW: Then, another thing I would like to ask is, in your teachings, sensitivity, understanding, passive awareness, are factors that must saturate one’s living. How did you come upon this?
A: You may have had nothing to give up and therefore no discipline, no sadhana, but what about people who have something to give up?
Krishnamurti: You are asking how I came upon this? I really could not tell you. Why do you bother about it? What importance is it how I got it?
SW: It is curiosity, it is joy.
Krishnamurti: Let us go beyond that.
SW: The moment you say awareness, attention, sensitivity, one is so full of wonder, appreciation. How did you come to this? How is it that this man is able to talk like this? And when we analyse what you say, it is so scientific, rational and so full of meaning.
Krishnamurti: You know the story of how the boy was picked up; he was born in the most orthodox Brahmin family; he was not conditioned by the tradition nor by any other factors through life – as a Hindu, as a theosophist. It did not touch him. First of all, I do not know why it did not touch him.
A: This question which he asks may be put in another idiom. How did it happen that a person who was in the midst of an environment which laid maximum stress on phenomenal life did not get caught in that life?
SW: K came by it. He is not able to explain but he talks and he uses certain terms and the whole logic of it is there; and it is a wonder to the listener how without anything he has come to it and yet there is logic.
Krishnamurti: How is it that a man like K, not having read the sacred books, the scriptures of the east or west, how is it that not having experienced, given up, sacrificed, gone through the gamut of all this, how does he say these things? I really could not say, Sir.
A: You gave the answer a minute ago; you said wisdom is not personal.
Krishnamurti: But he says how is it that you got the wisdom without all this?
SW: I am not asking how he came by it but in his talk there is such cogency, rationality, such perfect logical sequences. It comes and the listener finds beauty, joy. It is in his heart.
Krishnamurti: When you say it has come because it is in his heart, I do not know how to put it. It comes. I do not know how; not from the heart or from the mind, but it comes. Or would you say, Sir, that it would come to any person who is really non-selfish?
SW: Perfectly, yes.
Krishnamurti: I think it would be the most logical answer.
SW: Or is it that you saw the misery of mankind and then got it?
Krishnamurti: No. To answer this question really properly, completely, one has to go into the whole question – there was that boy who was picked up; he went through all kinds of things – he was proclaimed the Messiah, he was worshipped, enormous amounts of property were given to him, he had a great following. All that did not touch him. He gave up land as he accepted land. There was that boy and he had never read philosophy, psychology, the sacred books and he never practised anything. And there was the quality of speaking from emptiness.
SW: Yes, yes.
Krishnamurti: You understand, Sir, there is never any accumulation from which he speaks. So when you ask such a question, “How do you say these things?,” that involves a much greater question, which is, whether wisdom or whatever you would like to call it, can be contained in any particular consciousness or it lies beyond all particular consciousness?
Sir, look at this valley, the hills, the trees, the rocks – the valley is all that. Without the content of the valley, there is no valley. Now, if there is no content in consciousness, there is no consciousness – in the sense of the limited. When you ask a question, “How is it that he says these things?” I really do not know. But it can be answered, that when it happens, the mind is completely empty. This does not mean that you become a medium.
SW: I derive from this, that infinity is beauty, rationality, logic. It is full of symmetry in its expression.
Krishnamurti: Sir, having said that which we just now said, what do you want to find out? You have capacity, you have read a great deal, you have knowledge, experience, you have practised and meditated – from there, ask.
SW: Consciousness is bondage. Only from emptiness can one have entry into it.
Krishnamurti: So you are asking how can a human being empty the mind?
SW: There is a traditional idea of the adhikari, the person who can learn. And the traditional idea is that there are levels or differences in the persons who can receive or learn. What he can learn, depends on that difference. There are three levels. In the orthodox texts, they are mentioned as sattva, rajas and tamas. Those who belong to the first category – sattva – can have understanding by listening to a teacher, of understanding. The rajas category have to listen and recollect when they face a problem of life. The tamas ones cannot learn because their minds are too gross. In order to make the mind subtle, there are many methods, upasanas. Yoga starts with breath-control, meditation, the standing on the head. Even then, they say the asanas are only meant as a cleansing. It is said, whatever you do, be passive, observe “what is”.
Krishnamurti: You say, as human beings are constituted, there are levels, gradations of receptivity. They are not through with the becoming process and for such people, is it possible to come upon this?
SW: That is one part of it. The other is that with most people, there are moments of understanding. But they slip away. It is a constant struggle. What does one do?
Krishnamurti: What is the question?
SW: What is such a person to do?
Krishnamurti: Knowing there are levels, is it possible to cut across these levels?
A: Is that a question of time?
SW: Can we cut across these levels or are there processes by which we can transcend the levels?
R: Tradition says that a long process of time is necessary.
SW: I do not agree with that.
R: One must have the competence to understand.
A: I say my life is a life of becoming. When I come and sit with you, you say time is irrelevant. I say “yes” because it is clear, but I am back again in the field of time, effort, etc., and this thing which I feel I understand, slips away.
Krishnamurti: The question is fairly clear. The question is that when I listen, I seem to understand and when I go away it is gone. And the other point is, how is one who is not bright, who is not rational, to break through his conditioning and come upon it? What is your answer to this?
SW: My answer from experience, the traditional answer, let man do some type of meditation by which the mind is made much more alert.
Krishnamurti: That is, do certain practices, do certain exercises, breathing, etc., till the mind is capable of understanding. And the other who says when I listen to you, I understand but it slips away. These are the two problems. First of all take a mind that has no capacity; now, how is it capable of seeing? How is such a mind capable of seeing, understanding, without practice, without the time process? Time implies process, right? Without time, how is such a mind to come upon this? My mind is dull. My mind has not the clarity to understand this thing immediately. So you tell me to practice, to breathe, to eat less, you ask me to practice all the methods and systems which will help to make my mind sharp, clear sensitive. All that involves time and when you allow time, there are other factors which enter into the mind. If I have to go from here to there, to cover that distance takes time. In covering that distance there are other factors entering during the voyage so that I never reach there. Before I reach there I see something beautiful and I am carried away. The way is not a straight, narrow path on which I walk. Innumerable factors are happening. These incidents, happenings, impressions are going to change the movement of direction. And that thing which I am trying to understand is not a fixed point either.
A: The point that it is not a fixed thing should be explored.
Krishnamurti: I say my mind is confused, is disturbed, I do not understand.
You tell me to understand by doing these things. So you have established understanding as a fixed point, and it is not a fixed point.
SW: It is not a fixed point.
Krishnamurti Obviously. If it is a fixed point, and I am going towards it, there are other factors which enter in my journey towards it and these factors are going to influence me much more than the end.
A: That end is a projection of the unknowing mind.
Krishnamurti: That way is not the way at all. First see it. It is not a fixed point, and it can never be a fixed point; therefore, I say that is a false thing altogether. Then as it is not the way, since you are denying the whole thing, you have wiped away a tremendous field – all practices, all meditations, all knowledge. Then what have I left? I am left with the fact that I am confused, that I am dull.
Now, how do I know I am dull, how do I know I am confused? Only through comparison, because I see that you are very perceptive and I say, through comparison, through measurement, I am dull.
I do not compare and I see what I have done through comparison. I have reduced myself to a state which I call dull through comparison, and I see that is not the way either. So I reject comparison. Am I dull then, if I do not compare? So I have rejected the system, a process, a fixed end which you have evolved as a means of enlightenment through time. I say comparison is not the way. Measurement means distance.
SW: Does it mean, that this understanding is not a matter vitally connected with capacity at all? We started with capacity.
Krishnamurti: I say I listen to you Swamiji but I do not understand. I do not know what it is that I do not understand, but you show me – time, process, fixed point, etc. You show it to me, and I deny them. So what has happened to my mind? In the very rejection, denial, the mind has become less dull. The rejection of the false makes the mind clear; and the rejection of comparison which is also false, makes the mind sharp.
So, what have I left now? I know I am dull only in comparison with you.
Dullness exists in my measuring myself with what is called brightness and I say I will not measure. Therefore, am I dull? I have completely rejected comparison and comparison means conformity. What have I left? The thing I have called dull is not dull. It is “what it is”. What have I left at the end of all this? All that I have left is, I will not compare any more. I will not measure myself with somebody who is superior to me and I will not tread this path which is beautifully laid down for me. So I reject all the structures which man has imposed upon me to achieve enlightenment.
So, where am I? I start from the beginning. I know nothing about enlightenment, understanding, process, comparison, becoming. I have thrown them away. I do not know. Knowledge is the means of getting hurt and tradition is the instrument by which I get hurt. I do not want that instrument and, therefore, I am not hurt. I start with complete innocence. Innocence means a mind that is incapable of being hurt.
Now, I say to myself, why did they not see this simple fact that there is no fixed point. Why? Why did they pile all this on the human mind so that I have to wade through all this, to discard all this?
It is very interesting, Sir. Why go through all this process if I have to discard it? Why did you not tell me do not compare; truth is not a fixed point? Do I flower in goodness through comparison? Can humility be gained through time, practice? Obviously not. And yet you have insisted on practice, why? When you insist on practice, you think that you are going to a fixed point. So you have deceived yourself and you are deceiving me.
You do not say to me: you know nothing and I know nothing, let us find out if what all the things human beings have imposed on other human beings are true or false. They have said enlightenment is something to be achieved through time, through discipline, through the guru. Let us find out, search it out.
Why have human beings imposed upon human beings something which is not true? Human beings have tortured themselves, castigated themselves to get enlightenment as though enlightenment was a fixed point. And they end up blind. I think that is why, Sir, the so-called man of error is much nearer the truth than the man who practises to reach the truth.
A man who practises truth becomes impure, unchaste.