According to Wikipedia, more than 75 books have been published which were either written by Krishnamurti, or else which contain records of his talks or his dialogues, with an estimated total circulation of at least 4,000,000 volumes. In addition to the books, there are a great number of sound and video recordings; also available to the public. In 1929, at the time of his break with the Theosophical Society, Krishnamurti declared that his new intention in life was to “set man free”. To that end came the thousands of talks and dialogues, the books and the Krishnamurti schools. Surely, he lived an amazingly productive life in terms of the sheer volume of his talks and other projects up to his death at the age of 90. The sincerity of his intention appears to be indisputable given the evidence of his unwavering commitment to his cause of freedom for mankind.
Yet, in spite of the efforts he put forward through his speaking tours, writings and educational endeavors, the question must still be asked: has “humankind”, or even any individual been set free on account of Krishnamurti’s message? Many people intuit in Krishnamurti a seeming connection to a higher truth: his words were often beautiful and powerful. He attracted many well-known people into his orbit as seekers, acolytes and collaborators. But in the end, the question of lasting change must be addressed.
Among Krishnamurti’s many associates throughout his life, a few reservations have been expressed. Of these, perhaps the most notable came from David Bohm. Bohm is unique because his considerable standing in theoretical physics is independent of his work with Krishnamurti. We know from at least two sources that Bohm once experienced a crisis of faith regarding Krishnamurti’s teachings. One of these sources is Bohm’s biographer, David Peat, who published a series of critical letters pertaining to Krishnamurti which Bohm had written to a colleague. Another reference concerning Bohm’s doubts can be found in a book written by David Moody in 2011. The Unconditioned Mind: J. Krishnamurti and the Oak Grove School (Quest Books), is an account of Moody’s experiences as a staff member and later as the director of the school. In chapter 15, Moody recounts a conversation he had with Bohm regarding the latter’s assessment of possible snags within the teachings. Bohm related that he believed the problem originates in K’s explication of “consciousness”:
“I asked if Krishnamurti’s work was lacking a kind of “fine focus” that would depict the dynamics of consciousness with a greater degree of detail and nuance. Bohm accepted that manner of characterizing the situation. He clearly believed Krishnamurti had made an enormous contribution but also that important work remained to be done.” – David Moody, The Unconditioned Mind, chapter 15
Given Bohm’s closeness to Krishnamurti and status as an intellectual in his own right, his remark concerning “the dynamics of consciousness” may warrant more attention than it has received until now. Although the Krisnamurti Foundations have continued to sponsor gatherings, publications and also an online forum since their founder’s death in 1986, there has not been a formal recognition from these organizations that aspects of his teachings are not clear to those who are interested in them. According to David Moody, Krishnamurti himself acknowledged that his schools had not produced a “new human being”, nor had any adult associates or listeners demonstrated a radical shift in consciousness – what K called “transformation”.
Deconstructing Krishnamurti has been created in order to examine the problems that many of us have encountered in our attempts to actualize Krishnamurti’s teachings; or even to comprehend them. Although Krishnamurti appears to have said and written many profound things over the course of his life, the Krishnamurti foundation of today does not seem to be offering a coherent framework for those who are interested in human transformation. In a dialogue ( now available from the website of P. Krishna) during a 2016 retreat which was sponsored by the foundation, David Moody observed:
“I don’t see in the Krishnamurti community an acknowledgement that certain areas of the teachings are not clear, and a concerted effort to focus on those areas. Maybe this is taking place and I am unaware of it; I’m not fully involved in the Krishnamurti community; but I don’t see it happening.”
In the same dialogue, Moody stated:
“…there are many points that are intriguing, but their meaning is not fully clear. When he says, for example, the future is now, or time is thought; one has a rough idea of what this means, but not a full comprehension. And finally, there is another 25% which is even more obscure. And the points in this last category are not only difficult to grasp, but in addition, Krishnamurti indicates that these points in particular have special meaning and significance. And so the inability to understand this part of the teachings becomes doubly frustrating.”
Moody’s hopes of elucidating and thus resolving the “obscurity” of the teachings is seemingly not a high priority within the various K foundations. Although these organizations sponsor numerous dialogues and informational sessions, the participants never seem to arrive at any fundamental agreement as to the meaning of certain key aspects of the teachings. A consensus about the foundational elements of the teachings would appear to be essential in moving them forward to their stated purpose of “setting humankind free”; yet it seems likely that the meaning of the teachings has become even more obscure over the years since Krishnamurti’s death in 1986.
If we use Bohm’s observation regarding a lack of focus on the dynamics of consciousness as a starting point for an exploration, where might that lead? One possibility is to define with greater precision key phrases which are used in the teachings, such as “content of consciousness” and “observer is the observed”. Clarifying the meaning behind these concepts would be helpful as Moody observed in his dialogue. We should also not assume that K’s understandings and definitions are to be accepted at face value, but should also examine the subjective responses that his words may trigger in listeners, and whether these are impeding insight rather than facilitating it.
Furthermore, there has been a reluctance in many quarters of the K world to look at Krishnamurti’s own background for insight into his teachings. Krishnamurti himself deflected such interest, yet there are aspects of his life that remain puzzling or obscure due (at least in part) to his own claims of having a poor memory and his insistence that his personal details didn’t matter. It is the intent of the authors of this blog not to shy away from material relating to Krishnamurti’s life story. Its inclusion, after all, is an integral component of “deconstruction.”
A central tenet of most Krishnamurti dialogues is that Krishnamurti’s formulations are to be encountered within a framework which was proscribed by K himself. Although he exhorted his listeners to “question everything”, he did set limits by suggesting we look only at his words and leave out various contextual elements. These involve not only the person of Krishnamurti, but also information about where he stands in relation to other traditions. Although K’s approach no doubt has its place, it also invites an assumption that his observations were always correct because he limits what is being looked at. The aim of this web site is to take a different approach. We are not seeking to understand Krishnamurti on his own terms, but rather to examine his work within a wider framework.
One thought on “Welcome to Deconstructing Krishnamurti”
Thanks for the well written post. Your comments about the obscurity and vagueness of his teachings resonate with me. My experience of his teachings, though limited, is probably similar to the experiences of others: They’ve illuminated some blind spots and catalyzed my development in certain areas. He hardly presents the total truth on how transformation is achieved for every type of person. As Ken Wilber suggests, we all offer partial maps of the territory of reality, thus we have a need for constantly updating, expanding, integrating our maps.
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