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Jiddu Krishnamurti and Anthony de Mello, S.J.: Two Spiritual Guides from India to Enlighten Us

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Prayer, says Tony, is to make you a living, loving person. Anything that makes you a living, loving person is prayer. But love here does equal all-absorbing relationships, because all-absorbing relationships are not love. Is the circle of those you love in a non-possessive way that is not all-absorbing growing? If it is not, then your praying is not productive.

To round off his thought, Tony said that humankind will not be changed by changing structures. Humankind will be changed when human persons are changed. Human persons can be changed by mystic awareness in the present. The fully alive person is liberated from violent attitudes about self, life, and the Bible.

As we will see momentarily, Tony's thought in certain respects was deeply influenced by Jiddu Krishnamurti's mature thought.

What Are the Key Points in Jiddu Krishnamurti's Mature Thought?

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As Roland Vernon explains in detail, Jiddu Krishnamurti's mature thought emerged after he had devoted years of his life to being groomed from childhood onward in the Theosophical Society by its formidable president Annie Besant (1847-1933) and its foremost thinker Charles Webster Leadbeater (1854-1934) to be the World Teacher. (Roland Vernon indicates that Leadbeater may have been a pedophile.)

As Krishna's mature thought emerged, he rejected the idea that he was the World Teacher and much else in the intellectual scaffolding of the Theosophical Society. As a result, his mature thought is generally more straightforward than earlier thought of the Theosophical Society had been. Even so, his mature thought is not always easy to understand. As Roland Vernon noted, mentioned above, Krishna's mature thought is not for spiritual flounderers.

In 1982, Krishnamurti himself composed THE REVOLUTIONARY CORE OF KRISHNAMURTI'S TEACHING. In it he said that the statement he had made in 1929 is his core teaching about becoming a mystic: "Truth is a pathless land." Nevertheless, he does presuppose that each person should undertake meditation and contemplation. Perhaps we could say that the royal road to Truth is through meditation and contemplation, but beyond this obvious point, Truth is a pathless land for the mystic.

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Digression: His point that Truth is a pathless land can perhaps be understood in terms of the well-known proverb "Making a way out of no way." This is one proverb that Martin Luther King, Jr., used. As a result, Wolfgang Mieder titled his massive study of King's   use of proverbs "MAKING A WAY OUT OF NO WAY": MARTIN LUTHER KING'S SERMONIC PROVERBIAL RHETORIC (2010). End of digression.

In the pathless land of Truth, each individual mystic has to find Truth "through the mirror of relationship, through the understanding of the contents of his [or her] own mind, through observation and not through intellectual analysis or introspective dissection" (quoted by Roland Vernon on page 216).

Digression: In Ignatian spirituality, the mirror of relationship is built into the retreat structure because in a directed retreat one meets daily with one retreat director. In Jesuit life, the mirror of relationship is also built into the structure of the practice known as the manifestation of conscience, in which one individual Jesuit manifests his conscience periodically to his spiritual director and to his rector and to his provincial. If you think little children need mirroring as they are growing up, Jesuits evidently never stop needing mirroring as they pursue the mystic life! In my estimate, the conceptual construct of the Child Within (also known as the Inner Child) can help us understand why adults may still need mirroring. Young children need parental mirroring. However, when the young child does not receive optimal parental mirroring, then the Child Within is set up to go through life looking for compensatory mirroring. Moreover, the Child Within can become addicted to receiving compensatory mirroring, instead of reaching a point of satiety and no longer needing to receive compensatory mirroring. Nevertheless, Ignatian discernment of spirits is clearly predicated on Krishna's point that "Truth is a pathless land." End of digression.

Roland Vernon continues to quote Krishna's 1982 summation: "The uniqueness of the individual [mystic] does not lie in the superficial but in the total freedom from the content of consciousness" (quoted on page 216).

Here's my paraphrase of this point by Krishna: Each individual mystic must learn how to be free from his or her own ego-consciousness, at least in the moments of experiencing mystic awareness.

Krishna continues: "Freedom is found in the choiceless awareness of our daily existence" (quoted on page 216). Choiceless awareness is the aim of meditation and contemplation. In choiceless awareness, "there [is] pure observation [i.e., attentiveness, attending to, paying attention to the experience of the present moment] which is insight without any shadow of the past [i.e., without any shadow of the past = being fully present to one's experience in the present]. This timeless insight brings a deep radical change in the mind" (quoted on page 217).

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Here's my paraphrase of these points: The past (our experiences, memories, and conditioning) limits our field of reference and our full participation in life, but the mystic experience of the present moment opens the mystic to full participation in life. In addition, the mystic experience also engenders a deep radical change in the mystic's mind, however gradual, thereby freeing him or her from at least part of the limitations of the past.

Questions for further reflection: What about the past that C.G. Jung refers to as the collective unconscious? Does the collective unconscious also bring limitations into our lives? If it does, does the mystic also become free from the limitations of the collective unconscious? But if the mystic also becomes free of the limitations of the collective unconscious, then the mystic will be living in what the character Miranda in Shakespeare's play THE TEMPEST describes as a brave new world. When Jiddu Krishnamurti lived in the Ojai valley in California (USA), Aldous Huxley, author of the novel BRAVE NEW WORLD (1932), THE PERENNIAL PHILOSOPHY (1945), and of THE DOORS OF PERCEPTION (1954), was one of Krishna's friends. As Roland Vernon reports (page 207), Aldous Huxley wrote the introduction to Krishna's book THE FIRST AND LAST FREEDOM (1954).

Digression: For a fine recent biography of Aldous Huxley, see Nicholas Murray's ALDOUS HUXLEY: A BIOGRAPHY (New York, New York (USA): Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin's Press, 2002). See the index for page references concerning Krishnamurti. End of digression.

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Thomas James Farrell is professor emeritus of writing studies at the University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD). He started teaching at UMD in Fall 1987, and he retired from UMD at the end of May 2009. He was born in 1944. He holds three degrees from Saint Louis University (SLU): B.A. in English, 1966; M.A.(T) in English 1968; Ph.D.in higher education, 1974. On May 16, 1969, the editors of the SLU student newspaper named him Man of the Year, an honor customarily conferred on an administrator or a faculty member, not on a graduate student -- nor on a woman up to that time. He is the proud author of the book (more...)

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