Truth is a Pathless Land

70a04fe47d55b220b5e301d6770b04bd.jpgThinking about Jiddu Krishnamurti (1895-1996) today after coming across a short quote by him:

“It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.”

I don’t know that much about him — his writings are voluminous and some are still being discovered, edited and published. He was Indian, traveled extensively, was involved for a while with the Theosophical Society but broke from them around 1922, during which he experienced several mystical encounters (which he termed “the process”) in which he felt a mystical union and immense peace: “Love in all its glory has intoxicated my heart; my heart can never be closed. I have drunk at the fountain of Joy and eternal Beauty. I am God-intoxicated.”

By 1929, he had renounced any path as a way to Truth:

“You may remember the story of how the devil and a friend of his were walking down the street, when they saw ahead of them a man stoop down and pick up something from the ground, look at it, and put it away in his pocket. The friend said to the devil, ‘What did that man pick up?’ ‘He picked up a piece of the truth,’ said the devil. ‘That is a very bad business for you, then,’ said his friend. ‘Oh, not at all,’ the devil replied, ‘I am going to help him organize it.’

“I maintain that truth is a pathless land, and you cannot approach it by any path whatsoever, by any religion, by any sect. That is my point of view, and I adhere to that absolutely and unconditionally. Truth, being limitless, unconditioned, unapproachable by any path whatsoever, cannot be organized; nor should any organization be formed to lead or coerce people along a particular path.” (in Krishamurti: The Years of Awakening, 1975, by Mary Lutyens)

Schools that he and his followers (though he said he didn’t want followers) founded in India, England and the U.S. emphasise a holistic vision, concern for humans and the environment, and a religious spirit.  He was awarded the United Nations Peace Medal in 1984. Of course, he’s on YouTube (I haven’t watched these yet.)

Krishnamurti’s thoughts on meditation speak to me:

“Meditation is one of the greatest arts in life — perhaps the greatest, and one cannot possibly learn it from anybody, that is the beauty of it. It has no technique and therefore no authority. When you learn about yourself, watch yourself, watch the way you walk, how you eat, what you say, the gossip, the hate, the jealousy — if you are aware of all that in yourself, without any choice, that is part of meditation. …

“Meditation is the emptying of the mind of the known. It cannot be done by thought or by the hidden prompting of thought, nor by desire in the form of prayer, nor through the self-effacing hypnotism of words, images, hopes, and vanities. All these have to come to an end, easily, without effort and choice, in the flame of awareness.”


Comments made to the original post:

>> Mike said:

Isn’t the first mistake seeing the path and the truth as separate?

>> Then he said:

Maybe I’ll say a little more… I’m thinking of Jesus’s statement that he is ‘the way (the path), the truth and the light’ which I’ve always taken to mean he is the way to something, the truth about something, the light that shines on / illuminates something. The path and the truth (and the light) are ways of being in relation to something – its the ‘something’ that is the important part. To hold up the path as an obstacle to the truth seems like trading one hang-up for another.
It is interesting to contrast this with the quote on meditation: “emptying of the mind of the known” sounds to me like acknowledging that “the truth” is not the ‘something’ of ultimate concern.

>> Then I replied:

Mike, glad you elaborated — I probably still don’t fully understand what you’ve said here, though … :-)

I think Krishnamurti in these little excerpts is saying, contrary to what I think you are saying, that “Truth” is the “something.” (‘Truth’ might also _be_ the path.)

I think he was influenced by his involvement (to some extent involuntary, when he was younger) with the Theosophical Society, which apparently felt that if he wasn’t on their path, he was off the path, so to speak. A not-uncommon judgment in our times as well.

A case could be made, it seems to me, that we humans often confuse the path with the “something” it leads to, i.e., idolise the particular path and demonise or fear anything that doesn’t seem to be on that path. He seems to be saying, don’t focus so hard on the pathway, look instead at where it leads. (Which I think is what you’re saying, or reading Jesus as saying?) Or maybe I’m simplifying too much.

Re emptying the mind of the known — I think, again, a case could be made (not sure it’s Kr’s case) that Truth (or, if you wish, the “something”) is not knowable as the mind knows things, and so to empty the mind of the known is to allow a fuller knowledge (or other word or non-word) to come about or be revealed. There’s a certain sense in Buddhism that groundlessness — feeling the ever-shifting of the unknown — is the truth about the way things are. What we ‘know’ is what keeps us from experiencing groundlessness, from experiencing or knowing what’s true.

Of course, Buddhism is yet another ‘path’ …


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