Re: Theos-World Blavatsky & Krishnamurti
Feb 06, 2009 03:44 PM
by Cass Silva
Hi Pedro and congratulations on your appointment.Â See below
--- On Fri, 6/2/09, Pedro Oliveira <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
From: Pedro Oliveira <email@example.com>
Subject: Theos-World Blavatsky & Krishnamurti
Received: Friday, 6 February, 2009, 3:12 PM
(The article below is a contribution to a debate that started
sometime in 1909 - or before - and still continues. It was published
in The Theosophist, September 2008. PO)
Blavatsky and Krishnamurti: A Timeless Dialogue
All true spiritual teachers are unique. They have all shared with
each other, throughout the ages of human evolution on this globe, a
capacity to provoke thinking and to unsettle conditioned minds from
their spiritual slumber. This may explain why many of them were
profoundly misunderstood by their contemporaries. The orthodox
religious mindset prevailing in both India and Judea, for example,
rejected the message of both the Buddha and Jesus Christ. Their
teaching was simply too radical and too disturbing to the
psychological comfort zone of most people in their times.
Cass:Â To premise this argument with an analogy to Christianity is literal emotional blackmail.
Genuine spirituality is not concerned with acceptance of beliefs,
explanations, descriptions of the world or presumed spiritual
authority. Its core concern is true spiritual transformation through
the contact with that which is uncreated, timeless and eternal. Such
a transformation, when it is real and not imaginary, brings about a
complete openness of mind and heart that endows every relationship
with a quality of love and understanding that never fades away.
Cass: The use of the word spirituality is certainly not theosophic
The personalities of Helena Petrovna Blavatsky and Jiddu Krishnamurti
were quite different. She was born in 1831 to a Russian aristocratic
family, had a fiery temperament and loved adventure and travels. He
was a shy, vacant-looking Telugu-speaking boy born in 1895 to a
Brahmin family in South India. While she went on to found the
Theosophical Society in 1875 and left behind a body of teachings
which became the historical and metaphysical foundations of modern
theosophical literature, he shook the Theosophical Society to its
very core in 1929 when he dissolved the Order of the Star in the East
and ceased his association with the TS and with a role he had not
Cass:Â re JK - true.Â This role wasÂimposed on him by CWL.
In spite of the abovementioned differences, there are profound
similarities between some aspects of HPB's and Krishnaji's teachings
on self-knowledge, the nature of the mind, newness, the self,
understanding, true seeing and the timeless experience, among others.
Cass:Â This is all true but only in relation to Lower Manas - and although this is the first step it is not a means to self realization or union between Lower and Higher Manas - its a bit like, take care of the pennies and the pounds will take care of themselves
JK did not teach anything on the evolution of monads, creation, he did not answer the hard questions focusing only on how we have become morally decrepid because of our thinking.
This article, however, is not an attempt to reconcile the views of
such profoundly different individuals nor to justify why they
differed. It is based on the premise that those who found wisdom
share a perception of life which is fundamentally similar in its
essential aspects for, as it was said of wisdom, `being but one, she
can do all things: and remaining in herself, she maketh all things
Perhaps students of both HPB's and Krishnaji's teachings may find
this present attempt pointless. Some students of HPB's works seem to
see Krishnamurti as a messianic invention by both Annie Besant and C.
W. Leadbeater. On the other hand, some Krishnamurti students tend to
look at the Theosophical Society as if it was `frozen' in the 1920s
while apparently ignoring the fact that it emerged from that
turbulent period reinvigorated by its refusal to ascribe authority to
any person or any teaching, and by insisting that its members are
free to explore the significance of life through their own enquiry.
Cass:Â If one doesn't want to by a hypocrite - One cannot set up an organization based on the teachings of its founder and then say it refuses to ascribe authority to that one person or their teaching - those that do not ascribe authority to the founder should seek elsewhere.
It is possible that wisdom-teachings from different epochs and
cultures are indeed in dialogue with each other for they embody
aspects of a perennial insight into life's unfathomable depths. The
words of the wise may differ but their language is one.
"The first necessity for obtaining self-knowledge is to become
profoundly conscious of ignorance; to feel with every fibre of the
heart that one is ceaselessly self-deceived. "(2)
"To know oneself as one is requires an extraordinary alertness of
mind, because what is is constantly undergoing transformation,
change, and to follow it the mind must not be tethered to any
particular dogma or belief, to any particular pattern of action."(3)
Cass: This is a direct refutation of the Ancient Wisdom handed down by HPB - one embracesÂthe Truth of the Ancient Wisdom but is free to seek similarities or falsifications in other dogmatic religions.Â If one is going to test HPB's Ancient Wisdom one must discredit all who taught the same teaching handed down to HPB.
The present age has been hailed as the `information age' and never
than before human beings have a colossal amount of information and
knowledge at their fingertips. Yet, and not surprisingly, self-
knowledge remains elusive and very rare. Both HPB and K suggested
that without alertness and awareness one cannot see through the
deceptions that mental activity creates. Several traditions have
insisted that in order to know oneself there must be impersonal
attention to what happens both within and without. Such attention not
only sees through the machinations and illusions to which we have
become accustomed to call `me' but also brings them to an end. Self-
knowledge is the beginning of transformation.
Cass:Â The Ancient Wisdom and Krishnamurti both agree on this - JK provided an intellectual path to understanding lower manas and how it operates in the world - a great feat and one which the world sorely needed - if for no other reason than the person becomes better at being a person - or good at being good as Plato said.Â I agree with all that follows and have taken much from JK but to hold him up as the 21st Theosophic Guru is to distort the truth of the Ancient Wisdom - his contribution was valid but it was a fragment of true spiritual knowledge - it satisfied the mind -Â it was a means to an end and not an end in itself - and this should be confirmed by all sections of the TS.
Instead what did the TS do?Â It set up the once followers - the students -as 'new leaders' - the teachers.Â It made of Arch-Bishops - in effect Popes of the New Order each with their own particular version of what they had determined Theosophy wasÂ- turning a blind eye to the Ancient Wisdom which they inherited - using whatever 'snippets' they could find in the SD to verify their newly founded interpretation - for the power and glory of qudos.Â Name one that died a pauper's death.Â I might suggest that Besant's writings prior to HPB's demise would have been in line with the teachings - after HPB's demise slowly but surely changes were put into effect to try to solicit christian conversion to theosophy
The Learning Mind
"He must endeavor as much as possible to free his mind, while
studying or trying to carry out that which is given him, from all the
ideas which he may have derived by heredity, from education, from
surroundings, or from other teachers. His mind should be made
perfectly free from all other thoughts, so that the inner meaning of
the instructions may be impressed upon him apart from the words in
which they are clothed."(4)
"Reality is not as thing which is knowable by the mind, because the
mind is the result of the known, of the past; therefore the mind must
understand itself and its functioning, its truth, and only then is it
possible for the unknown to be."(5)
In order to learn the mind needs to educate itself. The word
education comes from the Latin educere, `lead out'. Fresh
understanding and insight are not possible if the mind is
constantly `crowded' with opinions, second hand knowledge and
reactions. They have to emerge from a deeper source within. The mind
that truly learns is the one that pays attention to what is before
it â the `book of life' â and has an understanding which is both
sensitive and compassionate, which are qualities that can only unfold
in the present moment.
"Every such attempt as the Theosophical Society has hitherto ended in
failure, because, sooner or later, it has degenerated into a sect,
set up hard-and-fast dogmas of its own, and so lost by imperceptible
degrees that vitality which living truth alone can impart. You must
remember that all our members have been bred and born in some creed
or religion, that all are more or less of their generation both
physically and mentally, and consequently that their judgment is but
too likely to be warped and unconsciously biased by some or all of
these influences. If, then, they cannot be freed from such inherent
bias, or at least taught to recognise it instantly and so avoid being
led away by it, the result can only be that the Society will drift
off on to some sandbank of thought or another, and there remain a
stranded carcass to moulder and die."(6)
"Only when there is no residue of memory can there be newness and
there is residue when experience is not finished, concluded, ended;
that is when the understanding of experience is incomplete. When the
experience is complete, there is no residue â that is the beauty of
life. Love is not residue, love is not experience, it is a state of
being. Love is eternally new."(7)
The world bears ample testimony that mindless identification with an
ideology â religious, political, intellectual, institutional â begets
separateness, aggressiveness, violence and bitter division. It has
been said that the reason why people so identify themselves is
because it gives them a sense of security. But this, alas, is only
one aspect of the problem. The unconscious desire for power and
authority is a very deep undercurrent in the human mind and it has
the capacity to warp and twist our understanding and judgment, thus
preventing us from knowing what newness truly is. Only contact with
what is eternal, beyond time, what HPB referred to as `living truth',
can make newness possible. Such a contact takes place only when there
is the ending of all `residue' â the debris of unfinished experience
which generate conditioning in its many forms.
"The Book of the Golden Precepts â some of which are pre-Buddhistic
while others belong to a later date â contains about ninety distinct
little treatises. Of these I learnt thirty-nine by heart, years ago.
To translate the rest, I should have to resort to notes scattered
among a too large number of papers and memoranda collected for the
last twenty years and never put in order, to make of it by any means
an easy task. Nor could they be all translated and given to a world
too selfish and too much attached to objects of sense to be in any
way prepared to receive such exalted ethics in the right spirit. For,
unless a man perseveres seriously in the pursuit of self-knowledge,
he will never lend a willing ear to advice of this nature."(8)
"Therefore there is no method for self-knowledge. Seeking a method
invariably implies the desire to attain some result â and that is
what we all want. We follow authority â if not that of a person, then
of a system, of an ideology â because we want a result which will be
satisfactory, which will give us security. We really do not want to
understand ourselves, our impulses and reactions, the whole process
of our thinking, the conscious as well as the unconscious; we would
rather pursue a system which assures us of a result. But the pursuit
of a system is invariably the outcome of our desire for security, for
certainty, and the result is obviously not the understanding of
One of the interesting phenomena in the world today is the `self-
help' industry. It is a big business world wide, commanding millions
of dollars and involving the production of many books, DVDs,
seminars, workshops, etc. A pattern that pervades this industry is
that it offers people what they want â fulfillment, wealth, pleasure,
recognition, personal power, psychic abilities, kundalini awakening,
among many other things. Invariably, in such industry questioning the
patterns of self-seeking is not encouraged as the aim is to enhance
the capacities and powers of the personal self. And yet, the advice
of the wise ones throughout the ages has been always the same: be
aware of your motives, learn to look at yourself impersonally, be
alert to the trappings created by self-interest. Self-seeking goes in
the opposite direction of self-knowledge. The former imprisons us
more and more in illusion and frustration; the latter opens the
gateway to true spiritual freedom.
Activity of the Mind
"The Mind is the great Slayer of the Real.
Let the Disciple slay the Slayer."(10)
"Now what is the mind as it is functioning? It is actually a process
of isolation, is it not? Fundamentally that is what the process of
thought is. It is thinking in an isolated form, yet remaining
collective. When you observe your own thinking, you will see it as an
isolated, fragmentary process. You are thinking according to your
reactions, the reactions of your memory, of your experience, of your
knowledge, of your belief."(11)
In the above passages, both HPB and Krishnaji point out one of the
essential features of the activity of the mind: its self-created
separation from Reality. Our minds, under the sway of self-centered
activity, prevent us from having a true and complete relationship
with life in all its splendour. Unless we actually see for ourselves
the continuous process of isolation created by the personal mind it
is of no use anybody telling us about it. In the strongly
metaphorical language of The Voice of the Silence, one has to `slay
the Slayer', which may mean looking at all mental activity â
thoughts, memories, emotions, reactions â without automatically
identifying with it.
What is the Self?
"The Self of matter and the SELF of Spirit can never meet.
One of the twain must disappear; there is no place for both."(12)
"Where you are, the other is not."(13)
Evolution is a vast process, stretching to almost unimaginable
periods of time. Throughout this process consciousness unfolds many
capacities and at the human stage it is centred in the mind and its
activities. Even emotional responses are dependent upon and
conditioned by mental activity. Thus the mind becomes the centre of
our individuality, which has at its core a strong, resistant and
resilient sense of self. It is like a fortress in which self-image
and self-importance are the protecting walls.
A close consideration and study reveal that such sense of
individuality and self are not natural developments of the
evolutionary movement. They are acquired and are the mind's response
to the process of experience. When the experience is pleasant there
is identification and attachment. When it is unpleasant, there is
repulsion and avoidance. But the wise ones have taught that we do not
need to remain in such a state of bondage, that freedom is possible
and that that freedom is within, for it is what we really are: the
Other, the One without a second, the Self of all things, the
Dying to the Past
"Long and weary is the way before thee, O Disciple. One single thought
about the past that thou hast left behind, will drag thee down and
thou wilt have to start the climb anew."(14)
"Kill in thyself all memory of past experiences. Look not behind or
thou art lost."(15)
"When the mind is agitated, questioning, worrying, dissecting,
analyzing, there is no understanding. When there is the intensity to
understand, the mind is obviously tranquil."(16)
Past impressions have a strong pull on the mind and condition its
activity. Perhaps one of the reasons why we dwell such much on the
memory of past experiences is because of our profound attachment to
and identification with our self-image. This intense process causes a
serious drainage of energy and in order to know ourselves we need the
energy of attention and wakefulness. Life only happens in the present
and continuous attention to the present is necessary for the mind to
gain that capacity of seeing things clearly. There is no light in
Learning to Listen and to See
"Unless thou hearest, thou canst not see.
Unless thou seest thou canst not hear."(17)
"To understand a problem obviously requires a certain intelligence,
and that intelligence cannot be derived from or cultivated through
specialization. It comes only when we are passively aware of the
whole process of our consciousness, which is to be aware of ourselves
without choice, without choosing what is right and what is
Most people seem to have no difficulty in hearing and seeing what is
happening around them. In scientific work, the capacity for hearing
and seeing has been developed to a great degree and we now have, for
example, potent telescopes that send images from the farthest reaches
of the universe that one can see in one's home computer! But it is
quite another matter to hear and see what is actually happening
within oneself. In the US recently an astronaut, highly trained
scientifically and intellectually, was charged with attempting to
assault another fellow astronaut who apparently got in the way of her
romantic interest. To truly learn how to see and listen to what
happens within one's consciousness requires a quiet objectivity and
dispassion, an awareness that comes into being when one realizes that
the honest confrontation of oneself is the only sane alternative.
Looking Without Images
"For mind is like a mirror; it gathers dust while it reflects. It
needs the gentle breezes of Soul-Wisdom to brush away the dust of our
illusions. Seek O Beginner, to blend thy Mind and Soul."(19)
"To look is important. We look to immediate things and out of
immediate necessities to the future, coloured by the past. Our seeing
is very limited and our eyes are accustomed to near things. Our look
is as bound by time-space as our brain. We never look, we never see
beyond this limitation; we do not know how to look through and beyond
these fragmentary frontiers. But the eyes have to see beyond them,
penetrating deeply and widely, without choosing, without shelter;
they have to wander beyond man-made frontiers of ideas and values and
to feel beyond love."(20)
In both above-mentioned statements one aspect of the mind's
conditioning is highlighted. As St Paul wrote, `now we see through a
glass, darkly' (1Cor.13:12) . Whatever we see â Nature, other people,
ourselves â we see it through the dark glass of our conditioning, our
psychological memory, the accumulated impressions of many
experiences, reactions, predilections as well as inherited responses.
These become inbuilt in the very process of perception. On the other
hand, when there is the glimmering of wisdom within there is a new
perception that reveals the intrinsic nature of everything. As C.
Jinarajadasa wrote, `even a wayside flower throbs with the message of
the cosmos'. For the unaware a wayside flower is just another little
flower like all others; for someone who is learning to look without
images, it is an embodiment of timeless beauty, order and grace.
Love is the Only Real Relationship
"To reach Nirvana one must reach Self-Knowledge, and Self-Knowledge
is of loving deeds the child."(21)
"There can be true relationship only when there is love but love is
not the search for gratification. Love exists only when there is self-
forgetfulness, when there is complete communion, not between one or
two, but communion with the highest; and that can only take place
when the self is forgotten."( 22)
HPB's statement quoted above is nothing short of revolutionary. There
will be some for whom self-knowledge is a private, individual affair,
and who tend to shun relationships as `obstacles' on their way to
knowing themselves. But her words clearly indicate that it is only
through love that Self-knowledge comes, almost as if suggesting that
loving deeds helps us to gain access to a much deeper dimension
within ourselves. Krishnaji's statement that love exists only where
there is self-forgetfulness equally implies that genuine love is free
from the entanglements that arise from self-centered activity. In a
fundamental sense, there is no difference between self-knowledge and
love in their true meaning.
Freedom from Oneself
"The way to final freedom is within thy SELF.
That way begins and ends outside of Self."(23)
"The fundamental understanding of oneself does not come through
knowledge or through accumulation of experiences, which is merely the
cultivation of memory. The understanding of oneself is from moment to
moment; if we merely accumulate knowledge of the self, that very
knowledge prevents further understanding, because accumulated
knowledge and experience becomes the centre through which thought
focuses and has its being."(24)
The word `paradox' has a very interesting etymology. It is a Greek
composite word: para, `beyond', and doxa, `opinion'. A paradox,
therefore, is an expression or a teaching that challenges, perturbs
and unsettles accepted opinions on a given subject. The passage from
The Voice of the Silence quoted above is a paradox: freedom is within
us but the way to it begins and ends outside of self. The ample
canvas of human experience throughout the ages attests to the fact
that any self-based endeavour sooner or later ends in frustration. As
the well-known saying affirms, `the path of Occultism [or Self-
Knowledge] is strewn with wrecks'. Illustrating the insidious ways of
the personal self, the Buddha, in one of his sermons, compared the
self to a stranger that comes in the dead of night to a household,
asks for food and shelter, gets liked by all the family in the
household, and eventually kills the householder and takes over his
entire property and family. Unless one is self-aware, from moment to
moment, as suggested by Krishnaji, inner freedom remains elusive.
Another paradox: in order to know oneself one has to be free from
oneself as a product of past experiences.
"He standeth now like a white pillar to the west, upon whose face the
rising Sun of thought eternal poureth forth its first most glorious
waves. His mind, like a becalmed and boundless ocean, spreadeth out
in shoreless space. He holdeth life and death in his strong
"Life is always the active present; time always belongs to the past
and so to the future. And death to time is life in the present. It is
this life that is immortal, not life in consciousness. Time is
thought in consciousness and consciousness is held within its frame.
There is always fear and sorrow within the network of thought and
feeling. The ending of sorrow is the ending of time."(26)
The word 'samsÃra' means, among other things, going or wandering
through the circuit of mundane existence, the world, worldly
illusion. It is described in ancient scriptures as a wheel that
imprisons the soul or mind in birth, death and rebirth. One of the
strongest currents in the mighty stream of samsÃra is 'avidyÃ', the
primordial or beginningless ignorance or unawareness. Great seers
have maintained that it is ignorance that attaches us to life and
makes us afraid of death; such a pattern has dominated human life on
earth for millennia.
But in every age there have been those few who have walked into the
wilderness, through uncharted territory, and discovered the truth
about the human condition. One of their fundamental discoveries is
that life and death are not opposites that we should fear or become
attached to. They are simply two aspects of the same existence. It is
our perception of them that makes them appear separate and distinct,
but they are one.
There is life in death, and death in life. To die to all experiences,
all attachments, all projected images of oneself and of others is to
discover uncreated, immortal life. And to live without accumulating
experiences but understanding them as they arise and to be completely
free from the tyranny of time which breaks the unbreakable Whole into
past, present and future, is to welcome renewal. In such a
consciousness suffering comes to an end, naturally, effortlessly.
HPB and Krishnaji never met each other but the essence of what they
taught was perhaps part of a timeless dialogue. For as she co-founded
the Theosophical Society and left a legacy of profound wisdom and
insight, he helped us to realize that the word â the teaching â is
not the thing and that the fragrance of sacredness is to be found in
a life untouched by the self and its pretty concerns.
1. Wisdom of Solomon, 7:27
2. H. P. Blavatsky Collected Writings, vol. VIII, edited by Boris de
Zirkoff, Theosophical Publishing House: Madras, 1960, p. 109.
3. Krishnamurti, J. First and Last Freedom, Victor Gollancz: London,
1961, p. 44.
4. Collected Writings, op. cit. vol. XII, p. 493.
5. Krishnamurti, op.cit., p. 98.
6. Blavatsky, H. P. The Key to Theosophy, Theosophical Publishing
House: London, 1968, Conclusion.
7. Krishnamurti, op.cit., p. 247.
8. Blavatsky, H. P. The Voice of the Silence, The Theosophical
Publishing House: Chennai, 1998, Preface.
9. Krishnamurti, op.cit., p. 47.
10.Blavatsky, op. cit., I, 4-5.
11.Krishnamurti, op.cit., p. 115-116.
12.Blavatsky, op. cit., I, 56.
13.Within the Mind â On J. Krishnamurti published by Krishnamurti
Foundation India: Madras, 1983, p. 13.
14.Blavatsky, op. cit., I, 74.
15.op. cit., I, 75.
16.Krishnamurti, op.cit., p. 242.
17.Blavatsky, op. cit., I, 82-83.
18.Krishnamurti, op.cit., p. 96.
19.Blavatsky, op. cit., II, 115.
20.Krishnamurti, J. Krishnamurti' s Notebook Krishnamurti Foundation
India: Chennai, 2003, p. 34.
21.Blavatsky, op. cit., II, 136.
22.Krishnamurti, J. First and Last Freedom, pp. 180-181.
23.Blavatsky, op. cit., II, 169-170.
24.Krishnamurti, op. cit., p. 46.
25.Blavatsky, op. cit., III, 282.
26.Krishnamurti, J. Krishnamurti' s Notebook, p. 143.
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