Open Space at The Zoo Fence

Back to Open Space

STUMBLING ACROSS U.G.!
· an exchange of correspondence ·

These are extended excerpts from messages exchanged between TZF and two friends of TZF in reaction to a TZF item about U.G. Krishnamurti entitled Not Much To Say, U.G.! which first appeared on Nancy’s Page (please click here) and is now also reproduced below.

The first message is from Sverre Andreassen (Sverre.Andreassen@byggforsk.no), whose essay “Survival“ also appears on Open Space. The second is from Michael Rezak (mjoel@cox.net), the contributor of “Forgive Them, Father“ and No Matter What, also on Open Space, and at The Gazebo.

The website dedicated to U.G. that started all of this is http://www.well.com/user/jct/index.html

There is the text of a talk by U.G. at TZF’s Ampers&nd.

From Sverre:

You wrote that you stumbled across U.G. Krishnamurti. Now, thanks to your piece, I have stumbled across him also, and have to deal with him. I must say that reading his writings is disturbing to me. So much so that I have to sit down and try to sort out my thoughts and reactions. One does not exactly walk away from this “anti-guru” with a light heart, full of faith and optimism.

In one way, his teaching does have a certain appeal to me. It has to do with stripping away illusions. After all, I don’t want to pursue illusions. I want absolute no-nonsense, and he might be providing it.

He talks about “the natural state,” not enlightenment, a term he rejects. I am not sure I understand the difference, so I stick with the traditional term. To me, he seems to be saying something like this: “Enlightenment is some kind of biological process that happens by chance to one in a billion. There is no method, no way of preparing for it. All religions and philosophies or mystical disciplines are of no value whatsoever and will not help you to achieve this state. Enlightenment is an all or nothing affair. There are no stages, no gradual progression. Whatever path you are following, forget it. It’s all illusions, and, if anything, will lead you further away from your goal.”

If one is to take this seriously, it is quite a blow. I find myself trying to weigh the reasons why one should take this man seriously at all.

Perhaps one reason is his personal history. Obviously, something quite mysterious did happen to him. His personal descriptions of his “calamities,” as he calls them, are quite fascinating, and makes one wonder if these kinds of experiences are a prerequisite to enlightenment.

I find a striking resemblance to the ideas of Gurdjieff, as he talks about the illusion of continuity of thought. While Gurdjieff believes in the possibility of a permanent I as opposed to the illusory I, U.G. seems to be saying there is no I at all! Or maybe this no-I is the permanent I?

I do agree with U.G. that there is no “beyond.” Everything is “here,” of course. This is perhaps an example of the kind of illusions he is referring to, the kind of illusions that make up the greater part of our awareness. If that is the case, I can relate to it.

Even though U.G. is fascinating reading, I find that on some deep level I must disagree with what I hear him saying. Or maybe he is just not telling the whole story.

For me, this encounter with U.G. is still another piece in the puzzle. I don’t know where it fits in. I don’t know if I’ll ever make it fit in. I know that in the end I must trust my own experience since it’s all I have. According to my experience “there is a way.” There is gradual unfolding of awareness. Time may be an illusion, but we cannot help but experience it. Although I believe there is grace, our own efforts and decisions, our thoughts and actions are not without significance. As a matter of fact they are vital.

I cannot believe that all the experiences we have that we might call mystical or religious are illusory and without value. If we are to dismiss all such experiences, I think that many of us will find life unbearable. These kinds of experiences may be incomplete or mixed with our interpretations and prejudices, but they are pointing towards something. From the “fruits” of these experiences we know what they are. Maybe in the end, from the standpoint of absolute truth we might be able to see all our conceptions, all our experiences of the “spiritual realm” as “contaminations” as U.G. puts it, but until then they are all we have.

We are not picked by chance to be enlightened. If that was the case, what could we do then? Hang around and wait, hoping to be lucky?

Well, these are some of my thoughts that I would like to share. Maybe the conclusion is that U.G. has experienced something profound and possibly something of importance to us, but he might not be able to express this adequately, and we might not have the ability to understand. Until we do, we must hold on to our own experience. At least, that seems to be the lesson for me.

I was shaken, I still am. The positive aspect of this encounter is that I am more open to the possibility that what I believe or experience is illusory. This is a somewhat painful state, but definitely an incentive to dig deeper, to question more, and hopefully find a more solid basis.

U. G. KrishnamurtiU. G. KrishnamurtiU. G. Krishnamurti

From TZF:

First, let me respond specifically to these points in your message –
      You wrote: “I cannot believe that all the experiences we have that we might call mystical or religious are illusory and without value.” They ARE of value, for they keep us straight, and they nourish us.
      “If we are to dismiss all such experiences I think that many of us will find life unbearable.” Humankind has a fail-safe device within each of us that prevents us from dismissing things that keep life bearable. Thus, no one dismisses things before their time.
      “These kinds of experiences may be incomplete or mixed with our interpretations and prejudices, but they are pointing towards something. From the ‘fruits’ of these experiences we know what they are.” You are quite correct, that is how experiences work in our lives.
      “Maybe in the end, from the standpoint of absolute truth, we might be able to see all our conceptions, all our experiences of the ’spiritual realm’ as ’contaminations’ as U.G. puts it, but until then they are all we have.” Yes, U.G.’s view is possibly from that of the absolute truth. I might take issue with your belief that that is all we have, though.

That paragraph you wrote is absolutely correct, and valid. Indeed, it indicates to you who you are and where you are on the spiritual spectrum. Being where you are, as opposed to being where U.G. is, or to where anyone else is, for that matter, is not less, nor more, than where either of you stand. That is the key and the paradox, as I see it. In other words, the way we look at the universe and our place in it, at any moment in time, is absolutely appropriate for each of us, and thus absolutely true for each of us. (After all, we are each the interpreter of our universe, right? Who else could be?) The paradox is that where U.G. stands is absolutely true for him as well (or whatever it is that he is!). BOTH paradigms are valid, true, and appropriate to whoever it is that is experiencing or projecting them. Thus, your experiences and beliefs will continue to be valid and serve you so long as they continue to serve you by being valid, just as they are in my own case.

My response would be “Don’t try to be U.G.” – but, even if you are repelled by him, do not dismiss him either. Indeed, our trying to be anything is what he says obscures the “natural mind,” as he calls it. So, I understand him to be saying, “Be who you are right now” without trying to be anything else. Also, it is important to remember, when U.G. speaks, he speaks to an individual – his choice of words is appropriate for that individual. It may or may not be appropriate for you.

However, U.G.’s understanding of the universe, I believe, is transcendent to all paradigms, and it is only uncomfortable for us because we still NEED (or, BELIEVE we need) a paradigm within which to function. Indeed, at the end of your paragraph, you actually make the same statement yourself: “Maybe in the end from the standpoint of absolute truth …” That is a valid statement. Is it not possible that U.G. is speaking from that standpoint?

There is no reason to be frightened by that statement if one recognizes that at this moment in time I may not be in that position, but when I am, I will no longer be frightened either. Right? The fear and discomfort comes from a self which feels vulnerable and frightened by the concept of non-self. That’s all it is. Indeed, the fact that you do feel discomfort is evidence that you probably know the state of non-self already. (Who is it that is feeling the discomfort?) You can relieve this fear by realizing that non-self never comes unless and until the self invites it. (God is Gracious that way!)

Another excerpt from your message is also particularly interesting, and indeed, answers your own question for you in some manner: “We are not picked by chance to be enlightened. If that was the case, what could we do then? Hang around and wait, hoping to be lucky?” Aren’t we kind of doing that right now? Only, we are perhaps keeping ourselves busy with all kinds of exercises and beliefs that we are progressing toward something. But in the end, we are really simply waiting for, what I might call, God to make His move!

What I believe U.G. is trying to point out is that we become enlightened through no efforts of our own. I think this is ultimately true, even though none of us will stop searching however true it may be, and however much we may KNOW it to be true. Enlightenment happens to us, it is a gift, it is grace. Or, it is given.

On the other hand, perhaps our efforts at least clean us up enough so that when enlightenment happens, we can recognize it, because we aren’t so distracted not to see it.

It is possible, isn’t it, that you ran across U.G. at this point in your life BECAUSE of all your efforts? Remember, despite what U.G. says, he spent an entire life searching! And yet, U.G. seems to say, it is that very effort that prevents us from seeing that we are enlightened ALREADY! Kind of a paradox I think. But I have found that very often the most esoteric secrets are paradoxical.

Looked at another way, if you like, he may simply be telling us to relax, enjoy life, let life LIVE us. That is what true enlightenment is, after all, isn’t it? Living freely, without constraint, with total love and enjoyment of life, in peace and without anxiety or fear? To your question, Should we then just “hang around and wait, hoping to be lucky?” the answer may be, Yes, in a way, that is exactly what we ought to do … but we won’t! If we all truly gave up the search, in a true surrendering fashion, without resistance and discouragement, without anger or without seeking a goal from it, we would all probably be instantly enlightened in the sense that our minds would cease looking for answers, our desires would stop dead, we would finally reside in silence, we would finally be at peace, and thus, be able to see what we have been searching for all along.

Maybe look at it this way. You did not bump into U.G. by accident. (I imagine there are many who read that short note about U.G., and yet didn’t seek out his site.) After all, this man has been around some eighty years. Why is he available to you, and me, at this moment in time? Why did you read about him. Why has he touched you? Albeit in an uncomfortable way. (The Sufi’s believe that discomfort is one of the most useful devices to push us ahead, create a leap!)

If it is true that there are no accidents, and certainly that is true in my own life without exception, then because you have encountered his position, it has occurred for some reason for you which will become apparent to you eventually. You do not have to embrace the man’s position, nor agree with it. Perhaps all he is for you is a momentary peek at what it is to look at the world from the outside in. Maybe it is to put your own efforts in perspective, to allow you a little space and lightness, to permit you to give in occasionally, to prod you to surrender and recognize your own humbleness and impotence in the spiritual process. (A great deal can be achieved through surrender and giving up!)

There are numerous reasons that we encounter a consciousness that at first blush seems preposterous. The key is to take from it what nourishes us, and dispense with what doesn’t. I would suggest that you simply let the seed lie, and if it is one that your kind of “soil” likes, it will sprout. If instead, your “soil” finds it poisonous, then, it will dry up and blow away. Right? Right.

Finally, and probably most importantly, is this that you wrote: “I find a striking resemblance to the ideas of Gurdjieff as he talks about the illusion of continuity of thought. Although Gurdjieff believes in the possibility of a permanent I as opposed to the illusory “I”, U.G. seems to be saying that there is no I at all! Or maybe this no-I is the permanent I?” Yes! I think that is exactly it.

The great fear of the ego-centric I of the supposedly unenlightened is fear of obliteration, which is implied by our limited understanding of what enlightenment entails. What is obliterated is ego-centricity, but what is NOT obliterated is awareness, or consciousness. Perhaps less of the small isolated self, but more of all of consciousness. Thus, nothing is lost. Indeed, much is gained. However, the ego-centric I always feels threatened by virtue of its limitations that it has imposed on itself. Indeed, it depends upon those limitations to exist. Remember, U.G. speaks, U.G. observes, U.G. feels, U.G. lives. What is different perhaps is his perception of what it is that does all of this, as well as his inability, or reluctance therefore, to reflect upon that. Kind of a nice way to be, I think. Kind of like a baby, only a knowledgeable one!

U. G. KrishnamurtiU. G. KrishnamurtiU. G. Krishnamurti

From Michael:

I am writing to tell you that due to your influence (actually my insatiable curiosity and/or desire for enlightenment), I have, over the past couple of weeks, read “Mind is a Myth” and “Mystique of Enlightenment” … and … and I don’t know what to say.

Except perhaps that I’m totally pissed off. [See note] Not to mention discombooberated. What’s a guy supposed to hold on to when there’s nothing to hold on to, and not only that but he the holder does not even exist in the first place?

You know, I’ve been a student/follower/teacher of A Course in Miracles for about a year and a half, and it does mention a period of unsettlement and all … but GEEEEZZZ!!!!

Absolutely nothing is making any sense anymore (not that it did in the first place anyhow); yet, I shall go to the office tomorrow, and do my thing, and so on and so on.

So, anyhow, thanks for mentioning U.G. on your website. He is certainly a trip. And, fortunately or unfortunately, I shall read more of his words. Once my head stops spinning, that is.

I particularly like this part:

  • Questioner: If you were to sum up your teaching in one phrase, what would it be?
  • U.G.: The phrase would be “I cannot help you.”

Is that not powerful? There are several ways to look at it: The I being him; the I being my ego; and me not needing any help in the first place. There are probably more, too, which I do not even need consider.

U. G. KrishnamurtiU. G. KrishnamurtiU. G. Krishnamurti

From TZF:

I love your response – “…and…and…I don’t know what to say!” Obviously, you understood U.G.’s point of view exactly! ;-)

And you answered your own question perfectly: “What’s a guy supposed to hold on to when there’s nothing to hold on to, and not only that, but he the holder does not even exist in the first place?” Exactly! In your question is its own answer. And what does that do to your mind at that very instant? I would wager that it is silent, and at peace, no? Only a second later, full of fear and panic. Yup, that’s how it works. ;-) In this respect, U.G. is a master initiator. No?!

Look at it this way: First we take God’s hand, and hold it, because we are children in grade school. Eventually, when we are ready, and if we wish, we enter “college.” There, God and all we have learned by holding God’s hand, internalizes within us. U.G. is both the college and the teaching. Just exactly like when we are students at school, until such time as we learn it all; and then maybe we become teachers, and eventually, if we are really good teachers, we are the teaching. (But to be the teaching, we must let go of everything else that we think we are. Obviously. Otherwise, we remain a person who teaches, as opposed to “the teaching.” Nothing wrong about that, just different approaches to living and being.)

From my own personal perspective, we are unable to tolerate U.G. until we are so confident in God’s love and compassion that we can then risk giving up everything for God, including what we believe to be ourselves and WHAT we believe. (Certainly, U.G. did something of the same thing in his own life, despite his current objections to the value of the search.) The timing of this transition, and the steps leading up to it, of course, are crucial. And to attempt to embrace anything before its time is foolish and sometimes dangerous. So, we react according to our own infallible sense of appropriate timing, by fear, anger, sometimes outright horror. Allow yourself these buffers; they are a survival mechanism. At the same time, observe yourself, and monitor your reactions, and see how they serve, or undermine, your happiness. (It is a razor’s edge in this respect.)

Our initial response of anger and bewilderment, fear and confusion, to what U.G. embodies, is a normal and natural response to fear of loss - of all that we have invested over the years in trying to control our lives, our destinies, our very being (or what we believe to be our very being.) However, the fact that you actually went to the U.G. site, read the “teachings” there, AND persisted in reading it, while still admitting to being whipsawed by it, is, at least to me, an indication that you already know what U.G. is saying (since we only run across things in our lives when we already know them, you know?), and thus, it is probably time, in your own life, to consider it.

This is not to say that you need to embrace it. But, you will probably find, by the mere reading of it, and the consequent fascination you found in that reading, that in time, it will trickle down, and in time, when you are ready, you will see the logic and embrace the freedom that it implies. (Remember, there is all the time in the world - there is no urgency here.)

The key element here is “when you are ready.” Remember, the universe is so benign, so compliant, so full of Grace, that nothing occurs to any of us before its time, and only then, if it is what each of us individually wishes. That is the great secret of consciousness; that is the great grace of God. (Of course, with due respect to U.G., he would no doubt disagree with me on this point!)

Thus, from where I sit, there can be, AT THE SAME TIME, and paradoxically, both a universe that is full of God, and comfort, and refuge, and a universe that is non-causal, devoid of control, and in which we float at the beck and call of laws and powers that we are subject to. Add to this equation that both those worlds are CHOSEN by, and thus “made manifest” by, each of us at any moment in time. That is the genius and miracle of what, for want of a better word, we call God. Thus, He/It/She is infinitely full of possibilities, and we are always in control of which possibility we choose to become, even though sometimes it appears that we aren’t. God is indeed Gracious!

Thus, my own reaction is to say: “Do not be afraid of what U.G. has done to one’s mind.” Our minds are always too full of concepts, daydreams, and the consequent fear of losing those, that a spring cleaning is always welcome to those trying to move out of our dilemma and find some happiness. But. again, the mind is very clever and very devious; it will fill those vacancies almost immediately with new concepts, until such time as we feel comfortable with an empty house. Again, that is the graciousness of God.

Finally, I particularly like your sentence: “Absolutely nothing is making any sense any more (not that it did in the first place anyhow), yet I shall go to the office tomorrow, and do my thing and so on and so on.”

If I may be so bold as to speak for U.G., I imagine he would applaud and commiserate with that statement. Certainly I do! Personally, I have found that given a little time to settle, that attitude becomes rather delightful, and eventually, very freeing.

I hope this rounds out your own dilemma somewhat. I thank you for the opportunity you gave me to round out mine.

U.G. Krishnamurti

Editor’s Note: When we asked Michael for permission to post his message here, he wondered whether we ought to edit out this expression. On consideration, we decided that it precisely describes the ego’s response to Teachers like U.G., and so we have left it untouched. We apologize to those who may be offended by it. (Return to Text)

Not Much To Say, U.G.!

I have, for the past several months, sat down to write something and just ended up sitting there! Not very useful when you are trying to say something!

During this time, I “stumbled” across the name U.G. Krishnamurti (no relation to J. Krishnamurti, except, in some ways, philosophically.) The stumbling, of course, was incredibly coincidental and deviously timely, as, I have found in my life, everything is. Indeed, I am certain that nothing is “only” coincidental; indeed, everything is timely, perfectly arranged, and orderly in the progress of consciousness toward its own revelation of its own creative power. Actually, I am convinced that, by virtue of this creative power, one’s life is slowly unfolded according to one’s tendencies and conditioning and beliefs, which, of course, depending upon one’s aspiration, change with the progress of time, thus automatically manifesting according to that change. So, from that perspective, everything is pre-determined and sweetly individual! So there, I still have something to say after all.

Anyway, this gentleman fell in my lap, with such intensity and such urgency that it could not be ignored. The actual process by which this happened was exquisitely arranged and, from one perspective, the glamorous one, eerily miraculous. Suffice it to say, it was time that I discovered him and struggled with what remains of my own spiritual consolations, indulgences and prejudices.

This man, standing on the shoulders of such giants as Sri Nisargadatta, J. Krishnamurti, and Ramana Maharshi, all of whom he encountered in his own lifetime, effectively hammers the last nail into the coffin of ego-centricity and the amorous, and incestuous, affair between mind and personality and spirit. He is a tough fellow to swallow all at once; indeed, he is, to those of us unprepared or unready to encounter him, terrifying. And, what is most disturbing, and yet most convincing, is that he carries so little glamour, so little specialness, that for those of us in search of both of those aspects of personality, as most of us are, he is, if not repelling, then simply ordinary, and thus easily dismissed. (This of course is a kind of fail-safe device; one for which, no doubt, he is grateful.) And yet, from where I stand, I have to admit he is the clearest and most obviously correct interpreter of the spiritual search and all that it entails, and all that it does not entail, that I have encountered. To substantiate his claims, what there are of them (he would probably deny there are any!), he has all the credentials, all the signs, indeed, all the “glamour” in his past, that is needed to undermine our doubt of his legitimacy, to tear apart our fear that his stand generates, to convince us that we ought to listen to him, that he may have something important to say.

Of course, the end result of immersing oneself in his “teachings”, what there are of them, is that you come away with nothing to say, no conclusions being reached, no anticipation of future results or happiness from learning what he has to teach, nor any additional knowledge with which one can control one’s universe or life. And yet, the paradox of all of this is that, by realizing this, one becomes supremely comfortable with what IS as well as what SHALL be, and thus, contented and at peace. And, more than likely, one’s universe will increasingly reflect that, and thus, be benign and more controllable. He undoubtedly would sneer at that last statement; and rightly so! But, then, one’s old habits are hard to break. He, also, would deny that he has anything to do with this result; and of course, he hasn’t! Yet, the face that shines forth with U.G. Krishnamurti as its name, the expression of consciousness within that vessel, all served to remind me that I too am that consciousness, with my own name and face stamped on it for a fleeting moment in time, and for that gift, I am eternally grateful to U.G.

Of course, with this said, I reserve the right to indulge myself and persist in hope!

Editor’s Note: This essay is also on Nancy’s Page here. A search of the web of U.G.’s name elicits numerous responses. Among the best is http://www.well.com/user/jct/index.html, where, in addition to information about him,  you will find U.G.’s books, free for the download. For another TZF take on U. G., please click here.

To return to the top of this page, please click here.

backup