PART ONE – Here is my love-story from the Brockwood gathering in 1974 – the year of the storm when a great tree fell in the grounds. I was 25. For me, K was not an “intellectual”. He spoke of relationship NOW. It was crucial in his private life with Rosalind Rajagopal and others, and his global life as a speaker. Around his life thread, I noticed an acting-out of romance and love affairs. It was in his energy field. We were challenged by him, not to string “weights” on him or onto each other. I tasted freedom, and it was an agony to fall back into the trap.
Krishnamurti’s talks are fully documented, so this memoir has just my memory of what he said, which I wrote down shortly afterwards. Decades later, I bought the 1974 Brockwood tapes – you can hear the rain and the wind on the tent! My digest had caught their gist well enough. But I added an extract from The Awakening of Intelligence.
My father has a vivid memory of K’s gesture in a crowded room; a little old lady approached him with her difficulty. K took her to a window seat, put his arm round her, and gave her his total, tender attention. I see his birdlike intensity even now, soft and sharp.
An early painting of Krishnamurti
The hay ripples silver with the wind chasing games of sun and clouds. Mind makes tracks for herself. She walks through tangled shining trees and shafts of sunlight. The soft black mud oozes up between my toes and splashes ankles. My feet tread softly and sometimes slither, and thrill a little to the ground.: soft with grass or sharp with earth and stones.
Somewhere in a corner of Hampshire are we, mind and I. I am camping in a tent tonight. We are here for a Krishnamurti gathering at Brockwood Park. He spoke this afternoon in a marquee tent, vibrant, passionate, quivering and tender.
My tent is pitched near the house, a sagging little shelter of bleached grey canvas from my childhood, on leafy ground under the orchard trees. Like a cat to settle, I prowled up and down to find the right place – where the action is, and also oasis, among all the other pointed private islands emerging. The voices. The soft bangs of a wooden mallet on pegs. Woody smells break up from the rain-drunk autumnal earth, and big clouds traverse so great a sky, holding hands.
And now – it is much later – trying to sleep on damp soil, my small tent sags between two peaks, dark, with the full moon bursting out silver here and there. A man picks a guitar in the tea-making tent nearby. Sounds of laughter, of swearing, of someone drumming on a tin can. Sounds of all these people sleeping, lovemaking, talking under canvas, under fruit trees that drip fat splats of dew. Somewhere under the roof of the long, low white house, among his stalwart satellites, Krishnamurti went off to bed at 7.30. He gets up before dawn, and does two hours of yoga. Daniel, whom I got talking to, by the big tree in the grounds, talks most passionately of K. He spoke to K a little earlier today, when they were all carrying blankets and things.
There were tall, towering trees and a luminous gold sunlight through the wet wind.
He came from Canada. I noticed his gentle gesture among the people, earlier. He came up to me near the big tree, when I was trying to sketch K from memory, and I covered my drawing nervously with my hands. He talked from the core of himself – “Alone, alone? a word – a shape – a gown! Ah look at her, this so seductive idea. She is an excuse to wrap around a fact that never changes. What d’you mean, alone? What is alone – what do you feel? right now? See what doesn’t change – the stars, the trees. Listen to this! When you look at yourself without the eyes of time, what or who is there to look?”
“I don’t have anything,” Daniel said, his eyes glowing inward “if I have no silence of mind. Is she, the idea, is she ever at peace? What a fret her mirror is…”
Cold rain coasted onto the leaves over us, as night fell. Suddenly we jumped up and ran and ran together, very swift, all the way back to the tents. When my feet are bare, I almost fly. He wore heavy boots on his, for the weather. We hugged and kissed in the dark field after the rain… his long, childlike arms and black beard.
It is bound to happen, in a place like this. The pattern of relationships through the encampment is like the making of stars, and seems to be pre-existent to the known encounter.
In the kitchen tent, a French woman called Michelle, rather worn, strong and weathered, said cheerfully but with piercing eyes, “and who is this lady?” And who is she, to him? I wondered.
Some of us in the communal tent began to talk about cows. I went off with him towards the house. He wanted to find some blankets. “What is your name?” I asked. His eyes are deep brown, and very brilliant … black hair and Sephardic nose.
“You,” he said “are at turning point almost imperceptibly but constantly. And I think you have much difficulty in translating the frank or out-front part of you into this place. It is looking for light, and you don’t know the rules there.”
And he wondered at himself. Why, when he talks with intensity, is he unaware of his surroundings? Shouldn’t he be aware of everything? No, I said, it is selective. When you dig out things, when you look deep into the well, the same awareness focuses the problem to hand. He thinks he should be like K, he should be the tree, the blade of grass, the small creature, the house, the voice that speaks; to exclude nothing.
We sat for ages looking in the well, and the moon went in. Clouds, silvery night.
I didn’t sleep all night, because it was cold, and I had no mattress. That dawn misery when you have failed to sleep in so lovely and open and grass-roots a situation near all the other eager people in the night, and what is the point of it all? There really needs to be, should be two in a tent on the hard ground, to keep each other warm.
Birdsong. The throaty drone of a pigeon. More drips from the trees. And voices raised again, in the kitchen tent.
What a day of thunder, sun and wind! What a talk that was!
Sat very close to K “at the Master’s feet” said Daniel’s friends, who smiled with me. K talked aflame, like fire, about relationships. Pungent in his spicy smell and presence, brown with white hair swept neatly over his crown, old and yet unaged, dynamic with the electricity, it quivers and burns within and through every fibre of his being, as he searches, pleads, despairs and laughs with us.
“We are attached … to the image – of wife, of sister, of brother, of husband, of boy, of girl, of child and all that, all the rest of it – Thank God I don’t have any of these! so don’t impose them on me, please … but this is so serious, can you not see? To abstract from fact, an idea, and make that idea into life, is INSANITY.
“Can we act, please, from what is – can we act from this alone, without time, without considerations, without analysis, to finish this problem today and not tomorrow …?
“You know what a movement is? A movement has no end and no beginning, and therefore the movement in itself is the beauty, the glory. Are you following this? Do please look at this for yourself, please don’t merely listen to the speaker, and don’t be carried away by the words, by the philosophical concepts and ideals with which we are so careful to canalize and build a hedge around PASSION.”
(Added later, from The Awakening of Intelligence):
“Now, that passion is not lust, nor is it identification with some country or some mean little god, it is derived from the Latin word for suffering which again derives from the Greek and so on … but in the feeling of complete passion with the furious and total energy behind it, there is no hidden want. To look at that tree, you must be free from worry, from anxiety, from guilt. The passion to look at it completely, requires energy, but not the shoddy energy of a dissipated mind that has struggled, that has tortured itself, that is full of innumerable burdens. Most minds, ninety nine point nine per cent of minds, have this terrible burden, this tortured existence. And so they have no energy, energy being passion.
“Can we not share together a mind that is not tortured, that is fundamentally free, that has no barriers, that sees things as they are, that sees that an interval of time separates man from nature and from other human beings, that sees the meaning of dreadful, frightening time and space, that knows what is really the quality of love?
“If we could share this – not intellectually, not in a most cunning, elaborate, philosophical, metaphysical way, but actually partake of it, if we could do that, would not all of our problem end?
“But this sharing is not with another. One must have it first. Then when you have it, you have it in abundance. And when there is this abundance, the one and the many are the same, like a tree that is full of leaves of which one leaf is perfect and is part of the whole tree.
“Can we, today, share this quality, not with the speaker, but by having it and then sharing it? Then the question of sharing need no longer arise. It is like a flower full of scent which doesn’t share, but is always there for every passer by to delight in! And whether anyone is very near in the garden, or very far away, it is all the same to the flower, because it is full of that perfume, and so it is sharing with everything.
“If we could come upon this, it is really a mysterious flower. It only seems mysterious because we are so full of emotion and sentiment – to beget our ideas of children, sex, fellowship – but this thing, why is it that we haven’t got it? For when it is, then all problems, whatever they may be, come to an end.
“And haven’t you wondered lazily on occasion, when you were walking by yourself, in a filthy street, or sitting in a bus, or when you were by the seaside or in a wood with a lot of birds, trees, streams and wild animals, hasn’t it ever come upon you to ask – why is it that man who has lived for millions of years, why is it that he hasn’t got this thing, this extraordinarily unfading flower?”
From The Awakening of Intelligence
Oh YES, and thus must finish this human imagery of myself, of the other, of Daniel and of the relationship back home which has shot its bolt and which I try to end. It is to be finished! Today! It grows nothing but weeds to choke, or be choked by the image of it that is fostered like a great parasite onto me or you.
When K speaks, his slender hands rest quietly to each side of his chair. But his whole body seems to dance and strain like a small child. It leaps, like candlelight.
“How,” he tells us, laughing “can I be attached to you who are moving about from place to place, a distinct body in yourself? No! What I am attached to is not you, but the IMAGE of you. Look, please, with passion into this image we are holding onto. And let us ask – what is the truth in it? Concentrate, please, not on what the speaker is saying, but on what you are seeing. Oh! this is very, very serious! What is the body, the bulk of this image we hold to ourselves? What does it feel like? Fear! It is fear to have it taken away.
“The mind that is free from fear is the mysterious flower that is open to the scent, the sound, the dew and the colour of the garden. It is with you and in you now. It is not tomorrow, nor is it some other place or any of all that. Come, let us finish completely the problem now and for always, to be the thing that this is TODAY.”
Silverbirch & beech 1999
When I hold onto an image, there is relationship no longer. In fact there is very little relationship at all, anywhere. And drawing people? My drawing, oh dear, of K, is that a be-possessive? I can’t not try to draw. Then draw what is there – not the image! Image is lies. If only what is true could use me as a medium. How wonderful is the wind tossing this great tree in whose branches I sit bewildered and adrift with my notebook. How wonderful the sound of the wind, the branch. If I could be only this great old tree and nothing else. A different kind of flower is stirring up trouble and turbulence now in my mind, and I strive to let go of it, to sit in this tree and be nothing and nowhere else.
The wind is the music. The wind is the speaker. I am sitting on rocks, gently.
I am plastered with imagery. Strip it off. I hate it. Imagery is imaginary conversations, and what he’ll think of me, and preparing myself for five minutes later.
Let go, let go. Is it so great a terror to drop? Be right here with the sting. Don’t think of what they’ll think. To prepare is to be AFRAID of all comers, to put on my battledress, my sex or my lack of it. To prepare is to be afraid.
No fear, please realize this. Just here. No conceptual states of me – just this, which is.
That wind, the wind which comes from nowhere. It breaks on the back of my neck. It moves the bough of the great old tree like a ship. I wish I were nothing but the wind, the tree… What is it of pain and stories and descriptions that I know and am attached to like nothing other, which is the traveling curse of my being, that sort of … taste of living?
There should be time no longer. In action is there no time. In time is just an endless tomorrowing.
Krishnamurti listening, circa 1974
“Hand,” said Daniel, shading the torch redly with his fingers in the dark tent, so I saw all their veins transparently – “what a piece of work, isn’t it?” He walks and speaks with grace and simplicity. There is no mess, trouble or possessing.
Some time after K’s talk on that thundery day, we walked across a golden cornfield and through singing woods under a wind chased luminous sky. The cold prickled my skin. We felt rather speechless, like a gate. Our bodies exchanged warmth. He was looking for something in a wood. He spread maybe his anorak out vaguely on the ground – and mine as well? I’ve forgotten. We made love among the high nettles, among tall fluttering trees. “I told you,” he said “I didn’t know what to do with my body. This thing beat up between us like a barrier. I could go no further without crossing it with you.” And I had felt the wild pounding of his heart.
Naked. Thighs white in the autumn. Afterwards, peace and speechless surprise. Mosquito bites and fiery nettle stings. Our whiteness in the wood. He black haired, slender and strong like a willow, gleaming.
Returning across the cornfield, I began to strew my faithful and agonizing trail of muddles, insecurity and webs of divided loyalty. It is desperately vulnerable and fragmented. It is the spill of something broken. We managed to sweep it up somehow in the grove, near the house. “The greatest and best and most loving thing we can do for each other,” he said “is to have no illusions. Ever.”
He has a piercing serenity, and all the time in the world for what is not emotional trash.
I tried to finish the Krishnamurti drawing that night, curled up in a corner of the crowded library in the main house, because I wanted to give it to him, but it went wrong. He saw it and laughed. “How you’ve changed it!” We sat in semi darkness with two boys who were playing chess, and Daniel talked about being a student, and tried to locate a ferocious nettle sting that throbbed in one of his long delicate toes. My feet too were on fire, repeatedly bathed in mud and cleansed in wet grass throughout the day. And stung all over.
The moon shone in a cuttlefish of thin cirrus in a clear dark starry sky. The wind was icy. “That moon,” he said “is the craziest thing in this romance with you.” Full Moon.
We made love again in my tent, and talked and rambled softly together at length. After he left, I heard the joyful grunts of other canvas copulations, and felt now satisfied and not left out at all – not like last night.
These are the first wild, wild days of September. The wind, coming from who knows where, vibrates the leaves in a mighty orchestra of its song, to begin the Fall.
We laughed at the story going round that someone from the house approached Israeli David (who was also helping out in the kitchens and with blankets and things) with a razor, and informed him politely that Krishnamurti would prefer him to shave his stubble. Whether or not this was by direct command, it is a fact that K is as fastidious and sleek in himself and surroundings, as a healthy cat in its wholeness. He wears beautiful brown leather shoes, hand made to his narrow feet, and he polishes them every day. He came into the food tent, during the lunch-time babble, it was raining hard. He moved gently among people in a macintosh. When he walked outside, his movement was a fragile leaf; the wind blows him a little to one side. “That is a GOOD person, isn’t it?” said Daniel and someone else, smiling at me.
There was a little black dog, thin, eager and pleased at the comings and goings of so many milling and magnificent grubby humans. He jumped, barked and played. He examined the rubbish bin and licked the water-drips from the tap. And he ran and ferociously chewed twigs, so that someone would come and play a tug-of-war.
To make love is a temple which the mind, with machinations, para-considerations and rememberings, defiles. It is in fact, a secret sacred place.
TO BE CONTINUED …
row-boat and sea bird 2007
My adventure invites fellow travellers. I am a poet, an artist and a seer. I welcome conversation among the PHILO SOFIA, the lovers of wisdom.
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