I attended the Brockwood gatherings of September 1974, the year of a great storm, with my sway-backed childhood tent and a thin groundsheet. There was so much mud and rain. The wind shouted in the trees. The sweet chill of the sodden grass and earth shocked my bare feet. Fires were made on the ground, and people sat around them to dry out their blankets, and made love in the tents. In the big marquee, K, pungently perfumed, small and brown, sat on his hands until they fluttered out in front, and talked in his dancing way about our relationships, about the way our awareness is not limited, but draws on the common stock, and about the root of fear.
His teaching at that time, is central to my life’s effort to come close to the ‘fact of my fear’ – to stand under the waterfall.
Aurobindo and Krishnamurti
“It is part of our conditioning to admit division between the observer and the observed. The thinker and the thought. The experiencer and the experience. But when you see that the observer is the observed, which is the truth, then that conditioning is broken down. You understand all this? (pleads). That instant it is gone. Therefore the mind has freed itself from this eternal conflict between what is and what should be, which is the duality between good and bad — this eternal conflict between ‘me’ and ‘you’. I wonder if you see this? Therefore from that arising, can the mind which has been conditioned heavily through education, culture, religious doctrines, immoral attitudes, and all that — can all that be INSTANTLY wiped away?
“We say it can! It can be done only when the observer realises he is not separate from the observed. He eliminates conflict altogether, and therefore he has energy to go beyond.. You got it?
“So action is not an adjustment to an idea. Action is not approximating itself to an ideal. I wonder if you see this? Therefore action is always in the living present. Action then is the movement of the fact, not what you think the fact should be.
“Now this is art! which is sanity. Art means — doesn’t it also? — ‘to fit’. To fit every thing in its right place — that is art — not merely painting a picture or writing a poem or doing a sculpture ; putting every thing in its right place – not right according to ‘you’, but right according to the facts. The fact is always out of time. One has to deal with the fact all the time – not with the ideas. To deal with the fact, the mind must be free of every form of image that you have built about yourself and others. From this comes complete action, in which there is no regret, no sorrow, no sense of ‘not having done the thing wholly’.
“You see sir, there is a problem, a question here. We are educated to pursue pleasure, right? We are educated to conform morally, ethically, religiously, to the pattern of personal or collective pleasure. Have you not noticed how our mind pursues this constant desire for pleasure? You don’t have to admit it – it is a fact. The two principles in our life are fear and pleasure. Again, when one observes, the pursuit of pleasure ‘tomorrow’ is the root of time. ‘I have had pleasure yesterday. I MUST have it tomorrow. I am working for that pleasure for tomorrow – sexually, intellectually, in so many ways.’ So pleasure implies the continuity of time.
“Not that there ‘is not pleasure’ – that’s not the point — but the demand, the pursuit of pleasure – do you follow? So can the mind – please look at – investigate this with me! – can the mind finish each day totally and enter next day afresh? Do you understand my question? When we see the fallacy of time as a means of change, every day must end and not psychologically carry over the next day!
J.Krishnamurti, Brockwood 1974
Through one fear, K said, trace the root of all fear. When you are THAT, there is no problem, no conflict. The central fact of fear, he says, is (of) the non-existence of the observer, of ‘me’. Myself in isolation is a form of resistance, or exclusion. “The content of your consciousness is that of the world. Can your consciousness undergo a radical change? Only when the central fact – that conflict is not separate from you, you are that conflict – is SEEN, does all division and conflict come to an end.” On the tape, you can hear the rain drumming on the tent roof, louder than his words: he grimaces and laughs. “In true meditation, you are not going away from yourself or following a practice. I wonder if you SEE THIS?”
I never became a Krishnamurti disciple. There had been enough of that in my childhood. But many years later when I started to read about him and how he had grown up, I was inspired by two of his remarks: one was “Be the disciple of your understanding”. In the other, he said (concerning angers and anxieties) that the tidal movement of the sea, going in and out, has no end, no conflict with itself. Truth is the tide, it is without beginning or end, it is not for capturing. The essence of conflict is truth, which is peace.
Truth is a pathless land. It has no Master. K’s “process” in his spine is the dying agony of every moment to be born. The sacred, beyond line or shape, permeates the worn down toothbrush and the Saville Row tailoring of three-dimensioned space.
It is fashionable not to understand him. “Get out of the field!” The field of the world is the tide, carrying back and forth the baggage of time and political priorities. But what he really means is get into the field, un-judging and therefore un-separate from the pathless movement which is truth.
Obviously, those September days of the storm – a great tree blew down at Brockwood – pinpointed my major problem, directed me to seek out an arena where I should find it, and augured a time, for me, of extraordinary focus.
Down to the sea
At the gathering, I made a new friend; his name was Daniel. (See part one & part two.) He came up with an umbrella to see what I was drawing. He was on his way to Israel; his dark eyes were quiet, still and searching. He demonstrated for me how grace flows into restraint: the exquisite restraint invokes grace. But he was very young, and so was I. Our encounter those two weekends haunted my dreams at night for many years. When we parted, he gave me Kazantzakis’ Travels in Greece, which he had marked in many places. Here are some more of these passages, and then my reflections on returning home: being cooked over a slow turning point in my life.
“Can you never cast off from you, your miserable, earthen existence? Destroy it! Set someone free within you!”
“A wind, a song, flits through the human reeds…”
“A nun with a trowel was caulking the walls, and two young helpers, bent over and silent, scraped away at the plaster with religious attention, laboring to uncover the hands, the beard, the calm eyes of some saint beneath the whitewash.”
“… she said , Wait, I too am waiting. I touched her hand as if wanting to thank her. Her hand began to quiver in my grasp, to give itself like a body. I felt the stern faced merciless law descend again between man and woman. Ancient mysteries, Christian loves, the orgies of Astarte – the entire mystic identity of God and animal leaped up and came to life within my ephemeral palm, as it led on the woman. How involuntarily, I thought, does Word become flesh in a woman’s breast! As the spirit touches her, it takes root like a seed. For a woman, the spirit is not a winged immaterial power, as it can be for a man; for a woman it is the primal wingless plastic essence which contains all matter. It does not have wings but roots.
“At that instant the limpid fervid voice of a child sounded behind us, singing with precocious passion, unknowing still of woman – The earth gnaws at my feet, the wind gnaws my hair, and a little dark haired one is nibbling deep inside me!
“We held our breath. Suddenly the entire pathway seemed to sparkle, as though the rocks themselves had blossomed. We held our breath, following the voice as it moved away, to vanish among the trees.
“Ah the song, I said softly. The essence of creation, the voice of God!
“And for me, murmured my companion, pity for that child flooded over me, pity for myself, for all the world.”
“… the heart is a peculiar torrent which flows uphill, contrary to nature. Nowhere can a proud soul find more abundant nourishment than amid the wreckage of the world … … I sat amid the ruins and rejoiced to hear such a voice rising from the stones of Monemvasia. And for a long time I looked straight down, watching three goats with gleaming black hair climbing the red rock, directly above the sea.”
“Spiritual purity and intellectual dislocation … … No one understands their ancestors less well than the descendents.”
“Let all we’ve said be salt and water, I said. Forget it. Don’t be glum, don’t dig about too deeply, abandon the theories. Otherwise you’ll risk studying the Problem without experiencing it. And only he who lives such problems can solve them. Don’t suffer that which they tell to mock the learned Germans: If they see two doors, on the one written ‘Paradise’ and on the other ‘Lecture about Paradise’, they’ll all rush for the second door.”
I don’t have anything, if I don’t have silence of mind.
Travels in Greece
Red horse dream
4 August 2012
These passages touch me strangely, especially the one with the elemental difference between men and women. How often do we pause with each other, to contemplate this?
Taking youthful experiences from the cupboard, is therapeutic. It gives me rest, release and a feeling of moving onward, into a garden or field.
I have a beast of a mind. This I accepted, as my mother and I saw wild flowers by the sea yesterday – a pageant of them this year, along the low shale-y cliffs at Kilve in Somerset. Only writing quiets my mind – or mind is quiet when writing/receiving. The curse of artists and poets, now I am older, doesn’t bother me now. My mind is like the shape of my nose. She’s there, prone to conflict and distraction, and to worry about the world and other people; but so is the quiet creative exercise which opens the skies.
At 25, fuelled by the sex drive of youth, she was impossible to master. I adventured with her, learned to ride, got thrown off many times, and eventually respected her. Self enquiry and other spiritual exercises are long-term attritions and refinements. They uncover yet more wealth for mind to prance around with. Being built empty, open for the sea, explodes the atom into birth. In everyday life then, accept her grumbling ways as a landscape. Thus it is, to be human. But I call her “The Mare”.
Flowers at Kilve
Nothing and nobody is mine. The feeling is of having nothing. But why have anything? What of the unfading flower Krishnamurti spoke of? If I have something, I – meaning the flower – am not.
Is it wise to write? Do I write so as to possess and preserve an event like fruit in the jar, or to clarify? Writing is my emotional bolster and raison d’etre. I do it so as to retain insights and people I cannot otherwise remember. On the other hand, if I wish to continue writing – and it is a way of dialogue other than the turmoil in my head – let it be straight and to the point. Let it be the happening as it occurs. Finish.
This is a tough vigil. And there’s no carrot at the end, though I keep trying to make one. Having trouble with my superduperego.
When I listened to K., at the end of his talking I experienced an extreme reluctance, which was either for going out into the thing itself naked – a real terror – or sad regret that my mind had been too noisy and too anxious to listen to him.
There is nobody to see or hear or look critically over my shoulder. On a desert island nothing can be heard, for there is no ear. Just silence. Bruised silence. A nowhere. Unknown.
“Meditation,” said K “is like going to a well the waters of which are inexhaustible, with a pitcher that is always empty. The pitcher can never be filled. What is important is the drinking of the water, not how full the pitcher is. The pitcher must be broken to drink the water. The pitcher is the centre which is always seeking. And so it can never find.”
As long as I carry around with me the concept of time – in the deeper subtle sense, not as surface activity where as a tool it is necessary – I am preoccupied with tomorrow, yesterday, progress and past. It all tastes of the night before. And it is all boring and hard work and going nowhere.
But if I am quite still in this place, there is no time and not repetition.
Deep down I am aware of time passing. I’m aware of impending rescue and termination of this inactivity – when Akiva has finished getting his visa forms checked at the Greek embassy (he’s going to India overland), where I wait for him in a cloud of foreign languages and cigarette smoke. I am therefore still “safe”.
But in reality there is no safety.
From time to time, up come tears of neglect, frustration, loneliness, whatever. I see their pretentious ballast and they are gone. I have to be more selective with music, because a lot of it is cacophony. The “seeing” of a problem is its perdition. I create it anew in idleness, and again it is “seen”. Perhaps thus in stages, the mind is gently coerced from its condition, like a boat from its mooring.
“If one has a problem in relationship — and most problems are in relationship — to carry that problem over into the next day, implies a continuity of the problem which is becoming more and more complex, more and more difficult; the mind then accepts the problem inevitably, and lives with the problem, and the mind becomes more and more dull. When you understand the nature of time, as we have tried to explain earlier, then that problem must be resolved TODAY, not carried over the next day. You understand? Can you, can the mind resolve the problem of relationship between human beings, as it arises, end it? Can this be done? — not as a theory, but as an actuality?
“You see, unless we lay the foundation for all this, meditation and the enquiry into reality, into whether there is something beyond thought, becomes utterly meaningless — unless you have done all this. You can go to Japan and sit for years meditating in certain Zen monasteries, or you can go to India — I don’t know why people go to any of these countries to learn meditation, you can do it at home. You don’t have to go abroad. It’s a waste of money; but perhaps you like to play the tourist. Now, unless you lay the foundation for all this, and the mind be totally free from conflict, and therefore, from psychological problems, unless you have done that, you cannot possibly go beyond. What you try to achieve then becomes an illusion, an unreality, it has no meaning. So it is very important to understand that every human problem that arises — and human problems are in relationship between you and another, between you and your wife, husband, girl, boy, all the rest of it — unless in that relationship there is no conflict, whenever any problem arises in that relation, to end it INSTANTLY is our question. You have understood my question?
K, Brockwood 1974
There are two problems, which involve not Daniel but my concept and use of him. They are the old ones. Firstly I imagine he is with me where I go – to see me, preening, false and desirable. Secondly I wonder what I shall say when I write to him. The sound of all those rolling phrases echoes around and around my mind all day long, like prisoners at exercise.
The old pattern prepares me for the worst – for total rejection, and with it, infantile longing for something which then has no life.
Well no, that’s not quite it.
But yes, for the longing, the desire, is not for him but for my idea of him which I recognize as groundless and gutless. It’s the idea of myself. Wanting him precludes loving. To love is on the moment, when you are able to be there – on all levels. There is no permanence: only renewal.
He is my cloak to shield me from the strangeness of other human beings so that I can write them off as being boring.
There’s no real joy in pleasure, for pleasure is pending, it is a tension. Pleasure, the kind I seek – not the good sensations the waking day embraces – is a cop out. This difference between joy and pleasure! Joy is total, like sunrise. Pleasure is conditional. There is no joy to see a man whom I have made into the fixed building of my mind. There is more “pleasure” in what is “all in the mind”.
You are not to be owned, even within the recesses of memory! nobody owns you. You own no body.
The spirit may be willing to give up a person, but is reluctant to part with a painting – truly its own work!
To make a painting is to listen to what is already there, and interfere with it as little as possible.
Please, I want to change, learn to change my position in the boat from the back (with all the illusions ahead) to the front (with the real sea to navigate) – to be with you who lead me. Not to try, which implies failure, but to learn. “It is easier to accept a ritual than to gain access to knowledge, easier to invent gods than to understand techniques.” (The Dawn of Magic)
This IS a matter of life and death.
Breathing like waves of the sea. Comes sometimes a long swell, and sometimes a short one.
I Ching – “Advance slowly with joyfulness.” Do not, in fighting, sharpen the assets of the imagined enemy. The lake rises to heaven.
The I Ching is a guide among psychic currents, landscape and forest, to the awakening of my responsibility.
Marina at night
“Fear. The most absurd fears and the most tragic fears – can the mind be free of all that? How do you investigate ‘I’m afraid’? … the observer is part of, not different from, that fear. The observer is the observed; and my anger or fear is part of me, not something separate. What am I ‘to do’ with that anger? I AM anger!”
K went on to propose – “listen carefully!” – that we now expose the whole structure of our fear and anger; of ‘me’. These remarks irresistibly challenge my soul’s most reckless element. My attention sharpens. There is a passionate longing to be clear, and to live and speak without decoys.
“Each response recognizes a previous anger or fear, which it reinforces. Can the mind observe anger or fear without this re-cognition? Deeply, we are violent beings. The observer himself is part of the violence. The idea that I must separate or go beyond it, is CONFLICT. My structure of ‘me’ is violent. So what takes place? What actually takes place, with no desire to overcome it or suppress it? – (those are wastage of energy!) Only energy can take place, can go beyond itself-which-is-violence. And only fragments can create violence. The observer is the observed! No escape, no interpretation – THE THING IS!”
“Can you be aware of your fear,” K went on, “as of the colour of the jersey next to you? … see that there is only one central fear with many branches, which wither away … and can you look at that root now, can you invite it? Whatever you fear among the many of them, each one is still the root of all fear. The observer is the observed. If the idea is not, if the ME is not, where then is fear? Please, please, are you following this?” His voice breaks.
Pebbles in Devon
I wonder what the sadness is. Nights asleep I am so busy in many different places, that I wake worn out. I dream and dream and can’t let go. Rock climbing last night with my father. And losing my bag with all its precious contents, including this story. What a strange thing, to “have”. How curiously hard to relinquish.
What is the sadness?
Is it Akiva going off on Saturday, three or four days time, to India? Does this parting go deeper than I knew? Or is it a distillation of four years we spent together? There is here, till Saturday, a small chaos of packing. Perhaps it is I who wish to go to India myself, thus grief? I tidied places this morning, and threw out years of accumulated rubbish. Afterwards I’m going to – I want to rearrange things, the furniture here. I know how it’ll be, I will move the bed back to the end of the room by the gramophone and the books, I’ll put the table where the bed is now, in the alcove, and pull the sofa at a slant along the big bay-window, and focus it all with the big green plant, and then there will be great space, oh SPACE, in the room, all over the grey carpet, to dance and play in, and have people to visit, full of that lovely view of the gardens that comes in with the birdsong. This is Greencroft Gardens.
Akiva is doing Turkey, Afghanistan, Ceylon, Nepal by overland bus. I am left here. But mine is no less of an adventure … to the end of my nose! We’ve been sharing various gargantuan feasts with all our friends and been to the pictures to see The Last Tango again. Room filled with light, and soon to be mine alone.
I’m tired out, I don’t feel like eating. I’m pale, thin, supple with the yoga asanas that Daniel showed me, voice feels a little deeper, can sing as well as dance. And started a painting of me, it is called ‘Question’. In it, I wear my long green and blue Indian gown. And sent off ever such a long letter to Daniel, together with the K drawing I’d promised to give him, and which I rescued more or less from its state of desperate confusion. I miss Daniel. I need the feel of him in my mind.
I walk around in a bog of Akiva and my whole trip together. I want to clean the slate and start a clean drawing. I want to curl up and sleep somewhere, and not undertake anything. Daniel’s Kazantzakis book has a lot of him because he gave it to me, and because of where he marked it, so I turn the pages in blind exploration, rather dazzled, not knowing what to expect next in this slow movement forward.
Love has no expectations. How to be open and naked enough to let there be love? It is in the here and now. The frantic running away in the dark to cinemas of the soul, a buzz to be occupied and filled with some nice story of myself … and the realizing, the seeing, the stilling of those urgent and stinging surface waters. Stay empty … the darkness, the nowhere … until it gives no longer torment, but peace. Dive then, dive down through the stinging water, immerse. The torment is self taught. But peace needs no teaching.
Vera Moore (see also http://www.myspace.com/lipatti/blog/245826085)
Sleep and dreams again the whole night long … of mens’ delighted embraces, of me arriving in places to paint, but too apathetic to do so, of driving a gigantic combine-harvester to reap ripe standing wheat in rows of a tremulous order, which became a painting of a paddock and trees never to be finished … and of Vera Moore and my closed-up piano (playing). She was my teacher in Paris when I was fifteen. She opened up so much music to me, and I haven’t played for years … and of a disorder everywhere, a pile of I Ching stalks, a bacchanalian bedroom feast with others, and losing all my clothes.
So do I run about here and there. The pool parts reluctantly with its storms.
The I Ching gives tongue to the intuition. It is a contemplation deep and unhurried as the days pass, for within the intuition is sprung from timeless source, the surface turbulence that preoccupies me. So don’t consult too often. The lesson must be given time to unfold its flower.
Wisdom is unhurried. Wisdom is heard not in haste, but in the slow unravelment of the voices of the mind, in the way the waters become calm. In this stillness lives no longer desire for what is not there. It is rest. Do not run to a “contemplative” refuge. Simply SEE that the suffering cannot be.
Plotinus: “This universe is a unique animal that contains within itself all other animals … without coming into contact, things occur and are bound to produce an effect at a distance … the world is a unique animal and that is why it must of necessity be in sympathy with itself. There is no such thing as chance in life, but only a harmony and an order which governs everything … events on the Earth are in sympathetic relationship with celestial things.”
There is an inscrutable harmony behind all the events of life, if I but listen and hear. In levity I have for years, called it “The Divine Regulator”. My Divine Regulator is a recognition that all things experienced, no matter how tough or painful, work out for the best in the end, according to some fundamental Law of growth or expediency or tuition – even totally frivolous things, like a missed train, or a disappointment.
Even Krishnamurti dwells in a mobile ivory tower, with his inner ring of devoted old trouts, who organize, protect, clothe and broadcast him.
Brockwood, with its extraordinary clarity, compactness and intensity of light, is like a monastery. People find there a retreat, where their concern with aspects of being alive can be brought into high relief. It looks like a hospital. For some, it extends their game of chess.
As K says, meditation is something for which there is no specified time or place. It happens as well riding in a bus, as sitting under one of those ancient lofty, singing trees in a park of purity.
portrait, circa 1974
Daniel … I could use your help. I am silting up a little.
Akiva and I saw The Sting last night at the pictures, at which I greatly enjoyed the movements of Redford & Newman outwitting Shaw. What a fine ballet. Before that, we had Akiva’s elderly friend Dr de Silva for supper. He then took us to the Hampstead Cricket Club for drinks. Akiva cannot stop singing Dr de Silva’s praises, the brotherhood of man, what a marvelous person and all that. He is a pleasant and rather lugubrious old gentleman whose loquacious cadences of speech are endlessly predictable. I knew the Cricket Club would be an ordeal. In a place of no stimulus, my mind faced with her own BLANK, devises phantom stimuli chatterboxing from the future, and it’s such a battle, and it depresses me so. I am trying to be Just Here, but I don’t like it Here. When we came out at last into the smokeless starry night, I thought No more Latin, no more French! No more polite mediocre places which Akiva appears to enjoy but I DON’T!
There is the doubtful pain of growing, this desire for refuge, to run into the male who’ll protect me and occupy my fantasies. Trouble is, if he occupies my fantasies, how can he ever occupy me?
No! This is a time, a valuable time, to be out on the limb of the tree, and stay there. To stop postponing.
My period came as the lovely blood cleansing of a whole period, a loving, a pain, an impulse. I don’t mean only in the purgative sense. I mean the way it washes away with inexorable lunar rhythm, the built-up tide or lining of the dark womb, and clears it completely for what comes next. If there is no period, the consequences remain in you physically, for ever. The making of love becomes the embryo of a lifetime.
Even in these days on the Pill, where I don’t have to worry about conceiving, the onset of bleeding carries an inner and secret renewal. Blood is like tears, but these are tears of tenderness. The womb weeps, aches, with a kind of compassion, joyful, unhurried and liberating, all of it running out from the contracting sponge. That sponge in the inner dark – how like the two plump sides of a seed it looks; and then the seed lets itself go. We could learn from this a thing or two. I AM this movement of my body, and these movements are not my spectacle but my truth.
Balsa boat (made for my grandmother in 1962)
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.
This blog is a vehicle to promote my published work – The Sacred India Tarot (with Rohit Arya, Yogi Impressions Books) and The Dreamer in the Dream – a collection of short stories (0 Books) – along with many other creations in house.
I write, illustrate, design and print my books. Watch this space.