KRISHNAMURTI ON THEOSOPHY

A Collection of Reference Materials

Rishi Valley Study Centre

Reference Materials on Krishnamurti's Teachings

Working Paper #4

Edited by Hans and Radhika Herzberger

May 1995, Revised October 1996


Introduction

1. Background

Krishnamurti's critique of organised religion, and his revolt from Theosophy, are central strands that run all through his public talks. Recently there have appeared a number of historical studies on Theosophy and its founders, along with a renewal of interest in Krishnamurti's relation to that movement. Although his break with Theosophy was a definitive event in Krishnamurti's life, there have been recurrent questions and lingering perplexities about the relation between his teachings and Theosophy. To help clarify these matters, we have collected here some relevant texts spanning nearly sixty years (1926-84), so that readers may see for themselves what Krishnamurti's position actually was at various times, how it was expressed, and whether it changed during the course of time.

2. The Documentary Record

Krishnamurti was questioned about Theosophy and related topics on hundreds of occasions. We have selected about one hundred representative passages from the very large number available, in an effort to cover the whole range of Krishnamurti's recorded remarks on philosophical issues relating to our topic. The selections are organised into four sections with one appendix: (I) Searching For A Label (II) Krishnamurti In Revolt (III) He May Contradict Everything (IV) Disputed Doctrines And Practices (Appendix) If My Words Upset You

By consulting older journals including the International Star Bulletin (ISB), Star Bulletin (SB) and Herald of the Star (HS) we have followed our subject back as far as 1926, three years before Krishnamurti dissolved the Order of the Star. To help document the constancy of Krishnamurti's views over time, we have also included a few quotations from recorded conversations he held with KFA Trustees in 1972.

3. In Search of a Label

In view of Krishnamurti's tireless crusade against labelling people, it is curious how many labels were tried out on him during his lifetime: Buddhist, Hindu, Antichrist, rationalist, mystic, anarchist, crypto-communist, "highbrow intellectual" and several varieties of Theosophist. But he generally took it with good humour. He shrugged off each label as it came up, sometimes with the rejoinder "I am a human being", sometimes with his own explanation of why some questioners would "hear their own special doctrines" when listening to him. (15Jul35). What struck some questioners as a familiar ring to his teaching may also have been, on his explanation, an urge to convert his revolutionary teaching into something more comfortable (3Apr31), perhaps even to reduce it to something without much impact on daily life. (5Mar50 and Appendix). After studying this matter, our impression is that some questioners noticed vague similarities between Krishnamurti's teaching and several other philosophies while overlooking many crucial points of difference. For more on this theme, see "The Convergence Theory", below.

4. Revisionist Hypotheses

Some have claimed that Krishnamurti left the Theosophical Society but never rejected Theosophy (6Feb49). Others have cast him as a teacher of "real", "essential" or "fundamental" Theosophy (29Dec32, 3Jan34, 6Feb49). Some of these interpretations may be called "revisionist" because they hold that in spite of appearances Krishnamurti was after all a Theosophist, perhaps of a special kind. Revisionists hold that while he may have disagreed with Theosophy on certain issues, he continued to teach its "central" doctrines.

For readers who may wonder how Krishnamurti himself might view revisionist efforts to explain away his revolt from Theosophy, Parts Three and Four sample his answers to questions actually addressed to him — "again and again", as he put it in 1933. Having answered such questions "I do not know how often" he predicted: "I shall go on answering them to the end of my days" (5Aug29). And he was destined to do so, leaving behind an abundant documentation of his position. Readers who review this record will be able to judge for themselves whether the textual evidence, on balance, supports any particular revisionist hypothesis.

Krishnamurti repeatedly denied that he was a Theosophist, sometimes adding that his teaching could not "mix" with Theosophy (29Jul31, 27Jul33). Because any form of revisionism depends on variable judgements of what is "central" and what is "peripheral" in Theosophy, certain weak forms of revisionism might be consistent with these particular disclaimers. But it is not easy to see how to reconcile any form of revisionism with a number of stronger disclaimers that Krishnamurti made: that his teaching was "diametrically opposed" to Theosophy (29Jul31, 4Aug31, 20Jan52), that the two "can't meet" (6Feb49, 4Mar72), and that they have "nothing in common" (1Jan34).

5. The Convergence Theory

Another hypothesis that can be tested against evidence is the claim that over the years Theosophy itself has changed, to such an extent that at least some of Krishnamurti's criticisms would no longer apply. In its strongest form, this may be called "the convergence theory": that Theosophy has by now fully aligned itself with Krishnamurti's teachings. This hypothesis claims that every one of Krishnamurti's criticisms of Theosophy has by now been disarmed by relevant changes in Theosophical doctrines and practices. Once this "convergence theory" is on the table, the main question would be whether it is confirmed by historical evidence.

The "convergence theory" could be traced back perhaps as far as 1921, when Jinarajadasa told his colleagues that "if the World-Teacher says something contrary ... it is for us to start afresh" (Herald of the Star 1921). In this early form, convergence was merely a challenge, and one may inquire how far it was actually taken up. By 1927, Krishnamurti noted a certain resistance to the changes in question: "You dare not come out of your path ... and walk with him. You want him to walk with your ideas" (The Time Has Come to Choose, Part Two). Many years later, addressing questions about Theosophy, he was to say: "You have heard me for twenty years, but you go on with your beliefs" (Are We Seeking the Same Thing? in Part Three), and as late as 1972 he told KFA Trustees: "They want us to meet ... they say we are both the same. And the man is saying: 'We're not.'" (The Two Can't Meet, in Part Three). Resistance to change was a constant theme in his talks, both early and late (see Why Do You Want Masters? (1931-82) and What Will Make You Change? (1934-81) in Part Three).

For those who may wish to test the convergence theory against evidence, Part Four samples Krishnamurti's major criticisms of Theosophy, to highlight some of the changes that would have had to come about in order to confirm the convergence theory in detail — changes involving aspects of truth, higher and lower selves, reincarnation, spiritual paths, ladders, evolution, a divine plan, the millennium, Masters, mediators, metaphysics, ideals, tolerance, nationalism; hierarchy, authority, ceremonies, traditions, occultism, escape to distant times and places, the unknown, the unexplained, book-learning, esoteric groups, vows, loyalties and secret doctrines. We hope this catalogue might provide a fresh starting point for that genuinely impersonal examination which Krishnamurti recommended: "To find out whether I agree with Theosophy or not, you will have to study what Theosophy teaches and what I say, and examine them impersonally" (24Jan32). This would be a very useful undertaking, although not a very easy one because of the long and tangled history of internal debate over Theosophical doctrines. Over the years some of the changes in question may have come about: a virtual disappearance of nationalism and of public ceremonies could be put forward as two potential examples. Historical confirmation of such changes might very well show how Krishnamurti's teachings and presentday Theosophy "overlap" to some extent. However, that would still be far from convergence, which requires suitable changes in every one of the indicated respects. To begin to investigate this matter adequately one would need a documented record of historical changes in particular doctrines such as aspects of truth, The Masters, esoteric knowledge, reincarnation and spiritual evolution, among several other things.

6. On the Appendix

Krishnamurti often spoke rather sternly to his old Theosophical comrades, and understandably troubled some of them, causing one questioner in 1934 to comment on his "ruthless manner of presentation" (1Jan34). Our Appendix traces, in Krishnamurti's own words, parts of a long history of perplexed responses to his public statements on Theosophy. Some people voiced disappointment (31Dec33), others charged him with "ingratitude" (18Dec49) while some continued to hope he would eventually "come back" (4Aug31, 4Jun44, 1Mar72). These materials may serve to remind us that Krishnamurti was a revolutionary thinker who set out to be "dangerous" rather than comforting (see The Importance of Being Disturbed; and in Part 2, "Krishnamurti in Revolt")

We have made a concerted effort to restrict the scope of this study to remarks on the doctrines and practices of Theosophy. If a few more personal remarks remain, they may serve as bittersweet reminders of Krishnamurti's characteristic severity in discourse with friends. 7. Further Reading For extended reading on this topic, several public talks contain especially valuable material: (Ommen 29Jul31), six Adyar talks in late 1933 and six Auckland talks in early 1934. Also noteworthy are (Banaras 6Feb49 Q6) and (London 16Oct49 Q7).

Note: These materials have been edited in ways that suit the special purposes of this series and may not be copied or quoted in their present form in any other publications.

Please see Notes for details on editing and for abbreviations.

Sources: For talks given between 1933 and 1968, see Collected Works; for later talks, see Text Collection on CD-ROM; for books, see Catalogue.

PART ONE: SEARCHING FOR A LABEL

Everybody Knows Better Than I Do (1929)

I have been through the world now, from India to Europe and America, and it is everywhere the same. Everybody knows better than I do about myself — I am glad you see the humour of it. We can all laugh ... at the foolish things people say (Ojai 28May29; ISB Jul29) It May Go On Forever (1927)

You say I am this, and someone else says I am that. We can indulge in mental gymnastics and it will go on for ever. (Eerde 1927 Talk 6)

So Many Fantastic Ideas (1930-31)

There are so many fantastic ideas concerning me that I must start by asking you to put [your ideas] aside. (Ojai 25May30; ISB Jul30); I have often spoken in India, and they tell me there that what I teach is Western Philosophy + I have also heard it said that it is pure Hinduism or pure Buddhism or pure theosophy. The majority of people make these statements because they derive a certain satisfaction to be able to say, "Oh, we knew all this before". They can sit comfortably back in their own traditional forms and remain there, not caring to examine what is put before them. (Berlin 3Apr31; ISB May31)

A View From Nowhere (1955-83)

If I may suggest, it would be wise to dissociate ourselves for the time being from any particular form of belief + We must look at human problems from no particular point of view. (Amsterdam 22May55) We must explore, not from any particular point of view, as belonging to certain tribes or communities + See the world as it is, not as we would like it to be. (New Delhi 6Nov83) They Listen to Me and Hear Their Own Doctrines (1935-50)

In talking to groups of listeners all over the world, I find that more and more people seem not to understand what I am saying, because they come with fixed ideas; they listen with their biased attitude, without trying to find out what I have to say, but only expecting to find what they secretly desire. (Alpino 1Jul33)

Q: It has been claimed by some that you are the Christ come again. What do you have to say about this? (Oslo 5Sep33); Q: Some say you are Christ, others say you are the Antichrist. What, in fact, are you? (Rosario 27Jul35)

In India they tell me I am teaching Hinduism. In Buddhist countries, they tell me it is Buddhism. Theosophists say I am explaining anew their own special doctrines. (Buenos Aires 15Jul35); Please do not brush me aside by calling me a mystic, an anarchist, a communist, or by any other name. (Rosario, Argentina 27Jul35)

Q: You are preaching a kind of philosophical anarchism — the favourite escape of the highbrow intellectuals + Q: [It is] very akin to the Upanishads. JK: You are really seeking a state in which you will not be disturbed ... [so] you can settle back and keep on repeating [something which] has no effect on your daily life (Bombay 5Mar50)

"Essentially" Theosophy? (1932-34)

Q: I have studied Theosophy very deeply and ...I say that your wisdom is essentially the truth of Theosophy. JK: You may study profoundly all the Theosophical books; but your conception of wisdom is utterly false + You gather dust from books and call it wisdom. I speak of a natural wisdom, beyond all books + To me your theories are utterly valueless

(Adyar 29Dec 32; SB May33)

"Fundamentally" Theosophy? (1934)

JK: People tell me, "Fundamentally you are teaching what Theosophists stand for". But that is all theory. (Adyar 3Jan34)

"Real" Theosophy? (1949)

Q: Are you not preaching real Theosophy? There is no contradiction between your position and [ours]. JK: You would like to patch it up and say you are part of us, as a baby is part of the [family]. That is a convenient argument, but actually the boy is entirely different from the father when he grows a little older (Banaras 6Feb49 Q6)

Two Sides of a Coin? (1947)

You may deceive yourself by saying, "What you say and what I believe are the same. They're the two sides of the coin." You may say what you like; but that is mere self-deception. (London 16Oct49 Q7)

I Am Not A Theosophist (1935-72)

To clarify the position: I am not a Theosophist. (Rio 13Apr35). What I say is diametrically opposite to your beliefs (Ommen 29Jul31; ISB Sep31) I have been called a Theosophist, and I have also been called by other labels. (Valparaiso 4Sep35) Many incorrect statements have been made about me + I am not a Theosophist. (Mexico 20Oct35) You, the Theosophical Society, and I, do not meet.(Banaras 6Feb49) They say "We are both the same.". The man is saying "We're not." (KFA Ojai 4Mar72)

Note: These materials have been edited in ways that suit the special purposes of this series and may not be copied or quoted in their present form in any other publications.

Please see Notes for details on editing and for abbreviations.

Sources: For talks given between 1933 and 1968, see Collected Works; for later talks, see Text Collection on CD-ROM; for books, see Catalogue.

PART TWO: KRISHNAMURTI IN REVOLT

The Time Has Come to Choose (1926)

Every one of you is frightened, because you dare not come out of your little path, your little window, and walk with Him. You want Him to walk with you, with your ideas, your

idiosyncrasies and your particular fancies + Now the time has come when you must choose whether you are going to follow Him, to breathe the same air, to climb the same mountain, along the same path, or whether you are going to try to bend Him to your particular will, to your particular temperament, to your particular prejudices. That will not be. (Eerde 1926 Campfire Talk 3, from The Pool of Wisdom 1927).

You Will Be Lost (1927)

I know all the questions that will arise in your minds with regard to the things that cannot be reconciled with what I am saying. You will say: We have been told, we have been urged, this has been said, we have been instructed, brought up in this fashion. Against that I have nothing to say. If you are thirsty you will drink the waters of the well: if you are not thirsty you will just pass by. And as the world is really thirsty, and perhaps some of you, it is better not to attempt to reconcile. Why do you want to reconcile? If you try to reconcile, you will be lost in the reconciliation. (Life The Goal, Eerde 1927)

I Was Not Satisfied (1927)

When I began to think for myself, which has been now for some years past, I found myself in revolt. I was not satisfied by any teachings, by any authority. ("Who Brings The Truth?", Eerde 2Aug27)

I Have Suffered and Been Held in Bondage (1930)

I went along the path by which you are going with your mediators, your gurus, your ceremonies, your temples, your limitations. And because I have been through all these I say, "Put aside these things". Because I have suffered and been held in bondage I say, Put aside these things; they do not really help. (Star Bulletin Feb30 Q3)

I Have Struggled in the Same Shadows (1930)

It was not simple for me. I was as much conditioned, I struggled as much as every one of you. I have taken refuge in the same shadows, in the same comforts, in the same passing moods of happiness as you have and, because I have been through all these, I say that you need not go through these stages. There is a simpler way. (ISB Feb30 Q10)

I Joined Societies in My Time (1930)

I joined societies in my time; I belonged to organisations; I became a priest, as is the right of every Brahmin in India. I went to Masonic meetings. I did all the things that many others do, in order to find out for myself. Very carefully I went into these to see if I could attain through them to that central reality ... that happiness which is life. I went through all these and not finding in them the truth which I sought, I left them. Now I have found it + And so, when I say these things are unnecessary, it is not out of contempt, or fanaticism. I say it because they all deal with the symptoms only, not with the real cause. (Q&A 1930; ISB Jul30)

I Discovered A Way of Life (1934)

I have lived with all kinds of people, and I was brought up to fulfil a certain office + I was the head of a tremendous organisation for spiritual purposes; and I saw the fallacy of it + I began to discover ... a life one can live healthily, sanely, humanly; based on needs and not on exploitation. I know what I need, and that is not very much, so whether I work for it by digging in a garden, or talking, or writing, is not of great importance. (Auckland 6Apr34)

+ + +

The Right Kind of Revolt (1927)

Intelligent revolt is divine discontent, out of which each one shall give birth to the dancing star + The right kind of revolt is against stagnation ... against narrowness of spirit ... against intolerance ... against prejudice ... and it must be against domination ... [It] will set you free (Eerde 30Jun27). To Those Who Long For Freedom (1928)

I have long been in revolt from all things, from the authority of others, the instruction of others, the knowledge of others + I was in revolt also against Theosophists with all their jargon, their theories, their meetings, and their explanations of life. When I went to a meeting, the lecturers repeated the same ideas which did not satisfy me or make me happy + If you long for freedom you will fight, as I have fought, against authority of any kind + I am fighting against all traditions that bind, all worship that narrows, all following that corrupts the heart. (Life in Freedom 1928)

I Thought it Out and Fought For It (1929)

I am not speaking to you from a superior standpoint or from a different attitude of thought. I am not preaching anything which I have not thought out, struggled, fought, sacrificed to attain. I am telling you of that which I have tried; it is not a revelation. Everyone is in sorrow, struggling + Everyone tries this and that (Benares 14Nov29).

I Will Never Again Compromise (1928-29)

It would have been very easy for me to have hurled myself against the wall of orthodoxy and tradition and beliefs some years ago, but it would have been unwise + Now that white flame has grown strong within me, and I will never again compromise with anything + The time for sweet meandering is over — not for you perhaps, but for me. (ISB Jan29 "The Flame"). I have finished with compromise, and in my eagerness, I want others to do the same; but I cannot force them to it. (Eerde 20Jul29) I said last year I would not compromise. Very few listened to me then. This year I have made it absolutely clear. ("Dissolution of the Order of the Star" Ommen Aug29, ISB Sep29)

Truth is a Danger to All Societies (1928)

Truth is a danger to all Societies, to all organised beliefs, to all systems of thought. If an individual, you or another, has this Truth, then he is automatically a powder-magazine which will blow up all the unessentials around him. (Eerde 13Jul29; ISB Aug29)

There Must Be a Revolution (1952)

If you see something true, though it brings trouble, must you not state it? + Sirs, there must be revolution + We must break to find out. (Madras 10Feb52)

Destroy The Old (1962)

You cannot hold the waters of the sea in a garment, or capture the wind in your fist. But you can listen to the deep murmuring of the storm, to the violence of the sea; you can feel the enormous power of the wind. its beauty and its destructiveness. For you must destroy totally the old for something new to be. (London 19Jun62)

Together We Will Be Dangerous (1929)

Either walk in the land of shadows and unrealities, or be a danger to all unreality and shadow (Ommen 2Aug29; ISB Sep29) If there are three who have become a flame of Truth, who are a danger to everything around them that is unessential, those three and I will create a new understanding, a new delight, a new world. ("Now", Ommen Radio Aug29)

Note: These materials have been edited in ways that suit the special purposes of this series and may not be copied or quoted in their present form in any other publications.

Please see Notes for details on editing and for abbreviations.

Sources: For talks given between 1933 and 1968, see Collected Works; for later talks, see Text Collection on CD-ROM; for books, see Catalogue.

PART THREE: HE MAY CONTRADICT EVERYTHING

Preparing for a World Teacher (1934)

You know, it is most extraordinary! Dr. Besant said to all the members, and I used to hear this very often, "We are preparing for a World Teacher. Keep an open mind. He may contradict everything you think." Some of you have been preparing for twenty years or more + It seems such a pity that these twenty years and more should go wasted, and you find yourselves exactly where you were, only with new beliefs, new dogmas, new conditions. (Auckland NZ 31Mar34 Q22)

The Old Ways Are All Useless (1928)

Q: What we have been told in the old way ... seems to be consistent in itself. What you say and what you are ... is for me the highest form of living truth I know + Do I understand you rightly when I say ...that both ways cannot be trodden by the same man? JK: Whatever path you may follow, whatever god you may worship, whatever shrine you may build, you are forced at last to come back to yourself and solve that self + You may prefer the choice of comfort ... but you will be forced to face yourself eventually, you cannot avoid it + You must [be] free of all Masters, discipleship, traditions, births and deaths, everything. I have followed all those and found them all useless + The choice is yours + Either limitation or freedom, either comfort or fearlessness [and] right comprehension. (Eerde 19Jul28)

You Can't Reconcile the Old and the New (1929)

You can't reconcile the old and the new. You will thereby only create greater sorrows [and] misunderstanding. (ISB Aug29); If you merely say, "I agree with you," and then twist those words of mine to suit your old ideas, the new ideas will break you. (Ommen Aug28; The Star Dec28)

When You Are Hungry and Suffering (1932)

I am afraid you prefer dead theories to life. You are far more concerned with the hereafter than with the present, hence your minds are suffocated with theories, and there is no creative, spontaneous living. When you are hungry and suffering now, what does it matter if someone tells you that in another life you will be well fed and happy? (Adyar 29Dec32 Q2; Star Bulletin May33)

Oil and Water Do Not MIx (1933)

Please do not think that in the combination of your ideas and mine, you are going to realise a unified whole. (Ommen 27Jul33); You cannot take what I say and add it to your own. You cannot mix oil and water. (Twelve Ommen Talks, Benares 1933)

Theosophical Culture (1933)

If I agreed that I am "the genuine product of Theosophical culture", whatever that may mean, you would say: "We produced him; so follow us and our ideas" + Every sect and group believes in its own superiority, and from such beliefs spring schisms, quarrels and religious wars over things that do not matter a scrap. (Adyar 30Dec33 Q3)

Not Facing Facts (1934)

Your whole thought and action is based on this patchwork, this limited consciousness, this desire to become somebody either spiritually or in the physical world + If you are really honest with regard to this self-glorification, you will perceive its shallowness. But unfortunately our minds are not clear. We are biased, we are influenced; tradition and habit bind us. We have innumerable commitments [and] organisations to keep up. We have committed ourselves to certain ideas and beliefs + So we go on as before ... not facing facts (Adyar 3Jan34 Q3) We Have Nothing in Common (1934)

Sirs, these two things are wholly different: what you are thinking and doing, and what I am talking and doing. The two cannot combine. Your whole system is based on exploitation, on following authority, on belief and faith + What you are doing and what I am doing are two totally different things that have nothing in common. (Adyar 1Jan34)

Trying to Bring Me Back? (1931-44)

[Perhaps] you too hope that I may some day come back to Theosophy. Many friends of mine have told me that "eventually you will come back to us" + As I have repeated over and over again, I can say nothing with regard to ... Theosophy + The beliefs you hold are diametrically opposed to what I maintain. (Ommen 4Aug31 Q5 ISB Sep31); Q: Will you ever come back to the Masters? JK: The questioner wishes to bring me back to his fold + Why do you need Masters, those supposed living beings with whom you are not directly in contact? + If you are seeking truth, why all this bother about them, why the exclusive organisations and secret conclaves? (Ojai 4Jun44 Q17)

The Two Can't Meet (1949-72)

You have come together as a Society, and you ask me if you and I meet. I say we do not. You can make us "meet", you can twist anything to suit your convenience. You can pretend that white is black ... merely thinking in terms of vested interest, whether in belief, in property, or in socalled spiritual status. (Banaras 6Feb49 Q6) A group of people ... [are] saying: "You are part of us, we brought you up, you belong to us, you are saying the truth which we also accept." And he says; "No, sorry ... we parted company long ago ... You are going North, we are going South or East; the two can't meet." But they want us to meet ... They say "We are both the same.". And the man is saying "We're not." (KFA Ojai 4Mar72)

I am Opposed to What You Want (1952)

Q: We are all Theosophists interested fundamentally in truth and love, as you are. Could you not have remained in our society and helped us rather than separate yourself from us and denounce us? JK: Are we seeking the same thing? + You believe in certain hierarchical principles and authorities, and I do not + The whole structure of your thinking is the future, the becoming through virtue + You may use me for convenience, and I may use you for convenience, but that is not love. Let us be clear + Even though you have heard me for twenty years, you go on with your beliefs ... because your vested interests are there + What we need [to look at] is not whether I denounce you or whether you denounce or throw me out + Obviously you must reject a man who says that what you believe or do is wrong; you have done so, or inwardly you should do so, because I say I am opposed to that which you want. (Madras 20Jan52 Q12)

Why Belong? (1934)

I wonder how many of you have really asked why you belong to the Theosophical Society. If it is a social body, not a religious body, then there is some hope for it. If it has people who are discovering, not who have found ... if it has an open platform, [not only] for me or someone special, if among you there are neither leaders nor followers, then there is some hope. But I am afraid you are followers and you have leaders + If you really thought about these things and were honest, you could be an extraordinarily useful body + You would examine any idea, find out its significance and work it out. (Auckland 31Mar34)

Then You Won’t Belong (1977)

Have you learned something this morning? I am very glad if you have learned to think. If you have learned to think, sir, then you won't belong to any society, to any group. Member of Audience: I am a Theosophist. JK: Then drop it. (Madras 27Dec77)

Note: These materials have been edited in ways that suit the special purposes of this series and may not be copied or quoted in their present form in any other publications.

Please see Notes for details on editing and for abbreviations.

Sources: For talks given between 1933 and 1968, see Collected Works; for later talks, see Text Collection on CD-ROM; for books, see Catalogue.

PART FOUR: DISPUTED DOCTRINES AND PRACTICES

What I Say and What You Think (1932-33)

To find out whether I agree with Theosophy or not, you will have to study what Theosophy teaches and what I say, and examine them impersonally. (Ojai 24Jan32; Star Bulletin Mar32). Let us be frank: let us not try to agree over things that we do not understand. At present I feel that you are not sure what I think + You have never been quite sure of what I think, nor of what you yourselves think. (Ommen 27Jul33)

Let Us Examine What You Believe (1931)

Let us find out what you believe. I am afraid this will not be so pleasant + What I say is diametrically opposite to your beliefs + You [believe] that Truth lies outside all this chaos. I say Truth is found through all this alone + You [believe in] a series of incarnations [to acquire] more and more virtues + You set up an authority + You have created worship, sects and creeds + Your whole system is based on a desire to preserve your ego ... This is what you believe in all its forms, crude or subtle + You have metaphysics, philosophies, ideals + Your beliefs, your craving for continuance, your ideas of evolution, progress, paths, karma — all these are diametrically opposed to what I say. Please see the gravity of this. Do not try to compromise these beliefs with what I say. (Ommen 29Jul31; ISB Sep31)

You Hold Certain Dogmas (1933)

You hold certain beliefs, certain dogmas, certain principles with which you oppose anything new and conflicting + You say to me, "We believe in Masters; you do not. What have you to say to this?" Now that is not a critical attitude. Please do not think I am speaking harshly, but that is a childish attitude. We are discussing whether certain ideas are fundamentally true... not whether you have gained something from these ideas. (Adyar 29Dec33)

You Are Crippled with Beliefs (1933)

You have become authority-bound, crippled with beliefs, with false traditions and habits + You who believe so profoundly in all these ideas ... support false institutions, false ideas. Those of you who believe in Masters ... are just as cruel as [others].+ Your nationalism is as cruel as of old, only you have more subtle arguments + What I am saying today I have said innumerable times; I have said it again and again. But you don't feel these things because you have explained away your suffering. (Adyar 31Dec33)

Life Has No "Divine Plan" (1928)

Q: In what way does life, as seen by you, differ from the theosophical conception of the divine plan? K: I don't know what the theosophical divine plan is + To me life cannot have a plan. (Eerde 19Jul28)

Why Do You Want Masters? (1933-82)

We go through this every year + This whole idea of pursuing a Master ... is utterly false + What does it mean fundamentally, apart from names and people who tell you they exist? + Why do you want them at all? (Ommen 6Aug33); Thought invents gods, saviours, Masters ... [who] grow like mushrooms, offering you all kinds of things + Be aware of your illusions, and end it (Ojai 18May80) Nothing outside will make you change. No gods, no gurus, no Masters. (Ojai 9May82)

A Very Convenient Belief (1949)

Q: Your teachings some years ago were inspiring. You then spoke about evolution, the path and Masters. Now it is all different. JK: What was said previously, demanded belief about the Masters + It's very convenient to have such a belief, especially when the Master is far away. If you have a teacher directly in relationship with you physically, then it's much more difficult. He will criticise you, watch over you, tell you off — which is much more painful. To have a Master in India, or in the Himalayas, or on some mountain far away from all our daily life, is very convenient + When you see all that as being false ... that no Master can give you the light save yourself, then it's not so inspiring. (London 16Oct49 Q7)

Do I Believe in the Masters? (1934-61)

What are the implications in that question? Do I still believe in the Masters, eh? And if I believe in them, I must still believe in the teachings, and so on. Let us look at it quite openly, not as if I were attacking your Masters, whom you have to protect. Now, why do you want a Master? + How do you know he is going to help you to truth? It may be that the man who sweeps the road will help you — your sister, neighbour, brother, anybody; so why do you pay particular attention to your guides? (Auckland NZ 31Mar34 Q21); Fear is the urge that seeks a Master + If that is not understood, it leads to every form of distortion + The man who says he is as great as Napoleon is mentally unbalanced, like the man who pursues the Masters, Don't brush it aside. We know its causes and extraordinary subtleties. (Bombay 22Feb61)

No-One Was There (1949)

Q: Is it true you used to talk with Master Kuthumi? JK: [One morning] I walked right through [him]. I turned around. There was no one there. I never saw the Master Kuthumi again. (From Ingram Smith, Truth is a Pathless Land)

You Invented The Masters and You Are Still in Pain (1949-84)

The Masters are your own projections; when you follow them, you follow your own projections. If they were to say to you, "Drop your nationalism, your societies, do not be greedy, do not be cruel", you would soon leave them and pursue others who would satisfy you + There is a lot of talk about [Masters]; it has become a cunning means of exploiting people. (Madras 18Dec49) You have invented the Masters and every kind of theory, ideal, gurus, god, and none of them have helped you actually. You are still in pain. (Madras 29Dec84)

You Must Dissolve This Completely (1952)

I desire to be protected, to have a Master, guru, teacher, a God; and I experience that which I have projected. My desire has taken a form, to which I have given a name. I react to my own projection + Because the self is still acting, your beliefs, Masters [and so on] are all a process of isolation. If you are at all serious, you must dissolve this completely and not justify it. (Madras 19Jan52)

Don't You Know — You are Your own Master? (1936)

Q: Are you or are you not a member of the Great White Lodge of adepts and Initiates? JK: What does it seriously matter whether there is a White Lodge or not? And who talks about these mysteries except those who, consciously or unconsciously, wish to exploit man in the name of brotherhood, love, and truth? Beware of such people. They have set going incredible and harmful superstitions. Often I have heard people say they are guided by Masters who send out forces, and so on. Don't you know, cannot you perceive for yourself that you are your own master? (Ojai 10May36 Q18)

"Truth is Far Away" (1934-83)

When you speak of a path to truth, it implies that truth, this living reality, is somewhere in the distance + This is the first illusion in which you are caught ... [the] conviction that truth exists only in the distant future + I want to explain to you the falseness of this conception. (Adyar 2Jan34) The real issues of life are near at hand (Poona 1Sep48) Truth is not something mysterious, truth is where you are. From there we can begin. I am angry, jealous, aggressive, I quarrel. One must begin where one is. (Brockwood 30Aug83)

You Are Postponing Life (1933)

When the mind is caught up in the past or in the future, it cannot understand the significance of present experience + While escaping from emptiness, that emptiness increases, and you have not a day, not a moment, when you can say, "I have lived." Your actions are always incomplete, unfulfilled, and hence your search to continue + Your theory of reincarnation makes man more and more superficial, in that he says, "As I cannot fulfil today, I shall do so in the future." If you cannot fulfil in this life, you take comfort in the idea that there is always a next life. (Adyar 29Dec33)

Put Away this Unknown (1933-85)

The unknown is not your concern. Beware of the man who describes it to you + Your search for the unknown is merely an escape + You are constantly seeking escape, [which] you dignify with various spiritual names, with grand-sounding words. These escapes satisfy you temporarily, until the next storm of suffering comes and blows away your shelter. Let us put away this unknown, and concern ourselves with the known. (Adyar 29Dec33) Why do we want something totally outside our daily life ... to know the unknown and so on? (Brockwood 27Aug85)

"Tolerance" (1933)

Because our minds are so acutely developed in cunningness, in subtlety, in selfishness, we force ourselves to be tolerant or love one another, or help another, all intellectual things. If you really love with your mind as well as your heart, with your whole being, you are not tolerant, you are not helpful, you are not searching out service. You are, and therefore you love, therefore you serve, therefore you help. (Ommen 6Aug33 Q44)

What Will Make You Change? (1934-81)

If I can awaken him to his own understanding [and] responsibility, then I destroy class distinction. Then I do not keep him in the nursery to be exploited as a child by one who is supposed to know more. That is the whole attitude of religions, that you can never find out what truth is — only one or two people find out — let me, as a mediator, help you; therefore I become your exploiter. (Auckland 30Mar34); We have shed tears endlessly and nothing seems to change man because you rely on somebody else to do the job: Masters, gurus, books + What will make you change? Your house is burning. (Madras 29Dec79); We never read the book which is ourselves + No Master ... nobody is going to help you read that book. (Madras 7Jan81)

Truth Has No Aspects (1934-72)

Theosophists and others say that truth has many aspects: Christianity is one aspect, Buddhism, another, Hinduism another, and so on. This merely indicates that we want to stick to our own particular prejudices, and be tolerant to other people's prejudices. To me, truth has no aspects. (Auckland 31Mar34); We are so entrenched in prejudice, in tradition with its special beliefs and dogmas, that we repeat dogmatically, readily, that there are many paths to truth + The leaders of organised interests try to cover up, in weighty phrases, the inherent brutality of division (Madras 20Dec36); The idea that there are separate paths to truth, that truth has different aspects, is unreal; it is the speculative thought of the intolerant trying to be tolerant. (Commentaries on Living II Ch.44 1958); They say: 'Truth has different facets' — which is an abomination. Truth hasn't. That is nonsense. (KFA Ojai 4Mar72)

"All Religions Are One" (1934)

If you say all religions are one, then why have any religion? Religions and nationalities encage people, trammel them + The world has come now to more and more sects, more and more bodies enclosed by walls of beliefs, with their special guides; and yet you talk of brotherhood! (Auckland 31Mar34, "Talk to Theosophists")

Read the Book of Life (1934)

Q: What is your attitude to the early teachings of Theosophy, the Blavatsky type? Do you think we have deteriorated or advanced? JK: I am afraid I do not know, because I do not know what Madame Blavatsky's teachings are. Why should I? + You who have studied the latest Theosophy, or whatever it is, why do you want to be students of books instead of students of life? (Auckland NZ 31Mar34 Q19)

One Life is Enough (1934)

I will very briefly explain to you what [reincarnation] means: that in order to achieve perfection, you must go through a series of lives, gathering more and more experience ... life after life, until you are perfect + Now I am not going to answer whether I believe it or not, as I want to show that reincarnation is immaterial + I say the fulfilment of perfection is not in the accumulation of virtues, not in postponement, but in complete harmony of living in the present. (Auckland NZ 1Apr34 Q24)

The Messiah (1934)

Does it matter greatly [whether I am the Messiah]? You know, this is one of the questions I have been asked everywhere I go + To me, it is irrelevant and futile + The question indicates that you have not the capacity to find out the intrinsic merit of an idea, but are rather concerned with who speaks. I am afraid a snobbery is being cultivated more and more, a spiritual snobbery. So, friends, don't bother, but try to find out if what I am saying is true. In trying to find out if what I am saying is true, you will be rid of all authority, a pernicious thing. (Auckland NZ 1Apr34 Q25)

The Millennium (1934)

[An ultimate millennium] is not possible. We think a millennium is a moment when the ideal has come into being, when civilisation has reached its highest pinnacle + But when a human being lives, not trying to achieve, to succeed, but is living fully, all the time, then his action, which must be reflected in society, will not reach a pinnacle. It will be constantly on the move. (Auckland NZ 6Apr34 Q41)

Vested Interests (1935)

Q: Are you or are you not a member of the Theosophical Society? JK: I do not belong to any religion, for organised belief is a great impediment, dividing man against man and destroying his intelligence. These societies and religions are fundamentally based on vested interests and exploitation. (Mexico City 27Oct35 Q2)

Higher Selves (1938-63)

To me, what I am saying is vitally new and cannot be twisted to suit your particular prejudices of the higher and the lower self, the transient and the permanent, the self and the not-self, and so on. (Ommen 4Aug38) There is no higher self and no lower self; self is self. (Madras 5Jan52) The self is not the higher self or the lower self, but the ordinary self. This division as the High with a capital H, is an idea, not a fact. (Rajghat 1Dec63)

Psychological Growth or Evolution (1933-84)

When we consider growth or evolution as a series of achievements, naturally our actions are never complete; they are always growing from the lower to the higher, always climbing. If we live under that conception, our action enslaves us; [it] is a constant, ceaseless, infinite effort. (Alpino 3Jul33); We are as barbarous, as cruel, as vicious, hurting, violent, superstitious as we were fifty thousand years ago + Time has not solved any of our human problems + Psychological evolution doesn't exist at all. (Madras 29Dec84)

Loyalties and Commitments (1936-47)

If we do not escape through diversions, we escape through beliefs, through the activities of organisations with their loyalties and commitments + these organisations, with their increasing restrictions and secret promises, lead us away into further complications + Once we have committed ourselves to a particular society, to its leaders and their friends, we begin to develop those loyalties and responsibilities which prevent us from being wholly honest with ourselves. (Ojai 10May36) So-called spiritual organisations become like any corporation, with buildings [and] investments which become all-important. (Madras 7Dec47 Q30)

Subtle Authority (1936)

Q: How can you say spiritual societies are a hindrance to man's understanding? Or does this not apply to the Theosophical Society? JK: [Every society which] stands on any authority, whether of the Buddha, Christ, or the Masters, has no significance. It merely becomes the means of exploiting people. This is constantly happening the world over: the use of authority to coerce people through fear — which is called love + This question of authority is so subtle that the individual deceives himself by saying it is his own voluntary choice to submit to a particular form of belief or action + I have repeated this in different words very often. (Ojai 10May36 Q17)

Ceremonies (1933-36)

Look here, my friends, those of you who want to do ceremonies, why discuss it? + I have said what I mean with regard to ceremonies quite clearly. I think they are an illusion; that inherently they have no value. (Ommen 13Aug33); If you perceive deeply, as I did, the utter folly of ceremonies, then it can never again have any sway over you. (Eddington 16Jun36 Q11)

"Brotherhood" (1933-47)

There can be [no] brotherhood as long as there is nationality, which must ever cause conflict. (Adyar 29Dec33); You talk of brotherhood, but your words are meaningless as long as your hearts are bound by class distinctions. (Adyar 31Dec33); Belief in any form throws up barriers between man and man, inevitably bringing conflict and misery. Though the adherents of organisations talk of brotherhood, they are the very people who will connive at the destruction of others. (Madras 7Dec47 Q30)

The Spiritual Ladder (1949)

This whole structure of self-expansion, with spiritual degrees of discipleship, the ladder of hierarchical achievement, is utterly false. (London 16Oct49 Q7)

Strange Entities We Do Not See (1949)

Gossip is an extraordinarily stimulating thing, whether it is about Masters and devas, or about our neighbours + We love gossip ... about strange entities we do not see, [as] a means of [escape] from our shallowness + See the narrow spirit displayed by the zealous votaries of peace, Masters, and brotherhood [who] are all out for [themselves] though [they] wrap it up in beautiful words. (Madras 18Dec49 Q1)

You are Going the Wrong Way (1949)

If you think you are truth seekers, and have come together to find reality, I am afraid you are going about it very wrongly + If you say: `We are trying to be brotherly', I would say again that you are going the wrong way + If you say your Society is not based on belief at all, inwardly or outwardly, then I would say that from your outward as well as your inward actions you are a factor of separation, not of unity. You have your secret rituals, secret teachings, secret Masters, all indicating separation. It is the very function of an organised society to be separate in that sense. So, I am afraid that when you go very deeply into the matter, you, the Theosophical Society, and I, do not meet. You might like to make us meet, but that is quite a different matter. (Banaras 6Feb49)

The Heart Must be Full and the Mind Empty (1949)

When your mind and heart are simple ... you do not organise for brotherhood ... you do not seek reconciliation. Then you are a simple human being without a label, without a country. You must strip yourself of all those things and allow Truth to come into being + It will come without your invitation, as swiftly as the wind and unbeknown ... as sudden as sunlight, as pure as the night. To receive it, the heart must be full and the mind empty. Now you have the mind full and your heart empty. (Banaras 6Feb49)

"No Religion Higher Than Truth" (1949)

When you say there is no religion higher than truth, it means that the central fact of Theosophy is to find truth, to discover understand, and love [truth] Is truth a thing to be repeated and learned ... as you can learn a technique? (Banaras 6Feb49 Q6)

Building Up An Illusion (1956)

Many of us like to live in illusion ... and build up an organisation with rituals, vows, secret gatherings ... novice and initiate, pupil and the Master, and degrees of spiritual growth even among the Masters. Most of us love to exploit and be exploited. This system offers the means, whether hidden or open. (Commentaries on Living I 1956 Ch.40)

The More Mysterious It Is, The More We Pursue it (1966-84)

Most of us are always seeking to escape + The more mysterious it is, the more it has a quality of something occult, hidden, the more we pursue it. (Paris 26May66 par. 2); There are various occult systems wherein methods are revealed only to the few. The speaker has met with some of those but discarded them right from the beginning. (Stanford 14Feb69); From childhood, the speaker has been involved in occultism, all the rest of this stuff ... [it has] utterly no importance whatsoever. (Ojai 20May84)

Note: These materials have been edited in ways that suit the special purposes of this series and may not be copied or quoted in their present form in any other publications.

Please see Notes for details on editing and for abbreviations.

Sources: For talks given between 1933 and 1968, see Collected Works; for later talks, see Text Collection on CD-ROM; for books, see Catalogue.

APPENDIX: IF MY WORDS UPSET YOU

What We Need To Know (1921)

We should be able to invite to our meetings people of all shades of opinion whose ideas may be even contrary to our own, as well as those with whom we are in agreement, for when the Teacher comes, He will not teach us what we desire or expect, but what we need to know. If we train ourselves to be capable of appreciating and sympathising with views which are opposed to our own, then, we shall become real followers of the Teacher and not sentimental people expressing their devotion in mere words. (Paris Jul21; Herald of the Star 1921)

Unpleasant Truths (1921)

I wish to consider this subject quite impersonally, and I may have to say some things which are not pleasing to my audience; but if we are going to change conditions, we must be prepared to hear the truth, even if it pains us. ("Theosophy and Internationalism" Benares Dec21)

People are Upset (1928)

I have been told that people in the camp are quite upset. I am rather glad, because if they are seriously upset, it shows that they are thinking; that they are taking what I am saying seriously to heart, and that they are casting aside those things which they have falsely held close to their hearts as realities. And I hope that every one of you, when you leave this Camp tomorrow, will be thoroughly discontented, and in intelligent revolt with yourself and with what I have been saying. (Ojai Camp 1928; The Star Jul28)

So Much the Better (1928)

If you do not agree with me, I do not mind. If you are violently in disagreement with what I say, so much the better, because then you will be willing to contend, to discuss, and try to understand my point of view. But if you merely say, "I agree with you," — and then twist those words of mine to suit your old ideas — the new ideas will break you. (Ommen Aug28; The Star Dec28)

"Do Not Disturb" (1929)

You come back over and over again to the old things, and throw them in my face, to establish your own uncertain truths + You will not give up your old ways of thought. You want the new to be transformed into the old, and thereby to settle down comfortably in the old. "Not to be disturbed" is what you are crying for. You want to be left alone in your quiet stagnant waters. (Ommen 5Aug29; ISB Sep29)

For Those Who Do Not Like What I Say (1929-34)

I am not speaking harshly. I am speaking of facts and if you do not like them, do not accept them + If I considered you all the time as weak people who must be nourished and encouraged .... you would never grow to your full strength. (Adyar 28Dec29; Star Bulletin Apr30) I naturally come into conflict with my friends + If there is affection in your heart, it does not matter (Ommen 3Aug31 ISB Sep31). If I say anything which you dislike — as I shall, I hope — you will naturally begin to oppose it ... [rather than] alter your whole attitude towards life. (Auckland 28Mar34)

Uncomfortable Discoveries (1933)

What is more important: finding out what is true, or not disturbing others? This seems so simple that it hardly needs to be answered + If people have opinions that differ from yours [and] you find they are not true, your discovery may cause disturbance to those who cherish them. Then what should you do? Should you compromise in order not to hurt your friends? (Frognerseteren 12Sep33)

You Know My Point of View (1934)

Q: Is the ruthless manner of your presentation merely a test of our loyalty to the Theosophical Society? JK: I have told you what I really think. If you wish to use that as a test ... to entrench yourselves in your old beliefs, I cannot help it + I am not trying to attack your beliefs + This is merely my frank opinion + You know my point of view, as I have stated it repeatedly. (Adyar 1Jan34 Q10)

Please Don't Be Partisan (1933-34)

Please do not be partisan. I don't belong to your societies; I don't hold your opinions and ideals. We are here to examine, not to take sides. (Adyar 29Dec33) To stand by oneself is the only way to understand truth. Are you really interested in that ... [or] only in supporting the system that you now hold? (Adyar 1Jan34 Q9)

Can We Reason Together? (1934)

Theosophists, with whom I have lived for so long, have taken up this unfortunate attitude that I am attacking them, destroying their pet beliefs, which they must protect at all costs + If we can reason together, and see what we have in our hands that we want to protect, then instead of belonging to any one particular camp, we shall naturally understand what is true. (Auckland 31Mar34)

Why Do You Call Me Ungrateful? (1934-49)

People have written to me saying, "You are ungrateful to the Masters who brought you up". + When your ideas are disturbed, you call me ungrateful. The problem is not one of gratitude, but of understanding yourself. (Madras 18Dec49) I am surprised that this question [of gratitude] arises again and again. (Adyar 1Jan34)

Why You are Disappointed (1933)

You had thought to put me in a certain cage, and I did not fit into it + You had a preconceived idea of what I should do, what I should say, what I should think + You want to hold to that picture, and you are disappointed in anyone whose idea differs from yours + But in a hundred years' time I don't think it will matter much whether you are disappointed or not. Truth ... will remain. (Adyar 31Dec33 Q5)

The Importance of Being Disturbed (1929-49)

You have an idea that to be compassionate one must be weak + You need to be shaken and, since you do not like that shaking, you attribute ideas of compassion and love, which are essentially weak, to someone who is not weak, and you say that such a Teacher cannot be direct, strong and emphatic. This is not a question of compassion or lack of compassion, but a question of Truth, and you must face that question irrespective of your petty fears. (Ommen Q&A 5Aug29; ISB Sep29); If I am not disturbed, I shall go to sleep + I must go through upheavals, turmoil, anxiety, to find out. + Most of us do not like to be disturbed. We think we have found a pattern of life — the Master, the belief, whatever it is — and there we settle down + We do not see the importance of being disturbed + In insecurity you discover, you see, you understand + Disturbance is essential for understanding; and any attempt to find security is a hindrance to understanding (Ojai 6Aug49)

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