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IV. Incomprehensebility


In the preceding chapter I referred to the denunciations of The Theosophical Society, its leaders, inner and outer, and its whole membership, which are a constantly recurring feature of Krishnamurti's exposition of his ideas. In this chapter I refer to another exceedingly strange phenomenon observable throughout his work. This consists of the confusion of thought into which he throws so many of those who listen to him. Question after question shows that after seven years or more people are still unable to grasp either what he is trying to say or in what way his teachings may be practically applied to life. A significant phrase occurs in the "Newsletter," of March, 1937. There we read that "after the many discussions a certain sense of their futility became apparent."

Here is a typical question illustrative of the sense of futility produced in Krishnamurti's listeners: "If we are not to have ideals, if we must be rid of the desire to improve ourselves, to serve God and our less fortunate fellow-beings, what, then, is the purpose of living? Why not just die and be done with it?"

I will not quote the whole of the reply, which can be read. Here is the first part of it. "What I have said concerning ideals is this: that they become a convenient means of escape from the conflict of life, and thus they prevent the comprehension of oneself." *

Is there not something cruelly cynical in thus turning to disrepute the very highest attributes and aspirations of which man is capable by branding them as "convenient means of escape"

* Talks at Ojai 1936, p. 50.


and by imputation branding all idealists as cowards? According to Krishnamurti, philanthropy, purity of motive and courage are unknown in the world, especially amongst idealists.

Here is another typical question: "I have listened to your talks for several years, but to be frank, I have not yet grasped what you are trying to convey. Your words have always seemed vague to me, whereas the writings of H.P.B., Rudolph Steiner, Annie Besant and a few others have greatly helped me...." *

One explanation of this phenomenon offered by his followers is that Krishnamurti's incomprehensibility is a sign of his greatness; that if his teachings were easy to understand they would be without value. My reply to this would scarcely be good English. I can, however, say that every great teacher that has preceded him has succeeded in awakening human intuition and enlightened human minds by clear and simple phrases, many of which have come down to us as models of clarity of thought, as utterances pregnant with wisdom. Where abstruse ideas and profound occult and philosophic verities are taught, meditation and close study enable the student to grasp them. Personally, though I have consulted many, I have yet to meet anyone who can tell me, in a comprehensive way, the general purport of Krishnamurti's teaching. In the main, people seem to be in the same position, either as that so frankly avowed by the questioners quoted above, or as the friend referred to in the first chapter of this book.

Personally, I do not for a moment deny or forget that Krishnamurti has given us certain very lofty ideas, nor do I wish here to give the

* Ojai 1936, p. 41.


impression that because teaching is difficult it is therefore not exalted. Indeed, I am fully aware that comprehension of great spiritual truths demands a certain stillness of the analytical mind and an alertness of the intuition. Many times, by the very process of trying to listen by the intuition, however imperfectly developed, I myself have received unforgettable flashes of illumination from Krishnamurti.

Indeed, I feel that we should endeavour thus to listen to him. For occasionally there shines out an illuminating truth, a thought, sharp and keen as a sword.

I may be wrong, but it has seemed to me that in latter years these occasions have become rarer. One last question may be quoted, which would seem to support the possibility that Krishnamurti is becoming less comprehensible as his mission proceeds: "Last Sunday you seemed very uncertain in what you said, and some of us could make nothing of it. Several of my friends say that they are not coming any more to hear you, because you are becoming vague and undecided about your own ideas. Is this impression due to lack of understanding in us, or are you not as sure of yourself as you used to be?"

The answer to this question may be read on page 21 of Ojai Talks 1936. It consists of partial admission of inability precisely to express his ideas in words. According to Krishnamurti's habitual custom, it also throws the onus upon the questioner, suggesting that the blame for the lack of comprehension is largely his own. As I have said, Krishnamurti blames their impurity of "mind-heart," their desire for escape, superstition and beliefs, for his hearers' inability to comprehend him.


Is it possible that Krishnamurti is so great that no one can understand him? Can it be that his ideas are so lofty that he cannot put them into words? Is it also possible that his illumination is so transcendental that no one who is not similarly illumined can share in it? Is it that both he and his ideas are so far ahead of the times that the human mind in its present state cannot hope to gain very much from his teachings? Is he speaking to future generations who will perceive and acclaim that to which we of this age are so strangely blind. Is he a spiritual Einstein addressing a humanity still in the kindergarten?

Certain phrases and mental attitudes of his would seem to give ground for such a possibility. He himself has said that if three people out of the whole of humanity could understand him he would be satisfied. Whether this minute proportion, this smallness of his hopes is due to the exalted nature of his teachings or the stupidity of mankind, we are not informed.

Against one error I would strongly warn all who listen to Krishnamurti – that is the error of the dog in Aesop's Fable: He let the substance fall in the hope of grasping the shadow.

During the seven or more years of Krishnamurti's later mission I have seen many promising lives rendered tragically fruitless, many hopes destroyed, and many good servants of humanity lost to that service. Under Krishnamurti's influence they have thrown overboard the whole of life's experiences, life's illuminations, and life's understanding. Religion, philosophy, ethics, and even morals – on all these they have turned a scornful back. They have done this in the utterly vain belief that by so doing they will gain some mysterious enlightenment hitherto hidden from them.


I have seen noble-hearted, pure-minded men and women, both young and old, throw over their previous moral restraint, cast aside that discipline of life without which there can be no happiness. I have watched them cease from a service to those less fortunate than themselves, which hitherto had made their lives noble and fruitful.

All this they do, as they suppose, at the bidding of Krishnamurti.

Krishnamurti may be performing one useful function in the world. By his abuse, his denials, his condemnations, he may force us to put our own knowledge again to the test. But when he publicly declares that the Ancient Wisdom is invalid, poisonous, pernicious; when he affirms that he and he alone is showing to the world the way to truth, then I for one must part company with him.

The whole world knows him now. Humanity awaits the deliverance of his message. A world expectant, a world in direst need and danger looks to him for light. The opportunity is unique; the need, the danger unequalled in the history of the globe. He has the ear of the world. After seven years of iconoclasm will he not begin to construct, to teach, to lead the world to that which he has found? The times are indeed critical. The nations are at the cross-roads. One way leads to tyranny, aggression, exploitation, persecution, materialism; and the other way leads to individual freedom, justice, ordered progress, cultural and spiritual idealism.

The great need of the world to-day is for a clear call – a message of light and wisdom. Like the Israelites of old, the nations in the wilderness


have urgent need of a modern Moses and a second pillar of fire. For us the Brotherhood of Man is the one clear call; Theosophy the pillar of fire, the light undimmed and undimmable.

The unity of life, the kinship of all the peoples of the earth, their common path of life and their common goal of perfection, this is the message which the world needs to-day. The Theosophical Society which Krishnamurti so constantly denounces was brought into existence for the express purpose of delivering that message. Its members throughout the world are doing their best to fulfil that purpose.

Acquisition belongs to the past, contribution to the present and the future. Competition, strife, war belong to the past. Co-operation, friendship, mutual service – these are the watchwords of today and to-morrow. Ours the task as theosophists of letting this light shine, of giving this message, of sounding forth this watchword. Let us be faithful to our mission. Whilst studying with open mind every comprehensible presentation of truth, let us not be led aside from the great truth which already we have received by any authority however high.

The Great Work calls to-day as of old. Theosophists will help the world at this time by standing firm in their beliefs, by not wavering under test. Some of us – many thousands of us – have discovered within ourselves a well-spring of life, of happiness, of inspiration. Theosophy has led us to this discovery. Ours in our turn to lead humanity to its own fount of life within, to its own happiness, and to its own truth as we have been led. For do we not know full well that Theosophy is the hope of the world?

We do not fear any challenge to the truths


which we have made our own. In this book I have presumed to challenge the challenger; but I do so with respect and with hope in the future. I have not read the reports of the 1938 talks at Omen. Perhaps in them a comprehensible and constructive message will be given to a humanity in direst need and to the many individuals who to-day are ardently seeking the light.








Copyright © 2001 - G.W. Schüller