By Robert Carr October 2004 In spiritual life as in daily life, we need to learn to stand on our own two feet. a true guru can only point out the way to us, or help us see how we are stuck, and what we can do about it. he can only show you the door; you must walk though it on your own “All gurus are welfare organisations providing petty experiences to their followers. The Guru game is a profitable industry; try to make two million dollars any other way.”—U.G. Krishnamurti How and why this crazy American (myself) in his early twenties got interested in Vedanta and Ramakrishna is still somewhat of a mystery to me. Some 50 years have slipped by. I now find myself living in India, not for any spiritual reason, but because I like the people and the masala of life. My interest in Vedanta was short-lived, but long enough to realise that belonging to some idea or religious teaching was not my cup of tea. At that time, a new book was out by J. Krishnamurti, The First and Last Freedom. It made such an impact on me that I left my Indian swami for new pastures. You might say I changed one guru for another, one far less traditional and who made more sense to me. I was not interested in pujas, japa, donning an ochre robe and trying to become an Indian and a follower of any particular guru. Reading J. Krishnamurti’s books opened new doors and insights regarding the whole search for Truth, God, or whatever you want to call it. I had met another sweet saint from India at that time—Swami Papa Ramdas. He invited me to India to his ashram, and after some thought I decided not to take up his kind offer. The effect of J. Krishnamurti was like venom that was seeping into my system and the idea of gurus, spiritual authority and traditional practice was dwindling. J. Krishnamurti was my new hero and I felt that I had found the perfect teacher. Some years later, I met J. Krishnamurti and spent time in India listening to every word he had to say. What he said was not the usual line; he spoke against the very concept of the need for a guru and the whole traditional approach of the East and the West to spiritual understanding. My problem was not if I needed a guru or not. Rather, it was whether there was any way to get what I thought I wanted? The question that burned inside me was—are there any steps to take, some path to follow? Spiritual rebel“If anyone thinks he can help you, he will inevitably mislead you and the less phoney he is, the more powerful he is; the more enlightened he is, the more misery and mischief he will create for you.”—U.G. Krishnamurti There was a time when I was a bit of a guru myself, so the mystery of why people seek and what they want became all too obvious to me. I had a small following of searchers, all looking for answers to their own problems. They came to me in the hope that I could show them the door and how to open it and pass through it. Having certain experiences gives one a different slant and insights. You feel you have a calling or can help another. The seeker wants what he thinks you have and you need the following to sustain your own self-importance. You have to believe in what you think and feel to be true to convince others that what you say is true. So the guru and the chela (student) need each other. In 1966 while in Switzerland to attend talks by J. Krishnamurti, I met another Krishnamurti, called ‘UG’ by his friends. Our meeting was casual, and years later we became good friends. If I thought J. Krishnamurti was radical in his approach, then what UG says is like an atom bomb. You never recover from the blast. Both men say no guru is needed; you must be free of the idea that another can be of any help in your so-called sadhana. During our conversations, UG spoke to me about the games gurus play, and I felt he knew I was finished playing the part of a spiritual teacher. Beyond dependenceI have known UG for some 30 odd years. A small circle of close friends has been spending long hours with UG in California and in India. Now UG was the main current sparking my interest. It was not easy having your ideas come under fire. He was ruthless like an automatic machine gun firing at all my carefully guarded secrets, beliefs and assumptions about life. Everything was under fire and you could not hold on to anything. UG would blast J. Krishnamurti’s statements, but I was always able to keep my image of JK intact. After all, it was his teachings that made me feel so clear about the spiritual search. Nothing was sacred with UG and you felt your life was an open book for him to expose your illusions. UG spoke about his life and his burning interest in knowing if there was anything like enlightenment. About his meetings with J. Krishnamurti and how it all came to an end with UG walking out, UG says he landed on his own two feet, so to speak. He pointed out that one has to free oneself from depending on others, what they say may be true or not, you have no way knowing. If you just follow and accept the authority of someone else, you are in a new cage of ideas. UG often says: “Why do you need a guru? If you fall down, then pick yourself up and continue to walk.” And: “You do not need me or anyone else to help you in your quest or goals.” What kindled my interest in the man is not easy to explain to anyone, even to myself. To this day he remains a mystery to me, I just have no way to explain what he is. If I try to paint a picture of him, the only words I have are the same words that describe what a guru is. If I say, no, he is not like the other teachers or so-called masters, I am still stuck with an anti-guru image. Some say UG is a new version of the classic teacher. He never denies or says he is a guru. We say it because we have no other means to describe a man who cannot be put into a cage. Has he helped me understand the human condition and made my life less hectic? Yes, I would say he has, but others say the same thing about their guru and how their life has changed through his influence. I take this with a grain of salt. People just change one idea for another, move from one side of the cage to a new spot. We have no choice and are still looking for the key to unlock the door. Religion as painkillerUG points out that what happened to him was not the result of any practice, meditation, or following a method. He says: “I was just lucky; I had come to the end of my rope you might say. There was nothing I could do or not do. The whole search for the meaning of life collapsed. I died, came to end, there was no awareness of anything. No soul, no atman, no greater self, nothing. What was left was an educated monkey all dressed up in a suit. Knowing this man can be the most frightening experience in your life. From time to time you get glimpses of not being who you think you are. The walls that support and protect your sense of self get shattered and for a moment you get a sense that you are nobody.” From the time we are born, we have to learn to survive and we have to depend on someone else to teach us how to sustain ourselves. We need to learn a language to communicate our needs. Later, we learn to be a doctor, engineer and so on to exist with some measure of comfort. The drive to find security exists within us and motivates all our desires and needs. That is the only real interest we have, which is totally natural. However, we translate the drive to survive into the realm of seeking spiritual experiences that are the result of what others have created for themselves in the past. That past lives in the memories and beliefs contained in all religious thinking. These goals are unreal figments of imagination and are sold in the spiritual markets. What you think you want will surface as a commodity to be sold in spiritual bazaars. Whether one is Hindu, Muslim, Christian or something else, the same thread runs through our different cultures. The outer expression might look different but at a deeper level we are all in the same situation. We suffer from one kind of a problem or another. We hope beyond all means that there is a way out of our human condition. Religions were born out of this need to escape and gurus offer their own brand of tea or coffee to help suppress pain. That is why we seek, to find a painkiller that will end our suffering, but actually there no pill to end our misery. Culture is the content of consciousness and is the product of all the experiences that man has known. God was born out of the brain’s wiring, if you like, and is nothing more than the result of chemical changes in brain physically. Mystical experiences may affect your way of thinking and if you give them special importance, it is the beginning of creating a religion. No pathIt has been some time now since I last saw UG, yet never a day passes that I do not think of the impact that he has had on my life. The memories of J. Krishnamurti are still there, but I no longer look to him, what he said in his day had a deep impact at that time. I question the idea of words and teachings. Words are just ideas, descriptions, and become an obstacle to seeing facts. One may read a description of sugar but you do not know the taste of sweetness until you experience it for yourself. If there is no teaching, no teacher, why does a man like UG continue to see people and talk? His answer is: “You come and make this dog bark, what I say is just barking, you make some sense out it.” What will draw me back to see him again is that mystery, a freshness of something new. Never a day passes that something UG has said, casual or profound, rekindles the flame that burns in my being. Just this morning, standing on the roadside waiting for a bus in pouring rain, my thoughts turned inward to something UG had said. As I was waiting, a lady had told me no buses would ply that day since there was a bus strike. So
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