Today marks the fifth anniversary of my mother’s departure to the Cosmic Recycling Agency. Which means this little blog is now nearly five years old. To celebrate the memory of Miriam’s quiet yet influential life and all those who have contributed to the blog, I thought I’d post something that held special significance for Mum. I found it while sifting through cartons stored since my parents’ departure – an exercise in time-travel, like watching an excruciatingly intimate movie unfold before one’s eyes. There’s everything from bank statements and medical bills to little notebooks filled with their personal jottings and daily chores. If I rest my mind on any one item, I can so easily reconstruct the whole scenario – the context, the weather, the players, the feelings – and I can melt into the thusness of that place and time. Which is, of course, right here and now!
One folder is particularly compelling for me. It’s a simple clearfile with no cover or title. I probably gave it to Miriam years ago, to file her correspondence. In the front pocket she has placed a little breathscribe blessing – a painting I sent her years ago when I was working in England. And inside she has gathered up a mixed and marvelous collection of writings that inspired her (including some of my own). In her last years, she kept this folder beside her bed. It was her own little Bible, she said.
I intend to share some of the things that are tucked into this treasure of a folder – starting today with this rather odd poetic piece from J Krishnamurti. I say odd, because the style of writing seems quite different from K’s usual pragmatism. It’s a style, however, to which Mum’s ears were attuned – and the message is profound. In spite of first appearances, he’s not talking about running away from the world, society and one’s responsibilities. He’s not talking about separation in time or space.
His insistence is that one must keep “so far away that even you cannot find yourself”. Or “others”. That one must keep beyond the reach of all that would condition the mind – education, religion, philosophy, nationalism and stray renegade thoughts. That one must keep safely anchored in the unassailable purity of one’s own perfect Presence.
You should never be here too much; be so far away that they can’t find you, they can’t get at you to shape, to mould. Be far away, like the mountains, like the unpolluted air; be so far away that you have no parents, no relations, no family, no country; be so far away that you don’t know even where you are. Don’t let them find you; don’t come into contact with them too closely.
Keep far away where even you can’t find yourself; keep a distance which can never be crossed over; keep a passage open always thorough which no one can come. Don’t shut the door for there is no door, only an open, endless passage; if you shut any door, they will be very close to you, then you are lost.
Keep far away where their breath can’t reach you and their breath travels very far and very deeply; don’t get contaminated by them, by their word, by their gesture, by their great knowledge; they have great knowledge but be far away from them where even you cannot find yourself. For they are waiting for you, at every corner, in every house to shape you, to mould you, to tear you to pieces and then put you together in their own image. Their gods, the little ones and the big ones, are the images of themselves, carved by their own mind or by their own hands. They are waiting for you, the churchman and the communist, the believer and the non-believer, for they are both the same; they think they are different but they are not for they both brainwash you, till you are of them, till you repeat their words, till you worship their saints, the ancient and the recent; they have armies for their gods and for their countries and they are experts in killing.
Keep far away but they are waiting for you, the educator and the businessman; one trains you for the others to conform to the demands of their society, which is a deadly thing;* they will make you into a scientist, into an engineer, into an expert of almost anything from cooking to architecture to philosophy.
Keep far, far away; they are waiting for you, the politician and the reformer; the one drags you down into the gutter and then the other reforms you; they juggle with words and you will be lost in their wilderness.
Keep far away; they are waiting for you, the experts in god and the bomb throwers: the one will convince you and the other [show you] how to kill; there are so many ways to find god and so many, many ways to kill. But besides all these, there are hoards of others to tell you what to do and what not to do; keep away from all of them, so far away that you cannot find yourself or any other. You too would like to play with all of them who are waiting for you but then the play becomes so complicated and entertaining that you will be lost. You should never be here too much, be so far away that even you cannot find yourself.
- J Krishnamurti
* They have a thing called society and family: these are their real gods, the net in which you will be entangled. [Krishnamurti's insertion in the full text edition]
Find a comprehensive selection of Krishnamurti’s books at the Krishnamurti Foundation Trust website.
Image Credit – Milford Sound, Aotearoa New Zealand
Last year’s celebratory post: a light with no source