Krishnamurti and the River
Q. Thought you might enjoy this. One of my favorite poems from J. Krishnamurti. (excerpt from mp3)
The river was everything, ….. The river was so indifferent to their joy and sorrow; it was so deep, there was such weight and power behind it; it was terribly alive and so dangerous.
The flashing river by day was now the light of the sky, enchanted, dreaming and lost in its beauty and love. In this light, ….It was light; thought and feeling had no part in it, they could never give light; they were not there, only this light when the sun is well behind the walls of the city and not a cloud in the sky. You cannot see this light unless you know the timeless movement of meditation; the ending of thought is this movement…..
A. Thank you for the poem. It is beautiful. I played it several times, but then I felt I wanted to read it to ponder more deeply. The abrupt transition from river to sky bothered me a little. I didn't see the logic and it didn't feel quite right to suddenly turn into a rhapsody to light.
So I put the first line into google, and discovered that it is part of a more extended passage from his Notebooks. And there I found the connection, which has been left out of the poem. It is the birds, the water-birds and birds of the air; their movement links water to air. Also that it is late afternoon, the time when the light is starting to die, and intensifies, and attention shifts from objects to the sky, and to light itself.
I contemplated why I felt this was important and why I felt the need to actively investigate the connection.
I think it is something to do with the romanticism and common over-valuation of Light in the 'timeless movement of meditation'. Light is only part of it. It morphs naturally and essentially into the radiant dark, and both are necessary. Light without dark, and all modulations in between, would be torture to the spirit. The passage actually continues into the dark, with the wonderful image “all the stars that could fill the river were there and they spilled over into the sky."
And between the polarities of light and dark, equally important are the transitions of dawn and dusk, when birds and animals become active, especially where the light has been harsh. In such a period you and I watched the sun set over the sea, and light paints such a canvas precisely because it is dying, ceding its place to the oncoming darkness.
It's the Law of Three again. The wholeness of life always has three aspects.
The River is such a powerful symbol, and perfect for you in your house by the rushing river.
Q. Thank you so much for the lovely email. I'm inspired now to also look more deeply into the poem. There's another poem/prose of his I'd like to share …
Silence grew and became intense, wider and deeper. What was outside was now inside; the brain which had listened to the silence of the hills, fields and groves was itself now silent; it no longer listened to itself; it had gone through that and had become quiet, naturally, without any enforcement. It was still, ready to stir itself on the instant. It was still, deep within itself; like a bird….
A. Brave of you to enter the lion's den when you come to visit, but we look forward to seeing you. However, teasing me with Krishnamurti might count as foolhardy!
I responded to his poetry and his beautiful way with words because I could feel that interesting point hidden in it, and I'm as much a sucker for beautiful sensuous imagery as anyone. But now you're expanding it to a much bigger issue, and you might not be so keen on my response!
K is a poet and mystic, and an exceptional one, but he is not a man of knowledge. I think he could raise 'immortal longings' in a stone with his descriptions of the view from that place of silence which he seemed to be able to cultivate and hold, at least when on journeys to beautiful places etc. What he doesn't do, and regularly and roundly eschews, is tell others how to get there also. For him, meditation is that state, and he's not wrong. However, he condemns any system or practice, which most people in less exceptional circumstances might need, in order to taste the same experience. And by condemning, he actually undermines. To remind is fine, and the true job of a poet, but to simply stoke the thirst leads to efforts to replicate or induce the experience/result, without any understanding of the process or roots of it. As a poet, full of richness; as a teacher--no.
Could it be a bit like having access to an heavenly patisserie, stuffing oneself with its pastries and cakes and making a living from describing the sheer deliciousness of the products, while giving no information about its location so others can taste for themselves, let alone how to bake, or locate more accessible cake-shops? Am I being too harsh?
Q. As I watched his biography I had many of the same thoughts. At the end of it a Buddhist monk is interviewed and he too takes exception with K completely skipping over our relative world. As yet you have never been too harsh. I'm looking forward to the Lion's Den. Hopefully after all this winter meditation stuff I won't be completely eaten alive!