Brockwood Park 1985
The Role of A Flower Brockwood Park a Tv Interview October, 1985
Interviewer: For years people have invented and endured all kinds of disciplines, deprivations and discomforts in the hope of achieving enlightenment. Spending a week under canvas in Hampshire hardly ranks with some of the great sacrifices that litter the history of practically every religion. The atmosphere here at Brockwood Park is that of the international camp site. The only ceremonies and rituals performed are self- imposed. The man that more than three thousand people have come to hear has rejected all of the panoply and dogma imposed by organised religion, he has even rejected the role for which he was groomed, Messiah. He is Jiddu Krishnamurti.
Listener: I have come to hear Krishnamurti.
Interviewer: You are first in the queue, how long have you been waiting for?
Listener: Since about ten fifteen last night.
Interviewer: Why was it important to get there quite that early?
Listener: To be close.
Listener: He invites one to have a conversation with him. He is always saying, can we discuss together, this, that and the other, and this is an invitation really to participate. And that you can't do if you are a quarter of a mile down the tent.
Listener: He is very profound, and I think if you can listen to him something in your brain might start happening.
Listener: It probably shouldn't be necessary to come every year, once you've heard it you've heard it, but it's like looking at a mountain or a tree, it's good to come.
Interviewer: Now in his ninety-first year Krishnamurti has been described as one of the greatest philosophers and teachers of all time, a role he can hardly have anticipated fifty-six years ago, when to the profound shock of his devoted followers, he announced he was not the Messiah, and dissolved the organisation of which he was the head.
Krishnamurti never refers to himself as, I, always as K, or the speaker. So what is the role of the man they have come to hear?
Krishnamurti: What is the role of a flower? It just exists. And those who like to go and look at it, smell it and like it, say, what a beautiful flower it is, it exists.
Interviewer: Krishnamurti presents a calm and conventional exterior, with a stunning lack of pomp and ceremony he sits, very upright and very still on a hard straight backed chair, and talks without notes and without preparation for at least an hour. Looking at this slight unassuming figure it is hard to believe his bizarre and extraordinary history. He was born in 1895, the eighth child of a Brahmin family, the highest caste at a time when the system was rigidly observed. He was very close indeed to his mother, who, before he was born, said she had a premonition that he would be in some way remarkable. She died when Krishnamurti was ten years old and the family moved to Adyar, near Madras. It was here living in extreme poverty that he was spotted by Charles Webster Leadbeater, a leading figure in the Theosophical Society. Theosophy was a world movement which embraced all religions. They believed that following on Buddha, Krishna and Christ the world was ready for the next incarnation of the Messiah. Its president, Annie Besant was a flamboyant figure, who fought uncompromisingly for a whole range of social reforms in Britain and India. Krishnamurti must have looked an unlikely candidate, undernourished, with crooked teeth and a vacant expression. But Leadbeater said the child had an aura of unselfishness, he was the chosen one. Mrs Besant adopted him and began grooming him for his future role by bringing him to England.
One of the first people he met was Lady Emily Lutyens, wife of the architect Sir Edwin, a committed theosophist she took him straight to the heart of her family. Her daughter Mary, now aged seventy-seven is Krishnamurti's oldest friend and his biographer. She remembers vividly the moment that Krishnamurti and his younger brother Nitya arrived in London.
Mary Lutyens: These two little boys arrived in England, my mother saw them and took enormous pity on them. They were wearing European clothes for the first time, they were in Norfolk jackets and shoes which pinched them, they looked miserable, shivering with cold, and she mothered them.
Interviewer: How did you feel about him?
Mary Lutyens: I didn't think he had a brain, that he was very simple, very simple minded. It's absolutely staggering to me looking back what he can do now, what's come out of him now. I just can't believe it sometimes. You wouldn't really think that every single thing he says, it may appear to be like Buddhism, it may appear to be like this, that or the other, it may be a certain bit of the Sermon on the Mount, I don't know, but he would know it, he had never read it, so everything he has discovered for himself. And what amazes me is what he has found in himself from that very vacant, certainly very unintelligent young man.
Interviewer: Krishnamurti and Nitya were introduced to a rich and aristocratic Edwardian London. Of the two brothers Nitya was considered the quicker and brighter. His death some years later was to affect Krishnamurti deeply. Over the following years the brothers travelled all over Europe, to America and Australia. Theosophists everywhere eagerly awaited the day when Krishnamurti would assume the role for which he was destined.
Krishnamurti had a fascination for all things mechanical. He taught Mary Lutyens how to drive; the relationship blossomed. Was she in love with him?
Mary Lutyens: Yes, I had been in love with Nitya, tremendously, he was the love of my life and then I suppose I was in love with Krishna after Nitya's death. He wrote wonderful letters and unfortunately I destroyed all his letters to me.
Interviewer: Was there a point at which he ever really believed that he was going to be the new Messiah?
Mary Lutyens: Yes, definitely. He did believe. And there was a wonderful occasion when we had all been in Sydney under Mr Leadbeater and we came back for the Jubilee convention at Adyar, that was its fifty year, I suppose, in 1925, and it was rather expected that the Lord would speak through him for the first time. And I was there and he was speaking at 8.0 o'clock under the banyan tree, it was a wonderful place, and he was talking about when he comes - which he used to talk about in those days, when he comes - and he suddenly changed to saying, `I come' and it was an absolutely thrilling moment.
Interviewer: Krishnamurti was extremely grateful to all those who had such a trusting faith in him. He tried his best to please them, going to huge Theosophical gatherings, and undergoing, for him, the torture of getting up and speaking in public. Obviously the Theosophists influenced him but it seems only superficially. All the time he was working out his own philosophy, his own view of how to arrive at the truth. The time bomb had begun to tick. In 1929 at a vast gathering of Theosophists at Ommen in Holland it exploded.
Mary Lutyens: I think it was in the morning he spoke up and said, I am now going to dissolve the Order of which I happen to be head. You can go and join another Order if you want to, I don't want followers. If there is one person who understands it can do more good than all these three thousand people here. And it was a big and very rich organisation and he gave it all completely away, all the land, and all the property and the Castle Eerde that had been given, he gave it all back to the owners. And he divested himself of all property. One of the things, the very lovely speech that he gave on that occasion, was to say, Truth was a pathless land, you cannot get to it by any path whatever.
Interviewer: In what became his most famous speech, Krishnamurti said, `This is no magnificent deed because I do not want followers, and I mean this. The moment you follow someone you cease to follow truth. I am concerning myself with only one essential thing, to set man free. I desire to free him from all cages, from all fears, and not to found religions, new sects, nor to establish new theories, and new philosophies.' The speech was such a shock to many of the followers that they turned away from the man from whom they had expected so much. Others took a different view; today one of those early devotees travels every year from New Zealand to hear him speak, Basil Gossage.
Basil Gossage: To some it was a very traumatic experience, the end of the world. In my own case I thought, well, if K has got the - pardon the phrase - the spiritual guts to do that, to say, I am disbanding the Order, it is not necessary, truth is a pathless land, I thought, well he'll do me. At least he is one hundred per cent honest. That's been born out over fifty-five years.
Interviewer: Krishnamurti has developed and expanded his teaching but he still rejects all organised religion.
Krishnamurti: You see we are now trying to impose morality on people. Right?
Interviewer: Many religions have tried.
Krishnamurti: I know, I know. They have failed. Why?
Interviewer: You tell me, why?
Krishnamurti: Because they are based on some belief which has no value at all, on some dogma, faith, and do this, don't do that - that's what religions have done.
Interviewer: They would say they are all different ways, different paths.
Krishnamurti: Ah, that's all the good old game, different paths. Because I am a Hindu and I say, that's my path, you are a Christian and you say that's your path. It's nonsense. Path to what? They say to god, to truth, as though fixed, god and truth are stationary.
Interviewer: Aren't they?
Krishnamurti: A living thing can't be stationary.
Interviewer: The people who come to the gatherings are a disparate bunch of all nationalities, rich and poor, no one ever counts how many come and though there is a collection no one is charged admission. If they have anything in common it seems to be an intellectual rather than a spiritual approach to life, though Krishnamurti teaches that too much thought is one of man's biggest problems.
Are they expecting you to be their authority, do you think?
Krishnamurti: Partly. And partly also they want somebody to tell them what to do.
Interviewer: They must be very disappointed when they don't.
Krishnamurti: Yes. Not disappointed, they say, well what the devil is he talking about. Or, say, I must understand what he is talking about. You are not understanding somebody, you are understanding yourself.
Listener: I feel I understand intellectually, but actually in my life I think it is rather limited. I mean the actual - it hasn't changed me completely, that's what I mean. When I hear him I think I understand completely what he is saying in terms of the words he uses and so on, but it doesn't have its corresponding effect in my life.
Interviewer: Why is that?
Listener: I don't know, I think the self seems to be so strong, and one resists it so completely.
Listener: He really is nobody. And if we could understand that completely that might change our lives. But we don't.
Interviewer: What do you get out of coming then?
Interviewer: What do you take away from a week here?
Listener: That's the whole problem, we all want to have something, that's the problem. It's understandable though but that's our problem, we are greedy, we want it. And may be that works too. If you really want it you might get it.
Interviewer: It being what?
Listener: If you don't really want it you won't get it.
Interviewer: It being what?
Listener: I don't know, what do you want?
Listener: It depends how you listen. He is very repetitious if you don't really listen and you are just aware of the words and the superficial meaning; whereas if you really listen, you can say that the bird singing in the garden is repetitious, the blackbird sings the same week after week, but if you really listen it's always new. And the same thing with Krishnamurti, if you really listen it's new.
Krishnamurti: There is an art of listening, when you listen to Beethoven or Mozart and so on, you listen, you don't try to interpret it, unless you are romantic, sentimental and all that, you absorb, you listen, there is some extraordinary movement going on in it, great silence, great depth and all that. So similarly if you can listen, not only with the hearing of the ear, but deeply, not interpret, not translate, just listen.
Interviewer: When they all leave the tent and they say, what he really meant was.
Krishnamurti: Then you are lost.
Listener: I remember when I listened to him for the first time it was nearly impossible because I couldn't accept what he was saying.
Listener: Because it's very strong, he throws you back to all your things you can't accept. You see you are greedy, you are jealous, you are all that, and you know you are. But when he throws you back at this you say, no, I don't like to see that. Now after some years I got very used to look at this because I wanted to, because it got really very much easier to accept it than running away from it because if I run away from it I got always more fear and fear because the thoughts go round and round. So now I would say I don't know if I understand him, but I understand myself a little bit better.
Krishnamurti: Our brain is very limited. Our brain is so heavily conditioned by the scientists, by propagandists, by religion, by all the historical events, whether it is Lenin or somebody else, our brains are conditioned. And we live in that condition. Right? And that conditioning is creating havoc in the world.
Interviewer: Is there a way out of that?
Krishnamurti: Yes there is. That requires a great deal of enquiry, you cannot just say, well, tell me in two words.
Interviewer: People have tried to say in two words things like, love one another, turn the other cheek, but there are no easy solutions?
Krishnamurti: Of course not. But you see, is there an easy solution for a blade of grass that grows in the cement? There is a path there, and you see grass pushing, pushing, pushing, if it has life it goes through. Right? A blade of grass. As our brains are terribly limited, our life is limited. Right? And can that brain which has evolved through millennia, can that brain radically change?
Interviewer: Do you think that he is very insulated and protected by this life style, that he doesn't really understand the problems that most people face.
Mary Lutyens: I think he does, but I think he feels that they make problems where there needn't be problems, by not actually seeing what their problems are. I think people do make problems that aren't necessary. And I don't see that it makes him any - they expect him to dress, perhaps some people, in sack cloth and ashes, and grow his hair and his beard, but does that really make you a more religious person?
Interviewer: Is it possible that someone could come here to one of the talks, hear what you say, hear in himself, or herself, the truth and then go away and live in this quick result, quick society. Can the two co-exist?
Krishnamurti: Of course. This has been one of the questions that has been troubling people. Can I live in this monstrous society, immoral, corrupt and all the rest of it, with complete honesty by myself? Of course you can. So you have to ask, what is society. Right? Is society different from me? Or I am society? I don't know if you follow this.
Krishnamurti: I am society, I have created the awful thing. I am part of it. Society is not different from me. Right? So I don't reform the outer circle, social reform, you know all the political game that is going on. First I put my house in order - my house, deeply, my house in order, and then there will be order out there. If you and I, all of us who are listening, put our house first in order we have created a new society.
Interviewer: It's a message that Krishnamurti believes could radically change the world in which we live, even if only a few of the thousands who listen actually understand. What happens in the tent is intended to be a conversation, but only rarely do the audience actually respond. They sit almost as rigid as the speaker, grappling with his often enigmatic utterances. Few of them probably have any idea of Krishnamurti off stage, of his love of good clothes and pleasant treats.
Mary Lutyens: You should see him when he comes to London.
Mary Lutyens: How elegant he looks then.
Interviewer: What does he like to do when he comes to London?
Mary Lutyens: He goes to his tailor, and he comes up for the dentist, and we always have lunch at Fortnum and Masons in a very quiet place at the top, the fourth floor, and to get his hair cut. Otherwise he hates London.
Interviewer: A lot of people would be horrified to think that someone that is preaching self-effacement, self-discovery, actually enjoys all those material and worldly things.
Mary Lutyens: He doesn't tell you to give up happiness, or to give up joy. I mean if you enjoy doing something, for goodness sake do it.
Interviewer: Krishnamurti leads a life untroubled by money worries, like the queen, he has distanced himself from it, owing none and handling none. His personal expenses are met by friends and the organisation of all the books and conferences is done by the Krishnamurti Foundation, a registered charity. The conference is held in the grounds of the Krishnamurti School; here in an enormous marquee K plays host.
Krishnamurti: I have forgotten the name of it, you know, from Japan.
Krishnamurti: Macrobiotic, that's it. Go crazy on that! As one goes crazy about yoga and all rest of it.
Laughter is part of seriousness. Right? If you don't know how to laugh and look at the sun and the trees, the dappled light, you are not quite human being. If you are merely churchy serious on Sunday then it is not serious. Laughter, smiles, that sense of humour, enjoying good jokes, not vulgar, but really good jokes.
Interviewer: The jokes Krishnamurti makes in public go rather sparse, but they along with everything else he says is enshrined for ever on videotape. Modern technology is giving an advantage to Krishnamurti denied to past gurus, philosophers and messiahs. Every interview he does, every speech he makes, is recorded and left unedited. Immediately after his morning speech at Brockwood for twenty three pounds people can buy a copy of the event. So even after his death there need be no interpreters. What impact do you think having the videos will have on the future?
Listener: May be we can avoid that it is going to be spoilt, the original. Like we talked about a little while ago, may be the whole Christianity would have been different if there had been videos in the time of Jesus Christ.
Interviewer: What do you think will happen when he dies?
Basil Gossage: I don't know. There will be interpreters, there will be people who will want to build organisations, but the beauty of it is we have these video tapes. They used to mistranslate the Bible, didn't they, say he said this, he said that, but the video tapes can't lie, they are there for posterity. It will go on with the individual, it must do.
Interviewer: How long are you going to carry on doing it for?
Krishnamurti: I have been asking people around, friends of mine, I say, the moment I am gaga stop me! I don't know. I have got plenty of energy, because you don't carry all the burden of the past - which is very nice.
Brockwood Park 1985
The Role of A Flower Brockwood Park a Tv Interview October, 1985
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