Perhaps few of us would tackle spiritual Reality, were it not for its underside – the pain when we are unable to be in relationship now: with what is. The passion of “the speaker” illumined for an instant, the blindingly obvious. Then we must find it for ourselves, chipping away beyond thought. Only life can do that: life and the chisel of decades from within. For a young person with insight, this is peculiarly painful. We are a work that is incomplete.
I find it valuable here, to honour the pain. We all know it. It is as crucial to spiritual growth as “the understanding” and “the creativity” when the sun comes out. Some of us wail into our notebooks; wisdom may come to this focus, as to any; here is a little of my workshop of the wailing. What follows is, in essence, a fairly typical “ashram” or guru-bhakti story:
Krishnamurti portrait, 2nd version
“Can the mind remain with sorrow, AS SORROW, not rationalise or run away from it? Can it remain motionless with this feeling we call sorrow? I hope you are doing this as the speaker is talking about it; otherwise it is no fun at all.
“Is there an action which is not based on an action? Action based on an idea is time. There is an inadequacy, a lack of complete identification, and therefore a conflict between the idea and the action. What is seeing? The act of looking brings its own order. Looking at the fact of sorrow. Look at that feeling, without a single image about yourself, or interpretation. This requires tremendous attention, concern, discipline. This seeing then, is the acting in which there is no time. The moment there is time, there is conflict.
“If I act according to an idea or ideal, I am insane! Of course I am! Real action at any level of our life is not the future according to an idea, but seeing, without the image of oneself. That is instant action. If you listen, that very act of listening itself, is an entire action.
“Our entire moral structure is based on our pleasure and fear, which is immoral …
J.Krisnamurti, Brockwood gathering, September 1974
Today is the back slipping of my heart. Don’t know what to do with it, this body. All cells a-dancing in a question mark of wanting. (But started a painting of Krish. which is very like him, and re-drew the portraits of two lads from Yorkshire. Hungry, and now listening to Liszt …
Tomorrow, to Brockwood again for a second weekend. Shall I see Daniel again there? “Shall we meet in London this week?” he asked. “No,” I said, “I’ve got things to do.” Truth was that, and also how to manage seeing him with regards Akiva; and in any case there was that “there’s all the time in the world” feeling, even though he’s off to Israel in ten days. I feel at such times, almost bewildered, contained, basking in and trying to digest the present, no plans to be made. But oh, on Tuesday night, I cried. And still it rains, with an endless wet whisper.
A gust of wind rocks all the people on the platform back like a wave. In South London the train rides among the chimneys. I love the way he cleaves me with that deep tender thrust of his, and fills me up, sweet pain.
Doing my best to steer away, with the company of other people, thoughts of this human being, whom I don’t want to load with my ludicrous heart-storm. Heart-storm destroys the ability to relate to him, or be friends. What a lot of insane energy is spent, trying to materialize things in the mind.
I don’t want to be addicted to his comings and goings. I want to enjoy the full tapestry, all the people, all my self. When there is no thinking, there’s no problem, like when you wake from sleep.
And desperately anxious about hypothetical exchanges with Asher, re my going away again this weekend – we are still living together, right up till the time he goes off to India – what if he wants to come too?
As I keep trying to grasp, there is no problem until the problem is invented. There is in truth, no problem anywhere – just situations.
Tree conference, Brittany 1987
It is Friday morning, and the sun is out. Night of dreams. Phone rang and it was Daniel. We arrange to meet at the Theosophical bookshop … but we don’t know at what time, because the pips ran out and he had to catch a train!
Today or tomorrow? Both are aspects of eternity. There is a terrific discipline with Daniel, like clear waters. Dreamed last night about Yorkshire and my father, and curious drifting creeks of land and sea. And dreamed I was kissing Daniel who was in his sleeping bag, and he was very vague as to if or when we would ever meet again, and I was trying to keep my cool.
So strange a thought pierces sometimes the clouds. It is about Krishnamurti giving talks at Brockwood, and sleeping in the house. Around him coasts a profusion of individual dramas – pain and personal turning points – of which my own is but one flighty little cell of anguish, among it all. Rather macabre! Why does K attract all that, like a magnet? What happens around him stings. “The observer is the observed.” How far does that go? That phrase reverberates from my childhood, from the searching of my father’s path.
WHAT, through the dim opening in my clouds … observes? “Whom” does it observe? Krishnamurti is the hub of a wheel turning around him.
I only grasped for a moment, that I suffer a fragment of what preoccupies all and everyone on a revolution of that wheel. There was some comfort seeing this. But such comfort was immediately removed from my hand and I “see” it no more.
Every individual at Brockwood is the messenger of his or her absorbent and urgent tapestry of life; each alone, and insoluble. Poor K – sitting in the middle of all those bees – would-be’s – that buzz around him! “If only one could just concentrate on Krish…” – on the entirety of the garden, the open walks in the wet windy woods. What a feast is lost through fear and anxiety and the complicated management of this.
Buoyant boats, Brittany 1987
“What is the problem in relationship? (Thunder outside – tent rattles) Attachment? detachment? and so on. Attachment to WHAT? Do, please go with me! Attachment to what? I’m attached to YOU – my wife, my father, my mother, my sister, my – wife, my girlfriend -whatever it is. God, I’m glad I haven’t got any of those. Thank God! (laughter) Sorry! Don’t impose them on me please! Heh!
“Attached to what? Dominating what? Jealous of what? Attached to what?
“Attached to the image that I have built about her and she has built about me, out of her loneliness, out of – whatever it is. You follow all this? Please, watch it! because we are going to – we are showing that a problem that arises in human relations can be dissolved INSTANTLY. Not carried over. The carrying over is the INSANITY.
“What is the mind attached to, when it says “I am attached to my wife”? “my house” – whatever – attached? (Thunder) Attached to the image I have built about her? Am I attached to HER – please listen! – or to HIM? or to the IMAGE I have built about her or him? Obviously, to the image! I can’t be attached to the person, because the person is living! moving! has its own desires, its own ambitions, its own problems, its own – pettiness, its own – shallowness, its own – emptiness. But I am attached to the image that I have built about her. And that image becomes MUCH more important than her. (Croaks)
“Can my mind be free from building images? You understand? (Pleads) because then I’ve ended the problem. Are you moving with me? Can the mind empty its images about her? She’s hurt me, by word, by gesture, by some – act. The hurt is to the image I have about myself. And I am attached to that image and to the hurt. And that is non-relationship – which is insanity! I am living according to an image I have built about her, about myself. An IMAGE – you understand? – which is an idea ; and therefore has nothing whatever to do with relationship.
“So can the mind never build an image? Which means — be aware at the moment of hurt.
“If you have no image, you won’t be hurt. It’s only when I have an image about myself that I can do something about it, kick it around. But if I have no image about myself, you can’t kick it around. So can the mind be free of image building – which is the ideation? which is the same thing in other words – so that everything that the man or the woman does is instantly perceived and dissolved, so that there is no image at all, which means every incident is over for the next moment, and the mind is young, fresh and innocent.”
K, Brockwood 1974
Brockwood. Hearing Krishnamurti speak again, I dived into my little capsule of pain, and have only just climbed out. Capsule is all it is. It exists, but it isn’t ALL, unless you choose to have it so.
DON’T RUN AWAY TO I-DON’T-KNOW!
Squall approaches, Brittany 1986
It is a bit of a cult around here. Daniel and his friends bubble around the hot pot of Krishnamurti talk and Krishnamurti tapes (so do I at times, just to keep with it) like a gang of schoolboys. I’ll go home tomorrow. As to Daniel – I haven’t said an honest word to him all day. End of affair. Too much romanticism and starry nights on my part. All bullshit. He’s more than a fraction “precious”. I mistrust every word I say. Must learn not to invest emotions, or imagine what our kids could look like. Leave him be.
There is no fact in suffering. The fact is a circumstance that causes suffering, but the suffering itself is phantom! a mind storm! To cling to what happened, and declare it responsible for what I am feeling now, is to live in unreality. So what do I bloody well do about what I’m feeling now? If there is just the fact, there is no pain. Pain’s a waste of time – to rub sand into a wound, just to exist.
The quality of open attention which is living, is fouled up by the intrusion of my injured self, its smallness, the way it picks away at all the idiotic, tense and embarrassing things I have said and been, and at every nuance of rejection. That little injured self … is all I know; that is what is meant by having to die to oneself! I’m not afraid of my body dying. I’m afraid of the death of my state of consciousness which in all its labyrinth is so essential to me, but so meaningless when applied to being with others; to the world, in short.
Recognise no authority. No person. Become aware of the moment, the total pulse, and put the other thing away, the thing which through its hurt, recognizes my existence … and what is that false flat existence but a dream? There are only the facts – as I heard over and over again as a child. They are plain enough to see. But I do not find it interesting enough just to see them, I cling to this Hollywood drama about them. One has to be so tuned in, to recognize and strip bare without comment or commentary all those fleeting escape runs back to fantasy and what-if – within the quick of their instant.
And it isn’t a goal to seek to achieve. If it is, it sends me right back into the falsehood. It has to be the right action by WHAT IS. To act as NOW, shrivels the monstrous shadows my memory prompts from the stage wings.
Keep the door open! (Daniel said.) “Keep the door open!”
There is in fact, no door.
The reality I want is health. I want an active, not a passive condition.
See it, when the phantom comes billowing like a huge wave, a monster of importance with black patches all over it, just let it come, and SEE it. It cannot withstand those Medusa eyes of truth. It is no longer there. And the future isn’t even here yet!
And there’s no value either in glorifying the insight which helped me to see.
The cross is no longer with us. There is but one Way.
“Now, without stress or strain, can you be aware of yourself? Can you watch yourself? Can you watch the content of your own mind — the beliefs, the national feeling, the pettiness, the shallowness, the desires, the anxieties, fears — all that is a part of your consciousness — identification with a country, with a name, with a property, and so on, so on. And the hurts which one has received from childhood. Now. Are you aware of all this content? And content makes up consciousness. Without the content there is no so called consciousness! Right? Let me put it briefly. Meditation is the emptying of the mind of its content, as its consciousness, and going beyond. We will discuss and talk about meditation some other time.”
K, Brockwood 1974
A Meadow in West Hampstead
I have so strong an urge to keep him with me, by whatever means. The state of “in-love” is a self engendered state of fear. At the beginning it is not there. There is encounter, the ebb and flow. It develops through absence and threat of ‘losing’. I make of him an emotional possession though nobody owns him. From that point on, the relationship is false.
He, seeing this, will not be drawn into even a compassionate involvement. Owning and being owned by no one, he is clear. Friend to not just one, but everyone, he has no frontiers. It is worthless to give time, company, body, talk, into a vacuum. There is no filling, ever, of my vacuum “from outside”.
I went through many gates of anger, bitterness. Every time I saw Daniel around the grounds of the house, it was agony. He has time, space for everybody. He is deeply and humanely involved in the Krishnamurti set-up and all its relationships, questions and internecine events. Why shut himself away with one sorrow, from the tapestry? Ah … but what I am seeing, and this breaks my heart, is what I wanted to be, when I first came here. I wanted to be a free agent, a celebrant at the feast.
Then I am robbed of my self. I stand outside the window, I am lost. It is no longer my garden. I spent the day alone, and very hurt. Krishnamurti talked about suffering, this morning.
I went off afterwards and cried at the senseless conundrum of it all. Towards the end of the day, I understood it was my craving and dishonesty which made relationship with Daniel impossible. So I sought him no more. No more did I clamber around fields and through woodlands and strain my eyes through knots of people. Finis.
I spent the evening sitting in the crowd around the bright fire near the kitchen tent. Out in the wind, which still blew great gusts, sparks flew in the intense darkness, and the flames lit up our faces as we tried to warm ourselves for the night. I knew an extraordinary articulacy and fluidity with the people of that moment – a superficial skating, a temporary reprieve from the blow. Perhaps my dreams of flying are pain relief?
I know this. When I suffer, but have decided to bed the pain into the embers, the words flow. Always. Talking. Writing. Manic perceptions and comedy. Like blood.
Why is The Speaker such a talker? Why is there this tremendous sound and activity around him? Why, he is fire, fire, fire.
Something burns him.
I come face to face with the deep, unutterable shame of my personal being. I become alien: the Outside, looking in. It lacerates whatever form it takes – right up through the core. It is because Daniel is joy and I am not. We are camped among scruffy trees and bushes.
I did not know whether or not to expect him in my tent that night. When I went in, I found his sleeping bag there, with mine. Earlier I decided to sever all connection, but then this seemed just a pose, and I decided to accept whatever happened. At about 11.30 he arrived, I was in bed and still feeling cold. We talked unsuccessfully, and had sex even more unsuccessfully, from the communication point of view. At last there was no more pretence or theatre. I took the lid off and let him see what went on, not just its noise, but my actual unspeakable problem. He gave to this an attention which was total and uncompromisingly loving, his arms around me, listening.
Since then, when we talked – moments snatched from the river in which he flowed – he reiterated this attention, the urgency of “now” – to “stay with this thing no more! Keep the door open and always go through it – do not close it round yourself. When you feel it shutting, even just a bit, put your foot in it, your hand in it, push it, push on and through, that same door is habit when it closes, and truth when it opens, but you must work at it, every moment. This is emergency! NOTHING is more important than to open the egg. Nothing to defend! Keep watch. Listen. What is it?”
Daniel is very young, younger even than me. Various entanglements of wine, woman and song, which I needn’t talk about here, advised him to steer his course clear of the romantic monogamous envelope, and from the pollution of possessing. His wing is down also. He is very young, with the ruthlessness of a growing tree.
You smile with the no-nonsense joy that is verily your own. When I am with you, I am self-critical. But I don’t want to be. At moments, a terrific pulse connected us, and other moments disconnected it; and other moments still – like now – we lay together talking. There’s a light in your eyes, in the night’s damp pallor; and you held me to you with much warmth in the morning, and there was no need for me to try to flop about and try to kiss you, try to be a seductive siren.
But I wanted to stay in his arms – fact or figuratively – all day. Only on the face of it, could I accept he must come and go. As soon as we left the tent, the old grief flooded back, winding its envelope around me – the senseless, paralytic jealousy whenever I saw him with someone else. Do you know why? It’s because he looks like an insider; and I want to be one of “them”.
I want to be seen by everyone he knows, being cherished and claimed. This is the pathos of my snobbery to this imaginary prince.
Knowing there is no other way.
To go around with Daniel all day, would be having him. And what is the having of that gentle beauty and hard truth for my own, to separate from the rest of the garden? Illusion! Illusion and therefore rot. He has the clarity to stay out of the scenario, even when, as he said, there were times during the day when I looked so lost and empty he wanted to go up and hug and comfort me, and almost did. We had agreed on something.
And once when I’d been walking everywhere looking for him, I came back from somewhere and found him, he’d been looking for me too, because someone was going to take a photograph of us all together, the inner circle of this camp, and he couldn’t find me, so I wasn’t in it, and I could have been. Perhaps … when the next Krishnamurti bulletin comes out, it’ll have the photo in it, and I shall be able to see Daniel in it, among the people?
Something to hold.
Two boats, seascape
I never knew what to say to his eyes. My mouth was nervous. And in a dark place, a barn perhaps, sheltering from the rain with some others, I looked at him and thought, “you’re not so handsome really. Your arms are under developed. You’re not really manly …” and other nit picking things. He was off to France that evening, and then to Israel. Were it to continue, there could be no truth. Michelle – the woman with whom he shares the tent and some travelling – and I, we spoke sometimes in a brittle way, and I watched her closely. I sensed in her a feeling which was worn out, but maybe that was me. She’s his travelling companion. My jealousy, what’s it like for her? She has a son, Louis, in his early teens. She has shaggy hair, and she lives in the warmth of Daniel’s world. I went up to London on the train with her, Louis, Daniel and several other people from the field. Daniel and I shared more insights. He was committed to bathe our encounter in as healing a light as he could summon up – which stripped me further of my hopes and left me humble and lame. The lameness and exhaustion brought back in its turn more of that false hope in him as my comforter. He told me I am too sexually self-conscious. “It’s the way you put your eyes on me and dwell on it, just like that. You know, you’re just FULL of feminine wiles and devices, you are! What am I to do?”
He stood for a long time as I found my way through the ticket machines, seeing me off with love, or whatever it is that shines steadily in his eyes. He gave me a book he carried with him for a long time – Kazantzakis’ Travels in Greece. He said it could be a portrait of himself – he has a way of being a hero – and he chuckles disparagingly with his own weaknesses, flinging them often away as the ruthless young sapling does, to grow, to wander and be alive. “Write to me,” he said “the address in Israel, it’ll find me. Write me lots of letters!”
That is the way he comforts, and it is genuine, it is Consciousness to Life. Life is devastated by the increment of Consciousness.
Does Michelle look weary? Has she been through all this – was she still …? Yes … so he told me earlier, how much she too wants to hold him with her, some ligaments of their own hold them close, he cannot leave her, but nor is he “with” her only. “With her, you see,” he had told me “it is a little different. She has a son of her own. She needs a kind of protecting, Louis needs it, I need it, I suppose.”
For that night, for him, Michelle and Louis, the boat, the crossing, the luggage, the trains, the clash and confusion of conveyences. For me … home to face Asher as if nothing had happened.
In the Kazantzakis book are many passages he marked. I turn the pages, a little dazed. Here are a few:
“Whoever has a field, says Buddha, thinks of the field, dreams of the field, becomes the field. Only he who has nothing can be free.”
“The sternest emotion, the most daring fantasy in order to live – or better still, in order to be born –requires a body. The creator discovers the body only by looking about him, how the light plays, how the mountains stand immobile … The quality and resistance of matter – marble or granite or mud – determine not only his methods but his heart as well. There is no closed impassable barrier between artist and landscape. The landscape penetrates the artist’s body through its five portals and fashions his senses; and as it fashions them, a likeness is formed in their image.”
“Only through struggle and selection would some few bodies achieve the lofty victory of the flower.”
“We have no more than a single instant at our disposal; let us make eternity of that instant – there is no other immortality.”
“The timeless Greek landscape, cut to the measure of men, flooded with light. At each instant, it is slightly altered, even while remaining the same; it shimmers, flourishing its beauty, regenerates itself, and so does not tire you.”
“Auntie Lenio, he said, died day before yesterday. Our hearts constricted. We sensed that a word had perished; perished, and now no one could place it in a verse and render it immortal.”
“Socrates would never go fishing for the soul in today’s gymnasiums.”
“Quickly I left, mocking my heart, which was ready once more to break.”
My adventure invites fellow travellers. I am a poet, an artist and a seer. I welcome conversation among the PHILO SOFIA, the lovers of wisdom.
This blog is a vehicle to promote my published work – The Sacred India Tarot (with Rohit Arya, Yogi Impressions Books) and The Dreamer in the Dream – a collection of short stories (0 Books) – along with many other creations in house.
I write, illustrate, design and print my books. Watch this space.