"A mind that is unafraid is always alone, not isolated, but alone. It is only the mind that is frightened, anxious, guilty, greedy, envious, that is always seeking company, afraid to be alone."
I remember the first time I laid my eyes on Jiddu Krishnamurti. I was in my early 20's, living in San Fransisco. At the time, I was enrolled at the Community College, where I ended up getting a Bachelor of Fine Arts, now called a Bachelor of Science. For the arts classes, I mostly registered in the courses offered at the Fort Mason campus, by Fisherman's Warf area. The small campus was by the ocean and that alone was enough to make me happy...
Every morning I rode my bicycle from the crowded Mission district where I lived to the clear and fresh view of the ocean. In the afternoon, once the classes finished, I rode my bicycle back through the coastal trail, crossed the Golden Gate park and back down to the Mission. On the way, I liked to take a break somewhere on the coast, watching the horizon, or sitting under a tree in the park. This was my breath of fresh air.
The Fort Mason buildings only offered art classes. Apart from the ocean being close by another reason I enjoyed being at that campus was that it was away from the main campus busting activities. Away from the crowded hallways, the youth and it's noise, the kids in business class showing of their latest purchases, away from the cool kids and the nerdy kids, away from the youth games of unsecurity. The wild side of youth, I had enough at home and in my personal life. At the time, I was living in a roomate situation, 4 freaks in a Mission flat. The drugs and the parties flowed plenty. School was for me the place to rest from the wild life, not a place to connect to other youths.
"Freedom is not choice. Choice prevents freedom. It is only with doubt that we have to make a choice. In doubting, no freedom...I am confused and there is disorder, must I not first be free of that disorder before I talk of freedom?"
I did not come to university to play or because I had to. I was at university because I actually wanted to study. After years of working as a cook in restaurants, after being laid of from a restaurant that closed down, I had decided it was time to go
back to school. I was young, full of energy and questions, and I wanted to figure out what this life thing was all about. I didn't want to smell like onions for the rest of my life, I had to study to better my life. I was a kid full of unanswered questions, full of drugs, and full of life: love, god, freedom, life, I had to understand. Against any type of authority, seing that the world was full of problems, I was a rebel without a cause, lost and confused, I was your normal rebellious youth. I was young, and the world was my Oyster.
"A mind that is full of light does not seek; it is only the dull, confused mind that's always seeking and hoping to find. What it finds is the result of it's own confusion."
The Fort Mason classes were mostly filled with older and retired folks, coming from Marine county across the bridge. To pass time in their later years, they enjoyed taking art classes, painting, etching, carving, and putting their hands in the clay. I always enjoyed being around the older folks. I enjoyed their quietness, I enjoyed disliking the flowers they painted and making the old little ladies angry when I used a heavy and smelly black marker.
I was a little punk, yet, there was something in the old folks that I wanted. Maybe it was their peace, maybe their wisdom after a life time of being on this earth. I don't know what it was, but I enjoyed being around them a million times more that being around the youth at the main campus. I needed the quiet quality of old age, I needed grounding away from the constant identity searching that is youth. I needed a bit of death to ground the extra life I had in me. I was free as a bird, and I wanted to know what to do with this freedom.
"The essence of religion is freedom, not to do what you like, that is too childish, too immature and too contradictory, bringing great conflict, misery and confusion. Freedom again is something enterely diferent. Freedom means to have no conflict, psychologically, in wardly. And with freedom the brain becomes holistic, not fragmented in itself. Freedom also means love, compassion; and there is no freedom if there is no intelligence. Intelligence is inherent in compassion and love. "
Amongst the old folks, we were a few youths, a few freaks. The anti social, the wild, the untamed, a few that were serious about doing art. Art wasn't just something to do, art was the only thing we could do, art was life itself.
It was in a printing class. I can't remember his name, all I see is his blue eyes and white hair. I think he was a beautiful man, we used to speak and I just remember enjoying our talks. As we were talking about dreams one day, he told me he had something for me. The next class, he came and gave me my first Jiddu Krishnamurti book. He said "I think you might enjoy him." With my young and immature 20 year old something brain, I read the book, and enjoyed it. I am not sure what a thinker like Krishnamurti can put in a young mind, but what I am sure of, is that he puts seeds which will take a life time to bloom.
"To have peace, you must live peacefully, that is no ambition, no competition, no nationality, no class division, no petty little division of race, of country, linguistic or non linguistic. To live peacefuly you must be at peace with yourself."
J Krishnamurti has been with me ever since. Throughout the years, I fell asleep with a few other teachers, but Krishnamurti is one that keeps on coming back. He always sets the clock back to zero, and I respect him for that. The years passed, the books, the life experiences, the travels, everything passed, and Krishnamurti's books remained a space I could always go back to for peace.
Years laters, having gone through enough texts and my own life experiences, Krishnamurti remains one of the top thinkers I have encountered in my life. After more than a decade break away from him, I read him again this year, while I was in Verkala, Kerala, South India. A perfect companion, he took me again to where I enjoy going: the center with no circomference. He takes me to a far away place, away from the human turmoils and sufferings, away from the comings and goings of the human mind. He takes me to a place of stillness, of quietness, and of peace. He takes me at the very center of the human experience, with all it's beauty and all it's lies, the center where all the madness stops, because it is nowhere to be found. It just is. That's what the greatest teachers remind us of, they take us back to the sacred space we all carry deep inside our heart. It is in this center, that meditation occurs, in this center that we quiet the monkey mind. It is in this center that we simply are, with no thoughts, no experience, no nothing, just blooming.
"Once mind understood, wholy, there is no more ache for something better, the mind is clear, foundation has been laid. This mind has no experience at all."
In Verkala, in the morning, I would go watch the sunrise on the beach. I'd sit on the stairs, and have a cup of chai, watching the sun light give colors to the morning rituals. Every day, Indian pilgrams came to do their pujas (prayers). Dressed in white, the color of death for the Hindus, they'd pray, repeating the mantras that the brahman priest told them to say. They'd turn around, hands in the air, a coconut piece and incense stick in the hands. The finish line was by the ocean, they said good bye to the dead. As much as I find the rituals to be absurd, I also understand the need for them. Every morning, I found the scene beautiful, grounding, just like the old folks in the Fort Mason building used to make me feel. A sense of peace came over me, every thing is perfect in a perfect world, as crazy as this world is, it remains perfection incarnated.
"Religions have become mere rituals, like coorporations, without any meaning. Religion creates their own images to escape through illusion, through a symbol, through an ideal, it is an easy way out."
To finish my Kerala time, I read Krishnamurti's last book. More than 40 years of talking around the world and inner process compiled in 150 pages. What used to take him 400 pages of long speech, now took a tiny booklet to say. Old age had come to him, and all that was left was to enjoy the sound of the wind on the moving leaves, the scent of the air and the birds song in the morning.
J Krishnamurti went, but his legacy remains. The years keep on passing, and the seeds that Jiddu put in my mind keep on growing. Such seeds take as long as nature needs them to take in order to bloom into a flower. I don't know if we can ever fully digest a mind like Jiddu's mind. He wanted no followers, no gurus, no teachers, rather he wanted to share ideas and minds. A punk will remain a punk, and a beautiful punk he was. Thank you Jiddu for being a light onto yourself, so your light can inspire others to light up their own inner light. I hope that one day, somewhere, the society you and other wise men have dreamed about can bloom, even if this society can only be found in the heart of dreamers... may flowers keep on blooming.
All quotes from J.Krishnamurti. Pictures taken in Kathmandu. Thank you to the man who gave me a book more than 20 years ago. And always thank you to my family, without whom I would not be.
Article originally published here.