Thursday, March 22, 2012

J. Krishnamurti and Beauty

Indian tradition defines beauty as that which becomes new every time you look at it. The Tibetan concept of drala, which speaks of the beauty of ordinary things, too speaks of beauty that appears new every time you look at it. A short while ago, I was reading a wonderful book: Krishnamurti to Himself – His Last Journal. The book is beautiful, like all his journals and diary. And this one is especially significant since it is the very last thing he “wrote” – at the age of eighty-seven. As the introduction by Mary Lutyens points out, since by then his hands had become shaky and it was difficult for him to write, he was requested to dictate the journal to himself. The dictations were done in the mornings, as Krishnamurti rested in his bed after breakfast. What struck me first as I read the opening pages of the Journal was how Krishnamurti sees beauty in everything, and how that object of beauty changes from moment to moment for him and how he sees beauty anew after every change. In ancient India the name for the poet and the wise man was the same – kavi. The rishis of yore were called kavis and the word kavi was explained as krantadrishti – one who saw beyond the normal perception, one who saw what others missed, one who saw the depths, the beyond. A central concept to Zen, which is actually beyond all concepts, is the beginner’s mind, as in the title of the celebrated modern Zen classic Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind. The beginner’s mind is like the child’s mind, which sees beauty in everything, every time he looks at it. He can hear the same story a hundred times, because he hears it anew every time – in fact, the child would often ask his grandmother who tells him stories to tell a particular story day after day, or night after night. He does not know boredom because his mind has the ability to see newness in every telling. Krishnamurti of course had the kavi’s mind. He had the beginner’s mind, the Zen mind. We see it in every talk he gives, every entry in his journals. Here is part of the first entry in the Journal. The entry is dated 25th February, 1983 and was written at Brockwood Park. 0o0 “There is a tree by the river and we have been watching it day after day for several weeks when the sun is about to rise. As the sun rises slowly over the horizon, over the trees, this particular tree becomes all of a sudden golden. All the leaves are bright with life and as you watch it as the hours pass by, that tree whose name does not matter - what matters is that beautiful tree - an extraordinary quality seems to spread all over the land, over the river. “And as the sun rises a little higher the leaves begin to flutter, to dance. And each hour seems to give to that tree a different quality. Before the sun rises it has a sombre feeling, quiet, far away, full of dignity. And as the day begins, the leaves with the light on them dance and give it that peculiar feeling that one has of great beauty. By midday its shadow has deepened and you can sit there protected from the sun, never feeling lonely, with the tree as your companion. As you sit there, there is a relationship of deep abiding security and a freedom that only trees can know. “Towards the evening when the western skies are lit up by the setting sun, the tree gradually becomes sombre, dark, closing in on itself. The sky has become red, yellow, green, but the tree remains quiet, hidden, and is resting for the night. “If you establish a relationship with it then you have relationship with mankind. You are responsible then for that tree and for the trees of the world. But if you have no relationship with the living things on this earth you may lose whatever relationship you have with humanity, with human beings. “We never look deeply into the quality of a tree; we never really touch it, feel its solidity, its rough bark, and hear the sound that is part of the tree. Not the sound of wind through the leaves, not the breeze of a morning that flutters the leaves, but its own sound, the sound of the trunk and the silent sound of the roots. You must be extraordinarily sensitive to hear the sound. This sound is not the noise of the world, not the noise of the chattering of the mind, not the vulgarity of human quarrels and human warfare but sound as part of the universe. “It is odd that we have so little relationship with nature, with the insects and the leaping frog and the owl that hoots among the hills calling for its mate. We never seem to have a feeling for all living things on the earth. If we could establish a deep abiding relationship with nature we would never kill an animal for our appetite, we would never harm, vivisect, a monkey, a dog, a guinea pig for our benefit. We would find other ways to heal our wounds, heal our bodies. “But the healing of the mind is something totally different. That healing gradually takes place if you are with nature, with that orange on the tree, and the blade of grass that pushes through the cement, and the hills covered, hidden, by the clouds. This is not sentiment or romantic imagination but a reality of a relationship with everything that lives and moves on the earth. “Man has killed millions of whales and is still killing them. All that we derive from their slaughter can be had through other means. But apparently man loves to kill things, the fleeting deer, the marvellous gazelle and the great elephant. We love to kill each other. This killing of other human beings has never stopped throughout the history of man’s life on this earth. If we could, and we must, establish a deep long abiding relationship with nature, with the actual trees, the bushes, the flowers, the grass and the fast moving clouds, then we would never slaughter another human being for any reason whatsoever. Organized murder is war, and though we demonstrate against a particular war, the nuclear, or any other kind of war, we have never demonstrated against war. We have never said that to kill another human being is the greatest sin on earth.” 0o0