Would J. Krishnamurti Have Dissolved The Krishnamurti Foundation America (KFA)?
-- April 2014 By Reza Ganjavi
Would K Have Dissolved The KFA?. 2
“Krishnamurti Meditation” 2
Mixing K. 2
KFA’s Yoga Negates K’s Notion. 2
Reckless Attitude. 2
Ravi Ravindra Tragedy. 2
“Orthodox JK People”?! 2
Note From Trustee. 2
Dissemination or Dissuasion?! 2
What’s Next? Kali Puja?. 2
Institutional Ego vs. Living It 2
Ray of Light at End of the Tunnel 2
The following are my opinions. I have been utmost diligent and objective in researching and presenting them, however, please do not accept them as facts and do your own research.
The term ex-Director refers to an the previous Executive Director of KFA. I dropped the extra “ex” after seeing an email from India refer to him as ex-Director which is somewhat ambiguous because he is still a Director so if “ex” means executive, he’s not the executive director, and if it means previous, he is still a director. But I rode on the same ambiguity instead of using the term ex-ExDirector which is what I originally had.
It doesn’t matter who that person is. This is not a date sensitive document. It’s not a personal attack. I have no hard feelings for anyone mentioned here directly or indirectly, although they will likely turn it into a personal attack because that is the dirty habit of organizations when they’re challenged (read “institutional ego” section below).
The intention behind writing this was nothing but historical documentation of what occurred after a great man died – as far as I know nobody else is capturing these in writing.
This was written as part of my Spring 2014 circular but was spawned into this separate document.
The idea of dissolution of KFA might seem like a radical one but at least it gets the points across about the fact that “the house is on fire” and it’s not the first time in history that a foundation has been in such a state – in the past I read that K was ready to walk about from it all and I believe he could – he dissolved the “order of the star of the east” with all its might and money.
Would K Have Dissolved The KFA?
It is no mystery to anyone who’s studied Krishnamurti’s life and teachings that he was extremely wary of organizations. Why? I think because organizations can distort, deny freedom, fall for games of power and money, etc. – during his life time he was very adamant about dissolving the Krishnamurti Foundation India (KFI) (according to the biographies I read) but his friends talked him out of it (it wasn’t easy) – and he called KFA, the American foundation, idiotic (I don’t know the full circumstances around this statement but it came from a credible source – another person told me he treated the foundation like family). Based on what I know about him, having read 80+ books including all his biographies, I don’t think he would hesitate for a moment in dissolving KFA given what has been going on. I believe KFA has been actively and recklessly engaged in distorting Krishnamurti including promoting things he discarded for years. Some examples follow.
KFA obviously does some good work too, e.g., publications. Its charter is preservation and dissemination. As I understand it the preservation job is done – and the core of dissemination is first living it (discussed in past circulars).
The following section demonstrate why KFA is on a fast track to dilution of K’s teachings.
There are many fields in the “new age” or “spiritual” field from past life regression -- (reminds me of the 1924 nonsense book by Besant/Leadbeater called “Lives of Alcyon” which supposedly depicts 48 past lives of K – fiction fed to the world as fact) -- to all kinds of other nonsense which people find appealing. There are many organizations which cater to these things – or even religious rituals… But these are outside the charter of the organizations which K so reluctantly agreed to exist after his name.
I heard the ex-Director was going to travel and give speech about “Krishnamurti Meditation”. Do you see the tragedy of it? How poor K talked so much about “no system” and 30 years later he’s being commercialized as having had a system – K meditation – K yoga…
KFA has held a number of events on its facilities which have the consequence of “mixing” K with other things against his wish and stern warning against this. Why are they doing this? I believe
a) for money
b) to do something to attract more people; but is the dilution worth it?
I heard of a birthing event, and use of facilities e.g., by a Robert Wolfe’s “Non Duality” group since one of the trustees is his publisher I haven’t seen Robert for years but saw his videos and books and while I wish him well, his work is way outside KFA’s charter, and dilutive.
I know some international trustees have an issue with this, and I believe KFA might have stopped using the facilities for other things but they’re still using it to have Ravi Ravindra deliver his speech on “soul journey”, the most awful disgrace, distortions, and interpretations of K – and it’s especially painful since K spent so much energy warning about interpreters, authorities -- and, perils of organizations! (see section below).
KFA’s Yoga Negates K’s Notion
Recently the foundation hosted yoga retreats. K clearly stated he did yoga exercises for physical benefits and nothing more. His making this clear was important because a lot of nonsense is associated with yoga these days and yoga has itself been diluted – and – misunderstood as a way of finding higher truth. Of course releasing physical tension and improving health can help the overall life experience but yoga, per se, is not a means of finding “higher truth”.
In a review of the last retreat KFA wrote: “Together we learned that yoga is about the mind and the ability to perceive clearly.” This is a clear contradiction, inconsistency, and negation of what K went out of his way to state otherwise.
KFA’s yoga retreat includes teaching participants Vedic chanting. Vedic chanting – I repeat – in USA at a Krishnamurti Foundation.
One could argue, K chanted when he was in India. Yes he did sometimes but he also wore Indian clothes there. What does chanting words most people don’t understand the meaning in a language people don’t speak have to do with K’s work? The answer is, Zero! On the other hand, every mediocre yoga outlet offers chanting. Just another form of dilution –call it Bhakti yoga or what you will -- it’s dilution of K’s precious work; sponsoring Sanskrit chanting class does NOT fit into KFA’s charter.
A local observer who found the direction “disturbing” wrote: ”yoga is used as something not just for the body but more…
For a while the event was advertised as follows which is the exact thing K warned against. It speaks volumes about the intention however it might be reworded:
“Is it possible to approach Krishnamurti’s teachings in a different way with the support of a yoga practice?
A 5-day event where participants engage in yoga and dialogue, opening up an opportunity for exploration and self-knowledge. Yoga will be used as an avenue to create space for the mind… [etc.]”
Next thing you know is marketing of “Krishnamurti yoga” – already being lectured by Ravi Ravindra (see below).
One of the people who provided constructive criticism at a meeting with trustees was asked to meet the the ex-Director one to one – in a typical effort to contain all dissent. In that conversation it was said that K is getting sucked into tradition. It was painful for me to hear this because 30 years ago driving with the them ExDirector, he had this same pessimistic attitude, that oh, it will all just wither away.
Are people still reading Rumi? Why should K wither away ?
On the other hand, the very attitude by the supposed guardians of this work leads to exactly what we are witnessing: recklessness. When you think something is going away anyway, you don’t care any more, and that very carelessness is what I sense in the work of the foundation – fast track to mediocrity. When will they put on a Kali Puja? I bet it will attract a lot of people!
I know many trustees of various foundations, and their attitudes, and am sure that many don’t have the attitude that K will get distorted anyway, that it will vanish into tradition and become another mediocre, boring, insignificant, mythical nonsense. In fact in a conversation one long term close friend of K (not people who were in the background and after his death want to portray they were in the forefront) and trustee told me her attitude which is very contrary to the above.
One staff member reacted to the subject as: “Even if you think it’s inevitable, you don’t bow down to it”
The title of his most recent talk at KFA speaks volumes: “Special Event - Self-Knowledge: Journey of the Soul with Ravi Ravindra”
Soul Journey? How about past life regression and throw in some mantra, tantra, and mandala? What about the soul. Oh, all the discourses K had about the soul (NOT!). Journey? Reading this stuff is tragic in light of 65+ years of hard work by the man who didn’t want any organizations and authorities to compromise his very serious work, and it’s happening right before our eyes.
One of several examples of KFA diluting the teachings is to repeatedly asking Ravi Ravindra to speak at the Foundation. Originally Indian, Ravi teaches or taught at a university in Canada and has written some books on traditional stuff, and a horrible book, or should I say, tabloid, on K where he writes of K’s attraction to virgin girls, other cheap nonsense, using horrible logic and terrible arguments. I wrote about the book (or rather, the tabloid) on www.rezamusic.com
I guess being a friend of the ex-Director is why he keeps getting invited to speak. One speech of his I saw in Ojai, gave me the impression that he’s totally clueless when it comes to K – an impression which was based on his own admission that he did not understand K. As soon as he starts talking about K that comes across loud and clear – and reminds me of Mary Lutyens saying some of the people close to K were totally clueless, and she resembled it to burning if one is too close to the sun. I’ve written about this in the past including in the chapter:
K is NOT too difficult / the curse of “Nobody Got It”: 2013 circular on www.rezamusic.com
Appendix of Letter to KFA on www.rezamusic.com
So yes, Ravi knew K personally – so did I :) – but how “close” he was to K or what K may or may not have said to him is irrelevant. Anyway, I don’t recall him appearing in any of the documented discourses. The important facts are:
his own admission to not having understood K
his words, talks, lectures, discussions, all of which testify loud and clear to point (a)
he’s an academic and carries some titles after his name which put him in a position of an authority, at least in the minds of some people, and the way he’s introduced at the KFA
he’s a fundamentalist in my opinion – talk about orthodox – he’s deep into Indian traditions, knows them very well, and is a perfect hatchet man for making sure K gets absorbed by traditions -- the ex-Director has envisaged this absorption for a long time.
Putting aside all this and any images of past, let’s look at his recent talk at the KFA. By the way, the comment of KFA insulting critics as “orthodox JK people” was about this talk.
Ravindra starts his talk with a quote by Petanjali (LMAO). He repeatedly referred to spiritual traditions and attempted to fit Krishnamurti into tradition. This by itself is a disgrace. He went on to promote concepts which K directly discarded, showing how clueless he is about some of the most basic things K talked about – promotes bankrupt concepts like higher vs. lower self – quotes traditions, hints at the concept of time as means to change via one story (again, something K spent so much energy discarding, clarifying) – promotes spiritual hierarchy, the many levels of the self and such complete utter nonsense which he is obviously repeating like a parrot from traditions which are so meaningless, mediocre, dull, and absolutely have NOTHING to do with K, what he stood for, what he taught, what he lived.
And having promoted his confusion, in his most boring tone, he promotes the idea that it is darn difficult!! Another disgrace – K spent a lot of energy discarding that idea and inviting people to inquire – K was very very clear and anybody that inquired into the pointers and challenges would likely find clarity -- but the speaker at the foundation K dreaded having, is utterly confused himself, and is promoting confusion, in the backdrop of a man’s work which was about clarity.
Despite all his quoting of Gita, Upanishads, Petanjali Sutras, etc, Ravi’s talk was a tragedy and a disgrace to K. Shame on KFA for knowingly bringing him again and again to spread his confusion. But then again when the ex-Director thinks K would get sucked into traditions, having Ravi around makes sense!
Ravi’s talk was a disgrace to K – I believe K would have been disappointed at people coming to his place to hear such utter nonsense which was so much against 65 years of K’s hard work. The issue is dilution, distortion, and interpretation. K vehemently warned against such things and 30 years later it’s right in his home!
As one example, Ravindra obviously never found out if the different levels of the self he promotes are just illusions!! His solution to his bankrupt concepts are just as bankrupt – traditional formulas – surrender, and other such nonsense.
One of the confused members of the audience asked “what am I to do”? Wrong person to ask of. But sure enough the answer was completely idiotic. Ravindra said, see what you’re not (LOL). He said becoming aware of what you are not brings freedom. Duh ! Poor K – I really feel sorry for him spending decades pointing to the importance of seeing what you are. Now his foundation is promoting seeing what you are not. Fantastic!
The promotion of illusions and confusion was endless… that the ego can’t be understood, etc. etc. I have lots of other examples of his clueless statements in regards to the core teachings of K, but this is enough. It’s really very disturbing to see such a man be brought again and again to promote his confusion at the KFA. Really shameful.
The ex-Director introduced his friend as having a best seller book – talk about promotion of authority – well his most sold book on Amazon had a ranking of 412,572th when I looked it up. That means 421,000 books sold better than his!
KFA turned around and insulted people who found Ravi’s talk inappropriate and an act of dilution of K’s grand work into the mire of mediocrity, by saying, “at times he uses language and stories that rankle the orthodox JK people”.
That’s not the case and such interpretation by KFA says more about their mindset and actually makes perfect sense given their reckless dilution of K’s work.
The tragedy and dilution just gets worse! It’s incredible that Ravi Ravindra says he doesn’t understand K and then goes around talking about it. He did a session in Canada called “Effortless Living: The Yoga of Krishnamurti”. The Yoga of K was what he did for physical exercises and he made it very clear it was for nothing more. But clueless interpreters like to suck him into traditions, reduce him into their small scope, and in fashionable terminology that sells. We had Punk Yoga now we have Krishnamurti Yoga. Poor K !!
Talking about Canada, that is another case of dilution of K’s name. There is a center called Krishnamurti Center but to supposedly survive they say they host other events which in my opinion have nothing to do with K and just dilutes the name. They are not doing publications, they don’t have archives, but they have a retreat and interest in K. The quick fix is to not call it a K center.
The funny and sad thing is the Foundation calls people who criticize it for having taken on a reckless attitude and the dilution, as K orthodox!! That is the most ridiculous defensive cheap shot I’ve ever heard which again – shows a big disconnect between the organization and the founder who dreaded organizations! If anybody studied this work, which means they studies their own lives, there would be no belief system or anything that would remotely resemble dogma. So to call the critics of the foundation K orthodox is just as bad as the comment of one of their staff members some time ago, “nobody from outside should comment on the work of the foundation”. This is the attitude and management style which Is hopeless.
I was not called this, but calling people K orthodox is about as bad of an insult as it can get to a person who has studied K’s work, tested the pointers and challenges in their daily life, etc., and a part of that is dissolution of anything remotely “orthodox”.
But this is not the first time that KFA engages in the dirty practice of trying to discard a message by discrediting the messenger, and this is part of that poor management style mentioned above. A good manager would never need to resort to personal attacks in order to quash a constructive, meaningful, important criticism.
I am one of those who think KFA is inappropriately and recklessly diluting K’s work, and there’s nothing orthodox or fanatic about this. Even the ex-Director told me “you say it like it is”. That was before I became a subject of their slander because I pointed some things out that in their mind challenged their institutional ego, and what ensued was image making, slander, and all that which I believe are the reasons that K was so adamantly dreaded having organizations associated with him.
Trying to silence critics is an old, bankrupt management style. Things have changed a bit since they have a new Secretary who is a very good person but status quo seems too strong for there to be a meaningful change in direction which does not jeopardize and defeat years of hard work by their founder.
This was sent to me not long ago around the subject discussed in the last (2013) circular on www.rezamusic.com
“Reza, We are ALL responsible with K's message. And also we have to question ALL the foundations. They have to be like an open book, not secretive behind closed doors. That is totally unacceptable. It is against the very "K spirit". Against what he did in his life, against the teachings. So question all of us, question openly without fear the Foundations. And if they are too comfortable in the high chairs, well...too bad. They’d have to leave before it is too late. It’s that simple. “
Dissemination or Dissuasion?!
A trustee of KFA did a presentation in which he elaborated on calling K’s work teachings and related matters – an argument which I find somewhat arbitrary – K and his friends were wondering what to call it and they said teachings – I call them pointers and challenges – the name is not the thing. However, I disagree with the trustee’s bulk of argument, which I found troubling, given he’s a trustee and this is being presented in an official gathering which means more weight is given to it as fact but I don’t believe the following arguments are true:
a) that understanding of the teachings is all-or-none.
b) that the teachings are difficult to understand and apply.
c) that nobody got it.
There is plenty of evidence that (a) is not true -- one can drink a glass of water or a bucket -- this has nothing to do with the fact that partial understanding is not understanding but that can not be applied to the entirety of a person’s discourses pointers hints teachings. There are many who benefit from one aspect of the insights explored by K and are oblivious about other parts of his teachings.
And (b) is not true -- I know many and including myself for whom the teachings are not difficult to understand and apply. It takes a studious diligent serious awake and most importantly selfless mind, in my opinion. If the self is there it becomes all difficult because the teachings challenge the very structure of the psychological self. See www.Rezatv.com ‘s philosophy section to see a number of others who also don’t find it difficult!
(c) is nothing but a myth - a misapplied distorted abstraction. I wrote about this extensively in previous circulars, e.g., the "myth of nobody got it".
This tends to defeat the “dissemination” charter of KFA. Imagine a new comer, shows up at a gathering, or hears from a friend, that this thing is difficult, is all-or-none, and nobody got it. What are the chances s/he will pick up a book?
A friend wrote: “I was recently at an Ojai Sai Baba and a Hare Krishna meeting. Very big circus. Maybe we should introduce this to KFA so that more people would come......”
When asked about the yoga retreat, a trustee of the KFA told me their goal is to get more people to come to the East end. The retreat had a small number of participants and not all were paid participants. Is it worth it?!
The Board needs to seriously consider the cost of the attempt to attract more people and the serious cost and consequences of diluting K’s work. The idea that K’s work is protected by some kind of esoteric force is hogwash. I’ve discussed this at length in previous issues of my k-related circulars (www.rezamusic.com)
The world is full of mediocre shallow meaningless stuff called spirituality. They are entertaining and money making and attract a lot of people. KFA can easily get itself on mainstream stage and even put up a booth at Shakti Fest but is that responsible handling of K’s legacy? Is that living the teachings? If so, they should organize a Puja – I bet it will be packed – and have Ravi Ravindra lead it. Don’t forget the sandalwood incense and garland! God Forbid!!
Institutional Ego vs. Living It
There is an army of yoga teachers in Ojai so new teachers would have a hard time differentiating themselves – mixing it up with K is a way – but at that price?! Does the KFA Board of Directors even consider dilution as an issue? Do they understand that sometimes less is more? Do they think that which brings in money is not necessarily the best thing? If cost of running the buildings is an issue, they should look into what got them to this point to begin with. Financial markets in themselves surely can not be blamed. Are the same people doing the same things expecting different results? If money is an issue maybe they can visit their activities – does it make sense to have the Director hold dialogues in Asia while there’s a foundation IN Asia (KFI)?
I’m sure there are a number of areas that can be revisited, refined, redefined – but that takes a disruptive attitude which has no issues going heads on with status quo. That was also K’s “style” as I understood it! Is the Board of Directors wise enough to question itself, and the very existence of the foundation? Going back to the charter of preservation and dissemination is important. Preservation as far as I know is done. Dissemination is not what KFA is doing by having Ravi Ravindra speak – by hosting Yoga retreats that promote use of yoga for more than physical exercise which puts K at the level of masses of mediocre nonsense. And other examples as pointed out here and elsewhere. There is some good work they’re doing but given K’s stern warnings about organizations, his disinclination for having any organizations in his name, the Board ought to be wary of “institutional ego” and its ways which is the same ways, desire to perpetuate itself, etc. etc. – the concept that comes to me when I think of this is minimizing: what is the leanest organization necessary for dissemination? What are the needs in terms of facilities? Etc. etc.
The title “institutional ego” is more than about questioning itself. I’ve written about this in past circulars. As K pointed out an organization IS its people (and vice versa). And what’s come across very clearly in some of the behaviors of KFA, is a massive institutional ego which is so, not living K’s teachings – you know, engaging in image making, self-perpetuation, etc. Since the primary job of the foundation is now dissemination, which as K pointed out is foremost living it, the Board needs to inquire into “living it” – but then again, if a key driving force of the Board is not living it, what could be expected of the board?
Ray of Light at End of the Tunnel
A ray of light at the end of the tunnel is a few trustees but not sure if they have the power to take the bull by the horns. I have no faith the current regime can turn around this disgraceful fast track to dilution. Short of a complete dissolution, I’d like to see a radical shift in the Board of Directors with some of the people completely retiring, and having a few new people (I have some names in mind) with the vision and grasp of the profound ground K pointed to, to put this ship on the right path. That would include a full review and revision of the executive arm. I don’t believe this will happen because status quo is too strong. Instead what I expect is slander and personal attacks against critics, even the most constructive ones, in order to discard their message – which again is the action of the institutional ego wanting to perpetuate itself.
Another ray of light is the other foundations – KFT, KFI – more KFT than KFI since KFI shares management with the KFA and is influenced by the same force. But I know there are a number of trustees in KFI who are very clear about this. Perhaps if members of KFT and KFI see that there’s an issue here and demand an inquiry into the very depth of it, some change can come about. But I’m not optimistic about this again, because the status quo is too strong.
Speaking of status quo, think of what K was up against, and what he did. It was gigantic. And what did it take? Lots of goodies for the Board to ponder.
Ultimately it may take time till some of the people who were too close to K to get it, are no longer around. But time is only of the material significance – K provides a very supple insight for dealing with this problem and it takes no time – but I doubt the foundation shares that insight of their founder.
© Reza Ganjavi, 2014, All Rights Reserved