Let me warn you: this post is far too long. It is an email I woke up and sent this morning on the subject of History and the writings of Krishnamurti and James Joyce. I’m on my first day off of four and obviously I have way too much time on my hands.
Anyway, you’ve been warned:
Krishnamurti is the fruit of over four thousand years of ‘civilized’ culture over in India. First, there’s the very ancient Dravidian way of life centred around Bull (moon) worship and the eternal wheel of the heavens playing through perceived cycles in the stars, the planets, the sun and moon and mirrored in society, the king, plants and animals. All must die in order to be reborn.
Atop this Indus outlier from the very Ancient Mesopotamian culture crashed the roving Vedantic warriors from the incredibly vast steppes of Eurasia. (And have you ever examined a world map and truly noted the stupendous breadth of the grasslands lying between Eastern Europe on the west, through all of modern Russia all the way to the Pacific shores on the east?) Over and over again through history masses of horse riders from these wild untamed lands would wash over settled civilization, always bringing a more masculine ethos born of a nomadic way of life and death down upon the more femininely oriented domesticated cultures. China, India, Iran and the Middle East, the ancient Classical World and nascent Europe would all experience this scourge.
In India the process and swing from the feminine (Dravidian) over to the masculine (Vedantic) and then ever so slowly and inexorably back to the feminine (Hindu) is pure, virtually unbroken, and incredibly well documented in the spiritual texts going back almost to the dawn of the Vedas. The arrival of first the masculine followers of Mohammed and then the confused younger boys from the far western outcrop of Europe didn’t change the development of Indian thought, but only further removed most materiality from it as the latest conquerors were far more ruthless plunderers of all the riches built up over many centuries.
Anyway, that, to me, is the heritage of Krishnamurti. Long and hallowed and with an almost immemorial tradition of learning and wisdom.
Here in the west things played out differently. The hunt and a nomadic way lasted much longer, and when agriculture sprouted offshoots from the ancient Near East they were tiny, fragile and easily submerged beneath yet another Celtic or Aryan wave. Here and there and out on remote Ireland the feminine way survived and thrived for quite some time and never entirely succumbed to the male. But Rome and then the great Germanic tribes, themselves set in western motion because of upheaval across the Steppes, brought an over layer of the masculine.
However, there’s a funny very little understood thing at play here. Both Rome and the Germanic tribes, although shifted culturally toward the male, honored the feminine powers inherent in life, as pagans typically do. But Rome, falling into corruption and decay and experiencing the crumbling of its ancient belief system reached out and clasped a new belief system built upon the traditions and texts of another culture. The thing is that other culture was derived from the Semitic desert way of life originating in the drying grasslands of Arabia. It was nomadic and herding and ultra masculine, just as it remains to this day, largely because of its adherence to those ancient texts. Rome adopts Pauline (who was Jewish) Roman Catholic Christianity as its state religion by about 400AD. And so Rome spreads this new religion, born of the Semitic east and the dying Classical west, across young and largely untamed western Europe.
So, finally, when the Germanic tribes crash over the crust of dying Rome in Europe, bringing with them their energy Christianity retreats into monasteries. It is a masculine shifted culture but it honors the feminine and their sanctuaries are the forests and its priests, if they can be called that, are the Druids. However, it is an oral way of life and slowly but surely the book learning and heritage of the east, Greece and Rome, rises to prominence and deposes the Druidic belief system. Nature becomes evil and those who would have it otherwise are burned or go underground.
That’s a long winded way of saying our heritage is confused and unrecognized. It hasn’t been pure and permitted to develop from its Druidic roots. Look at the Book of Kells and see the interconnectness of all life once understood but stamped out by the Christian faith. All western art gropes towards this great feeling of interconnectedness stemming from the forests but until the last seventy-five years (in a thousand!) couldn’t come out and say it without risking severe punishment. Imagine every Western artist for a thousand years having to watch what he or she said, painted, wrote, whatever!
And that, to me, is the difference between Krishnamurti and Joyce. They are saying the same thing, but one is free to follow the great millennia long tradition of his culture while the other is trying to break ground still under the constraints of a thousand years.
And finally, and this has gotten too long, for what I’m attempting here at the Cafe I love Krishnamurti’s stuff and have learned a great deal from it, but I am Western and feel a loyalty to the Western way no matter how confused and misguided we are at present. We have gone down a spiritual dead end but like it or not our way has spread across the world and for me we need get to the root of our own imbalance in order to redress some of the excesses we have created. That has been my aim. Not an escape, but a plumbing of our own troubled psyche and the roots of that imbalance deep in the past. It’s a more complicated road, and a far more difficult road, but one I’ve already gone too far along to turn back at this point.
Ok, that’s it, and that’s all to say….
Life is ALL there is.