Krishnamurti: Two Birds on One Tree

Quest Books, Wheaton, Illinois, U.S.A. 1995 (also published in India by Pilgrim Press, Varanasi)


Sample Excerpt
Beginning of the article in the book with the title

A Twenty-year Conversation with J. Krishnamurti

It was the fall of 1965 in New Delhi. My wife had asked me to deliver something to Mrs. Kitty Shivarao who had been very kind to her when she, four years earlier, had come to India as a volunteer from Canada. I went on my bicycle and came to a sudden stop in front of a very tall man sitting completely alone on a wicker chair on the porch of the Shivarao house. I wondered if Mrs. Shivarao was in, and the man, who was extremely self-contained, said he would go in and look. Without any hurry, but without delay, he got up and went in, and returned to say that she was not in at that time, but I could wait until she came back. I do not recall why I could not wait; perhaps I had the usual haste of the young, especially of those recently returned from a long stay in the West. I handed over to him what I had to deliver to the lady of the house, and rode away on my bicycle. But I kept looking back at this unusual man with an extraordinary presence sitting on the porch, until I fell off my bicycle, having crashed into a woman carrying a large bundle on her head.

Several months later, at Rajghat in Varanasi, where an interview with Krishnamurti had been arranged for me, I was in a great turmoil; I became more and more agitated as four 'o clock, the appointed time of the meeting, approached. I was not sure what I needed to ask him. I knew I needed a different kind of knowledge and education than I had obtained in the many schools and universities I had attended. I had become sadder and sadder the closer I had gotten to finishing my Ph.D.: the more I was certified as an educated man by the world, the clearer I was about my ignorance of myself. What little I had gathered about Krishnamurti, mostly from my wife who had taught for a year in one of his schools in India before we had met, and the little that I had read by him, had convinced me that he offered the sort of influence I needed. Here, at last, I was going to meet the great man himself. What was I going to say to him? What did I need to know? What should I ask him? Besides, how could he, or anybody else, say something that would really become a part of myself? After all, I had read what the Buddha had said, and I still behaved the way I did before. And what was I going to tell him about myself? What did I know of any value? What did I have of any value? What was my value? Why waste his time?

All these questions whirled around in my head, making me more and more restless as the time for my meeting with Krishnamurti approached. Then, suddenly, a great calm possessed me. I knew with certainty that I did not know, that nobody else could really tell me something deeply true unless I saw it myself directly, and that there was no escape from an encounter with myself, an encounter without fear and without self-importance. I had no idea what had brought about these realisations and the resulting calm; maybe it was the magic of this extraordinary man working even before I had met him. I walked over to his room with assurance, and precisely at the appointed hour he opened his door. I was surprised to discover that the man in front of me was the same man I had met on the porch in New Delhi. I had difficulty accepting his actual physical size; my first impression of him had no doubt been of his real spiritual height.

He asked me to sit down on the same divan on which he was sitting. Then, after a brief silence, he asked, "What can I do for you?" "Nothing," I said with clarity. "I have really nothing to ask you. I have come just to look at you." He smiled; and we sat in silence for a long time, just looking at each other. Then, no doubt having noticed my attention wandering, he asked what I did and what interested me. I told him, and I also told him about my dissatisfaction with what I had learned. My clarity was dwindling and I was returning to my habitual and more discursive mode of thought. I asked him, "Is there life after death?" He said: "Why worry about death when you don't know anything about life?"

When it was time for me to leave, he took me to the window of his room perched over the river Ganga, overlooking the path which the Buddha had taken on his way to Sarnath after his enlightenment. That was the only time I understood why pilgrims over the centuries have regarded this river as sacred. There were dark, thick clouds over the majestic river, and a white bird was flying in and out of the clouds, sometimes disappearing completely and at other times showing clearly its innocent vulnerability. He put his hand on my shoulder and we stood there watching for a little while; then he said, pointing to the bird in the clouds over the river, "Life is like that: sometimes you see it, sometimes you don't." As I was leaving, he said simply, "We shall meet again."

Excerpts from Reviews

“With a critical mind and an open heart, Dr. Ravindra allows us to see both the spiritual greatness and the human pathos of this truly remarkable teacher.” —Jacob Needleman, author of The Heart of Philosophy, The Wisdom of Love, What is God? and many other books.

“Krishnamurti, as he himself said, is not the Answer. But he is the Interrogation. Ravi Ravindra succeeds in presenting that man whose life remains a constant challenge to our times—and helps the reader continue the search. It is not a biography of K. It is a splendid presentation of a living example of the constitutive quest of the human condition.”—Raimon Panikkar, author of The Hidden Christ of Hinduism and many other books.