However, this is not altogether different from the horrifying real-life experience of best-selling author J. Krishnamurti (1895-1986). As a child he was discovered by a powerful and well-funded “new age” organization, chosen as their future “messiah”, carefully groomed for this role, and began to innocently play this role with good intentions until age 34, when he abandoned this bizarre situation and – perhaps in an overreaction – became a vocal critic of organized religion and religious authority for the rest of his life.
This story is interesting to me because a) it explains J. Krishnamurti’s famous anti-guru stance and b) it demonstrates the kinds of powerful forces that can create fake religions and which laid the foundation for the modern “new age” movement.
Krishnamurti’s friend Mary Lutyens writes:
In 1929, at the age of thirty-four, Krishnamurti severed himself from the Theosophical Society, after a spiritual experience that completely changed his life, and renounced his role of coming messiah….
While Krishnamurti was being proclaimed by the Theosophical Society, money and gifts of land and property were showered on him.
In other words, he had been getting bribed big-time to go along with this situation. Lutyens continues:
When he resigned from the Society and denied his role, he returned these gifts to the donors and began his new life without knowing whether he would have any followers or any money…
Krishnamurti… did not want people to follow him blindly and obediently… Especially, he did not want disciples who might create another religion around him, build up a hierarchy and assume authority.3
And Krishnamurti’s story was a bizarre one. At one point earlier on, after delivering a public lecture, Krishnamurti was said to have been informed by the head of the Theosophical Society (Annie Besant) that a powerful black magician was in fact speaking through him at the lecture. Krishnamurti was astounded to hear this, the story goes, and said that if she really thought that, he’d never give another public lecture. “The black magician was never afterwards mentioned. I happened to be sleeping at the Castle that night and K [Krishnamurti’s nickname] himself told me of this incident.”4 In fact, it was commonly believed at the time that other forces were communicating through Krishnamurti, but they were always described in Theosophical literature as being “ascended masters”.
The Asian Indian guru Meher Baba was once asked what he thought of Krishnamurti, while Krishnamurti was still under the control of the Theosophical Society and being promoted as the messiah for the new age. (Later, Meher Baba had more positive things to say of him.)
A few years later, Meher Baba was asked again about Theosophy and its two leaders at the time, Besant and Leadbeater. He replied that they were “somewhat advanced souls”, but that without the aid of a genuine master, “hostile forces are created, resulting in delusion.”8
Krishnamurti a new world teacher? God forbid. You cannot compare the Sadguru Ramakrishna of Calcutta with Krishnamurti. Ramakrishna was Rama and Krishna personified.5 Krishnamurti is living in all majesty and splendor, pomp and power, and moving about England in aristocratic, fashionable circles, playing tennis and golf, leading a most comfortable life. He does not have the slightest idea, not even a wisp, of the real Truth.
So it is also with these funny, showy Theosophists. Their greatness lies only in editorship, writing and speaking with high-sounding words about planes, powers, colors, secret doctrine, society and caste. Truth is far, far beyond this.6
It may be useful to note at this point – so our story doesn’t seem too abstract and far-removed – that the Theosophical Society and its members have exerted an enormous influence on today’s world. I told you the society was powerful and well funded; its members included many in the banking industry, the industrialists Henry Ford & Thomas Edison, and “Wizard of Oz” author L. Frank Baum.9 Vice President Henry A. Wallace, who served under FDR from 1933-45, and who insisted on adding the “all-seeing eye” to the dollar bill, is said to have been a member, and was closely associated with another Theosophist named Nicholas Roerich.10
And of course Theosophy laid the foundation for Shirley Maclaine and the more recent wave of the “new age” movement. Perhaps other well-funded aspects of the “new age” movement are as smoothly promoted, as entirely fabricated, and as carefully controlled as was Krishnamurti’s “messiah” status. I do not know. But I believe taking “new age” fascinations with a grain of salt may be healthy.
- If you had been raised from childhood by a new-age organization to be a fake “messiah” for the world… could this cause you to have bad feelings for organized religion and religious authority figures? I can’t imagine how upsetting that must have been for J. Krishnamurti, nor how difficult it must have been for him to escape that situation.
- Why do you think they chose Krishnamurti for this role? The person who chose him said that he had a pure and innocent aura. Do you think innocent children could be, in a way, easy to manipulate, if the right conditioning is applied? Do innocent people tend to assume that everyone has good intentions – especially people interested in “spirituality”?
- Does it bother you that an entire worldwide spiritual movement could potentially be fabricated by 1) a few wealthy people pulling strings, combined with 2) masses of people looking for religious consolations?
- Just before he left the Theosophical Society, Krishnamurti told his followers, “Some of you think I can give you a drink that will set you free.” Is there a part of you that would like a glamorous, famous person to give you a drink and tell you it will set you free? Thanks to the recent Mummery Book enactment I attended, I’m now more in touch with my own subconscious desire for this.
- Although Krishnamurti criticized gurus and spiritual teachers for the rest of his life – for understandable reasons – in a sense wasn’t he still being a guru for others? (Later it was publicized that he had an inner circle of close disciples, in addition to all the people who attended his lectures and read his books.) But is there anything inherently wrong with being a teacher?
- What actually was wrong about what the Theosophists did to and with Krishnamurti?
- What does Meher Baba mean about using “high-sounding words about planes, powers, colors, secret doctrines”? How many new age teachers today exert an enormous influence over huge numbers of people, using these very sorts of attractions?
- What might Meher Baba mean when he says that without a genuine master as a guide, “hostile forces” can be created? (especially when fooling around with psychic energies, the projections and illusions of large numbers of people, and perhaps black magic?)
- Would you accept all kinds of wealth, fame, luxury, adoring fans, prestige, powerful friends, and career success beyond your wildest dreams, if it meant knowingly agreeing to deceive people and harm them spiritually? This question seems to be one that Krishnamurti asked himself.
- Does Krishnamurti’s story, or Raymond Darling’s story, have a relevance today?
- If you woke up one day and realized you were surrounded by ignorant, childish, TV-minded people, who are all merely following scripts written for them by others, would you have the courage to do what Krishnamurti did, and leave your attachments behind for the sake of truth?
The modern “everyman” of consumer society is a propagandized individual, participating in illusions and, effectively, self-destructing. The modern “everyman” is being created by the power system of the world, because it is in the interests of that power system for there to be consumer egos who are… stupefied.
– Adi Da, in Not-Two Is Peace
P.S. For more information about Theosophy, I recommend searching online for the Lucifer Publishing Company, founded by Annie Besant’s successor, Alice Bailey. Today, renamed the Lucis Trust, it enjoys “Consultative Status” with the United Nations and is connected with some of the most powerful corporations, foundations, councils, and men and women in the world.
- Excerpted from The Life and Death of Krishnamurti, by Mary Lutyens, p.59. As included in The Basket of Tolerance by Adi Da Samraj. Mary Lutyens is said to have known Krishnamurti personally since the time Krishnamurti was a child. ↩
- See Mummery Book page. ↩
- Lutyens, p.8. ↩
- Lutyens, p.58. ↩
- It’s my opinion that Ramakrishna was the forerunner to Adi Da, who completed the work begun by Ramakrishna. I’ve investigated this for many years, from many angles, and this is my conclusion. Adi Da assembled The Basket of Tolerance and wrote The Mummery Book, which are both sources of inspiration for this blog. ↩
- June 26, 1926, as quoted in Lord Meher: The Biography of Avatar Meher Baba, volume three, by Bhau Kalchuri (volumes 1 & 2 are included in The Basket of Tolerance), pp. 816-17. ↩
- Props to Don Bradley for his Mulholland Drive film review, and for other insights about Theosophy and Krishnamurti. Don Bradley (aka cbswork, uwantsun), who apparently was a popular new age author and TV guest in the 80s & early 90s, says he was raised much the same way as Krishnamurti, and for the same purpose – to become a widely promoted spiritual leader for the “new age”, while under the control of others. ↩
- November 25, 1931, as quoted in Kalchuri, volume 4, p. 1488. ↩
- According to this letter. ↩
- According to wikipedia and other sources. ↩
- November 1931, Harmon-on-Hudson, New York, to Max Wardhall (Kalchuri, volume 4, p.1469) ↩