A Critique of U.G. Krishnamurti


David Quinn

U.G. Krishnamurti is certainly an interesting man. On the surface, his teachings appear to be genuinely Zennish. He powerfully attacks much of what humanity believes and cherishes, and is extremely critical of religious teachers, whom he calls frauds. He endeavours to undermine all the imagined "certainties" of his listeners and tries to keep them continually off-balance by contradicting everything that has ever been said before, including his very own statements. In so doing, his listeners are given no handles by which to form easy conclusions and are therefore forced to do some active thinking for themselves.

All this is very admirable. But the problem I have with UG is that he doesn't go anywhere near far enough. While his words are sometimes pretty good, his actions and his lifestyle are a different matter altogether. They provide too much nourishment for his deluded followers and nullify all the good that may come from his words.

Undermining realities for the sake of wisdom is completely different to undermining realities just for the sheer sake of it. In other words, being truly Zennish is infinitely removed from being merely contradictory. That UG's actions undermine his verbal teaching is not something to be celebrated. It is not an expression of his wisdom, but of his ego. At bottom, UG is a coward, and his cowardice literally destroys everything he says. Instead of promoting wisdom, UG is promoting delusions and lies.

I define wisdom as being the absence of all delusions. A wise man, then, is one who has banished all false thinking from his mind. This is also UG's stated goal. He advocates the "natural" state which comes from eliminating all false concepts, like "enlightenment", "spirituality", "God", "self", and so on. On this, I agree with him entirely.

But unfortunately, UG does not live in the "natural" state, as he often likes to claim. To my eyes, he is merely an actor, albeit a very ingenious one. He conforms to a role, that of the anti-guru, and as such is no different to any of the other thousands of run-of-the-mill gurus which litter this sorry planet. And just like all these other gurus, his role-playing only serves to strengthen the delusions of his listeners. His words might be full of fire and brimstone, but deep down everyone knows he is just a harmless puppy.

His lifestyle is far too concrete for my liking. He has literally cemented himself into the role of the anti-guru. He does this by wearing guru-like clothes, having guru-like hair, being rude to people, abusing his listeners, and treating everyone as if they were infinitely below him. Whenever he opens his mouth he seems to be addressing empty space. In other words, he directs his words into a vacuum, rather than attending closely to the questioner before him. Because he takes little account of the wisdom or character of the person who talks to him, his teachings lack discrimination. The person could well be a genuine human being asking a perfectly valid question, but more often than not UG just abuses him.

I certainly don't like the way UG speaks against every single wise man who has ever lived, as if he were the only person in history who has discovered the Truth! This is a very misleading and harmful habit of his. It only bolsters the personality cult which surrounds him and obscures the timeless wisdom which has been known for thousands of years.

Look at some sayings of wise people from the past:

  "I truly attained nothing from complete, unexcelled
   enlightenment."  - Buddha.

  "In truth there is no unalterable Dharma which the Tathagata
   could have preached.  Methods and techniques cannot
   be compared to the sudden elimination of conceptual thought,
   in the certain knowledge that there is nothing at all which
   has absolute existence, nothing on which to lay hold, nothing
   on which to rely, nothing in which to abide, nothing
   subjective or objective."   - Huang Po.

  "True nature is no-nature."  - Hakuin.

  "The Kingdom of God is only for the thoroughly dead."
					    - Meister Eckhart.

All these men are teaching the very same thing that UG is supposedly teaching. The giving up of "seeking enlightenment" is a profound truth which has been articulated many times by wise men of all cultures. So why doesn't UG acknowledge this? Because it would destroy his role as an anti-guru.

If UG actually stepped down off his high horse and acknowledged his agreement with these men, his status would immediately be lowered in his followers' eyes. No longer would he be able to gain artificial substance by contrasting himself with the whole of humanity. His contrived personality would begin to dissipate and merge into other people.

In the Tao Te Ching it says somewhere that "the sage covers his tracks". As outlined above, this is something which UG does very poorly. He is far too visible to his deluded followers for my liking. UG's charismatic acting stands in the way of whatever wisdom he happens to possess. He literally fosters the personality cult which has sprung up around him. An example is his beloved "calamity", which he often speaks about and which is supposed to be central to his wisdom. Now I ask you, what on earth does this have to with understanding the Truth? Absolutely nothing! Yet he frequently spins this yarn about how he "physically died" as if it were somehow important, and this only causes his followers to bend down and worship him all the more. Rather than worshipping the Truth, his followers worship the vanity of UG instead.

There is no escaping the fact that the quality of his followers is very low. This more than anything else is a damning judgment upon the man. The type of people who are attracted to him are of the worst kind - submissive, worshipful, and sado- masochistic. People flock to him in order to be abused and get beaten up, something they will cherish for the rest of their lives. And it is obvious that UG himself takes great pleasure in inflicting pain upon them.

Accordingly, I find UG's attempts to repel people very insincere. The fact that he is frequently abusive, often rudely telling people to go away, is held up as a kind of proof that he is somehow different to the other gurus, that he really doesn't sell himself in order to be popular. But it doesn't wash with me. Look deeply into the man and you will see all the con tricks of a typical salesman.

UG doesn't really want to repel people. He only wants to be seen to be doing so. This is his image, his trademark style. It is the covert means by which he can attract a following. I mean, if he truly wanted to repel people, he could do so very easily. He could start becoming physically violent towards them, for example, or start urinating on them, or begin defecating in the living room, or start masturbating in the middle of a lecture, or whatever. If he started doing things like this, I assure you his followers would soon flee him like the plague.

More to the point, if he really wanted to drive people away and yet remain philosophical, all he has to do is start preaching about the nature of woman. I doubt very much whether his followers could really stomach an honest assessment of feminine nature. But I also doubt whether UG himself actually understands the profound difference between masculinity and femininity. I get the impression that he continually blocks this kind of knowledge from penetrating his consciousness.

So you see, UG Krishnamurti is not much of a wise man at all. He is duplicitous, dishonest, fraudulent, and vain. He boasts that he gives away everything he owns at the start of each year, including all his money. But he does this knowing full well he can rely on his followers to support him. And the reason he can rely on them is because he willingly panders to their delusions. Deep down, he regards his followers as little more than an investment for the future.

The root problem with UG, the one that underlies all the other problems outlined above, is that he has no bodhicitta. By this I mean he has no desire to become perfect. He is not willing to go all the way and eliminate his delusions completely. He holds onto a portion of his ego in order to enjoy life. J. Krishnamurti may have only seen the sugar cube and not tasted it, as UG is fond of saying, but UG himself does not want to become the sugar cube. He has some awareness of God, but has no desire to develop it into a full-blown consciousness of God.

Out of this lack of bodhicitta arise consequences of the worst kind. All the evils of egotism - war, violence, rape, ignorance, etc - are in large part caused by people like UG. For they set themselves up as gurus and therefore must assume a far greater responsibility for the world than ordinary people. And if these gurus are not really genuine, as is the case with UG, then the harm that is caused by them is simply immense.

But UG seems to be utterly unaware of this kind of thing. Indeed, his frequent claims that he has no teaching, that he is not a guru, that he does not believe in the "perfect person", etc, allows him an easy escape route from all responsibilities as a teacher. He can use these discourses to deflect anything which is directed too close to the bone. It enables him to obscure the fact that he is, at bottom, just a common egotist hell-bent on enjoying life and who just so happens to have some decent verbal skills.

As soon as UG dies, whatever wisdom he possesses will also die. All that will be left will be a sorry bunch of third-rate individuals fashioning a religious cult out of his name. It will be exactly the same fate as that of Ramakrishna, the Buddha and Jesus. A low quality religion, filled with superstitions and lies, will emerge and negate everything of value. This is the true face of U.G. Krishnamurti's wisdom.

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