‘The uniqueness of the individual cannot express itself because of the stranglehold of the experiences of others.’ U.G.
U.G. refers to the events that happened to him during the summer of 1967 as the ‘calamity’:
‘I call it a calamity because from the point of view of one who thinks this is something fantastic, blissful and full of beatitude, love, or ecstasy, this is physical torture; this is a calamity from that point of view. Not a calamity to me but a calamity to those who have an image that something marvelous is going to happen… I can never tell myself or anybody that I’m an enlightened man, a liberated man, or a free man, or that I am going to liberate mankind.’
On the eighth day he was sitting on the sofa and suddenly, in his words: ‘There was a tremendous outburst of energy—tremendous energy shaking the whole body and along with the body, the sofa, the chalet and the whole universe—shaking, vibrating. You cannot cause that movement… Whether it was coming from outside or inside, from below or above, I didn’t know—I couldn’t locate the spot. It lasted for hours and hours… There was nothing I could do to stop it; I was totally helpless. This went on for days.’ Then for three days U.G. lay on his bed, his body contorted with pain—it was, he says, as if he felt pain in every cell of his body. Similar outbursts of energy occurred intermittently throughout the next six months, whenever he lay down or relaxed. ‘It’s a very painful process. It’s a physical pain—it has a form, a shape of its own. It is like a river in spate. The energy that is operating there does not feel the limitations of the body; it is not interested; it has its own momentum. It is not an ecstatic, blissful beatitude and all that rubbish!’
U.G. explains that thought had controlled his body to such an extent that when that control loosened, the whole metabolism went agog. Then the movement of his hands changed. They started turning backwards. ‘That is why they say my movements are mudras.’ Certain hormonal changes started occurring in his body. Now he didn’t know whether he was a man or a woman. Suddenly there was a breast growing on the left side of his chest. It took three years for his body to finally fall into a new rhythm of its own. Here U.G. questions the value of this description for the world. Reading about it may be dangerous because people may try to mimic the outward manifestations of the process. People have a tendency to simulate these things and believe that something is happening to them.
His friends observed swellings up and down his torso, neck and head, at those points called chakras. These swellings of various shapes and colors came and went at regular intervals. On his lower abdomen, the swellings were horizontal, cigar-shaped bands. Above the navel was a hard, almond-shaped swelling. A hard, blue swelling, like a large medallion, in the middle of his chest was surmounted by another smaller, brownish-red, medallion-shaped swelling at the base of his throat. These two ‘medallions’ were as though suspended from a varicolored, swollen ring—blue, brownish and light yellow—around his neck, as in the pictures of some Hindu gods. There were other similarities: his throat was swollen to a shape that made his chin seem to rest on the head of a cobra, as in the traditional images of Shiva. Just above the bridge of the nose was a white lotus-shaped swelling. All over the head the small blood vessels expanded, forming patterns like the stylized lumps on the heads of some statues of the Buddha. Like the horns of Moses and the Taoist mystics, two large and hard swellings periodically appeared and disappeared. The arteries in his neck, blue and snake-like, expanded and rose into his head.
U.G. says that his body is affected by everything that is happening around it: Whatever is happening there is also happening here—there is only the physical response. This is affection. You can’t prevent this, for the simple reason that the armor that you have built around yourself is destroyed; so it is very vulnerable to everything that is happening. In his discussions with medical doctors, U.G. learned that the ductless glands are located in exactly the same spots where the Hindus speculated that the chakras were. The thymus gland, it is said, is very active when one is a child. Therefore, children have extraordinary feelings. When they reach the age of puberty, the gland becomes dormant—at least that’s what the scientists say. When this sort of an explosion takes place within the body, which the scriptures refer to as being born again, that gland is automatically activated so that all the extraordinary feelings are there again. ‘Feelings are not thoughts, not emotions; you feel for somebody. If somebody hurts himself there, that hurt is felt here—not as a pain but there is a feeling. You automatically say, “Ouch!”‘ There is an incident in U.G.’s life which illustrates this. He was once staying at a coffee plantation in South India. For some reason a mother started beating her child. She was angry and she hit her child so hard that the child almost turned blue. Somebody then asked U.G., ‘Why did you not interfere and stop her?’ U.G. answered, ‘I was standing there. I was puzzled: “Whom should I pity, the mother or the child?” Both were in a awkward situation: the mother could not control her anger, and the child was so helpless. Then I found all marks corresponding to the marks of the beatings on my back. So I too was a victim of that beating.’ U.G. says that this was possible because consciousness cannot be divided. ‘With this affection, there is no question of your sitting in judgment on anyone.’
Here is another incident: It was some time during the mid-Seventies that U.G. was visiting the hill country in North Goa. Many of his friends from Bombay were with him. One morning a group of people visited him. They were sitting together at the foot of a hillock. Valentine came to join the group. But when she found that the path was steep and slippery, she decided to go back to her cottage.
Then a discussion arose among the people there about what each would have done if Valentine had slipped and fallen. U.G. said nothing. After a while Valentine came back and ventured down the path to join the group. She did indeed slip and fall. No one got up or did anything to help her, not even the person behind her. U.G. pointed out to them that they did nothing even though each of them had said they would help her. One of the members of the group asked U.G., ‘How come you yourself did nothing to help then?’ U.G. replied, ‘I never said that I would give her a helping hand. If, however, you want to see for yourself how I myself was involved in that event…’ and he rolled up the leg of his trouser. They found scratches on his knee similar to those found on Valentine’s knee. Everybody was stunned. U.G. said that there was no significance to these occurrences.
U.G. says that the ‘third eye’, also called the ajna chakra, is the pituitary gland. When once the interference of thought is gone, the function of thought is taken over by this gland: it is this gland, and not thought, that gives the instructions or orders to the body. That is why they probably call it ajna (command) chakra. U.G. says that there is a built-in armor created by thought, which prevents us from being affected by things: Since there is nobody here who uses thought as a self-protective mechanism, thought burns itself up. It undergoes combustion, ionization. Thought is, after all, a vibration. So when this ionization of thought takes place, it throws out, and sometimes it covers the whole body with, an ash-like substance… There is tremendous heat in the body as a result of this. One of the major reasons why U.G. express the ‘calamity’ in pure and simple physical and physiological terms is that it has no psychological or mystical content or religious overtones. Such a thing, U.G. says, must have happened to many people. It is not something that one could especially be prepared for. There is no purificatory method or sadhana necessary for such a thing to happen. Narayana Moorty says that if he had to reduce U.G.’s teaching to one sentence it would be the following: ‘Consciousness is so pure that whatever you are doing in the direction of purifying that consciousness is adding impurity to it.’ U.G. says:
Consciousness has to flush itself out: it has to purge itself of every trace of holiness and of every trace of unholiness, of everything. Even what you consider ‘sacred’ and ‘holy’ is a contamination in that consciousness. Yet it does not happen through any volition of yours. When once the frontiers are broken—although not through any effort or volition of yours—then the floodgates are open and everything goes out. In that process of flushing out, you have all these visions. Suddenly you yourself, the whole consciousness, takes the shape of the Buddha, Jesus, Mahavira, Mohammed or Socrates—only of those who have come into this state; not of great men or leaders of mankind. One of them was a colored man. Then a naked woman with breasts and flowing hair. I was told that there were two saints here in India—Akkamahadevi and Lalleswari—they were women, naked women. Suddenly you have these two breasts and flowing hair. Even the organs change into female organs.
But still there is a division there—you, and the form that your consciousness has assumed, the form of the Buddha, say, or Jesus Christ, or God knows who. The situation there is: ‘How do I know I am in that state?’ But that division cannot stay long; it disappears and something else comes along. Probably the same thing happened to so many hundreds of people. This is part of history: so many rishis, some Westerners—monks—and so many women. All that people have experienced before you is part of your consciousness. I use the expression, ‘The saints go marching out.’ They run out of your consciousness because they cannot stay there any more because all that is impurity, a contamination there.
This flushing out of everything good and bad, holy and unholy, sacred and profane, has got to happen. Otherwise your consciousness is still contaminated, still impure. After that you are put back into that primeval, primordial state of consciousness. Once consciousness has become pure, of and by itself, then nothing can touch it, nothing can contaminate it any more. All the past up to that point is there but it cannot influence your actions any longer.
U.G. saw these visions for three years after the ‘calamity’. He says that the most puzzling and bewildering part of the ‘calamity’ was when the sensory activities began their independent functioning. He says that there was no coordinator linking up the senses. That presented a problem to Valentine. ‘We’d go for a walk and I’d look at a flower and ask her, “What’s that?” She’d say, “That’s a flower.” I’d take a few more steps, look at a cow and ask, “What’s that?” Like a baby, I had to relearn everything. Not actually relearn. All the knowledge was in the background and never came to the forefront.’
Valentine didn’t know what to make out of what was going on. She consulted a leading psychiatrist in Geneva. The psychiatrist told her that unless he saw the person he couldn’t be of help. He asked her to bring U.G. over. But U.G. declined because he knew that something extraordinary had happened inside him. His difficulty was that the people who came to see him didn’t seem to understand the way he was functioning and he didn’t seem to understand the way they were functioning. ‘How can we carry on a dialogue? Both of us have to stop. I am talking like a raving maniac. The difference is only a hair’s breadth. That is why I say you either flip or fly at that moment of calamity.’
Reproduced here are a couple of the most frequently asked questions concerning U.G.’s ‘calamity’. These questions, in a way, also sum up what U.G. himself has to say on this topic:
Q: Are even those who ‘realized’ different from one another?
U.G.: Yes, because their background is different. The background is the only thing that can express itself. What else is there? My expression of it is the background: how I struggled, the path I followed, how I rejected the path of others–up to that point I can say what I did or did not do… Such an individual is different, not only from you, but from all the others who are supposed to be in this state, because of his background.
Q: Although everyone who is supposed to have undergone this ‘explosion’ is unique, in the sense that each one is expressing his own background, there do seem to be some common characteristics.
U.G.: That is not my concern; it seems to be yours. I never compare myself to someone else.
Summing up the account of the happenings surrounding his ‘calamity’, U.G. says: And that’s all there is to it. My biography is over… There is nothing more to write about and there never will be. If people come and ask me questions, I answer. If they don’t, it makes no difference to me… I have no particular message for mankind, except to say that all holy systems for obtaining enlightenment are nonsense and that all talk of arriving at a psychological mutation through awareness is rubbish. Psychological mutation is impossible. The natural state can happen only through biological mutation. The incredible physiological changes continued to occur for years.
U.G. was so bewildered by what had happened to him that he did not speak for a year after the ‘calamity’. He had to practically learn to think and talk all over again, so complete was his mutation. After a year or so he had regained most of his communicative powers. Yet he did not say much. ‘What is there to say after a thing like this?’ he asked. One day the answer came in a flash: ‘I’ll say it exactly the way it is.’ Except for a year’s break in the late Sixties, U.G. has been speaking tirelessly ever since. Of all this U.G. now says: I did not know what was happening to me. I had no reference point at all. Somehow I died and came back to life, free of my past. This thing happened without my volition and despite my religious background. And that is a miracle. It cannot be used as a model and duplicated by others.
From: U. G. Krishnamurti: A Life
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