Self-Realization: A Personal Account – Albert Blackburn

Beginning on page 5:

July 2, 1944 was another beautiful day for a drive to Ojai. This time I was accompanied by my wife and two Theosophical friends from Pasadena. We all had an animated discussion about Theosophy on the way up. Krishnamurti’s talk on this day included reference to the dualistic nature of thought and the mind’s play between the pairs of opposites (good & bad, right & wrong, yours & mind, etc.) After the talk, we had a picnic lunch down by a beautiful stream under the trees. I spent the rest of the afternoon awaiting my 5:00 o’clock interview. The interview was to be given at Arya Vihara at the east end of the Ojai Valley, an old redwood house which had been purchased in the early 1920’s for Krishnamurti and his brother Nitya by Annie Besant and a group calling themselves The Brothers Association.

My wife and friends waited in the car while I went into the house for my interview. I had been trying to think of what to say. I thought I had all of the answers to life’s problems. What could we talk about?

Krishanji—as I later came to call him—met me at the door and asked me to be seated in a chair in the small redwood room. Then he sat down facing me and after a brief period of silence he said, “Well, sir, what do you want to talk about?” This of course was the same question I had been asking myself all afternoon. I began by asking how I could actually live a celibate life under the conditions in which I was living. I brought up the subject of celibacy and the goals I had set for myself.

His response was, “Why do you want to live a celibate life?”

I told him of my wishes to develop my psychic powers and live a spiritual life.

Krishnamurti asked me what my wife thought about my wishes for celibacy an I explained how this proposed way of life was so important to me that I really didn’t care what she thought about it; it was something I felt compelled to do.

“But don’t you feel that she has some rights in this matter?”

Even so, I replied, I still feel that way about it.

Krishnaji apparently saw that I was determined on this course of action; he dropped the subject. He obviously was not going to give me any magical solution to my problem with sex.

The interview came to an end and we both left the room to stand on the outside porch. The afternoon sun was low in the western sky and the scene from this elevation overlooking the Ojai Valley was very beautiful. I remarked to him about this beauty and he replied, “Yes, it is beautiful, but isn’t it a shame that the war is still going on?”

That’s true but I suppose it is all according to The Plan.”

Krishnaji said, “What plan?”

I said, “You know, the Plan of Evolution?”

“All of the great teachers have talked about evolution; Christ, Buddha, and all the others.”

“That’s funny, I don’t remember the Buddha saying anything about evolution. Of course, there is such a thing as physical evolution such as from and oxcart to an airplane, but I don’t think this is what you mean by evolution.”

He was right! I didn’t mean physical evolution. I meant the idea that I had always entertained pertaining to spiritual evolution. He then asked, “Is there such a thing as evolution in the way you mean it?”

Suddenly I saw that a basic idea upon which I had based all my life and hopes was not valid in the way I had believed it to be. There was no spiritual evolution, only the freeing of the consciousness from conditioning.

I was utterly shattered by this discovery and in desperation I asked him, “Is there nothing real in this world outside of the pairs of opposites?”

“Yes, that tree is real and your little dog is real, but what you think about them is not real.”

I suppose he could see the shock and void I was facing, as he kindly said, “Please come and see me again on Thursday afternoon and we will talk more about these things.” He then said goodbye and we parted.

My mind was in utter turmoil. The very foundations of my psychological world had been torn apart. I felt that I was in a void and doubted by ability to drive home. However, Krishnaji had pointed out the obvious fact that physical things did have a reality in themselves. This meant that my car was real and the steering wheel which I could firmly hold onto could be my link with reality. I have no recollection of the trip home.

The next three days are also totally lost to personal memory. I know that I did not eat or sleep during this time. There was no “me” to do these things and I suppose the body was quiet.

When I came back to normal functioning it was with an entirely new perspective. My first conscious act was to resign from the Theosophical Society. It had been the whole basis of  my life; now for me it was dead. I now saw from a new perspective the occult studies that had held such a fascination for me before. Not that these studies represented falseness, only that I had transcended them. They were part of the dualistic thought process. Because of my sudden awareness of the state of being beyond thought, these occult studies no longer held interest for me. Ambition was gone: there was no future so how could there be ambition? Fear was gone: what is there to be afraid of when one is going nowhere and hence has nothing to gain or lose? There were no problems because there was a new discernment moment-by-moment into the true relationship between myself and the environment. There was a direct perception into all relationships and a feeling of oneness with everyone and everything. The word love took on a different meaning. With the personal element removed, there was an integral feeling of love and compassion for every living thing: a knowing what was right and the desire to help. There was the knowing that never again could I consciously escape the facts of life by being dishonest in order to protect myself or in order to gain anything for myself. From that moment on I felt completely responsible for my own actions, aware now that freedom is an intrinsic part of life, and thus I must never again consciously stand in another’s way or cast my shadow across another’s path. All life was really one, and the actuality of it was overwhelming. There was a seeing the virtues spoken of in the Bible were an intrinsic part of this unified consciousness. I no longer needed to worry about expending the effort required to live virtuously. No discipline was required, no effort need be exerted, the path and I were one, constant companions in this new state of being. There was a state of acceptance of whatever life brought and true faith born in the knowledge that in doing my best, with no thought of self, whatever happened would be all right. There was the birth of insight into many things and with it the ability to see the true in the true and the false in the false.

I felt as though I had been living in a very cluttered house surrounded by innumerable “things.” These things were ideas, and conclusions which I had created. Suddenly my house had been swept clean and I was alone—not lonely, but in a state of complete freedom—free to start from scratch to discover the true values in living. Concepts such as right and wrong, good and bad, moral and immoral were stripped away as absolutes. Now, these judgments were only relative terms. As Krishnaji had said, it was a pathless land. There was no one who could give advice. There was no authority! It was a new dimension: a timeless state. There was no fear.

I remember writing Krishnaji a note in which I told him that I felt as a little bird must feel when it has outgrown its nest: it must fly but doesn’t know how.

Thursday I drove up to see Krishnaji again. The trip helped to bring me down to earth and by the time I had arrived, there was a grounding in physical reality. I tried to explain to him some of the fantastic things that had happened, but he would stop me on each attempt to describe this to him. Each time he would bring me back to the present moment and refused to discuss anything which had happened in the past. This attitude of his applied to all meetings that I have ever had with him over the past 39 years. Though I didn’t appreciate it at that time, his wisdom in this matter was well grounded in fact, as subsequent events have shown.

During this interview he said, “Find the answer to the question, ‘What is the I?’” Naturally at that moment, I could not answer the question. However, the question had been posed, it did register in my mind, and was to bear its own fruit in a most interesting way.

On the way home I tried to analyze the details of all the events of the past few days. I was again in focus with my everyday life in the physical world but a new dimension had been added. All of the qualities and feelings of the experience were present in the deepest part of my consciousness. I could not forget the essence of the event; it was now an intrinsic part of my nature. With all of this, however, there was now also the reality of my actual life situation to be faced. I was married, with its relationships and responsibilities. There were my wife and son, whom I loved and who certainly needed my help and understanding. There was my home and the airport business in Monrovia. There was the Monrovia Flight School operating in Prescott, Arizona, with a contract to train Navy pilots. World War II was in full swing. I knew that I must give my complete attention to every detail of this situation which I had created through my past thoughts and actions.

Krishnaji had challenged me to answer the question, “What is the I?” This question began working inside me like a seed that had been planted. It seemed an impossible question. Where was I to start? I can see now that this is a fundamental question. Our whole life’s activity is based on the premise that we know what we are. There are certainly plenty of professional authorities who have told us about ourselves. I was well familiar with many of these descriptions: medical terminology concerned with the gross physical body; the psychological terms for the various phases of consciousness; and the esoteric terms form the domain of the occult tradition.

For the next few days I found myself busy with my home life and the airport business. The private airports within 150 miles of the coastline had been closed to flight operations shortly after Pearl Harbor. However, there were other activities which needed supervision at the Monrovia airport. My secretary had moved to the flight operations at Prescott, Arizona, so I found myself alone in the office most of the time.

One morning, having taken care of the things that had to be done, I picked up the booklet of the Krishnamurti Talks of 1936. These were the talks that had been given in various locations around the world. I had been reading this booklet in a desultory manner for the last several weeks, and had gotten up to the fourth talk given in Ommen, Holland on July 29, 1936. I had not picked up this book for the past week, as so many things had been happening in my own life. Now, however, there was time and space in which to read. There had been no intimation of any connection between this material and Krishnaji’s question, “What is the I?” Now a new element had been added to my understanding. The words were alive and had a living quality. They no longer were just furnishing “dead” information but as I read, there was a different quality. Each sentence applied directly to me at that moment. This was what I was actually experiencing at that moment. There was again that heightened awareness which had been experienced the previous Sunday, but this time it was happening at my own level and in direct relationship to what I was involved in. What I was reading was like looking at the innermost functioning of my own mind. I was in direct relationship with the words, they were like a mirror in which I saw and understood the workings of my mind.

In this particular talk Krishnaji was continuing to examine the “I” process, and as his description of its dynamics unfolded, there was a direct link between me and this description.

Suddenly it happened! In the midst of the second paragraph there was again that complete stopping of time and an insight into the situation. The “I” had caught itself in action. At this moment there was no longer any mystery. Krishnaji’s question had been answered! There was no “I” existing separate from the thought process. The “ego” as a permanent entity didn’t exist. What did exist was a process! This process had a name, a past, and a future which was the result of time.

When the thought process stopped, time did not exist. There was only experiencing, not the dual process of experience and the person to whom the experience was happening.

[…]

The result of these contacts with Krishnaji led to many changes in my life. I began to experience more and more frequently the state of consciousness which for obvious reasons I have chosen to call Now-Consciousness.

This has become an ongoing state of experiencing for me over the intervening years. It has brought a transformation in behavioral patterns that I have not consciously sought. Neurotic responses to many life experiences have dropped away. Relationships with nature have taken on a depth of meaning hitherto undreamed of. Each detail of life has become meaningful in a new way. All of the insights previously seen have remained in their essence as a sustaining background through which life is met.

To me, the valuable characteristic of Now-Consciousness is its universal availability for anyone. It can be experienced by rich or poor, in a palace or a hovel, by an intellectual or a simple person. It is the common heritage of everyone. Because of its simplicity it is easily overlooked by the erudite.

It is the only approach to the experiencing of reality that is non-dualistic. Therefore the transformative results are not ego induced. What is discovered is true and uniquely understood by each in his own way. This truth becomes an intrinsic part of one’s nature and leads to right behavioral patterns. In this behavioral change, which so subtly comes about, one finds his or her place in the over-all fabric of life. It is a true uniqueness in which there is no competition or exploitation of another.

I have found that it is all too easy to reach conclusions about anything. Any conclusion or definite answer is a blockage to the ceaseless flow of life which gathers around itself other mental debris. This effectively brings to an end further insights into that particular subject. Therefore what I happen to be now observing is only my individual point of view. My findings may be of interest to others who are also seeking the true meaning of life.

In the early years of his teaching, Krishnamurti had reiterated many times his intention to never betray the truth in order to make it more palatable to his listeners. I was deeply touched by his sense of integrity. In speaking with him one day, I remarked, “Krishnaji, I never what to betray this truth, which has become so important in my life.”

He answered, “Don’t worry, you will never betray the truth if you are careful to only speak or write from your own experience and understanding of life. Never quote or use other people’s material as your own.” This made a profound impression on me and since that time, I have been very careful to follow that course.”

-Albert Blackburn

Excerpts from Now Consciousness: Exploring the World Beyond Thought, Part One

This book is available from IdylwildBooks.com