Krishnamurti and Carl Jung: Twin Mystics

Robert Phoenix

By Robert Phoenix

on 01.23.09 in Spotlights

In the last journey through “The Temple of The Mental,” we followed the left-handed path — the non-rational, non-linear, approach to what Bryon Gysin and William Burroughs dubbed “The Third Mind.” Its highest achievement is liberation from the realm of the rational; its greatest pitfall is death. In some circles, some might even call this methodology “Luciferian.” Standing opposite the left-handed path is the right-handed path, which involves a more practical approach, based on systems and methodologies.

When J. Krishnamurti was a young man exploring the wonders of being a Telugu Brahmin in his birthplace of Madanapelle, India, he had a “chance” encounter with Bishop Leadbeater, a spiritual talent scout for Madame Blavatsky and the Theosophical Society in India. Leadbeater developed a relationship with the young Krishnamurti and his little brother and determined that one of them would be coached to become “The World Teacher” of their new world religion and usher in the New Age.

Krishnamurti and his brother left India to study with the Theosophists, first in England and then later in Ojai, California, where Krishnamurti would spend the majority of his life writing and teaching. Shortly after the untimely death of his younger brother, Krishnamurti began pull away from the Theosophists, ultimately rejecting his pre-ordained role to be the spiritual head of “The Order Of The Star.”

From that moment forward, Krishnamurti became dedicated to exploring observing and dialoging about the nature of truth, reality and illusion. This sobering dive into clarity is at its heart, the essence of “The Right-handed Path,” distilled of any orthodoxy and dogma. Direct Perception and Transformation, the first in a four-part-series of talks given by Krishnamurti, is a profound transmission that plays like a concentrated version of Krishnamurti’s life work. The recording quality is excellent and the ambient noises of the outdoor talk, from the song of a bird to the overhead flight of a plane, are crystal clear. This is deeply profound transmission that should be essential listening for anyone that is invested in the transformation of culture and life on the planet.

In essence, Krishnamurti is advocating that we actively engage in the observation of ourselves, the environment and “the other,” without the pre-history and baggage of our beliefs, prejudices and enculturation. It’s a radical approach to clarity, truth and liberation. If you want your beliefs and standards challenged, and are ready to move beyond them, this recording cannot be more highly recommended. It’s the audio equivalent of taking Morpheus ‘”red pill.”

Once he freed himself from the spell of Leadbetter and the Theosophical Society, Krishnamurti left all convention behind. He was also controversy-free. He was never accused of bedding his students, nor amassing large sums of cash for his wisdom. But don’t mistake his almost rational approach to spirituality as a merely didactic exercise in logic. Krishnamurti was first and foremost a mystic, a man frequently subject to painful headaches, which were almost always a prelude to greater understanding and knowledge. He called this phase of his experience, “The Process.” Ever the reluctant teacher, it seemed as though he made himself pay for his own gifts.

While Krishnamurti was disentangling himself from the clutches of The Theosophical Society, Carl Gustav Jung was disentangling himself from Sigmund Freud. Jung was part of the amazing Zurich school, which featured some of the great psychological minds of The 20th century, including Freud, Jung, Alfred Adler and the mad visionary, Wilhelm Reich.

Jung was raised as a Swiss Catholic, but by no means was he completely orthodox in his upbringing. His mother was a full-blown mystic, quite familiar with the world of séances and table-tapping. Even though he never fully embraced such obvious acts and symbols of mysticism, Jung’s upbringing allowed him to consider possibilities about the psyche that would threaten Freud’s didactic and deconstructionist version. Jung is a classic example of a traveler on the left-hand path who takes a right-hand approach. Guided by his lifelong dream-spirit teacher, Philemon, Jung traversed a universe that was infinitely more complex and open-ended than Freud’s. When Freud saw a wood-carved mask from The Congo, he saw primal complexes as they related to The Id. Jung would have seen the same mask as an image from the collective unconscious, the anima monde, and a mask of God. His groundbreaking “A Man and His Symbols” opens the doorway to the numinous discovery of the complexity of the human psyche. His work in the field of synchronicity is the first, radical reassessment of Western time and meaning in the 20th century. Make no mistake — Jung was as much of a mystic as Krishnamurti. But his work as a teacher of the right-handed path was to use a system of his own creation in order to guide an individual through the process of individuation and ultimately wholeness. This included the embrace of archetypes and a dance with the shadow, a prominent theme in Jung’s work.

On An Interview With Carl Jung, Jung can be heard weighing in on many topics, ranging from his relationship to Freud, to the power of archetypes, the collective unconscious and the failure of strict typology. The recording quality is good and Jung’s English is understandable enough to fully absorb the dazzling array of ideas. Amongst one of his interesting anecdotes is that of an intuitive woman who came to see him complaining of a “snake in her belly.” After about five minutes of going over the details of her case with the interviewer, Jung makes the connection between the snake in the woman’s belly and a manifestation of Kundalini. This is a remarkable conclusion on his part, and a testament to his ability to track the course of the left-handed-path and supply the language and ideas for it’s right-handed expression. In his own way, Jung was a shaman.

From the lucid mysticism of Krishnamurti, to the mystical psychology of Jung, these two form an interlocking bond that coheres the mental body with the spiritual, conferring solidity and purpose in the quest to greater self-understanding on the right-handed-path to knowledge.