Sabyasachi Guha narrates in his own words the effects of being in close proximity to U.G. Krishnamurti

Sabyasachi Guha

There were times when I would go to my room to sleep, sit there all night, hairs standing on end, with eyes wide open, chest pumping; I could barely eat because something was growing inside me, and the thoughts would go on
and on. What am I doing here?  It was a struggle. U.G. was challenging my intellect: The fact that you are here means you have not understood anything!

I would ask myself what I wanted from him.  Obviously, my intellect was telling me I wanted to understand and get to the bottom of things. He was telling me, “Your intellect is found wanting.”  I asked him why.  “Because you are here, that’s why. You read the book and it didn’t do anything!”

Before I met U.G. and after reading Mind Is A Myth everything had gone topsy-turvy in the sense that I was already in a big struggle. I was doing spiritual practices and having tremendous experiences and whenever I reported these experiences to my spiritual mentors, they told me these were very good and positive signs.  After some time, I started questioning this, since I found I was functioning exactly the same way I had always been.  I still had hope for the future, creating a finite structure of what I wanted. The same hope-oriented movement of the mind produced endless fantasies and nothing had changed.  I questioned what my spiritual experiences did for me. They were stories created in my head.  I recollect my experiences and I feel good, so what. Nothing has changed in me.

When I read Mind Is A Myth, I immediately agreed with what U.G. was saying because he was addressing the real problem, not peddling hope.  I felt he was telling me to stand back and inquire what the hell I was doing, where I was going, and if anything had ever happened to me other than just finding out what I had experienced and then interpreting those experiences.  I had already stopped my meditation practice.  I decided that’s it, there is nothing to get anywhere, there is nothing to do and you don’t need a thing.  Although I readily agreed that everything was fine, hunky dory, that was actually not the case because I often found myself thoroughly dissatisfied.  I read the book again, and I went back and forth with this book reading.

Meeting U.G. Krishnamurti

Finally, I wrote a letter to U.G.’s friend in California, Prof. Narayana Moorty, asking him to tell me more about U.G. and his whereabouts.  He replied that it was difficult to coordinate with his movements but if he was anywhere around, he would let me know.  After 15 days I wrote to him again.  I was driving to my office, and a thought occurred to me: If I heard there was a guy like Sri Ramakrishna around, wouldn’t I go and meet him at least once? I sent an email to Prof Moorty wanting to know where that guy was!  He replied, “U.G. is coming to New York tomorrow,” and he gave me Julie’s telephone number.  I immediately called her; she was the perfect conduit to U.G.  When I spoke with her it was as if she was preparing her own child to face an interview for primary school admission. She told me, “If U.G. says ‘no,’ don’t be disheartened.  If you keep trying, he will say yes! Don’t take ‘no’ for an answer!”

When I called back that evening, U.G. just asked, “When can you come?”  I said, “Now!” He and Julie had just come from London that night, and he said he had to do some ticketing the next day. He told me to come the day after and asked me what time I finished work. I said, “It’s in my hands, don’t worry about my work!”  U.G. said, “Then morning is a good time.”  Julie gave me directions and I arrived at 7 a.m. on the appointed day.

The first thing I told U.G. when I met him was that after reading J. Krishnamurti I realized I was a petty, shoddy, worrywart.  My mind was filled with desire, and it did not know what silence was.  I had read J.K. extensively to find out what one could do to have that “great mind”. But nothing worked.  I wanted to do meditation.  I knew that science was never going to address my personal problems, my dealings with society, conflicts or desires. It would only tell me that science is an interesting subject and I should know more and more and more.

At that time I was not reading philosophy, psychology or biology, I was just doing physics.  I thought the only way to address this problem was to do formal meditation since I had been reading this stuff long enough without any results. I told U.G. that I had experienced many things during meditation and it had been very different and completely foreign to me. I said I never knew these kinds of experiences were possible.  Was there anything to these experiences?   U.G. said, “You can’t experience something that you don’t know.”  I told him that I had trance-like visions and strange sound and light patterns in meditation. I saw men, women, gods and goddesses, but the context and the movement were in fantasyland.  The bits and pieces were familiar but I didn’t know how they were connected, perhaps by my unknown desires, and this created a storyline.

I told him that I felt his life was a like a classic story from our scriptures!  He became very animated.  He said, “My life cannot be described that way, you cannot connect the happenings of my life by cause and effect.  Everything that happened to me happened despite everything I did.  Every event of my life was an independent event.”

Two Dogs Barking

What U.G. had experienced, as expressed in The Mystique of Enlightenment was so great that I felt my experiences compared to his were just a pittance, nothing more.  It’s as if somebody just started sketching and was comparing himself to Picasso.  I thought, “Holy cow, this guy who should be so proud of his experiences, and who had so much to talk about, is pooh-poohing everything.  He had complete disregard for his own experiences and had just completely trashed them all. Why am I telling him my petty little nothings?”  I was silenced.  U.G. said, “Look, we are like two dogs barking.  We are not telling each other anything.  Just forget it.”

As I was about to leave I told U.G., “After I read your book there was a constant background demand.  I thought okay, there is nothing to get, nowhere to go, so I won’t see you, but it wouldn’t leave me alone.  One day it popped into my head that if there was a guy like Sri Ramakrishna, wouldn’t I go and see him?”  U.G. didn’t comment, and we sat together for some time, and I said, “Well, there are things that I want to know, although I know there are probably no satisfactory answers.”

I was sure there were no satisfactory answers to my questions. Wanting to know sets up a desire to know certain things in a certain way, to get confirmation.  But then, what he said next was the complete antithesis of what he had been saying.  He said, “Perhaps you were ready to come here.”  That put me back to square one! I was back to the mess I was in when I started my spiritual practices! All this understanding I thought I had was bogus!  What is that readiness he was talking about? Basically, I just went home with a bad headache; something was telling me that I couldn’t cover up a problem by saying there is no problem.  There may not have been any problem for him, but if I pretended to understand him and claimed I had no problem, then I was a deluded bastard! There is a problem!  The problem is me and I want three different things.  He wanted me to address that problem. I was flattered, but also confused because I went to see him “just once” and I thought that would be it; I would go back to my science in full gun.  But that didn’t happen!

That was the only time I met U.G. during that visit.  He was in transit to California, but he came back to New York within a month.  Julie kept in touch with me and I met him again.

Meeting U.G. Again

The second time I saw U.G., I thought I will not discuss spiritual matters with him. The answer was not going to come; it was meaningless to discuss spirituality. But at the same time it went on as a constant background.  While he was talking to other people, I felt there were many things he was indirectly saying to me. He was discussing everything I wanted to know in detail.

When I went home that second night I had a very high fever.  I thought I had malaria or something, and felt my bones were shivering, sending chills down to the marrow.  But the next morning I was perfectly fine!  I told U.G. about the strange fever. Once again, he put some kind of mysterious idea in my head, saying, “You see, problems happen if you come to see me.” I then remembered that the first time I met U.G. in Julie’s apartment, I had a bad headache with nausea.  So now this idea was implanted that I could look for some connection between my physical response and his presence.  Until then I had never thought about it that way at all!

I was beginning to realize that U.G. was expressing that faith is necessary only when you do not have any evidence of functionality. If you touch fire you will know the burning sensation first hand.  Life functions in a very different way, unlike our cocky confidence in our limited knowledge, understanding and faith. Life works to optimize and maintain its functionality; that is its movement.  I had no doubt that U.G.’s presence was affecting me; something was going on.

Psychologists say we have an unconscious. The brain scientists study the unconscious, the processes that go on behind every conscious movement and produce thoughts and feelings.  It is not simply one thing. I definitely felt that U.G.’s company was addressing my innate demand.  Intellectually, however, it was a massive screw up!  He denied everything and no one else could address my dilemma.  I had to figure it out by myself.  Any conclusion I came to would not be an unconditional truth and that bothered me even more. We are in a strange situation, where knowledge brings us to a place of helplessness.

It’s All Speculation

Say you are told you have a mental problem and you are not functioning the way your teacher, your friend, your wife or others expect you to function. You should see a neurophysiologist to examine your extremely complex machinery.  This machinery is absolutely essential for you to function properly. The problem is that you don’t know how it works.  You consult a so-called expert, but you don’t completely trust him. So what do you do?  You go to a shrink and he tells you if you refuse to take the pill the neurophysiologist suggested it is because you are rebelling against your parents.  If you accept this, run to the pharmacy and take a pill, it means you are trying to please them!

There is no space anywhere to protect your dignity. You will go mad if you want to be objective and understand things by yourself.  There is no solution! People who pretend to be experts don’t know a thing about themselves either. They do not know the unconscious process that makes them take action. They can sort out their desires but can never be sure about the source of intentions and dreams.  It is all speculation.

There is nothing you can do – that was my problem.  There was no denying that interaction with U.G. was affecting me. He was making inroads into my unconscious process, but I couldn’t find anything helpful in what he was saying, as far as society and I were concerned.  He was saying everything was shit.  You are a greedy bastard sitting here wanting to free yourself from greed. Then, you can’t get up and go; that wouldn’t prove a thing, it wouldn’t mean that you solved the problem. Finally, as a last resort, you use the “shit box” word, love.

What can you say about U.G.? Unless you invoke religious concepts, you can’t talk about him.  Okay, he is god, he is freeing me, he is showing me the door to heaven — blah, blah, blah, mythical stuff.  Indians might say, “U.G. lives everywhere, he is here, he is there.”  Friends say, “Ah, he is in three places at the same time” – all fairy tales.  His memory lives in your mind because his presence affected you; it has affected the deep unconscious processes through which the conscious movement arises.  It is physical, and difficult to explain.

Desires Have No Limits

On the one hand, there are things beyond my logic, and on the other, there is a sequential happiness that comes when you identify something positive that you are going to get. I had an idea that there was something deep down affecting me; a person can affect you and make you feel healthy, strong and vital.  U.G.’s presence was addressing something that began to form a qualitative logic that there was something inside me that wanted to function the way he was functioning. It was very personal for me.

If you are confident about what you are doing, you attract the attention of others. People around you feel it and that movement has a strong impact.  When you see someone who doesn’t depend on any authority, you want to be like that, it’s natural.  You want to be independent; you don’t want to hear lectures from anybody. There is no further movement. It is just the way the natural process unfolds.  A tiger can run only up to a certain speed. Everything has limits – desires and capacities are a function of limitations. Our thought-induced desires seem to have no limit because they function in an illusory space.

When I met U.G., as far as I could see, there was no conflict in him.  Something in me wanted to be like that, to function that way, completely present with no distraction.  He was there with me, he could do whatever he wanted with me and nothing else seemed to matter.  My system was responding to what functioned in him. For example, say you are walking your dog, and the moment he spots another dog on the other side of the road, nothing else exists for him.  The two are “locked in;” it’s that kind of response.  This same locking-in mechanism, relating to U.G., created something inside me that began as an unconscious process and kept unfolding.  You can do anything, but there will be a U.G. for you, he will be there as long as you are there. You can’t help it; he’s sitting in the background of your mind.  You don’t have to learn to love.  You don’t have to practice anything!

At one point in time, I thought that I should do an experiment on myself to see how my interaction with U.G. was affecting my system.  His effect was so strong and I wanted to know quantitatively, not just qualitatively, what that was.  Qualitatively my heart was foaming, there was a physical movement next to my heart and there were bumps and marks on my stomach, neck, and forehead.  There was a constant saliva secretion in my mouth, I had difficulty swallowing and I felt as if there was a lump in my chest. I wanted to find out what was going on in my own system, but at the same time I felt extremely vital. I knew I wasn’t sick.

U.G. would tell doctors, “You can go to hell and stay there for good, don’t come anywhere near me.”  He was never going to allow himself to be tested, so forget it!  I have no doubt that something functioned in him that affected me in a way I could never have imagined, but it became complex because there was one more important equation in the system, the biology of which we understand diddlysquat.  It is what makes you the person you are, the mental movements, the fundamental necessity of its inception and how uncontrolled mental movements affect your system and disturb its equilibrium.

U.G.’s Uniqueness

U.G.’s energy and constant negation demonstrated that something can happen to a human being that takes care of individual problems and allows one to express oneself powerfully when there is a real demand.  He was an example of a disposition that had taken care of the individual’s existential problems as far as the social demand is concerned.  U.G. was in harmony with the world; he created balance by generating intrinsic energy, which gave him strength and vitality when external pressure tried to control and dominate.  Something operating in him protected him from the pressure of the status quo.  He was in a beautiful, dynamic equilibrium.

U.G. never denied social pressures.  Everything was real for him at the functional level, but his system was strong and vital and it could meet any challenge.  The pressure of the social structure is always trying to make you react.  The information center, after losing its habitual grip, responds to that pressure only when really needed. U.G.’s system was in equilibrium with the pressure from his surroundings. That was unique. Most people do not have this, even though they may pretend they do. In general, people lie to themselves and pretend to others, constantly hammered and driven by this imbalance. The imbalance shows up in boredom or the demands of the pleasure movement.

I believe that what happened in U.G.’s case was a reorganization of the brain and nervous system, which acquired a capacity that was something like the workings of the immune system. The immune system always encourages certain bacteria to digest food for you, and always tries to fight the bacteria that make you unhealthy. Similarly, in our brain there is a mechanism which keeps a check on the different kinds of movements that create or can create long-term imbalance. Thought is extremely difficult to pinpoint because it is the outcome of a complex and multifunctional mechanism.  Before a thought surfaces, many other processes go on in the brain during which there are discriminatory checks.  These checks are very important for a person’s mental health.

Say there is a thought of committing suicide. It is an extremely unstable mental state because thought is supposed to protect the species and make life easier. Suicide not only ends the thinker, it completely destroys the body!  This is an example of an internal process where discrimination fails and does not function properly.  By observing U.G.’s functionality from close quarters, and finding in myself that certain ideas which used to float freely and dominate, no longer sends propositions, like a good immune system, there is a possibility of bringing an order from within, an order which reflects in our wants and desires.

To give you an example, I had a desire to perform well because that was the way I responded to my ideas and thoughts, habitually projecting an outcome, seeing myself in a futuristic situation. Now those propositions are absent. I think the unconscious discrimination nips them in the bud. Sometimes they surface but there is no further movement and it’s over. That is the mystery.  As U.G. would say, “If I see something, the desire to get that will never arise unless there is money in my pocket.”  That was the way he described things. The whole thing is aware of the feasibility of those things, but for most people it is not like that.

The Sinking Process

Each person reacted differently to U.G., depending on their self-consciousness and background.  U.G. would say, “Once they find out that they are not getting anything here, they will go somewhere else. It does not matter to me.”  I felt his physical presence was what people were responding to, whether they knew it or not.  U.G. was also responding. The important thing for him was that there was this challenge to overcome, the challenge to somehow bring the habitual scattered movement of the people around him into an ordered movement so that it could be directed towards the unknown in each individual mind. Unless you arrive at a situation where your system completely realizes that any direction you move is a dead end, and there is no escape, your habitual energy draining by the monkey mind cannot be minimized, let alone the momentum stopped in its tracks. Those were the moments he was trying to impose on everybody, and after a little while the system would begin to reorganize itself towards its pre-programmed order. Otherwise, it would be in a constant mode of energy loss, even in dreams. That was the greatest challenge for him and for everybody.

According to me, the more powerful logic you had, it was more difficult it was for you to be pushed into a corner. You would have a self-sustained logical thought, picked up from an irrelevant action of his with a beautiful justification, telling yourself that he was wrong. In my case, despite my logical thinking, the physical effect was so strong and vital that it made me sink and the sinking process was so intense that it brought about an uncontrollable process at night, a celestial rape, so to speak. I called it, the “visitation of the messenger of death”. That made me realize that U.G. was dead serious when he remarked, “You wouldn’t touch this with a ten-foot barge pole.”

Even during most of the sleep cycle, our self-consciousness is very much at work which is a result of the movement that creates thinking and recollecting images. Our system is very complex; there is no simple model of the functionality of our mind. When you try to explain something through thinking, you create a model through your imagination and then match the attributes of that model to see how close the prediction of that model is to what you want to understand. You see a mountain, you want to find out what kind of geological processes occurred in the earth that could have formed it. Then you build a model of the earth based on physics, chemistry and other forces of nature. But it is difficult to build a model like that for the mind. I thought by studying brain biology, along with my own experience, I could reasonably build such a model, but I found I could only build a point of view based on my own present situation. If you believe there is a self and a thinker and they have a particular location, it is an oversimplified model.  This is the reason why explanations of non-duality can never be accepted as a model because they will never match the specific outcome of the biological functioning of the brain called the mind. The mind is more complex than the most sophisticated computer humans can ever build.

Back to Square One!

Recent brain research gives us hope based on the science of reproducibility. Consciousness has evolved for thousands of years and is responsible for what we are. The consciousness that has been there for thousands and thousands of years, which is responsible for what we are, roughly divides our lifetime into three different states – waking, dreaming and deep sleep when dreaming is apparently suspended. If our brains were wired, each state would have an identifying signature. When you are dreaming it is called the rapid eye movement (REM) state, and non-REM state is when you are in deep sleep. Thick, heavy, slow brainwaves come on the monitor and your eye movements are not rapid because the movements are an indication of your processing information into a separate place called retrievable memory through “thinking”. You are hopeful because you think by using this knowledge and by understanding the causality you will achieve immortality, immense pleasure, eternal happiness and bliss, not to mention solving all your problems! But go ahead and try, you will be back to square one!

There are two aspects involved in achieving an end to conflict. One, when you achieve functional certainty through an experimental process. U.G.’s approach was experimental, based on functionality. The other is the intellectual approach – that by satisfying the so-called self through logical thinking, information gathering and connecting the information through acceptable logic, the process will convince you and the reward of that understanding will end all sorrow. However, getting more and more information about functionality does not address the problem at all. The experimental approach is like showing you hands on what is working and what is not.

Everything you need is there inside you and whatever information you need to express that has already been gathered by you. If your mission is to find out if there is anybody else functioning like U.G., you have missed the boat completely.  That situation will never arise again.  The instrument that you are using to find out if there is anyone else in that state can only be satisfied by someone with a slick tongue and clever usage of vocabulary. You are also using that to convince yourself and others of your point of view.

U.G. was functional deep down and that is why he said, “If I say anything, if it is real, it will stand on its own.” If there is nothing, it will fall. He had that certainty. He realized that what was happening to him was a fundamental, natural process. What will come out is self-expressed and self-explained, like a tree and its root and everything else in nature.  Its existence is its own justification. To get that justification, you have to be hit very hard, and the information processing mechanism is always postponing. You are constantly losing energy during the process of gathering information. Conventional wisdom tells us that if you know enough, you will crack the problem – the problem of life, why you are miserable, and finally the problem of the existence of non-functional solutions. That’s the fundamental problem of the Western society.  We have everything we need for peace and a harmonious existence. Think about the millions of people living in poor or war-torn countries such as Darfur region in Sudan, Afghanistan, Iraq and many more.  Here in this progressive society we have everything that one can think of, yet we are miserable.  Why? U.G. would say, “Once you have food, clothing and shelter, the next question comes, ‘Is that all?’”  That is all!

You are supposed to be in perfect equilibrium with nature. But society is constantly bombarding us with what we should want, what we should have, and if those desires are not met you can take Prozac!  If this hits you, your existence is its own justification, and that is all that matters. U.G. was setting something experiential in motion. You have seen fire, played with it, so you know it exists. You don’t have to know the intricacies of the skin’s biology when it touches fire, or what goes on in the plasmatic state called fire – these are all theoretical.  If you have never seen fire you can still write a theory about it, but it doesn’t mean a thing; it is the extension of the human capacity to imbibe illusion as real.  This is what U.G. was trying in various ways to tell us, that if something really touches you, you will never need justification. There will be a living freshness and it will resonate with the core of your existence.

U.G. communicated on an individual level without needing people to support his point of view. With the collapse of the information structure his center didn’t have any meaning and at one point he decided he was not going to justify anyone’s teaching, including his own previous renderings. He would not support, justify, elaborate or explain even his own statements. He said he denied his first sentence with the second, and the first and second with his third, with the idea of not communicating anything.

U.G. is alive in books, through the web and in our memory. He once told a reporter, “I am talking to someone out there through you, someone who is going to be hit by this!”

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