Yesterday I began a memoir written by a woman who was a child in Ojai, living very close to Krishnamurti, almost as his daughter. Her parents were his best friends, her mother his secret lover. I am glued to the book. It’s well written. I feel myself in responsible hands.
Krishnamurti has been one of my companions since the mid-eighties. Natvar, my first cult leader – a smalltime guru of Greek heritage – became the yoga teacher for an upper- class Greek upper-Eastsider whose mother swore by Krishnamurti. Natvar got in very tight with this family and we all began reading Krishnamurti’s books and watching his videos.
Krishnamurti was still alive then and we went to see him speak in Madison Square Garden. I listened respectfully, fighting to stay awake. He was a plain, old gentleman who sat on a simple chair on the large empty stage, speaking in a monotone as he always did.
Natvar and Nellie – the mother of the upper-Eastsider, a short round woman with a round face, bushy grey hair and mischievous eyes, would have long conversations in the lobby after dinner, after the small group of yoga students had left, while Mark and I did the dishes and Tracy put the girls to bed – Nellie smoking her cigar out the window – she and Natvar lounging back on the silver crushed velvet sofa that had once belonged to my father. We would join them when the work was done and sit on the lush burgundy carpet that had just been installed over the bare splintered boards we had been laboring over for months.
Mark, Tracy and I sat on the floor, listening with the raptness of devotees. I could not follow their conversation – sometimes it went into Greek, but even when Natvar and Nellie spoke English they leapt so far into abstractions I could only listen and hope that one day, if I worked hard enough, I’d be able to talk like that.
Krishnamurti I found almost impossible to follow too. I struggled through his books and tapes. But still I liked him. He was so unflashy, his face so serious and beautiful, he had to be trustworthy.
Years later, in my last years at the ashram, I bought one of his books again, heretical though it seemed. And still, although difficult, I trusted him. He was unique amongst philosophers. He refused the guru title.
And now I read of Krishnamurti, the man. Not the celibate holy man. Another man, another human being. It’s an important story for me.
I even visited his home once in Ojai, a remote and charming stone cottage with a lawn smaller than my own, and plump roses, the whole place perfumed by the groves of orange trees below in the valley. It was such a simple place, closed that day so we couldn’t go in, but I felt that a good person had lived there. He was dead by then.
And I am learning what a human human person he was. I have stopped believing in saints.