I ordered a book secondhand off the internet a month or two ago, a memoir by a woman who had grown up with Krishnamurti being almost her surrogate father. Krishnamurti was originally from India, a boy picked out by the theosophists as an avatar, a holy being, and a man who retained that aura all his life though he put down gurus and spiritual movements in general. It was fairly interesting and I was fully expecting to finish it – not word for word all the way through, but at least a thorough skim – when it disappeared from my living room the day that Mari cleaned the bookshelves.
I did read one line in it though that has stuck with me. A friend of Krishnamurti, not Krishnamurti himself, says to the child that she should not kill anything – not even little bugs. “Their life is as precious to them as yours is to you.”
But I killed the mosquito at breakfast this morning. It had already bitten me once and was hovering, getting ready for more and though I knew it valued its life etc. I killed it.
In yoga they taught us that everybody has billions of lives and that if you kill a bug you can actually be doing it a favor, allowing it to be reborn, hopefully as something with a little more staying power and therefore a greater chance at etc.
I liked that theory, that souls come back in different forms. I still like it. Sometimes it explains things that nothing else does. But, while I used to accept reincarnation as true because they said so, I now admit I have no idea and I don’t think anyone else does either.
I was driving with my friend Yolanda. She was driving. It was a Saturday morning and she had picked me up to spend a few hours at her house helping her organize her office. She does a lot of things to make a living, one of them is to teach hatha yoga, the form of yoga that most people have heard of by now. You can buy sticky mats in supermarkets.
“I have to really watch myself,” she said as we drove down Rock City Road. “Sometimes I hear the things I say in my yoga classes – I have to be careful.” Her voice trailed off.
“I know what you mean,” I said. “I try really hard these days to only say things I know are true.” We talked about what I call New Age Fundamentalism which she recognized immediately and defined as, “You caused your cancer!” and contrasted it to Judaism, which she said was based on asking questions.
We turned into the lane on which she lives. Our mutual friend, Molly, was walking with her brown-and-white sort of fancy cocker spaniel, the dog she acquired sort of to replace the little black one who had been her sidekick for almost twenty years. The new little dog is cute, but somehow I don’t feel the closeness, the inseparability that was there with the first little dog. Maybe I will in twenty years.
Molly looked worn and unhappy. Yolanda paused the car while I said hi through the window. I wondered if Yolanda and Molly were getting along these days – they lived near each other – and I had the impression that sometimes they were better friends than at other times.
It was one of the hottest days of the summer. “Call me,” Molly said, waving me on. It was too hot to talk.
I know Yolanda’s dog had been killed on this lane about two years ago, hit by a car while Molly was taking her for a walk. It was an accident. Cars are always racing down this dead-end road. I don’t think Yolanda blamed Molly. Still, if that’s what I thought of, here on this road with the two of them, maybe that’s what they think of too.
My friend Yolanda wants me to streamline her office which is also her art studio and make it so that all the papers just land in the right places when the mail gets delivered, when she returns from her day with her bag bulging with fliers, announcements, contracts, instructions, magazines, articles. It’s a small, glassed-in porch and it’s gotten to the point where she just has things in piles. I go through the piles while she works on her computer. I bring the piles into the living room and I begin to sort them – bank statements, bills, stationery – and that’s about all I can do – put like things together. Maybe, I say, next time we can look at the space together and think about perhaps picking up some stackable trays – something to help keep things separated – there isn’t room for much.
Fred comes at 12:30 to pick me up. He knocks on the door. I call that I’ll be right out. There really isn’t room for him in here. When I go out into the damp heavy heat Fred and Irwin are not in sight though the car is there. I meet them halfway down the lane. They are talking about the Democrats as they come slowly walking towards me. Only Irwin, I think, would suggest a stroll on a day like this.