Dr. Robert Puff
Now Consciousness: Exploring the World Beyond Thought
Self-Realization: A Personal Account
Realization is within the inner consciousness. It is an inner experience that has no connection with the lower mind system and its discriminations of words, ideas and philosophical speculations. Thus it lies beyond all dualistic concepts or mind created values. It is realized suddenly and intuitively as a turning about takes place in the deepest seat of consciousness.
Taken from The Lankavatra Scripture A Buddhist Bible by Dwight Goddard
Self-Realization: A Personal Account
It was a beautiful Sunday morning
J. Krishnamurti is unique among contemporary
spiritual teachers. Since he began his teaching in 1927 he has
spoken to and met with thousands of people throughout the world.
Krishnamurti was born in
I little realized at the time that the days events would be the beginning of a new direction in my life. After so many years of searching, what had I achieved? My situation was brought into focus by my review of the events leading up to this day. During this time my sole interest had been in anything connected to the occult life. I was intense by nature, and if I was convinced of the rightness of a particular course of action, I will give my whole heart to it. This had been my response to Theosophy. I was never content to read or hear of anothers experiences unless they would help me attain a similar capacity. I had read all the books, and talked to anyone I could find whom I thought might be able to help me achieve a personal experiencing of these marvelous things I was reading about. The result of this intense search was that I knew all of the answers theoretically and could give very interesting lectures on any occult subject. Unfortunately, this was all second-hand material and I was impatient to make a breakthrough.
I had hope that by joining the Esoteric Section of the Theosophical Society I would be taught how to arouse the Kundalini fire and thereby activate the Chakras. In the T.S. this is the assumed prerequisite for developing clairvoyance, clairaudience, and the ability to function consciously out of the body. I had been warned that this was a very dangerous course and that if I was determined to pursue it, it was essential to live a celibate life: unless one were free of the sex drive, the premature awakening of the Kundalini force which resides at the base of the spine, might turn downward and stimulate the lower nature. The goal set for the spiritual aspirants is to consciously lead the Kundalini upward in a prescribed manner through the upper centers. This can only be done with the help of someone who himself has mattered the technique and can clairvoyantly monitor the process as it unfolds in others.
Fortunately, I was intelligent enough to see the wisdom of this advice, but where was I to find such a teacher with this capacity? When I joined the Theosophical Society, I had expected to find many members who had already made this breakthrough; but if there were any, I failed to make their acquaintance. It was hinted that when one had been a member of the Outer Society for three years and was able to join the Esoteric Section, then certain secrets would be divulged. I had of course taken this step and become an E.S. Member, but it had led me no closer to my psychic awakening.
Now I was seriously considering going to
My introduction to Krishnamurtis
teaching had been in 1934 at the Oak Grove, where he was giving a
series of weekly talks. Since that time, I had hear him speak in
I drove automatically, my attention focused on reviewing the experiences, which included evaluating and judging these past events, then I tried to plan my future actions. The beauty of the countryside passed me, unnoticed. I drove with just enough attention to road conditions to arrive at Ojai late but safe.
As I got out of my car, I saw that everyone else was already in the Oak Grove awaiting Krishnamurtis arrival. As I entered the path leading into the grove, a distance of about 500 feet, I found myself walking with Krishnamurti, who had been waiting until the last minute before entering. I felt self-conscious as I found myself alone with him. I do not know why probably to allay my embarrassment but I asked him if it were possible to have a private interview with him.
He very graciously replied, Certainly. My secretary takes care of appointments, and if you will kindly write a note requesting an interview, I am sure that it can be arranged. With this I thanked him and we parted, he to proceed to his speaking position under the huge oaks, and I to find a seat among the several hundred listeners. I understood the talk that followed as much as all of the previous talks Id heard over the past ten years. The drive home was uneventful but the thoughts going through my mind were probably a continuation of what had occupied my mind during my trip up.
The following morning I wrote a note requesting an interview and mailed it off to Krishnamurti in Ojai. Friday I received a response from Krishnamurtis secretary. I would be give an interview the following Sunday afternoon at .
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 lifes problems. What could we talk about?
Krishnaji 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. The 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 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 and I explained how this proposed way of life was so important to me that I really didnt care what she thought about it; it was something I was compelled to do.
But dont 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
Thats true but I suppose it is all according to The Plan.
Krishnaji said, What plan?
I said, You know, the Plan of Evolution.
Evolution, what do you mean by evolution?
All of the great teachers have talked about evolution; Christ, Buddha, and all the others.
Thats funny, I dont remember the Buddha saying anything about evolution. Of course, there is such a thing as physical evolution such as from an oxcart to an airplane, but I dont think this is what you mean by evolution.
He was right! I didnt 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 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 my ability to drive home. However, Krishnaji had pointed out the obvious fact that physical things did have a reality of 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 3 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. The 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 had 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 anothers way or cast my shadow across anothers path. All life was really one, and the actuality of it was overwhelming. There was a seeing that 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 a 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 doesnt 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 38 years. Though I didnt 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
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 lifes 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 from 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
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,
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. Krishnajis question had been answered! There was no I existing separate from the thought process. The ego as a permanent entity didnt 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 experience and the person to whom the experience was happening.
This was a tremendous discovery because it
could be applied to everyday life. The experience following the
interview with Krishnaji had given me a glimpse of the mountain
top. It had been an overwhelming vision of ultimate
possibilities. Since my second talk with him I had found
myself grounded in the realities of life. Parts of the vision of
ultimate possibilities were now an intrinsic part of
this process. I no longer had ambition to become something. All
psychological fear had vanished, or so I thought. My interest in
Freedom had come in these areas, but there was still a residue of conditioning that had to be coped with. This conditioning was known to its friends and acquaintances as Albert Blackburn. This new intelligence that had been born was now intimately involved with Albert Blackburn. The two had become one. Intelligence was there as an inner guide, undemanding, unobtrusive, and with wisdom to let this conditioning called Albert Blackburn have complete freedom to work out its own destiny. In describing this, it becomes a seeming duality because of the nature of language, but the experiencing itself is a state of being which included the parts and everything involved, as a unit. I had caught my self in action and I had seen my self as a process, using everyone and everything to perpetuate an auto-generated illusion generally called ego. When I saw through the illusion of ego, a change of consciousness took place. My memory of the awakening after the first interview with Krishnamurti and which had continued during the subsequent time was still a dualistic memory.
I looked back to it as an event in which I had been involved. Comparison between where I now found myself and the state of pure being, which had been experienced after the first interview, was again the process of duality. The memory of this experience was me alright, but perceiving it in the moment of action was not me. A new dimension of perception had been added: possibly new brain cells had been activated. This new impersonal seeing had nothing to do with the thought process it was out of time. How and under what conditions it suddenly came into being was a mystery to me, but, once having had the experience, I knew that never again could I be content with my life as it had been. I felt then that this capacity to perceive instantaneously and integrally would forever make the old methods of dualistic analysis obsolete for me. Later I was to discover the true value of thought as a necessary and valuable tool in many ways.
The question now was: Could I do anything to prepare the ground for this new quality to happen again, perhaps permanently? If I was the thought process, and positive effort on my part was doomed to failure. This state of being was something which had happened to me through the grace of God. It was outside the time process, in a dimension which I had not created. I was familiar with the time process as it related to myself but not with anything untouchable by the human mind. As long as my mind was occupied with anything, this other state would not happen. This meant all thought self-centered, religious, materialistic, scientific, of any other movement of the thought process must come to an end for the other to be. I could not control the state of awareness which was the functioning of intelligence at the personal level. It could not be brought about at my beck and call.
A new start must be made. I had seen the mountain top, how could I be satisfied with the valley and its limited perspectives? I must carefully examine the facts of my new position. What were these facts? First, everything I recognized myself to be was the result of my every thought, feeling, and action at the personal level, and in the broader sense, of my racial origins, and even species origins. Second, this conditioning was a fact. It could not be ignored or hopefully put aside in order to experience something greater. It must be lived with as a part of what is. Third, analysis being dualistic was futile. It would not eliminate this conditioning as it in turn would become a further addition to the consciousness which I called myself. Fourth, obviously the thought process must come to an end for this awareness co come about. Fifth, no outside agency could help me, except to act as a mirror in which to see myself in action at any specific moment. I would find no answers in books or in the development of psychic faculties. Sixth, there was absolutely no method of meditation, as I then understood the term, that would stop the thought process without retaining myself as the meditator. How could a meditator place himself in a dualistic context and through the process of time, arrive at a nondual timeless state? There were innumerable systems which taught various types of meditation, each claiming specific results. Obviously, the mind process can create anything, but in the process the creator fashions the trap in which he himself is caught. It was always dualistic in its application but one hoped to achieve a non-dualistic result. Can means be separated from ends? Are they not one and the same? The beginning is truly in the ending and the ending is in the beginning. The are not separate from one another, as I had believed while my mind had been involved in time. In the timeless state the ends and means were inseparably together. There must be a new form of meditation possible in which this duality did not exist. Krishnaji spoke of the meditative state as a necessary part of self-knowledge.
My analytic, reasoning, calculating mind was incapable of an adequate response to these facts. In seeing this situation of what it was, there came again the stopping of time followed by insight and a creative understanding. This showed that the conditioned entity could never understand the unconditioned state but in understanding my own conditioning there was the possibility of the other coming into being.
I clearly perceived the real meaning of Liberation. It was the complete freedom from all reactions to past conditioning. It was conditioning which sought expression through reincarnation. Obviously if consciousness was free of conditioning there was an end to the thirst for sentient existence. Hence one was automatically removed from the wheel of rebirth. Reincarnation is the price of postponement for failure to do our homework now!
I must start with myself now. This meant I must begin with the known, this was a rude awakening and a little discouraging. How could one start at such a low level after having seen the mountain top? I remembered several of Krishnajis sayings: Self-knowledge is the beginning of wisdom, and The farthest journey begins with the first step. The truth in his teachings was now apparent and I saw Krishnaji himself in a new light. I now discovered the value of his work. Without someone who had transcended time to point out the falseness of time-created values, how could the new ever be discovered?
Krishnaji had always stressed the negative approach. He had said that in the discovery of false values, true values would be seen. This was exactly what had been happening to me during that week. It had started with seeing the unreality in my conclusion that there was such a thing as spiritual evolution, there was only the freeing of consciousness through perception of the Truth. The result had been an instantaneous freedom from all ideas that were related to this false assumption. I had not freed myself the seeing of the facts had freed me. It reminded me of what Jesus was reported to have said, Know ye the truth and the truth shall set you free.
This must be the way, I felt. I must use the conditioning itself to attain freedom from it. This can only happen by being attentive to every step along the way. No longer could there be the luxury of dreaming up a hope-filled future, or looking back to the past with sorrow and regret. I saw that each of us is unique; our consciousness is the sum total of our personal reactions to lifes challenges. The individual content of personal consciousness differs from anyone else, even though all individuals taken as a totality compose the universal consciousness of humanity. We react differently as individuals and it is this reaction which fills our consciousness with its content. This content is us! We are not separate from this content. Consciousness is the screen through which we contact the world around us. The thicker the screen, the more impossible it becomes to see the facts of life without bias. We are constantly reacting to life, and for us right action seldom occurs.
Without the ability to see facts as they really are, there can never be the psychological death, or the state of non-knowing which is a prerequisite to rebirth into the timeless state of being. This state of being requires seeing the false values with which we are burdened. We have used time in the creation of this burden, but the final seeing and freedom is instantaneous. We can do nothing consciously to speed up the process as this would add to the content. Life will inevitably bring to us the proper challenge which corresponds in frequency to the material contained within consciousness. True action is the intelligent factual response to a challenge. It leaves no residue. The cells have recorded the event but consciousness has assumed no additional burden.
We all act factually at times, but most of the time we are reacting according to our conditionings. The more mental or emotional energy we put into these reactions, the more deeply embedded this material becomes in our consciousness. Each time life brings a similar situation to us, we become more conditioned, and we find it less possible to see through the situation sufficiently to experience the freeing action of deep insight.
I now saw that it was essential to stay awake and not add more to the content of consciousness. Each moment was the open doorway to understanding myself but I had no awareness of this doorway when my mind was busy thinking of the past, the future, or was caught in a reaction.
My thought process was accustomed to running on habit energy sustaining itself through automatic responses to my environment. My mind was cluttered with prejudices as the result of my conditioning. I still had many ideas about values. There were reactions to certain people, ideas, and places. Ridding myself of these seemed an overwhelming job, but there was no turning back. Because of what had been happening to me, I knew that it was possible for all of this background material to be miraculously set aside, or made inoperable so that true action could take place through intelligent insight. It could happen but I could not intentionally make it happen.
If we can see the true value of transpersonal experiences as a possible permanent state of consciousness, then an inner decision is made at a deep level. When there is a realization of our true condition and the understanding that there is really no escape except through complete attention to what is at each moment, l then and only then can wakefulness come when least expected.
I am sure many of us have experienced the way this works at the physical level. Suppose we have seen the fact that it is absolutely essential to wake up in the morning at a specified time. We set the alarm clock on the night stand and go to sleep. The inner intention is to awaken on time so the inner awareness has also been alerted to this fact. Sometimes we awaken just before the alarm goes off. I know from my own experience that if there is no alarm clock and therefore no dependence on it, I will awaken always on the previously set time. Possibly awareness is triggered in the same way by the inner intention and only awaits the opportunity or situation in which to do so.
Many of these insights came over a period of time and I am unable to give proper sequence or place them chronologically in time. Quite often thereafter, while I was engaged in some necessary activity, there would suddenly come an insight into some facet of life I had not understood previously. I asked Krishnaji about this and he said, The mind, through perception, acts very much like a camera. If one is aware in the moment of action, it is similar to opening the lens on the camera. A photograph is taken of what happens to be in front of the camera. Though we may not have time to develop and print the picture at that time, it has been perceived and later, when we find ourself in an actual life experience which corresponds to this photograph within the mind, there is a spontaneous development of insight. Through our inner intention to be awake and to understand comes the insight at the appropriate time.
World War II , though a disaster for many, proved to be a blessing for me. Krishnaji was force to remain in Ojai for the duration. He was living at Arya Vihara and had plenty of time to see and talk with people. During the next year-and-a-half following my first interview, I was able to see and talk with him as often as three times a week. The frequent interviews kept me on my toes and I see now that it probably prevented the ego from reestablishing a new center of operations. Many people have had ego shattering experiences, but left to themselves afterwards, this experience is interpreted in terms of the old. It is added to the content of consciousness and becomes a pleasant memory. In my case, because Krishnaji was available, he would not allow me to follow this course. Each time I would bring up the subject, he would stop me and force me to face that present moment in time realistically.
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 the 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 ones 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 want to betray this truth which has become so important in my life.
He answered, Dont 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 peoples material as your own. This made a profound impression on me and since that time, I have been very careful to follow that course.