I have always found Krishnamurti to be one of the clearest voices in our modern times. The following conversation with Rom Landau on the topic of sex is a most straightforward view on sexuality and why humanity has such problems with a natural understanding of the role of sex and its relationship to love and affection in our lives.
Krishnamurti and Rom Landau in conversation in Carmel, California, autumn 1934
I asked Krishnamurti whether he thought it wrong for people with a very strong sexual impulse to give way to it.
‘Nothing is wrong if it is the result of something that is really within you’, was his answer.
‘Follow your urge, if it is not created by artificial stimuli but is burning within you and there will be no sex problem in your life. A problem only arises when something within us that is real is opposed by intellectual considerations.’
‘But surely it is not only intellectual considerations that cause many people to believe the satisfaction of a strong sex urge to be wrong, even if it is too strong to be suppressed.’
‘Suppression can never solve a problem. Nor can self-discipline do it. That is only substituting one problem for another.’
‘But how do you expect millions of people, who have become slaves of sex, to solve the friction between their urge and that judicial sense which tries to prevent them from giving way? In England you find fewer people openly ruled by sex, but consider America; consider most of the countries of the continent of Europe; consider many of the Eastern nations; for them their sex needs are a grave problem.’
I noticed an expression of slight impatience on Krishnamurti’s face.
‘For me this problem does not exist’, he said; ‘after all, sex is an expression of love, isn’t it? I personally derive as much joy from touching the hand of a person I am fond of as another might get from sexual intercourse.’
‘But what about the ordinary person who has not attained to your state of maturity, or whatever it should be called?’
‘To begin with, people ought to see sex in its proper proportions. It is not sex as a vital inner urge that dominates people nowadays so much as the images and thoughts of sex. Our whole modern life is propitious to them. Look around you. You can hardly open a newspaper, travel by the underground or walk along a street without coming across advertisements and posters that appeal to your sex instincts in order to sing the praises of a pair of stockings, a new toothpaste or a particular brand of cigarette. I cannot imagine that so many semi-naked girls have ever before walked through the pages of newspapers and magazines. In every shop, cinema and cafe the lift attendants, waitresses and shop-girls are made up to look like harlots so that they may appeal to your sex instincts.
They themselves are not conscious of this, but their short skirts, their exposed legs, their painted faces, their girlish coiffures, the constant physical appeal which they are made to exercise over the customer do nothing but stimulate your sex instincts. Oh, it is beastly, simply beastly! Sex has been degraded to become the servant of unimaginative salesmanship. Someone will start a new magazine and, instead of racking his brains for an interesting and alluring title-page, all he does is to publish a colored picture of a girl with half-opened lips, suggestively hiding her breasts and looking altogether like a whore. You are being constantly attacked, and you no longer know whether it is your own sex urge or the sex vibration produced artificially by life around you. This degrading, emphatic appeal to our sex instinct is one of the most beastly signs of our civilization. Take it away, and most of the so-called sex urge is gone.’
‘I am not a moralist’, Krishnamurti added after a pause; ‘I have nothing against sex, and I am against sex suppression, sex hypocrisy and even what is called sexual self-discipline, which is only a specific form of hypocrisy. But I don’t want sex to be cheapened, to be introduced into all those forms of life where it does not belong.’
‘Nevertheless, Krishnaji, your world without its beastly sex appeal will be found only in Utopia. We are dealing with the world as it actually is, and as it will probably be in days to come, long after you and I are gone.’
‘That may be so, but it does not concern me. I am not a doctor; I cannot prescribe half-remedies; I deal simply and solely with fundamental spiritual truth. If you are in search of remedies and half-methods you must go to a psychologist. I can only repeat that if you readjust yourself in such a way as to allow love to become an omnipresent feeling in which sex will be an expression of genuine affection, all the wretched sex problems will cease to exist.’
He looked up for a few seconds and then gave a deep sigh. ‘Oh, if you people could only see that these problems don’t exist in reality, and that it is only yourselves who create them, and that it is yourselves who must solve them! I cannot do it for you – nobody can if he is genuine and faithful to truth. I can only deal with spiritual truth and not with spiritual quackery.’ His voice seemed full of disillusion and he stopped and lay back on the ground.
I began to understand what Christ must have meant when He spoke of His love without distinction for every human being, and of all men being brothers. Indeed, the omnipresent feeling of love (in which sex would become meaningless without being eliminated) seemed the only form of love worthy of a conscious and mature human being. Nevertheless I wondered whether Krishnamurti himself had reached that stage of life-awareness in which personal love had given place to universal love, in which every human being would be approached with equal affection.
‘Don’t you love some people more than others?’ I asked. ‘After all, even a person like yourself is bound to have emotional preferences.’
Krishnamurti’s voice was very quiet when he began to speak again. ‘I must first say something before I can give you a satisfactory reply to your question. Otherwise you may not be able to accept it in the spirit in which it is offered. I want you to know that these talks are quite as important to me as they can possibly be to you. I don’t speak to you merely to satisfy the curiosity of an author who happens to be writing about me, or to help you personally. I talk mainly to clarify a number of things for myself. This I consider one of the great values of conversation. You must not think therefore that I ever say anything unless I believe it with my whole heart. I am not trying to impress, to convince or to teach you. Even if you were my oldest friend or my brother I should speak in just the same way.
I am saying all this because I want you to accept my words as simple statements of opinion and not as attempts to convert or persuade. You asked me just now about personal love, and my answer is that I no longer know it. Personal love does not exist for me. Love is for me a constant inner state. It does not matter to me whether I am now with you, with my brother or with an utter stranger I have the same feeling of affection for all and each of you. People sometimes think that I am superficial and cold, that my love is negative and that it is not strong enough to be directed to one person only. But it is not indifference, it is merely a feeling of love that is constantly within me and that I simply cannot help giving to everyone I come into touch with.’
He paused for a second as though wondering whether I believed him, and then said: ‘People were shocked by my recent behavior after Mrs. Besant’s death. I did not cry, I did not seem distressed but was serene; I went on with my ordinary life, and people said that I was devoid of all human feeling. How could I explain to them that, as my love went to everyone, it could not be affected by the departure of one individual, even if this was Mrs. Besant. Grief can no longer take possession of you when love has become the basisof your entire being.’
‘There must be people in your life who mean nothing to you or whom you even dislike?’
Krishnamurti smiled: ‘There aren’t any people I dislike. Don’t you see that it is not I who directs my love towards one person, strengthening it here, weakening it there? Love is simply there like the color of my skin, the sound of my voice, no matter what I do. And therefore it is bound to be there even when I am surrounded by people I don’t know or people whom I “should” not care for. Sometimes I am forced to be in a crowd of noisy people that I don’t know; it may be some meeting or a lecture or perhaps a waiting room in a station, where the atmosphere is full of noise, smoke, the smell of tobacco and all the other things that affect me physically. Even then my feeling of love for everyone is as strong as it is under this sky and on this lovely spot. People think that I am conceited or a hypocrite when I tell them that grief and sorrow and even death do not affect me. It is not conceit. Love that makes me like that is so natural to me that I am always surprised that people can question it. And I feel this unity not only with human beings. I feel it with trees, with the sea, with the whole world around me. Physical differentiations no longer exist. I am not speaking of the mental images of a poet; I am speaking of reality.’
When Krishnamurti stopped his eyes were shining, and there was in him that specific quality of beauty which easily appears sentimental or artificial when described in words, and yet is so convincing when met with in real life. It did not seem magnetism that radiated from him but rather an inner illumination that is hard to define, and that manifests itself as sheer beauty. I now experienced the feeling we sometimes have when confronted by strong impressions of Nature. Reaching the top of a mountain, or the soft breezes of early spring, with the promise of daffodils and leafy woods, can produce occasionally such states of unsophisticated contentment.
SOURCE: Krishnamurti in Carmel,
(from Rom Landau, God is My Adventure)
P 273 – 280 PDF
Rom Landau, a man of many interests, was also an author. In his earlier career Landau wrote God is My Adventure (1935), a best-selling book in which he recounted his various contacts with leading figures and unusual persons of philosophical, religious, and mystical fame, among others Jiddu Krishnamurti. The above excerpt from Landau’s article “Krishnamurti in Carmel”is part of a conversation that Landau had with Krishnamurti in California in the autumn of 1934.