The Worst Desire Is the Desire for Enlightenment
U.G. Krishnamurti was born into a wealthy Brahmin family on July 9, 1918. His childhood was steeped in the Hindu religion and the philosophy of the Theosophical movement. His grandfather’s was frequented by monks, renunciates, religious scholars, pundits, gurus, mahatmas (great souls), and swamis. He spent seven summers in the Himalayas studying classical yoga with Swami Shivanada, and in 1939,he traveled to Tiruvannamalai to visit Sri Ramana Maharishi.
He became a public speaker, first on the behalf of the Theosophical Society and later as an independent platform orator in India and the US. During this time he came to know his famous namesake, J.Krishnamurti. He has established a reputation as a controversial and uncompromising teacher, sometimes referred to as a ‘spiritual terrorist’, UG gives no lectures, believes in no methods and does not have a fixed address. With his volatile reactions to the concept of spirituality, U.G. Krishnamurti attacks the entire foundation of human thought. Yet, he has left a deep impact on many lives.
The following is an Interview with UG Krishnamurti, by Madhukar Thompson
UG – Why are you here?
Madhukar – I would like to ask some burning questions I have.
UG – I am sure you have read some of my books.
Madhukar – Yes
UG – Attributed to me. The authorship is attributed to me. After reading those books, how come you still felt like coming and seeing me in person?
Madhukar – I needed to meet you in person.
UG – That means the books have not done their job.
Madhukar – Well, they started to do the job. But I would say I need final clarification on a few topics.
UG – Has it ever occurred to you that all the clarifications we seek clarify only thought? Thought can never, ever help us to understand anything. The only thing that I emphasize – overemphasize- is that there is nothing to understand. Hearing me say this, you may very well say it’s a joke that I sit here and agree to talk to you. But I know that there is not going to be any dialogue or any conversation between the two of us. Our talk is bound to be in the nature of a monologue.
Madhukar – The first question is, “Are you happy?”
UG – You see; that question never occurs to me. I never ask myself if I am happy or not. For all practical purposes, I don’t think I ever feel happy at all. That’s why I don’t even know what happiness is. Therefore, I can never be unhappy either.
Madhukar – I mean blissful happiness, a blissful state. Are you permanently in a blissful state?
UG – Such a state does not exist at all. There is no such thing! We have been brainwashed for centuries into believing that there is such a thing as a blissful state of eternal happiness. This is utter nonsense. Only a person who believes himself to be in a blissful state talks about his being in a blissful state. And such a person wants to share that blissful state with others. But actually, you have no way of knowing whether you are in a blissful state or not.
Madhujkar – From my own experience I do not know bliss as a long-lasting state either. But at times I am overcome by feelings of joy and bliss.
UG – I did this kind of sadhana when I was young and stupid. At some point I asked myself, “How the hell do I know that I am in a blissful state?” That was when I suddenly realized how stupid it was to believe in this kind of nonsense.
Obviously the knowledge of the blissful state that is passed on to me is from one who tells me that the state I am in is called blissful. “This is bliss. You are blissful. You are in a blissful state,” he says. Otherwise-if I wasn’t told I would have no way of knowing whether I am in a blissful state, or in the state of eternal happiness, or that I am bored, or that I am in any kind of state. The experience itself, never ever tells me that I am in a blissful experience. And after having known a so-called blissful experience for the first time, there is bound to be a demand to have more blissful experiences and to have fewer not-so-blissful experiences.
Madhukar – In fact, within myself I experience a demand for permanent bliss.
UG – Yes. The gurus, the holy men, and the conmen of enlightenment that we have in our midst today offers us permanent bliss. This promise has been passed onto us from generation to generation. Because we are brainwashed into believing in this centuries-old offer, we continue to believe in the experience of bliss, which our gurus and holy men claim to experience nonstop. I don’t know if what I am saying makes any sense to you. That’s why I keep telling people that this great spiritual heritage, which many Indians are so proud of, was born out of acid heads and…
Madhukar – …bliss junkies
UG – Yes. They are living in jungles and forests. They lead isolated lives. They are living in the midst of nature, drinking what is called soma (rejuvenating) juice. Soma is not a chemical drug. The high or the experience they claim to undergo is the shoddy experience called bliss, beatitude, immensity or enlightenment. I am not saying anything against pleasure. But we definitely have bliss placed before us as the ultimate pleasure, right? So these experiences are nothing but pleasure experiences which you can share with others. All those spiritual experiences, however extraordinary they may be, are in the area of pleasure. Please, don’t misunderstand me! I’m not saying anything against pleasure. But when these petty experiences of bliss occur, there arises the drive to share these pleasure moments with others.
Madhukar – Okay, let me replace the word ‘bliss’ with the word ‘pleasure’. Did you . . .
UG – It makes no difference. If you are going for a walk and you see a beautiful spot, you exclaim, “Look! What a beautiful spot this is!” Or those of you who are interested in sunrises or sunsets suddenly stop and say, “What a beautiful sunset it is!” You want the chap who is walking along with you to experience the beatitude and bliss too. You want to share your experience with someone else. Only pleasure can be shared with others. But in the very nature of things, every pleasure is also pain. Actually, there is no pleasure at all.
Madhukar – What do you mean by saying that?
UG – The moment you experience a pleasurable sensation in your body or mind, the body rejects it. It doesn’t want any pleasurable sensations. It doesn’t want any of this bliss, beatitude, or immensity the sages have been speaking of for centuries. The body is not interested in bliss and beatitude at all because the living organism is, by it self, already in an extraordinarily peaceful and blissful state. It is not interested in anything that you have created through the use of your thought. Not interested, it rejects bliss. The moment you call a sensation a blissful sensation, it is bound to turn itself into pain.
Madhukar –What about the question of happiness?
UG – The moment you say to yourself that you are happy, the demand to keep the happiness going or to make it last longer than its natural duration is bound to turn that happy state into an unhappy state. Now you are stuck with an unhappy state. You are stuck with misery. You are stuck with pain, and that’s all there is to it. You have to live in misery and you have to die in misery.
Madhukar – I am, or perhaps I was, a seeker of bliss.
UG – What is it you are seeking?
Madhukar – I was seeking enlightenment. I was an enlightenment addict. My spiritual search was something like an addiction.
UG – There is a way and there are methods with which you can free yourself from alcoholism. But there is no way you can free yourself from this drug of enlightenment. You remain addicted all your life. And the gurus and holy men assure you that there is another life to come. If you don’t reach the permanent blissful state in this life, you have to wait for another life, that’s all
Madhukar – Is there any way to get rid of this addiction? Is there anything I can do to detox the system from desiring spirituality? Or does the addiction drop by itself?
UG – Not a thing! You can’t do a thing about it, because the one who wants to be freed from the addiction and the one who made you an addict in the first place are one and same. That is why there is not a damn thing that you can do about it
Madhukar – It is almost as if I now need a guru and a path or a method for dropping the search for enlightenment. The demands of desiring enlightenment and of dropping the search for it seem to be quite similar in nature.
UG – Both are of the same trip! You tried to use a process to satisfy your demand for enlightenment. What makes you think that by using the same process you can be freed from the demand to end the search? Not a chance! Earlier you were possessed by the demand to be enlightened, and whatever the reason may be now you are disillusioned. You are no longer interested in becoming enlightened. You want to stop or destroy the momentum of your spiritual search. The demand to stop it now, and the demand which made you begin the spiritual journey, are both a demand of the same mind. So, there is no way out.
Madhukar – If nothing can be done to advance in spirituality, it means that there are no good and bad desires, or good and bad actions. Is there such a thing as spirituality at all?
UG – That’s the game you want to play. You desire something extraordinary. I tell you, you are not at all interested in a desire. You don’t even know what it is that you want. Therefore, you don’t even know what you are doing. You are trying to free yourself from all desires. By trying to be desireless, you are simply replacing one desire by another desire. If your desire is not burning enough, some joker tells you that you should make it more burning. Then you believe you have a burning desire. But the truth is, you don’t have a burning desire! You don’t even have a desire!
Madhukar – Because wanting to free myself from desire is only a thought? Is that what you mean to say?
UG – That’s right. You see something living. The dead structure of the mind, which is interested in freeing itself from desire, can never touch what is alive. The mind and its desires can never touch life and what lives. By wanting to free yourself from desires, you merely replace one desire with another. I don’t know why you should be free of desire. Wanting to be free of desire is only a thought – nothing else. Why do you tell yourself you should be free of desire? Why?
Madhukar – Because I believe that being free of desire, I will be lastingly happy.
UG – No! No! Because the holy men tell you, “you should be free from desires!” But let me tell you the truth: You’ll never be free from desires. You will never even know what desire is. What you are doing all the time is being busy with a desire that is not there. You dare not look at an existing desire. You don’t dare to touch a real desire. A desire arises and it’s gone. But you are interested only in doing something that is not there because some jokers tell you “You must have a burning desire.” A desire simply burns itself out – not through anything you do, and not because you made it a burning desire.
Madhukar – Do you think that also holds true for the desire for enlightenment?
UG – Absolutely! It doesn’t matter if you have a desire for liberation or to become a multi millionaire or to run away with the most beautiful wife of your best friend. All desires are the same! A desire is a desire. It’s better to run away with your best friends beautiful wife than to wait for moksha and liberation and freedom from births and deaths. I’m not advocating the theft of your best friend’s wife. I’m just trying to emphasize that there is no difference among all desires. We’re brainwashed into believing that enlightenment will give us permanent bliss. Surely, God – whoever invented him – is the ultimate pleasure. What do we do when we go to the temple and pray? For what do we ask? We beg for material goodies. We are not ready to place the demand for enlightenment on the same level as the demand for material things. If you want to get enlightened through me, that’s the very worst thing. The worst desire is the desire for enlightenment.
Madhukar – One more question! Ramana Maharishi
UG – Oh,no! Don’t ask anything about Ramana Maharishi!
Madhukar – My question is about happiness. No-thought and happiness…..
UG – If he was a happy man, he never would have suggested asking the stupid question ‘Who am I?’ the question ‘Who am I?’ implies that there is some ‘I’, the nature of which I do not know. And I have to find out the real ‘I’. As far as I am concerned, the only ‘I’ that I know of is the first-person singular pronoun. I don’t know any other ’I’. “Why the hell should I sit there cross-legged and with an erect back and inquire into the nature of the real ’I’? First of all, the question is grammatically wrong. You should ask the question ‘What am I?’ You must have a lot of answers for that question!
Madhukar – The Maharishi says, “When there is no thought, the mind experiences happiness.”
UG – When there is no thought, how can the mind experience anything? Have you ever asked that question? They put us on a merry – go – round. How can you experience anything when there is no thought? Without mind, there is no experience. We’re made to believe that there is a thoughtless state that we can experience. First, why do you want to be in a thoughtless state?
Madhukar – In a moment of contentment or satisfaction – for instance when a strong desire has just been fulfilled – there is no thought containing a further desire or aversion. Perhaps that is what is meant by “thought free.” In such moments I feel complete and blissful. This is why I want to be thoughtless.
UG – If you were in a thoughtless state, you would drop dead here. Then we could sell your video camera and make some money, (laughter) that is the great use of such thoughtlessness. A lot of people come and tell me that they have been in a thoughtless state; they have experienced the total absence of thought. Those people were kidding themselves. But they could not fool me! How can you experience a state in which there is no thought? In any experience, thought is very much there.
Madhukar – When happiness occurs, it is being recognized or witnessed as happiness. That’s my experience. Is that all there is to it? Do you know something more about the experience of happiness that I don’t know?
UG – There is nothing else. There’s nothing other than that. We are not ready to accept this fact. We think, “How could all the people who say otherwise be wrong?” We all want to be great sages, saints, and saviors of mankind. The sages and holy men con themselves and they con us all. Why should we allow ourselves to be conned? That’s it for today! Thank you! Bye-Bye!
Madhukar – Thank you
UG – You can do what ever you like with this interview
The Odyssey of Enlightenment-Extracts from- Rare Interviews with Enlightened Teachers of Our Time
A native of Germany, Berthold Madhukar Thompson left the West in 1980 after achieving success as a businessman, becoming a fervent disciple of Osho. After his master died in January 1990, Thompson became a student of Sri H.W.L. Poonja, and served as his personal assistant. On several occasions, Poonjaji publicly declared that Thompson had attained enlightenment, but he eventually left his teacher, believing him to be mistaken. The author has since 1993, pursued an ever-deepening dialogue with enlightened adepts throughout India and in the U.S. visit