Towards Discipleship: Eight Further Qualifications for the Path

Jiddu Krishnamurti

The Origin of This Talk

In 1924, Krishnamurti spent six weeks (August 18 to September 28) in an eleventh-century castle remodeled as a hotel, in Pergine, a town in the northern part of Italy. He was accompanied by twelve others; his brother Nityananda, John Cordes, Lady Emily Lutyens, V.C. Padwardhan and his wife Malati, D. Rajagopal, N. S. Rama Rao, Dr. N. Sivakamu (the eldest sister of Rukmini Arundale), and four girls: Helen Knothe, Elisabeth and Mary Lutyens (daughters of Lady Emily), and Ruth Roberts.

The time in Pergine was part vacation and part spiritual preparation. One of the participants described their stay as follows: "Our life here is one of intense inner activity and almost complete outer inertia" (Jayakar 58). A typical day went thus:

8:00 Meditation, with Krishnamurti reading a passage from The Gospel According to Buddha, followed by his, Nityananda's, and Rama Rao's chanting a mantra.

8:30 Breakfast, followed by a walk and games such as volleyball or rounders (a British version of baseball). During the latter part of their stay, Krishnamurti added an hour's talk on the Masters and the Path of Discipleship.

12:30 Lunch, followed by rest or individual work.

3:00 More games, followed by bathing.

6:00 Dinner, followed by "intensive preparation."

8:30 Bed.

Part of Krishnamurti's tutelage was especially directed to the four girls, who were preparing to go to Sydney, Australia, for further training by C. W. Leadbeater. In private talks, Krishnamurti alternately inspired them to dedication and criticized them for their faults (Lutyens, Open Door 9-12). He frequently despaired of the ability of his tutees to change: "You are like people in a dark room waiting for someone to turn on the light for you instead of groping in the dark and turning it on for yourselves" (Lutyens, Years of Awakening 193).

During the stay at Pergine, Krishnamurti's "process" restarted and lasted from August 21 to September 24. This "process" was an experience of great pain for Krishnamurti, but also culminated in contact with the Masters. (Aryal Sanat discusses the "process" comprehensively in The Inner Life of Krishnamurti.) After the final night of this session of the "process," Krishnamurti reported a visit from the Master Maitreya, who left this message (Lutyens, Years of Awakening 193-4):

Learn to serve Me, for along that path alone will you find me
Forget yourself, for then only am I to be found
Do not look for the Great Ones when they may be very near you
You are like the blind man who seeks sunshine
You are like the hungry man who is offered food and will not eat
The happiness you seek is not far off; it lies in every common stone
I am there if yo will only see.  I am the Helper if you will let Me help.

The morning talks were written down in longhand by one of the participants and later published as a book, Towards Discipleship, in the preface to which (vii-viii) Krishnamurti described the time at Pergine and the resulting book as follows:

At Pergine was one of the happiest summers that my brother and I had spent, and when we had left that ideally beautiful spot, he and I used to talk about our stay there, the distant lake and the snow-clad mountains. A new life began for us at Pergine castle, and I hope all those that were there with us will feel the same.

These personal talks were given to friends, and not to a general audience. Later on some of these friends suggested that our talks should be brought out in the form of a little book. Had I know that our morning talks were going to appear as a book, I certainly would have been more careful in the expressions of my thought. So I beg my readers to remember that all the talks were extremely informal and unconventional. But I hope they will be useful.

The first talk begins with Krishnamurti's response to the question "What are the special qualifications which should be acquired before Probation, Acceptance and Initiation?" His answer begins, "The essential qualifications to aim at before Probation are: (1) Unselfishness, (2) Plenty of affection of the right sort, and (3) Capacity for sympathy." He continues through fifteen talks in commenting on such qualifications, which complement the four qualifications of At the Feet of the Master. Krishnamurti gave these talks at the age of 29, about 14 years after receiving the instructions of At the Feet of the Master, published in 1910.

A comparison of the two sets of qualifications shows certain consistencies, but also some differences. The earlier qualifications are traditional ones restated for and by a boy. The later set are more in Krishnamurti's own voice. The final, sixteenth talk of the series, summarizing the whole, is presented here for contrast with the four qualifications of At the Feet of the Master and as an example of Krishnamurti's development between his own stage of pupilage and his later position of independence.

Eight Further Qualifications for the Path

Krishnaji: This is our last collective talk, and so it will be just as well if we went over all the reasons why we are here, and how we hope to attain what we desire.

I think it is quite obvious that all of us here will some day be taken on as probationary pupils by various Masters. And it is also quite obvious that we all want to get on so as to get nearer the Masters, for that is what matters and nothing else. But to get near the Masters we must have the right desire, combined with efforts which must be one-pointed and constant, and not depending on our moods or feelings.

It is clear that what we have to do is to forget ourselves, our personal wants and desires, and get to the main purpose, which is to reach the Masters and to serve them. To be able to forget ourselves, we must have very thoroughly and clearly some of the rudimentary qualities which we all know we lack, and also must get rid of certain others which we have. We must have certain weaknesses completely destroyed, so that they may not unexpectedly crop up when we are relaxing, or we do not quite feel well or when we are tired.

The first thing, it seems to me, is to destroy absolutely the self, and not to allow any trace of any kind of selfishness, by examining every door through which selfishness can enter. Put a sentinel at each door to keep out selfishness. There is a strong element of selfishness in all of us. We can see in our daily actions how it is a strong and prevailing element. It is clear, all the same, that it is not the qualities so much as the attitude which takes one nearer the Masters. But to get the attitude, we must have a certain foundation of qualities.

We must have drilled into each one of us a distinct idea that we cannot at any period or any given moment be possibly selfish, either in little things or in big things; because that is going to keep us back. The self is hidden away in each one of us. It wants digging up to discover it. We must mercilessly root it out, destroy it, so that selfishness shall not be part of our further evolutionary course. There are one or two in whom selfishness is not so predominant, but in the majority of us it is. If we do not take care, while we are young and full of enthusiasm, it will be like a weight tied to our feet later when we want to fly. At a later stage it will be much harder.

It is one of the most rudimentary requirements that a pupil should be unselfish. The reason is the Master cannot be a guide to us, cannot influence us, if we cannot love, cannot be affectionate; and we cannot be that if we are selfish and self-centered. It is not obvious to every one that selfishness in little things is a sin against God, a sin against the Master. C.W.L. used all the time to din into Nitya and me from morning till night that we were pupils of the Master, and that there must be no thought of selfishness in us.

Each one of us must go about the matter intelligently, determined to find out the self from each corner or lurking place, and destroy it. A selfish man can never advance, never make progress, because spirituality does not come near him or lend itself to him. It is the man who is open, clear, frank, unselfish that advances. Most of us live in a kind of hot, uncomfortable atmosphere; some of us carry that influence of discomfort about with us, because we have not caught the vision or have any idea of the immense possibilities of unselfishness. Each one of us must be like the fresh North Wind. And we cannot mark time.

Each one of us must be very careful of this matter of selfishness and unselfishness. You have no idea how unexpectedly selfishness can crop up. When you have no idea you are selfish, you will find the self to be dominant. The more you advance the greater is the possibility of your fall, and the possibility of a fall for every person advancing on the Path of spirituality lies chiefly through selfishness. We, who are just beginning, who have just caught the glimpse from the top of the mountain, must be careful, extra careful, to get rid of selfishness. If you have got rid of selfishness, the gates of heaven will never be kept closed against you.

To attain a perfection in unselfishness, we must work upon other qualities in us. The other qualities are as follows.

1. Affection

That first means liking everybody and being friends with all; but it is more than that, for it is also having the capacity to give a deep affection to another. It does not mean walking arm in arm, or clinging affectionately, and so on. It means you must desire to give the best of yourself to another.

We sometimes feel we cannot get on with certain persons. But we must be affectionate to all. Also, we do not have sufficient capacity to return the love that is given to us. Not that anybody gives us love with the hope of its return, but for our part, we must have the capacity to return love the moment it is given. We must react to it quickly. We must be bubbling over with it, instead of which we just remain callous, or else think about ourselves, our sentimental nature, etc., when, in reality, we ought to be giving in return something of our own. Everybody is capable of love of a certain kind, even if it be the lowest form of a sexual kind. But even so it is there. We can make our love glow like a lighthouse, or let it get dim like a candle.

For each one of us, if we are going to follow the Path, unless we are very careful, it is going to be a very lonely life. Everybody is interested int eh work, and nobody in the personality. So if we do not fit into a work, naturally the person who is better suited to it will take our place, and we shall find ourselves kind of left out. That is where we must be very careful. After we have given up the outer world and come up halfway to the world of spirituality, we shall then be terribly lonely, and come to that moment when we begin to suppress our feelings, because it is the easiest way of getting rid of feelings. So what was a rose and a beautiful thing is destroyed, and we have to build it up again. Each one of us must guard against that and be careful that we make it every day a practice of loving someone, of giving something of our affection to somebody.

2. Purity

Then we must be absolutely pure. The more we advance, the greater must be our purity. Most of us want affection in return. The more affectionate you are the greater must be the restraint on the self, because affection missed with selfishness becomes gross and unclean. Our affections must be pure, if we are to become, as we must, the embodiment of Love. This is all so simple and clear, and so common; yet we begin to lose sight of it all and become complicated, and think of things that do not matter.

3. Sympathy

Then, if you have affection, real affection, you are bound to have sympathy which enables you to give something you have or something you have felt to another. We have all been told these things here over and over again. Perhaps nobody asks you for anything, but you must be ready always to give what you have by your look, by your gesture, by your willingness of behavior. You must have more and more of these things as your background so that they may be evoked at the slightest call. We have these abilities, but we are so engrossed in our own selfishness and ambition that they all get submerged and vanish.

Affection, reverence and devotion, all follow in each other's footsteps. The person who lacks affection, begins to lack reverence, because his mind becomes conceited and he cannot find anybody bigger than himself to admire. If you realize these things, and have these essentials at your fingers' ends, you will want your body to be under your perfect guidance and control. A flower washed by the rain and wind, have you ever seen it dirty? Our garden needs to be purified and cultivated. Instead of keeping pure in our perennial beauty, we surround ourselves with all sorts of dirt.

4. Tidiness

Again, you want to be tidy. Because it shows your attitude. You must dress well, look well and clean. You must have the desire to be clean and neat and tidy as the Master is. It is the sloppy mind and the sloppy brain, which denote a lack of the right desire. But your idea and your desire must not be only in clothes, like the women whose temple is Bond Street. I want to be the best dressed man, because the Master is well dressed. The way you comb your hair, the way you put on your shoes and walk, every detail, however small, is of importance. C.W.L. used to "go" for us when we tied our laces badly or our hair was untidy. Mind you, it does not matter eventually, but it does at the beginning far more than one thinks. And you must keep your body well and healthy for the sake of the Master. Your whole being exists for the Master. You must have a body that responds, that has fiber and stamina, and is not soft pudding. Everything matters--how you look, how you smile and talk and behave, what your manners are, everything. We are all wanting to get up on the mountain top, and yet we do not know how to tie our shoelaces. How do you expect the Master to come near any of us if our minds, our emotions, our whole being, are all in a whirl?

5. Adaptability

But although we must have everything pigeonholed, we must avoid getting into ruts. You must not go to extremes. You must be tidy, but do not let everybody notice that you are all the time trying to be that. Your mind should not fall into a groove, an invariable mold. But when the Master requires it, it should become untidy, so that new ideas, new inspirations, can come in. It must be elastic. And it is the same with emotions.

6. Balance

There is not fiber enough in our makeup. There is not that stamina that makes great men. We are easily depressed one moment, and elated another. One day something affects us one way and another day the same thing affects us in a different way. How easily one becomes depressed; yet there is no greater enemy that keeps one away from the Master than depression. It is like a cloud passing over the sun and darkening everything. It is the one thing you should be above. Yet each day we feel miserable, or lonely, and so hardly make any progress. If we have the right attitude we cannot help being cheerful and happy.

7. Distinction

We must not be bourgeois, a mixture of good, bad, and indifferent, a mixture of negatives and positives. A Master does not want a pupil of that kind. He can find better examples of humanity than that. What he wants is a person who says: "I am willing to be made into anything you want of me." If you have that, you have as good as got all the qualities required. If you are a real devotee, every breath of wind, a cloud, the blue sky, will have something to give you, and will, in some measure, make of you what he wants.

You do not know what we are missing every day by letting the little things overpower us. It happened the other day that the Master was with us for some time, and yet very few of us recognized him or realized the fact. We have not the capacity to recognize such a being when he is near us, because of the old habit, which we know so well, of going round and round ourselves, which makes us so miserable and makes others also so miserable. Some of us have not yet the rudiments, the very essentials, of discipleship.

We have each one of us something definite to learn and something definite to give, and that is ourselves--our love, our devotion, everything that is great about us. And we must learn everything that the Master wants, and not go picking up rubbish here and there. We must have all these things somewhere carefully treasured at the back of us, so that we can always rely on ourselves and be a lamp unto ourselves. It is like living in a beautiful garden, so that when you are tired you can go and rest in it.

8. Self-recollectedness

We have not learned to separate the body from the soul, the ugly from the beautiful, and yet we want to approach the Master. Every day that passes without true self-recollectedness is a day wasted, is a day spent, not for the Master, but for yourself, a day spent, not in his service, but in seeking your own vain and selfish end.

You must have in your garden all the wonderful things which each one of us can possibly develop. They are already there, but they are locked up for lack of expression. Make your garden more and more beautiful, and one day it will be so wonderful that the world will come and look at it, whereas now no one cares a rap whether you have a garden or not, or what flowers it contains. We must separate the soul, the wonderful garden with all the beautiful things which it contains--its pure emotions, beautiful thoughts, and great affections--from the selfishness of the self. If you are a mixture of both, it will take years even to acknowledge to yourself the distinction between the two, and to act on that distinction. These two things are as clear as night and day, and yet we are wasting time and energy by not acting.

Every effort int he right direction clears our vision of the Truth. Instead of going about, metaphorically, with locked jaws and clenched teeth and tense muscles, if we went about naturally and simply, keeping the goal constantly in front of our eyes, we should get there in no time. We are careless, slack, and we suddenly drop everything. The next day, even if we are not slack, the lost moment will not come back again. We should be above these fluctuations. When the World Teacher is here, the day we are tired and slack we shall be useless. It will be a wonderful day outside, and we shall be locked up in a room. That is what we are all doing--one day, we are under a clear sky and breathing pure air, and the next day we are locking ourselves int a room without a current of air.

We are all intelligent, but now we have come to the stage when we must emerge out of the limitations of the self, if our intelligence is to be of any use to us. What we want is the desire and the power and the determination to remain always in the garden, and to direct our love and devotion and service from the garden and not from the house. And now is coming the time to test what each one of us is truly worth. Now comes the time when we should use all our power of mind and emotions in cultivating our garden, and not let a day, a single second, pass without working in the garden and making an improvement here and there. The more you make the garden wonderful, the more weeds you take out, the greater will be the attraction and the beauty of it. And on each one of us depends the glorification and the beautifying of that garden. We must not really lose a single second. You do not know what beauty there is ahead of us; and every second that we pass without self-recollectedness amounts in a measure to a denial of that beauty.

After all, we are all here eventually to serve the Teacher when he comes. We should be like wonderful flowers, radiating delicious perfumes wherever we go; and we should be able to do so if we have cultivated and beautified our garden. Then it does not matter where we are, London or Adyar or Sydney or Pergine or the slums. See to it that you make that garden so beautiful that it becomes a fit sanctuary for the Master, a place wherein your friends--and even your foes--may come in perpetual adoration and in the attitude of worship.