From Our Archives
WILLIAM EDELEN (1922 – 2015)
The Contrary Minister
Ojai, California is nestled in the radiant mountains just south of Santa Barbara. I say “radiant” because famous there is what they call their “pink moment” when every evening at sunset, all the mountains and valley are covered with a rich and bright “pink” color that is gorgeous to witness.
Ojai has a reputation of being one of the artistic and cultural centers of the United States. Many of the creative giants of the world beat a path to the “Sage of Ojai” Krishnamurti, a mystical genius who pointed their lives in a new direction: Joseph Campbell, Joan Halifax, Julian Huxley, Thomas Huxley, D.H. Lawrence, John Lennon, David Bohm (Nobel in physics), Jonas Salk, Charlie Chaplin, and too many more to name.
In my 18 years of my Sunday Symposium I have for some strange reason not spent an entire session on this “sage of Ojai” though often quoting him.
Based on my own life experiences, at 90 years old, I soon realized that everything I was reading in his writings was true and accurate and could change individuals and society by evolving into a more enlightened consciousness. Such as the following paragraphs:
“I maintain that truth is a pathless land, and you cannot approach it by any path whatsoever, by any religion, by any sect. That is my point of view, and I adhere to that absolutely and unconditionally. Truth, being limitless, unconditioned, unapproachable by any path whatsoever cannot be organized, nor should any organization be formed to lead or coerce people along a particular path. I concern myself with only one essential thing: to set man free, I desire to free him from all cages and all fears, and not to found religions, new sects, nor to establish new theories and new philosophies.”
Oh my, when I first read that, bells and lights were going off in my head. So profound, so eloquent, so clear, so true. And again:
“All authority of any kind, especially in the field of thought and understanding, is the most destructive and evil thing. Leaders destroy the followers. You have to be your own teacher and own disciple. You have to question everything that man has accepted as valuable and necessary.”
Many giant thinkers have made observations about our pathetic educational system. Robert Hutchins, Buckminster Fuller (who said every normal child is born a genius until parents and teachers de-geniusize them as fast as they can), Bertrand Russell, etc., but few have written about it more clearly than our “Sage of Ojai”:
“Conventional education makes independent thinking almost impossible. Conformity leads to mediocrity. We are turning out, as if through a mold, a type of human being whose chief interest is to find security, to become important, to have a good time with as little thought as possible. Conventional education puts an end to spontaneity and breeds fear. (Einstein wrote brilliantly on that subject) Fear of life kills the human spirit. Our entire upbringing and education have made us afraid to be different from our neighbor, afraid to think contrary to the established pattern of society, falsely respectful of authority and tradition.”
“Intelligent revolt comes through self knowledge, through the awareness of one’s own thought and feeling…. this highly awakened intelligence is intuition, the only true guide in life.”
In the 1970s, Krishnamurti met often with then Indian prime minister Indira Gandhi, with whom he had far ranging and very serious discussions.
This “sage of Ojai” spent the majority of his life there where the valley and mountains have their daily “pink moment”. He crossed over to “the other side” in that spot at 91 years of age in February 1986. The wake that this life left behind him will fan out and expand as long as there are human beings on this earth.