Krishnamurti had a certain place where he preferred to sit at lunch. It was at the end of the table, in the position nearest the door to the kitchen. Everyone knew his preference, so no one sat in that seat, even though he was one of the last to sit down. The table tended to fill up from the middle outwards, and when I came along, toward the end of the line, there was often a vacant spot immediately to Krishnamurti’s left. I occupied this spot three or four times a week in the years after I was appointed educational director and then director of the school.
No one paid Krishnamurti any special attention during lunch. People did not wait for him to be seated before they began to eat. Michael often sat at the head of the table, next to Krishnamurti, and after they were settled in, Krishnamurti would ask him, “Well, sir, what is the news?” Michael would have spent the morning, while he was cooking, tuning in to the BBC, so he would be well prepared for this question. He usually offered a summary of world events, including political gossip and other items of special interest. His remarks often served as a springboard for much of the conversation that followed.
Topics pertaining to Krishnamurti’s teaching were normally not welcome at the lunch table: he considered such issues too serious to take up in a casual setting, especially while people were still eating. This limitation was fairly obvious to most people, but one day a representative of the team inspecting the school for accreditation was sitting opposite Krishnamurti at lunch, and she broached the topic of meditation. He was not discourteous, but neither was he at all receptive to the question. Afterward, he asked, only slightly tongue-in-cheek, if we really wanted to become members of that organization.
After everyone had finished eating, the atmosphere deepened, and a more contemplative feeling prevailed. Slightly more serious topics could be broached at this time: issues germane to the human condition, or matters of peripheral psychological interest, such as the possibility of mental telepathy or reincarnation. The light in the room seemed to change at this hour into something richer, almost palpable and imbued with the color of gold.
[This is the second of a three-part blog series.]