Krishnamurti’s manner on the public platform and in meetings with teachers radiated a sense of deep and orderly seriousness, a quality not quite severe, but compellingly intense. The first thirty or forty times I saw him were under these circumstances, and the persona he exhibited left a deep impression on me.
The individual on the platform was quite different from the one who came to lunch. Seated at the table, Krishnamurti was more relaxed, even somewhat casual, given to subtle humor, and congenial and accessible in a way I had not witnessed before. It took many exposures — years, in fact — before I could fully perceive and adapt to this difference.
In her memoir, Radha Sloss accuses Krishnamurti of being somewhat hypocritical or two-faced as a result of the difference between his public and more private personas. To me, the difference seemed reasonable and appropriate to circumstances. It was a relief, in any case, to find a way to relate to him that felt warmer and more natural.
Sometimes at lunch, Krishnamurti would share one of his collection of jokes. These typically involved world leaders or God or the Pope or St. Peter at the pearly gates, or possibly the devil. He found humor in stories that punctured illusions or had a point to make. Sometimes the way he told a joke seemed to me slightly out of focus, but he was undaunted and enjoyed it as if in the telling he was hearing it for the first time.
No one left the table, in general, until Krishnamurti got up to leave. Then each of us took our individual plate and bowls and utensils into the kitchen and rinsed them in one of two sinks and put them into the dishwasher. Krishnamurti took his exit out the back door of the kitchen and made his way across the back lawn and through the orange grove to his cottage. The aftermath of lunch was a feeling of vague disappointment as if something essential had gone out of the day.
[This is the conclusion of a three-part blog series]