On the third Friday of every month, a small group gathers to discuss what it means to live a live free from conditioned ideas and behaviors. It’s not your average group -- there’s no leader, no particular topic, and no guidelines on how to proceed -- and that’s exactly the way its namesake and source of inspiration, J. Krishnamurti, would have wanted it. YogaCityNYC’s Karen Schwartz decided to take a deeper look into this group.
Founded seven years ago by Boris Pisman, a yoga teacher and certified counselor, the Krishnamurti groupfunctions as a forum for anyone interested exploring his ideas and how to integrate them.
Pisman, who specializes in working with anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorder, said that after discovering Krishnamurti 25 years ago, “I was still looking for a miracle to remove all the pain and suffering from me... I felt like I needed consistency, something to hang my hat on. Krishnamurti is very consistent with his teachings. Something just clicked and made me feel more psychologically relaxed and comfortable with myself.
“He doesn’t talk about chakras, kundalini or asanas,” Pisman continued. “He talks about what to do or not do with thoughts, the mind and emotions.” Instead of reacting to anger, or getting wrapped up in grief or depression, Krishnamurti advises observing our experience of these emotions, noticing the thoughts that accompany them and simply letting it all be.
“He keeps talking to us about how the thought is not permanent -- about how it has a lot of power, about how it can make you feel and make you act, “ Pisman said. “He says let things be and ultimately you will be connected to something higher than you.” Pisman said he found this to be a “very practical” approach that helped him tremendously in dealing with his own anxiety.
Jiddu Krishnamurti, a jnana yogi born in India in 1929, became a philosopher who traveled the world giving talks about how to free ourselves from our conditioning and, instead, learn for ourselves, from ourselves. Krishnamurti studied and practiced Iyengar Yoga for years before meeting T.K.V. Desikachar and studying with him in the Krishnamacharya tradition. Pisman said that Desikachar is said to have been “blown away” by how Krishnamurti completely let go of what he had already learned and practiced free from ingrained memory -- the freedom that is the core of his ideas.
At a recent meeting, a small circle of participants -- some longtime members and some there for the first time -- settled into a cozy, carpeted top floor room at the Integral Yoga Institute and watched and listened to a video of Krishnamurti, his image projected onto a large wall and his words subtitled for clarity.
In his talks, he challenged the very notion of “seeking” spirituality or truth, saying that if one is searching for something, then one already has an idea of what they will find. He said this conflicts with the ability to observe things as they actually are. Afterward, the group commenced a lively discussion in which one participant questioned whether we can actually observe anything at all without a preconditioned lens -- another responded that our ability to observe our experience is what cuts through the conditioning; still another suggested that observing our experiences without attachment opens the space for love and compassion to arise. One participant shared that she often gets angry at work with colleagues she perceives as rude and wondered if there was a way for her not to get so angry. Several group members suggested that it might be her pre-existing perception of her colleagues itself that was creating these situation, and suggested that if she could let go of this assessment, her experience might be very different.
Acupuncturist Olga Gonzalez has been attending the group since the beginning. She said she returns over and over because of “the importance of having the clarity to face life as it is, to open me to relationship and to seeing how my mind works. The group is good for any serious person who wants to see life in a different way...how to have a life which is open to beauty, to suffering and to reality, creating a better world.”
Pisman hosted the group for years at his apartment before securing its current location at Integral Yoga. He said he believes in its importance as a vehicle to keep Krishnamurti’s ideas alive. For anyone interested in an introduction to Krishnamurti, Pisman recommends the book “Freedom From the Known” as a good summary of the core ideas.
The group is open to everyone and there is no registration required, although a $5 donation is suggested. It is now held at Integral Yoga Institute. To learn more about Krishnamurti and his work, visit the Krishnamurti Foundation, by clicking here.