Why I Give

By Joe Raiola

Iam on a crowded subway in New York City thinking about Krishnamurti and wondering how he would handle it down here.

A man stands up and offers his seat to a pregnant woman. It strikes me as an action without thought, a spontaneous act of kindness, one might even say love.   

Next, we arrive at the Lexington Avenue station. The subway doors open and a throng of commuters rush into the car. A recorded announcement reminds us to watch out for pickpockets. Also: if we see a suspicious package to immediately notify the police.

We are in conflict with our world, with ourselves actually, our thoughts scattered, fractured and contradictory.  It seems too much to bear, so we go about our day on automatic pilot, not sleepwalking, but not awake either. Our minds have been dulled.

It has been over 30 years since I first encountered K’s teachings. He would often say that the speaker, meaning himself, was of no importance whatsoever. He offered no method to attain enlightenment or higher consciousness. He sought no followers and accepted no formal students. He refused to recognize any religious or spiritual authority and, most significantly, made it clear that he was not an authority of any kind.

I thought of K as a spiritual independent, belonging to no church, mosque, temple, sect or movement. “Between two thoughts there is a period of silence which is not related to the thought process,” he said. For me, that basic insight was the opening door to a great mystery that I could observe and investigate myself.

K’s love of education in the deepest sense, which he described as “helping the individual to be mature and free, to flower greatly in love and goodness,” spoke to the necessity of keeping the mind receptive and aware.

“A school,” K said, “is a place where one learns about the totality, the wholeness of life.” Obviously, he was not referring to St. Athanasius Elementary School in Brooklyn, where as a second-grader I was beaten by a nun with a wooden yardstick for losing my communion gloves. 

I am laughing to myself now, thinking about the lousy schools I attended as a boy and teenager. I am not sure how, but somehow I managed to find my way through. I can only imagine how my life would have been different had I attended the Oak Grove School and had the good fortune to be nourished in that kind of environment.

Supporting the Oak Grove School, as I have for decades, is my way of expressing my gratitude for K’s teaching and its ongoing positive impact in my life, and the lives of all those who deeply consider the teachings that came through him.

I look around the subway car and notice most everyone is engaged with a smartphone. Many are playing games with fast moving digital fruits.

I turn inward and take a deep breath.

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