“You have to be saved from the idea that you have to be saved.” Mark Whitwell | Yoga Teacher at Heart of Yoga

Understanding U.G. Krishnamurti: An Interview with Mark Whitwell, Part 3

We think that thoughts are there inside of us. We think that they are self-generated and spontaneous. What is actually there is what I call a thought-sphere. The thought-sphere is the totality of man’s experiences, thoughts, and feelings passed on to us from generation to generation. | UG Krishnamurti | Mark Whitwell
We think that thoughts are there inside of us. We think that they are self-generated and spontaneous. What is actually there is what I call a thought-sphere. The thought-sphere is the totality of man’s experiences, thoughts, and feelings passed on to us from generation to generation. | UG Krishnamurti | Mark Whitwell

Mark Whitwell interviewed by Andy Raba

Q. Do you think U.G.’s message that there is nothing to attain can go global?

Mark Whitwell: I just think he probably has more potential for a mass empathetic response than anybody else. He has an ordinariness and humour. Synchronistically he was very kind and gentle. You watch this one-minute clip and UG turns to the interviewer and says “yes sir,” and at that moment you can see his gentleness and ordinariness.

Q. Did you find that he was very kind to you?

Mark Whitwell: Always. Totally. Never not. Very gentle and endearing. His hands were so gentle and gracious as if they were always reaching out and touching. I remember one time I was saying goodbye in Palm Springs and I held out my hand to say farewell. He held my hand and said, laughing away, “You want a little shaktipat, a little kundalini,” and he was just laughing. But in the humour of that statement, there was this big transmission that I felt.

Q. So he wasn’t just taking the piss out of the whole guru function?

Mark Whitwell: He could take the piss because he was the real deal. He was critical of all logical minds and the spiritual mind of humanity too.

Q. He was literally giving shaktipat?

Mark Whitwell: It just that he would pull away from the definition of it. Another time he pulled my hands and thrust them up inside his jumper onto his chest. And he said, “There. Feel that!” And sure enough the right breast was flat and the left breast was full. It was serious moment. I feel like he did that for me to emphasise who he was. After the age of 49 all these bodily signs started appearing for him. He got the hanging earlobes of the Asian buddha, and the signs of chakras and swellings on his body as well as the traditional chakra shapes. They did identify him as being half-shiva half-Shakti. He was a living Ardhanarishvara.

“Stop looking for roses and there will be no thorns.” UG was a trickster of sorts, he had a way to pulling the rug out from underneath whatever seeking mentality was operating within a person | Mark Whitwell | Heart of Yoga

Q. Was he helpful to you in the practical matters of everyday life?

Mark Whitwell: Very practical, thoughtful, caring, he wouldn’t ask you to transcend the world or to go within. He’d just say of a situation, “You handle it like this.” It wasn’t at all that you had to have a spiritual conversation. Relative to conflict with other people in my life, or misunderstandings, which naturally happens, I remember him saying to me once: “just take it in your stride.” If I had a problem he would draw it out of me, “I’m listening, I’m listening, tell me,” he would say. And he’d just sit quietly while I was explaining some misunderstanding with some Yoga colleagues. He said, “If you go and try to sort that out right now, you will pull the knot tighter. These people in lineages are crazy.” Desikachar was always about protecting his father’s lineage, the paradox is that UG really loved Desikachar, but he said these people are crazy in lineages. “Take the action of no action,” is what he said.

Click here for free access to the Heart of Yoga Teaching Standards, a set of principles you can use to judge whether a teacher is teaching in an empowering or disempowering way.

Q. Has that approach informed you in your life?

Mark Whitwell: Totally, if you take a position relative to somebody’s point of view, or their problem with you, then you are going into the mechanics of that problematic patterning. Life is simply to not do that. To not do the patterning of point of view and the hostility of positioning. I think that was very wise advice from UG that can be taken generally.

UG was like a creature caught in the branches of society’s negative patterning (the presumption of you being a separate body struggling in a separate world). Suddenly, for no apparent reason a fresh wind blew him free. And he scampered away free. This is how it works. | Mark Whitwell | Heart of Yoga

Q. Do you miss him?

Mark Whitwell: Sometimes that feeling comes. Mostly the feeling I have is of great gratitude and pleasure. Even today, it’s funny you ring, because I just saw this clip of UG and posted it today and then I looked at the photograph of being with him in Byron Bay, and I just looked at it and felt transmission, a great pleasure at being in his company, and a great pleasure at hearing his words these days. They have a great power, like a sword cutting off conventional presumptions. Like I said, “the framework of a dead structure and it’s therefore not alive as life because you are defining things all the time.” And Life is like a volcano bursting. That’s apparently what happened in his life is that all convention, all points of view, all positions relative to anything else, died in him. Finished. It was a real occurrence but I don’t think even the people around him got that. They don’t get the death of the thought structures of defining life, but a few have got it. And the few who get it it’s extremely helpful.

Q. The death of the thought-structures of defining is not about becoming insane right?

Mark Whitwell: No. Then you become a functional organism in the world. He would say, then you can use your energy for something useful. Thought becomes useful.

“You have to be saved from the idea that you have to be saved.” After a lifetime of seeking within the spiritual thought-structures of humanity, it hit UG like a ton of bricks that there was nothing to be liberated from, that life was not a problem to be solved, there was nothing to realise | Mark Whitwell | Heart of Yoga

Q. Why is UG known as the raging sage?

Mark Whitwell: UG’s particular siddhi was to undermine everybody and anybody’s definitions of Life that we have in our thought system. What he called dead knowledge, or a framework of dead structures. Even just the way that humans name everything, even that is deadening our enjoyment of the Life that is bursting through as a pure intelligence. So it’s the thought patterning that is the problem. And he said if you stop seeking within the thought-structures of civilization then you have your energy to become functional and useful and do something useful. It’s an important point, because he seems like the raging sage who is negative about everything, but he is just negative about the human mind that is killing us. On the one hand, he denounces the world, but on the other he cared about Life and people are Life too.

Q. Did he care about everyone? Or just those around him?

Mark Whitwell: Everyone, and mosquitos too. He would say the problem with humans is that we think we are more important than the other species.

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Desikachar loved UG who was perhaps his real guru. He would get excited whenever there was news of UG visiting town. The guru relationship is one of mutual affection between two actual people. | Mark Whitwell | Heart of Yoga

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Mark Whitwell

Mark Whitwell has worked as a Yoga teacher around the world for the last 45 years and is the author of 4 books on Yoga. He lives in Fiji with his wife Rosalind.