Issue #50

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Issue 50—February 20, 1978 to April 17, 1978


The bad weather and landslides of the last issue continue in what, I am told, is a thirty-year cycle of severe rain in that part of the world. Mary and Krishnaji are cut off in Malibu by mudslides for several days. Through it all, Mary and Krishnaji watch the hatching and growth of a hummingbird in a ficus tree outside their dining room window, and the hummingbird finally flies from its nest just as Mary and Krishnaji vacate Malibu for their new house in Ojai. It seems poetic.

This issue contains early, un-retouched, and un-preserved photos that Mary took of the new Pine Cottage shortly after she and Krishnaji moved in.


The Memoirs of Mary Zimbalist: Issue 50

The original Pine Cottage (showing Krishnaji's sitting room) and part of the new addition with steps up to the front door. Copyright Mary Zimbalist.

The original Pine Cottage (showing Krishnaji’s sitting room) and part of the new addition with steps up to the front door. Copyright Mary Zimbalist

Mary: We start on February twenty, 1978. ‘I drove my brother and Lisa to Ojai, where neither has ever been; showing them the school property, then the new house. We lunched at Arya Vihara with the Lilliefelts. My brother was enthusiastic and interested in the house. We drove back in the afternoon, and after supper, I took them to the airport for the night flight back to New York. It was good to have them in Malibu one last time and to have my brother see Ojai. He offered the Paris apartment, which now has a Vietnamese maid, and Krishnaji and I can use it whenever we are in Paris.’

The front door of the new Pine Cottage with window into the dining room.

The front door of the new Pine Cottage with window into the dining room. Copyright Mary Zimbalist.

February twenty-first. ‘Another warm, beautiful day. We stayed home, and relaxed after a busy week. Krishnaji said, “The last two or three days in my sleep, in the brain, there is a quality of dreadful seriousness.” In the morning, Krishnaji dictated letters, including one signed by me to Rajagopal saying that Krishnaji had asked me to write to ask what is his intention with regard to the exchange of telegrams with Krishnaji in Madras about a meeting between them. I suggested that we have it in Malibu or at Arya Vihara.’ I’d forgotten that. ‘Krishnaji and I walked around the garden. Sarjit Siddoo telephoned about Krishnaji visiting their school on Vancouver Island. Krishnaji said we would go on April nineteenth, and return on April twenty-fourth, staying only at the school.’

The twenty-second. ‘It was a warm, beautiful, quiet day at home with Krishnaji resting. I made lunch and slept afterward. We walked in the garden.’

The next day ‘was another quiet day at home. We did letters in the morning. Krishnaji talked to me about what to do for the adult center, and the need for the right people. While we walked around the lawn, he spoke about giving me the necessary understanding. Can he give it to me? There is nothing I can “do” to enhance that. It seems foremost in his mind to transmit something, an understanding of his teachings.’

February twenty-fourth. ‘Erna, Theo, Evelyne, Ruth, and Mark Lee came at 11 a.m. for a meeting. We broke for lunch but continued the meeting afterward. We discussed financial matters and the adult center, and Fritz’s meetings—are they right.’

The twenty-fifth. ‘Krishnaji and I drove to Ojai. Krishnaji spoke to Fritz and others while I saw to house things. Radha Burnier brought Mr. and Mrs. Perkins, Theosophists, to Arya Vihara to lunch. She feels they could influence giving some of the Theosophical Society land in Adyar for a Krishnamurti school. Mr. Schwartz measured for the window seats, etcetera. The floor tiling is all done in the cottage living room. Krishnaji is very pleased with it. It has a “feeling of lightness,” he said. He likes it better than the Malibu floor tile. Krishnaji says there is already an atmosphere in the house. This especially pleases Theo, who put the jewels in the foundation when the cement was poured. These, according to Krishnaji, are supposed to bring a certain sacred quality to a building. At 3 p.m., Krishnaji talked to Fritz, Mark, Erna, Theo, and me about the adult center. Then, he and I drove home to Malibu.’

The next day, ‘Krishnaji rested in bed all day, and I did letters. We watched a golf tournament on television. I took a nap, a rare event.’

February twenty-seventh, ‘We drove to Ojai. Bart Phelps was there briefly from Houston where he is teaching one semester at Rice University. He was at the cottage with John Rubel. They were very helpful in sorting things out with the Juarez brothers who are doing the stone wall and other house things. Phelps’s students came on a bus to see the house in progress. I went to the Ojai Bank of America and opened accounts, and also got a P.O. box. Meanwhile, Krishnaji talked to Fritz and then had Theo fetch Radha Burnier to discuss her accepting Rajagopal’s invitation to visit him on Wednesday. We then drove home to Malibu in time for supper.’

The twenty-sixth, ‘I invited Alain Naudé to join next week’s discussion group in Ojai. He said yes at first, but then he said he would prefer to come later in April for the last week of the public talks. We can put him up at Arya Vihara as David Shainberg vacates a room then. Krishnaji spent the day in bed. I was at the desk and on the telephone sorting out stone mason problems with Bart Phelps and John Rubel. There were heavy rains in the afternoon, almost two inches.’

March first. ‘In spite of rain, Krishnaji and I drove to Santa Monica, where Krishnaji had an eye examined with Dr. Hulquist. He has cataracts, but they do not interfere with his vision. No glaucoma, but there is an asymmetry of disk in the left eye which should be checked again in six months as it could lead to glaucoma. He gave us the name of a Mr. Perkins at the Institute of Ophthalmology in London, as we will be there in six months. He also gave Krishnaji drops to help with the tearing. The rain had let up, so we went to the farmer’s market for a cheese enchilada lunch. Then, to Giselle where Krishnaji supervised my fitting for India clothes. Pajamas very full, kurta almost to the knees, bundi rather short. He approved the look and dimensions, and we came home, driving carefully on the muddy highway. In the evening, Radha Burnier telephoned to report her meeting with Rajagopal. She said at first there was chitchat about her family. Then, he had questions on how she got from Krotona to his house. He pretended not to know of the gate at the back of his property. Then, Radha asked, “What are you doing?”

Rajagopal: “I’m very busy.”’

‘Radha: “Are you writing?”’

‘Rajagopal: “I’m busy with the teachings.”’

‘Radha: “What do you mean?”’

‘Rajagopal: “Busy distributing the books.”’

‘Radha: “Are you going to see Krishnaji?”’

‘Rajagopal “Is he here?”’ [M and S laugh.]

‘Radha: “Haven’t you received Mrs. Zimbalist’s invitation to Malibu?”’

‘Rajagopal: “Oh yes.”’

‘Radha: “I was in Madras when you telephoned Krishnaji. Are you going to see him?”

‘Rajagopal: “That is a personal business between him and me. I don’t want to talk about it.”’

‘Radha: “I want to talk about the archives. I was here last year when you wouldn’t show them. I have proof that letters were sent from Adyar and they were sent to Krishnaji, not to you.”’

‘Rajagopal: “I don’t want to talk about this with you. You don’t know about it. It’s personal between Krishnaji and me.”’

‘Krishnaji listened to all this on an extension telephone. Radha then said to both of us that she thought he might flare up, but he didn’t. He was just like a stone wall that she couldn’t penetrate. He had little subterfuges in the conversation, like pretending that he didn’t know about the gate. She also said to Rajagopal that she had seen his recent letter to Krishnaji. What was he quoting in it? Rajagopal wouldn’t say. Krishnaji asked her if she felt his mind was losing ground, becoming demented. Radha said, “He was clear, and sharp enough, but demented in some way. He is off the tracks.” She said that he was nervous when the telephone rang twice. She was there an hour, from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. She said he is without conscience, there is something evil about him. She is glad she went, though, because she can now tell the others in India that she had had a certain hope she could talk to him, that she could reach him, and she knows now that it is impossible. They have always had the feeling that we don’t know how to deal with him, and that has led to all the difficulties. She can now tell them otherwise, and they will believe her. She leaves Ojai tomorrow.’ It was very good that she went. And she’s an outspoken person.

Scott: Yes. Do you think you could just talk a little bit now about that whole funny relationship, because it hasn’t yet really come out in your diaries, how the Indian Foundation…

M: They had a perhaps understandable notion that Indians understand Indians better than Westerners do.

S: Yes.

M: That was often the sort of a floor under the conversation, or under their points of view. And so, it was very valuable that she went.

S: Yes, but the larger issue was that somehow they felt Krishnaji was a religious man, and he shouldn’t get involved in anything like the lawsuit.

M: They did. Well, that was Pupul’s point of view, particularly.

S: Right. And so they were siding with Rajagopal.

M: Yes, because he was Indian, and he’d always been there and so forth. As far as they knew, he handled the business things well, not realizing that he’d stolen the business things.

S: Right.

M: It was understandable, but I think it was…well, I don’t know other people’s points of view directly, but I know that Pupul felt this, and her book mirrors this. As far as the book was concerned or she was concerned, Krishnaji was an Indian, and his teachings came out of India. There’s a big Indian stamp on both, and she ignores a great deal: that most of his life was spent in the West, for instance. If you read the book, you wouldn’t realize that so much. She was always bringing in Indian tradition.

S: Trying to make him more Indian.

M: Yes, she thought he was Indian and she’d have liked him to stay there all the time. Never mind the West.

S: Yes, yes. Oh, absolutely. Yes. But there was also all the mess about Vasanta Vihar.

M: Yes. While they were thinking that maybe the problem with Rajagopal was really westerners not understanding Indians, Rajagopal claimed that Vasanta Vihar was part of KWINC.

S: Right.

M: And with that, the Indians felt he trod on their toes, because they wanted control and should have control of Vasanta Vihar. And in the course of disclosure in KFA versus Rajagopal lawsuit, we came to find out that for some obscure, ancient reason having to do with Rajagopal’s manipulations, Vasanta Vihar actually belonged to the Dutch Stichting. So, Anneke had to sign off for the Dutch to get it transferred to KF India, because she was the Dutch Stichting spokesperson.

S: That’s right.

M: So, when it came to Vasanta Vihar, the Indians got slightly less impressed with Rajagopal. In other words, they had to sue him, and the court in Madras agreed with that.

S: But they weren’t supportive of you and Erna in your case against Rajagopal, and they should’ve been.

M: Not in the beginning, you see, but when they later found that it came on their territory, things changed a little bit. [Both chuckle.]

S: Anyway, that’s just a small aside, since we were talking about Radha…

M: Yes. Radha was extremely helpful, and of course, being Indian and being a Theosophist.

S: Yes, and having an important position.

M: Yes, as the head of the Esoteric Section, she was immensely helpful. The fact that the year before when there had been Indians and Cadogan, and Rajagopal had refused to let us into the archives…

S: Yes, yes.

M: …and she could challenge him on that. He just stonewalled. [Chuckles.]

The next day is just errands for me and Krishnaji staying at home.

March third. ‘It rained all day. I worked at the desk. Krishnaji and I were finally able to walk around the garden at 5 p.m. during a lull. The grass is a sponge. Mitchell Booth telephoned. He and an accountant have worked out an ingenious way of working out a way for me to purchase the Ojai property that is a benefit to both the Foundation and me. By evening, the high tide, sliding mud, and pouring rain had damaged houses along Malibu Road in the Colony. The sea destroyed the beach and parts of some houses.’

March fourth. ‘It rained all night, and Malibu is cut off by landslides. Two more inches fell during the day. The Pacific Coast Highway is closed in both directions. All canyon roads are closed, except Kanan Road, through which Fred was able to get home. In my slide area, two V-shaped cuts are aimed at the house and the path on the sea-side of Filomena’s garden is gone. I found a leak in the sprinkler pipe that was put in only last week by Carlson. I turned off the valve.’

The next day, ‘there was another half an inch rain in the night. When the sun finally came out, I found that a lead in the sprinkler pipe, and some of the chain link fence, had gone down in the slide. We were home all day. Malibu is still cut off by slides, so when Hugues van der Straten arrived from Brussels in the evening, there was no way for him to come here as planned. He went to a hotel.’

March sixth. ‘It was Amanda’s birthday. Krishnaji and I went over to see her and Phil in the afternoon. Otherwise, Krishnaji and I were at home all day. Hugues flew from Los Angeles airport to Oxnard, where Theo met him, and took him to Ojai. They showed him everything. He then flew on to San Francisco. The roads to Malibu remain closed.’

The seventh. ‘The Pacific Coast Highway is still closed. It was a quiet, sunny day here. I did letters and other desk work. Amanda and Phil came over to see the hummingbird nest in the ficus outside the dining room. Krishnaji rested. I went to the bank in Malibu to close out a safe deposit box.’

March eighth. ‘Elfriede and I packed the gray Mercedes. Krishnaji and I had an early, simple lunch in the kitchen, and then we drove to Ojai via Kanan, a newly widened road through to the valley where we picked up the Ventura Freeway. Krishnaji was pleased by the beauty of the wild country. We got to the Lilliefelt’s without difficulty, where we are staying till Monday. All four walked up to Pine Cottage as Saral and David Bohm were there, staying in the guest apartment. The painting of the exterior is finished; it looks nice. We came back to the Lilliefelt’s, and I cooked soup while Erna made salad.’

The ninth. ‘I went early to the bank to open a safe deposit box. At 11 a.m., there was a discussion group at the Lilliefelt’s with about thirty-five participants. The subject was, does knowledge deform the psychological structure of man? The trustees, the Bohms, and the usual inhabitants lunched at Arya Vihara. In the afternoon, there was a meeting at the Lilliefelt’s of Krishnaji, Erna, Theo, David Bohm, Evelyne, and Mark to talk about what is being done in the adult center, and Fritz’s discussions.’ It seems Fritz was not part of it.

The next day, ‘there was the second group discussion at 11 a.m. Again, some of us lunched at Arya Vihara, and then Krishnaji and I went to the cottage. John Ruble was there, and we went over things. Margrete Heising Wilhelm, Fritz’s wife, had done paper cut-out samples of the design for the inside shutters, as on the shutters in Rougement. She has done it very well.’ She did those sunburst things. ‘Krishnaji chose the colors for them, a sannyasi orange. Krishnaji talked to Fritz and Margrete about the adult center discussions. They feel nothing is wrong, and they rather rejected the implications of Krishnaji’s questions. Later, I went with Alan Kishbaugh to Fritz’s discussion with parents and others at the Pavilion; the Bohms, the Lilliefelts, and Evelyne were there. All the trustees felt it was not going rightly; it is group therapy, personal problems are being aired, not Krishnaji’s teachings. Talked lengthily about it at supper with Krishnaji.’

March eleventh. ‘Wooge’s eighty-ninth birthday. I telephoned him at Molly McAdoo’s in New York where he was staying en route from Sally’s to the Vineyard. At 11 a.m., there was the third group discussion at the Lilliefelt’s. Krishnaji posed the question: Why do we demand? We left it for continuation tomorrow. Lunch at Arya Vihara. I met Alan Hooker and Alasdair Coyne about plantings around the cottage, which Alasdair will do. At 4 p.m., there was a meeting at the Lilliefelt’s of Krishnaji, Erna, Theo, Evelyne, Mark, David Bohm, Fritz and Margrete on the adult center meetings. Everyone aired their views. An improved relationship seemed to come out of it. We all walked down to Reeves Road and back.’

March twelfth. ‘There was the fourth group discussion. Mar de Manziarly, who is visiting her sister Mima Porter, came to the discussion and to lunch at Arya Vihara. Krishnaji went into incompleteness and what is completeness? Incompleteness is the root of demanding. After lunch, I checked bills for extras with Max Falk. Then, I joined Evelyne, Erna, Theo, Ted, and Carl Marcus for a meeting with Michael Mendizza, who gave information on ways of showing Krishnaji material in universities. At 4 p.m., there was another meeting between Krishnaji, Erna, Theo, Evelyne, Mark, me, David, Fritz, and Margrete on the adult center, and it was more or less decided to continue the adult center discussions, but with more participation by trustees—less of one-man control by Fritz. Fritz is self-confident, and certain that he can do it, but he is still making Krishnaji and some of us uneasy. We all went for a walk. Erna and Theo and I watched Anna Karenina on television. Krishnaji went to bed.’ We were staying with them, you see.

S: Ah, yes, because the house here [1] wasn’t finished.

M: Yes, that’s right.

March thirteenth. ‘Krishnaji held the fifth group discussion. I have an odd feeling.’ [Long pause.] ‘I seem to be swimming in consciousness of his voice, almost fainting at times, moved to tears when he spoke of insight—different from understanding, which is arrived at slowly, by degrees. Insight is nothing to do with thought. It is instantaneous, the perception of intelligence. When he spoke of this, it was as if he had taken off into the sky, a hawk soaring, free of where earth people trudge along, and it pierced something in my mind. Insight is never partial, it is whole. Mar was at this discussion but left after. We lunched at Arya Vihara. Krishnaji spoke a little with Erna and Theo and to David Bohm about the continuing distrust of Fritz, and he very much includes Margrete, blaming her for a change in Fritz. I went over house things with Max Falk. Then, Krishnaji and I drove home to Malibu. The Coast road was opened this morning, and we came along it in the usual way, Krishnaji driving partly. The native daisies that grow along the sea were in bright yellow profusion. The rains had spread their growth, and it was wonderful to see. We arrived home at 5 p.m. to find Elfriede had done an enormous amount of packing—boxes and boxes. A crack has come in the lawn near the slide; it is worrisome. The drain broke there too. At supper, Krishnaji said, “the house feels abandoned,” and I couldn’t bear to talk about it.’ So, it was.

The next day ‘was a lovely, clear day—the ocean gentle, the sun smiling. Krishnaji rested in bed. I went to town on errands. The Pacific Coast Highway is messy but open. I got in without delays. I went to fit the Indian clothes, and the grayish sari made into a long dress, which looked well. I got home before the traffic. Krishnaji and I walked in the garden.’

March fifteenth. ‘It was a beautiful, warm day; and I spent most of it packing. Krishnaji stayed in his bathrobe, but we lunched in the dining room, watching the remaining baby hummingbird in its tiny nest in the ficus tree. I walked over to the Dunne’s at 5:30 p.m., while Krishnaji went walking on the lawn. He waved across the canyon to me and then resumed his rounds—a bright, clear figure in his white terrycloth bathrobe. Phil showed me his flowers. We watched Walter Cronkite so I could bring news back to Krishnaji. We are still without television over here. Then I came back to supper. Is this our last night in this blessed house? Krishnaji felt this, and said he thought of it as he watched me walking over to the Dunne’s. He thought of how many memories this house has for me—twenty-five years here. He hoped I will be as happy in the new house as in this one, and nothing will ever be wrong between us.’

The sixteenth. ‘It was a hot day—ninety degrees in town. I got up at 5 a.m. and packed all day. The carpet people cleaned the living room rug and the one in Krishnaji’s room. Krishnaji and I had a quiet lunch, and the baby hummingbird sat on the edge of his nest. He will fly in a few hours. At 4:20 p.m., we left in the gray Mercedes for Ojai, and arrived at the Lilliefelt’s just in time for Krishnaji to see Walter Cronkite. Aldo Moro, a former Italian Prime Minister, was abducted by terrorists in Rome; Israel has a band of six miles of Lebanon on their border, now occupied by their troops after PLO terrorists attacked last Saturday. Erna and Theo have had good conversations with Fritz. We will stay with the Lilliefelts until we move into the cottage.’

The seventeenth. ‘I went to Pine Cottage. Workmen are still in every room—electrician, plumber, carpenter, stone masons, and a land service all working; every room is a mess. I found a corner in the kitchen where I could work at cutting shelf lining and cleaning drawers. Krishnaji came over at lunchtime; we ate at Arya Vihara. I worked all afternoon. Ted got a Hoover vacuum cleaner for the cottage. Laura Martin, Ted’s friend, helped to clean closets, etcetera. Mr. Schwartz hung Krishnaji’s room’s curtain. I found there was the beginning of some order. Krishnaji said with much feeling, “It is a marvelous house.”’ [Chuckles.] ‘He felt a special atmosphere from the first day he walked in. Erna and I made supper at the Lilliefelt’s. Again, Krishnaji said to me, “It is a marvelous house.” I fell asleep at the supper table.’ [Chuckles.] ‘Later, I fell asleep watching television.’ [Laughs.]

March eighteenth. ‘I made Krishnaji’s breakfast and then went to the cottage. At 11:30 a.m. Krishnaji had a meeting outside the Pavilion for the school parents and staff, during which Michael Mendizza took pictures of him. I stayed in the cottage all day cleaning and putting in shelf lining, helped by Laura Martin. The bedrooms are now clean and ready. At 5 p.m., Elfriede, Fred, and Lori arrived. Elfriede and Fred in a huge moving van and Lori with his truck. They did an enormous job of moving an astonishing amount of furniture and things out of Malibu. It’s almost all done. One more trip tomorrow. Everyone here came to help unload, even Saral and David.’ I remember this well. David Bohm tried to help and I was terrified [S laughs] that he would drop something.

S: I know. I frequently saw him at Brockwood helping to dry dishes, and it was frightening to watch him try to do anything like that.

M: His hands just are like gloves, mittens really.

S: Exactly, yes, and not really made for doing anything physical.

M: David picked up a lamp to move it into the house, and I thought, oh my god.

S: Yes. [Laughs.]

M: But it was alright; he made it. [Laughs.] ‘Everyone here helped unload most wonderfully. Krishnaji came toward the end. Everything was just piled in the house. Tomorrow, I will start unpacking and arranging. I fell asleep at the dinner table again and went to bed. Coming back to the Lilliefelt’s to sleep, Krishnaji again said, “It is a marvelous house.” At supper, Krishnaji questioned the qualities of the teachers in the school. Where do we find people? What is happening to Americans?’

March nineteenth. ‘I worked in the cottage all day, putting Krishnaji’s clothes in closets, etcetera. Krishnaji held another meeting with parents and staff in the Pavilion. Lou Blau came with Evelyne to lunch at what we are trying to call “the Old House” instead of Arya Vihara as the latter name seems to upset some people.’ That never took. [S laughs.]

S: Why did it upset anybody?

M: Because it means “abode of the Aryans,” you see. Vihara means house or home, where you live, and…

S: Arya was Aryans. Yes.

M: [chuckles] Yes, but it was named that before the Nazi era, and the Aryans it refers to are the early Aryans who brought what became Sanskrit and Hinduism into India. ‘Krishnaji says it meant an abode of noble people, but that is off-putting, too. So, it is the  Old House. Pine Cottage remains as is. An office building was decided to be “the guest house.” Lou talked with Evelyne, Erna, and me on various things, including trustee insurance, and saw the cottage. Elfriede, Fred, and Lori with a van and truck brought the next things from Malibu, including the tubs of camellias and other shrubs. They seem living parts of Malibu, and I was glad to have them follow us here. They are friends. The ficus with its humming bird nest came, but its little occupant had flown. I spoke to my brother in New York about selling more stock for the final house payments, etcetera. Krishnaji slept all afternoon and walked up with Theo just as I was locking the house. Everything sits in clumps, but the beginnings of order are there. My bed fits the room just as I’d hoped.’ [Laughs.] That was my electric bed.

S: Yes, yes.

Krishnaji's Bedroom. Copyright Mary Zimbalist.

Krishnaji’s Bedroom.
Copyright Mary Zimbalist.

M: The twentieth. I worked all day in the cottage. Krishnaji’s room is in order. I made up our beds. My brother telephoned about stock sale. In afternoon, Krishnaji held a meeting with teachers in the Old House. We had supper at the Lilliefelt’s and then came over to the cottage, and stepped through the door of the old part of the cottage’—that was into what was Krishnaji’s sitting room—‘to live for good. [2] We have moved in. Krishnaji asked me to leave him alone for a few minutes in my room, to do whatever it is to bring a certain wordless something to that room: protection, blessing. He asked, “Do you feel the atmosphere?” I did, and I felt it even more in his room. So, we sleep in this house, blessed by Krishnaji, his life here and his presence.’

The entry into Krishnaji's sitting room through which he and Mary entered "to live for good." Copyright Mary Zimbalist.

The entry into Krishnaji’s sitting room through which he and Mary entered “to live for good.”
Copyright Mary Zimbalist.

The next day, ‘Erna helped me all day unpacking kitchen things. All sorts of things don’t work properly. The heat, both radiant and air, faucets in my bathroom, etcetera. Max worked on all of them; an electrician, a plumber, etcetera, worked too. Margrete continued painting the design on the shutters. Krishnaji held a discussion with teachers at the Old House. Renée Weber is here to interview Krishnaji for a new magazine called Revision. We all lunched at the Old House’ [laughs]; this “Old House” business won’t last.’ [S chuckles.] ‘For supper, Krishnaji and I had our first meal in our kitchen brought over by Michael. Helen Brew in Los Angeles wants to discuss an education film with Krishnaji when we get to Brockwood. Rajagopal telephoned the office, leaving a message for Krishnaji to call him.’

March twenty-second, ‘I worked all day unpacking in the cottage. Krishnaji gave an interview to Renée Weber for magazine Revision.’

Various shots of the new living room. Copyright Mary Zimbalist.

Various shots of the new living room.
Copyright Mary Zimbalist.

The next day, ‘I worked on putting things in order. The house still swarms with furnace and heating men, stone masons, etcetera. Krishnaji returned Rajagopal’s telephone call with Erna and I in the room. Rajagopal said he wanted to see him. Krishnaji asked what he wanted to talk about. Rajagopal said, “For your own good and mine” he wanted a two-hour talk alone. Krishnaji said that unless it was about Rajagopal’s returning everything to Krishnaji, as he had said in his cable from Madras, there was nothing for them to discuss. Rajagopal hung up. He had stressed “for your good,” which sounded like a threat. Krishnaji asked him if he were taping the conversation.’ In the past when Krishnaji or I had called, Rajagopal always said “One minute, one minute, one minute” and you knew he was going to turn on…or at least you suspected, he was turning on a recording device. This went on, even before the break. ‘At 4 p.m., Krishnaji held the first discussion in this house, the trustees, teachers, the Bohms, the Hookers, Frances McCann—just arrived from Brockwood—and Sidney Field.’

March twenty-fourth. ‘Elfriede came, and worked thoroughly at cleaning and helping unpack. Max continues work on the doors, etcetera. The carpenter, John, is still working, and Robert is still painting. There was an Indian actor and lady to lunch at Arya Vihara. By evening, almost everything was clean and in order.’

March twenty-fifth. ‘It was a warm, beautiful day. I finished putting things away in my bathroom, hung pictures, etcetera. Margrete is doing blue and white shutters for the kitchen and dining room. In the afternoon, Krishnaji held another teacher discussion at which, for the most part, only David Moody talked. Others sat in silence, which Krishnaji feels is pointless. There is a strong atmosphere in the living room, and it holds that number of discussers easily. The acoustics are good when there is a crowd. We went for a walk to the dip, and after’—do you know where the dip is?

S: Yes. On Grand Avenue.

M: Yes. March twenty-sixth. ‘My upper lip is swollen. Alain telephoned to wish happy Easter, so I told him about my lip and he prescribed homeopathic apis, which helped a bit. I talked to Wooge, my stepfather, at the Vineyard. Mar de Manziarly lunched with us at Arya Vihara and stayed for the 4 o’clock discussion Krishnaji had with teachers. Margrete completed the blue and white shutters for the dining/kitchen area. It looks very nice, slightly Matisse.’ [S chuckles.] ‘I spoke to Blanche Mathias about lunching with her in San Francisco on April twenty-fourth.’

There isn’t much the next day, but on March twenty-eighth, ‘Krishnaji and I drove to Los Angeles via the Ventura freeway. Krishnaji had a haircut at noon, after which we lunched at the farmer’s market, and bought Benes cakes’—oh, there was a wonderful bakery, a Hungarian bakery called Benes. ‘We went to Design Research’—that was a very good store of modern furniture—‘for a wall clock, but they didn’t have one I liked. And then to Giselle for my fittings on Indian clothes. We came back to Malibu. The house looks beautiful in spite of its emptiness. Its serenity is untouched. Lori was cutting the grass. Elfriede had everything clean; the remaining tubs of plants are nicely distributed, but part of the lawn has sunk a bit, and a large crack is in the cement terrace. We went over to the Dunne’s, and Phil reminded me that that part of the lawn is on fill from when we first moved earth in the house building in 1953. We stayed with Amanda and Phil briefly. We came back to Ojai, Krishnaji driving his usual portion of the way and went to the “Old House” to greet David Shainberg, arrived from New York and staying there till April tenth. We came back to the cottage for supper. Krishnaji is concerned that there is less vitality in the U.S. Foundation. He is afraid it may peter out.’

March twenty-ninth. ‘There was a light rain. Krishnaji talked to Erna and me about the adult center activities. Also, it was decided that, because of the predicted weather, this weekend’s Ojai public talks will have to be held in Nordhoff School and Gymnasium. Krishnaji, Max, and I walked in the afternoon.’

There isn’t much the next day, but on March thirty-first, ‘there was rain again. Elfriede came and cleaned. Carlson says another old pipe broke near the point, so he turned off the valve.’

S: This is the Malibu property.

M: Yes, Malibu. ‘After lunch, Krishnaji, Erna, Evelyne, and I talked with Saral and David about David’s retirement plans and the time he might spend here. Krishnaji and I took a short walk.’

Two shots of the new kitchen/dining room. Copyright Mary Zimbalist.

Two shots of the new kitchen/dining room.
Copyright Mary Zimbalist.

The first of April. ‘The sun was out, but the Oak Grove was still too wet to be used. So, Krishnaji gave his first Ojai talk in Nordhoff High School Gymnasium. Not a bad place, but “not as nice as under the trees,” said Krishnaji, a little wistfully. “I don’t know what to talk about,” he said on the way over. Then, as usual, it came to him and he spoke of the pressure of language. “It uses us, not we using it,” and the pressure of ideals. We came back and had our first meal in the cottage dining room. Krishnaji, Shainberg, and I walked on Thacher Road. After our supper in the cottage, I went over to the Old House. Carol and Joe Zorski are there from Brockwood. Michael Mendizza showed slides he had taken of Krishnaji at a teacher discussion and used over Krishnaji’s voice—a sample for possible use in libraries, universities, etcetera.’

April second. ‘A clear day, but Krishnaji’s second Ojai talk also needs to be in the Nordhoff Gym. A stupendous one. An intense key talk. Krishnaji making razor-subtle points of thought being always old, knowledge being the past, thought being able to see its limitations without making it a thought product. It seemed that stop of thought lets insight and intelligence in. So, seeing is where insight and intelligence take over.’ I think that’s…

S: …fundamental.

M: Yes, that’s the word. [Chuckles.] ‘Thought doesn’t carry its seeing, its limitations on; if it did, that would still be thought. This is the razor edge of transition out of thought, when insight takes over.’ I don’t know why people don’t see that. [S chuckles.] ‘We lunched alone in the cottage. Erna, Lou Blau, and I had a telephone discussion about my purchase of this place.’

April third. ‘I talked to Mitchell Booth about the purchase agreement and later signed it. We lunched at the Old House. John Alcorn, a man with cancer who has left everything to KFA, sat next to Krishnaji and came over to the cottage afterward. Alan Hooker came with a ceanothus plant; Alasdair Coyne and Denise from Brockwood prepared the soil along the path for planting.’

The next day. ‘It was cloudy on awakening. Rain soon began. Telephoned Frances McCann to thank her for a very generous present for the house, cash instead of the rug she had bought, which didn’t look right, and Krishnaji wants to use the money to make an outdoor table using the Malibu tiles.’ It’s out there. I had brought some extra tiles up from Malibu. ‘Frances suggested the Art Center on Montgomery Street for today’s public discussion. We were to have used Libbey Park, as Nordhoff Gym is unavailable, but the rain refused. So, with immense effort on the part of all helpers, it was moved to the Art Center. Though a small, gloomy building, it produced a good, closer atmosphere. Krishnaji gave an intense exposition of “the observer is the observed.” In the car, coming back, he said, “My, I put a lot of energy into that.” I had made lunch, and we asked Max to join us. Krishnaji slept afterward, and I struggled with a mountain of paper at the desk. We walked on Thacher Road, ran into Bill Angelos and, of course, Ms. McGarrity.’ Ms. McGarrity, I don’t think has appeared in this, hasn’t she?

S: I can’t remember.

M: She’s a character from ancient times; an old lady who knew that Krishnaji used to, when he lived here before my time, walk up over the bridge, you know, on McAndrew Road. So she would be there waiting.

S: Ah, ha.

M: …so, ‘ran into McGarrity, who has resumed her old waitings at the bridge for him to pass. On the walk, he asked me if the people this morning understood; what impression they got out of it. I said the serious ones seemed to listen intensely. Some seemed to see it, but from what one or two others said, it seemed to slip away. “Observer is the observed” is the way to put it, Krishnaji’s own, but perhaps harder for most to grasp. Krishnaji asked, “how else?” I said, psychological terminology is inferior, and not his, but people mostly seem to understand projection; the mind projects its accumulated thoughts and knowledge onto what it observes; it colors it with that, and thereby, doesn’t see. He said he would use the word projection.’ He never did. [M and S chuckle.] ‘We came back in time to watch Walter Cronkite and the news. In the evening, suddenly, while watching a Hitchcock movie on television, Krishnaji said, “I must’ve been born this way, able to see directly. I have never been through all that.” (Thought, images, division)’ in parentheses.

S: Those are your parentheses?

M: Those are my parentheses.

S: Alright.


Editor’s Note: Unusually, in Mary’s small daily diary, she has a slightly different version of the following: ‘Krishnaji asked, “How does he know all this?”’ And Mary says after reading this, “He’s talking about himself” [chuckles].


M: ‘“What makes me see all this?” I suggested that he never thinks about all these matters except when he’s talking seriously. He nodded.’

April fifth. ‘I woke up early, happily. A clear, beautiful morning, a lovely way to wake up. Krishnaji and I drove to Carpinteria taking Alan Hooker, with Alasdair Coyne following in Alan Hooker’s truck. At Carpinteria Nursery we chose plants for around the cottage, pittosporum, podocarpus, vinka, etcetera. Krishnaji and I came back in time for lunch. In the afternoon, Alasdair, with an all-Brockwood team of helpers—Denise, Adrian, and Matthew—planted everything. Frode came in, too. Krishnaji said of the visit to the nursery, “I get absolutely vague.” He had to retreat to the shade of the car after a bit; the sun was too bright. But, he was pleased by the beauty of the hills and the full waters of Lake Casitas. The rains have furred the hills with green as we have never seen them. The ceanothus was in bloom everywhere, and pink and wild flowers grew on steep banks, etcetera.’

The next day. ‘Krishnaji’s second public discussion was held at Libbey Park. It was cold, but the rain held off till later. It was not a good discussion. Pressure was the main subject, but contentious people kept it from going well. In the afternoon, at 4 p.m., Nathan and Dorothy Shainberg (David Shainberg’s parents) and David Shainberg came for tea with Krishnaji.’

Krishnaji's sitting room with the couch on which Mary sat for most of the interviews. Copyright Mary Zimbalist.

Krishnaji’s sitting room with the couch on which Mary sat for most of the interviews.
Copyright Mary Zimbalist.

April seventh. ‘Elfriede brought some of the cushions recovered in chintz for the big sofa. [3] She also stowed things in cupboards in my study so that some semblance of order began in there, and I can begin to function at the desk, which is a horror of papers. Countless people were at lunch at the Old House. The Hookers helped Michael do a Mexican meal; I don’t know how they managed so many. I fetched Krishnaji’s gold watch from the safe deposit box. His other one has gone to Patek in Geneva for cleaning, etcetera. After lunch, we went to the Green Thumb Nursery in Ventura for another floribunda rose, Charisma’—that’s the name of the rose—‘and other flowers for planter’s pots outside Krishnaji’s bathroom. Krishnaji came back from a short walk as I returned and helped unload the car. He said, “In spite of all the people working, do you feel the atmosphere of this house? It is extraordinary.” He is pleased for me, and this is that feeling of sunlight.’

April eighth. ‘There was snow on Topa Topa, some sun, but mostly cloud. Charles Moore and John Rubel and his wife came to see the house at 9:30 a.m. Charles has not seen it since the tile floor went in. Alasdair came and planted the plants I bought yesterday. So, the little bed of flowers outside Krishnaji’s bathroom looks bright and pretty. The third talk was held in the Nordhoff football field, with Krishnaji on a small stand in front of the bleachers, a shelter over his head from the sun, but not from a rather sharp wind. The electricity failed just as we arrived. Ted and others rushed to cope. After a wait, it came on. I made the announcements. Krishnaji spoke further on pressure and toward the end asked how the whole of consciousness can be seen—only when the mind is quiet, without thought, can this be seen. We lunched alone. Krishnaji slept in the afternoon, while the rest of us held a trustees meeting. Lou Blau came and went over all the legal explanations, etcetera, of my buying this place. He left and we continued for over three hours. Cynthia Woods’ resignation as a trustee was accepted, and she was made an honorary trustee, with whom reports, etcetera, will be shared, but she will have no responsibility. Her generosity in donations has been immense, according to Evelyne. She has given larger sums to KFA than anything else, but one wonders about her understanding of Krishnaji. Recently she said to Evelyne, “Krishnaji is such an egotist that he does all the talking in public discussions.” At the end of the day, I was weary of people.’

S: Hm. That’s understandable.

M: April ninth. ‘At last, a beautiful day. Krishnaji gave the fourth public talk in Ojai at Libbey Park Bowl. Alan Kishbaugh had lunch with us in the cottage. Then, at 4 p.m., we had to tea Dr. and Madame Questiau, Madame Jacqueline Marco, Frances McCann, Ruth McCandless, Maris Lindley, the Hookers, Sarjit Siddoo, Verna Kreuger, Evelyne, the Lilliefelts, Alan Kishbaugh, and Max. There was enthusiasm over the house. Krishnaji went for a walk with Max. Finalmente [4], we had supper quietly. Krishnaji said, “What a strange life, talking all the time.”’ [Both chuckle very quietly.]

The next day, ‘in the afternoon, I took the gray Mercedes to Dieter for the 9,000-mile service and came back to Ojai in a rental car.

On the eleventh, ‘Krishnaji held the third public discussion in Libby Park Bowl. Max lunched with us. Sarjit Siddoo talked with Krishnaji in the afternoon about Wolf Lake School and the plans for next week.’

The walk into and out of Pine Cottage past the Pepper Tree. Copyright Mary Zimbalist.

The walk into and out of Pine Cottage past the Pepper Tree.
Copyright Mary Zimbalist.

April twelfth. ‘In the rental car, I went to Oxnard, returned it and picked up the gray Mercedes, which had its 9,000-mile service and drove inland to Beverly Hills. My hair was thoroughly and well cut. I did miscellaneous errands and drove back to Ojai by 5 p.m., passing Malibu, unable to stop. I knew the Dunnes weren’t home. Krishnaji was walking down the drive as I came in, pleased at the sound of the Mercedes motor; he could tell it had been tuned.’ [Both chuckle.] ‘I went over to the Old House to a tea party for “interested people” arranged by Evelyne. Today she went to see Rajagopal and will tell us about it tomorrow.’

The thirteenth of April. ‘Krishnaji’s fourth public discussion held in Libbey Park Bowl. These are arduous for him; it’s as if he had to lift the whole weight of the audience’s mind. We lunched alone; and then Evelyne, Alan Kishbaugh, and the Lilliefelts came; and Evelyne reported on her meeting with Rajagopal. It was at his invitation after she initially suggested they meet. It was held in the K & R office living room. She had never met him before. Her initial impression was: old, shuffling, unable to find the light switch, dressed in a sort of velour windbreaker and slippers, sat in silence, putting it on her to explain why she came. So, she described building plans, etcetera, and wondered if K & R could contribute.’ [M and S laugh.] ‘He listened, questioned her on details of the positions of the buildings, etcetera, then took over the conversation, and described his martyrdom.’ [Both chuckle lightly.] ‘He said he is faithful to the “real” Krishnamurti. He had been vilified. He said, “You will get it all when I am dead, but only over my dead body,” and said he must settle “personal matters” with Krishnaji. She was there one-and-three-quarters hours. It ended with his agreement to think over whether he could contribute anything, within the rules of K & R. Erna says that he can’t because we hedged him in so thoroughly in the settlement. He can only use funds as it specifies, i.e., for donations of books to libraries, etcetera. In the afternoon, Ralph Gardner took photographs of Krishnaji.’ [M laughs.] His martyrdom! [Both chuckle lightly.]

The next day. ‘Bud telephoned, and we discussed business things. He and Lisa will be in Europe in June. Elfriede came and unpacked the remaining books, and I will have to sort them, but at least they are on shelves. The Fundación members came to see Krishnaji— Alfonso Colon, Armando Riesco, Juan Collel came, bringing Sylvia Cardenas, publisher of Orion, Hugo Baldi of Argentina, and Racquel Drassinower. There was the usual Fundación problems. Later, Krishnaji and I walked to the dip and back. It was cold and gray. The paper says it snowed from Scotland to the Channel and London had nineteen-degree weather.’

April fifteenth. ‘There was rain all day. Krishnaji gave the fifth public talk in Nordhoff High School Gymnasium, a great and deeply moving one. He was tired afterward from the energy he put into it. We lunched alone, and he slept till 5 p.m. At 4:30 p.m., there was a tea for all who had worked setting up the talks at the Old House, and Krishnaji came briefly. While there, I was telephoned by Jackie Kornfeld at Tuxedo Park at the suggestion of Maris Lindley. Jackie is in great pain at the death of Joe, her husband. I talked to her at length. When I came back to the cottage, I told Krishnaji about it, and he spoke to her. It is rare for him to talk on the telephone, and especially about such serious things. He talked at some length.’

April sixteenth. ‘It was clear in the morning. Krishnaji’s sixth Ojai talk was again in Nordhoff Gymnasium, an extraordinary one. The audience sat silent and transfixed at the end, many in tears, as was I. There was a sense of something overwhelming, sacred; of his having spoken from the depth of truth. When we reached McAndrew Road, hail fell and then a downpour of rain. We had to change our clothes after just going from the garage to the house. Toodie had been at the talk and came for lunch, bringing her daughter Zoë. Krishnaji slept in the afternoon while Toodie talked to me about her problems, and what to do. Rain poured all afternoon. Ralph Gardner came again and photographed Krishnaji. Toodie and Zoë left. Then Evelyne, Erna, and Michael Mendizza came and talked to me about the plan for which Evelyne says she can raise funds from sources outside the Foundation mailing list, to have Mendizza do an hour-long 16mm film on Krishnaji. He will go to Canada this week, and later Saanen, Brockwood, and India. He looks on it as a sort of biography of Krishnaji, using stills and views of past places in Krishnaji’s life, intercut with the footage of present talks, etcetera. He seems intelligent and capable but might attempt too much: reference to the pepper tree and how to bring that in, an area I would be cautious in touching. The rain finally stopped, and Krishnaji and I took a short walk.’

The next day says, ‘desk work, to the bank about opening a Krishnaji account for Ms. Dodge’s trust money. I also sent Narayan airfare to England and back. At 4 p.m., Krishnaji saw Carol Kinsey about a study she is doing at JFK College on consciousness, drugs, etcetera. We walked with Erna. Krishnaji finished the Avalanche Express thriller.’ [S chuckles.]

S: Alright, we’ve run out of tape for today.

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[1] This interview took place at Pine Cottage. Back to text.

[2] It seems poignant to me that they entered “to live for good” through the original front door of Pine Cottage rather than the new front door of the expanded Pine Cottage. It is also through this door that Krishnaji left for the last time, after his death. Back to text.

[3] Mary then says, “That’s these,” indicating the sofa in Krishnaji’s sitting room where we conducted the interviews. Back to text.

[4] “Finally” in Italian. Back to text.