Simple encounters with Greatness

I met Rajesh, (now a wonderful friend and a very different kind of mentor), a couple of years back. In some ways life has not been the same since. And I don’t want to make it a big deal because it isn’t. Deep conversations, a hard look at reality, a trip to Uttarkashi where he was working and playing with the Krishnmaurthy school teachers, Hyderbad, Pune, Chennai, a few retreats- whenever I can seize a few hours with him, I love to.

There is a certain freshness and now-ness in his presence, a certain authenticity that is fierce, a simplicity that is profound. A newness that is not born of tired preachings and teachings, but an innocent inquiry every time – where he engages with all his being – discovering, learning, seeing what is the truth of the moment. As he enables that for me, for us.
One of many things that has become very clear for me is that it is not the word, not the idea, not the thought, paradigm or principle or even the ‘value’ but really what is beneath that. Where is that coming from. My listening in some ways has deepened. My seeing is softer. And even more playful perhaps. And it seems like it is only a beginning.

Rajesh Dalal

Suma Varughese interviewed him some time back for Life Positive and I think the interview (below) gives you a pretty good glimpse of this awesome friend and an ordinary master. Think you will enjoy it. As you read it, don’t try too hard to ‘understand’, just be willing to sense and feel. And it is ok if you don’t fully understand or grasp it- or you do… and if you are willing something will be touched in you. That is my experience of encountering him or his words (energy) every time.


“We are afraid to be stripped”
An experience of choiceless awareness with Rajesh Dalal, a long-time associate of J Krishnamurti

Rajesh Dalal, who has spent 10 years with J Krishnmurti, and whose method echoes Krishnamurti’s, was in Mumbai a few months ago and in the process of interviewing him, I experienced a small satori. When Rajesh asked me what stopped me from being in the moment, I responded that my thoughts did. He took up a glass and held it between me and a window pane before us. “Let us assume that your thoughts are the glass and that window pane is the thoughtless state. Suppose you were to drop the idea of getting to the window pane, will you still have a problem with the glass? Why not simply pay attention to your thoughts?”
Something shifted inside me. “I see,” I said slowly and I really did see.
Although I have often found the Krishnamurti teachings to be maddeningly obscure, I owe him and Rajesh Dalal my profound gratitude. I am now getting more comfortable with the contents of my thoughts as I am learning to let go of wanting to be in the opposite state to the one I experience. As Krishnamurti once put it, “There is jealousy. The opposite is not.”
Rajesh Dalal graduated in chemical engineering in 1975 from IIT, Kanpur. He had come across Krishnamurti’s teachings in 1971 and had the good fortune of becoming intimately acquainted with him a few years later. Eschewing a career, Rajesh devoted himself to inner inquiry and to travels with Krishnamurti for the next 10 years. He was made a trustee of the Krishnamurti Foundation and held important executive posts within it. Today, he has resigned from all posts and devotes himself to the single task of human transformation. A stocky person of 57, Rajesh is clear that he is not a teacher, merely a friend. Excerpts from the interview:

The capacity to be choicelessly aware is an aspect of the enlightened mind. It requires tremendous psychic energy to do this. How many people can actually do this?
For moments or brief periods, any one can easily observe the fact. Most people do. But then we twist the fact to suit our desires and fears, prejudices and tradition. If we are honest we can see this too. It is not so difficult.

Sustained honesty and deep investigation, of course, requires enormous inner energy. It comes when you honestly observe ‘pretence’, within and without, and see how dangerous it is, to living life simply, creatively and fearlessly. Then there is growing interest in Truth and that gives the energy to investigate at greater depth.
We must face the fact without condemnation or justification that we don’t have the necessary energy, that we are rather slow, rather dull, and are unable to swiftly move with life. This fact creates a crisis and that is the true impetus for change.

Why was Krishnamurti, and why are you, against spiritual practice?
It will not be right for me to speak on behalf of Krishnamurti. I myself am not for or against practices. I enquire. What is practice? It is doing something repeatedly because that action is seen to have a certain beneficial effect, is it not? We all have practices – personal practices to ensure health and hygiene, office and home practices, safety practices and so on. Such practices are necessary to bring about enhanced skills, qualities, products etc. However, it is important to bring a self critical quality when one is involved with any practice – whether it has validity and value and to what extent?

Now what is spiritual practice? Does it not point to an individual who feels limited, incomplete and wants some kind of projected result of peace or quiet mind, enlightenment, awareness or some such thing? By adopting certain physical and mental postures and repeatedly following certain methods, one hopes to come upon the opposite of that we are dissatisfied with. At the end of the practice one measures how far one is from the goal. The result one wants to achieve and the practice one chooses are both based on one’s present knowledge of what is right and beneficial. All practice is based on knowledge, hope for a result and involves time and measurement.

Is this a fact or not? If it is, then there is a fundamental issue here. Is not spirituality about transcending thought, time and measurement and to come upon the timeless and the immeasurable? Also peace, goodness and love are intrinsic to the dynamic movement of life. Must we continuously make effort to be good? What is more important – to continue to make effort in whatever name and to justify it; or to pause from ‘effort making’ and to observe the ‘effort maker’ and to explore the source of effort making?

But spiritual practice down the ages has enabled thousands of people to become enlightened. There is such rich evidence of it if you look at Hindu or Buddhist spiritual traditions.
I doubt if thousands have become enlightened. You can easily observe that there is great deal of exaggeration and distortion in all traditions. Of course, there would have been a few, who have really been transformed. I am not saying that nobody has changed fundamentally. But I question if that change was the result of the specific practices they were doing or was brought about by their seeing the ultimate futility of all practice!

To me it is clear that giving importance to doing, to activity – devotional, intellectual, physical, meditational- is in the ultimate analysis just postponement. Only when the attachment to doing ends there can be peace. ‘Through dependence on something, I will eventually get freedom’ is a myth.

It took 17 years of spiritual practice for me to reach a stage today where I feel I do not need to go anywhere. But I needed those 17 years to get here.
What is happening now is important, Suma, not the 17 years. If we look at the ‘now’ from the perspective of the ‘past’, the past gets justified through that. Then a complacent attitude creeps in and the self continues subtly. Instead if we look at the past with the eyes of the now, the past will be seen to be made of countless immature errors and illusions, with occasional insights that broke the pattern! We will then be more alert, more humble.

But why stop people from entering a path? After all, they need to start somewhere.
I am neither stopping nor encouraging people from following any path. I am just showing the implications and leaving them to do what they feel they must do. Mostly, we are identified with the path in which we have invested our time and energy and do not want to see anything that may show its limitation. So we sincerely practise the wrong note!! We do not learn and change instantly.

Where do you start to bring about a change?
I am observing with you, as a friend, what is taking place in us and in the world and we are exploring the pertinent questions that are arising. In that if there is an insight then that brings about a change. I am not suggesting that there is some good idea to be practised every day. Or do this and beneficial results will follow.

Then why should anyone do it? Why would anyone do anything if they don’t want results?
In certain areas results are important. I must eat nourishing food to have strength. We must have certain industrial practices to not pollute the planet and so on. There are many areas where we do things in order to get desired results. But surely the whole of life can’t be tied down to seeking results. I don’t breathe with the idea that it is going to keep me alive. I don’t love my wife or son with the idea that they will look after me in the future. I don’t open my eyes with the idea that I might see something of value. Breathing, seeing, listening, caring IS part and parcel of living. Results happen but are not central to the act.

To observe what is happening, within and without is central to daily living. If we don’t observe, we are blind. And too much focus on results, in our education, has made us blind. We are so focussed on wanting gain and avoiding loss that finer aspects of life such as simplicity, affection, sensitivity, love are getting neglected. So let us work for the sake of work and not for material rewards like bonuses. Observe for the sake of observing and don’t ask what I will gain from observing.

Where do I go from here? I now feel that there is nowhere to go and yet I am not fully in the moment because my thoughts keep disturbing me.
Have we made ‘being fully in the moment’ into a good idea? Are we clinging to that idea and measuring ourselves with it? Is that coming in the way?

Also, what is wrong with disturbance? Why do we think, there should be no disturbance? The fact is that human beings are getting disturbed in countless ways. A job is lost, trust is betrayed, there is death in the family, genocide in society. We want to live a life where we are never disturbed. So we look for so-called spiritual paths and practices to free us from disturbance. This kind of spirituality is false and weakening, I feel.

As long as we believe that disturbance is bad, we will never be able to look at what gets disturbed and whether it can ever remain ‘undisturbed’? Could disturbance be life’s way of bringing us closer to its dynamic energy? Life, in its compassion, may appear very tough. It disturbs everything that is false and illusory that we may be clinging to, out of ignorance. It may even block all habitual escapes of the mind so that an explosion can happen.

This explosion you talk about, is that a permanent state?
When you have a taste of the explosive energy, life is never the same. And then nothing gradual and time-bound will suffice. A quiet inward revolution has been set into motion, which goes on deepening. It has its own momentum and intelligence. It is as if a restless, ceaseless energy, a kind of divine discontent, has entered into you. It is like a stream flowing naturally, creating its own path.

Can you experience this when the mind is occupied with thoughts?
Occupation with thought is what we live in. What is wrong with thinking? Why not pay attention to thought? Once you do that, thought is not a distraction; it is neither good nor bad. Paying attention is independent of objects; it is beyond them. Attention can shift from object to object and still it is attention. When one sees that ‘paying attention’ is different from the field of ‘getting results’, and it is beyond that field, the hold of thought weakens. But if one makes ‘paying attention’ into an idea and tries to pay attention for the beneficial result one hopes to get, one enters the field of contradiction and conflict. In attention, the mind is quiet and at peace and gathers energy. Trying to be attentive is a dissipation of energy. It sounds complex but it is really simple to observe all this in our daily life.

Is attention a state of concentration of energy?
To concentrate is to focus energy and thought on a point, a centre. The centre, the object, is very important in concentration. We must exclude everything else and so there is certain tension. Also there is purpose – to reach, to arrive, to achieve. Concentration is productive and resists distractions which are seen as counter productive or unproductive.

Attention is very different from concentration. In attention, the particular object is not so important, and hence there is nothing called distraction. Attention can switch between objects and is still attention. It is not an exclusive act like concentration. It has no purpose and is not dependent on anything.

On what does attention depend?
It does not depend on any thing. It sustains itself naturally, out of love of life. Young children naturally look at birds, plants, insects and even themselves with attention. Peace and joy are by products of attention. But we have neglected attention as a way of life. We have emphasized only concentration, since it is profitable and enables us to accumulate and achieve whatever we want to. We want to be somebody, go somewhere, materially and spiritually. We are afraid to end all that and observe the totality of our nature. Such observation strips us of all things. We are afraid to be stripped. We don’t want to be ‘nobody’.

Apparently we do not realize that to be NO BODY, ‘not be a body’, means a being that inwardly has no form, no fixity, no position, and no limitation. Some other names for this state are – ‘Openness’, ‘Freedom’ and ‘Spirit’. The true spiritual life begins with this and ‘Love’ is expression of this spirit.


What did this evoke in you?
A question, an insight, a feeling, an image.
Would be nice to hear from you either by a comment here or an email !
Rajesh is on facebook and there are some interesting conversations alive on his page. You may like to check out the serious fun. Would love to also hear from you of any other encounters you have had with greatness.

1 March 2014

Rajesh passed on suddenly in the morning of 25 Feb 2014. I felt such a sense of loss like never before. I wrote on facebook:

There is a simultaneously a sense of urgency and a sense of resting where I am that has been brought about by Rajesh’s passing on. I wonder what might he have said were he able to speak to me in this moment.

My eyes moisten and there is a lump in my throat as I meet this loss with my whole being.
There is nowhere to go and nothing to do and yet, there is a truth about the fragility of life and how I postpone stuff which is dear to the heart, being caught in some trivial mind stuff which entertains, seduces, occupies time.

I contemplate what would be the response in my everyday living to the tremendous invitation he was. In my last conversation with him just a few days back, he said with the enthusiasm of a child..

I dont think I have told you this thing which I saw recently about Krishnamurti. K was not a teacher. He was in a state of perpetual revolution.

And my dear friend, my experience of you was that so were you. How else could you see this? How else could you be this?

Perhaps in your leaving us physically, the demand of who you were and what you asked of us weighs on us with greater immediacy and urgency. And yet this weight is an invitation to lightness. You showed me a love that cannot be spoken about. You were that. You are that. We are that.


And found another blog post:

Why am I still clinging to anything at all? (A blog post by someone who encountered Rajesh)

We have also created a ‘Friends of Rajesh Dalal’ facebook page (in case you would like to join and share anything)


9 thoughts on “Simple encounters with Greatness

  1. very nice interview. I met Rajesh several years ago in Krishnamurti circles and see that he has become much clearer and incisive. I enjoyed reading what he had to say and that resonates well with me.

  2. Lovely ! I felt it to be very true. This self has also been feeling on similar lines , but the words have not flown so gracefully from my pen.Th only obsercation here is even spirituality or the purpose of practices are for getting the same result which Ramesh has got . This is the path of a Gnana Yogi and there are other paths like Bhakthi, Karma,Raja Yoga and even Hatha Yoga. The paths are different .For example an amputee cannot walk and has to use a wheel chair and a hunchback has to travel differently.
    I also personally feel that one should have the guts to be stripped and that happens through protracted practice.
    In all a a alovely Satsang . Thanks for sharing Kiran !

  3. I have always had issues with discipline. I find it difficult to do something repeatedly. That’s why I’ve always had troubles with setting aside a fixed time for practising affirmations, meditation and other practices.

    That’s why, when I read Krishnamurthi and Eckhart Tolle, I realized the fact that Being present isn’t a matter of setting aside specific amount of time everyday to Be present! Being is being, even if it’s for a second.

    I would like to meet Rajesh and just experience how it feels to be in his presence. I’m always amazed at the different textures of conversations you have with people who are more aware, present and alive 🙂

    1. Its a joy to be with Rajesh.. and also challenging in a way.
      Textures of Reality.. Ah! isnt that the life of life.

      And laughter indeed is a sign that you have contacted a new texture ..
      A friend, Chittaranjan Kaul ( told me about Syadvad and Anekantvad of the
      jain folk. Looking at reality from two different angles.. the first is Syad- the hindi shayad
      the holy perhaps.. the gift of tentativeness… how can the greatness and vastness of reality ever be captured in words..

      And Anekantvad.. infinite meanings/perspectives.. of anything.. infinite..
      And what comes to me is another beautiful hindi line..
      shabd patra ki patrata ke anusar khulte hain

      let the fun deepen!

  4. Thank you for the interview. I also heard some audio recordings of Rajesh’s talks and dialogues, and I really got a sense that he has managed to keep that unique flame of enquiry alive. The flame that was always present in J. Krishnamurti’s talks. This seems to be quite rare.

  5. I met Mr Dalal when I was a graduate student in Banglaore. Somae of the conversations at Vasant Vihar are still a source of enormous clarity about living a life of attention.

  6. I have been fortunate to meet him a few times. In his presence, one finds freedom, clarity, peace and understanding of the mind.

    1. Hi Shantanu..
      Was there anything specific that struck you from this and also from your meeting with him? We have a condolence meeting tomorrow. Anything that you would like to share?

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