THE DEFUNCT ORDER OF THE STAR IN THE EAST
According to the beliefs of the Theosophical Society, every two thousand years or so the spirit of the World Teacher, Lord Maitreya, inhabits the body of a human. First there was Sri Krishna, born two thousand years before Christ; then there was the Buddha Shakyamuni; and at the start of the twentieth century another incarnation was due. One day in 1909, the theosophist Charles Leadbeater saw a boy on an Indian beach and had an epiphany: this fourteen-year-old lad, Jiddu Krishnamurti, would be the World Teacher’s next vehicle. Leadbeater was struck by the simplicity of the boy, who seemed to lack the slightest trace of selfishness. The members of the Theosophical Society agreed with his assessment and adopted this scraggly underfed youth, whose teachers had repeatedly beaten him for stupidity. They fed and clothed him and began his spiritual instruction. The scruffy urchin turned into a devilishly handsome young man.
In 1911, the theosophists formed the Order of the Star in the East, a group intended to prepare the way for the coming of the World Teacher. Krishnamurti was made head of the order. He was taken to England, where his education continued, and everywhere he went he was pampered and revered. His air of simplicity and contentment could not help but impress.
Soon Krishnamurti began to have visions. In 1922 he declared, “I have drunk at the fountain of Joy and eternal Beauty. I am God-intoxicated.” Over the next few years he had psychic experiences that the theosophists interpreted as visits from the World Teacher. But Krishnamurti had actually had a different kind of revelation: the truth of the universe came from within. No god, no guru, no dogma could ever make one realize it. He himself was no god or messiah, but just another man. The reverence that he was treated with disgusted him. In 1929, much to his followers’ shock, he disbanded the Order of the Star and resigned from the Theosophical Society.