Krishnamurti: a classic spiritual Five?

'Enneagram Famous Figures' by Subhuti Healing & Meditation

Subhuti continues his series ‘Famous Enneagram Figures’, this time discussing numbers Nine and Five.

Jiddu Krishnamurti

Detecting the Enneagram type of any mystic is a tricky business, because, if the person is genuine, he or she will have journeyed far beyond the ego and personality structure. However, it’s also obvious that each mystic presents us with a unique character. Jiddu Krishnamurti, George Gurdjieff, Osho, Meher Baba…. They may have all disappeared into the same universal consciousness, but their expressions of the enlightened state are distinctive.

Focusing the spotlight on Jiddu Krishnamurti gives us an opportunity to examine his behaviour from the Enneagram perspective. But first, we need to take a look at his life.

As a young boy he was considered dim-witted, almost stupid, and was beaten regularly by his teachers and his father. Most of the time he seemed vague and dreamy, as if he didn’t care what was happening to him, and repeated bouts of malaria could easily have terminated his young life almost before it started.

Krishnamurti’s mother died when he was 10 years old. His father retired from colonial service with the British Raj, but still needed money to provide for his family, so he took a job as a clerk with the Theosophical Society at their headquarters in Madras.

And that was how this unpromising young man happened to be playing on the beach, beside the Adyar River, with his younger brother Nityananda, just outside the society’s compound, when he was spotted by Charles Leadbeater, a former Anglican priest with a keen interest in spiritualism.

The year was 1909 and Krishnamurti was 14 years old. This was the moment when everything changed, not only for Krishnamurti but also for the Theosophical Society. Because, from the moment he saw Krishnamurti, Charles Leadbeater was convinced that this young man was the vehicle for ‘The Maitreya’, the World Teacher, who was destined to bring a new religious vision for humanity.

The coming of the Maitreya had been heralded several decades earlier by an extraordinary Russian woman called Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, whose clairvoyant prophecies of radical spiritual change inspired the foundation of the Theosophical Society.

Now it seemed Blavatsky’s prophecies were coming true.

When Leadbeater first saw Krishnamurti he was amazed by the “most wonderful aura he had ever seen, without a particle of selfishness in it.” He conveyed the news to Annie Besant, an Englishwoman who’d taken over as leader of the Theosophical Society in 1891, after the death of Madame Blavatsky. Together, they assumed legal guardianship of Krishnamurti and began to prepare him for the great task ahead.

So far so good. If we look at Krishnamurti’s behaviour up to this point, we would have to say that he seems to be developing as a Nine, the so-called ‘Mediator’, whose typical strategy is to go along with what everybody else wishes. Having been ignored, or not listened to, during early childhood, Nines tend to suffer from a numbing of their inner voice and have difficulty knowing what they really want. Recalling his teenage years, Krishnamurti himself said that his attitude was subservient and cooperative, saying things like “I will do whatever you want.”

The other possibility, and one that seems truer in the long term, is that Krishnamurti was a Five, the so-called ‘Observer’, who was so far withdrawn into himself that whatever happened on the outside seemed to be of little or no concern. We do know that, as he was schooled for his destiny, Krishnamurti became more assertive, occasionally protesting at the long hours of strict discipline his tutoring required.

As he matured into his 20s, excitement and anticipation among the followers of the Theosophical movement grew steadily stronger. A special organisation called ‘The Order of the Star in the East’ was formed to support the Maitreya, worldwide membership swelled and property and funds were donated.

However, Krishnamurti’s personal transformation as a spiritual being seems to have occurred quite independently. At the age of 27, he had temporarily slipped out of the grip of his Theosophical minders and was staying in Ojai, California, resting and relaxing, when a series of profound experiences possessed him. These he referred to as “the process” and they provided him with his own individual insights, set apart from the esoteric knowledge he’d received from others.

Finally, in 1929, at the age of 34, Krishnamurti was considered ready to assume the mantle of the Maitreya and this is where we see the Five strategy in action. Because if there is one thing that Fives cannot stand it is the burden of other people’s expectations.

In a statement that shocked the whole Theosophical movement, Krishnamurti declined to be appointed a world teacher, dissolved the Order of the Star, and condemned organized religion and spirituality. “I do not want followers,” he exclaimed, at an international Star gathering in the Netherlands. “Truth, being limitless, unconditioned, unapproachable by any path whatsoever, cannot be organized; nor should any organization be formed to lead or coerce people along a particular path…”

As you can see, this is not the action of a Nine, going along with what people want. This is the total destruction of a massive collective expectation that had been thrust upon a single individual. Ironically, Krishnamurti became a world teacher anyway, his admirers created organisations to support his work, and his one cherished aim “to set man free” was really no different than the stated aim of the Theosophical Society itself. In other words, in a practical sense, he could easily have manifested his expression of truth with the help of the organisation that Charles Leadbeater and Annie Besant had provided for him.

But he had to break out. Before teaching others to be free, he had to feel free himself. This, to me, is the Five strategy in action. And certainly his quiet, reserved manner, intellectual approach and thin body are much more typical of a Five than of a Nine.

One of the irritating beauties of the Enneagram system is that nothing is ever certain. No type can be proved. But in the world of relative truths, which exists far below the absolute truth of enlightened consciousness, it’s a pretty safe bet to say that Krishnamurti was, indeed, a Five.

PS. Oh, by the way, both Charles Leadbeater and Annie Besant were aware that, according to Madame Blavatasky’s prophecies, the appearance of the World Teacher was not due until the last quarter of the twentieth century. Besant and Leadbeater chose to ignore this and promoted Krishnamurti anyway. Which makes one wonder, if it wasn’t Krishnamurti, what other spiritual mystic emerged onto the world stage, in the 1970s, and proclaimed a radically new spiritual vision? Can you think of one?

SubhutiSubhuti is a regular contributor
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Subhuti gives workshops about the Enneagram all over the world and also gives individual online Enneagram sessions. Contact: anandsubhuti (at)

Related articles on the Enneagram by Subhuti:
All articles in this series of Enneagram Famous Figures
The Enneagram – a journey with the Enneagram from Oscar Ichazo’s original school to Osho’s Multiversity
The Enneagram: Types – Enneagram type descriptions, childhood environments, problem areas and sentences which characterize each type

Articles on Osho News relating to J. Krishnamurti

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