Brockwood Park 1979
Brockwood Park 20th June 1979 2nd Conversation with 5 Teachers
B: Krishnaji, there's a lot of unrest in education these days, and there's a lot of debate, and a lot of people are asking questions about it. But most of these questions seem to be about systems of education and methods of teaching and what subjects to teach. And there seems to be a lot of confusion and none of them seems to get to any point.
K: Don't you think we ought to first enquire, what is education, rather than what subjects, what books, what system, what kind of teachers and so on and so on. Shouldn't we first ask: why are we being educated? The word 'education', we know what it all means, but I mean I would like to know, to ask, if I may, why we are being educated. To fit to a system, into an establishment?
B: A lot of education at present is precisely for that.
K: So is that what is education, does education mean that? To conform to the social demand? To a particular culture, technological or otherwise which says you must fit into this, you must conform, or you must find your career, your life, in this particular system. Is that why you are being educated? To have a good career, to have capacity to earn enough money and all the rest of it, is that why you are being educated? As you say, apparently it is so.
B: Well it would certainly seem to be a necessary part of education to prepare a student to earn his livelihood.
K: Yes. Part of it. But even then I question it. Let's go into it a bit more carefully, if I may. One might educate a boy or a girl to conform to a particular culture, social demand, technologically, as a career, which is necessary, and so on, but the rest of the whole human complex existence is totally neglected. Would you say that it is so?
B: I think some attempts are made in some ways to try and include that.
D: But it is hard to see exactly where to go, what to do, it is more of a feeling that education should be more but exactly in what direction is not clear.
C: It also often involves some form of rejection that the society to which you are going, you see there is something wrong with it therefore you in some way...
K: What is the meaning of existence? Unless we tackle it on a very large scale I don't see how we are going to solve a particular small problem. What is the meaning of human existence, what is the significance of it? If it is merely to earn a livelihood, merely to get a job, merely, you know, it seems so limited, so extraordinarily narrow.
A: It is narrow, and yet it seems that those very things are becoming in fact more and more difficult, because of the very structure of society itself and its own momentum.
K: Yes. Over population, yes, need we go into all that? Over population, the destruction of real things, you know, the whole ecology and everything. Is that why we have made life so narrow and limited? As a human being, having been to Oxford or Cambridge, or whatever university, when you have got a degree, a job, and for the rest of your life, until almost you die, you are caught in that because you have responsibility for your children, you wife, you know, all that. So is that all? Apparently that is all. Or if you are slightly inclined to be religious, you go off and pop into a church occasionally and say, "I believe in God" and get on with it. Is that why we are being educated?
E: It is about all that is happening at the moment.
K: I know that's what is happening. And we want to improve what is happening - different system, different methods, different way of teaching, and so on, to do what?
B: It seems that education should be preparation for the whole of life.
K: The whole of life, instead of merely limiting it to earning a livelihood. I should have thought any serious man who is concerned with education is concerned with the whole of existence of man - man not as an Englishman, a Frenchman, or an American, as a human being.
A: You see sir, I think as religion has declined in the West, and generally, universally, often the solutions that are sought among teachers, particularly the younger generation of teachers, are generally speaking political, not necessarily party political, but they are of a political nature. I am suggesting you improve the world by adopting a certain line, or you have a non-authoritarian approach to the actual task of teaching and out of that possibly something better will happen. In other words you try not to frighten the student, or not to dominate him, and in a sense challenge the values of the society you are in, which are consumer values, sometimes going into the army, almost generally having some kind of career.
K: We are saying the same thing.
A: But this seems to be the level at which it functions.
K: In this meeting are we challenging this whole approach to life?
A: I think we are.
B: So we are asking whether it is possible in a school to educate for the whole of existence rather than just...
K: Yes, and is that possible?
B: And is that possible, yes.
D: Because one of the problems is that we haven't been educated ourselves for the whole of existence.
K: I understand that, but as an educator, how do you approach this problem? On the one hand you say you must have a career, a job and all the rest of it, and also you say no authority, and also you say we must be concerned with the whole of life. Who is concerned with the whole of life? Not the politician, obviously. Nor the priests.
A: Not even them.
B: Not the priests.
K: Certainly not the priests. Nor the army, nor the engineer, nobody is concerned with the whole of life.
A: Poets claim to be, but I think that is possibly partial too.
K: And are we exaggerating something which is accepted as an actuality if we are totally concerned with the whole cultivation of man? If we are, what shall we do?
All right sirs. If we have children and we are concerned as parents who are also educators, not just parents and then shove them off into a school, but if the parents are concerned and the professional educators are concerned with the whole development of man, how shall we set about it?
B: I think the truth is that we, the educators, are not always concerned with the whole.
K: Obviously not!
B: Because we have our immediate responsibilities, our own jobs, our careers to look after, and all the problems that beset us.
K: Are you saying, sir, that there is no such group in the world? There may be, which we don't know. Now with the whole of life I mean not only help the student to have a technological job and all the rest of it, but also concerned psychologically, inwardly, how to face problems, to understand the whole question of relationship, love, death, you know, the whole of life. Who is there concerned like that?
E: It is really very hard to teach if you don't feel like this.
K: It is not only hard, but are there such people? And if we are such people, what shall we do? We have not only to understand it ourselves, perhaps beginning verbally, intellectually, and then making it into an actuality in our lives, but how will you help the student to come to this, to the understanding of the whole of life? Because he comes to you conditioned, he is only concerned with a job, with a career, passing exams. If they don't want to pass exams and jobs, what will they do? You follow sir? What is our responsibility?
A: I think one responsibility is to ask some different questions from the ones that are normally asked.
K: We are asking each other what is our responsibility?
A: For instance one could ask how that society comes about which we see around us, how does it operate.
K: How is society like that? Because human beings have created it.
C: That isn't obvious to a lot of people. Many people would say that society has created the human being.
K: Society has conditioned human beings. Are you trying to say society suddenly existed? God created it? Some fanciful deity living in wherever he is and suddenly says, "There must be society" and bang, there is society? Or man has created it?
C: No, I am trying to say that the conditioning of society could create a human being and many people say that if you changed that society then the human being will change.
K: That has been tried by the communists, by the totalitarian people of different colour: change society, change the environment, either through brutal means or different ways. But they haven't succeeded.
D: But perhaps the response of people who went before just didn't do it well enough. This time we will do it better.
K: You say we will have such a government who will be efficient to change the outer circumstances, society and all that, and hoping thereby to create a different human being. Is that it? I believe every kind of system to change human beings from outside has been tried.
E: I think one has to start from the other end. One has to care for the student.
K: Ah, that is what I want to find out. Whether you want to start from the outside, outside in the sense change environment, change the culture, change the government, change the whole way of looking at life from the outside, through pressure, through cruel means or pleasant means, and then gradually bring about a different human being. Is that possible? And I believe they have tried every kind of system from the outside: the Greeks, the ancient Hindus, the Romans, historically it is so. And in recent years the communists, in their way, through totalitarianism, have tried to force man to be different. They haven't succeeded. They have suppressed man. They have suppressed human beings to conform to a pattern. But there is always the dissidents - you know the whole history of all that.
So that is what I want to find out. Are we trying to change the human character, the condition of man, from the outside, which is called education in a different way? Right?
K: Or if it is not from the outside, is it from inside, inside in the sense inside the skin, psychologically, inwardly?
B: But there has also been a movement of late which have tried all kinds of things, down to gurus, down to psychiatrists.
K: Most of the gurus, are they concerned with the transformation of man?
D: Well people seem to believe they are.
K: Are you sure sir?
B: What do you mean, sir, by the transformation of man? What do you mean when you say, transformation of man?
K: To free him from his conditioning, from his problems, from his tortures, from his anxieties, despairs and depressions and fears, you know, all the suffering. Have gurus tried this? Or have they said, "Follow this, you will achieve something or other"?
B: Well, they have claimed that they can free you from this kind of thing. They say, "Come to me, follow me, do what I say, I can remove all your suffering".
K: Wait. That means accept authority. You reject authority educationally here, and you accept authority there. I don't know if I am explaining myself.
A: That happens. But we ought to try and look at what comes about when you begin from the other way on, which is starting with the person you have in front of you.
K: Can we cultivate the human mind harmoniously?
C: I am not quite sure what you mean when you say, cultivate it harmoniously.
K: What I mean by that is not only jobs and careers and all that, but also his mind, the way he thinks, his attitudes, all that. The two streams go together, the outer as well as the inner. Or must they everlastingly be kept apart? Or is there such a thing as the outer and the inner? I don't know if you see?
A: Yes. Perhaps it is going a bit fast, Krishnaji. If we can see that the outer is the passing exams, and preparing for a career.
K: Career and living a life of constant struggle.
A: What relation does that have to an education based on care, affection, psychological understanding, etc., the things we have mentioned?
K: Can these two go together?
A: Are they, yes.
K: That's what I am asking. Or this division is artificial.
A: Is it?
K: The outer and the inner. Or there is no such thing as division, but it is a constant moving, outer and inner? I don't know if I am making myself clear.
D: I think a little more. I am not quite sure what you are talking about.
K: We have divided life as the outer and the inner. The inner is more complex, more difficult to understand, and so we have given much more emphasis to the outer. The outer is physical security, physical well being. I am not saying that that shouldn't be. Physical comforts, the whole commercialism, production, you know, all that is going on in the present world, with their terror, with their tortures, with their wars, everything; that's the outer. And the inner is, beliefs, rituals, gods, the saviours, the gurus, the hope that some day there will be some kind of peace in one's life. So we have these two.
B: Is that part of the inner life of a student?
K: The student is only what, when he comes to you? He is conditioned by his parents, by the society, the culture he has lived in, and he comes to you and he is career minded, examinations, job. That's all. It is only very rare that a student says, "Sir, there is something more than this, please tell me what there is." Like the other day the boy asked, "All right, take it for granted you must have a career, but that's not the end of everything".
So are these two divisions artificial, man-made? The one is very complex. Apparently very complex, put it that way. The other is fairly systematized, one wants security, physical security and so that has been the urge right through history, that there must be physical security first. Feed me and we will think about god afterwards! And there are the others who say, "Think of god, be with him and everything will come right. Believe in the saviour and your life will be made easy." So we have kept these two, you know, almost in water tight compartments. Would you agree to that, would you say it is so?
B: One of them we talk about much more, and the other is...
K: ...rather shy making.
K: And rather, one doesn't want to expose oneself too much, so you say "Please, let's not go into that, let's concentrate on this".
A: Which is what we have done. We are doing it more and more.
K: Which is what we have done, yes. So I am just asking: is this division emphasized by education, as it is now? Sustained by acquiring superficial knowledge, and keeping the other in a cupboard, occasionally looking at it when an emotional crisis arises and you try to solve it, but that's hidden, secret.
So I am asking are these two streams, one very, very strong, all men are concerned with the one stream and so have given an enormous volume of water to it energy; and the other practically neglected. Even the most religious person is concerned not with the ending of fear, sorrow and all the rest of it, but believing in god, practising certain rituals and hoping thereby to achieve a state of mind, or giving him some kind of peace. You see what is happening? Now I am asking: can these two streams be brought together? Surely that's the purpose of education, not to keep them apart.
B: Why do you see it as necessary to bring these two streams together?
K: That's also my life, the suffering, the agony, the doubt, the guilt, the hurts, you know, all that is part of my life. Why do you give importance only to this?
B: But the two are not really separate because...
K: That's right, the two are not separate but we have made them separate.
A: So doesn't that imply that we need to concentrate on the other one, quite considerably, no?
K: No. One should be educated in both fields.
A: But the other one is already so strong, you see. It tends to dominate the other.
K: So, what will you do? If the educators were concerned and felt tremendous responsibility that the two must be brought together, I doubt if they want it personally, if they do then what shall we do together? As a group of teachers, as a group of educators, what shall we do together? The cultivation of the human mind is not only in the technological world but also in the so-called psychological and if one may use the word, the spiritual world also. And probably the organized religious people say, "That's what we are trying to do".
B: Well, that's what they say but...
K: No, they would say that. Therefore one has to go into the whole question of what is religion. Are beliefs religion, rituals, propagated after two thousand years, religion?
A: Well that is what is understood as religion normally. I think you would have to contrast that concept of religion, or that statement about religion.
K: You have to counter it, you have to find out whether it is accurate or false, or invented by the priests.
A: So you are introducing another element which is really some kind of psychological enquiry, or...
A: ...or discussion among people as to what is the nature of things.
K: Yes. What is the nature of the psyche? What is the nature of a total human being, as it is now? And whether that total human being can be transformed, can be changed? After all you have a student who comes to you, ignorant in the mathematical system, or whatever it is, and you educate him so that he has a different mind at the end of ten years. He is either a mathematician, an engineer or physicist and so on and so on. He will take enormous trouble to do that, through schools, colleges, universities, that is what we are doing.
B: Then we must take enormous trouble too to do the other.
K: The other, now who will do it? You see, who will feel the responsibility, say, "Look, we must do this too."
B: Well as a teacher I see the responsibility, the necessity for doing that, but I know my subject and I can teach my subject but I don't know the other myself very well.
K: Yes. So what shall we do? If you see the importance of both, how will you enquire into the human existence, as it is, and whether it can be transformed, whether it can be changed? I should have thought that is education, not merely cram the student with a lot of facts about this or that, but also how to live without problems, without suffering, without fear, without the agonies they go through.
E: So you need to start paying attention to your actual life.
E: One day after the other, as well as going to classes.
K: So as an educator can you do that? If the educator is not living that, is not himself involved in understanding his own life and he gets up and talks about the other, and the students obviously spot you as being rather shady. Question it, why has man denied the other side, or neglected it, or not be concerned about it, why?
D: One problem seems to be that we don't really know how to look at something for ourselves. We have always learnt mathematics, someone has told me how to do this or that, and when I am faced with the situation where I have to look at something, and nobody has told me how to look, I am lost.
K: Is that the question, is that the problem sir? Just a minute. I not quite sure that is the problem.
A: It is also where to look.
K: No, it is not that. Why has he neglected this, the other side of man, the hidden side of man?
C: Earning a living has become tremendously important, it seems the most important thing.
K: That is security. We will call that physical security. And he is asking, "Give me psychological security and I will go after it". Rather, "Educate me to find total security psychologically and then I will accept it". Is that it? He is seeking physical security, all human beings are in one form or another. And if you assure man that there is also security inwardly then he might pay attention to it. So I am asking, is the whole pursuit of man to be completely secure in both areas?
C: I don't like to do something unless I know what is going to happen.
K: Yes, secure. Surety. Give me assurity, a sense of feeling safe, protected, and I will pursue that. They have done that, haven't they? Believe in Jesus, believe in certain forms of religions and you will be safe. If you don't believe you will go to hell. Now, of course, nobody believes that kind of nonsense. So that is what I am asking: is man seeking security in both areas?
B: Not just physical security but also security in relationships.
K: Yes, security in relationships so that I will never be disturbed, security not to be disturbed, not to have fears, completely safe. In this field he is demanding it, in the physical field, in the other also he is demanding it, and so he has created the churches, the gods, the whole religious structure, with their fanciful, romantic mysticism, all that. Is that what man is seeking? And therefore if you, as an educator say, I will give you security there, completely, in your relationships you will be safe, you will have no psychological problems, you will have no fear, no anxiety, no guilt, no sense of being hurt, you will understand death and so on, then he will follow that.
B: Can we really do that for them?
K: Ah, that's what I am asking.
B: Is it possible to have complete security?
K: I think so.
C: Then aren't you offering me the same thing?
K: No. I am not. First of all I question the whole urge, structure of security. Is there security in this field, in the field of technology, in the field of career, in the field of jobs and so on and so on, is there security there?
B: There is a kind of security but it brings with it its own dangers.
K: Its own problems, its own mess, which is not security. Security means to be perfectly safe. Right? Perfectly protected, not disturbed, say, "I have a job and nothing is going to happen". No wars, because the moment there is war I am lost.
C: Whether nobody is going to take my job from me.
K: But we want it there, and we are not finding it there. Governments change, inflation, every form of dishonesty. So I am asking: when we say we want security, is there such a thing at all? As long as we call ourselves Englishmen, Frenchmen, you know, keep it isolated, keep ourselves isolated as divisions, nations and so on, races, we are not secure. What do you say to that? Because I want to be secure as an Englishman, if I am an Englishman, or an Indian, or a Japanese, or whatever it is, I want to be secure in my job, you know, physically.
A: The solutions that are sought also tend to be bigger but of a similar kind. For instance, like a European parliament, or a European nation.
K: In the meantime, when that comes into being, in the meantime I go through agony, fears, uncertainty. There are millions of unemployed.
A: I would like to get back to the question of the teacher in a school meeting a student who is the product of the society but who is not aware that he is the product of the society.
K: So I have to help him not to be a product of the society.
A: Or show him he is a product of society.
K: He is, obviously.
A: He probably doesn't see that.
K: He doesn't. As an educator it is my responsibility. That he is the result of his father and whole generations past, with their particular form of society handed down through tradition.
A: And also the present society with its own violence etc.
K: So he comes conditioned and the teacher comes conditioned - right?
A: So they are both conditioned.
K: Both conditioned. At present not realizing both are conditioned, it is the blind leading the blind.
A: If one realizes he is conditioned he is only partly blind.
K: Partly. But being partly blind isn't...
A: Isn't much good!
B: What makes us insecure?
K: Division. Division of people into races, classes, nationalities, I am a Jew, you are an Arab. This division.
B: Well we seem to encourage this division. In schools there is competition.
K: Naturally sir, because each person is concerned with his own security. That security is through small groups, large groups, identifying with one country against another, which eventually breeds wars. We never say, "Look, we are one human race, for god's sake let's all work together and create a different world."
E: So trying to find one's own security makes everyone insecure.
K: Obviously. Look at what is happening. The politician wants to be secure in his position.
Sir, we are just asking, as educators, what shall we do, or what is our responsibility when we see how grotesque it has all become. It is like developing a right arm and neglecting the left arm, which is withering, which is ultimately going to be destroyed, the whole human being. So if you see both arms must be developed, strengthened and work together, what shall we do? Would you ask that question: what shall we do if you saw the importance that the inward as well as the outer much move together?
A: I would certainly bring some deliberate attention to bear on it, spend some time with it, talk about it, even understanding it imperfectly myself because of the crucial nature of it.
K: Can you do that, sir? Will you in a class give half of your time? Half an hour for mathematics and half an hour talking over the other? Discussing, having a dialogue, pointing out the importance of both?
B: Or rather than separating them out like that, as you talk about the mathematics you are also looking at your responses to it, how the other is moving at the same time.
K: No, I am saying something more than that. Will you in your class, or whatever you are doing as an educator give time to this?
C: Isn't it rather artificial to divide the class into half for the subject and half for the other?
K: It may be artificial. How will you do it? Will you do it at lunch time?
C: Well surely as Harsh suggested by the very working together at a subject you are also working together with the relationship of the student and you. It is not just working on a subject.
K: That means you have established a relationship with the student.
K: Have you a relationship with the student? That means relationship being concerned about his dress, the way he walks, the way he talks, the language he uses, cultivating his taste, manners, politeness, the whole of it. Help him to be free, help him to be free from fear and so on. Are we doing this? Which means the educator must also be enquiring himself. Or is this all so vague and uncertain and doubtful when the educator himself is conditioned to one way of life?
What would you do sirs if you had children of your own? After all the students are your children. What would you do actually?
Brockwood Park 1979
Brockwood Park 20th June 1979 2nd Conversation with 5 Teachers
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