Beginnings of Learning
Beginnings of Learning Part I Chapter 1 School Dialogue Brockwood Park 22nd May 1973
Krishnamurti: Most people work either to avoid punishment or to gain something in the way of possessions, money, fame and so on. So most people work under great pressure. Here at Brockwood there is not that extreme pressure, or any kind of pressure put upon you. Therefore there is a tendency, if I may point out, to slacken, to let go, to become rather empty and lose that vitality that youth generally has - that feeling of urgency, the flame of doing something. All that gradually disappears and you are left here to be responsible to yourself, which is rather difficult.
Most of us want somebody to lean on, somebody to encourage us, somebody to say, "You are doing very well, carry on!" And to push us a little when we are slack, drive us when we are indifferent, when we are sleepy, shake us to keep awake so that somebody gradually becomes the authority. Haven't you noticed this?
There is no authority here, therefore you are left to yourself and it is very difficult to keep oneself at the highest point of energy, drive, intelligence and affection and not just go off into a kind of daydream, uselessly wasting time. Brockwood is supposed to give you - and I hope it does - the terrain, the environment, the atmosphere in which this self-generating energy can go on. How is all this to be created? Who is going to do it?
Questioner: Everyone here.
Krishnamurti: What does that mean?
Krishnamurti: When you use a word be very careful that you know what it means. Do you know what that word "responsibility" means? - not what you think it should mean, but what it means according to the dictionary. We must first understand the meaning of that word. Here is your English teacher, ask her.
Questioner: Doesn't it mean the ability to respond?
Krishnamurti: That's right, isn't it? - the capacity to respond.
Questioner: We often use the word "answerable; we say,"I am answerable for such and such."
Krishnamurti: If I am inefficient I can't answer, respond properly. So responsibility means to respond adequately to the job or to the environment or to the incidents around me. I must respond to my highest capacity: that is what the word "responsible" means. See what a lot is involved in that one word.
So who is going to be responsible to bring about the right soil here, the right environment, the right atmosphere, so that you are totally awake, generating the energy for yourself?
Questioner: Each one of us.
Krishnamurti: Can you do this, Gregory? Is each one of us capable of this?
Questioner: All of us together.
Krishnamurti: No. Who is "All of us together"? Will you be responsible to bring about this soil where you will respond to an incident, to everything that is happening around you completely, adequately? If each one of us does that there is no problem, is there? Then the place will be marvellous and each one of us will have a thousand-watt candle inside him. Is each one of us capable of this? That is, when you say, "I'll go to bed at ten o'clock" - or whatever you agree on - you will do it and nobody need tell you. You follow what it implies? When you study you give your complete attention to it, that means an adequate response to the subject, to everything which is your responsibility. Can we all do this together?
Questioner: We are capable of it, but we don't usually do it. Krishnamurti: Why not? Are you slack or indifferent to what you are doing because you want to be doing something else?
Questioner: First, how can one be responsible if one doesn't know the field in which one is working well enough. I mean, before I can take responsibility for something, I have to know for certain that I can do it.
Krishnamurti: Yes, that you are capable of doing it.
Questioner: But mostly what happens is that people are saying, "You are responsible," and it's taken for granted that one knows what to do.
Krishnamurti: No, look, Tungki, we have just now defined that word. I am asking you, are you capable, adequate, sufficiently intelligent to deal with something that has to take place here? If we are not, let's be humble about it, let's be sensible and say: we are not. Then how do we bring this about in us? Discuss it, I am not going to answer for you.
Questioner: It has something to do with relationship. When you are responsible, you are responsible in relationship, aren't you?
Krishnamurti: I don't know - find out.
Questioner: I see so many misunderstandings in the school, very often among the students, among the staff. But I realize now that in order to be responsible we have to see first that we have misunderstandings which must be cleared up.
Krishnamurti: Now how do you clear up a misunderstanding? What is the requisite quality necessary to help us to wipe away a misunderstanding? You say something and I misunderstand it and I get hurt. How do you and I wipe away that hurt, that sense of, "You've misunderstood me?" Or I have done something out of misunderstanding which you think I ought not to have done. How do you clear that up?
Questioner: You go back to the beginning and see what went wrong.
Krishnamurti: Is it necessary to do all that?
Questioner: It needs time.
Krishnamurti: No, it needs a little more than that - what else is necessary? Questioner: A regard, a proper relationship.
Krishnamurti: Which means what? Go on, push.
Questioner: (1) It needs patience and care, a feeling of eagerness.
Questioner: (2) I would say affection.
Krishnamurti: Peter says it needs affection - you understand? If I have affection I say, "Let's look at the misunderstanding and see if we can't get over it." But if I merely examine it intellectually and take time over it, then I'll be hurt by somebody else. So affection is the basis on which one can wipe away misunderstandings. Right?
Questioner: I think if you didn't have an image about yourself you wouldn't be hurt.
Krishnamurti: Yes, but I have an image and he has an image. I get hurt by what you have said; how do I wipe it away? Can I say, "Look, I have misunderstood, I am sorry, do let us talk about it again"? That requires a certain affection, doesn't it? Have you got that affection? Affection is different from sentiment - be very clear on that point.
Questioner: What does sentiment mean?
Questioner: But it's not right feeling.
Krishnamurti: Now find out the difference between affection, love and sentiment. We said sentiment is feeling, emotionalism. "I feel I should do this, I feel I am a great man, I feel anger" - that is a sentiment."I love children: In that there is a great deal of sentiment because I don't want to do things which may hurt them. Sentiment implies a feeling. Now what is affection and what is sentiment?
Questioner: Somehow there is a self-deceptive element in sentiment.
Krishnamurti: Yes, that's right. Sentiment can become hard: sentiment can become efficient but cruel.
Questioner: You often find a sentimental person is capable of being brutal in another mood. Like the Nazis, who were sentimental about music and the arts, but very brutal.
Krishnamurti: That's right. But we have all got that feeling in us also, so don't let us put it on certain types of people. That is, we can be sentimental, go into a kind of ecstatic nothingness over music, over painting, we can say, "I love Nature", and the next minute hit someone on the head because he thwarts us. So sentiment is one thing and affection is another. If I have affection for you I am going to talk things over with you. I say, "Don't be rough, be quiet, sit down, talk to me, I have misunderstood you. I want to talk it over with you because I have affection for you." I have no sentiment for you but I have affection for you. I don't know whether you see the difference - do you?
Questioner: I think younger people often feel that sentiment is something sloppy.
Krishnamurti: I agree.
Questioner: Because if you have a sentiment it becomes mechanical, you automatically have a reaction.
Krishnamurti: You see, idealism is sentimentality and therefore it breeds hypocrisy - I do not know whether you see that.
Questioner: Because it has moods.
Krishnamurti: That's right, all that is involved in sentiment. That being clear, have we this affection so that when there is a misunderstanding we can talk about it and get it over, not store it up?
Questioner: Perhaps the word "sentimentality" needs a definition. I mean, it seems to go even further than sentiment. It's a secondhand emotion.
Krishnamurti: It's an ugly thing.
Questioner: It's mostly put on.
Krishnamurti: Yes, that's right, like a mask you put on. Questioner: It seems that it is difficult to distinguish in daily life. Let's take an example: I see a beautiful tree. What is that feeling?
Krishnamurti: Is that sentiment? I look at that tree and say, "What a marvellous tree that is, how beautiful," - is that sentiment?
Questioner: Sir, are you talking to yourself when you say that?
Krishnamurti: Yes. I say, "How beautiful that is" to myself. You may be there and then I would say, "Look, how lovely that tree is." Is that sentiment?
Questioner: It's a fact. But when you see a tree and think you ought to feel it is beautiful that is a sentiment.
Krishnamurti: Yes, that's it - you've understood? Have you absorbed it?
Questioner: Yes. Which is, when you think you ought to...
Krishnamurti: That's right. So when I feel sentimental about something I put on a false front: I "ought" to feel that is a beautiful tree.
Questioner: It's an act of behaviour.
Krishnamurti: Yes, an act of behaviour. I am glad we are getting into this.
Questioner: Yes, but now, continuing your story, you take care of that tree and become attached. Then does sentimentality come in?
Krishnamurti: Yes. When you become attached, sentimentality creeps in. So absorb it, it's a food you are chewing - you have to digest it. You ask: when there is affection, is there attachment?
Questioner: No, but sometimes one jumps to the other without realizing it.
Krishnamurti: Of course.
Questioner: There seems to be no boundary.
Krishnamurti: So you have to go very slowly. We are trying to differentiate between affection and sentimentality. We see what sentimentality is. Most of us don't feel sentimental when we are young but as we grow older we put on many unnecessary masks and say, "We must feel the beauty of that tree." Or, "I must love that poem because Keats or Shelley wrote it." Affection is something entirely different. Sentimentality is affectation, hypocrisy. Now, what is affection?
Questioner: It literally means to move towards somebody.
Krishnamurti: Yes, doesn't it?
Questioner: To be affected by something.
Krishnamurti: First listen to what Mr. Simmons said. We have to listen to each other. He said: "To move towards somebody." That means what?
Questioner: You feel for them.
Krishnamurti: Be careful - don't say "feel". I move towards you, you may be rigid but I move towards you, I make a gesture towards you. I stretch out my hand to you, you may not want it but I stretch it out. Affection means, "to move towards" - the tree, the bird, the lake, or a human being - to stretch out your arm, your hand, to make a gesture, smile; all that is affection, isn't it? If I stretch my hand out to you though I've misunderstood you, you immediately say, "Yes, I'll try and wipe it out." Unless there is a movement towards you the misunderstanding cannot be got rid of.
Questioner: But some people might just stretch out their hand mechanically.
Krishnamurti: That is sentimentality, that is hypocrisy.
Questioner: And if you are affected by somebody, that can be a form of getting worked up in the same way.
Krishnamurti: That's right.
Questioner: We soon have to leave Brockwood, and then we meet people who are sentimental: our mother, or some person like that. You have to respond to her sentiments.
Krishnamurti: I know. You see, then love is not sentiment or sentimentality. Love is something very hard, if I can use that word. You understand what it means? Not hard in the sense of brutal, it has no hypocrisy, no sentimentality, it has no clothing around it.
Questioner: Down to earth, you mean?
Krishnamurti: If you like to put it that way.
We know now what we mean by affection, love and sentimentality. How do we create the environment here, the terrain, the soil in which there is that sense of freedom from pressure and hence non-dependence, so that you yourself generate this tremendous feeling of living, of vitality, of flame - whatever you like to call it. How do we set about it? It's your responsibility. Do you now understand the meaning of that word? What will you do to bring about this atmosphere? - because each one of us is responsible. It's not Mr. or Mrs. Simmons or X, Y, Z - you are responsible.
Questioner: Surely affection cannot be cultivated?
Krishnamurti: Then what will you do? We said affection is necessary, but we are asking how do you create this atmosphere in which affection can function?
Questioner: If we can see it when we occasionally have this affection, then we can see the situation which encourages us to have it.
Krishnamurti: You are not answering the question. Here at Brockwood we are responsible for creating this soil in which there is freedom, which is non-dependency. In that freedom, in this energy we can flower in goodness. How are we to create that?
Questioner: Perhaps we could meet Tungki's point there, because I think some of us have felt the same thing. What he said was, we have felt moments of affection in the past and if we can analyse that, perhaps we can see what brought it about. If that's a false trail, Perhaps we can finish with it. We know we have felt affection, it has happened.
Krishnamurti: Why does it disappear? Can it? Or was it sentimentality and therefore it has gone? You say, "I've felt sometimes, or often, this sense of great affection, but somehow it goes and comes back occasionally." Now, can affection go away or is it sentimentality that can wither?
Questioner: We feel affection and in trying to hold on to it and perpetuate it we become sentimental, because we try to recognise its symptoms and what it does, and we act according to memory.
Krishnamurti: Or it may be sentimentality, which we call affection.
Questioner: Yes, if it's real affection I don't see how it can dissolve.
Krishnamurti: That's right.
Questioner: It gets buried maybe, but it doesn't dissolve. It can be buried by misunderstandings and it can re-emerge.
Krishnamurti: Can it? If I have real affection can you bury it? No. Most of us haven't got this great sense of affection. Now how do we bring it about? Don't say "cultivate it", that takes time.
Questioner: Isn't it part of seeing the necessity? During the first talks you had with us you tried to show us the necessity of this place.
Krishnamurti: Look, affection can't be cultivated, can it? To say, "I love you" that feeling must come naturally, not be forced or stimulated. One can't say, "It is necessary therefore I must love you." How do you have this affection? Can you take time over it? Find out. It may be that you must come to it obliquely - you understand what I mean?
Questioner: Perhaps you have to find out what stops you from having affection.
Krishnamurti: But you must have it before you can find out what stops it. Anger, jealousy, misunderstanding - will all those things stop affection?
Krishnamurti: Will they? You say something brutal - will that destroy my affection? I am hurt, but the real thing, the beauty of affection, will that be destroyed? So it may be that we can come upon it from a different direction. Shall we investigate that possibility? I am full of sentimentality, emotionalism, idealism, of "This should be done," "That must be done," "I will try". Those are all sentimentalities. We said affection is a very hard reality, it's a fact, you can't distort it, you can't destroy it. If I haven't got it I want to find out how I am to come upon it. I can't cultivate it, I can't nourish it by good deeds, saying, "I must go and help you when you are sick; that is not affection. There must be a way of doing something that will bring it about. We'll find out. What do you think?
Questioner: If I've never experienced it, how can I know that it is there?
Krishnamurti: I am going to find out, I don't know, I haven't got any affection. I may have it occasionally when I am half asleep, but actually I haven't got it when I am living, struggling. Now how is that seed to flower in me?
Questioner: You have to lose your images of people.
Krishnamurti: That's one thing. I want to come much nearer.
Questioner: Also, there are many things that are preventing it, maybe we can look at those things.
Krishnamurti: Yes, go on. But will that do it?
Questioner: I can't do it before I've looked at what is preventing me.
Krishnamurti: Maybe I am angry, I get easily irritated and misunderstood. So I say: let me wipe it out. Will affection come? I know many people, so-called monks, good social workers and so on, who have trained themselves not to be angry. But the real flame has gone, they never had it, they are kind, generous people, they will help you, will give you their money, their coat, their shelter, but the real thing is nowhere there. I want to find out how to let this thing flower in us; once it flowers you can't destroy it.
You have said: see the things that prevent it. That means you are deliberately cultivating affection. When you say, "I will see what the things are which are blocking me", that is a deliberate act in order to get it. I don't know whether you see this.
Krishnamurti: Therefore you are trying to cultivate it, aren't you? - only in an obscure way.
Questioner: (1) You said that we must try to find the soil for affection, for this sense of responsibility.
Questioner: (2) If we try to create a certain relationship, an atmosphere, whatever you call it, in which this can flower, isn't that perhaps what she meant?
Krishnamurti: I am trying to point out that you cannot cultivate it.
Questioner: But can you not bring about the right "something"?
Krishnamurti: That's what I'm trying to find out. So let's forget affection as you cannot cultivate it. I wonder if you understand this? You can cultivate chrysanthemums or other things, but you cannot cultivate affection - cunningly, unconsciously or deliberately, you can't produce this. So what are we to do?
Questioner: It seems to me that there is something - not to do - but that you can recognise. When you are looking at somebody, or a situation, and you recognise there is no affection, that takes no time.
Krishnamurti: That can be done. What takes place when you say, "Yes. I see when I look at you that I really have no affection for you." What has happened?
Questioner: You have faced a fact. Something happens.
Krishnamurti: Does it? Listen: unconsciously, deeply, this idea that there must be affection exists. I do various things in order to capture it. And it cannot be captured. You are all suggesting methods to capture it.
Questioner: I was not suggesting a method, I was only saying: recognise that you haven't got it. Krishnamurti: Yes, I haven t got it, I know that very well. That flame isn't there.
Questioner: It's quite hard to really see that it's not there, we go on pretending.
Krishnamurti: I like to look at things as they are and face facts; personally I have no sentimentality of any kind in me, I strip away all that. Now I say, "I do not have this thing." And also I know it cannot be cultivated surreptitiously in a roundabout way. Yet I vaguely see the beauty of it. So what am I to do? May we move away from that and come back to it a little later?
Krishnamurti: Just listen to what I have to say. Do you feel at home here? Do you know what a home is?
Questioner: The place where you know you always get support and help. You feel comfortable, you don't feel self-conscious, you move more easily at home than where you are a stranger.
Krishnamurti: At home you are not a stranger. Is that it?
Questioner: (1) In that case you have many homes, because you may have many friends and brothers. I can feel comfortable in many places.
Questioner: (2) You can have a house and live in it, but that doesn't mean it's a home.
Krishnamurti: What makes it a home?
Questioner: (1) To have affection and cooperation between the people who are living there.
Questioner: (2) A home is a place where you have security.
Krishnamurti: Is that what you call a home? - where you have security, where you feel comfortable, where you are not a stranger?
Questioner: It's all these things.
Krishnamurti: Tell me more.
Questioner: (1) Where you have no fear. Questioner: (2) Actually I don't consider I have a `home; I have a house in California, I go to school here.
Krishnamurti: He said something just then which was slurred over unfortunately. He said, "Friends and brothers", and also, "Wherever I am I'm at home." You said that - don't withdraw it! Now what is a home to you all? You said, wherever I am I feel at home. Where I am not a stranger, where I am comfortable, where I am not treated as an outsider, where I can do anything I want to without getting scolded - is that a home? They do scold you, they make you go to bed at a certain time. So what is a home?
Questioner: A feeling in yourself about being at home?
Krishnamurti: What is that feeling? Sentimentality? You must be careful here. Please pay attention, I am going to push you into this. I want to find out what is a home to you, actually, not theoretically. I go all over the world - except to Russia and China - I am put into different rooms, small rooms or big rooms. I have slept on the floor, I have slept on silver beds, I have slept in all kinds of places, and I have felt at home - you understand? To me, home means wherever I am. Sometimes there is a plain wall in front of my window, sometimes there is a beautiful garden, sometimes there is a slum next door - I am telling you accurate things, not just something imaginary. Sometimes there is a tremendous noise going on around me, the floor is dirty and so on - the mattresses I've slept on! I am at home as I am at home here. It means I bring my own home - you understand?
Is Brockwood a home to you? In the sense of a place where you can talk to each other, feel happy, play, climb a tree when you want to, where there is no scolding, no punishment, no pressure, where you feel completely protected, feel that somebody is looking after you, taking trouble to see that you are clean, that your clothes are clean, that you comb your hair? Where you feel that you are completely secure and free? That's a home, isn't it?
Questioner: What brings that about is self-responsibility, so that someone else doesn't have to push you into doing things. Krishnamurti: No, don't go on to something else. Is this a home to you in that sense?
Krishnamurti: Are you sure that you feel you are safe, protected, watched over, cared for, never blamed, being told affectionately not to do certain things?
Questioner: Do we ever feel safe, wherever we are?
Krishnamurti: Oh, don't theorize. I am asking you, Tungki, if you feel at home here, in the sense which we all agreed is more or less a home. Do you feel that?
Questioner: Yes, more or less.
Krishnamurti: When I said more or less, it was in the sense that I can add more to it - whether there are good books, good food, whether it is in good taste, where nobody scolds you. Do you understand what I mean?
Questioner: I think it is such an "ideal" place that nobody dares say that we do scold.
Krishnamurti: Ideals are sentimentality.
Questioner: Yes, but we do scold.
Krishnamurti: Scold affectionately, that's understood. Now is this a home to you? Don't be casual.
Questioner: One does feel cared for here.
Krishnamurti: So please tell me if you feel at home - I'm not saying you do or don't, it's up to you to tell me. If you don't want to tell me, that's all right too. If you feel at home here, are you also responsible?
Questioner: If I'm not, I won't feel at home.
Krishnamurti: That's why I am asking. I carry a piece of furniture from this room to the next and I bang it and I don't care. If it's my home I am going to take care - you follow?
So that is what I mean by responsive, responsible. When you feel at home you look after things, you look after yourself, you don't want to hurt your mother, make too much work for her. It's a kind of mutual, affectionate, creative movement. Don't you know all these things? The moment you feel at home, what takes place?
Krishnamurti: Affection, isn't it? Then you can say to me: for goodness sake don't break up that furniture; and because I feel at home I won't get hurt. I wonder if you understand what I am talking about? So where you are at home the seed begins to germinate, you don't have to cultivate it, it begins to flower. Is that what is happening with all of you? If you don't feel at home here find out whose fault it is, whether it is yours or somebody else's; correct it, don't sit back and say, "Well, I don't feel at home" - do something about it. When you grow up you will leave this place and you will have to face the world. And if you haven't this seed in you here, the world is going to destroy you. They will trample on you, they are wolves, murderers - don't mistake it. This feeling that you are completely relaxed, completely at home - in the sense I am using that word - that brings about the responsibility which is affectionate. Do you understand this? Please do. And when you have that seed and it is flowering here, then you will keep it going all your life. But if it doesn't operate, then the world will destroy you; the world makes you what it wants you to be: a cunning animal.
So let's find out if you are at home here and if you aren't, why not? Affection is non-dependency, I don't know if you realize this. Some of you are going to get married; you will say to your wife, "I love you, darling." Then you go off to the office or to some other kind of work, and there you are full of anxiety, wanting to further yourself, full of ambition, greedy. Back home you say, "Darling, I love you." You see the absurdity of it? That's what is going on in the world. In that there is attachment, jealousy, fear, anxiety: she mustn't look at anybody else except me.
If parents really cared for their children there would be no wars. They would say, "Live, don't kill, live." There would be no army - see what would happen. So what is generally called home is not a home at all. Therefore this must be your home; you spend eight or nine months of the year here and it's your responsibility - we know what that means - to make it your home, to tell me, or Mrs. Simmons or whoever, "This is not my home because you're not doing certain things" - you follow? Then you share in this. Are you just listening, or are you taking part? Apply yourself, create, don't let everybody else do all the work and say, "Yes, I am very comfortable here, this is my home." Then it's not your home, because you haven't built it.
You see, from an early age I have been living in other people's houses and I have never had a place of which I could say, "This is my home." But there is the feeling that you are at home wherever you are because you are responsible, you are affectionate. Home is not a creation of sentimentality, it is a creation of fact - the fact that I feel at home. That is, I am free I am responsible, I am affectionate. Total responsibility is the feeling of being at home.
Beginnings of Learning
Beginnings of Learning Part I Chapter 1 School Dialogue Brockwood Park 22nd May 1973
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