Beginnings of Learning
Beginnings of Learning Part I Chapter 15 School Dialogue Brockwood Park 25th May 1973
Krishnamurti: I don't know if you were considering what we were talking about the other day: how knowledge conditions the mind and whether it is possible to teach facts, give information and so on - all of which is knowledge - without conditioning the mind. One has given such tremendous importance to knowledge. To some Indian minds knowledge is a way to God. In the East, I think, knowledge represents a way of life in which the very studying of the sacred books - the Talmud, the various Sutras and the Koran - memorising and repeating the texts, brings you nearer to what they call God, or Allah, or Jehovah.
We are saying that conditioning takes place not only culturally, in the sense of religion, social morality and so on, but also through knowledge itself. Is it possible to teach students and ourselves to free the mind from knowledge and yet use knowledge without causing the mind to function mechanically? If I were a teacher here, I would be greatly concerned how to bring about this unconditioning in myself and in the student. We went into that: in the very act of teaching I learn about my own conditioning and see the conditioning of the child and learn how to uncondition the mind. Now, can we go into this question of whether knowledge conditions the mind, and if it does, how to prevent it; how not to shape the mind in the very act of teaching and giving information.
Questioner: Knowledge itself doesn't condition your mind. It's your attitude to knowledge which conditions it; just having the facts in your head doesn't condition your mind.
Krishnamurti: Why should I carry the facts in my mind? They are in the encyclopedia, in the books - why should I carry all this in my mind? Questioner: A great deal of the function of the mind is on a level where knowledge as a tool is necessary.
Krishnamurti: If I want to build a bridge I must have a certain knowledge and experience, I need technical information. I use that knowledge to build a bridge. I see the necessity of a certain knowledge being held in the mind, but how am I to prevent that knowledge being misused by the engineer who says, "I am going to use this for self-advancement?" Is that the problem?
Questioner: (1) Yes, it's the misuse.
Questioner: (2) Isn't it also that the mind can't keep still? One goes for a walk and one is thinking about building the bridge, not looking at the trees.
Krishnamurti: But if I have got to build a bridge I have to think a great deal about it.
Questioner: It would seem that the more knowledge and information I can comfortably carry in the mind the better off I am, because I don't have to look it up in a book. I can refer to it very easily.
Krishnamurti: So what is the function of knowledge? Here you are, teaching mathematics, geography, biology and so on; what is the function of it in life?
Questioner: It is a tool which the individual may use in his action.
Krishnamurti: Action in a particular direction.
Questioner: It's the background you draw from in your action, whether it's knowledge from experience or from a book.
Krishnamurti: I was talking yesterday to some parents in London. Their son is nineteen. When he was eighteen he was going to university and suddenly he dropped it all, took to drugs and gave whatever money he had to a particular guru, and he is meditating for an hour a day. The parents are concerned, they ask, "What is going to happen to him?"
What is going to happen to these boys and girls we have here after you have taught them, given them all the information about art, music, geometry, history and English, whatever it is? They have acquired all that marvellous technical knowledge and then what happens to them? Will it make them glorified clerks in a rotten society? What for? If a boy does not go to university and get a degree, he finds it very difficult to get a job unless he has got some particular quality. So what is it we are trying to do? We give them all that knowledge and then leave a vast field, the other part of life, completely disregarded. Do you know what I mean?
Questioner: (1) I don't know if it's disregarded completely. The students find out in the course of this what they enjoy doing, where they can put their energy. They are finding out gradually what they can spend their life doing.
Questioner: (2) They are also coming into contact with other values because we listen to your talks together and as far as we can, we bring those to bear on our relationship with the student.
Questioner: (3) But the student has to get a sense of purpose in life that goes beyond the intellectual accomplishments which will take care of his daily living. He has to see the whole picture of living: " What am I living for?"
Questioner: (4) Can a young person answer that question?
Questioner: (5) We can begin to enquire...
Questioner: (6) There is a great deal of uncertainty in young people and in other people`s minds too, about the area where knowledge is good and useful and where it is irrelevant, where it goes wrong. I think the confusion between these two is constantly coming up among young people, among people who listen to you and have read your books. In a way it is clear and yet there is confusion about where the frontier lies between the two.
Krishnamurti: Can I put the question differently? What is the function of a teacher?
Questioner: To indicate a way of living.
Krishnamurti: Apart from, "The teacher is the taught" - what is the function of a teacher? Questioner: Could it possibly be to inspire the student with the kind of energy which he can then continue on his own?
Krishnamurti: Do you inspire your students? I dislike that word `inspire'. I don't want to inspire somebody - who am I?
Questioner: You don't inspire them, you release them to their own energy. You remove the thing which is impeding them.
Krishnamurti: Is that the function of a teacher? - to make them study, to inspire them, encourage them, or stimulate them to study when they are not interested? You say that we have to help them to find their purpose in life.
Questioner: To find out what life is about in the sense of where I, as an individual, fit into the whole of life.
Krishnamurti: Look at what is happening in the world. Thousands of boys are leaving university, taking to drugs, having individual sex or group sex, they run away, join appalling communities, sects, shave their heads, dance in the streets, give all their money to some guru.
Questioner: It's happening because they haven't had the right education.
Krishnamurti: Are we giving them the right education?
Questioner: If we are, they won't do these things.
Krishnamurti: No, not that they won't do it. What are we trying to do as teachers? We give them vegetarian food, ask them to get up in time, to be clean, keep their hair tidy, try to tell them to adjust themselves. What is it we are basically attempting to do here?
Questioner: The primary thing is to be aware of our conditioning in our relationship with the child.
Questioner: As it is, we have to spend so much time in relationship with the children, pointing out all these things which they do daily, like running along the corridors. In that way you are almost bound to spoil your relationship with the child. You see, a child here hasn't got one mother, he's got twenty, thirty mothers - all take it in turn to point out to him what he is doing wrong. What I want to know is, what kind of education, what approach do we have to the child that would make him not want to run down the corridor any longer.
Krishnamurti: No. I would like to look at it this way - I may be wrong. You know what's happening in the world; politically all governments are corrupt, really corrupt, not superficially but deeply. And there are all these gurus going round the world, collecting money and followers, distorting the minds of young people; there are the drugs of various kinds, there is the army, there is business. Seeing what is going on, not abstractly but actually, what are we trying to do with these children? Make them fit into that?
Questioner: Partly to make them see all that as well; it's partly reflected in our own environment.
Krishnamurti: No. Do let's be a little more concrete, a little more direct about it. What are we trying to do?
Questioner: (1) I want to encourage them to look at life with a greater seriousness. They seem very casual and relaxed, particularly the young ones.
Questioner: (2) When education was most significant to me it was in moments when my mental horizon was suddenly expanded through the influence of a teacher or through some cultural impact. There was an expansion of a sense of values which put things into perspective.
Questioner: (3) The keynote is the sense of values in a world where anything goes.
Questioner: (4) Aren't we trying to find out how to live differently? Ways have started which are so ugly, the ways of doing whatever you want, which is so shallow and pointless. Maybe there is another way for the child in which there is infinite depth.
Questioner: (5) The personality of the person who brings something to the child has to be acceptable to him. The child feels we are rather ordinary - I don`t see why he should listen to us. I feel we have to bring into being a new quality in ourselves, primarily. Questioner: (6) Do we, Doris? Primarily for ourselves?
Questioner: (7) Yes. I think so.
Krishnamurti: Surely not.
Questioner: (1) Not in a self-centred sense, but primarily to find out, certainly for ourselves, a better way of actually living together.
Questioner: (2) Well, if we find that out for ourselves, aren't we finding it out as a whole, not just for our own selves?
Questioner: (3) Nothing is for our own, of course; we are not subtly trying to glorify our individual selves, on the contrary. But I feel that the quality of the being of each one here needs to be immensely more vital.
Krishnamurti: `It should be' - now we are lost!
Questioner: But what are we to do?
Krishnamurti: I want to tackle it. Here I am, a teacher - what am I trying to do?
Questioner: So many of the students are already aware of the happenings in the world outside, I think that's why some of the older ones are questioning the corruption of the government.
Krishnamurti: Yes, then what? When they are faced with all this, when they go out into the world, will they be absorbed by it? Or just say, "Sorry, I won't have anything to do with that", and move away from it?
Questioner: They have to find out for themselves.
Krishnamurti: How will they find out, what will give them the light, the insight to say, "I won't"?
Questioner: (1) That is what we are attempting to do here, and that is what they are also challenging.
Questioner: (2) That is why some of them came here.
Krishnamurti: Now let's be clear - is that what we are trying to do? Helping them to see `what is', the corruption and alI the rest of it, and not to enter into that trap at all?
Questioner: That is only one part of it. Krishnamurti: What is the other part? Giving them knowledge? Helping them to have courage to battle? I asked the principal of one of the schools in India. I said, "You have been doing this for nearly forty years, you have spent your life in this, has it been worthwhile?" He answered, "Yes." So I asked, "In all those forty years has there been a boy or girl who was outstanding, who did not enter into this terrible morass of iniquity?" He answered, "I don't know, very few were." So I said, "You mean in all those forty years you spent here only one or two have kept out of it?"
Questioner: Where does the trouble lie? - with the teacher or the taught?
Krishnamurti: Both. You haven't got the material. If you want to make a good suit you must have good material.
Questioner: (1) I'd say the material is pretty warped already.
Questioner: (2) It's no good at all if you don't take any material you can find anywhere; the whole thing goes by the board if you are only having the best. But pick the first child you can from the slums of London. If it can be done at all, it can be done with that child.
Questioner: (3) I wouldn't use that phrase - good material or bad material - I would just say they are all human beings.
Questioner: (4) Then it has the implication that society is human beings all of whose intention is to do the right thing, to act intuitively, to be sensitive, aware, to be conscious of their actions. If that is so, then it seems to me that it defeats the purpose of having such a school, if we just take the mass of humanity and say everyone`s intention is to be awake and to be sensitive, that influence plays such a small part. I think there is certainly a difference. I think it is a question of who comes here, who is here - whether it be staff or student - and what is their intention in being here.
Questioner: (5) There are some who have shown a predisposition to live in a different way, they have shown interest. There is an intelligence already.
Krishnamurti: Now what part does knowledge play in that? Questioner: A flower, a dog, has no knowledge and therefore it lives the sort of life it does. You need knowledge; how you use that knowledge gives the measure of you.
Krishnamurti: So you are saying, how a human being uses knowledge is the really important thing.
Questioner: No, that can't be it.
Krishnamurti: Why not?
Questioner: (1) Knowledge doesn't play a part in actual being.
Questioner: (2) Living properly does not depend at all on any sort of knowledge.
Questioner: (3) But living itself depends on knowledge.
Questioner: (4) What kind of knowledge are we talking about?
Krishnamurti: Let's talk about what kind of knowledge we mean.
Questioner: Knowledge which is academic knowledge, which is scientific knowledge; it is part of what we are. At this moment we are using it for insight, if you like.
Krishnamurti: Let's call it academic knowledge; that's one thing. Knowledge of how to live using that knowledge is another thing. Or is knowledge the whole thing? And where does freedom, where does spontaneity come in this? There is academic knowledge; if I learn about myself and use that knowledge about myself there is no freedom in that. I don't know if I am conveying this?
Questioner: Are you saying that one needs academic knowledge to learn about oneself?
Krishnamurti: No. Must I go to a university to learn about myself?
Questioner: But going to university doesn't prevent you knowing about yourself. Krishnamurti: So there is self-knowing and academic knowledge, which is always the past, adding to it, taking away from it, moulding it - all that. If I say "I know myself," it is the knowledge which I have acquired in observing myself. That doesn't give me freedom - I am still caught in knowledge of myself.
Questioner: The idea I have about myself.
Krishnamurti: Yes, Sir.
Questioner: That is using the ways of scientific knowledge and applying it to self-knowledge; that is the problem.
Krishnamurti: No. Suppose somebody has never been to university, he can learn about himself in his relationship to everybody.
Questioner: But does he build on that, does he store that knowledge away?
Krishnamurti: The moment he stores it, then that becomes an impediment, therefore he is never free. I wonder if I am making myself clear?
Questioner: Are you saying that in learning about yourself there are two things. One is picking up little facts about yourself and storing them up and saying, "I do this and this." The other is a perception of that total process to a profound depth in which you suddenly see the whole thing and have then finished with it.
Krishnamurti: Which has nothing to do with the accumulation of knowledge about yourself.
Questioner: You mean you see to a degree that makes all the knowledge of the little pieces put together disappear, because you have seen them.
Krishnamurti: You see the whole of yourself...
Questioner:... and you therefore have freedom.
Krishnamurti: That's right. That is freedom. If I learn about myself and say, "I mustn't do this, I must do that" - you know all the petty little things that go on - that knowledge is going to completely cripple me: I daren't do anything freely, spontaneously. Now I think we begin to see what the different kinds of knowledge are. So what is it we are trying to bring about in the student? We don't only teach book knowledge, that is understood. Then what is the other? Are you trying to help the student to know himself little by little? - collect knowledge about himself through little actions? Or are we trying to help him to have an insight into the whole of it? I think this is important. How is he to have a total insight into himself so that everything falls into place? - all the little things - how to behave, how to have good relationships, everything falls into place. Now, how am I to convey this and help him to it?
Questioner: If one is indicating an action, a process in the present tense, it seems that one must be in that process oneself; one must be actively exploring it in oneself, otherwise it becomes just another fact that is added to all the others.
Krishnamurti: Just another series of ideas; I understand that. Listen: I am trying to teach mathematics and also I am telling the student to get up early, to go to bed at the right time, eat properly, wash, etc. And yet I want to help him to have an insight which will enable him to get up at the proper time and do all the other things easily. Now there are three things I'm involved in: academic learning, telling him what to do, and at the same time I say to him, "Look, if you get the insight everything falls into place." I have all the three streams harmoniously running together. Now how am I to convey this? How am I to help him?
Questioner: He has to see where they all fit.
Krishnamurti: No, no. Again you are fitting him into this. Then he will say, "All right, I'll fit into this."
Look at the problem first. Academic learning is one stream. The other is the details, such as, "Get up, don't do this, don't do that" - which you also have to do. And the third stream is to say, "Look, to be so supremely intelligent means you'll instinctively do the right thing in behaviour." Let all three streams run together harmoniously. Questioner: It's very difficult to...
Krishnamurti: No, don t say it's difficult, don't say anything, but first see the thing. If you say it is very difficult, it is finished.
Questioner: The third element is a concept.
Krishnamurti: No, it is not a concept, it is not an idea - concept means an idea, a conclusion. I see the three things: the insight or the intelligence, the detailed behaviour, and academic learning; and I feel they are not moving together, they are not forming one harmonious river. So I say to myself: what am I to do, how am I to teach these three things so that they make a whole? When you listen to this you conclude, you say, "Yes, I accept that as an idea." I say it is not an idea. Then it becomes difficult, then you say, "I don't know what to do." But if it is a reality, how am I to convey the reality of it to the student - not the idea. Personally I have never had a problem or a conflict about all this.
Now how am I as a teacher, living here in a rather intimate relationship with the students - intimate in the sense of daily contact - how am I to show this? I am asking you, how will you show this to the child? - but not as an idea. If it is an idea, then it means you must practise it, you must battle with it, all that nonsense begins.
Questioner: Well, if it's meaningful to me, then it is meaningful.
Krishnamurti: Is it meaningful to you?
Questioner: It is very, very meaningful.
Krishnamurti: In what way? When do you use the word `meaningful'?
Questioner: I feel these three elements are extremely important.
Krishnamurti: Sorry, I refuse to say it is important.
Questioner: It is. Krishnamurti: Now how do you convey it to the child?
Questioner: Surely the beauty of insight conveys itself - the sheer beauty of it.
Krishnamurti: Sir, do you know what you are saying? I won't listen, I am looking at that bird and you say, "See the beauty of this." Let the seed be born in him. How are you going to plant that seed? You understand?
Questioner: Yes, I understand. But I also see that if you can only plant the seed, and if relationship is not a meeting of one balanced mind with another balanced mind, then nothing comes of it.
Krishnamurti: I agree. Now how do you propose this to happen? Take a boy, you help him, you give him everything he wants in the sense of good environment and good food, you tell him what to do, teach him academically and all the rest of it; then something happens and everything goes totally wrong for the rest of the boy's life. He takes to drink, women or drugs, cheats, does the most appalling things possible - he is finished. I have seen this happen. If you plant a seed in the ground it may die, but the seed itself is the truth of the tree, of the plant. Now, can this be done with us, with the children, with you and me?
Questioner: (1) It is something that can be done; by definition it can't be measured.
Questioner: (2) A child comes here perhaps from a very disturbed background for a very short time; we can only offer what we have. If we are fairly balanced, if we are very serious about it, if there is a right relationship, he takes that away when he goes out into the world.
Krishnamurti: You are saying, "If we are serious, if we are balanced" - but are we?
Questioner: I think that is one of the basic things we are questioning.
Krishnamurti: Am I, are you, are we basically serious and balanced? - serious enough to say, "Look", and convey it verbally and non-verbally?
Questioner: Sir, that is what I meant by beauty - the non-verbal conveying.
Krishnamurti: To convey non-verbally one must be astonishingly clear oneself, limpid, and have that real seriousness, all that we said just now. Am I, are you?
Questioner: Aren't we teaching and learning together? Aren't we giving attention to every detail that happens during the day? So all the time you take the instance that presents itself. Because you feel so strongly about this the force is there and so you are dealing with every moment of the day. And it`s not a correction, that is insight, if you like. And it's also linked with knowledge.
Krishnamurti: I understand that. But I am trying to find out how I am to convey this thing? - the three streams moving together.
Questioner: You deal with the fact. To take one example: someone asked, "Can I put the tent up?" And I said, "Don't put it near the road." She said, " Why not? I'm a free person" - in other words, "You needn't tell me." So I told the person why. You go into it so that she understands the situation, which is factual; it includes the academic side and the intonation of the voice comes in too.
Krishnamurti: I know.
Questioner: So it's not dealing with separate things all the time.
Krishnamurti: Will this be conveyed to the student?
Questioner: It does sometimes and it doesn't at other times. You have to work at it and go into it again.
Krishnamurti: So you are saying, one has to be at it all the time. Questioner: All the time. Not in the sense of: " You haven't done that." That's pigeonholing and petty and gives a wrong feeling, not insight. It`s as though you came into a room and said, "You don't do it that way."
Krishnamurti: I see that. I'm not questioning it, I think it's all right - I don't mean that in a patronizing way.
Questioner: The other side of it is, that if we only stay at that level and that becomes the element in which we are working in relating to the other, if that is so, then again it comes back to ourselves and our relationship - a balanced relationship between balanced people, if it is possible. If not, it is always a corrective measure and never a penetrating gesture, a penetrating relationship.
Krishnamurti: Yes, Sir.
Questioner: (1) Isn't that very action on a penetrating, deep level?
Questioner: (2) It depends whether it goes to that level and you can feel it. Perhaps I am talking too much about a specific example, because I know the situation and I know that child and I know my own relationship with that child on that level. Perhaps I am questioning whether or not it ever has penetrated the surface. I don't always feel that is true in relationship with a young child. Do we have the right to select and say: it seems that there is a possibility of insight in one child, or that in another child there isn't that possibility. Do we reject the child, or do we say: this is what this child needs and relate it to that?
Krishnamurti: Take each child separately.
Questioner: That's it.
Krishnamurti: Sir, all you have said is right. Is there a different approach to this? What I mean is very difficult to put into words. Can this seed be born without your doing anything about it? We are doing something about it: my relationship with the child, how I behave, what I do, how I am - sentimental or balanced - learning about myself and then helping the child - all that. We know that as probably the only way. I am asking if there is another way at all, in which this thing takes place without us doing something about it - yet it takes place.
Questioner: Surely it must, in any real relationship...
Krishnamurti: You are bringing in relationship...
Questioner: Is there a way for a person to have a deep understanding of the significance of his life? Is it possible to see...
Krishnamurti:... the whole thing instantly.
Questioner: Of course there must be.
Questioner: Surely a relationship in any situation is only a secondary thing - the insight is by definition itself. So if we are talking about education being basically self-understanding and awareness, then a community, an environment, a relationship can indicate something; but the individual must see, that must be the spring, it comes from inside, not from outside.
Krishnamurti: I understand all that. I am trying to find out something else. A student comes here, terribly conditioned, or the family is broken up - this and that. And as a teacher, I also come here conditioned. I am learning about myself, I am helping in our relationship, I am quiet and so on. I am unconditioning myself and him in our relationship. We know that, we have discussed it, we have seen it. Now I am asking myself: is there a way of doing something which will bring about the seed to be born naturally in the person?
Questioner: What you are trying to say is: is there a way when a person can't say it for you? - yet you show me the way. Do you mean that?
Krishnamurti: Not quite. Sir, can we produce a miracle? Questioner: That`s the question.
Krishnamurti: Wait - you understand, Sir?
Questioner: Do we want to produce a miracle? Or do we just...
Krishnamurti: I think both are involved - a miracle is also necessary. Do you understand what I mean by miracle? I don't mean something like Lourdes.
Questioner: Are you saying: if the seed is there, just like the seed in the ground, and the conditions are right, then it will flower?
Krishnamurti: I don't mean it that way. We know the child as well as the teacher comes here conditioned and has to learn to uncondition himself. This unconditioning means: the academic side, behaviour in detail as well as seeing the totality, all of that running together. This is what I am trying to convey to the student and in that I am learning how to live that way. That takes too long. So I say to myself, "A miracle must happen to change it instantly." May be both together are necessary - the miracle as well as the other. Can we produce both? I think we can. And that's why, as you said just now, if we are balanced, serious - which means not sentimental, not verbal, not ideational but factual - if we are dealing with it in that way, the miracle comes.
Questioner: That's half the miracle, isn't it?
Krishnamurti: Yes, Sir. I think that is what is necessary here - a miracle in that sense. That can only happen if we are really tremendously serious and not anything but factual. Can we convey to the student the factual? - never the ideal, never the `what should be' - the sentiment involved in what `should' be. I think then the miracle comes about. If you tell me I am a fool and I see it as a fact - the miracle then takes place. We are all brought up on `what should be,' on ideation, a sentimental way of living, and these boys and girls are also used to that; they face facts only for a little while and turn it into sentiment. Can we convey to them never to enter into that field at all? Questioner: It means that as a community we must put all this aside altogether, because otherwise our relationship is one of constant interpretation of another's behaviour, rather than actual awareness and deep understanding.
Krishnamurti: Yes, absolutely.
Beginnings of Learning
Beginnings of Learning Part I Chapter 15 School Dialogue Brockwood Park 25th May 1973
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