Krishnamurti on Education
Talks to Students
Krishnamurti on Education Talk to Students Chapter 1 'On Education'
You know, you live in one of the most beautiful valleys I have seen. It has a special atmosphere. Have you noticed, especially in the evenings and early mornings, a quality of silence which permeates, which penetrates the valley? There are around here, I believe, the most ancient hills in the world and man has not spoilt them yet; and wherever you go, in cities or in other places, man is destroying nature, cutting down trees to build more houses, polluting the air with cars and industry. Man is destroying animals; there are vert few tigers left. Man is destroying everything because more and more people are born and they must have more space. Gradually, man is spreading destruction all over the world. And when one comes to a valley like this - where there are very few people, where nature is still not spoilt, where there is still silence, quietness, beauty - one is really astonished. Every time one comes here one feels the strangeness of this land, but probably you have become used to it. You do not look at the hills any more, you do not listen to the birds any more and to the wind among the leaves. So you have gradually become indifferent.
Education is not only learning from books, memorizing some facts, but also learning how to look, how to listen to what the books are saying, whether they are saying something true or false. All that is part of education. Education is not just to pass examinations, take a degree and a job, get married and settle down, but also to be able to listen to the birds, to see the sky, to see the extraordinary beauty of a tree, and the shape of the hills, and to feel with them, to be really, directly in touch with them. As you grow older, that sense of listening, seeing, unfortunately disappears because you have worries, you want more money, a better car, more children or less children. You become jealous, ambitious, greedy, envious; so you lose the sense of the beauty of the earth. You know what is happening in the world. You must be studying current events. There are wars, revolts, nation divided against nation. In this country too there is division, separation, more and more people being born, poverty, squalor and complete callousness. Man does not care what happens to another so long as he is perfectly safe. And you are being educated to fit into all this. Do you know the world is mad, that all this is madness - this fighting, quarrelling, bullying, tearing at each other? And you will grow up to fit into this. Is this right, is this what education is meant for, that you should willingly or unwillingly fit into this mad structure called society? And do you know what is happening to religions throughout the world? Here also man is disintegrating, nobody believes in anything any more. Man has no faith and religions are merely the result of a vast propaganda.
Since you are young, fresh, innocent, can you look at all the beauty of the earth, have the quality of affection? And can you retain that? For if you do not, as you grow up, you will conform, because that is the easiest way to live. As you grow up, a few of you will revolt, but that revolt too will not answer the problem. Some of you will try to run away from society, but that running away will have no meaning. You have to change society, but not by killing people. Society is you and I. You and I create the society in which we live. So you have to change. You cannot fit into this monstrous society. So what are you going to do?
And you, living in this extraordinary valley, are you going to be thrown into this world of strife, confusion, war, hatred? Are you going to conform, fit in, accept all the old values? You know what these values are - money, position, prestige, power. That is all man wants and society wants you to fit into that pattern of values. But if you now begin to think, to observe, to learn, not from books, but learn for yourself by watching, listening to everything that is happening around you, you will grow up to be a different human being - one who cares, who has affection, who loves people. Perhaps if you live that way, you might find a truly religious life.
So look at nature, at the tamarind tree, the mango trees in bloom, and listen to the birds early in the morning and late in the evening. See the clear sky, the stars, how marvellously the sun sets behind those hills. See all, the colours, the light on the leaves, the beauty of the land, the rich earth. Then having seen that and seen also what the world is, with all its brutality, violence, ugliness, what are you going to do?
Do you know what it means to attend, to pay attention? When you pay attention, you see things much more clearly. You hear the bird singing much more distinctly. You differentiate between various sounds. When you look at a tree with a great deal of attention, you see the whole beauty of the tree. You see the leaves, the branch, you see the wind playing with it. When you pay attention, you see extraordinarily clearly. Have you ever done it? Attention is something different from concentration. When you concentrate, you don't see everything. But when you are paying attention, you see a great deal. Now, pay attention. Look at that tree and see the shadows, the slight breeze among the leaves. See the shape of the tree. See the proportion of the tree in relation to other trees. See the quality of light that penetrates through the leaves, the light on the branches and the trunk. See the totality of the tree. Look at it that way, because I am going to talk about something to which you have to pay attention. Attention is very important, in the class, as well as when you are outside, when you are eating, when you are walking. Attention is an extraordinary thing.
I am going to ask you something. Why are you being educated? Do you understand my question? Your parents send you to school. You attend classes, you learn mathematics, you learn geography, you learn history. Why? Have you ever asked why you want to be educated, what is the point of being educated? What is the point of your passing examinations and getting degrees? Is it to get married, get a job and settle down in life as millions and millions of people do? Is that what you are going to do, is that the meaning of education? Do you understand what I am talking about? This is really a very serious question. The whole world is questioning the basis of education. We see what education has been used for. Human beings throughout the world - whether in Russia or in China or in America or in Europe or in this country - are being educated to conform, to fit into society and into their culture, to fit into the stream of social and economic activity, to be sucked into that vast stream that has been flowing for thousands of years. Is that education, or is education something entirely different? Can education see to it that the human mind is not drawn into that vast stream and so destroyed; see that the mind is never sucked into that stream; so that, with such a mind, you can be an entirely different human being with a different quality to life? Are you going to be educated that way? Or are you going to allow your parents, society, to dictate to you so that you become pad of the stream of society? Real education means that a human mind, your mind, not only is capable of being excellent in mathematics, geography and history, but also can never, under any circumstances, be drawn into the stream of society. Because that stream which we call living, is very corrupt, is immoral, is violent, is greedy. That stream is our culture. So, the question is how to bring about the right kind of education so that the mind can withstand all temptations, all influences, the bestiality of this civilization and this culture. We have come to a point in history where we have to create a new culture, a totally different kind of existence, not based on consumerism and industrialization, but a culture based upon a real quality of religion. Now how does one bring about, through education, a mind that is entirely different, a mind that is not greedy, not envious? How does one create a mind that is not ambitious, that is extraordinarily active, efficient; that has a real perception of what is true in daily life which is after all religion.
Now, let us find out what is the real meaning and intention of education. Can your mind, which has been conditioned by society, the culture in which you have lived, be transformed through education so that you will never under any circumstances enter the stream of society? Is it possible to educate you differently? `Educate' in the real sense of that word; not to transmit from the teachers to the students some information about mathematics or history or geography, but in the very instruction of these subjects to bring about a change in your mind. Which means that you have to be extraordinarily critical. You have to learn never to accept anything which you yourself do not see clearly, never to repeat what another has said.
I think you should put these questions to yourself, not occasionally, but every day. Find out. Listen to everything, to the birds, to that cow calling. Learn about everything in yourself, because if you learn from yourself about yourself, then you will not be a secondhand human being. So you should, if I may suggest, from now on, find out how to live entirely differently and that is going to be difficult, for I am afraid most of us like to find an easy way of living. We like to repeat and what other people say, what other people do, because it is the easiest way to live - to conform to the old pattern or to a new pattern. We have to find out what it means never to conform and what it means to live without fear. This is your life, and nobody is going to teach you, no book, no guru. You have to earn from yourself, not from books. There is a great deal to learn about yourself. It is an endless thing, it is a fascinating thing, and when you learn about yourself from ourself, out of that learning wisdom comes. Then you can live a most extraordinary, happy, beautiful life. Right? Now, will you ask me questions?
Student: The world is full of callous people, indifferent people, cruel people, and how can you change those people?
Krishnamurti: The world is full of callous people, indifferent people, cruel people, and how can you change those people? Is that it? Why do you bother about changing others? Change yourself. Otherwise as you grow up you will also become callous. You will also become indifferent. You will also become cruel. The past generation is vanishing, it is going, and you are coming, and if you also prove callous, indifferent, cruel, you will also build the same society. What matters is that you change, that you are not callous, that you are not indifferent. When you say all this is the business of the older generation, have you seen them, have you watched them, have you felt for them? If you have, you will do something. Change yourself and test it by action. Such action is one of the most extraordinary things. But we want to change everybody except ourselves, which means, really, we do not want to change, we want others to change, and so we remain callous, indiffer- ent, cruel, hoping the environment will change so that we can continue in our own way. You understand what I am talking about?
Student: You ask us to change, what do we change into?
Krishnamurti: You ask us to change, what is it we change into? You cannot change into a monkey, probably you would like to, but you cannot. Now when you say, "I want to change into something" - listen to this carefully - if you say to yourself, "I must change, I must change myself into something", the "into something" is a pattern which you have created, haven't you? Do you see that? Look, you are violent or greedy and you want to change yourself into a person who is not greedy. Not wanting to be greedy is another form of greed, isn't it? Do you see that? But if you say, "I am greedy, I will find out what it means, why I am greedy, what is involved in it", then, when you understand greed, you will be free of greed. Do you understand what I am talking about?
Let me explain. I am greedy and I struggle, fight, make tremendous efforts not to be greedy. I have already an idea, a picture, an image of what it means not to be greedy. So I am conforming to an idea which I think is non-greed. You understand? Whereas if I look at my greed, if I understand why I am greedy, the nature of my greed, the structure of greed, then, when I begin to understand all that, I am free of greed. Therefore, freedom from greed is something entirely different from trying to become non-greedy. Do you see the difference? Freedom from greed is something which is entirely different from saying, "I must be a great man so I must be non-greedy?" Have you understood? I was thinking last night, that I have been to this valley, off and on, for about forty years. People have come and gone. Trees have died and new trees have grown. Different children have come, passed through his school, have become engineers, housewives and disappeared altogether into the masses. I meet them occasionally, at an airport or at a meeting, very ordinary people. And if you are not very careful, you are also going to end up that way.
Student: What do you mean by ordinary?
Krishnamurti: To be like the rest of men; with their worries, with their corruption, violence, brutality, indifference, callousness. To want a job, to want to hold on to a job, whether you are efficient or not, to die in the job. That is what is called ordinary - to have nothing new, nothing fresh, no joy in life, never to be curious, intense, passionate, never to find out, but merely to conform. That is what I mean by ordinary. It is called being bourgeois. It is a mechanical way of living, a routine, a boredom.
Student: How can we get rid of being ordinary?
Krishnamurti: How can you get rid of being ordinary? Do not be ordinary. You cannot get rid of it. Just do not be it.
Student: How, Sir?
Krishnamurti: There is no "how". You see that is one of the most destructive questions: "Tell me how"? Man has always been saying, throughout the world, "Tell me how". If you see a snake, a poisonous cobra, you do not say, "Please tell me how to run away from it". You run away from it. So in the same way, if you see that you are ordinary, run, leave it, not tomorrow, but instantly. Since you will not ask any more questions. I am going to propose something. You know people talk a great deal about meditation, don't they?
Student: They do.
Krishnamurti: You know nothing about it. I am glad. Because you know nothing about it, you can learn about it. It is like not knowing French or Latin or Italian. Because you do not know, you can learn, you can learn as though for the first time. Those people who already know what meditation is, they have to unlearn and then learn. You see the difference? Since you do not know what meditation is, let us learn about it. To learn about meditation, you have to see how your mind is working. You have to watch, as you watch a lizard going by, walking across the wall. You see all its four feet, how it sticks to the wall, and as you watch, you see all the movements. In the same way, watch your thinking. Do not correct it. Do not suppress it. Do not say, "All this is too difficult". Just watch; now, this morning.
First of all sit absolutely still. Sit comfortably, cross your legs, sit absolutely still, close your eyes, and see if you can keep your eyes from moving. You understand? Your eye balls are apt to move, keep them completely quiet, for fun. Then, as you sit very quietly, find out what your thought is doing. Watch it as you watched the lizard. Watch thought, the way it runs, one thought after another. So you begin to learn, to observe.
Are you watching your thoughts - how one thought pursues another thought, thought saying, "This is a good thought, this is a bad thought"? When you go to bed at night, and when you walk, watch your thought. Just watch thought, do not correct it, and then you will learn the beginning of meditation. Now sit very quietly. Shut your eyes and see that the eyeballs do not move at all. Then watch your thoughts so that you learn. Once you begin to learn there is no end to learning.
Krishnamurti on Education
Talks to Students
Krishnamurti on Education Talk to Students Chapter 1 'On Education'
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