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Krishnamurti on Education

Talks to Teachers

Krishnamurti on Education Talk to Teachers Chapter 2 'On the Long Vision'

I think most of us know what is happening in the world - the threat of war, the nuclear bomb, the many tensions and conflicts that have brought about new crises. It seems to me that a totally different kind of mind is necessary to meet these challenges. A mind that is not specialized, not trained only in technology, that is not merely seeking prosperity, but that can meet challenges adequately, completely. And it seems to me that that is the function of education, that is the function of a school.

Everywhere - in Europe, Russia, America, Japan and here - they are turning out technicians, scientists, educators. These specialists are incapable of meeting the enormously complex challenge of life. They are utterly incapable and yet they are the people who rule the world as the politician, as the scientist. They are specialists in their fields and their guidance, their leadership has obviously failed and is failing. They are merely responding to the immediate. You see, we are thinking in terms of the immediate, the immediacy of events. We are concerned with the immediate responses of a country that is very poor, like India, or the immediate responses of the enormous prosperity of the West. Everyone is thinking in terms of doing something immediately. I think one has to take a long view of the whole problem and I do not think a specialist can do this because specialists always think in terms of action which is immediate. Though immediate action is necessary, I think the function of education is to bring about a mind that will not only act in the immediate but go beyond.

Throughout the world the authoritarian governments, the priests, the professors, the analysts, the psychologists, everybody is concerned with controlling or shaping or directing the mind and, therefore, there is very little freedom. The real issue is to find out how to live in a world that is so compulsively authoritarian, so brutal and tyrannical, not only in the immediate relationships but in social relationships, how to live in such a world with the extraordinary capacity to meet its demands and also to be free. I feel education of the right kind should cultivate the mind not to fall into grooves of habit, however worthy or noble, however technologically necessary, but to have a mind that is extraordinarily alive, not with knowledge, not with experience, but alive. Because often the more knowledge one has, the less alert the brain is.

I am not against knowledge. There is a difference between learning and acquiring knowledge. Learning ceases when there is only accumulation of knowledge. There is learning only when there is no acquisition at all. When knowledge becomes all important learning ceases. The more I add to knowledge the more secure, the more assured the mind becomes, and, therefore it ceases to learn. Learning is never an additive process. When one is learning, it is an active process. Whereas acquiring knowledge is merely gathering information and storing it up. So I think there is a difference between acquiring knowledge and learning. Education throughout the world is merely the acquisition of knowledge and therefore the mind becomes dull and ceases to learn. The mind is merely acquiring. The acquisition dictates the conduct I of life and, therefore, limits experience. Whereas learning is limitless.

Can one, in a school, not only acquire knowledge, which is necessary for living in this world, but also have a mind that is constantly learning? The two are not in contradiction. In a school, when knowledge becomes all important, learning becomes a contradiction. Education should be concerned with the totality of life and not with the immediate responses to the immediate challenges.

Let us see what is involved in the two. If one is living in terms of the immediate, responding to the immediate challenge, the immediate is constantly repeated in different ways. In one year it will be war, the next year it may be revolution, in the third year industrial unrest; if one is living in terms of the immediate, life becomes very superficial. But you may say that that is enough because that is all we need to care about. That is one way of taking life. If you live that way it is an empty life. You can fill it with cars, books, sex, drink, more clothes, but it is shallow and empty. A man living an empty life, a shallow life, is always trying to escape; and escape means delusion, more gods, more beliefs, more dogmas, more authoritarian attitudes, or more football, more sex, more television. The immediate responses of those who live in the immediate are extraordinarily empty, futile, miserable. This is not my feeling or prejudice; you can watch it. You may say that is enough, or you may say that that is not good enough. So there must be the long vision, though I must of course act in the immediate, do something about it when the house is burning, but that is not the end of action. There must be something else, and how can one pursue that something else without bringing in authority, books, priests? Can one wipe them all out and pursue the other? If one pursues the other, this immediacy will be answered in a greater and more vital way. So, what do you, as a human being and also as an educator, a teacher, what do you feel about it?

I do not want you to agree with me. But if you have exercised your brain, if you have observed world events, if you have watched your own inclinations, your own demands, persuasions, if you have seen the whole state of man and his quivering despair, how do you respond? What is your action, your way of looking at it all? Forget that you are in a school. We talking as human beings.

Teacher: In meeting an immediate challenge, especially as one grows older, one seems to bring in a sense of anxiety. Is there as one grows older, another approach?

Krishnamurti: What do you mean by "getting older?" Older in terms of doing a job? Older in terms of routine, boredom? What do you mean by age? What makes you old? The organism wears out - why? Is it due to disease, or is it because there is repetition like a machine going on over and over again? The psyche is never alive; it is merely functioning in habit. So it reduces the body quickly to old age. Why does the psyche become old, or need it ever get old? I do not think it need ever get old. And is old age only a habit? Have you noticed old people, how they eat, how they talk? And is it possible to keep the psyche extraordinarily young, alive, innocent? Is it possible for the psyche to be alive and never for a second lose its vitality through habit, through security, through family, through responsibility? Of course it is possible, which means that you must destroy everything you build. That is what I mean by the long vision. You have an experience, pleasant or unpleasant, that leaves a mark, and the mind lives in that: "I have had such a marvellous experience" or "I have had such a sad life," and there is a decaying in itself. So, experience, and the living in experience, is decay.

Let us come back to my question. As a human being, living in this society, in a world which is demanding immediate action, what is your response to the immediate challenge? The immediate challenge is always asking you to respond immediately, and you are caught in that. How do you, as a parent, as a teacher, as a citizen, respond to it? For, according to your response, you are caught in it. Whether you respond consciously or unconsciously, the effect of that will be on the psyche.

Teacher: Is there a way by which this long vision becomes an actuality, as actual as the immediate? Krishnamurti: Of course. Because the immediate is the actual. There is the nuclear bomb - the Russian, the American, the French scientists are inventing ways of producing cheap atom bombs - they may blow themselves to bits. Why should you respond to it? The nuclear bomb is the result of a long series of events - nationalism, industrialism, class differences, greed, envy, hate, ambition - all these have produced the nuclear bomb. You reply without understanding it - that America or Russia should be stopped from producing nuclear bombs, and you call that an actual response. Without answering the total, what is the good of replying to the fragments of the problem? So, if this is the actual and you see that the actual produces such immature responses, then you must pursue the other. Knowing that you must respond to the immediate and also that you must have long vision, how do you bring this about as an educator? Nobody is concerned with the other; no educator is concerned with the long vision, the long view. Education today is concerned only with the immediate. But if you are dissatisfied with the immediate, then how would you pursue that and not neglect this? Do you see the urgency of it?

Shall I put the problem differently? How can one keep the mind young, never let it grow old and never say, "I have had enough," and seek a corner to stay in and stagnate? That is the tendency and that is the actual fact. To get a position is difficult, but once you have got it, you stagnate. Everything about the world is destroying the long vision. Books, newspapers, politicians, priests, everything influences you, and how does one walk out of it all? You are being contaminated and yet you have to function and you cannot walk out of it.

Life is destruction, life is love, life is creation. We know none of it. It is a tremendous thing. Now how would you translate all this into education?

Teacher: Is it possible to pursue one vision at the cost of another? Is it possible to do away with the short vision?

Krishnamurti: The problem is not to run away from all this misery or to see how to combine the two. You cannot combine the little with the big; the big has to take in the little.

Teacher: But is it not better to follow the little in the beginning and come to the big later?

Krishnamurti: Never. If you say the little is the first step, then you are lost, you are caught in the little. Think it out for yourself. If you accept the little, then where are you? You will be caught, won't you - little family, little house, little husband, little money, little clothes? You have made the little important, the little first and so you have little responsibility in society. You are all so terribly respectable. Why do you put the little first? Because that is the easiest way.

Teacher: How does one grasp the little and understand it?

Krishnamurti: You can only grasp the big, the little is not at all important, but you have made it important.

it is a very delicate thing, a subtle thing, to have capacity and not to be a slave to it, to respond immediately to things you have to respond to, and to have this extraordinary depth and height and width.

Deny the little. Do you know what it is to deny? Deny not because you have got the long vision but because what is denied is false.

Krishnamurti on Education

Talks to Teachers

Krishnamurti on Education Talk to Teachers Chapter 2 'On the Long Vision'

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