Krishnamurti on Education
Talks to Students
Krishnamurti on Education Talk to Students Chapter 6 'On Fear'
I am sure you have often heard from politicians, from educators, from your parents and from the public that you are the coming generation. But when they talk about you as a new generation, they really do not mean it because they make sure that you conform to the older pattern of society. They really do not want you to be a new, different kind of human being. They want you to be mechanical, to fit in with tradition, to conform, to believe, to accept authority. In spite of this, if you can actually free yourself from fear, not theoretically, not ideally, not merely outwardly but actually, inwardly, deeply, then you can be a different human being. Then you can become the coming generation. The older people are ridden with fear - fear of death, fear of losing jobs, fear of public opinion. They are completely held in the grip of fear. So their gods, their scriptures, their puja, are all within the field of fear and therefore the mind is curiously warped, perverted. Such a mind cannot think straight, cannot reason logically, sanely, healthily, because it is rooted in fear. Watch the older generation and you will see how fearful it is of everything - of death, of disease, of going against the current of tradition, of being different, of being new.
Fear is what prevents the flowering of the mind, the flowering of goodness. Most of us learn through fear. Fear is the essence of authority and obedience; parents and governments demand obedience. There is the authority of the book; the authority according to Sankara, Buddha; the authority according to Einstein. Most people are followers; they make the originator into an authority and through propaganda, through influence, through literature, they imprint on the delicate brain the necessity of obedience. What happens to you when you obey? You cease to think. Because you feel that the authorities know so much, are such powerful people, have so much money, can turn you out of the house, because they use the words "duty, love," you succumb, you yield, you begin obey, and become a slave to an idea, to an impression, to influence. When the brain is conforming to a pattern of obedience, it is no longer capable of freshness, no longer capable of thinking simply and directly.
Now, is it possible to learn without authority? Do you know what learning is? Acquiring knowledge is one thing but learning is an altogether different thing. A machine can acquire information like a robot or like an electronic computer. A machine acquires knowledge because it is being fed certain information. it gathers more and more information which then becomes knowledge. It has the capacity to acquire information, store it and respond when it is asked a question. On the other hand when the human mind can learn, then it is capable of more than just acquiring and storing up. But there can be learning only when the mind is fresh, when it does not say "I know." So, one must differentiate, separate learning from acquiring knowledge. Acquiring knowledge makes you mechanical but learning makes the mind very fresh, young, subtle. And you cannot learn if you are merely following the authority of knowledge. Most educators, right through the world, are merely acquiring and imparting knowledge and so are making the mind mechanical and incapable of learning. You can only learn when you do not know. Learning only comes into being when there is no fear and when there is no authority.
The question is, how do you teach mathematics, or any other subject without authority, and therefore, without fear? Fear is essentially involved in competition. Whether it is competition in a class or competition in life. To be afraid of being nobody, of not arriving, of not succeeding, is at the root of competition. But when there is fear, you cease to learn. And so it seems to me that it is the function of education to eliminate fear, to see that you do not become mechanical and at the same time to give you knowledge. To learn without becoming mechanical, which means to learn without fear, is a complex issue. It involves the elimination of all competition. In this process of competition, you conform, and gradually you destroy the subtlety, the freshness, the youth of the brain. But you cannot deny knowledge. So, is it possible to have know- ledge and yet learn to be free from fear? Do you see this?
When do you learn most? Have you ever watched yourself learning? Try to watch yourself sometimes and observe yourself learning. You learn most when you have no fear, when you are not threatened by authority, when you are not competing with your neighbour. Then your mind becomes extraordinarily alive. So the issue for the teacher and the issue for you, as a student, is to learn without authority, to acquire knowledge without perverting or dulling the brain and to eliminate fear. Do you see the problem? To learn there must be no conformity, no authority and yet you must acquire knowledge. To combine all this without distorting the brain, is the problem. So that when you grow older, when you pass your examinations and marry, you meet life with a freshness, without fear. Then you are learning about life all the time; not merely interpreting life according to your pattern.
Do you know what life is? You are too young to know. I will tell you. Have you seen those villagers in tattered clothes, dirty, perpetually starved, working every day of their lives? That is part of life. Then you see a man riding in a car, his wife covered with jewels, with perfume, having many servants. That is also part of life. Then there is the man who voluntarily gives up riches, lives a very simple life, who is anonymous, does not want to be known, does not proclaim that he is a saint. That is also part of life. Then there is the man who wants to become a hermit, sannyasi, and there is also the man who becomes a devotee, who does not want to think, who just blindly follows. That is also part of life. Then there is the man who carefully, logically, sanely thinks, and finding that such thoughts are limited goes beyond thought. That is also part of life. And death is also a part of life, the loss of everything. Belief in the gods and goddesses, in saviours, in paradise, in hell, is a part of life. It is a part of life to love, to hate, to feel jealous, to feel greedy, and it is also part of life to go beyond all these trivial things. it is no good growing up and accepting one part of life, the mechanical part concerned with acquiring knowledge, which is to accept the pattern of values created by the past generation. Your parents happen to have money, they send you to school and then to college, they see that you have a job. Then you get married and that is the end of it. All this is only a small segment of life. But there is this vast field of life, an incredibly vast field, to understand which there must be no fear, and that is very difficult.
One of the more vital issues in life is the fact that one withers away, disintegrates. Fear and deterioration are related. As you grow older, unless you solve the problem of fear as it arises, immediately, without carrying it over to tomorrow, the deteriorating factor sets in. It is like a disease, like a wound which festers, destroys. Fear of not getting a better job, of not fulfilling yourself, eat into your capacity, your sensitivity, your intellectual, moral fibre. So the solving of the problem of fear and the factor of deterioration are related. Try and find out what you are afraid of and see if you cannot go beyond that fear, not verbally, not theoretically, but actually. Do not accept authority. Acceptance of authority is obedience which only breeds further fear.
To understand this extraordinarily complex thing called life, which is both in time and beyond time, you must have a very young, fresh, innocent mind. A mind that carries fear within itself, day after day, month after month, is a mechanical mind. And you see machines cannot solve human problems. You cannot have an innocent fresh young mind if you are ridden with fear, if from childhood until you die, you are trained in fear. That is why a good education, a true education eliminates fear.
Student: How can one be completely free from fear?
Krishnamurti: First of all, you must know what fear is. If you know your wife, husband, parent, society, you are no longer afraid of them. To know about something completely makes the mind free from fear.
How will you find out about fear? Are you afraid of public opinion, public opinion being what your friends think of you? Most of us, especially while we are young, want to look alike, dress alike, talk alike. We do not want to be even slightly different, because to be different implies not to conform, not to accept the pattern. When you begin to question the pattern there is fear. Now examine that fear, go into it. Do not say, "I am afraid", and run away from it. Look at it, face it, find out why you are afraid.
Suppose I am afraid of my neighbour, my wife, my god, my country - now what is that fear? Is it actual or is it merely in thought, in time? I will take a simpler example. We are all going to die some time or other. Death is inevitable for all of us and thinking about death creates fear, thinking about something which I do not know creates fear. But if it were actual, if death were there immediately and I were going to die now, there is no fear. You understand? Thought in time creates fear. But if something has to be done immediately there is no fear, because thinking is not possible. If I am going to die the next instant, then I face it, but give me an hour, and I begin say, "My property, my children, my country, I have not finished my book." I get nervous, frightened.
So fear is always in time, because time is thought. To eliminate fear you have to consider thought as time and then enquire into this whole process of thinking. It is a little bit difficult.
I am afraid of my parents, my society, of what they will say tomorrow or ten days later. My thinking about what might happen projects fear. So can I say, "I am going to look at that fear now, not ten days later"? Can I invite what they are going to say in the present and look at it and if they happen to be right, can I accept it? Why should I be frightened? And if they are wrong, I also accept that. Why should they not be wrong? Why should I be frightened? And I will listen to the teacher to learn, but I am not going to be frightened. So, when I face fear it goes away. But to face fear, I have to enquire, which is quite a complex process because it involves the problem of time.
You know, there are two kinds of time: time by the watch, the next minute, tonight, the day after tomorrow; and there is another kind of time which is created by the psyche inside one, by thought - "I shall be a great man", "I shall have a job", "I shall go to Europe" - that is the psychological future, in time and space. Now to understand chronological time by the watch and to understand time as thought and to go beyond both, is really to be free of fear. Student: You said if you know something, you stop feeling afraid of it. But how do you know what death is?
Krishnamurti: That is a good question. You are asking, "How do you know what death is and how can you cease to be frightened of it?" I am going to show you. You know there are two kinds of death - bodily death and death of thought. The body is going to die inevitably - like a pencil writing, it eventually wears out. Doctors may invent new kinds of medicine; you may last one hundred and twenty years instead of eighty years. But still there will be death. The physical organism comes to an end. We are not afraid of that. What we are afraid of is the coming to an end of thought, of the "me" that has lived so many years, the "me" that has acquired so much money, that has a family, children, that wants to become important, that wants to have more property, money. That "me', dying is what I am afraid of. Do you see the difference between the two? The physical dying and the "me" dying?
The "me" dying is psychologically much more important than the body's dying and that is what we are frightened of. Now take one pleasure, and die to it. I will explain this to you. You see I do not want to go into the whole problem; I am merely indicating something. You see the "me" is the collection of many pleasures and many pains. Can that "me", die to one thing? Then it will know what death means. That is, can I die to a wish? Can I say "I do not want that wish, I do not want that pleasure"? Can I end it, die to it? Do you know anything about meditation?
Student: No, Sir.
Krishnamurti: But the older people do not know either They sit in a corner, close their eyes and concentrate, like school boys trying to concentrate on a book. That is not meditation. Meditation is something extraordinary, if you know how to do it. I am going to talk a little about it.
First of all, sit very quietly; do not force yourself to sit quietly, but sit or lie down quietly without force of any kind. Do you understand? Then watch your thinking. Watch what you are thinking about. You find you are thinking about your shoes, your saris, what you are going to say, the bird outside to which you listen; follow such thoughts and enquire why each thought arises. Do not try to change your thinking. See why certain thoughts arise in your mind so that you begin to understand the meaning of every thought and every feeling without any enforcement. And when a thought arises, do not condemn it, do not say it is right, it is wrong, it is good, it is bad. Just watch it, so that you begin to have a perception, a consciousness which is active in seeing every kind of thought, every kind of feeling. You will know every hidden secret thought, every hidden motive, every feeling, without distortion, without saying it is right, wrong, good or bad. When you look, when you go into thought very very deeply, your mind becomes extraordinarily subtle, alive. No part of the mind is asleep. The mind is completely awake.
That is merely the foundation. Then your mind is very quiet. Your whole being becomes very still. Then go through that stillness, deeper, further - that whole process is meditation. Meditation is not to sit in a corner repeating a lot of words; or to think of a picture and go into some wild, ecstatic imaginings. To understand the whole process of your thinking and feeling is to be free from all thought, to be free from all feeling so that your mind, your whole being becomes very quiet. And that is also part of life and with that quietness, you can look at the tree, you can look at people, you can look at the sky and the stars. That is the beauty of life.
Krishnamurti on Education
Talks to Students
Krishnamurti on Education Talk to Students Chapter 6 'On Fear'
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