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Think on These Things

Part 1

This Matter of Culture Chapter 19

I WONDER HOW MANY of you noticed the rainbow last evening? It was just over the water, and one came upon it suddenly. It was a beautiful thing to behold, and it gave one a great sense of joy, an awareness of the vastness and beauty of the earth. To communicate such joy one must have a knowledge of words, the rhythm and beauty of right language, mustn't one? But what is far more important is the feeling itself, the ecstasy that comes with the deep appreciation of something lovely; and this feeling cannot be awakened through the mere cultivation of knowledge or memory.

You see, we must have knowledge to communicate, to tell each other about something; and to cultivate knowledge there must be memory. Without knowledge you cannot fly an airplane, you cannot build a bridge or a lovely house, you cannot construct great roads, look after trees, care for animals and do the many other things that a civilized man must do. To generate electricity, to work in the various sciences, to help man through medicine, and so on - for all this you must have knowledge, information, memory, and in these matters it is necessary to receive the best possible instruction. That is why it is very important that you should have technically first-class teachers to give you right information and help you to cultivate a thorough knowledge of various subjects.

But, you see, while knowledge is necessary at one level, at another level it becomes a hindrance. There is a great deal of knowledge available about physical existence, and it is being added to, all the time. It is essential to have such knowledge and to utilize it for the benefit of man. But is there not another kind of knowledge which, at the psychological level becomes a hindrance to the discovery of what is true? After all, knowledge is a form of tradition, is it not? And tradition is the cultivation of memory. Tradition in mechanical affairs is essential, but when tradition is used as a means of guiding man inwardly, it becomes a hindrance to the discovery of greater things.

We rely on knowledge, on memory in mechanical things and in our everyday living. Without knowledge we would not be able drive a car, we would be incapable of doing many things. But knowledge is a hindrance when it becomes a tradition, a belief which guides the mind, the psyche, the inward being; and it also divides people. Have you noticed how people all over the world are divided into groups, calling themselves Hindus, Moslems, Buddhists, Christians, and so on? What divides them? Not the investigations of science, not the knowledge of agriculture, of how to build bridges or fly jet planes. What divides people is tradition, beliefs which condition the mind in a certain way.

So knowledge is a hindrance when it has become a tradition which shapes or conditions the mind to a particular pattern, because then it not only divides people and creates enmity between them, but it also prevents the deep discovery of what is truth, what is life, what is God. To discover what is God, the mind must be free of all tradition, of all accumulation, of all knowledge which it uses as a psychological safeguard.

The function of education is to give the student abundant knowledge in the various fields of human endeavour and at the same time to free his mind from all tradition so that he is able to investigate, to find out, to discover. Otherwise the mind becomes mechanical, burdened with the machinery of knowledge. Unless it is constantly freeing itself from the accumulations of tradition, the mind is incapable of discovering the Supreme, that which is eternal; but it must obviously acquire expanding knowledge and information so that it is capable of dealing with the things that man needs and must produce.

So knowledge, which is the cultivation of memory, is useful and necessary at a certain level, but at another level it becomes a detriment. To recognize the distinction - to see where know- ledge is destructive and has to be put aside, and where it is essential and to be allowed to function with as much amplitude as possible - is the beginning of intelligence.

Now, what is happening in education at the present time? You are being given various kinds of knowledge, are you not? When you go to college you may become an engineer, a doctor, or a lawyer, you may take a Ph.D. in mathematics or in some other branch of knowledge, you may study domestic science and learn how to keep house, how to cook, and so on; but nobody helps you to be free of all traditions so that from the very beginning your mind is fresh, eager and therefore capable of discovering something totally new all the time. The philosophies, theories and beliefs which you acquire from books, and which become your tradition, are really a hindrance to the mind, because the mind uses these things as a means of its own psychological security and is therefore conditioned by them. So it is necessary both to free the mind from all tradition, and at the same time to cultivate knowledge, technique; and this is the function of education.

The difficulty is to free the mind from the known so that it can discover what is new all the time. A great mathematician once told of how he had been working on a problem for a number of days and could not find the solution. One morning, as he was taking a walk as usual, he suddenly saw the answer. What had happened? His mind, being quiet, was free to look at the problem, and the problem itself revealed the answer. One must have information about a problem, but the mind must be free of that information to find the answer.

Most of us learn facts, gather information or knowledge, but the mind never learns how to be quiet, how to be free from all the turmoils of life, from the soil in which problems take root. We join societies, adhere to some philosophy, give ourselves over to a belief, but all this is utterly useless because it does not solve our human problems. On the contrary, it brings greater misery, greater sorrow. What is needed is not philosophy or belief, but for the mind to be free to investigate, to discover and to be creative. You cram up to pass examinations, you gather a lot of information and write it all out to get a degree, hoping to find a job and get married; and is that all? You have acquired knowledge, technique, but your mind is not free, so you become a slave to the existing system - which really means that you are not a creative human being. You may have children, you may paint a few pictures or write an occasional poem, but surely that is not creativeness. There must first be freedom of the mind for creativeness to take place, and then technique can be used to express that creativeness. But to have the technique is meaningless without a creative mind, without the extraordinary creativeness which comes with the discovery of what is true. Unfortunately most of us do not know this creativeness because we have burdened our minds with knowledge, tradition, memory, with what Shankara, Buddha, Mao or some other person has said. Whereas, if your mind is free to discover what is true, then you will find that there comes an abundant and incorruptible richness in which there is great joy. Then all one's relationships - with people, with ideas and with things - have quite a different meaning.

Questioner: Will the naughty boy change through punishment or through love?

Krishnamurti: What do you think? Listen very carefully to the question; think it out, feel it out. Will a naughty boy change through punishment or through love? If he changes through punishment, which is a form of compulsion, is that change? You are a bigger person, you have authority as the teacher or the parent, and if you threaten him, frighten him, the poor chap may do as you say; but is that change? Is there change through any form of compulsion? Can there ever be change through legislation, through any form of fear?

And, when you ask if love will bring about a change in the naughty boy, what do you mean by that word `love'? If to love is to understand the boy - not to change him, but to understand the causes that are producing naughtiness - then that very understanding will bring about in him the cessation of naughtiness.

If I want to change the boy so that he will stop being naughty, my very desire to change him is a form of compulsion, is it not? But if I begin to understand why he is naughty, if I can discover and eradicate the causes that are producing naughtiness in him - it may be wrong food, a lack of sleep, want of affection, the fact that he is being teased by another boy and so on - then the boy will not be naughty. But if my desire is merely to change the boy, which is wanting him to fit into a particular pattern, then I cannot understand him.

You see, this brings up the problem of what we mean by change. Even if the boy ceases to be naughty because of your love for him, which is a kind of influence, is that a real change It may be love, but it is still a form of pressure on him to do or be something. And when you say a boy must change, what do you mean by that? Change from what to what? From what he is to what he should be? If he changes to what he should be, has he not merely modified what he was, and therefore it is no change at all?

To put it differently, if I am greedy and I become non-greedy because you and society and the sacred books all tell me that I must do so, have I changed, or am I merely calling greed by a different name? Whereas, if I am capable of investigating and understanding the whole problem of my greed, then I shall be free of it - which is entirely different from becoming greedy.

Questioner: How is one to become intelligent?

Krishnamurti: The moment you try to become intelligent, you cease to be intelligent. This is really important, so give your mind to it a little bit. If I am stupid and everybody tells me that I must become intelligent, what generally happens? I struggle to become intelligent, I study more, I try to get better marks. Then people say, "He is working harder," and pat me on the back; but I continue to be stupid because I have only acquired the trimmings of intelligence. So the problem is not how to become intelligent, but how to be free of stupidity. If, being stupid, I try to become intelligent, I am still functioning stupidly.

You see, the basic problem is that of change. When you ask, "What is intelligence and how is one to become intelligent?" it implies a concept of what intelligence is, and then you try to become like that concept. Now, to have a formula, a theory or concept of what intelligence is, and to try to mould yourself according to that pattern, is foolish, is it not? Whereas, if one is dull and begins to find out what dullness is without any desire to change it into something else, without saying, "I am dull, stupid, how terrible!", then one will find that in unravelling the problem there comes an intelligence freed of stupidity, and without effort.

Questioner: I am a Moslem. If I don't follow daily the traditions of my religion, my parents threaten to turn me out of the house. What should I do?

Krishnamurti: You who are not Moslems will probably advise the questioner to leave home, will you not? But regardless of the label you wear - Hindu, Parsi, communist Christian, or what you will - the same thing applies to you, so don't feel superior and ride the high horse. If you tell your parents that their traditions are really old superstitions, they also may turn you out of the house.

Now, if you were raised in a particular religion and your father says that you must leave home unless you observe certain practices which you now see to be old superstitions, what are you going to do? It depends on how vitally you don't want to follow the old superstitions, does it not? Will you say, "I have thought about the matter a great deal, and I think that to call oneself a Moslem, a Hindu, a Buddhist, a Christian, or any of these things, is nonsense. If for this reason I must leave home, I will. I am ready to face whatever life brings, even misery and death, because this is what I feel to be right and I am going to stand by it" - will you say that? If you don't, you will just be swallowed by tradition, by the collective. So, what are you going to do? If education does not give you that kind of confidence, then what is the purpose of education. Is it merely to prepare you to get a job and fit into a society which is obviously destructive? Don't say, "Only a few can break away, and I am not strong enough". Anyone can break away who puts his mind to it. To understand and withstand the pressure of tradition you must have, not strength, but confidence - the tremendous confidence which comes when you know how to think things out for yourself. But you see, your education does not teach you how to think; it tells you what to think. You are told that you are a Moslem, a Hindu, a Christian, this or that. But it is the function of right education to help you to think for yourself, so that out of your own thinking you feel immense confidence. Then you are a creative human being and not a slavish machine.

Questioner: You tell us that there should be no resistance in paying attention. How can this be?

Krishnamurti: I have said that any form of resistance is inattention, distraction. Don't accept it, think it over. Don't accept anything, it does not matter who says it, but investigate the matter for yourself. If you merely accept, you become mechanical dull, you are already dead; but if you investigate, if you think things out for yourself, then you are alive, vital, a creative human being.

Now, can you pay attention to what is being said and at the same time be aware that somebody is coming in, without turning your head to see who it is and without any resistance against turning your head? If you resist turning your head to look, your attention has already gone and you are wasting your mental energy in that resistance. So, can there be a state of total attention in which there is no distraction and therefore no resistance? That is, can you pay attention to something with your whole being and yet keep the outside of your consciousness sensitive to all that is happening about you and within yourself? You see, the mind is an extraordinary instrument, it is constantly absorbing - seeing various forms and colours, receiving innumerable impressions, catching the meaning of words, the significance of a glance, and so on; and our problem is to pay attention to something while at the same time keeping the mind really sensitive to everything that is going on, including all the unconscious impressions and responses.

What I am saying really involves the whole problem of meditation. We cannot enter into that now; but if one doesn't know how to meditate, one is not a mature human being. Meditation is one of the most important things in life - far more important than passing examinations to get a degree. To understand what is right meditation is not to practise meditation. The `practice' of anything in spiritual matters is deadly. To understand what is right meditation there must be an awareness of the operations of one's own consciousness, and then there is complete attention. But complete attention is not possible when there is any form of resistance. You see, most of us are educated to pay attention through resistance, and so our attention is always partial, never complete - and that is why learning becomes tedious, boring, a fearful thing. Therefore it is very important to pay attention in the deep sense of the word, which is to be aware of the workings of one's own mind. Without self-knowledge you cannot pay complete attention. That is why, in a real school, the student must not only be taught various subjects but also helped to be aware of the process of his own thinking. In understanding himself he will know what it is to pay attention without resistance, for the understanding of oneself is the way of meditation.

Questioner: Why are we interested in asking questions?

Krishnamurti: Very simple: because one is curious. Don't you want to know how to play cricket or football, or how to fly a kite? The moment you stop asking questions you are already dead - which is generally what has happened to older people. They have ceased to inquire because their minds are burdened with information, with what others have said; they have accepted and are fixed in tradition. As long as you ask questions you are breaking through, but the moment you begin to accept, you are psychologically dead. So right through life don't accept a thing, but inquire, investigate. Then you will find that your mind is something really extraordinary, it has no end, and to such a mind there is no death.

Think on These Things

Part 1

This Matter of Culture Chapter 19

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