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Think on These Things

Part 1

This Matter of Culture Chapter 26

You know it is so nice just to be very quiet, to sit up straight with dignity, with poise - and that is as important as it is to look at those leafless trees. Have you noticed how lovely those trees are against the pale blue of the morning sky? The naked branches of a tree reveal its beauty; and trees also have an extraordinary beauty about them in the spring, in the summer and in the autumn. Their beauty changes with the seasons, and to notice this is as important as it is to consider the ways of our own life.

Whether we live in Russia, in America, or in India, we are all human beings; as human beings we have common problems, and it is absurd to think of ourselves as Hindus, Americans, Russians, Chinese, and so on. There are political, geographic, racial and economic divisions, but to emphasize the divisions only breeds antagonism and hatred. Americans may be for the moment far more prosperous, which means that they have more gadgets, more radios, more television sets, more of everything including a surplus of food, while in this country there is so much starvation, squalor overpopulation and unemployment. But wherever we live we are all human beings, and as human beings we create our own human problems; and it is very important to understand that in thinking of ourselves as Hindus, Americans, or Englishmen, or as white, brown, black, or yellow, we are creating needless barriers between ourselves.

One of our main difficulties is that modern education all over the world is chiefly concerned with making us mere technicians. We learn how to design jet planes, how to construct paved roads, how to build cars or run the latest nuclear submarines, and in the midst of all this technology we forget that we are human beings - which means that we are filling our hearts with the things of the mind. In America automation is releasing more and people from long hours of labour, as it will presently be doing in this country, and then we shall have the immense problem of how to utilize our time. Huge factories now employing many thousands will probably be run by a few technicians; and what is to become of all the other human beings who used to work there and who will have so much time on their hands?

Until education begins to take this and other human problems into account, our lives will be very empty.

Our lives are very empty now, are they not? You may have a college degree, you may get married and be well off, you may be very clever, have a great deal of information, know the latest books; but as long as you fill your heart with the things of the mind, your life is bound to be empty, ugly, and it will have very little meaning. There is beauty and meaning in life only when the heart is cleansed of the things of the mind.

You see, all this is our own individual problem, it is not some speculative problem that doesn't concern us. If as human beings we don't know how to care for the earth and the things of the earth, if we don't know how to love our children and are merely concerned with ourselves, with our personal or national advancement and success, we shall make our world hideous - which is what we are already doing. One country may become very rich, but its riches are a poison as long as there is another country which is starving. We are one humanity, the earth is ours to share, and with loving care it will produce food, clothing and shelter for us all.

So, the function of education is not merely to prepare you to pass a few examinations, but to help you understand this whole problem of living - in which is included sex, earning a livelihood, laughter, having initiative, being earnest and knowing how to think deeply. It is also our problem to find out what God is, because that is the very foundation of our life. A house cannot stand for long without a proper foundation, and all the cunning inventions of man will be meaningless if we are not seeking out what is God or truth.

The educator must be capable of helping you to understand this, for you have to begin in childhood, not when you are sixty. You will never find God at sixty, for at that age most people are worn out, finished. You must begin when you are very young because then you can lay the right foundation so that your house will stand through all the storms that human beings create for themselves. Then you can live happily because your happiness is not dependent on anything, it is not dependent on saris and jewels, on cars and radios, on whether somebody loves or rejects you. You are happy not because you possess something, not because you have position, wealth, or learning, but because your life has meaning in itself. But that meaning is discovered only when you are seeking out reality from moment to moment - and reality is in everything, it is not to be found in the church, in the temple, in the mosque, or in some ritual.

To seek out reality we must know how to go about removing the dust of centuries that has settled upon it; and please believe me, that search for reality is true education. Any clever man can read books and accumulate information, achieve a position and exploit others, but that is not education. The study of certain subjects is merely a very small part of education; but there is a vast area of our life for which we are not educated at all, and to which we have no right approach.

To find out how to approach life so that our daily living, our radios, cars and airplanes have a meaning in relationship to something else which includes and transcends them all - that is education. In other words, education must begin with religion. But religion has nothing to do with the priest, with the church, with any dogma or belief. Religion is to love without motive, to be generous, to be good, for only then are we real human beings; but goodness, generosity, or love does not come into being save through the search for reality.

Unfortunately, this whole vast field of life is ignored by the so-called education of today. You are constantly occupied with books which have very little meaning, and with passing examinations which have still less meaning. They may get you a job, and that does have some meaning. But presently many factories will be run almost entirely by machines, and that is why we must begin now to be educated to use our leisure rightly - not in the pursuit of ideals, but to discover and understand the vast areas of our existence of which we are now unconscious and know nothing. The mind, with its cunning arguments, is not everything. There is something vast and immeasurable beyond the mind, a loveliness which the mind cannot understand. In that immensity there is an ecstasy, a glory; and the living in that, the experiencing of that is the way of education. Unless you have that kind of education, when you go out into the world you will perpetuate this hideous mess which past generations have created.

So, teachers and students, do think about all this. Don't complain, but put your shoulder to the wheel and help to create an institution where religion, in the right sense, is investigated, loved, worked out and lived. Then you will find that life becomes astonishingly rich - far richer than all the bank accounts in the world.

Questioner: How did man come to have so much knowledge? How did he evolve materially? Whence does he draw such vast energies?

Krishnamurti: "How did man come to have so much knowledge?" That is fairly simple. You know something and pass it on to your children; they add a little more and pass it on to their children, and so on down through the ages. We gather knowledge little by little. Our great grandfathers did not know a thing about jet planes and the electronic marvels of today; but curiosity, necessity, war, fear and greed have brought about all this knowledge by degrees.

Now, there is a peculiar thing about knowledge. You may know a great deal, gather vast stores of information; but a mind that is clouded by knowledge, burdened with information, is incapable of discovery. It may use a discovery through knowledge and technique, but the discovery itself is something original which suddenly bursts upon the mind irrespective of knowledge; and it is this explosion of discovery that is essential. Most people, especially in this country, are so smothered by knowledge, by tradition by opinion, by fear of what their parents or neighbours will say, that they have no confidence. They are like dead people - and that is what the burden of knowledge does to the mind. Knowledge is useful, but without something else it is also most destructive, and this is being shown by world events at the present time.

Look at what is happening in the world. There are all these marvellous inventions: radar which detects the approach of an airplane while still many miles away; submarines which can go submerged right around the world without once coming up; the miracle of being able to talk from Bombay to Benaras or New York, and so on. All this is the outcome of knowledge. But something else is missing, and therefore knowledge is misused; there is war, destruction, misery, and countless millions of people go hungry. They have only one meal a day, or even less - and you know nothing about all this. You only know your books and your own petty problems and pleasures in a particular corner of Benaras, Delhi, or Bombay. You see, we may have a great deal of knowledge, but without that something else by which man lives and in which there is joy, glory, ecstasy, we are going to destroy ourselves.

Materially it is the same thing : man has evolved materially through a gradual process. And whence does he draw such vast energies? The great inventors, the explorers and discoverers in every field must have had enormous energy, but most of us have very little energy, have we not? While we are young we play games we have fun, we dance and sing; but when we grow up that energy is soon destroyed. Have you not noticed it? We become weary housewives, or we go to an office for endless hours day after day, month in and month out, merely to earn a livelihood; so naturally we have little or no energy. If we had energy we might destroy this rotten society, we might do the most disturbing things; therefore society sees to it that we don't have energy, it gradually smothers us through `education', through tradition, through so-called religion and culture. You see, the function of real education is to awaken our energy and make it explode, make it continuous, strong, passionate, and yet have spontaneous restraint and employ itself in the discovery of reality. Then that energy becomes immense, boundless, and it does not cause further misery but is in itself creator of a new society.

Do listen to what I am saying, don't brush it aside, because it is really important. Don't just agree or disagree, but find out for yourself if there is truth in what is being said. Don't be indifferent : be either hot or cold. If you see the truth of all this and are really hot about it, that heat, that energy will grow and bring about a new society. It will not dissipate itself by merely revolting within the present society, which is like decorating the walls of a prison.

So our problem, especially in education, is how to maintain whatever energy we have and give it more vitality, a greater exploding force. This is going to require a great deal of understanding, because the teachers themselves generally have very little energy; they are smothered with mere information, all but drowned in their own problems, therefore they cannot help the student to awaken this creative energy. That is why the understanding of these things is as much the teacher's concern as it is the student's.

Questioner: Why do my parents get angry when I say that I want to follow another religion?

Krishnamurti : First of all, they are attached to their own religion, they think it is the best if not the only religion in the world, so naturally they want you also to follow it. Furthermore, they want you to adhere to their particular manner of thinking, to their group, their race, their class. These are some of the reasons; and also, you see, if you follow other religion you would become a nuisance, a trouble to the family.

But what has happened even when you do leave one organized religion to follow another? Have you not merely moved to another prison? You see, as long as the mind clings to a belief, it is held in a prison. If you are born a Hindu and become a Christian your parents may get angry, but that is a minor point. What is important is to see that when you join another religion you have merely taken on a new set of dogmas in place of the old. You may be a little more active, a little more this or that, but you are still within the prison of belief and dogma.

So don't exchange religions, which is merely to revolt within the prison, but break through the prison walls and find out for yourself what is God, what is truth. That has meaning, and it will give you enormous vitality, energy. But merely to go from one prison to another and quarrel about which prison is better - this is a child's game.

To break out of the prison of belief requires a mature mind, a thoughtful mind, a mind that perceives the nature of the prison itself and does not compare one prison with another. To understand something you cannot compare it with something else. Understanding does not come through comparison, it comes only when you examine the thing itself. If you examine the nature of organized religion you will see that all religions are essentially alike, whether Hinduism, Buddhism, Mohammedanism, Christianity - or communism, which is another form of religion, the very latest. The moment you understand the prison, which is to perceive all the implications of belief, of rituals and priests, you will never again belong to any religion; &cause only the man who is free of belief can discover that which lies beyond all belief, that which is immeasurable.

Questioner: What is the real way to build up character?

Krishnamurti: To have character means, surely, to be able to withstand the false and hold on to the true; but to build character is difficult, because for most of us what is said by the book, by the teacher, by the parent, by the government is more important than to find out what we ourselves think. To think for oneself, to find out what is true and stand by it, without being influenced, whatever life may bring of misery or happiness - that is what builds character.

Say, for instance, you do not believe in war, not because of what some reformer or religious teacher has said, but because you have thought it out for yourself. You have investigated, gone into the question, meditated upon it, and for you all killing is wrong, whether it is killing to eat, killing out of hatred, or killing for the so-called love of one's country. Now, if you feel this very strongly and stick to it in spite of everything, regardless of whether you go to prison or are shot for it, as you may be in certain countries, then you will have character. Then character has quite a different meaning, it is not the character which society cultivates.

But, you see, we are not encouraged in this direction; and neither the educator nor the student has the vitality, the energy to think out and see what is true, and hold to it, letting the false go. But if you can do this then you won't follow any political or religious leader, because you will be a light unto yourself; and the discovery and cultivation of that light, not only while you are young but throughout life, is education.

Questioner: How does age stand in the way of realizing God?

Krishnamurti: What is age? Is it the number of years you have lived? That is part of age; you were born in such and such a year, and now you are fifteen, forty or sixty years old. Your body grows old - and so does your mind when it is burdened with all the experiences, miseries and weariness of life; and such a mind can never discover what is truth. The mind can discover only when it is young, fresh, innocent; but innocence is not a matter of age. It is not only the child that is innocent - he may not be - but the mind that is capable of experiencing without accumulating the residue of experience. The mind must experience, that is inevitable. It must respond to everything - to the river, to the diseased animal, to the dead body being carried away to be burnt, to the poor villagers carrying their burdens along the road, to the tortures and miseries of life - otherwise it is already dead; but it must be capable of responding without being held by the experience. It is tradition, the accumulation of experience, the ashes of memory, that make the mind old. The mind that dies every day to the memories of yesterday, to all the joys and sorrows of the past - such a mind is fresh, innocent, it has no age; and without that innocence, whether you are ten or sixty, you will not find God.

Think on These Things

Part 1

This Matter of Culture Chapter 26

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