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Jiddhu Krishnamurti (1895 - 1986)


RAIN ON DRY land is an extraordinary thing, is it not? It washes the leaves clean, the earth is refreshed. And I think we all ought to wash our minds completely clean, as the trees are washed by the rain, because they are so heavily laden with the dust of many centuries, the dust of what we call knowledge, experience. If you and I would cleanse the mind every day, free it of yesterday's reminiscences, each one of us would then have a fresh mind, a mind capable of dealing with the many problems of existence.

Now, one of the great problems that is disturbing the world is what is called equality. In one sense there is no such thing as equality, because we all have many different capacities; but we are discussing equality in the sense that all people should be treated alike. In a school, for example, the positions of the principal, the teachers and the house parents are merely jobs, functions; but, you see, with certain jobs or functions goes what is called status, and status is respected because it implies power, prestige, it means being in a position to tell people off, to order people about, to give jobs to one's friends and the members of one's family. So with function goes status; but if we could remove this whole idea of status, of power, of position, prestige, of giving benefits to others, then function would have quite a different and simple meaning, would it not? Then, whether people were governors, prime ministers, cooks, or poor teachers, they would all be treated with the same respect because they are all performing a different but necessary function in society.

Do you know what would happen, especially in a school, if we could really remove from function the whole sense of power, of position, prestige; the feeling, "I am the Head, I am important"? We would all be living in quite a different atmosphere, would we not? There would be no authority in the sense of the high and the low, the big man and the little man, and therefore there would be freedom. And it is very important that we create such an atmosphere in the school, an atmosphere of freedom in which there is love, in which each one feels a tremendous sense of confidence; because, you see, confidence comes when you feel completely at home, secure. Do you feel at ease in your own home if your father, your mother and your grandmother are constantly telling you what to do so that you gradually lose all confidence in doing anything by yourself? As you grow up you must be able to discuss, to find out what you think is true and stick to it. You must be able to stand by something which you feel is right, even though it brings pain, suffering, loss of money, and all the rest of it; and for that you must feel, while you are young, completely secure and at ease.

Most young people don't feel secure because they are frightened. They are afraid of their elders, of their teachers, of their mothers and fathers, so they never really feel at home. But when you do feel at home, there happens a very strange thing. When you can go to your room, lock the door and be there by yourself unnoticed, with no one telling you what to do, you feel completely secure; and then you begin to flower, to understand, to unfold. To help you unfold is the function of a school; and if it does not help you to unfold, it is no school at all.

When you feel at home in a place in the sense that you feel secure, not beaten down, not compelled to do this or that, when you feel very happy, completely at ease, then you are not naughty, are you? When you are really happy, you don't want to hurt anybody, you don't want to destroy anything. But to make the student feel completely happy is extraordinarily difficult, because he comes to the school with an idea that the principal, the teachers and the house parents are going to tell him what to do and push him around, and hence there is fear.

Most of you come from homes or from schools in which you have been educated to respect status. Your father and mother have status, the principal has status, so you come here with fear, respecting status. But we must create in the school a real atmo- sphere of freedom, and that can come about only when there is function without status, and therefore a feeling of equality. The real concern of right education is to help you to be a vital, sensitive human being, one who is not afraid and who has no false sense of respect because of status.

Questioner: Why do we find pleasure in our games and not in our studies?

Krishnamurti: For the very simple reason that your teachers do not know how to teach. That is all, there is no very complicated reason for it. You know, if a teacher loves mathematics, or history, or whatever it is he teaches, then you also will love that subject, because love of something communicates itself. Don't you know that? If a musician loves to sing and his whole being is in it, doesn't that feeling communicate itself to you who are listening? You feel that you too would like to learn how to sing. But most educators don't love their subject; it has become a bore to them, a routine through which they have to go in order to earn a living. If your teachers really loved to teach, do you know what would happen to you? You would be extraordinary human beings. You would love not only your games and your studies, but also the flowers, the river, the birds, the earth, because you would have this thing vibrating in your hearts; and you would learn much more quickly, your minds would be excellent and not mediocre.

That is why it is very important to educate the educator - which is very difficult, because most educators are already well settled in their habits. But habit does not rest so heavily on the young; and if you love even one thing for itself - if you really love your games, or mathematics, or history, or painting, or singing - then you will find that intellectually you are alert, vital, and you will be very good in all your studies. After all, the mind wants to inquire, to know, because it is curious; but that curiosity is destroyed by the wrong kind of education. Therefore it is not only the student who must be educated, but also the teacher. Living is itself a process of education, a process of learning. There is an end to examinations, but there is no end to learning and you can learn from everything if your mind is curious, alert.

Questioner: You have said that when one sees something to be false, that false thing drops away. I daily see that smoking is false, but it does not drop away.

Krishnamurti: Have you ever watched grown-up people smoking, either your parents, your teachers, your neighbours, or somebody else? It has become a habit with them, has it not? They go on smoking day after day, year in and year out, and they have become slaves to the habit. Many of them realize how stupid it is to be a slave to something, and they fight the habit, they discipline themselves against it, they resist it, they try in all kinds of ways to get rid of it. But, you see, habit is a dead thing, it is an action which has become automatic, and the more one fights it the more strength one gives to it. But if the person who smokes becomes conscious of his habit, if he becomes aware of putting his hand into his pocket, bringing out the cigarette, tapping it, putting it in his mouth, lighting it and taking the first puff - if each time he goes through this routine he simply watches it without condemnation, without saying how terrible it is to smoke, then he is not giving new vitality to that particular habit. But really to drop something which has become a habit, you have to investigate it much more, which means going into the whole problem of why the mind cultivates habit - that is, why the mind is inattentive. If you clean your teeth every day while looking out of the window, the cleaning of your teeth becomes a habit; but if you always clean your teeth very carefully, giving your whole attention to it, then it does not become a habit, a routine that is thoughtlessly repeated.

Experiment with this, observe how the mind wants to go to sleep through habit and then remain undisturbed. Most people's minds are always functioning in the groove of habit, and as we grow older it gets worse. Probably you have already acquired dozens of habits. You are afraid of what will happen if you don't do as your parents say, if you don't marry as your father wants you to, so your mind is already functioning in a groove; and when you function in a groove, though you may be only ten or fifteen, you are already old, inwardly decaying. You may have a good body, but nothing else. Your body may be young and straight, but your mind is burdened with its own weight.

So it is very important to understand the whole problem of why the mind always dwells in habits, runs in grooves, why it moves along a particular set of rails like a streetcar and is afraid to question, to inquire. If you say, "My father is a Sikh, therefore I am a Sikh and I am going to grow my hair, wear a turban" - If you say that without inquiring, without questioning, without any thought of breaking away, then you are like a machine. Smoking also makes you like a machine, a slave to habit, and it is only when you understand all this that the mind becomes fresh, young, active, alive, so that every day is a new day, every dawn reflected on the river is a joyous thing to behold.

Questioner: Why are we afraid when some of our elders are serious? And what makes them so serious?

Krishnamurti: Have you ever thought about what it means to be serious? Are you ever serious? Are you always gay, always cheerful, laughing, or are there moments when you are quiet, serious - not serious about something, but just serious? And why should one be afraid when older people are serious? What is there to be afraid of? Are you afraid they may see something in you which you don't like in yourself? You see, most of us don't think about these matters; if we are afraid in the presence of a grave or serious older person, we don't inquire into it, we don't ask ourselves, "Why am I afraid?"

Now, what is it to be serious? Let us find out. You may be serious about very superficial things. When buying a sari, for example, you may give your whole attention to it, worry about it, go to ten different shops and spend all morning looking at various patterns. That is also called being serious; but such a person is serious only superficially. Then you can be serious about going to the temple every day, placing a garland there, giving money to the priests; but all that is a very false thing, is it not? Because truth or God is not in any temple. And you can be very serious about nationalism, which is another false thing.

Do you know what nationalism is? It is the feeling, "My India, my country, right or wrong", or the feeling that India has vast treasures of spiritual knowledge and is therefore greater than any other nation. When we identify ourselves with a particular country and feel proud of it, we bring about nationalism in the world. Nationalism is a false god, but millions of people are very serious about it; they will go to war, destroy, kill or be killed in the name of their country, and this kind of seriousness is used and exploited by the politicians.

So you can be serious about false things. But if you really begin to inquire into what it means to be serious, then you will find that there is a seriousness which is not measured by the activity of the false or shaped by a particular pattern - a seriousness which comes into being when the mind is not pursuing a result, an end.

Questioner: What is destiny?

Krishnamurti: Do you really want to go into this problem? To ask a question is the easiest thing in the world, but your question has meaning only if it affects you directly so that you are very serious about it. Have you noticed how many people lose interest once they have asked their question? The other day a man put a question and then began to yawn, scratch his head and talk to his neighbour; he had completely lost interest. So I suggest that you don't ask a question unless you are really serious about it.

This problem of what is destiny is very difficult and complex. You see, if a cause is set going it must inevitably produce a result. If a vast number of people, whether Russians, Americans, or Hindus, prepare for war, their destiny is war; though they may say they want peace and are preparing only for their own defence, they have set in motion causes which bring about war. Similarly, when millions of people have for centuries taken part in the development of a certain civilization or culture, they have set going a movement in which individual human beings are caught up and swept along, whether they like it or not; and this whole process of being caught up in and swept along by a particular stream of culture or civilization may be called destiny.

After all, if you are born as the son of a lawyer who insists that you also become a lawyer, and if you comply with his wishes even though you would prefer to do something else, then your destiny is obviously to become a lawyer. But if you refuse to become a lawyer, if you insist upon doing that which you feel to be the true thing for you which is what you really love to do - it may be writing, painting, or having no money and begging - then you have stepped out of the stream, you have broken away from the destiny which your father intended for you. It is the same with a culture or civilization.

That is why it is very important that we should be rightly educated - educated not to be smothered by tradition, not to fall into the destiny of a particular racial, cultural or family group, educated not to become mechanical beings moving towards a predetermined end. The man who understands this whole process, who breaks away from it and stands alone, creates his own momentum; and if his action is a breaking away from the false towards the truth, then that momentum itself becomes the truth Such men are free of destiny.