Education is central to Krishnamurti's vision of human life, and Life Ahead is the first collection of his talks to students, teachers and parents. The book covers a wide range of themes - the danger of competition which, breeding fear, prevents the mind from being fully receptive to experience; the necessity of a healthy body so that there is no conflict between body, mind and emotion, the value of solitude; the need to understand both the conscious and the unconscious mind so that there can be an end to self-contradiction, and the critical difference between knowledge and learning.
Krishanmurti's talks are followed by spontaneous questions from the students, which add to the charm and value of this book.
J. Krishanmurti (1895-1986) is regarded as one of the greatest philosophers and religious teachers of all times. For more than sixty years he travelled the world over, giving talks and holding dialogues, not as a guru but as a friend. His teachings are not based on book knowledge and theories and therefore communicate directly to anyone seeking answers to the present world crisis as well as to the eternal problems of human existence.
This book is the outcome of talks and discussions held by J Krishnamurti with the students and teachers of Rishi Valley School and Rajghat Besant School. Krishnamurti regards education as of prime significance in the communication of that which is central to the transformation of the human mind and the creation of a new culture. As the topics in these stimulating talks and discussions reveal, he questions the very roots of our culture so that a comprehensive view on education emerges.
Krishnamurti's challenge is addressed not only to the structure of education but to the very nature and quality of man's mind and life. Unlike all other attempts to salvage or suggest alternatives to the failing education system, his approach breaks through the frontiers of particular cultures and establishes an entirely new set of values. To Krishnamurti, a new mind is possible only when the religious spirit and the scientific attitude form part of the same consciousness. While he gives emphasis to the cultivation of the intellect, he lays far greater stress on a heightened critical awareness of the inner and outer world.
THIS BOOK IS the outcome of talks and discussions held in India by J. Krishnamurti with the students and teachers of schools at Rishi Valley in Andhra Pradesh and Rajghat at Varanasi. These centres are run by the Krishnamurti Foundation India, which was set up to create a milieu where the teachings of Krishnamurti could be communicated to the child. Krishnamurti regards education as of prime significance in the communication of that which is central to the transformation of the human mind and the creation of a new culture. Such a fundamental transformation takes place when the child, while being trained in various skills and disciplines, is also given the capacity to be awake to the processes of his own thinking, feeling and action. This alertness makes him self-critical and observant and thus establishes an integrity of perception, discrimination and action, crucial to the maturing within him of a right relationship to man, to nature and to the tools man creates.
There is a questioning today of the basic postulates of the educational structure and its various systems in India and in the rest of the world. At all levels there is a growing realisation that the existing models have failed and that there is a total lack of relevance between the human being and the complex, contemporary society. The ecological crisis and increasing poverty, hunger and violence, are forcing man inevitably to face the realities of the human situation. At a time like this, a completely new approach to the postulates of education is necessary. Krishnamurti questions the roots of our culture. His challenge is addressed not only to the structure of education but to the nature and quality of man's mind and life. Unlike all other attempts to salvage or suggest alternatives to the educational system, Krishnamurti's approach breaks through frontiers of particular cultures and establishes an entirely new set of values, which in turn can create a new civilization and a new society.
To Krishnamurti a new mind is only possible when the religious spirit and the scientific attitude form part of the same movement of consciousness - a state where the scientific attitude and the religious spirit are not two parallel processes or capacities of the mind. They do not exist in watertight compartments as two separate movements that have to be fused but are a new movement inherent in intelligence and in the creative mind.
Krishnamurti talks of two instruments available to the human being-the instrument of knowledge which enables him to gain mastery over technical skills, and intelligence which is born of observation and self-knowing.
While Krishnamurti gives emphasis to the cultivation of the intellect, the necessity to have a sharp, clear, analytical and precise mind, he lays far greater stress on a heightened critical awareness of the inner and outer world, a refusal to accept authority at any level and a harmonious balance of intellect and sensitivity. To discover the areas where knowledge and technical skills are necessary and where they are irrelevant and even harmful, is to Krishnamurti one of the fundamental tasks of education, because it is only when the mind learns the significance of the existence of areas where knowledge is irrelevant that a totally new dimension is realised, new energies generated and the unused potentialities of the human mind activated.
One of the unsolved problems and challenges to educationists all over the world is the problem of freedom and order. How is a child, a student, to grow in freedom and at the same time develop a deep sense of inner order? Order is the very root of freedom. Freedom, to Krishnamurti, has no terminal point but is renewed from moment to moment in the very act of living. In these pages, one can get a glimpse, a feel of this quality of freedom of which order is an inherent part.
The years which a student spends in a school must leave behind in him a fragrance and delight. This can only happen when there is no competition, no authority, when teaching and learning is a simultaneous process in the present, where the educator and the educated are both participating in the act of learning.
Unlike the communication of the religious spirit by various sects and religious groups, Krishnamurti's approach is in a sense truly secular and yet has a deeply religious dimension. There is a departure in Krishnamurti's teachings from the traditional approach of the relationship between the teacher and the taught, the guru and the shishya. The traditional approach is basically hierarchical; there is the teacher who knows and the student who does not know and has to be taught. To Krishnamurti, the teacher and the student function at the same level-communicating through questioning and counter questioning till the depths of the problem are exposed and understanding is revealed, illuminating the mind of both.
The Krishnamurti Foundation India feels deeply privileged to be able to offer this book to the student and the educator.
Why are you Being Educated?
Consists of six talks that Krishnamurti gave at Indian universities and the Indian Institutes of Technology between the years 1969 and 1984.
Krishnamurti's chief concern here is to awaken students to the fact that the pursuit of knowledge does not liberate man from his fundamental ignorance of himself. While knowledge is indispensable, it also creates the illusion that we have the intelligence to meet the challenges of life, and this makes us neglect the vast and subtle field of the human psyche. Krishnamurti's radical departure from mainstream educational thinking comes through clearly in these talks, which therefore have a significance not just for the young but also for parents, teachers and all those interested in the deeper issues of human existence.
This book consists of six talks that J. Krishnamurti gave at Indian universities and the Indian Institutes of Technology between 1969 and 1984.
Krishnamurti's association with universities goes back to the year 1922 when he visited the Berkeley University. The place made such a deep impact on him that he began to dream of creating in India a similar academic institution. In 1925 Mrs Annie Besant, president of the Theosophical Society, decided to build a World University in India, possibly close to Krishnamurti's birthplace, Madanapalle in Andhra Pradesh. That he shared her vision is evident from the 'Editorial Notes' he wrote for The Herald of the Star in April 1925: 'What has absorbed most of my thoughts and time since I got to India is a scheme for the founding of a new International University at Madanapalle in South India. Such an idea has long been a dream of mine, and that dream is now going to be realized.'
Though Krishnamurti's dream did not take shape, his passion for education remained vital throughout his life, resulting in the founding of four schools in India and two abroad.
In the 1920s Krishnamurti addressed teachers and students at the Theosophical College in Adyar, Madras, and Vijayawada in Andhra Pradesh. In 1930 he gave a talk at the Boys College in Tiruchi, Tamil Nadu. Addressing students of the D.J. Sind College in Karachi on 15 February 1933, he begins on a characteristic note:
'I have never passed a single examination. I have sat for three examinations, but you know when you go to the Examination Hall, how everything turns blank. Probably you have not felt like that, but I did, so I tried three times, and three times I successfully failed!' However, he makes due amends for such an opening by seeking the forgiveness of the 'Principal, the Professors, and yourselves'.
Krishnamurti's first significant address to students is to be found in the series of three talks he gave in 1954 at the Benares Hindu University. Towards the late 1960s and early 1970s, when the campuses in the West were in revolt, he gave talks at the University of Puerto Rico, the Claremont Colleges, California, and the New School for Social Research, New York. This was followed by talks at Brandeis, Berkeley, Stanford, and Santa Cruz, which can be found in the two volumes, You are the World and Talks with American Students.
During the same period, Krishnamurti addressed students in India too. In the six talks in this volume, his chief concern is to awaken students-and the teachers too-to the fact that the pursuit of knowledge does not liberate man from ignorance. While knowledge, especially technological knowledge, is indispensable, it also creates the illusion that we have the intelligence to meet the challenges of life. This illusion makes us neglect the vast and subtle field of the human psyche, the field of human relationship. All this, he declares, is the essence of ignorance.
However, even while trying to shake the students out of their complacency, Krishnamurti also holds before them the possibility of a life in which there can be both meaning and beauty, responsibility as well as freedom. 'If I were a student, I think I would ask that-how to live a very simple life, without conflict, how to live completely, richly, and fully, without any contradiction, so that life does not become a battlefield. Then I would also ask, 'Is there something beyond all this? Is there something that man in the past has always sought?'
For Krishnamurti, right education cannot be based on academic blueprints and programmes. On the contrary, learning for him is synonymous with learning about oneself; it is not the mere pursuit of knowledge but an exploration into the world within. This vision comes through clearly in these talks, which therefore have significance not just for the young but also for parents, teachers, and all those interested in the deeper issues of human existence.
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