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excerpts from "Krishnamurti on Education"




It is a lovely morning, isn't it? Cool, fresh, and there is dew on the grass and the birds are singing. I hope you enjoyed this morning, as much as I did, looking out of the window, at the cloudless blue sky, the clear shadows, and the sparkling air and all the birds, the trees, and the earth shouting with joy. I hope you listened.

     I would like, this morning, to talk about something that we all must understand. To understand something, one has to listen, as you would listen to those birds. If you would hear that clear call, the song of the bird, you must listen very closely, very attentively, you must follow each note, follow each movement of the sound, see how deeply it goes and how far it reaches. And if you know how to listen, you learn a great deal; to listen is more important than anything else in life. To know how to listen, you have to be very attentive. If your mind, if your thoughts, if your heart is thinking about other things, feeling other things, you cannot listen to the birds. To listen, you have to give your whole attention. When you are watching a bird and are looking at the feathers, the colours, the beak, the size and the lovely shape of the bird, then you are giving your heart, your mind and body, everything that you have, to watch it. And then you are really part of that bird. You really enjoy it. So, in the same way, this morning, please listen, not that you must agree or disagree with what we are talking about, but just listen.

     Have you ever sat on the banks of a river and watched the water go by? You cannot do anything about the water. There is the clear water, the dead leaves, the branches. You see a dead animal go by, and you are watching all that. You see the movement of the water, the clarity of the water, the swift current of the water and the fullness of the water. But you cannot do anything. You watch and you let the water flow by. So in the same way listen to what I want to talk about this morning.

     Freedom does not exist without order. The two go together. If you cannot have order, you cannot have freedom. The two are inseparable. If you say: "I will do what I like. I will turn up for my meals when I like; I will come to the class when I like" - you create disorder. You have to take into consideration what other people want. To run things smoothly, you have to come on time. If I had come ten minutes late this morning I would have kept you waiting. So I have to have consideration. I have to think of others. I have to be polite, considerate, be concerned about other people. Out of that consideration, out of that thoughtfulness, out of that watchfulness, both outward and inward, comes order and with that order there comes freedom.

     You know, soldiers all over the world are drilled every day, they are told what to do, to walk in line. They obey orders implicitly without thinking. Do you know what that does to man? When you are told what to do, what to think, to obey, to follow, do you know what it does to you? Your mind becomes dull, it loses its initiative, its quickness. This external, outward imposition of discipline makes the mind stupid, it makes you conform, it makes you imitate. But if you discipline yourself by watching, listening, being considerate, being very thoughtful - out of that watchfulness, that listening, that consideration for others, comes order. Where there is order, there is always freedom. If you are shouting, talking, you cannot hear what others have to say. You can only hear clearly when you sit quietly, when you give your attention.

     Nor can you have order, if you are not free to watch, if you are not free to listen, if you are not free to be considerate. This problem of freedom and order is one of the most difficult and urgent problems in life. It is a very complex problem. It needs to be thought over much more than mathematics, geography or history. If you are not really free, you can never blossom, you can never be good, there can be no beauty. If the bird is not free, it cannot fly. If the seed is not free to blossom, to push out of the earth, it cannot live. Everything must have freedom, including man. Human beings are frightened of freedom. They do not want freedom. Birds, rivers, trees, all demand freedom and man must demand it too, not in half measures, but completely. Freedom liberty, the independence to express what one thinks, to do what one wants to do, is one of the most important things in life. To be really free from anger, jealousy, brutality, cruelty; to be really free within oneself, is one of the most difficult and dangerous things.

     You cannot have freedom merely for the asking. You cannot say, "I will be free to do what I like." Because there are other people also wanting to be free, also wanting to express what they feel, also wanting to do what they wish. Everybody wants to be free, and yet they want to express themselves - their anger, their brutality, their ambition their competitiveness and so on. So there is always conflict. I want to do something and you want to do something and so we fight. Freedom is not doing what one wants, because man cannot live by himself. Even the monk, even the sannyasi is not free to do what he wants, because he has to struggle for what he wants, to fight with himself, to argue within himself. And it requires enormous intelligence, sensitivity, understanding to be free. And yet it is absolutely necessary that every human being, whatever his culture, be free. So you see, freedom cannot exist without order.

     Student: Do you mean that to be free there should be no discipline? 

     Krishnamurti: I carefully explained that you cannot have freedom without order and order is discipline. I do not like to use that word "discipline" because it is laden with all kinds of meaning. Discipline means conformity, imitation, obedience; it means to do what you are told; doesn't it? But, if you want to be free - and human beings must be completely free, otherwise they cannot flower, otherwise they cannot be real human beings - you have to find out for yourself what it is to be orderly, what it is to be punctual, kind, generous, unafraid. The discovery of all that is discipline. This brings about order. To find out you have to examine and to examine you must be free. If you are considerate, if you are watching, if you are listening, then, because you are free, you will be punctual, you will come to the class regularly, you will study, you will be so alive that you will want to do things rightly.

     Student: You say that freedom is very dangerous to man. Why is it so? 

     Krishnamurti: Why is freedom dangerous? You know what society is? 

     Student: It is a big group of people which tells you what to do and what not to do. 

     Krishnamurti: It is a big group of people which tells you what to do and what not to do. It is also the culture, the customs, the habits of a certain community; the social, moral, ethical, religious structure in which man lives, that is generally called society. Now, if each individual in that society did what he liked, he would be a danger to that society. If you did what you liked here in the school, what would happen? You would be a danger to the rest of the school. Wouldn't you? So people do not genteelly want others to be free. A man who is really free, not in ideas, but inwardly free from greed, ambition, envy, cruelty, is considered a danger to people, because he is entirely different from the ordinary man. So, society either worships him or kills him or is indifferent to him.

     Student: You said that we must have freedom and order but how are we to get it? 

     Krishnamurti: First of all, you cannot depend on others; you cannot expect somebody to give you freedom and order whether it is your father, your mother, your husband, your teacher. You have to bring it about in yourself. This is the first thing to realize, that you cannot ask anything from another, except food, clothes and shelter. You cannot possibly ask, or look to anyone, your gurus or your gods. Nobody can give you freedom and order. So, you have to find out how to bring about order in yourself. That is, you have to watch and find out for yourself what it means to bring about virtue in yourself. Do you know what virtue is - to be moral, to be good? Virtue is order. So, you have to find out in yourself how to be good, how to be kind, how to be considerate. And out of that consideration, out of that watching, you bring about order and therefore freedom. You depend on others to tell you what you should do, that you should not look out of the window, that you should be punctual, that you should be kind. But if you were to say: "I will look out of the window when I want to look but when I study I am going to look at the book," you bring order within yourself without being told by others.

     Student: What does one gain by being free? 

     Krishnamurti: Nothing. When you talk about what one gains, you are really thinking in terms of merchandise. Are you not? I will do this and in return for it, please give me something. I am kind to you because it is profitable for me. But that is not kindliness. So as long as we are thinking in terms of gaining something, there is no freedom. If you say, "If I get freedom, I will be able to do this and that," then it is not freedom. So do not think in terms of utility. As long as we are thinking in terms of using, there is no question of freedom at all. Freedom can only exist when there is no motive. You do not love somebody because he gives you food, or clothes or shelter. Then it is not love.

     Do you ever walk by yourself Or do you always go with others? If you go out by yourself sometimes, not too far away because you are very young, then you will get to know yourself, what you think, what you feel, what is virtue, what you want to be. Find out. And you cannot find out about yourself if you are always talking, going about with your friends, with half a dozen people. Sit under a tree quietly by yourself, not with a book. Just look at the stars, the clear sky, the birds, the shape of the leaves. Watch the shadow. Watch the bird across the sky. By being with yourself, sitting quietly under a tree, you begin to understand the workings of your own mind and that is as important as going to class.