education, community-building and change

Jiddu Krishnamurti and his insights into education

The Valley School’s birthday celebration. Established in 1978, itis one of the five schools of the Krishnamurti Foundation India

Jiddu Krishnamurti and his insights into education. Scott H. Forbes explores Jiddu Krishnamurti’s (1895-1986) emphasis on education as a religious activity. (From a presentation at the first Holistic Education Conference, Toronto, Canada, 1997)

contents : human nature ·  religion and religiosity ·  the nature of education ·  the intentions of education ·  participants in education ·  the physical nature of places of education ·  consequences for education ·  references ·  links ·  brief biography

For most of Jiddu Krishnamurti’s life what he said and wrote sparked both interest and controversy. His observations on religion, nationalism, tradition, organizations, and relationships often ran counter to the convention of the day. If they are less startling today, it is either due to the effect his insights have had on common consciousness or an indication of the extent to which he was ahead of his time. But Krishnamurti’s insights on education are still radical and frequently misunderstood or dismissed as impractical. This is probably due largely to the fact that Krishnamurti presents education as a religious activity in an age when most people still see it as preparation for succeeding in a secular world.

Throughout the ages sages have warned us that we can’t see what is true even when it is presented to us because that which is true isn’t what we expect or want to hear. The traditional western symbol for this is choosing Barabbas; choosing what is familiar or most like us over what is true or sacred. This is as true in educational matters as it is in religious ones. Modern education is so obviously failing to solve the world’s problems, is so rightly criticised for not meeting societies’ aspirations, and is so clearly unable to prepare people for the fundamental challenges of living. To solve these problems, we seem to need educational insights that marry the most profound learning possible with the everyday; the subtle with the mundane; or to put it another way, the sacred with the secular. I feel Jiddu Krishnamurti’s insights into education are such a marriage. I feel they are radical, that they meet the challenges of living at a profound level, and they do so at a time when such insights are desperately needed. Of all the many subjects that Krishnamurti addressed in his more than seventy years of writing books and speaking in public, I believe it is Krishnamurti’s insights into education that most people will eventually feel has had the greatest effect on the world.

Jiddu Krishnamurti’s interest in education was long standing and always passionate. In what is perhaps his first book, “Education As Service” (1912), we see his concern for education and the introduction of a few themes that remain in his work. We hear the voice of the seventeen year old Krishnamurti writing from his heartfelt experiences when he says in the foreword,

Many of the suggestions made in this little book come from my own memories of early school life;…. I have myself experienced both the right way of teaching and the wrong way, and therefore I want to help others towards the right way. (Krishnamurti 1912)

And for the rest of his life he did try to help others towards a better form of education.

Picture of Jiddu Krishnamurti was sourced from the Wikimedia Commons and is reproduced under a Creatvice Commons licence.

Krishnamurti’s work is large, subtle, and complex; Krishnamurti did not explicitly define positions; instead, his understanding is interwoven through out his work. This is further complicated by the evolution in his manner of expression that occurred over his lifetime, so that two comments taken out of context and separated by decades seem to contradict each other (though, taken in context, they are not contradictory); and He did not present his insights in traditional intellectual forms, which would have made summarisation easier. Consequently, we are left with a kind of translation – translating Krishnamurti’s work, which is partly apophatic, into an expository presentation. And, as with all processes of translation, something is lost, and those who know the original see the loss, and rightly complain.

The topics which I feel I can not avoid are: 1.) Jiddu Krishnamurti’s approach to what is religious or religiousness or religiosity, 2.) his approach to the nature of human beings, and 3.) his approach to the nature of education. Unfortunately, it would not be possible to address the topic of this paper, without making at least some attempt at explicating these aspects of Krishnamurti’s work, so I’m afraid this is very much a case of ‘a fool rushing in where wise men fear to tread’.

Krishnamurti’s approach to the nature of the religious, religiosity, religiousness

It would be far easier to say what, for Jiddu Krishnamurti, the religious or religiousness or religiosity isn’t than to say what it is. One very specific thing that is isn’t is any part of any religion. Krishnamurti felt that what is sacred or truly religious could not be conditional, culture-bound or time-bound. Consequently, he felt that what is religious could not be contained by or subject to any dogma, belief, or authority. Krishnamurti’s approach to a religiousness that is free of religion would be an interesting subject for those concerned with the challenges of values, morals, or religious education in today’s pluralist world, but it is not a subject I can address here.

If that which is sacred cannot be related to dogma, ritual, buildings, authorities, or symbols, then what does man have that can make contact with the sacred? Krishnamurti felt that the bridge from the secular to the sacred is a particular consciousness. It is a consciousness that sees things as they are; one that is free of the distortions of conditioning and free of the limitations of thought (while still employing thought). It is a consciousness that has transcended the imperatives of the self or ego and so knows compassion or selfless love. It is a consciousness that knows silence and sees beauty and lives joy.

Jiddu Krishnamurti felt that the sacred is the foundation of all things, lies at the origin of all things, and so is that which is irreducible or can’t be broken into more fundamental elements. He felt that all things are part of a unity or integrated whole, and that that integrated whole is sacred. The word ‘integrated’ is used here as an adjective not a verb – it is not that things can be integrated or brought together, but rather that all things always are constituent or component parts that make up the whole in such a way that it is the whole is the sine quo non of the parts. The closest material analogy is perhaps a hologram – if a hologram is smashed, each fragment contains the whole hologram. Consequently, there can be no development of a part which does not affect the whole, and there can be benefit to a part this is detrimental to the whole.

As the integrated whole (or that which is religious or sacred) is always involved, it makes no sense to think of sequentially developing particulars first and the whole later (i.e. intellectual development first and a sense of the sacred later, etc.). The particulars are constituents of the whole and they must be dealt with together.

Krishnamurti’s approach to the nature of human beings

Krishnamurti’s work on the nature of human beings is vast since he arguably spent more than seventy years writing and speaking about the human condition. I must again contain my comments to just those few which seem necessary for the theme of this paper.

Jiddu Krishnamurti saw human beings as having different facets (like intellects, emotions, appetites, bodies, etc.) but the whole of which the facets are aspects is more important. Humans have minds as well as brains (more will be said on this later), and it is the consciousness that minds are capable of that can perceive what is religious – the integrated whole (though this should not be confused with some notion of omniscience or seeing everything), and it is to the full flowering of the mind that Krishnamurti felt education should direct itself. The human brain, for reasons too complex to go into here, normally works by fragmenting the whole, and one very important task that the brain needs to learn is to stop this fragmenting process when it is not necessary. Consequently, as possessors of both brains and minds, humans have the capacity of participating in the universe at many different levels, from the particular to the general. Like a Buddhist, one might consider the most real to be that which is most general or generative. Or, like a hard scientist, one might consider most real that which is most particular. For Krishnamurti, human beings have the capacity to venture to both limits and to unite them.

Krishnamurti’s approach to the nature of education

As much will be said throughout this paper on Krishnamurti’s perspective on education, I can confine my summary comments here to saying simply that education was seen as towards the fullest development of the full human being. From the full body of his work, we can conclude that, for Krishnamurti, education is 1.) educating the whole person (all parts of the person), 2.) educating the person as a whole (not as an assemblage of parts), and 3.) educating the person within a whole (as part of society, humanity, nature, etc.) from which it is not meaningful to extract that person. From the above it probably goes without saying, though it can not be said often enough, education is not about preparation for only a part of life (like work) but is about preparation for the whole of life and the deepest aspects of living.

Now that some attempt has been made at summarising Jiddu Krishnamurti’s approach to the nature of religiousness/religiosity, the nature of human beings, and the nature of education, I will try to support the main theme of this paper by presenting what Krishnamurti said about 1.) the intentions of education, 2.) the physical nature of the places in which education occurs, and 3.) the participants in education – the students and staff. I use the expression ‘educational centres’ instead of ‘schools’ as this is often the expression that Krishnamurti used, and because the educational centres that he founded were also meant to be places for adults to learn. In English, or rather in the English of England, schools are specifically places for younger students. To support my theme I will show how Krishnamurti described the three elements mentioned above (the intentions, the places, and the participants) in religious terms, which has the added benefit of seeing the relationship they have with one another. I believe these three elements are the focus of much, if not most, of Krishnamurti’s work on education.

1. The intentions of education

Krishnamurti repeatedly stated the intentions of the education centres he founded in very unequivocal terms, and in very religious ones.

… children… must be educated rightly… educated so that they become religious human beings. (Krishnamurti 1979) Surely they must be centres of learning a way of life which is not based on pleasure, on self-centered activities, but on the understanding of correct action, the depth and beauty of relationship, and the sacredness of a religious life. (Krishnamurti 1981b) (Letter dated 15th October 1980) These places exist for the enlightenment of man (Krishnamurti 1981b) (letter of 15th October 1979)

Part of what is religious (as stated previously) is having a consciousness that sees reality, that sees ‘what is’. The difference between understanding what one is and striving to become something that one isn’t is mirrored in the difference between wanting to discover ‘what is’ and striving to change ‘what is’. Jiddu Krishnamurti didn’t deny growth or change, in fact he applauded it. But meaningful growth and real material change without the all too frequent unfortunate side effects cannot be produced by just ensuring young people acquire knowledge and skills, and teaching them to conform to the strictures and demands of society in order to get on in life. In emphasising the latter, parents may comfort themselves that they are helping their children have material security, and schools may congratulate themselves on their examination results, but in Krishnamurti’s view they are only adding to the sorrows and violence of the world. He decries the fact that most education is to…

…acquire a job or use that knowledge for self-satisfaction, for self-aggrandisement, to get on in the world. Merely to cultivate technical capacity without understanding what is true freedom leads to destruction, to greater wars; and that is actually what is happening in the world. (Krishnamurti 1953a)
Merely to stuff the child with a lot of information, making him pass examinations, is the most unintelligent form of education. (Krishnamurti 1948)

Krishnamurti often stated that the purpose of education is to bring about freedom, love, “the flowering of goodness” and the complete transformation of society. He specifically contrasts this to what he feels are the intentions of most schools which emphasise preparing young people to succeed materially in the society that exists (or a slightly altered one). Even though it is fashionable for schools to declare loftier goals, it is instructive to examine how much undivided attention is dedicated during the day to such lofty goals and how much time is given to preparation for earning a living. It is also instructive to examine what are felt to be the imperatives that shape the educational experience – things like the use of space, who and what determines pedagogic activities, the use of time, and what is assessed, by whom and for what.

As previously mentioned, a constant theme in Jiddu Krishnamurti’s declarations of the intentions of education is freedom, but freedom for Krishnamurti is more inner in character than political. Of course, there is a connection between psychological freedom and outward compulsion – it is difficult to help a student find the former in a climate dominated by the latter – but it is not political freedom that interests Krishnamurti. Rather he is interested in the deeper freedom of the psyche and the spirit, the inner liberation that he felt was both the means and the ends of education.

Freedom is at the beginning, it is not something to be gained at the end. (Krishnamurti 1953c) (Chapter 6) There is no freedom at the end of compulsion; the outcome of compulsion is compulsion. (Krishnamurti 1953b) If you dominate a child, compel him to fit into a pattern, however idealistic, will he be free at the end of it? If we want to bring about a true revolution in education, there must obviously be freedom at the very beginning, which means that both the parent and the teacher must be concerned with freedom and not with how to help the child to become this or that. (Krishnamurti 1953b)

For Jiddu Krishnamurti, the intentions of education must be the inner transformation and liberation of the human being and, from that, society would be transformed. Education is intended to assist people to become truly religious. These intentions must not be just pleasant sounding ideals to which one pays lip service, and they are not to be arrived at by their opposites. And the religious intentions are not for some eventual goal, but for life in educational centres from moment to moment.

2. The physical nature of the places of education

Krishnamurti felt that the physical nature of educational centres was very important. He maintained that we are affected or informed by and therefore educated by far more than we suspect, and this is especially true of young impressionable minds. I will focus on what I believe to be the three elements that Krishnamurti spoke of most concerning the physicality of educational centres – 1.) the aesthetics, which includes order, 2.) special areas that Jiddu Krishnamurti felt should exist in the centres he founded, and by extension we can assume he would feel should exist in all schools, and 3.) the atmosphere he felt should prevail and which he usually spoke of as part of the physical nature of the centres, though one can argue that they are material only in a very special sense. Again, in keeping with the theme of my paper, I will show that Krishnamurti spoke of these four elements in religious terms.

a) Aesthetics. The schools Krishnamurti founded are very beautiful places, and this is not by accident. Beauty is important, not just because it is pleasing, but because sensitivity to beauty is related to being religious and indispensable to the healthy growth of a child.

To be religious is to be sensitive to reality. Your total being – body, mind, and heart – is sensitive to beauty and ugliness, to the donkey tied to a post, to the poverty and filth in this town, to laughter and tears, to everything about you. From this sensitivity for the whole of existence springs goodness, love; …(Krishnamurti 1964) (chapter 23)

He himself was extremely attentive to details and critical of things that were badly done. He was very understanding if things could not be better because of real constraints, and he never pushed the administrators of his schools to produce anything that was beyond their means. However, if things were not good through slipshod handling, neglect or lack of sensitivity, then he felt it ran counter to an essential element in education as it ran counter to the religious life that the staff are meant to be living. To expect sensitivity to develop in a child when the staff are insensitive, is to teach a very strong lesson in hypocrisy. Like several holistic educators before him (i.e. Rousseau, Pestalozzi, and Fröbel) Jiddu Krishnamurti felt that some very important things could not be taught by proscription, these things need to be lived in the presence of the learner for them to be learned. And, like Keats, whose poetry he greatly admired, Krishnamurti felt that beauty was related to truth.

Perhaps we should include in this discussion on aesthetics what Krishnamurti felt about nature and education. This makes sense in that for Krishnamurti, nature was both beautiful and a demonstration of order. The educational centres Krishnamurti founded are invariably in parks or countryside. This was not just because he felt that nature was pleasing, but because he felt that a relationship with nature had important implications for living sanely and to a relationship with the sacred. He would not, however, condemn as hopeless, inner-city schools that don’t have such luxuries, because nature was wholly available in the smallest part; a blade of grass, a house plant, or a gold fish.

That healing [of the mind] gradually takes place if you are with nature, with that orange on the tree, and the blade of grass that pushes through the cement, and the hills covered, hidden, by the clouds. This is not sentiment or romantic imagination but a reality of a relationship with everything that lives and moves on the earth. (Krishnamurti 1987) (entry dated 25th February 1983)

If you establish a relationship with it [nature] then you have relationship with mankind… But if you have no relationship with the living things on this earth you may lose whatever relationship you have with humanity, with human beings. (Krishnamurti 1987)

b) Special areas that should exist in educational centres. Another physical aspect of the educational centres Jiddu Krishnamurti created, and another indication of the religiousness of education, was his insistence that the schools have special places for silence. He often spoke to the students of the importance of a quiet mind or silence so that they could observe their thoughts.

You see meditation means to have a very quiet, still mind, not a chattering mind; to have a really quiet body, quiet mind so that your mind becomes religious. (Krishnamurti 1981a) The mind of a religious man is very quiet, sane, rational, logical – and one needs such a mind… (Krishnamurti 1962)

Jiddu Krishnamurti usually asked that these special places not be on the periphery of the schools, but in the centre of the them. Like a sanctum sanctorum, they were to be the heart, the space that generated the rest of the school. Contrary to most conceptions of schools, Krishnamurti felt that action was to be on the periphery and the insight born of silence was to be at the centre.

c) Atmospheres. While atmospheres are generated by aesthetics, the setting, and the effect of special areas in educational centres, there are also atmospheres that are generated by the participants. At least part of the atmospheres generated by people can be deliberately generated. This atmosphere is another link in understanding the religiousness of education. At Brockwood (the school that Krishnamurti founded in England) Krishnamurti frequently talked about the importance of generating an atmosphere that would itself have an effect on students the moment they arrived. Long discussions were held with the staff at Brockwood about the nature of such an atmosphere and how it might come about. Jiddu Krishnamurti had no doubt that it was possible and necessary. It had more the ring of something religious than anything commonly associated with a school. It was something sacred that worked its own magic on people in a profound and transforming way. Without that real religious atmosphere, he felt that a school was empty, or worse, it was a parody of itself, a kind of Disneyesque impression of something real but with no real substance.

Such an atmosphere, though distinct from the people in the schools, could not be separated from the people. A place may carry an atmosphere, but it is the people who create it or destroy it. To illustrate this he would cite places that at one time were known to have had very special and powerful atmospheres but which were destroyed through neglect, incompetence or corrupt behaviour. Examples of this are some of the great cathedrals or temples that have become tourist industries or money making enterprises, and so have lost any sense of religiousness. They became lifeless and without meaning even though they maintained all the physical appearance of their former selves.

There was a very memorable discussion with Jiddu Krishnamurti at the end of his life when several representatives of different schools he founded in India, America, and England went for a walk with him. He asked us all what would be left in his schools to indicate that they were Krishnamurti schools if the name Krishnamurti was removed and if all his books, audio tapes and video tapes were gone; and if something was still there, what would sustain it. It was a question about the all important ineffable qualities, the atmospheres of the educational centres, and it was a question about what we were generating; and it was a question answered by a very uncomfortable and telling silence.

3. The participants in education

There are, generally speaking, two kinds of participants in educational centres: staff and students. Jiddu Krishnamurti felt that any adult that was regularly in one of the centres was a staff member (regardless of function) and because of their regular contact with at least the educational environment if not the students, then they were in the position of educators. Everyone, staff and students, had something religious about their natures just by virtue of being human, but they had something more than that by virtue of their being in education. Krishnamurti didn’t speak of them as religious figures (such as priests or accolades) but one thing that distinguishes participants in education from participants in some other social organizations (i.e. police officers, nurses, bankers, etc.) is that people in education must have religiousness central to their overall intention and central to the nature of the life they lived on a daily basis. As this is equally necessary to both staff and students, there can be no real hierarchy between them. There are, of course, differences between staff and students in their responsibilities and experience; but in all that is most important in education the staff and students are really in the same boat. Staff members may know more about academic subjects, or gardening, or administration and therefore have a certain authority in those areas, but these are not the central concerns of education. In the central concerns of education, which is to do with inner liberation, both the students and the teachers are learners and therefore equal, and this is untouched by functional authority.

Therefore I say, authority has its place as knowledge, but there is no spiritual authority under any circumstances… That is, authority destroys freedom, but the authority of a doctor, mathematics teacher and how he teaches, that doesn’t destroy freedom. (Krishnamurti 1975) In thus helping the student towards freedom, the educator is changing his own values also; he too is beginning to be rid of the “me” and the “mine”, he too is flowering in love and goodness. This process of mutual education creates an altogether different relationship between the teacher and the student. (Krishnamurti 1953c) (Chapter 6)

Jiddu Krishnamurti felt that the over-riding quality of an educator should be religiosity.

Because he is devoted solely to the freedom and integration of the individual, the right kind of educator is deeply and truly religious. He does not belong to any sect, to any organised religion; is free of beliefs and rituals… (Krishnamurti 1953c) (Chapter 6)

Because the educator is religious; he is concerned first with ‘being’, and then right ‘doing’ will follow from it. Krishnamurti describes this relationship between ‘being’ and ‘doing’ frequently, but perhaps nowhere more succinctly than in one of his talks in Bombay,

… it is not ‘doing is being’ but ‘being is doing’ (Krishnamurti 1956).

For Jiddu Krishnamurti, ‘doing’ derived from ‘being’ rather than ‘being’ deriving from ‘doing’ – the reverse of convention. Much more needs to be said than this paper permits about the consequences of reversing the roles of ‘being’ and ‘doing’, or even worse, of confusing them. Note the modern convention of a question like, “Who are you?” (a question about being) which is answered by, “I’m a lawyer, engineer, etc.” (a statement about doing). Suffice it to say that this reversal or confusion usually leads to a highly developed ‘doing’ (which is easier to accomplish) with impoverished ‘being,’ and Krishnamurti felt that dysfunction was the usual consequence of such imbalance.

When discussing the selection process for students and staff at his English educational centre, Krishnamurti always stressed the importance of the candidate’s ‘being’ – their deepest sensitivities, their goodness and intelligence (in his definitions of those words which had nothing to do with conventional morality or IQ), the depth of their questions about themselves and the world. Although he wanted both staff and students to be intellectually sound, he never stressed academic prowess, cultural abilities, or capacities as being more important than the willingness and ability to lead what he called a religious life’. In one memorable discussion, Jiddu Krishnamurti questioned the staff about all the qualities they looked for in prospective students (as it was all the staff together who chose new students and staff members). Krishnamurti then described himself as a boy. He said he had been vague, shy, dreamy and bad at all academics, but sensitive, full of wonder, trusting, and affectionate; and Krishnamurti asked if, according to the criteria the staff had just enunciated, they would have accepted him as a child. Again, a painful silence.

Our description of the students we were seeking for a Krishnamurti school seemed not to include the young Krishnamurti. How was this possible? It was because we as staff members were thinking too conventionally and traditionally, we were more interested in ‘doing’ than ‘being’, more interested in the measurable than the immeasurable; we were choosing what was most like us, we were again choosing Barabbas.

The consequences of Krishnamurti’s view of humanity for education

Earlier on in this paper, I tried to give a summary of Jiddu Krishnamurti’s view of the nature of a human being. It now remains to say just a few things about the relation of this view to what he felt were the consequences for education. I will concentrate on only two elements as they most directly support my contention that for Krishnamurti education was a religious activity. These two elements are: 1.) the distinction between mind and brain, and 2.) people need to be revealed to themselves not shaped by others.

Krishnamurti’s view that a human has both a brain and a mind puts him at odds with most modern perspectives and most learning theory. Although this article is too short to do justice to this topic, we can simplify the difference as follows: the brain is the material centre of the nervous system and the organ of cognition. It is therefore responsible for co-ordination of the senses, memory, rationality, intellectual knowledge, etc. The mind, which is not material, is related to insight (non-visual perception), compassion, and the profound intelligence that Jiddu Krishnamurti held as the real goal of life and therefore of education. Obviously one needs a brain that functions well (like one needs a heart or a liver that functions well) but the real source of acting rightly, of goodness, and of a religious life is the mind. In this unequal relationship between the two, a good brain can not ameliorate a mind, but a good mind does ameliorate the brain. The brain has an important role to play with the mind, and that role is freeing itself from its conditioning and from activities that inhibit the mind’s healthy functioning (i.e. hate, fear, pride, etc.); and helping the brain do this is one of the main functions of education (not accumulating knowledge).

The real issue is the quality of our mind: not its knowledge but the depth of the mind that meets knowledge. Mind is infinite, is the nature of the universe which has its own order, has its own immense energy. It is everlastingly free. The brain, as it is now, is the slave of knowledge and so is limited, finite, fragmentary. When the brain frees itself from its conditioning, then the brain is infinite, then only there is no division between the mind and the brain. Education then is freedom from conditioning, from its vast accumulated knowledge as tradition. This does not deny the academic disciplines which have their own proper place in life. (Krishnamurti 1985) (Letter dated 1st October 1982)

Contrary to the perspective that has shaped much in conventional education, Jiddu Krishnamurti felt that each person needs to explore themselves and reveal themselves to themselves rather than be shaped into something by others. This is not a new perspective, and again has links to the educational theories of Rousseau, Pestalozzi, Fröbel, and Montessori.

The function of education, then, is to help you from childhood not to imitate anybody, but to be yourself all the time. So freedom lies…in understanding what you are from moment to moment. You see, you are not [normally] educated for this; your education encourages you to become something or other… (Krishnamurti 1964) (Chapter 3) To understand life is to understand ourselves, and that is both the beginning and the end of education. (Krishnamurti 1953c) (Chapter 1)

Krishnamurti felt that not only was a person’s nature and deepest aspects to be uncovered, but each person also has a unique vocation that needs to be discovered; what he/she really loves to do has to be found and pursued, and to do anything else is a deprivation of the worst kind, especially if such deprivation is in order to pursue success or other such cultural aspirations. The discovery of the natural vocation for an individual student and the student’s understanding what he really loves to do may not fit into the plans of the parents or society, but it is an important part of understanding oneself and, consequently, of education.

Modern education is making us into thoughtless entities; it does very little towards helping us to find our individual vocation. (Krishnamurti 1964) (Chapter 3) To find out what you really love to do is one of the most difficult things. That is part of education. (Krishnamurti 1974) (Part 1, Chapter 8) Right education is to help you to find out for yourself what you really, with all your heart, love to do. It does not matter what it is, whether it is to cook, or to be a gardener, but is something in which you have put your mind, your heart. (Krishnamurti 1974) (Part 1, Chapter 8)

I realize I have not said anything about how Jiddu Krishnamurti felt that any of the above could be put into practice. The theme of this paper is too small to attempt that, and yet still I feel I have bitten off more than I can chew – or perhaps it is just more than I could present in a digestible form. I have wanted to show that for Krishnamurti education was first and foremost a religious activity. In 1929 he stated what he felt was the central intention in his life,

I want to do a certain thing in the world and I am going to do it with unwavering concentration. I am concerning myself with only one essential thing; to set man free. (Krishnamurti 1929)

For this Krishnamurti started schools, and for this reason only. We read the words of the young seventeen year old Krishnamurti who wrote,

If the unity of life and the oneness of its purpose could be clearly taught to the young in schools, how much brighter would be our hopes for the future! (Krishnamurti 1912) (Foreword)

Forty one years later he wrote,

If one becomes aware that there can be peace and harmony for man only through right education, then one will naturally give one’s whole life and interest to it. (Krishnamurti 1953c) (Chapter 6)

And that is exactly what he did.

Emerson, Ralph Waldo. (1965). Education 1864. In Selected Works of Ralph Waldo Emerson . New York: New American Library.

Krishnamurti, Jiddu (1912) Education As Service . Adyar, Madras: Theosophical Publishing Society.

Krishnamurti, Jiddu (1929) The Dissolution of the Order of the Star , 3rd August, at Ommen, Holland.

Krishnamurti, Jiddu (1948) 5th Public Talk , 26th September, at Poona.

Krishnamurti,, Jiddu (1953a) 3rd Public Talk , 31st January, at Poona.

Krishnamurti, Jiddu (1953b) 6th Public Talk , 5th July, at Ojai, CA.

Krishnamurti, Jiddu (1953c) Education And The Significance Of Life, London: Victor Gollancz Ltd.

Krishnamurti, Jiddu (1956) 5th Public Talk , 18th March, at Bombay.

Krishnamurti, Jiddu (1962) 2nd Public Talk , 7th June, at London.

Krishnamurti, Jiddu (1964) This Matter of Culture, London: Victor Gollancz.

Krishnamurti, Jiddu (1974) On Education , Pondicherry, India: All India Press.

Krishnamurti, Jiddu (1975) Dialogue on Education , at Ojai.

Krishnamurti, Jiddu (1979) 2nd Public Talk , 26 August, at Brockwood Park.

Krishnamurti, Jiddu (1981a) 2nd talk to students , 19th November, at Rajghat.

Krishnamurti, Jiddu (1981b) Letters To The Schools: Volume One . Den Haag, Holland: Mirananda.

Krishnamurti, Jiddu (1985) Letters To The Schools: Volume Two . Den Haag, Holland: Mirananda.

Krishnamurti, Jiddu (1987) Krishnamurti To Himself, London: Victor Gollancz.

Montessori, M. (1973) The Absorbant Mind, Madras: Kalakshetra Publications.

Sells, M. A. (1994) Mystical Languages of Unsaying, Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

For an introduction to his work:

Krishnamurti, Jiddu (1970) The Krishnamurti Reader (edited by M. Lutyens), London: Penguin/Arkana. Incorporates two of Krishnamurti’s books: The Urgency of Change and The Only Revolution .

Krishnamurti, Jiddu (1978) Beginnings of Learning , London: Penguin/Arkana.

Links to other resources on Krishnamurti and education

Visit the Krishnamurti Foundation’s J.Krishnamurti Online site. It has large collection of material about him and his approach and teachings:

Brief details of life

Jiddu Krishnamurti (1895 – 1986): born on 11 May, 1895, at Madanapalle, a small village in south India, Jiddu Krishnamurti was brought to England by Annie Besant (President of the Theosophist Society) and educated by her. She proclaimed him the Messiah and set up an organization (The Order of the Star in the East) to promote his teaching. In 1929, after experiencing considerable doubts about the role allotted to him, Jiddu Krishnamurti disbanded the organisation saying:

Truth is a pathless land, and you cannot approach it by any path whatsoever, by any religion, by any sect. Truth, being limitless, unconditioned, unapproachable by any path whatsoever, cannot be organized; nor should any organisation be formed to lead or to coerce people along any particular path. (from The Krishnamurti Foundation Trust)

From then until his death in February 1986, he travelled round the world speaking as a private person, teaching – giving talks and having discussions.

About the Author : Dr. Scott H. Forbes is the executive director of Holistic Education, Inc. , a non-profit organization based in Portland, Oregon. He guides the development of the Holistic Education Elementary School, directs the Teacher Development Program and heads the Holistic Education Research Unit. Scott’s intellectual work is being published under the title “Holistic Education: An Analysis of Its Ideas and Nature” (July 2003, Foundation for Educational Renewal).Previous to his doctoral work at The University of Oxford, Scott taught for 20 years (10 as Principal) at the Brockwood Park Krishnamurti Educational Centre in England.

Additional writings by Scott concerning Krishnamurti and education can be found in articles on freedom and values at:

the main article © Scott Forbes 1997

Acknowledgments : The picture of Jiddu Krishnamurti (believed to have been taken during the 1920s) is reproduced here in the belief that it is in the public domain. Sourced from Wikipedia Commons, it is a press photograph from the George Grantham Bain collection, which was purchased by the Library of Congress in 1948. According to the library, there are no known restrictions on the use of these photos.

The picture of the Valley Schools 33rd birthday celebrations is by Nagarjun Kansukuru and is reproduced here under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic licence. It was sourced from Flickr. The Valley School, established in 1978, is one of the five schools of the Krishnamurti Foundation India.

First published in this form May 30, 2000.

Last Updated on October 19, 2019 by

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23 Jiddu Krishnamurti

Dr. Manjunatha S.

Jiddu Krishnamurti (1895 – 1986) was an educational philosopher who believed that one of main objectives of education is to empower children with technological proficiency and inculcate those values which help them to function with clarity and efficiency in this modern era. More importantly he had thought that education must create an atmosphere in which children could develop as complete human beings. He has written extensively on issues of education, in general and the overall personality development of children in particular. According to him education is not just about preparing a child for some part of life, but it is a process in which a child is prepared for an entire life time of learning.

J. Krishnamurti is an educational philosopher whose thoughts are focused on understanding its basics as well as praxis of education. His views on education are integrated with the ideas on life, humanity and world. He had a holistic understanding of education and that is the reason why his concerns for education have great contemporary relevance. In his view the right kind of education is concerned with individual freedom, which alone can bring true cooperation with the whole, with the many; but this freedom is not achieved through the pursuit of one’s own aggrandizement and success. Freedom comes with self- knowledge, when the mind goes above and beyond the hindrances it has created for itself through craving its own security. It is the function of education to help each individual to discover all these psychological hindrances, and not merely impose upon him new patterns of conduct, new modes of thought. Such impositions will never awaken intelligence, creative understanding, but will only further condition the individual. Surely, this is what is happening throughout the world, and that is why our problems continue and multiply (

J. Krishnamurti’s educational ideas cannot be separated from his overall thoughts. He attended to all the day-to -day educational problems with deep understating and insight. His philosophical understanding of education includes ideas such as ‘intentions of education’, ‘physical nature of the places of education’, ‘participants in education’ and the ‘process of learning and teaching’ which are explained in detail in this module. It is very essential to understand Krishnamurti’s ideas of education since they are largely based on deep concern for humanity. The purpose of education, according to him is to cultivate the right relationships, not only between individuals, but also between the individual and society. Education must help an individual to understand his/her own psychological process. To be intelligent means ‘going beyond oneself and also conquer fear’

Life Sketch

Jiddu Krishnamurti (1895-1986) was born on 12th May, 1895 in the small town of Madanapalli in Madras Presidency. His father Jiddu Narayaniah had worked as an official in the British administration. His mother Sanjeevamma was very religious wand this had a profound impact on Krishnamurthi during the later years of his life. The childhood of Jiddu Krishnamurti was not an easy one. He was a sensitive and sick child who had suffered from malaria during most part of his childhood. He lost his mother at the age of ten and her death had a deep psychological impact throughout his life.

After retirement, Krishnamurti’s father having very limited means of earning found a clerk’s job in the Theosophical Society at Adyar in Madras. Later, Krishnamurthi and his brother were adopted by the Theosophical Society. Krishnamurti ’s experiences with the Theosophical Society had a deep impact on his thinking. He did not belong to any religious organisation or sect, nor did he adhere to any political ideology. Throughout his life Krishnamurthi travelled extensively talking about the need for bringing about a radical change in human beings.

(Jiddu Krishnamurti (1895 – 1986)

The following four aspects provide the basis for understanding the educational philosophy of Jiddu Krishnamurti. They are analysed under separate headings in the section that follows.

The Intentions of Education

Krishnamurti frequently stated the intentions of educational centres he founded in very unequivocal terms and religious terms. He was of the view that ‘children must be rightly educated so that they become religious human beings’ (Krishnamurti, 1974).

According to Krishnamurti these centres of education indicate a way of life which is not based on the goal of achieving pleasure. The emphasis must be on the understanding of right action, building meaningful relationships and the sacredness of religious life. These centres of learning exist as Krishnamurthi says for the enlightenment of human beings. In his own words “Surely they must be centres of learning a way of life which is not based on pleasure, on self-centered activities, but on the understanding of correct action, the depth and beauty of relationship, and the sacredness of a religious life” (Krishnamurti, 1981).

Krishnamurti always criticised the kind of education which merely fulfils the objective of obtaining a degree or a job using knowledge only for self-satisfaction. He never felt that education is to be seen as a mechanism for thrusting a lot of information on the child. Education is usually taken to be an organised, purposive activity, with pre-established goals. Krishnamurti’s view that “truth is a pathless land…it cannot be organized…” provides a base for rethinking the very goal of education. He located education in the active, existential, living present and considered it as a cooperative exploration by the teacher and student (Krishnamurti, 1912).

The real intention of education is to achieve freedom and the overall transformation of society. Here, Krishnamurti uses freedom as more of an inner aspect of human beings rather than being political in nature. Both parents and teachers need to give students the freedom to choose their future options. Education is not meant to cultivate technical competencies, but its primary focus must be on making people realise the true value of freedom. In the modern world, most often educational institutions concentrate on technical realms in which pupils mechanically learn without thinking of consequences. This, in turn leads to destruction and does not do good to humanity.

Krishnamurti sees education not with the eyes of a reformer or as a means to serve this or that end, but as an intrinsic, self-fulfilling experience requiring no further justification. The function of  education, he said, is “to bring about a mind that will not only act in the immediate but go beyond…a mind that is extraordinarily alive, not with knowledge, not with experience, but alive”. “More important than making the child technologically proficient is the creation of the right climate in the school for the child to develop fully as a complete human being”. This means giving him “the opportunity to flower in goodness, so that he is rightly related to people, things and ideas, to the whole of life” (Krishnamurti, 1974).

The Physical Nature of the Places of Education

Jiddu Krishnamurti has also laid emphasis on the physical nature of educational centres. In his philosophical understanding of education, Krishnamurthi focused his attention on the following three aspects of physical nature of educational centres:

Aesthetics: All the schools started by J. Krishnamurthi are known for their pleasing physical ambience, which is serene and aesthetically appealing. A pleasing school environment is not just about beauty, but aesthetically appealing surroundings are necessary for proper development of a child’s personality. J .Krishnamurti connected aesthetics to religion. He expected his staff to develop an appreciation for beauty and always ensured that they adhered to this rule. In the designing of educational centres Krishnamurthi gave a pivotal place to nature. He felt that relationship with nature had a significant impact on the development of a child’s personality. His schools are mostly located in the countryside and places close to nature.

Special Areas in Centres of Education: J. Krishnamurti insisted that each educational centre must have special areas to maintain silence and religiosity. He often spoke to the students of the importance of a quiet mind or silence so that they could concentrate on their thoughts. He used to tell his students “…you see meditation means to have a very quiet, still mind, not a chattering mind; to have a really quiet body, quiet mind so that your mind becomes religious” (Krishnamurti, 1981). He was of the opinion that the “mind of a religious man is very quiet, sane, rational, logical – and one needs such a mind… (Krishnamurti, 1963). He emphasised that such special places must be in the centre of educational institutions rather than in the periphery.

Atmosphere: Apart from the atmosphere created by aesthetics and special areas in educational institutions Krishnamurti says that at least a part of the atmosphere must be created by the participants themselves. This atmosphere is another link in understanding the religiousness of education. A place may carry an atmosphere, but it is the people who create it or destroy it. To illustrate this he would cite places that at one time were known to have had very special and powerful atmospheres but which were destroyed through neglect, incompetence or corrupt behaviour.

The Participants in Education

Krishnamurti noted that there are two categories of participants in education- staff and students. He perceived staff as those who are in regular contact with educational environment, if not directly with students. He used to say that every function of the staff, however small it may be was very significant for the growth of a child.

He distinguished the participants of education from the participants of any other organisation such as hospitals, police etc. The single reason he gives for such uniqueness being seen in the participants of education is their religious fervour, attitude and behaviour which stand distinct in an educational setting. In the J. Krishnamurti model of model of education there was no hierarchical order in which staff and students were placed. However, there were some differences among them with regard to their experience and responsibilities. Though he laid emphasis on the need for an educational fervour in education, he maintained that the participants in this system do not belong to any clan, sect or to any organised religion.

It is evidently pertinent that staff had some authority over certain parts of educational activities such as for example, administration or gardening. However the major goal of education is to achieve inner liberation and freedom. Krishnamurti repeatedly pointed out that both staff and students are learners and therefore both are equal. He noted that “…authority has its place as knowledge, but there is no spiritual authority under any circumstances… That is, authority destroys freedom, but the  authority of a doctor, mathematics teacher and how he teaches, that doesn’t destroy freedom” (Krishnamurti, 1975).

When discussing the selection process for students and staff at his English Educational Centre, Krishnamurti always stressed the importance of the candidates’ ‘being’, their ‘deepest sensitivities’, ‘goodness and intelligence’ and the ‘depth of their questions about themselves and the world’(his definitions of these words had nothing to do with conventional morality or IQ). Although he wanted both staff and students to be intellectually sound, he never stressed academic prowess, cultural abilities, or capacities as being more important than the willingness and ability to lead what he called a religious life’. In one memorable discussion Jiddu Krishnamurti questioned the staff about all the qualities they looked for in prospective students (this group comprised of the staff who were involved in the selection of new students and staff). Krishnamurthi then described himself as a boy. He said he had been vague, shy, dreamy and bad in academics, but sensitive, full of wonder, trusting, and affectionate. He would want to know from his teachers if, according to the criteria they had just enunciated, they would have accepted him as a child.

The Process of Learning and Teaching

J. Krishnamurti’s point of view was that education is fundamentally the art of learning, not only from books, but from the whole cycle of life. A student has to learn about the nature of the intellect, its dominance, its activities, its vast capacities and its destructive power. Learning is not from a book but from the observation of the world about you…without theories, prejudices and values ((Krishnamurti, 1981).

Krishnamurti writes about the method of education in the following passage. “If one really has something to say, the very saying of it creates its own style; but learning a style without inward experiencing can only lead to superficiality…Likewise, people who are experiencing, and therefore teaching, are the only real teachers, and they too will create their own technique” ((Krishnamurti, 2000).

To J. Krishnamurti schooling was without competition and comparison: When A is compared to B, who is clever, bright, assertive, that very comparison destroys A. This ‘destruction takes the form of competition, of imitation and conformity to the patterns set by B. This breeds antagonism, jealousy, anxiety and even fear; and this becomes the condition in which A lives for the rest of his life, always measuring, always comparing psychologically and physically… Goodness cannot flower where there is any kind of competitiveness’ (Krishnamurti, 1981). To him learning is pure observation, which is not continuous and which then becomes memory, but observation that must happen every moment, not only of the things outside us but also of what is happening inwardly. One must not look with one’s mind but with one’s eyes. It is only than that you find out that the outside is the inside…that the observer is the observed (Krishnamurti, 1974).

Krishnamurti’s views on education clearly indicate that he gave a prime place to freedom and order in the teaching-learning process. He laid great stress on values such as punctuality, kindness, generosity and fearlessness. One has to discover discipline through the practice of these values. By avoiding constraint one does not become free, there is need to develop clarity of perception, which is in essence freedom from self. Only respect for freedom could lead to development of healthy relationships (Krishnamurti, 1974).

Krishnamurti is essentially a philosopher of education. His teachings had a core concern for education. He also finds a place as an important educational thinker in courses on educational theory and philosophy.

The educational issues raised by Krishnamurti—place of knowledge in education, freedom and discipline, learning from nature, role of sensory experience and observation, comparison and competition are of such abiding concern that they have been discussed by several educational thinkers in the past and continue to hold contemporary relevance. He dealt with issues pertaining to education not just as being part of a mechanical teaching-learning process, but as concerns that had to be  addressed if a meaningful system of education had to be evolved. His educational thoughts provide a framework for revisiting the methodologies and outcomes of the present system of education. J Krishnamurthi’s writings, talks and reflections on education have also generated a lot of thinking on various aspects of schooling, teaching and learning.

The passage below gives an idea of what J. Krishnamurti envisaged as education, and gives the reader enough thoughts to ponder over, especially in the context of changes happening both in society-at-large and the field of education: “Education is not only learning from books, memorizing some facts, but also learning how to look, how to listen to what the books are saying, whether they are saying something true or false. All that is part of education. Education is not just to pass examinations, take a degree and a job, get married and settle down, but also to be able to listen to the birds, to see the sky, to see the extraordinary beauty of a tree, and the shape of the hills, and to feel with them, to be really, directly in touch with them. As you grow older, that sense of listening, seeing, unfortunately disappears because you have worries, you want more money, a better car, more children or less children. You become jealous, ambitious, greedy, envious; so you lose the sense of the beauty of the earth. You know what is happening in the world. You must be studying current events. There are wars, revolts, nation divided against nation. In this country too there is division, separation, more and more people being born, poverty, squalor and complete callousness. Man does not care what happens to another so long as he is perfectly safe. And you are being educated to fit into all this. Do you know the world is mad, that all this is madness – this fighting, quarrelling, bullying, tearing at each other? And you will grow up to fit into this. Is this right, is this what education is meant for, that you should willingly or unwillingly fit into this mad structure called society? And do you know what is happening to religions throughout the world? Here also man is disintegrating, nobody believes in anything anymore. Man has no faith and religions are merely the result of a vast propaganda. (J Krishnamurti ONLINE The Official repository of the authentic teachings of J. Krishnamurti

The essence of J. Krishnamurti’s thoughts on education could be gauged in the following quote- “The purpose, the aim and drive of these schools is to equip the child with the most excellent technological proficiency so that he may function with clarity and efficiency in the modern world, and, far more important, to create the right climate so that the child may develop fully as a complete human being. This means giving him the opportunity to flower in goodness so that he is rightly related to people, things and ideas, to the whole of life. To live is to be related. There is no right relationship to anything if there is not the right feeling for beauty, a response to nature, to music and art, a highly developed aesthetic sense. I think it is fairly clear that competitive education and the development of the student in that process —the pattern which we now cultivate and call education— is very, very destructive. You teach him to read and write within the present system of frustration then the flowering of the mind is impeded. The question then is: if one drops this competitive education, can the mind be educated at all in the accepted sense of the word? Or, does education consist really in taking ourselves and the student away from the social structure of frustration and desire and, at the same time, giving him information about mathematics, physics, and so on? We must be very clear in ourselves what we want, clear what a human being must be — the total human being not just the technological human being. If we concentrate very much on examinations, on technological information, on making the child clever, proficient in acquiring knowledge while we neglect the other side, then the child will grow up into a one-sided human being. So we must find a way, we must bring about a movement which will cover both. So far we have separated the two and, having separated them, we have emphasized the one and neglected the other. What we are now trying to do is to join both of them together. If there is proper education, the student will not treat them as two separate fields. He will be able to move in both as one movement; in making himself technologically perfect, he will also make himself a worthwhile human being”(

  • v Krishnamurti Jiddu. (1912) Education as Service . Theosophical Publishing Society. Adyar, Madras.
  • v ________________ (1953) Education and the Significance of Life. Victor Gollancz Ltd. London.
  • v ________________ (1963). Life Ahead . Victor Golancz. London.
  • v ________________ (1974). On Education. Orient Longman. New Delhi.
  • v ________________ (1975). Beginnings of Learning. Victor Golancz. London.
  • v ________________ (1981). Letters to School . Krishnamurthi Foundation India. Chennai.
  • v ________________ (2000). Education and the Significance of Life. Krishnamurthi Foundation India. Chennai.
  • v ________________ (2000). The Awakening of Intelligence . Penguin Books India. New Delhi.
  • v ________________ (2002). The Revolution from within . Krishnamurthi Foundation India. Chennai.
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J. Krishnamurti and Educational Practice: Social and Moral Vision for Inclusive Education

J. Krishnamurti and Educational Practice: Social and Moral Vision for Inclusive Education

J. Krishnamurti and Educational Practice: Social and Moral Vision for Inclusive Education

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First in the series on Education and Society in South Asia, this volume focuses on the educational thought of a world-renowned teacher, thinker, and writer—Jiddu Krishnamurti (1895–1986). This edited volume examines Krishnamurti’s work and explores his contemporary relevance in educational endeavours and practices in different parts of the country. The contributors to the volume argue that Krishnamurti sought to change the way education is perceived, from the mere teaching of curriculum into a life-changing experience of learning from relationships and life. Through a range of essays that address diverse issues and themes, the contributors seek to uncover the practices and processes at some of the institutions that Krishnamurti established in different parts of rural and urban India. These include essays on curriculum building, inclusive education, pedagogy, debates on educational philosophy and practice, and teacher education. They help bring out the barriers and breakthroughs in the educational processes as practiced in these schools and how they may further be applied to other educational institutions.

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Profile image of JOHN MOHAN RAZU

One of the greatest exponents of education philosophers of the 20th century. His contribution is still relevant to our contemporary system of education in India.

Related Papers

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This paper presents insights for philosophical counseling rooted in the thought of Jiddu Krish-namurti, a modern Indian thinker. This paper does not suggest that Krishnamurti was a philosopher or philosophical counsellor, even though his words inspired many towards personal transformation. Rather, the attempt here is to suggest that a cogent approach to philosophical counseling may be rooted in the thought of Krishnamurti. To develop this proposition, this paper explicates the ideas of illusory self, images and experience from Krishnamurti's thought as these hold relevance to the practice of philosophical counseling. Krishnamurti believes that self is an illusion created of mental images that tend to become so powerful over time that they hinder our genuine engagement with people and the world. This genuine engagement with others and the world is possible only through a non-judgmental state of mind which Krishnamurti calls 'choiceless aware-ness'. This state of mind involves observation devoid of the usual psychological processes, such as, comparing, contrasting, and evaluating. The paper further elaborates on the proposition of mental images being at the core of psychological suffering. Subsequently, the paper explicates the underlying assumptions of the system of philosophical counseling based on the thought of Krishnamurti followed by a detailed discussion on the implications and practical considerations. This discussion is centered around the possibility of using philosophical counselling in deconstructing the images and discovering one's true self to give a direction to one's life. This paper ends with some concluding remarks that highlight the special relevance that Krishnamurti's ideas may hold when applied to philosophical counseling in present times.

Anbananthan Rathnam

The purpose of this qualitative research study, which utilizes a phenomenological inquiry method, is to inquire into the awareness of what it means to be a whole teacher from the perspective of the philosophy of Jiddu Krishnamurti, a philosopher/spiritual teacher. Four participants (teachers) were interviewed from the Oak Grove School, an alternative, holistic school founded by Krishnamurti in 1974. This inquiry probed into teachers‘ thinking, teachers‘ lives, teachers‘ inner lives, teachers‘ contemplative practices, teachers‘ calling/vocation and teachers‘ pedagogy. The findings of this inquiry reveal the awareness that exists among the participants with regards to their understanding of Krishnamurti‘s educational philosophy and the way in which this philosophy has shaped their lives and the lives of their students (both implicitly and explicitly) The findings from this research further show that Krishnamurti‘s philosophy has certainly had an impact on the participants‘ wholeness. ...

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Hitesh Kawedia

DrVenkateshwar Rao Rokandla

􀁔􀁨􀁥􀀠􀁰􀁲􀁥􀁳􀁥􀁮􀁴􀀠􀁡􀁲􀁴􀁩􀁣􀁬􀁥􀀠􀀢􀁍􀁡􀁮􀁡􀁧􀁩􀁮􀁧􀀠􀁐􀁲􀁯􀁤􀁵􀁣􀁴􀀠􀁖􀁡􀁲􀁩􀁥􀁴􀁹􀀠􀁩􀁮􀀠􀁁􀁵􀁴􀁯􀁭􀁯􀁢􀁩􀁬􀁥􀀠􀁓􀁵􀁰􀁰􀁬􀁹􀀠􀁃􀁨􀁡􀁩􀁮􀀭􀀠 􀁁􀁮􀁡􀁬􀁹􀁳􀁩􀁳􀀠􀁯􀁦􀀠􀁈􀁥􀁲􀁯􀀠􀁈􀁯􀁮􀁤􀁡􀀠􀁡􀁮􀁤􀀠􀁂􀁡􀁪􀁡􀁪􀀠􀁁􀁵􀁴􀁯􀀠􀁃􀁯􀁭􀁰􀁡􀁮􀁩􀁥􀁳􀀢􀀠􀁥􀁸􀁡􀁭􀁩􀁮􀁥􀁳􀀠􀁴􀁨􀁥􀀠􀁰􀁲􀁡􀁣􀁴􀁩􀁣􀁥􀁳􀀠􀁲􀁥􀁬􀁡􀁴􀁩􀁮􀁧􀀠􀁴􀁯􀀠􀁴􀁨􀁥􀀠􀁈􀁥􀁲􀁯􀀠 􀁈􀁯􀁮􀁤􀁡􀀠􀁡􀁮􀁤􀀠􀁂􀁡􀁪􀁡􀁪􀀠􀁁􀁵􀁴􀁯􀀠􀁄􀁥􀁡􀁬􀁥􀁲􀁳􀀠􀁯􀁮􀀠􀁴􀁨􀁥􀁩􀁲􀀠􀁳􀁵􀁰􀁰􀁬􀁹􀀠􀁣􀁨􀁡􀁩􀁮􀀠􀁰􀁲􀁡􀁣􀁴􀁩􀁣􀁥􀁳􀀮􀀠􀁔􀁨􀁩􀁳􀀠􀁡􀁲􀁴􀁩􀁣􀁬􀁥􀀠􀁣􀁲􀁩􀁴􀁩􀁣􀁡􀁬􀁬􀁹􀀠􀁥􀁸􀁡􀁭􀁩􀁮􀁥􀁳􀀠􀁳􀁵􀁰􀁰􀁬􀁹􀀠 􀁣􀁨􀁡􀁩􀁮􀀠􀁭􀁡􀁮􀁡􀁧􀁥􀁭􀁥􀁮􀁴􀀠􀁰􀁲􀁡􀁣􀁴􀁩􀁣􀁥􀁳􀀠􀁡􀁤􀁯􀁰􀁴􀁥􀁤􀀠􀁢􀁹􀀠􀁤􀁥􀁡􀁬􀁥􀁲􀁳􀀠􀁩􀁮􀀠􀁧􀁥􀁮􀁥􀁲􀁡􀁬􀀠􀁡􀁮􀁤􀀠􀁣􀁯􀁭􀁰􀁡􀁮􀁹􀀠􀁰􀁲􀁡􀁣􀁴􀁩􀁣􀁥􀁳􀀠􀁩􀁮􀀠􀁰􀁡􀁲􀁴􀁩􀁣􀁵􀁬􀁡􀁲􀀮􀀠􀁔􀁨􀁥􀀠 􀁳􀁵􀁰􀁰􀁬􀁹􀀠􀁣􀁨􀁡􀁩􀁮􀀠􀁭􀁥􀁴􀁲􀁩􀁣􀁳􀀠􀁡􀁲􀁥􀀠􀁣􀁡􀁬􀁣􀁵􀁬􀁡􀁴􀁥􀁤􀀠􀁷􀁩􀁴􀁨􀀠􀁴􀁨􀁥􀀠􀁤􀁡􀁴􀁡􀀠􀁣􀁯􀁬􀁬􀁥􀁣􀁴􀁥􀁤􀀠􀁡􀁴􀀠􀁤􀁥􀁡􀁬􀁥􀁲􀀠􀁰􀁯􀁩􀁮􀁴􀀮􀀠􀁔􀁨􀁥􀀠􀁣􀁡􀁬􀁣􀁵􀁬􀁡􀁴􀁥􀁤􀀠􀁲􀁥􀁳􀁵􀁬􀁴􀀠􀁩􀁳􀀠 􀁣􀁯􀁭􀁰􀁡􀁲􀁥􀁤􀀠􀁴􀁯􀀠􀁡􀁳􀁣􀁥􀁲􀁴􀁡􀁩􀁮􀀠􀁰􀁥􀁲􀁦􀁯􀁲􀁭􀁡􀁮􀁣􀁥􀀠􀁡􀁮􀁤􀀠􀁰􀁲􀁡􀁣􀁴􀁩􀁣􀁥􀁳􀀠􀁡􀁤􀁯􀁰􀁴􀁥􀁤􀀠􀁢􀁹􀀠􀁲􀁥􀁳􀁰􀁥􀁣􀁴􀁩􀁶􀁥􀀠􀁳􀁵􀁰􀁰􀁬􀁹􀀠􀁣􀁨􀁡􀁩􀁮􀁳􀀮􀀠􀁔􀁨􀁩􀁳􀀠􀁡􀁲􀁴􀁩􀁣􀁬􀁥􀀠 􀁥􀁸􀁡􀁭􀁩􀁮􀁥􀁳􀀠 􀁰􀁲􀁡􀁣􀁴􀁩􀁣􀁥􀁳􀀠 􀁯􀁦􀀠 􀁈􀁥􀁲􀁯􀀠 􀁈􀁯􀁮􀁤􀁡􀀠 􀁡􀁮􀁤􀀠 􀁂􀁡􀁪􀁡􀁪􀀠 􀁁􀁵􀁴􀁯􀀠 􀁣􀁯􀁭􀁰􀁡􀁮􀁩􀁥􀁳􀀠 􀁢􀁹􀀠 􀁤􀁥􀁶􀁥􀁬􀁯􀁰􀁩􀁮􀁧􀀠 􀁭􀁥􀁴􀁲􀁩􀁣􀁳􀀠 􀁲􀁥􀁬􀁡􀁴􀁥􀁤􀀠 􀁴􀁯􀀠 􀁰􀁲􀁯􀁤􀁵􀁣􀁴􀀠 􀁶􀁡􀁲􀁩􀁥􀁴􀁹􀀬􀀠 􀁮􀁥􀁷􀀠 􀁰􀁲􀁯􀁤􀁵􀁣􀁴􀀠 􀁴􀁩􀁭􀁥􀀭􀁴􀁯􀀭􀁭􀁡􀁲􀁫􀁥􀁴􀀬􀀠 􀁡􀁦􀁴􀁥􀁲􀀠 􀁭􀁡􀁲􀁫􀁥􀁴􀀠 􀁰􀁥􀁲􀁦􀁯􀁲􀁭􀁡􀁮􀁣􀁥􀀠 􀁡􀁮􀁤􀀠 􀁵􀁮􀁣􀁥􀁲􀁴􀁡􀁩􀁮􀀠 􀁤􀁥􀁭􀁡􀁮􀁤􀀠 􀁭􀁡􀁩􀁮􀁴􀁥􀁮􀁡􀁮􀁣􀁥􀀠􀁥􀁴􀁣􀀠􀁰􀁲􀁡􀁣􀁴􀁩􀁣􀁥􀁳􀀠􀁩􀁮􀀠􀁲􀁥􀁳􀁰􀁥􀁣􀁴􀁩􀁶􀁥􀀠􀁡􀁵􀁴􀁯􀁭􀁯􀁢􀁩􀁬􀁥􀀠􀁳􀁵􀁰􀁰􀁬􀁹􀀠􀁣􀁨􀁡􀁩􀁮􀁳􀀮􀀠􀁔􀁨􀁥􀀠􀁲􀁥􀁳􀁵􀁬􀁴􀁳􀀠􀁯􀁦􀀠􀁡􀁢􀁯􀁶􀁥􀀠􀁭􀁥􀁴􀁲􀁩􀁣􀁳􀀠􀁡􀁲􀁥􀀠 􀁣􀁯􀁭􀁰􀁡􀁲􀁥􀁤􀀠􀁷􀁩􀁴􀁨􀀠􀁤􀁩􀁭􀁥􀁮􀁳􀁩􀁯􀁮􀀠􀁯􀁦􀀠􀁥􀁦􀁦􀁩􀁣􀁩􀁥􀁮􀁣􀁹􀀠􀁯􀁲􀀠􀁲􀁥􀁳􀁰􀁯􀁮􀁳􀁩􀁶􀁥􀁮􀁥􀁳􀁳􀀠􀁯􀁦􀀠􀁳􀁵􀁰􀁰􀁬􀁹􀀠􀁣􀁨􀁡􀁩􀁮􀀠􀁭􀁡􀁮􀁡􀁧􀁥􀁭􀁥􀁮􀁴􀀠􀁰􀁲􀁡􀁣􀁴􀁩􀁣􀁥􀁳􀀮 􀁐􀁲􀁯􀁤􀁵􀁣􀁴􀀠 􀁖􀁡􀁲􀁩􀁥􀁴􀁹􀀬􀀠 􀁎􀁥􀁷􀀠 􀁐􀁲􀁯􀁤􀁵􀁣􀁴􀀠 􀁔􀁩􀁭􀁥􀀭􀁔􀁯􀀭􀁍􀁡􀁲􀁫􀁥􀁴􀀬􀀠 􀁁􀁦􀁴􀁥􀁲􀀠 􀁍􀁡􀁲􀁫􀁥􀁴􀀠 􀁐􀁥􀁲􀁦􀁯􀁲􀁭􀁡􀁮􀁣􀁥􀀬􀀠 􀀠 􀀠 􀀠 􀀠 􀀠 􀀠 􀀠 􀀠 􀀠 􀀠 􀁕􀁮􀁣􀁥􀁲􀁴􀁡􀁩􀁮􀀠􀁄􀁥􀁭􀁡􀁮􀁤􀀠􀀦􀀠􀁓􀁥􀁡􀁳􀁯􀁮􀁡􀁬􀀠􀁄􀁥􀁭􀁡􀁮􀁤􀀠􀁡􀁮􀁤􀀠􀁓􀁵􀁰􀁰􀁬􀁹􀀠􀁃􀁨􀁡􀁩􀁮􀀠􀁐􀁥􀁲􀁦􀁯􀁲􀁭􀁡􀁮􀁣􀁥


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Teacher Plus

J. Krishnamurti and school education

Born in 1895, Shri J. Krishnamurti had an extraordinary life. Anointed as the world teacher by CW Lead beater and Dr Annie Besant of the Theosophical Society, he was catapulted from a modest home to high prominence in a worldwide organization. He, however, disbanded the organization set up for his work. He said in 1929, “I maintain that Truth is a pathless land, and you cannot approach it by any path whatsoever, by any religion, by any sect. My only concern is to set men absolutely, unconditionally free.” He held steadfast to this idea till his death in 1986. While he spoke to global audiences he maintained that he was not trying to convince anyone of anything, that he was not their teacher!

He founded schools in India, UK and USA. Some features are common to these schools that run under the umbrella of the Krishnamurti Foundation in India, England and America. His unique contribution has the potential of bringing unique dimensions to human society in a world that is being torn apart with every form of division. This article draws on the words of Shri J.Krishnamurti to elaborate the points such as the intention of a school, size of a school, what is right education, the role of parents and teacher.

THE right kind of education is concerned with individual freedom, which alone can bring true cooperation with the whole, with the many; but this freedom is not achieved through the pursuit of one’s own aggrandizement and success. Freedom comes with self-knowledge, when the mind goes above and beyond the hindrances it has created for itself through craving its own security.

Intention – The process of education is one of socialization into a context, a fitting into the world. This can be seen as a process of conditioning. Krishnamurti asks if education can free oneself of one’s conditioning. This means the aim of education is not to condition the mind with ‘better’ conditioning.

It is the function of education to help each individual to discover all these psychological hindrances, and not merely impose upon him new patterns of conduct, new modes of thought. Such impositions will never awaken intelligence, creative understanding, but will only further condition the individual. Surely, this is what is happening throughout the world, and that is why our problems continue and multiply.

Size – Krishnamurti said that all schools should be small so the individual can be properly educated and the teachers would be able to observe and understand the children.

A school which is successful in the worldly sense is more often than not a failure as an educational centre. A large and flourishing institution in which hundreds of children are educated together, with all its accompanying show and success, can turn out bank clerks and super-salesmen, industrialists or commissars, superficial people who are technically efficient; but there is hope only in the integrated individual, which only small schools can help to bring about. That is why it is far more important to have schools with a limited number of boys and girls and the right kind of educators, than to practise the latest and best methods in large institutions.

A direct and vital relationship between teacher and student is almost impossible when the teacher is weighed down by large and unmanageable numbers. This is still another reason why schools should be kept small. It is obviously important to have a very limited number of students in a class, so that the educator can give his full attention to each one. When the group is too large he cannot do this, and then punishment and reward become a convenient way of enforcing discipline.

Unfortunately, one of our confusing difficulties is that we think we must operate on a huge scale. Most of us want large schools with imposing buildings, even though they are obviously not the right kind of educational centres, because we want to transform or affect what we call the masses.

But who are the masses? You and I. Let us not get lost in the thought that the masses must also be rightly educated. The consideration of the mass is a form of escape from immediate action. Right education will become universal if we begin with the immediate, if we are aware of ourselves in our relationship with our children, with our friends and neighbours. Our own action in the world we live in, in the world of our family and friends, will have expanding influence and effect.

Nothing of fundamental value can be accomplished through mass instruction, but only through the careful study and understanding of the difficulties, tendencies and capacities of each child; and those who are aware of this, and who earnestly desire to understand themselves and help the young, should come together and start a school that will have vital significance in the child’s life by helping him to be integrated and intelligent.

To start such a school, they need not wait until they have the necessary means. One can be a true teacher at home and opportunities will come to the earnest. Those who love their own children and the children about them, and who are therefore in earnest, will see to it that a right school is started somewhere around the corner, or in their own home. Then the money will come – it is the least important consideration. To maintain a small school of the right kind is of course financially difficult; it can flourish only on selfsacrifice, not on a fat bank account. Money invariably corrupts unless there is love and understanding. But if it is really a worthwhile school, the necessary help will be found. When there is love of the child, all things are possible.

In building enormous institutions and employing teachers who depend on a system instead of being alert and observant in their relationship with the individual student, we merely encourage the accumulation of facts, the development of capacity, and the habit of thinking mechanically, according to a pattern; but certainly none of this helps the student to grow into an integrated human being.

As long as the institution is the most important consideration, the child is not. The right kind of educator is concerned with the individual, and not with the number of pupils he has; and such an educator will discover that he can have a vital and significant school which some parents will support. But the teacher must have the flame of interest; if he is lukewarm, he will have an institution like any other.

If parents really love their children, they will employ legislation and other means to establish small schools staffed with the right kind of educators.… They should realize, however, that there will inevitably be opposition from vested interests, from governments and organized religions, because such schools are bound to be deeply revolutionary. True revolution is not the violent sort; it comes about through cultivating the integration and intelligence of human beings who, by their very life, will gradually create radical changes in society.

In the seclusion of a small school one is apt to forget that there is an outside world, with its ever-increasing conflict, destruction and misery. That world is not separate from us. On the contrary, it is part of us, for we have made it what it is; and that is why, if there is to be a fundamental alteration in the structure of society, right education is the first step.

But it is of the utmost importance that all the teachers in a school of this kind should come together voluntarily, without being persuaded or chosen; for voluntary freedom from worldliness is the only right foundation for a true educational centre. If the teachers are to help one another and the students to understand the right values, there must be constant and alert awareness in their daily relationship.

The centre cannot be made up of the headmaster alone. If the headmaster is dominating, then the spirit of freedom and co-operation obviously cannot exist. A strong character may build a first-rate school, but fear and subservience creep in, and then it generally happens that the rest of the staff is composed of nonentities.

Such a group is not conducive to individual freedom and understanding. The staff should not be under the domination of the headmaster, and the headmaster should not assume all the responsibility; on the contrary, each teacher should feel responsible for the whole.

One may doubt that a school can be run without a central authority; but one really does not know, because it has never been tried. Surely, in a group of true educators, this problem of authority will never arise. When all are endeavouring to be free and intelligent, cooperation with one another is possible at all levels.

Intelligent teachers are pliable in the exercise of their capacities; attempting to be individually free, they abide by the regulations and do what is necessary for the benefit of the whole school. Serious interest is the beginning of capacity, and both are strengthened by application.

There must be unstinted co-operation among all the teachers in a school of the right kind. The whole staff should meet often to talk over the various problems of the school; and when they have agreed upon a certain course of action, there should obviously be no difficulty in carrying out what has been decided. If some decision taken by the majority does not meet with the approval of a particular teacher, it can be discussed again at the next meeting of the faculty.

No teacher should be afraid of the headmaster, nor should the headmaster feel intimidated by the older teachers. Happy agreement is possible only when there is a feeling of absolute equality among all.

The spirit of individual freedom and intelligence should pervade the whole school at all times. This can hardly be left to chance and the casual mention at odd moments of the words “freedom” and “intelligence” has very little significance.

The school should encourage the children to understand one another’s difficulties and peculiarities, moods and tempers; for then, as they grow up, they will be more thoughtful and patient in their relationship with others.

This same spirit of freedom and intelligence should be evident also in the child’s studies. If he is to be creative and not merely an automaton, the student should not be encouraged to accept formulas and conclusions. Even in the study of a science, one should reason with him, helping him to see the problem in its entirety and to use his own judgment.

If the educator is concerned with the freedom of the individual, and not with his own preconceptions, he will help the child to discover that freedom by encouraging him to understand his own environment, his own temperament, his religious and family background, with all the influences and effects they can possibly have on him. If there is love and freedom in the hearts of the teachers themselves, they will approach each student mindful of his needs and difficulties; and then they will not be mere automatons, operating according to methods and formulas, but spontaneous human beings, ever alert and watchful.

Right education – The right kind of education should also help the student to discover what he is most interested in. If he does not find his true vocation, all his life will seem wasted; he will feel frustrated doing something which he does not want to do. If he wants to be an artist and instead becomes a clerk in some office, he will spend his life grumbling and pining away.

So it is important for each one to find out what he wants to do, and then to see if it is worth doing. A boy may want to be a soldier; but before he takes up soldiering, he should be helped to discover whether the military vocation is beneficial to the whole of mankind.

Right education should help the student, not only to develop his capacities, but to understand his own highest interest. In a world torn by wars, destruction and misery, one must be able to build a new social order and bring about a different way of living.

But what about guidance? Should there be no guidance whatsoever? The answer to this question depends on what is meant by ‘guidance.’ If in their hearts, the teachers have put away all fear and all desire for domination, then they can help the student towards creative understanding and freedom; but if there is a conscious or unconscious desire to guide him towards a particular goal, then obviously they are hindering his development. Guidance towards a particular objective, whether created by oneself or imposed by another, impairs creativeness.

Parents and adults The responsibility for building a peaceful and enlightened society rests chiefly with the educator, and it is obvious, without becoming emotionally stirred up about it, that he has a very great opportunity to help in achieving that social transformation. The right kind of education does not depend on the regulations of any government or the methods of any particular system; it lies in our own hands, in the hands of the parents and the teachers.

If parents really cared for their children, they would build a new society; but fundamentally most parents do not care, and so they have no time for this most urgent problem. They have time for making money, for amusements, for rituals and worship, but no time to consider what is the right kind of education for their children. This is a fact that the majority of people do not want to face. To face it might mean that they would have to give up their amusements and distractions, and certainly they are not willing to do that. So they send their children off to schools where the teacher cares no more for them than they do. Why should he care? Teaching is merely a job to him, a way of earning money.

We say so easily that we love our children; but is there love in our hearts when we accept the existing social conditions, when we do not want to bring about a fundamental transformation in this destructive society? And as long as we look to the specialists to educate our children, this confusion and misery will continue; for the specialists, being concerned with the part and not with the whole, are themselves unintegrated.

The teacher – both the pupil and the master An educator is not merely a giver of information; he is one who points the way to wisdom, to truth. Truth is far more important than the teacher. The search for truth is religion, and truth is of no country, of no creed, it is not to be found in any temple, church or mosque. Without the search for truth, society soon decays. To create a new society, each one of us has to be a true teacher, which means that we have to be both the pupil and the master; we have to educate ourselves.

The world we have created is so superficial, so artificial, so ugly if one looks behind the curtain; and we decorate the curtain, hoping that everything will somehow come right. Most people are unfortunately not very earnest about life except, perhaps, when it comes to making money, gaining power, or pursuing sexual excitement. They do not want to face the other complexities of life, and that is why, when their children grow up, they are as immature and unintegrated as their parents, constantly battling with themselves and with the world.

To regard education as a means of livelihood is to exploit the children for one’s own advantage. In an enlightened society, teachers will have no concern for their own welfare, and the community will provide for their needs.

The true teacher is not he who has built up an impressive educational organization, nor he who is an instrument of the politicians, nor he who is bound to an ideal, a belief or a country. The true teacher is inwardly rich and therefore asks nothing for himself; he is not ambitious and seeks no power in any form; he does not use teaching as a means of acquiring position or authority, and therefore he is free from the compulsion of society and the control of governments. Such teachers have the primary place in an enlightened civilization, for true culture is founded, not on the engineers and technicians, but on the educators.

So clearly, J.Krishnamurti’s vision of education goes well beyond merely fitting the individual to society’s needs but offers a comprehensive, human and non divisive ground for understanding the current praxis and assumptions. This offers the opportunity of finding a truer, grounded, relevant education that sees the human consciousness at the source of all movement.

Note: All writing in italics in this article is from Chapter 5 – ‘The School’ – Education and Significance of Life by Shri J.Krishnamurti

The author has been working in KFI schools for 30 years, attempting to create an atmosphere of learning and working together for the young and for teachers and other staff members. He has served KFI as Principal of The School in Chennai for 18 years, Director-Secretary of Palar Centre for Learning (Pathashaala school) from 2012 to present and a long-term trustee of the Governing Body of KFI. He can be reached at [email protected] .

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Krishnamurti Foundation Trust

What Do We Mean by Education?

Curated by the foundation staff.

22-minute read

The right kind of education is not concerned with any ideology, however much it may promise a future utopia: it is not based on any system, however carefully thought out, nor is it a means of conditioning the individual in some special manner. Education in the true sense is helping the individual to be mature and free, to flower greatly in love and goodness. That is what we should be interested in, and not in shaping the child according to some idealistic pattern. The highest function of education is to bring about an integrated individual who is capable of dealing with life as a whole.


Video: how can we educate our children to be intelligent and free.

Video: What Is the Significance of History in the Education of the Young?

Education Is Freedom From Conditioning

Those who are being educated have rather a difficult time with their parents, their educators and their fellow students: already the tide of struggle, anxiety, fear and competition has swept in. They have to face a world that is overpopulated, with undernourished people, a world of war, increasing terrorism, inefficient governments, corruption and the threat of poverty. This threat is less evident in affluent and fairly well-organized societies, but it is felt in those parts of the world where there is tremendous poverty, overpopulation and the indifference of inefficient rulers. This is the world the young people have to face, and naturally they are really frightened. They have an idea that they should be free, independent of routine, should not be dominated by their elders; and they shy away from all authority. Freedom to them means to choose what they want to do; but they are confused, uncertain and want to be shown what they should do. The student is caught between his own desire for freedom to do what he wants and society’s demands for conformity to its own necessities, that people become engineers, scientists, soldiers, or specialists of some kind. This is the world students have to face and become a part of through their education. It is a frightening world. We all want security physically as well as emotionally, and having this is becoming more and more difficult and painful.

The student is caught between his own desire for freedom to do what he wants and society’s demands for conformity.

So we of the older generation, if we at all care for our children, must ask what education is. If education, as it is now, is to prepare children to live in perpetual striving, conflict and fear, we must ask what the meaning of it all is. Is life a movement, a flow of pain and anxiety and the shedding of unshed tears, with occasional flares of joy and happiness? Unfortunately we, the older generation, do not ask these questions, and neither does the educator. So education, as it is now, is a process of facing a dreary, narrow and meaningless existence. But we want to give a meaning to life. Life appears to have no meaning in itself but we want to give it meaning, so we invent gods, various forms of religion and other entertainments, including nationalism and ways to kill each other, in order to escape from our monotonous life. This is the life of the older generation and will be the life of the young.

We the parents and educators have to face this fact and not escape into theories, seeking further forms of education and structures. If our minds are not clear about what we are facing, we shall inevitably, consciously or unconsciously, slip into the inaction of wondering what to do about it. There are a thousand people who will tell us what to do: the specialists and the cranks. Before we understand the vast complexity of the problem, we want to operate upon it. We are more concerned to act than to see the whole issue.

The real issue is the quality of our mind; not its knowledge but the depth of the mind that meets knowledge. Mind is infinite, is the nature of the universe, which has its own order, has its own immense energy. It is everlastingly free. The brain, as it is now, is the slave of knowledge and so is limited, finite, fragmentary. When the brain frees itself from its conditioning, the brain is infinite. Then only is there no division between the mind and the brain. Education then is freedom from conditioning, from the vast accumulated knowledge of tradition. This does not deny the value of academic disciplines, which have their own proper place in life.


Photo of J. Krishnamurti

Communication Is Learning From Each Other

You come to these [Krishnamurti] schools with your own background, traditional or free, with discipline or without discipline, obeying or reluctant and disobeying, in revolt or conforming. Your parents are either negligent or very diligent about you. Some may feel very responsible, others may not. You come with all this trouble, with broken families, uncertain or assertive, wanting your way or shyly acquiescing but inwardly rebelling.

In these schools you are free, and all the disturbances of your young lives come into play. You want your own way and no one in the world can have his or her own way. You have to understand this very seriously; you cannot have your own way. Either you learn to adjust with understanding, with reason, or you are broken by the new environment you have entered. It is very important to understand this.

The essence of learning is constant movement without a fixed point.

In these schools the educators explain things carefully and you can discuss with them, have a dialogue and see why certain things have to be done. When one lives in a small community of teachers and students it is necessary that they have a good relationship with each other that is friendly, affectionate and has a certain quality of attentive comprehension. No one, especially nowadays living in a free society, likes rules, but rules become totally unnecessary when you and the grown-up educator understand, not only verbally and intellectually but with your heart, that certain disciplines are necessary. The word discipline has been ruined by the authoritarians. Each craft has its own discipline, its own skill. The word discipline comes from the word disciple which means to learn: to learn, not to conform, not to rebel, but to learn about your own reactions and your own background and how those limit you, and to go beyond them.

The essence of learning is constant movement without a fixed point. If its point becomes your prejudice, your opinions and conclusions, and you start from this handicap, then you cease to learn. Learning is infinite. The mind that is constantly learning is beyond all knowledge. So you are here to learn as well as to communicate.

Communication is not only the exchange of words, however articulate and clear those words may be; it is much deeper than that. Communication is learning from each other, understanding each other; and this comes to an end when you have taken a definite stand about some trivial or not fully thought-out act.

When one is young, there is an urge to conform, not to feel out of things. To learn the nature and implications of conformity brings its own peculiar discipline. Please always bear in mind when we use that word discipline that both the student and the educator are in a relationship of learning, not assertion and acceptance. When this is clearly understood, rules become unnecessary. When this is not clear, then rules have to be made. You may revolt against rules, against being told what to do or not to do, but when you quickly understand the nature of learning, rules will disappear altogether. It is only the obstinate, the self-assertive, who bring about rules – thou shalt and thou shalt not.

A mind that is learning is a free mind, and freedom demands the responsibility of learning.

Learning is not born out of curiosity. You may be curious about sex. That curiosity is based on pleasure, on some kind of excitement, on the attitudes of others. The same applies to drinking, drugs, smoking. Learning is far deeper and more extensive. You learn about the universe not out of pleasure or curiosity, but out of your relationship to the world. We have divided learning into separate categories depending on the demands of society or your own personal inclination. We are not talking of learning about something, but the quality of the mind that is willing to learn. You can learn how to become a good carpenter or a gardener or an engineer. When you have acquired skill in these, you have narrowed down your mind into a tool that can function perhaps skilfully in a certain pattern. This is what is called learning. This gives a certain security financially, and perhaps that is all one wants, so we create a society which provides what we have asked of it. But when there is this extra quality of learning that is not about something, then you have a mind and, of course, a heart that are timelessly alive.

Discipline is not control or subjugation. Learning implies attention; that is, to be diligent. It is only the negligent mind that is never learning. It is forcing itself to accept when it is shallow, careless, indifferent. A diligent mind is actively watching, observing, never sinking into second-hand values and beliefs. A mind that is learning is a free mind, and freedom demands the responsibility of learning. The mind that is caught in its own opinions, that is entrenched in some knowledge, may demand freedom, but what it means by freedom is the expression of its own personal attitudes and conclusions – and when this is thwarted it cries for self-fulfilment. Freedom has no sense of fulfilment. It is free.

So when you come to these schools, or to any school in fact, there must be this gentle quality of learning, and with it goes a great sense of affection. When you are really, deeply affectionate you are learning.

Audio: How Are We Going To Teach Our Children?

Education and the Integrated Human Being

The professor said he had been teaching for many years, ever since he graduated from college, and had a large number of boys under him in one of the governmental institutions. He turned out students who could pass examinations, which was what the government and parents wanted. Of course, there were exceptional boys who were given special opportunities, granted scholarships and so on, but the vast majority were indifferent, dull, lazy, and somewhat mischievous. There were those who made something of themselves in whatever field they entered, but only very few had the creative flame. During all the years he had taught, the exceptional boys had been very rare; now and then there would be one who perhaps had the quality of genius, but it generally happened that he too was soon smothered by his environment. As a teacher he had visited many parts of the world to study this question of the exceptional boy, and everywhere it was the same. He was now withdrawing from the teaching profession, for after all these years he was rather saddened by the whole thing. However well boys were educated, on the whole they turned out to be a stupid lot. Some were clever or assertive and attained high positions, but behind the screen of their prestige and domination they were as petty and anxiety-ridden as the rest.

‘The modern educational system is a failure, as it has produced two devastating wars and appalling misery. Learning to read and write and acquiring various techniques, which is the cultivation of memory, is obviously not enough, for it has produced unspeakable sorrow. What do you consider to be the end purpose of education?’

Is not the imitation of a pattern an indication of disintegration?

Is it not to bring about an integrated individual? If that is the purpose of education then we must be clear as to whether the individual exists for society or whether society exists for the individual. If society needs and uses the individual for its own purposes, then it is not concerned with the cultivation of an integrated human being; what it wants is an efficient machine, a conforming and respectable citizen, and this requires only a very superficial integration. As long as the individual obeys and is willing to be thoroughly conditioned, society will find him useful and will spend time and money on him. But if society exists for the individual then it must help in freeing him from its own conditioning influence. It must educate him to be an integrated human being.

‘What do you mean by an integrated human being?’

To answer that question one must approach it negatively, obliquely; one cannot consider its positive aspect. Positively to state what an integrated human being is only creates a pattern, a mould, an example which we try to imitate; and is not the imitation of a pattern an indication of disintegration? When we try to copy an example, can there be integration? Imitation is a process of disintegration; and is this not what is happening in the world? We are all becoming very good gramophone records: we repeat what so-called religions have taught us or what the latest political, economic or religious leader has said. We adhere to ideologies and attend political mass-meetings; there is mass-enjoyment of sport, mass-worship, mass-hypnosis. Is this a sign of integration? Conformity is not integration, is it?

‘This leads to the very fundamental question of discipline. Are you opposed to discipline?’

What do you mean by discipline?

‘There are many forms of discipline: the discipline in a school, the discipline of citizenship, the party discipline, the social and religious disciplines, and self-imposed discipline. Discipline may be according to an inner or an outer authority.’

Fundamentally, discipline implies some kind of conformity. It is conformity to an ideal, to an authority; it is the cultivation of resistance, which of necessity breeds opposition. Resistance is opposition. Discipline is a process of isolation, whether it is isolation with a particular group or the isolation of individual resistance. Imitation is a form of resistance.

‘Do you mean that discipline destroys integration? What would happen if you had no discipline in a school?’

Is it not important to understand the essential significance of discipline, and not jump to conclusions or take examples? We are trying to see what are the factors of disintegration, or what hinders integration. Is not discipline in the sense of conformity, resistance, opposition, conflict, one of the factors of disintegration? Why do we conform? Not only for physical security, but also for psychological comfort, safety. Consciously or unconsciously, the fear of being insecure makes for conformity both outwardly and inwardly. We must all have some kind of physical security, but it is the fear of being psychologically insecure that makes physical security impossible except for the few. Fear is the basis of all discipline: the fear of not being successful, of being punished, of not gaining, and so on. Discipline is imitation, suppression, resistance, and whether it is conscious or unconscious, it is the result of fear. Is not fear one of the factors of disintegration?

‘With what would you replace discipline? Without discipline there would be even greater chaos than now. Is not some form of discipline necessary for action?’

The state controls education, it steps in and conditions the human entity for its own purposes.

Understanding the false as the false, seeing the true in the false, and seeing the true as the true, is the beginning of intelligence. It is not a question of replacement. You cannot replace fear with something else; if you do, fear is still there. You may successfully cover it up or run away from it, but fear remains. It is the elimination of fear, and not the finding of a substitute for it, that is important. Discipline in any form whatsoever can never bring freedom from fear. Fear has to be observed, studied, understood. Fear is not an abstraction; it comes into being only in relation to something, and it is this relationship that has to be understood. To understand is not to resist or oppose. Is not discipline then, in its wider and deeper sense, a factor of disintegration? Is not fear, with its consequent imitation and suppression, a disintegrating force?

‘But how is one to be free from fear? In a class of many students, unless there is some kind of discipline – or if you prefer, fear – how can there be order?’

By having very few students and the right kind of education. This of course is not possible as long as the state is interested in mass-produced citizens. The state prefers mass-education; the rulers do not want the encouragement of discontent, for their position would soon be untenable. The state controls education, it steps in and conditions the human entity for its own purposes; and the easiest way to do this is through fear, through discipline, through punishment and reward. Freedom from fear is another matter; fear has to be understood and not resisted, suppressed, or sublimated. The problem of disintegration is quite complex, like every other human problem. Is not conflict another factor of disintegration?

‘But conflict is essential, otherwise we would stagnate. Without striving there would be no progress no advancement, no culture. Without effort, conflict, we would still be savages.’

Perhaps we still are. Why do we always jump to conclusions or oppose when something new is suggested? We are obviously savages when we kill thousands for some cause or other, for our country; killing another human being is the height of savagery. But let us get on with what we were talking about. Is not conflict a sign of disintegration?

‘What do you mean by conflict?’

Conflict in every form: between husband and wife, between two groups of people with conflicting ideas, between what is and tradition, between what is and the ideal, the should be, the future. Conflict is inner and outer strife. At present there is conflict at all the various levels of our existence, the conscious as well as the unconscious. Our life is a series of conflicts, a battleground – and for what? Do we understand through strife? Can I understand you if I am in conflict with you? To understand there must be a certain amount of peace. Creation can take place only in peace, in happiness, not when there is conflict and strife. Our constant struggle is between what is and what should be , between thesis and antithesis. We have accepted this conflict as inevitable, and the inevitable has become the norm, the true – though it may be false. Can what is be transformed by the conflict with its opposite? I am this, and by struggling to be that, which is the opposite, have I changed this? Is not the opposite, the antithesis, a modified projection of what is ? Has not the opposite always the elements of its own opposite?Through comparison is there understanding of what is ? Is not any conclusion about what is a hindrance to the understanding of what is ? If you would understand something, must you not observe it, study it? Can you study it freely if you are prejudiced in favour of or against it? If you would understand your son must you not study him, neither identifying yourself with nor condemning him? If you are in conflict with your son, there is no understanding of him. So, is conflict essential to understanding? Is conflict in any field productive of understanding? Is there not a continuous chain of conflict in the effort, the will to be, to become, whether positive or negative? Does not the cause of conflict become the effect, which in its turn becomes the cause? There is no release from conflict until there is an understanding of what is . The what is can never be understood through the screen of idea; it must be approached afresh. As the what is is never static, the mind must not be bound to knowledge, to an ideology, to a belief, to a conclusion. In its very nature conflict is separative, as all opposition is; and is not exclusion, separation, a factor of disintegration? Any form of power, whether individual or of the state, any effort to become more or to become less, is a process of disintegration. All ideas, beliefs, systems of thought, are separative, exclusive. Effort, conflict, cannot under any circumstances bring understanding, and so it is a degenerating factor in the individual as well as in society.

When there is no conflict there is integration. Integration is a state of complete attention.

‘What then is integration? I more or less understand what are the factors of disintegration, but that is only a negation. Through negation one cannot come to integration. I may know what is wrong, which does not mean that I know what is right.’

When the false is seen as the false, the true is. When one is aware of the factors of degeneration, not merely verbally but deeply, then is there not integration? Is integration static, something to be gained and finished with? Integration cannot be arrived at; arrival is death. It is not a goal, an end, but a state of being; it is a living thing and how can a living thing be a goal, a purpose? The desire to be integrated is not different from another desire, and all desire is a cause of conflict. When there is no conflict there is integration. Integration is a state of complete attention. There cannot be complete attention if there is effort, conflict, resistance or concentration. Concentration is a fixation; concentration is a process of separation, exclusion, and complete attention is not possible when there is exclusion. To exclude is to narrow down, and the narrow can never be aware of the complete. Complete, full attention is not possible when there is condemnation, justification or identification, or when the mind is clouded by conclusions, speculations or theories. When we understand the hindrances, then only is there freedom. Freedom is an abstraction to the man in prison; but passive watchfulness uncovers the hindrances, and with freedom from these, integration comes into being.

From Krishnamurti’s Book COMMENTARIES ON LIVING 2

Video: what is the best way to educate a child.

The True Function of Education

Education has no meaning unless it helps you to understand the vast expanse of life with all its subtleties, with its extraordinary beauty, its sorrows and joys. You may earn degrees, you may have a series of letters after your name and land a very good job, but then what? What is the point of it all if in the process your mind becomes dull, weary, stupid? So while you are young must you not seek to find out what life is all about? And is it not the true function of education to cultivate in you the intelligence which will try to find the answer to all these problems? Do you know what intelligence is? It is the capacity to think freely without fear, without a formula, so that you begin to discover for yourself what is real, what is true. But if you are frightened you will never be intelligent. Any form of ambition, spiritual or mundane, breeds anxiety and fear, therefore ambition does not help to bring about a mind that is clear, simple, direct, and hence intelligent.

It is very important while you are young to live in an environment in which there is no fear.

You know, it is very important while you are young to live in an environment in which there is no fear. Most of us, as we grow older, become frightened; we are afraid of living, afraid of losing a job, afraid of tradition, afraid of what the neighbours or what the wife or husband would say, afraid of death. Most of us have fear in one form or another, and where there is fear there is no intelligence. And is it not possible for all of us, while we are young, to be in an environment where there is no fear but rather an atmosphere of freedom; freedom not just to do what we like but to understand the whole process of living? Life is really very beautiful, it is not this ugly thing that we have made of it, and you can appreciate its richness, its depth, its extraordinary loveliness only when you revolt against everything – against organized religion, against tradition, against the present rotten society – so that you as a human being find out for yourself what is true. Not to imitate but to discover. That is education. It is very easy to conform to what your society or your parents and teachers tell you. That is a safe and easy way of existing, but that is not living because in it there is fear, decay, death. To live is to find out for yourself what is true, and you can do this only when there is freedom, when there is continuous revolution inwardly, within yourself.

To live is to find out for yourself what is true.

But you are not encouraged to do this; no one tells you to question, to find out for yourself what God is, because if you were to rebel you would become a danger to all that is false. Your parents and society want you to live safely, and you also want to live safely. Living safely generally means living in imitation and therefore in fear. The function of education is to help each one of us to live freely and without fear. And to create an atmosphere in which there is no fear requires a great deal of thinking on your part as well as on the part of the teacher, the educator.

From Krishnamurti’s Book THINK ON THESE THINGS

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The Walden School

Jiddu Krishnamurti School | Hyderabad

Jiddu Krishnamurti on Education

I love what I am doing. All my life, I really love what I am doing. The love of what I am doing excludes everything else. And that very love is the highest form of excellence. If the educator can convey this feeling, not to the 300 students but to the 10 who he feels can do something, they will excel without competing, without saying “I must beat the record”.  – Jiddu Krishnamurti  


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  1. Chapter 2

    The highest function of education is to bring about an integrated individual who is capable of dealing with life as a whole. The idealist, like the specialist, is not concerned with the whole, but only with a part. ... This website is the official repository of the teachings of J. Krishnamurti, made possible by the Krishnamurti Foundations (KFT ...

  2. Jiddu Krishnamurti and his insights into education

    Established in 1978, itis one of the five schools of the Krishnamurti Foundation India. Jiddu Krishnamurti and his insights into education. Scott H. Forbes explores Jiddu Krishnamurti's (1895-1986) emphasis on education as a religious activity. (From a presentation at the first Holistic Education Conference, Toronto, Canada, 1997)

  3. Chapter 1

    Education is not merely a matter of training the mind. Training makes for efficiency, but it does not bring about completeness. A mind that has merely been trained is the continuation of the past, and such a mind can never discover the new. That is why, to find out what is right education, we will have to inquire into the whole significance of ...

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  5. PDF J. Krishnamurti's Philosophy of Education

    Krishnamurti has showed a strict discontent against the contemporary education system and its wrong functions flourishing day-by-day. He rigorously opposed the education system in beneath of which ... According to Krishnamurti, education is not only "acquiring mere techniques, a skill, but educating a human being to live with great art. That ...

  6. Education and Significance of Life

    Krishnamurti had a life-long interest in education, and this book is the earliest and most expository of his books on the subject. Focusing on the central vision that life 'has a wider and deeper significance' and that it is the concern of education to come upon it, he explores various other connected themes - authority versus freedom, discipline, intelligence, and the role of religion in ...

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    First in the series on Education and Society in South Asia, this volume focuses on the educational thought of a world-renowned teacher, thinker, and writer—Jiddu Krishnamurti (1895-1986). This edited volume examines Krishnamurti's work and explores his contemporary relevance in educational endeavours and practices in different parts of ...

  9. PDF The Right Kind of Education

    functions. Of course, Life has its own rhythms, and such dreams rarely fructify, leaving the child frustrated, fearful, and anxious. Our society is built on this, and education is meant for the child to t into this unhealthy environment. So, education is nothing but a system for the continuity of our society.

  10. (Pdf) Jiddu Krishnamurthi'S Perspective on Education and Its Relevance

    For Jiddu Krishnamurti, education is a religious activity. What he suggests and offers is a combination of values that insulates secular and sacred. ... The function of education is to create human beings who are integrated, and therefore, intelligent. It is an irony that the present education is making students subservient, mechanical and ...

  11. PDF Education and the Significance of Life by Jiddu Krishnamurti

    Krishnamurti believes that a sound education is what stimulates people to think and behave rationally. This requires stimulating the brain and cultivating an integrated way of life that prepares

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    3. J.Krishnamurti's Concept of Education : Education is not merely acquiring knowledge, gathering and correlating facts; it is to see the significance of life as a whole. The function of education is to create human beings who are integrated and therefore intelligent. We may take degrees and be mechanically efficient without being intelligent.

  14. Chapter 5

    Education and the Significance of Life. THE right kind of education is concerned with individual freedom, which alone can bring true cooperation with the whole, with the many; but this freedom is not achieved through the pursuit of one's own aggrandizement and success. Freedom comes with self-knowledge, when the mind goes above and beyond the ...

  15. What Do We Mean by Education? • Krishnamurti Foundation Trust

    Education in the true sense is helping the individual to be mature and free, to flower greatly in love and goodness. That is what we should be interested in, and not in shaping the child according to some idealistic pattern. The highest function of education is to bring about an integrated individual who is capable of dealing with life as a whole.

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    Regardless of the subject of the education, krishnamurti's philosophy of education focuses on the importance of freedom. This freedom is psychological rather than political. ,For Krishnamurthi, the most important freedom is the freedom of mind. He believes that it is possible to be both free and at the same time the bound by compulsion. ...

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