Freedom/Right Education

The following is an article on Education written by J.Krishnamurti. Although I didn’t write it, I feel like I could have. It relates so well to many of my thoughts and came just at the right time, as I often question whether my approach to educating my children is the ‘right’ way.

On Freedom

Many of us must have considered the problem of disintegration. Almost everything that we touch soon disintegrates. There is no creative, worthwhile action which soon does not end in complexities, worries, miseries, and confusion. It must have occurred to many of us why this should be so, and why at different levels of our human existence there is a darkened withering away and deterioration. We must have noticed this and found some kind of answer. We accept it as inevitable and find some worthwhile or merely verbal explanation, and we are satisfied because whatever we do, we want some explanation, some satisfactory words that will soothe our active mind. So we will soon get lost in the jungle of explanations.

We are going to discuss this evening the question of “education.” It seems to me that one of the major factors of deterioration everywhere is the so-called education. We are going into that presently as succinctly as possible. But before I go into that very complex problem, I think it is very necessary that you and I should not merely either accept or refute anything I am going to suggest. Perhaps it may be new or it may be very old, but the mere rejection or acceptance of it without really understanding the whole complex problem is utterly valueless. So, may I suggest that while you are listening, you do not say, “That is impossible,” “It is not practical,” “It is not worthwhile,” “All that we know already.” All that indicates merely, does it not, a very sluggish mind, a mind that does not want to penetrate and understand the problem. And our minds are dull, especially at the end of the day after doing some worthless action of a routine, stupid life; we come here generally for entertainment, for something to listen to or talk about afterwards. At this meeting, I suggest that we consider this problem of education and examine it together – but not that I am stating the problem and you are looking at it.

What do we mean by education? Why do we want to be educated? Why do you send your children to be educated? Is it the mere acquisition of some technical knowledge which will give you a certain capacity, with which to lead your life so that you can apply that technique and get a profitable job? Is that what we mean by education, to pass certain examinations and then to become a clerk, and from a clerk to climb up the ladder of managerial efficiency? Or, do we educate our children or educate ourselves in order to understand the whole complex problem of living? With what intention actually do we send our children to be educated or do we get educated ourselves? Obviously, taking it factually as things are, you get educated in order to get a job and with that you are satisfied; and that is all you are concerned with – to be able to earn a livelihood by some means. So you go to a college or to a university, you soon marry and you have to earn a livelihood, and before you know where you are, you are a grandfather for the rest of your life. That is what most of us are doing with education; that is the fact. With that, most of us are satisfied.

But is that education? Is that an integrating process in which there can be a comprehension of the whole, total process of life? That is, do you want to educate your children to understand the whole of life, and not merely a segment of life like the physical, emotional, mental, psychological, or spiritual; to have not the compartmental, divided outlook but a whole, total, integrated outlook on life in which, of course, there is the earning capacity? Now, which is it that we want – not theoretically but actually? What is our necessity? According to that, you will have universities, schools, examinations or no examinations. But to merely talk narrowly about linguistic divisions seems to me utterly infantile. What we will have to do as mature human beings – if there are such entities existing – is to go into this problem. Do you want your children to be educated to be glorified clerks, bureaucrats, leading utterly miserable, useless, futile lives, functioning as machines in a system? Or, do you want integrated human beings who are intelligent, capable, fearless? We will find out, probably, what we mean by “intelligence.” The mere acquisition of knowledge is not intelligence, and it does not make an intelligent human being. You may have all the technique, but that does not necessarily mean that you are an intelligent, integrated human being.

So, what is this thing that brings about integration in life, that makes a human being intelligent? That is what we want; at least, that is what we intend to find out in our education, if we are at all intelligent and interested in education. That is what we are attempting to do, are we not? Does this subject interest you, sirs? You seem rather hesitant. Or do you want to discuss about the soul? Sirs, education is really one of our major problems, if not the most important problem in life because as I said, everything is deteriorating around us and in us. We are not creative human beings. We are merely technicians. And if we are creating a new world, a new culture, surely there must be a revolution in our outlook on life, and not merely the acceptance of things as they are or the changing of things as they are.

Now, is it possible through education, the right kind of education, to bring about this integrated human being – that is, a human being who is thinking in terms of the whole, and not merely of the part; who is thinking as a total entity, as a total process, and not indulging in divided, broken up, fractional thinking? Is it possible for a human being to be intelligent – that is, to be without fear – through education so that the mind is capable of thinking freely, not thinking in terms of a Hindu or a Muslim or a Christian or a Communist? You can think freely only when your mind is unconditioned – that is, not conditioned as a Catholic or a Communist and so on – so that you are capable of looking at all the influences of life which are constantly conditioning you; so that you are capable of examining, observing, and freeing yourself from these conditions and influences; so that you are an intelligent human being without fear.

Our problem is how to bring about, through education, a human being who is creative, who is capable, who possesses that intelligence which is not burdened and which is not shaped in any particular direction but is total, who is not belonging to any particular society, caste, or religion so that through that education and with that intelligence, he arrives at maturity and therefore is capable of making his life, not merely as a technician but as a human being.

Now, that is our problem, is it not? Because we see what is happening in the world and especially here in this industrially backward country, we are trying to catch up industrially with the rest of the world; we think it will take ourselves and our children to catch up with the rest of the world. So, we are concerned with that, and not with the whole, total problem of living in which there is suffering, pain, death, the problem of sex, the whole problem of thinking, to live happily and creatively; we brush all that aside and are only concerned with special capacities. But we have to create a different human being, so obviously, our whole educational system must undergo a revolution, which means, really, there must be the education of the educator. That is, the educator must himself obviously be free or attempt to be free from all those qualities which are destructive in him, which are narrowing him down.

We must create a different human being who is creative. That is important, is it not? And it is not possible to do this in a class where there are a hundred children or thirty or forty children and only one teacher – which means, really, every teacher must have very few children, which means again, the expense involved. So, seeing the complexities, the parents want to get their children educated somehow so that they may serve for the rest of their life in some office. But if you, as parents, really love your children – which I really question – if you are really concerned with your children, if you are really interested in their education, obviously you must understand this problem of “what is education.” It must present itself to you, must it not?

As things are at present, and with this educational system and the so-called passing of examinations, is it possible to bring about an integrated human being, a human being who understands life or who is struggling to understand life – life being earning a livelihood, marriage, and all the problems of relationship, love, kindliness? This is only possible where there is no ambition. Because, an ambitious man is not an intelligent man, he is a ruthless man; he may be ambitious spiritually, but he is equally ruthless. Is it possible to have a human being without ambition? Can there be the right education which will produce such a human being – which means, really, a spiritual human being? I rather hesitate to use the word because you will immediately translate it in terms of some religious pursuit, some superstition. But if you are really concerned with education, is not that our problem?

Your immediate reaction to that is: What is the method? You want to know what the method is, how this can be brought about. Now, is there a method? Do please listen to this; don’t brush it aside. Is there a method – a system – for the educator which will bring about that state of integration in a human being? Or, is there no method at all? Our educator must be much concerned, very watchful, very alert with each individual. As each individual is a living entity, the educator has to observe him, study him, and encourage in him that extraordinary quality of intelligence which will help him to become free, intelligent, and fearless. Can there be a method to do that? Does not method imply immediately conditioning a student to a particular pattern which you, as educator, think is important? You think you are helping him to grow into an intelligent human being by inflicting on him a pattern which you already have of what an intelligent human being should be. And you call that education, and feel as though you have created a marvelous world, a world in which you are all kind, happy, creative.

We have not created a beautiful world, but perhaps, if we know how to help the child to grow intelligently, he might create a different world in which there will be no war, no antagonism between man and man. If you are interested in this, is it not the obvious responsibility of each grown-up individual to see that this kind of education does come about – which means, really, the educator can have only a very few students with him; there may be no examinations, but there will be the observation of each student and his capacities. This means, really, that there will be no so-called mass education, that is, educating thousands in two or three classes. That is not education.

So if you are interested in this, you will create a right kind of educator and help the child to be free to create a new world. It is not a one man job; it is the responsibility of the educator, of the parent, and of the student. It is not just the teacher alone that is responsible for creating a human being, intelligent and fearless, because the teacher may attempt it, but when the child goes back home, the people there will begin to corrupt him; they will begin to influence him; his grandmother will begin to condition his mind. So it is a constant struggle. And unless you as parents cooperate with the teacher and produce the right kind of education, obviously there is going to be greater and greater deterioration. That is what intelligent human beings are concerned with – how to approach this problem. But, most of you say you do not want to think of these problems at all; you want to be told what to do, to follow certain systems and put other things aside. All that you are concerned with is the begetting of children and passing them on to teachers.

But if you were really concerned with the right type of education, surely, it is your responsibility as grown-up people to see that through education there is right livelihood, not any old livelihood. Right livelihood implies, obviously, not joining the army, not becoming a policeman, not becoming a lawyer. Obviously, those three professions are out if you are really concerned with the right kind of education. I know, sirs, you laugh at it because it is a joke to you, it is an amazing thing; but if you really take it seriously, you would not laugh. The world is destroying itself; more and more means of vast destruction of human beings are there; those who laugh are not really concerned with the shadow of death which is constantly accompanying man. Obviously, one of the deteriorating factors for man is the wrong kind of education as we have at present.

To create an intelligent human being, there must be a complete revolution in our thinking. An intelligent human being means a fearless human being who is not bound by tradition, which does not mean he is immoral. You have to help your child to be free to find out, to create a new society – not a society according to some pattern such as Marx, Catholic, or capitalist. That requires a great deal of thought, concern, and love – not mere discussions about love. If we really loved our children, we would see that there would be right education.

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