J. Krishnamurti, On Freedom – Third Talk in Poona, January 31, 1953
There is little I could possibly hope to do in terms of introducing this. The words of this man loosen the strings of my neck and shoulders, jaw and leaves me needing to drink some water. If you read this slowly, and pause when you feel punched in the middle of the chest, take your time, cry, get up, scream, do whatever it is -
This article is going to rip you in half, most likely- if you're a caring person. You have been warned, but it's also beautiful and truly a master piece. This is the third talk of Jiddhu Krishnamurti, perhaps one of the most intriguing philosophers of the last 150 years.
There is no buddha, but there are shining examples among women and men, and this guy really left a hell of a legacy for us to learn from, if we are to open our hearts and read slowly.
Perhaps read it with a spouse or friend, or a small group, a few pages at a time, out loud- and discuss it. I took a class like that once that was very effective, it was a poetry course, and we would sit (less than 12 of us) in chairs around a circle, and the teacher was just part of the circle, not in the middle or anything... We learned a lot.
We'd read 5 pages each in order clockwise or counter clockwise or we'd draw #'s out of a little plastic tub or glass jar, and then go in that order reading. homework “” , what only of it there was literally was only reading, between 30-60 pages, and the course was three times a week. we got a lot of books read, and it was utterly fascinating and really transformational for me.
Here is The Third Talk, without further adieu.
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.
Question: Even after the end of the British rule, there is no radical change in the system of our education. The stress as well as the demand is for specialization – technical and professional training. How best can education become the means to the realization of true freedom?
Krishnamurti: Sir, what do we mean by true freedom? Political freedom? Or is it freedom to think what you like? Can you think what you like? And does thinking bring about freedom? Is not all thinking conditioned thinking? So, what do we mean by true freedom?
So far as we know, education is conditioned thinking, is it not? All that we are concerned with is to acquire a job or use that knowledge for self-satisfaction, for self-aggrandizement, to get on in the world. Is it not important to see what we mean by true freedom? Perhaps if we understand that, then the training in some technique for professional specialization may have its value. But 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 now. So let us find out what we mean by true freedom.
Obviously the first necessity for freedom is that there should be no fear – not only the fear imposed by society, but also the psychological fear of insecurity. You may have a very good job and you may be climbing up the ladder of success, but if there is ambition, if there is the struggle to be somebody, does that not entail fear? And does that not imply that he who is very successful is not truly free? So fear imposed by tradition, by the so-called responsibility of the edicts of society, or your own fear of death, of insecurity, of disease – all this prevents the true freedom of being, does it not?
So freedom is not possible if there is any form of outward or inward compulsion. Compulsion comes into being when there is the urge to conform to the pattern of society or to the pattern which you have created for yourself as being good or not good. The pattern is created by thought which is the outcome of the past, of your tradition, of your education, of your whole experience based on the past. So, as long as there is any form of compulsion – governmental, religious, or your own pattern which you have created for yourself through your desire to fulfill, to become great – there will be no true freedom. It is not an easy thing to do nor an easy thing to understand what we mean by true freedom. But we can see that as long as there is fear in any form, we cannot know what true freedom is. Individually or collectively, if there is fear, compulsion, there can be no freedom. We may speculate about true freedom, but the actual freedom is different from the speculative ideas about freedom.
So, as long as the mind is seeking any form of security – and that is what most of us want – as long as the mind is seeking permanency in any form, there can be no freedom. As long as individually or collectively we seek security, there must be war, which is an obvious fact, and that is what is happening in the world today. So there can be true freedom only when the mind understands this whole process of the desire for security, for permanency. After all, that is what you want in your gods, in your gurus. In your social relationships, your governments, you want security, so you invest your God with the ultimate security, which is above you; you clothe that image with the idea that you as an entity are such a transient being, and that there, at least, you have permanency. So you begin with the desire to be religiously permanent; and all your political, religious, and social activities, whatever they are, are based on that desire for permanency – to be certain, to perpetuate yourselves through the family or through the nation or through an idea, through your son. How can such a mind which is seeking constantly – consciously or unconsciously – permanency, security, how can such a mind ever have freedom?
We really do not seek true freedom. We seek something different from freedom, we seek better conditions, a better state. We do not want freedom; we want better, superior, nobler conditions, and that we call education. Can this education produce peace in the world? Certainly, not. On the contrary, it is going to produce greater wars and misery. As long as you are a Hindu, Muslim, or God knows what else, you are going to create strife for yourself, for your neighbor, and nation. Do we realize this? Look at what is happening in India! I do not have to tell you because you already know it.
Instead of being integrated human beings, you are thinking separatively; your activities are fractioned, broken up, disintegrated – you're Maharashtra, you're Gujarat, you're Andhra, you're Tamil – you are all fighting; that is the result of this so-called freedom and so-called education. You say that you have unity religiously, but actually you are fighting, destroying each other, because you do not see the whole process of living, because you are only concerned with tomorrow or to have better jobs. You will go out after listening and do exactly the same thing. You will be a Maharashtrian forgetting the rest of the world. As long as you are thinking in those terms, you are going to have wars, miseries, destruction. You will never be safe, neither you nor your children, though you want to be safe, and therefore you are thinking in this narrow, regional way. As long as you have these ways, you have got to have wars.
Your present way of living indicates that you really do not want to have freedom; what you want is merely a better way of living, more safety, more contentment, to be assured of a job, to be assured of your position – religiously, politically. Such people cannot create a new world. They are not religious people. They are not intelligent people. They are thinking in terms of immediate results like all politicians. And you know that as long as you leave the world to politicians, you are going to have destruction, wars, misery. Sirs, please don't smile. It is your responsibility, not your leaders' responsibility; it is your own individual responsibility.
Freedom is something entirely different. Freedom comes into being; it cannot be sought after. It comes into being when there is no fear, when there is love in your heart. You cannot have love and think in terms of a Hindu, a Christian, a Muslim, a Parsee, or God knows what else. Freedom comes into being only when the mind is no longer seeking security for itself, either in tradition or in knowledge. A mind that is crippled with knowledge or burdened with knowledge is not a free mind. The mind is only free when it is capable of meeting life at every moment, meeting the reality which every incident, which every thought, which every experience reveals, and that revelation is not possible when the mind is crippled by the past.
It is the responsibility of the educator to create a new human being, to bring about a different human being, fearless, self-reliant, who will create his own society – a society totally unlike ours because ours is based on fear, envy, ambition, corruption. True freedom can only come when intelligence comes into being – that is, the understanding of the whole, total process of existence.
Question: Modern life has become abjectly dependent on highly trained persons; what are your views on university education? How can we prevent the misuse of higher technical knowledge?
Krishnamurti: Sir, surely it all depends on for what you are being educated. If you are merely being educated to a particular specialized job through university education in which there is no consideration of the total process of existence – which is love, concern for your neighbor, the problem of what is truth, death, envy, the whole problem of life – if you are only concerned with the acquisition of a particular type of knowledge, and not with the problem of life, then obviously you are creating a world of confusion, of darkness, of misery; and then you ask how that can be prevented.
Now, how are you going to prevent it, sirs? How are you and I going to prevent it? Sirs, is it not your responsibility? Or do you say, “It is our karma, we do what we can to live, but life is too much for us,” and leave it at that? Do you not feel this is your responsibility? As parents, do you not feel that the darkness is closing in, deterioration is setting in fast in every human being? Do you not feel that we have ceased to be really creative? Merely painting pictures or being trained to paint them or writing a poem occasionally is not what I mean by creativity. Creativity is something entirely different, and it comes into being when there is no concern or fear of oneself clothed in the form of virtue, or concern for oneself socially, economically, politically. When that concern, that fear ceases, there is creativity.
The understanding of the whole process of thought which builds the 'I', the 'me', and the dissolution of that – is not that true education? And if it is, should not universities help towards that end and at the same time give students the right opportunity to cultivate capacities? But now, we are concerned with the cultivation of capacities, gifts, tendencies to become more and more efficient, and we deny the whole of life which is much deeper, truer, more complex. So it is your responsibility, is it not? Sirs, the individual problem is the world problem. Your problem is the problem of the world. Those problems are not separate from your daily problems. How you live, how you think, what you do will create the world or destroy the world. We do not realize this. We do not see this responsibility, and so we say, “Technical knowledge is bringing about the destruction of man; how can that be prevented?” I will give you the explanation, the manner of doing it, and you will listen and go away, and carry on as usual. So explanations no longer matter; descriptions of theories have no value any more; what is of importance now is that you, as an individual, understand and become responsible for your actions. You are responsible. You and others can, with equal enthusiasm and interest, create a new world. You are to think of the problem anew, not create a new pattern – communist or another religious form.
Real revolution does not come merely at the superficial level, at the economic level. Real revolution lies in our hearts and minds, and it can only come when we understand the whole total process of our being from day to day, in every relationship. And then only is there a possibility of preventing technical knowledge being used for the destruction of man.
Question: Educationists all over the world are troubled by the question of moral education. How can education evoke the deeper core of human decency and goodness in oneself and in others?
Krishnamurti: The good is not the “respectable.” The respectable man can never know what is good. Most of us are respectable, and therefore we do not know what it is to be good. Moral education can only come, not with the cultivation of respectability, but with the awakening of love. But we do not know what love is. Is love something to be cultivated? Can you learn it in colleges, in schools, from teachers, from technicians, from the following of your gurus? Is devotion love? And if it is, can the man who is respectable, who is devoted, know love? Do you know what I mean by respectability? Respectability is when the mind is cultivating, when the mind is becoming virtuous. The respectable man is the man who is struggling consciously not to be envious, the man who is following tradition, he who says, “What will people say?” Respectability will obviously never know what truth is, what good is, because the respectable man is only concerned with himself.
It is love which brings morality. Without love there is no morality. You may be a great man, a moral man; you may be very good; you may not be envious; you may have no ambition, but if you have no love, you are not moral, you are not good, fundamentally, deeply, profoundly. You may have all the outer trimmings of goodness, but if you have no love in the heart, there can be no moral, ethical being. Is love something to be taught in a school? Please follow all this. What is it that prevents us from loving? If you can be taught in the school and in the house to love, how simple it would be, would it not? Many books are written on it. You learn them and you repeat them, and you know all the symptoms of love without having love.
Can love be taught? Please, sirs, this is really an important question; please do follow it. If love cannot be taught, what are the things that are preventing love? The things of the mind, the thoughts, the jealousy, the anguish, the ideas, the pursuits, their suppressions, the motives of the mind – these may be the things that prevent love. And as we have cultivated the mind for several centuries, it may be that the mind is preventing us from loving. So perhaps the things that you are teaching your children and the things that you are learning through universities and colleges may be the things which are at the root of the destruction of love because you are only developing one side – the intellectual side, the so-called technical side – and that is becoming more and more important in an industrial world; other things become less and less valuable; they fade away. If love can be taught in school through books, shown on the screen in cinemas, then it would be possible to cultivate morality. If morality is a thing of tradition, then it is quite simple; then you condition the student to be moral, to be a communist, to be a socialist, to think along a particular line and say that that line is the good line, the true line; any deviation from it is immoral, ending up in concentration camps.
Is morality something to be taught – which means, can the mind be conditioned to be moral? Or is morality something that springs spontaneously, joyously, creatively? This is only possible when there is love. That love cannot exist when you cultivate your mind, which is the very center of the 'me', the 'I', the thing that is uppermost in most of us day in and day out – the 'me' that is so important, the 'I' that is everlastingly trying to fulfill, trying to be something. And as long as that 'I' exists, do what you will, all your morality has no meaning; it is merely conformity to a pattern based on security, for your being something some day, so that you can live without any fear. Such a state is not a moral state; it is merely an imitation. The more a society is imitative, following tradition, the more deteriorating it is. It is important to see this, to find out for oneself how the self, the 'me' is perpetuating itself, how the 'me' is everlastingly thinking about virtue and trying to become virtuous and establishing laws of morality for itself and for others. So the good man who is following the pattern of good is the respectable man, and the respectable man is not the man who knows what love is. Only the man who knows what love is, is the moral man.
January 31, 1953
— a happy spirit