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Jiddhu Krishnamurti (1895 - 1986)


May I raise a very difficult question? How would you, if you had a son here or a daughter, want to educate them, to bring about a holistic life?

You've got so many students here - capable, intelligent. Through what means, what kind of attitude, what kind of verbal explanation, would you educate them in a holistic way of living? I mean by `holistic', whole, unbroken, not splintered up, not fragmented, as most of our lives are. So my question is, if I may put it to you, how do you bring about a holistic way of living, an outlook that's not fragmented in specializations?

First Teacher (T1): Sir, first we must be holistic ourselves.

K: That's understood, sir. But first of all, you are educators here, including myself (if you will permit me). I am happy in Rishi Valley, I like the place, the beauty of it, the hills, the rocks, the flowers, the shadows on the hills. I am one of the educators here; parents send me one of their children and I want to see that they live a life that is whole. Whole means good.

`Good', not in the ordinary sense of that word; not the traditional word `good: a good boy, a good husband - that's all very limited. The word `good' has much greater significance when you relate goodness to wholeness. Good, then, has the quality of being extraordinarily generous; good has that sense of not wanting to hurt another consciously; good, in the sense that it is correct - not only for the moment, correct all the time. Correct in the sense that it does not depend on circumstances; if it is correct now, it will be correct a hundred years later or ten days later. Correctness with goodness is not related to environment, circumstances, pressures and so on. From that comes right action. So, goodness and a holistic way of living go together. In what manner am I going to see that the boy grows in goodness and a holistic way of living? Do we rely on each other? Is it an individual problem, or is it a problem of the whole school, the whole body? So the action must be comprehensive - not that that gentleman thinks one way and I think another way about goodness; it must be a cohesive action. Now, is that possible?

Sir, in the word `holistic' is implied not the orthodox, the organized, but that quality of religion which we will go into presently. How am I, living here as an educator, to bring this about?

T2: The first thing we have to do is to make the child feel secure in his relationship. It seems to me that unless the child feels secure in his relationship, with me and the place, nothing can happen.

T3: I want to find out whether what you say is really what I want to do. If I feel that is really what I want to do, then I must find out what I mean by that, what is the content of my feelings.

T4: Would it be necessary, if you and I are working together in the school, to find out, not what I mean by that or what you mean, but rather find out if there is something that is valid for all of us? Not because we stick to an idea or come together around an idea, but in the investigation we say together, "This is it."

K: Sir, do we understand what it means to live a holistic life? Or is it a theory? T3: Sir, perhaps we merely understand by contrast. We see fragmentation in ourselves...

K: If you see fragmentation or breaking up in yourself, then you have the problem of how to get rid of it, how to be whole. I don't want a problem about it. Then I have already broken it up.

T3: Despite that, the fact remains that we are fragmented.

K: Just a minute. I know I am fragmented; my whole thinking process is fragmented. And also I know I mustn't make a problem of it because then that's another fragmentation.

T3: My feeling of fragmentation is itself a problem - I don't make a problem; I see a problem.

K: I understand. I realize I am fragmented, but I don't want to make a problem of it.

T3: But, sir, doesn't it mean that when I see that I am fragmented, it is a problem?

K: That's what I want to get at, which is - I see I am fragmented: I say one thing and I do another, think one thing and contradict what I think. And I also see very clearly that I mustn't make a problem of it.

T3: Perhaps I don't see that clearly.

K: That's what I want to discuss. If I make a problem of it, I am already further fragmenting.

T3: But there is an in-between stage.

K: I don't want that. I am fragmented, broken up in different ways. If I make a problem of it, saying to myself, I must not be fragmented, that very statement is born out of fragmentation. Something born of fragmentation is another form of fragmentation. But my brain is trained to make problems. So I must be aware of the whole cycle of it. So what am I to do?

T1: You say to that, `I should not make a problem of it.' Do we have a choice, or is it automatic? When we see the fragmentation within us, we say, `I would not like to make a problem of it.'

K: See the truth, not `I will not make a problem.' I see the fact that if I make a problem of it, it's another fragmentation. That's all. I see it. I don't say, I mustn't get rid of it or I must get rid of it, so what am I to do?

T1: Is there anything to be done in this case?

K: I am going to show you presently. Don't be so eager, if you don't mind my saying so.

T1: The way I see it, there is nothing to be done except actually watching, observing.

K: Just a minute, sir. Don't come to that conclusion. What am I to do?

T1: Observe.

K: Don't tell me, sir. These are words. Seeing that I am fragmented, aware that whatever I do is another kind of fragmentation, what is left for me? You don't put yourself in that position; you have already come to a conclusion. So conclusion is another fragmentation. I have this question: Is there a way of living holistically in which is involved the quality of a religious mind, deep goodness, without any mischief, without any duality? Am I making it complicated?

T5: No, sir.

K: Why not, sir? My whole being thinks dualistically. It's always in opposition in the sense that I want to do this and yet I mustn't do it; I should do it, but I don't like to do it, and so on. It always takes opposing positions. So, what is left for me? I see all this at a glance, or through analysis. And I see it is like that. Then my question is: what am I to do? Don't tell me: you should or shouldn't - I don't accept anything from you; I am very sceptical by nature.

T1: You are asking the question: what am I to do? When there is observation, no question arises.

K: Are you doing it?

T1: Yes.

K: Are you doing it? If you are not doing it and you say we must try, you are in contradiction, therefore duality, therefore fragmentation, and hence no goodness.

T6: As soon as you say or think about a holistic state of goodness, you are already in contradiction.

K: No, you are not in contradiction. You are only putting it into words. What's your action when you want to educate your student in this goodness?

The school has a certain reputation, a certain eclat - a feeling about it. And there is a certain atmosphere in this valley. And I sent you my son, hoping that you will help him to grow in this holistic way of life. I am communicating, I am not contradicting.

T5: It is in the way I posit the question that the contradiction arises.

K: I understand. We are trying to investigate the question, not lay down laws about it. At least I'm not. I really want to find out what way I can help the student. I may not be holistic. Don't say: first I must be holistic, and then I can teach. Then you are dead. Then that will take an eternity. If you say: I must first be holistic, then you have stymied yourself. Sir, I am not saying anything. I really don't know what to do with these children whose parents want them to join the IIT [Indian Institute of Technology] or something or other. And I've got the tremendous opposition of society - the father, the mother, the grandfather, wanting the boy to have a job and all that. How am I to bring this about? You don't answer me.

T4: Krishnaji, I am not answering the question how am I to bring this about; I'm looking at fragmentation.

K: What does that mean? Follow it out - I am fragmented, the boy is fragmented. Right, sir?

T4: Right.

K: Then what's the relationship between me and the boy?

T4: We are learning together.

K: Don't use phrases quickly. What's my relationship with the student who is fragmented like myself?

T7: I am not different from him.

K: Of course you are different from him - you teach maths; he doesn't know any. Don't say you are not different from him.

T4: There is no relationship at all if I am fragmented.

K: please, sir, answer my question: I am fragmented, and I am your student. What's our relationship? Or, is there any relationship at all? Or, are we on the same level?

T5: It can only be a fragmented relationship.

K: What is actually my relationship?

T5: There doesn't seem to be any.

K: That's all. How can fragments have a relationship?

T6: Why not?

K: Are you really asking me that question?

T6: Yes. K: You answer it, You ask me a question, and I am too eager to reply to it. So it goes on between you and me: I answer it and then you counter it; then I counter it, and so on. He asks me a question and he expects me to answer it, and I say: I won't answer it because in the question itself is the answer. So, can we look at the question and wait for it to flower? My question is very, very serious. The question itself contains the answer if you let it flower, if you let it alone, not cover it immediately with a response. Your response is already conditioned, already personal. So leave the question. If the question has depth, significance, vitality, then the question unfolds.

Now, sir, is there truth? Does truth exist? You don't know, if you're honest; so we leave the question. Let's look at the question, and the question begins to unfold: Is there truth, or only active, vital, illusion? I won't go into that. If the question has depth, if the question has a sense of great vitality - because you are asking the question in great inward searching - let the question answer itself. It will if you leave it alone.

Now I am coming back to my original question.

T8: I have a child come to me. I am fragmented, he is fragmented. So there is no relationship?

K: Are you sure there is no relationship, or are you just saying it?

T8: I think I am sure there is no relationship in the fragmented state, and I find that any response that I give to the student would itself be a fragmented response.

K: Yes. Stop there. Then, what will you do? Whatever relationship I have is still fragmented. Is that a reality or a verbal statement?

T8: It seems a reality to me. K: Either it is real in the sense that the microphone is real; that's not an illusion. The word microphone is not that. I don't know if you get the quality of it.

So we must come back. What am I to do, sir? You tell me.

T8: Am I fooling myself that I can give a holistic education?

K: We are going to find out, you and I, whether it is possible to do it or not. The first statement is: we are fragmented. Let's stick to that. We are both fragmented, and I don't know what to do. What does that mean to you - I don't know; I don't know what to do? Then, I must investigate. When I say, I don't know, I really mean I don't know. Or, am I waiting for somebody else to tell me, so I will know? Which is it?

T8: At the moment the latter.

K: Is there a state of the brain when it says: I really don't know? I am not waiting for him to answer, or expecting someone else to tell me. All these are states when I am waiting for an answer. But no one can answer this because they are all fragmented. Therefore I am waiting, watching, looking, observing, listening to the question. I don't know what to do. Then I ask myself, `What's the state of my brain which says: "I don't know"?'

T5: At that point of time, it's not functioning.

K: `I don't know'. Or are you waiting for it to know?

T5: Waiting for it to know.

K: Therefore, you are waiting to know; you will know. Therefore your brain is not saying, `I don't know.' It's all very logical, you know.

T3: The brain doesn't say it doesn't know.

K: That's it, that's the first thing - the brain never acknowledges or remains in the state `I don't know'. You ask me: `What is Ishvara?' and I promptly answer. You have read, or you believe or you don't believe; Ishvara comes as a symbol to you. But if you ask, `What is the element which created this?' it's a tremendously interesting question: What is the beginning of life? What is the life in the seed that you plant? The life of man - what is the origin of that life, the very cell? I am not going into this now - it leads off somewhere else, it's too complicated.

So I don't know how to deal with that boy or with myself. Any action I do, any movement of thought, is still out of fragmentation, right? So I leave it alone. May I proceed?

T6: Please, sir.

K: What is love? Is it related to hate? If it is related, love then is still fragmentation. Do you understand what I am saying, sir?

T6: Love is not the opposite of hate.

K: What is love? It has nothing to do with pity, sympathy - all the rest of it. What is love? You don't know. Is that state of not-knowing love?

I don't know what to do with that boy or girl; we are both fragmented. I can teach him mathematics, geography, history, biology, chemistry, psychiatry, anything - but that's nothing. This demands much deeper enquiry, very much deeper. So I say, what is it that is completely holistic? Certainly not thought - thought is experience. It's certainly not sympathy, not generosity, not empathy, not saying: `You're a nice chap.' Love has - what?

T5: Compassion.

K: Love, compassion - that is the only thing that's holistic. I'm just discovering something for myself. I say, love isn't thought, love isn't pleasure. Don't accept this; for god's sake that is the last thing you should do. Love is utterly unrelated to hate, jealousy, anger - all that. Love is completely unbreakable. It's whole and it has its own intelligence.

T5: I have heard you say this before in different ways.

K: To know. Can you ever say about a person - `I know'? I know my wife?

T3: You shut off that person in some way.

K: Yes. If I say, `I know you' - what do I know about you? So, to say `I know' is fragmentation,

Sir, I asked a question, which is: can I help the student or talk to him? I know I am fragmented, he is fragmented. And I also know, have a feeling, that love is whole, that compassion, love, have their own intelligence. I am going to see if that intelligence can operate.

T6: You say that love has its own intelligence; you say that love is holistic, it's not fragmented. Isn't that just an assumption?

K: It's not an assumption. Love is not an assumption - my god!

T6: Maybe it is, because I don't know.

K: Remain there. You don't know. Wait, find out; don't answer. I don't know what the insides of a modern car are like. (I have, as a matter of fact, stripped old cars.) So I want to learn about it. I go to a garage man and he teaches me because I want to know how it works. I take the trouble; I take pains; I pay him, if I have the money, or work with him till I know every part of that car. That means I wish to learn, but I'm not sure you want to learn.

T2: But Krishnaji, this very wanting to learn...

K: Don't translate into fragmentation. I don't know how those cameras work, and you say, learn about it. I ask him, and I become his apprentice; I watch how he does it; I learn about it. Then I say: I know how to work that camera. But human beings are not like cameras; they are much more complicated. They are like a messy machine; and I want to know how their brain works. Either I become a biologist, a brain specialist, or I study myself, which is much more exciting. So I learn how my brain works - there is nobody to teach me.

T2: There may be - I listen to you.

K: I don't trust them. All their knowledge is from books or from their little selves. So I say, I am going to investigate this whole way of living, not just parts of it.

So let's come back: what am I to do or not do? The question is much deeper than merely the boy and the girl whom I'm educating. It might be that I have not really understood what it means to lead a holistic life; not understood intellectually even.

T2: If you mean intellectually, I would say yes.

K: No, no, no. Are you sure?

T2: I'm sure - intellectually.

K: So you have separated the intellect from the whole. Sir, listen; when you say you have understood intellectually, it means just bananas.

T2: I don't just say; I've understood intellectually.

K: I say, sir, you are not listening. When one says, I understood intellectually, it means absolutely nothing; when you say intellectually', that's another fragment.

T2: Yes, sir.

K: So, I don't use the words: `I understand intellectually.' That's a crime! What am I, an educator at Rishi Valley, understanding partially, verbally, a holistic way of living and knowing that the student and I are both fragmented - what am I going to do or not do? Are you listening?

I'm here, I'm responsible to the parents for that girl or boy. They have sent them here because you have a good reputation, you look after them and all that. He comes along and tells me: It's all right, but what matters is a holistic way of life, not intellectually but the whole psyche, the whole entity which is now fragmented; if that can be made whole, then you have the most extraordinary education. He tells me that and he goes away, and I don't know what to do. I understand the verbal meaning of whole: not fragmented, not broken up, not saying one thing, thinking something and doing quite the opposite - all that is fragmentation of life. And I don't know what to do; I really don't. Deeply, profoundly, gravely, seriously, I don't know what to do. Am I waiting for somebody or some book to tell me, or hoping something will accidentally come along and give me, unfortunately, `insight'? I can't wait for that, because the boy is growing up and kicking around.

So, what shall I do? I know one thing absolutely for certain: I don't know. All my inventions, all my thinking have collapsed. I don't know whether you feel that way. I don't know - so the brain is open for reception. The brain has been closed by conclusion, by opinion, by judgement, by my problems; it is a closed thing. When I say, I really don't know, I've broken something; I've broken the bottle - I can drink the champagne.

I begin to find out - when the bottle is broken. Then I find out what love is, what compassion is, and that intelligence that's born of compassion. It's nothing to do with the intellect.

Sir, we never come to the point when we say: I don't know. Right? You ask me about god, I've an immediate answer. You ask me about chemistry, out comes the answer - the tap is open.

You see, I'm one of those idiots, sir; haven't read a thing, except...

T2: And doesn't think also.

K: The brain is like a drum; it's all tuned up. When you strike it, it gives the right note.