Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Conversations with Schoolchildren (Krishnamurti)

The following hour-long video records a conversation between the 89 year-old Krishnamurti & children at the school he founded in the Rishi Valley, India.

A full transcript may be read here. What follows is a 10-minute summary of what was said.

The Brain is Always Recording

If you have prejudices for or against a person, you won't understand them. Prejudices create a block. Will you drop your prejudices?

Isn't it a prejudice if I expect the class to be interesting and I find that it's boring?

No, that isn't prejudice. Look at those flowers. I want to talk to you about them. Do all the colours in this valley and the sunlit rock on that hill early in the morning all this beauty around you, does it mean something to you? Do you get used to seeing them? Why do you get used to them? Things change. If we watch, we see the changes. If we get used to each other, we stop listening. Your mind then becomes routine.

But the things we do every day, we get up at 5:30, we go to breakfast, we go for classes, that's a routine.

Why do you call it routine? Are you aware of what you do every day, do you pay attention, when you do your teeth, do you watch very carefully? If you watch carefully, it never becomes routine. Will you do it?

I'll try.

Don't try, do it.

That's easy to say. 

You all want to be very comfortable. I will tell you what it means to watch. First, you watch with your eyes. Are you thinking while you are watching?

No, sir.

You have learnt something, haven't you? You are not thinking when you are watching. Then do you watch with your eyes only, or do you watch altogether? The depth, the shadows, do you see those dragonflies over there? And there is a man going by on his bicycle, do you see it?

Yes, sir.

When you watch, and also listen, you begin to learn. You are not merely memorising. Memorising is like a gramophone, repeating, repeating, repeating, to pass an exam to get a job. Is that learning?

No. At the beginning, yes, but afterwards you repeat.

Yes, afterwards it is not learning. If you watch, it is always learning. So watch your life. Will you do it?


You promise? Careful! Don't promise without realising you must keep it.

I'll try to do it.

Not try. Either do it or don't do it.

But I want to do it.

Then do it. Just listen, if you do that, you become extraordinarily alive, your brain becomes extraordinarily sensitive. Don't become mechanical. You have got glasses, right? Find out if you can do without glasses.

I can't.

Don't say you can't. Find out. See if you can do eye exercises.

I am doing that.

So don't say you can't see. Remove your glasses and make an effort.

Wait, you said memorising isn't learning, but we have to study and memorise.

Suppose I'm teaching you history. History means story. Do you know who was the king of India in the 15th century. If I was your teacher, I would teach you not only the story according to books, but also the story about yourself.

That is a very far possibility of your ever being a teacher.

Why not? That is a most marvellous way to learn, not only what is happening in the world outside, but also the extraordinary book you have inside you, the book of the whole of mankind.

Then why doesn't it happen?

Because your teachers don't do this.

Sir, well you are the President of the Foundation. Why don't you do something?

You are quite right, sir. They won't listen.

They are like us.

Quite right, only more grown up. I am not insulting them, you understand? I am very polite, respectful. They are like you, so learn from each other. I am learning now from you, how you say things, yes sir, and don't mean them. Don't say anything in your life if you don't live it. If you don't live it, you become a hypocrite. If you mean it, say something and if it is right, be honest. Don't pretend. Grown-ups do. That is the only difference.

Suppose I am having a fight with someone…

Why do you have a fight with someone?

Because we have come to a disagreement.

Why do you have a disagreement? Learn, if you fight now, when you grow up, you will also fight, that becomes violence. You know how all over the world violence is spreading. So don't be violent, don't get angry. When you get angry, say I am angry and apologise, don't fight.

Then someone may take advantage of you.

Perhaps, but if I don't get angry back, he might quieten down.


If you call me a fool, I don't react by calling you another fool, I don't react, I keep quiet. So my keeping quiet affects you - not always because people are not gentle enough. So you learn. 

What are we talking about?

What I am talking about is: learn to watch, which is one of the most difficult things to do. Learn to listen, and learn to find out the way of living, not just repeat, repeat. Right? That's what I am saying this morning: don't become mechanical.

Sir, you said you wanted to talk about something different. So why don't you start the topic?

Because, sir, I wanted to find out what you were wanting first. Right? It's more polite, isn't it, to find out what you wanted to talk about. I serve you tea first, not myself.

Well we want to find out what you want to talk about.

Quite right. What I wanted to talk about this morning, if I remember rightly, was: are you sensitive?

To what?

Sensitive. You see, your immediate answer is, to what? We are not talking about 'what'. But in yourself are you sensitive? Feeling. Alert. To flowers. To people. Then I was going to talk about what is your relationship - you understand the word - what is your relationship to what is happening in the world? Two thousand five hundred people were killed in Bhopal, and hundreds of thousands of people hurt, what do you feel about that? 

I feel sad.

Are you sensitive to other people's suffering? 

Not as much as others.

You know yesterday, the day before yesterday I was walking, there were two girls, blue with white stripes, students. They walk six miles that way, six miles back, twelve miles a day. Are you sensitive to how they feel about walking all day?

No sir, because it doesn't affect me. It doesn't affect my life.

You are selfish.

I feel sorry for them.

Then what do you do?

What can I do, sir?

Will you go and talk to your teachers and say please sirs or ladies, can you do something for them. Will you? Or you don't care. 

I do care, sir.

Then go to them, as I am going to them. I want to have a bus for those children, or have a school for them all here. I am working, I am going to raise trouble if they don't do it.

You can, sir.

You do it, you help me. Will you?

If you tell me, I will.

I won't tell you, you go and do it. That's where your independence is. You are growing up, you are going to leave this lovely place, Rishi Valley, and go to college, university, get married, children, and jobs, and what will your relationship be to the corruption of the world?

Sir, what can we do about it?

Stand up against what you think is wrong. It doesn't matter about others. Don't be corrupted yourself.

It won't be any use if only one person is not corrupt.

Begin with yourself first.

OK, so you are not corrupt — I am just giving an example — and you go for a job and there is the managing director interviewing you, and he directly asks you for a bribe or you don't get the job.

Don't get a job. Why don't you stand for something?

Without a job I cannot live.

Don't live. 

Then what is the purpose of coming into the world?

Find out. You see you are all so weak, you give in. Suppose you say, no, sorry, I won't be corrupt, and you collect people around you, you work for it. 

Sir, but if there are only five people around me...

That's good enough. Begin. I am doing this. Listen to me. I am going round the world saying, religions as they are, are rubbish. Right? They don't like it. I don't mind. If they say to me, you can't come into this country, I don't mind. I can always come back to Rishi Valley - if they will allow me. I don't mind. But you people mind, you are all so frightened.

But what if we don't have anything else to do?

Become a gardener. What's wrong with being a gardener? What's wrong with being poor? I wouldn't mind being poor.

What is the use of this education? Being literate, you can't go for gardening, can you?

Then you do something literate. You're all so mediocre. Mediocre means going up the hill half-way, not going up to the top. Don't become a mediocre. Find out what is right. Don't care what people think of you.

So if we all do what we think is right.

No, not what you think is right - what is right. That's very difficult.

Everyone around us tells us, you must do this because this is right.

That is just tradition, that is the authority. I want to find out what is right - don't you? How will you find out?

Sir, won't that be an opinion. Right for one person can be wrong for another.

You think this is right, another thinks that is right, but I want to find out what is right - listen carefully - under all circumstances, under all pressures, whatever the public says - I want to find out what is right. Don't you? And it is difficult to find out what is right. To find out what is right you cannot have opinions, judgements, convictions. Right? So, you perceive what is right when there is freedom...

Only when you have complete freedom.

Complete freedom, that's right. When you have complete freedom then you see what is right.

Sir, but how do you gain freedom?

How do you gain freedom? You don't gain freedom. Freedom exists, comes, if you are not attached, if you are not self-interested — you understand? If you are not selfish.

But I can't live alone in the world.

I don't mind living alone in the world. You mind it, you are frightened.

So how do you get rid of selfishness?

How do you get rid of selfishness? Shall I tell you a very simple way? Don't be selfish! Don't say, I am going to get rid of it, don't be selfish. Therefore learn what it means to be selfish, watch.

Everything leads to watching.

Yes, sir. Watching. You learn an infinite lot watching. So that was the first thing. I wanted to find out — if you are sensitive; then what is your relationship with the world; then are you different from the world? The world is violent, are you violent? The world is corrupt, are you corrupt? The world is saying, I am British, I am French, I am an Indian, I am a Russian, I am a Muslim. Therefore there is conflict. So I won't be any of them.

It's coming up to an hour and a quarter now, and people are getting restless, so let us just sit quietly now for five minutes, absolutely quiet, don't move, take a comfortable position, close your eyes, and watch your thinking...

...thank you for listening to me!

—Krishnamurti (Rishi Valley, 1984)

Painting: On the Cliffs by Henry Ryland.

Originally shared to Buddhist Travellers in 2011.

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