If you watch each child week after week, if you observe his character, the way he plays games, the way he talks, the interests he shows, how he studies, the food he eats, then you will begin to know the child without requiring examinations to tell you what he is capable of.
I wonder why you are being educated? Do you know? As soon as you are old enough your parents send you to school. They perhaps know why they send you to school, but do you know why you go to school? All that you and your parents know is that you must go to school and be educated.
Now, what does it mean to be educated? Have you ever thought about it? Does it mean merely passing examinations so that afterwards you can get married and have some sort of job which you may or may not like, and continue in that job for the rest of your life? Is that education?
You are in various schools and you are being educated, that is, you are learning mathematics, history, geography, science, and so on. Why? Have you ever wondered? Is it merely in order to earn a living afterwards? Is that the purpose of education? Is education merely a matter of passing examinations and putting a few letters after your name, or is it something entirely different?
If you look around, you will see what an awful mess the world is in. Do you see the poor who have very little to eat, who have no holidays and must work day after day from morning till night, while your parents go to the club in luxurious cars and enjoy themselves there? That is life, is it not? There are the poor and the rich, those who are ill and those who have good health, and throughout the world there are wars, there are miseries, there is every kind of trouble. And should you not begin to think about these things while you are young? But you see, you are not helped in your schools to prepare yourself to meet that vast expanse of life with its extraordinary struggles, miseries, suffering, wars; nobody talks to you about all this. They just tell you the bare facts, but that is not enough, is it?
Surely, education is not just to enable you to get a job; it is something which should help you to prepare for life. You may become a clerk, or a governor, or a scientist, but that is not the whole of life.
There are all kinds of things in life. Life is like the ocean. The ocean is not just what you see on the surface, is it? It is tremendously deep, it has enormous currents and is teeming with all kinds of life, with many varieties of fish, the big living on the small. All that is the sea; and so it is with life, in which there are all kinds of enjoyments, pleasures, pains, extraordinary inventions, innumerable systems of meditation, and the mass search for happiness. The whole of that is life, but you are not prepared for it. At school nobody talks to you about all those things. There are too many boys and girls in each class, and the teacher is only concerned with helping you to pass the examinations, he is not interested in the clarification of your minds. But education is surely not a process of stuffing the mind with information. If you know how to read you can pick up any encyclopaedia and get whatever information you want. So I think education is something entirely different from merely learning certain facts and passing a few examinations.
You see, as long as we are afraid, we are not educated. Do you know what fear is? You know you are afraid. The children are afraid, the grown-up people are afraid, you are all afraid; and as long as we are afraid, we are not educated, we have no intelligence. So education is not merely the stuffing of the mind with information, but the helping of the student to understand without fear this great complexity of life.
You are afraid of your teachers, of your parents, of your elder brother, of your aunt, or of somebody else, are you not? The older people have the power to punish you, to push you away or ask you to stay in your own room; and so in the school as well as in the home we are continually trained in fear. Our life is moulded by fear, and from childhood till we die we are afraid. And do you know what fear does? Have you ever watched yourself when you are afraid, how your tummy tightens up, how you perspire, how you get nightmares? You don’t like to be with the people of whom you are frightened, do you? You want to run away like an animal that is threatened. You see, with that fear we go to school and college, and with that fear we leave college to meet this extraordinary thing, this vast stream with its enormous depth which we call life. So it seems to me that the thing of first importance in education is to see to it that we are educated to be free from fear; because fear dulls our minds, fear cripples our thinking, fear makes for darkness, and as long as we are frightened we shall not create a new world. Do you understand what I am talking about, or is it something of which you have never heard before?
You know, in the world outside of your of family, outside of your home, in the world beyond Bombay, in Europe, America and Russia, they are preparing instruments of enormous destruction. The world is going through an awful phase, and all the politicians all the leaders are very confused, though they say they are not, for they are always having wars, there is always some kind of trouble. So the world at present is not a beautiful thing, it is not a happy place to live in; and if you who are very young are not rightly educated, you will obviously create a world which is equally unhappy, equally miserable, equally confused. Is it not therefore very important to find out how you should be educated so that you can create a totally different kind of world? – a world in which we can all live happily together, in which there are not the rich and the poor, neither the big politicians who have all the power, position, glamour, nor the underprivileged who have nothing in life and must work without ceasing till they die.
It is you who will have to create a new world, not the old people, because the old people are making an awful mess of it. But if you are rightly educated you can create a new world. It is in your hands, not in the hands of the politicians or the priests. If you are rightly educated you will create a marvellous world – not a world of India or Europe, but a world which will be ours, yours and mine, a world in which we shall all live happily together. And I assure you, the creation of such a world depends on you, not on anybody else, and that is why it is very important how you are educated and what kind of teachers you have. If the teacher is afraid, he will have students who are also afraid. If the teacher is narrow, petty, small, merely passing on information to you, then you too will have minds which are very small and you will grow up without understanding what life is.
So it is really very important to be educated rightly, which means growing up in freedom; and you cannot be free if you are frightened of your parents, of your teachers, of public opinion, or of what your grandmother would say. If you are frightened you can never be free. And you may notice in the schools that the teachers have not thought out this problem of fear; because the moment you have any kind of compulsion to make you do something, either through so-called kindness or through a system of discipline, it does create fear. If I am the teacher, and in order to make you study I compare you with another student, saying that you are not as intelligent as some other boy or girl, I am destroying you, am I not? In our present schools we have examinations, which breed fear, and we also have systems of grading, which means that the student is always being compared with somebody else; therefore it is the clever boy or girl who is considered important, and not the individual student. The student who is very smart at his studies, who has a peculiar capacity to pass examinations, may be stupid in other directions, and probably he is.
Giving marks, grading, comparing, and any form of compulsion, either through kindness or through threats, breeds fear; and it is because we are caught in this fear while we are young that we struggle in fear for the rest of our life. The older people, by their attitude towards life, create a form of education which is merely a repetition of the old, so there is no new way of living. That is why it seems to me very important to think about all these matters while you are still very young. Even if you don’t understand what I am saying you should ask your teachers about this, if they will permit it, and see if you can really be free from fear. When there is no fear, you study much better. When you feel that you are not being compelled to do anything, you will find out what you are interested in, and then for the rest of your life you will do something which you really love to do – which is much more important than becoming a miserable clerk because you must have a job. To do something because your parents say that you must do it, or because society demands it, is all non- sense; whereas, if you really love to do something with your hands and with your mind, then through that love you will create a new world. But you cannot create a new world if you are frightened, and therefore while you are young there must be a spirit of revolt.
Do you understand what revolt is? As you grow from childhood to adulthood, life presses in upon you in the form of parents, teachers, tradition, neighbours, the culture or society in which you are brought up, and so on; all this encloses you like a prison and compels you to do what it wants, so you are never yourself. And is it not very important that education should help you to be free so that you can think and live without fear and thereby know for yourself what love is? If your parents really love you they will bring about this kind of education, they will see to it that you are free – free to live and grow without fear, free to be happy. But there are very few such parents in the world, because most parents say that the child must do this and not that, he must be like his father: a lawyer, a policeman, a merchant, or whatever it is.
It is really very difficult to understand all these complex problems, and as we grow up we can understand them only when there is intelligence. Intelligence should come while we are young, which means that the teacher himself must first understand all this. But there are very few teachers who understand it, because to most of them teaching is merely a job. They cannot get another job where they would make more money, so they say, “Teaching is a good job”, which means that they are interested neither in educating you nor in education itself.
So, as a boy or a girl you have to find out the truth of all this, you cannot just be tame, like a domesticated animal. I hope you are understanding what I am talking about, because all this is really very difficult and requires a great deal of thinking on your part. The world is disintegrating, going to pieces, there are wars, starvation and misery; and the creation of a new world is in your hands. But you cannot create a new world if in you there is no spirit of revolt; and you cannot have this spirit of revolt as long as there is fear which cripples intelligence.
Questioner: I have everything to make me happy, while others have not. Why is this so?
Krishnamurti: Why do you think it is like that? You may have good health, kind parents, a good brain, and therefore think you are happy; whereas, somebody who is ill, whose parents are unkind, and who has not too good a brain, feel that he is unhappy. Now, why is this so? Why are you happy while somebody else is unhappy? Does happiness consist in having riches, cars, good houses, clean food, kind parents? Is that what you call happiness? And is a person unhappy who has none of these things? So, what do you mean by happiness? This is important to find out, is it not? Does happiness consist in comparing? When you say, “I am happy”, is your happiness born of comparison? Do you understand what I am talking about, or is this too difficult?
Have you not heard your parents say, “So-and-so is not as well off as we are”? Comparison makes us feel that we have something, it gives us a sense of satisfaction, does it not? If one is clever and compares oneself with somebody who is not so clever, one feels very happy. That is, we think we are happy through pride, comparison; but the man who feels happy by comparing himself with another who has a little less, is a most miserable human being, because there is always somebody above him who has more; and so it goes on and on. Surely, comparison is not happiness. Happiness is entirely different; it is not a thing to be sought after. Happiness comes when you are doing something because you really love to do it, and not because it gives you riches or makes you a prominent person.
Questioner: What is the way to get rid of the fear that we have?
Krishnamurti: First you must know what you are afraid of, must you not? You may be afraid of your parents, of the teachers, of not passing an examination, of what your sister, your brother, or your neighbour might say; or you may be afraid of not being as good or as clever as your father, who has a big name. There are many kinds of fear, and one must know what one is afraid of.
Now, do you know what you are afraid of? If you do, then don’t run away from that fear, but find out why you are afraid. If you want to know how to get rid of fear, you must not escape from it, you must face it; and the very facing of it helps you to be free of it. As long as we are running away from fear, we do not look at it; but the moment we stop and look at fear, it begins to dissolve. The very running away is the cause of fear.
You must be teeming with questions, but perhaps you are shy. May I ask you a question? What do you want to be when you grow up? Do you know? Of course, for the girls it is simple, they want to get married, that is understood; but even if you get married, what do you want to do? Are you ambitious? Do you know what ambition is? It is the desire to become somebody, is it not? The man who has an ideal and says, “I am going to be like Rama, Sita, or Gandhiji”, is still ambitious. Are you ambitious in some way?
Now, what does that mean? Why are you ambitious? This may be a little difficult, but it is one of the problems of life and you ought to be thinking about it. I will tell you why. We are all ambitious; everyone is ambitious in his own way. And do you know what that does? It causes us to be against one another. We are always struggling to be rich, to have fame, to be more clever; I want to be greater than you, and you want to be greater than I. So ambition really means trying to be something we are not. And which is important? To try to be something we are not, or to understand what we are? Surely, we must first look at ourselves and begin to understand what we are.
You see, most of us are idealists; and idealists are hypocrites, because they are always trying to become something which they are not. If I am stupid and I strive to become clever, everybody thinks it is a marvellous thing. But a stupid person, however well he may learn the tricks of cleverness, does not thereby become intelligent. Whereas, if I know that I am stupid, then that very knowledge is the beginning of intelligence – which is much better than merely being clever. Do you understand?
If I am not very quick-witted, what generally happens? In school I am put at the end of the class – which is a disgraceful thing for the teacher to do, because I am as important as anybody else. It is stupid of the teacher to keep me at the end of the class by comparing me with the clever students, because by comparing he is destroying me.
But comparison is the basis of our so-called education, and of our whole culture. The teacher is always saying that you must do as well as such and such a boy or girl, so you struggle to be as clever as they are. And what happens to you? You get more and more worried, physically ill, mentally worn out. Whereas, if the teacher does not compare you with anyone, but says, “Look here, old boy, be yourself. Let us find out what you are interested in, what your capacities are. Don’t imitate, don’t try to become like Rama, Sita, or Gandhiji, but be what you are and begin from there” – if the teacher says that, then it is you who are important, not somebody else. It is the individual who is important, and by comparing a student with somebody who is cleverer, the teacher is belittling him, making him smaller, more stupid. It is the function of the teacher to help you to find out what you are, and he cannot help you to do that if he is comparing you with somebody else. Comparison destroys you, so don’t compare yourself with another. You are as good as anybody. Understand what you are, and from there begin to find out how to be more fully, more freely, more expansively what you are.
Questioner: You said that if the parents really love their child they will not stop him from doing anything. But if the child does not want to be clean or eats something which is bad for his health, must we not stop him?
Krishnamurti: I do not think I have ever said that if the parents love their child they will let him do exactly as he likes. Sir, this is a very difficult question, is it not? After all, if I love my son I shall see to it that he has no cause for fear – which is an extraordinarily difficult thing to do. As I said, to be free of fear, the child must not be compared with anyone else, nor must he be subjected to examinations. If I love the child I shall give him freedom, not to do what he likes – because merely to do what one likes is stupid – , but freedom in which to cultivate intelligence; and that intelligence will then tell him what to do.
To have intelligence there must be freedom, and you cannot be free if you are constantly being urged to become like some hero, for then the hero is important and not you. Don’t you have tummy-aches when you have examinations? Don’t you feel nervous, anxious? When year after year you have to face this terrible ordeal called examinations, do you know what it does to you throughout the rest of your life? The older people say that you must grow without fear; but it doesn’t mean a thing, it is only a lot of words, because they are cultivating fear through subjecting you to examinations and by comparing you with somebody else.
Another thing we should really discuss is what we call discipline. Do you know what I mean by discipline? From childhood you are told what to do, and you have jolly well got to do it. No one takes the trouble to explain why you should get up early, why you should be clean. parents and teachers do not explain these things to you because they have neither the love, the time, nor the patience; they merely say, “Do it or I shall punish you”. So education as we know it, is the instilling of fear. And how can your mind be intelligent when there is fear? How can you have love or feel respect for people when you are afraid? You may `respect’ the people who have big names, expensive cars; but you don’t respect your servant, you just kick him. When a big man comes around you all salute him and touch his feet, and that is called respect; but it is not respect, it is fear that is making you touch his feet. You don’t touch the feet of the poor coolie, do you? You are not respectful to him, because he cannot give you anything. So all our education is nothing but the cultivation or strengthening of fear. That is a terrible thing, is it not? And as long as there is fear, how can we create a new world? We cannot. That is why it is very important to understand this problem of fear while you are young, and for all of us to see to it that we are really educated without fear.
Questioner: Is it not important to have ideals in life?
Krishnamurti: This is a good question, because you all have ideals. You have the ideal of non-violence, the ideal of peace, or the ideal of a person such as Rama, Sita, or Gandhiji, have you not? Which means what? You are not important, but the ideal is very important. Rama is awfully important, but not poor old you, so you imitate him. All that you are concerned with is to copy either a person or an idea. As I said, an idealist is a hypocrite, because he is always trying to become what he is not, instead of being and understanding what he is.
You see, the problem of idealism is really a complex one, and you don’t understand it because you have never been encouraged to think about it; no one has ever talked it over with you. All your books, all your teachers, all the newspapers and magazines say you must have ideals, you must be like this hero or that, which only makes the mind like a monkey who imitates, or like a gramophone record which repeats a lot of words. So you must not accept, but begin to question everything and find out; and you cannot question if you are inwardly afraid. To question everything means being in revolt, which is to create a new world. But you see, your teachers and parents do not want you to be in revolt, because they want to control you, they want to shape and mould you into their patterns; and so life continues to be an ugly thing.
Questioner: If we are small, how can we create a new world?
Krishnamurti: You cannot create a new world if you are small. But you are not going to be small for the rest of your life, are you? You are small if you are afraid. You may have a big body, a big car, a high position, but if you are afraid inside you will never create a new world. That is why it is very important to grow with intelligence, without fear, to grow in freedom. But to grow in freedom does not mean disciplining oneself to be free.
Questioner: What should be the system of education to make the child fearless?
Krishnamurti: A system or a method implies being told what to do and how to do it; and will that make you fearless?
Can you be educated with intelligence, without fear, through any kind of system? When you are young, you should be free to grow; but there is no system to make you free. A system implies making the mind conform to a pattern, does it not? It means locking you up in a framework, not giving you freedom. The moment you rely on a system you dare not step out of it, and then the very thought of stepping out of it breeds fear. So, there is really no system of education. What is important is the teacher and the student, not the system. After all, if I want to help you to be free of fear, I myself must be free of fear. Then I must study you; I must take the trouble to explain everything to you and tell you what the world is like; and to do all this I must love you. As a teacher I must have the feeling that when you leave school or college you should be without fear. If I really have that feeling, I can help you to be free of fear.
Questioner: Is it possible to know the quality of gold without testing it in a special way? Similarly, can the capacity of each child be known without some sort of examination?
Krishnamurti: Do you really know the capacity of the child through examination? One child may fail because he is nervous, fearful of the examination, while another may slip through because he is less affected by it. Whereas, if you watch each child week after week, if you observe his character, the way he plays games, the way he talks, the interests he shows, how he studies, the food he eats, then you will begin to know the child without requiring examinations to tell you what he is capable of. But we have never thought about all these things.
Questioner: Sir, what is your idea of a new world?
Krishnamurti: I have no idea about the new world. The `new’ world cannot be new if I have an idea about it. This is not just a clever statement, it is a fact. If I have an idea about it, the idea is born of my study and experience, is it not? It is born of what I have learnt, of what I have read, of what other people have said the new world should be. So, the `new’ world can never be new if it is a creation of the mind, because the mind is the old. You don’t know what is going to happen tomorrow, do you? You may know that there will be no school tomorrow because it is Sunday, and that on Monday you will be going to school again; but what is going to happen outside the school, what kind of feelings you are going to have, what kind of things you are going to see – all that you don’t know, do you? Because you don’t know what is going to happen tomorrow, or the next morning, when it happens it will be new; and to be able to meet the new is what matters.
Questioner: How can we create anything new if we don’t know what it is we want to create?
Krishnamurti: It is a sad thing not to know what it means to create, is it not? When you have a feeling, you may put what you feel into words. If you see a beautiful tree, you may write a poem describing, not the tree, but what the tree has awakened in you. That feeling is the new, it is the creative thing; but you cannot bring it about, it must happen to you.
Questioner: Must the children take all these matters seriously. And if they do, will they ever be free to enjoy themselves?
Krishnamurti: Are you not serious now? But you cannot be serious all the time, can you? You cannot play all the time, or sleep all the time, or study all the time. There is a time to play and a time to be serious, and this meeting is meant to be serious; but if you do not want to be serious, it is all right, no body is going to compel you.
Source: Life Ahead Part One Chapter 19 - J Krishnamurti Online | © Krishnamurti Foundation | Images: Sourced from Google Images - Labelled for noncommercial reuse with modification