Extraits choisis 3ème partie
CONTACT WITH NATURE , OBSERVATION , LEARNING , . . . FROM THE TEACHINGS OF J. KRISHNAMURTI
Compiled with Permission of the Krishnamurti Foundation Trust forBrockwood Park Staff week January 2004
Poona, 17 October 1948
Questioner : What is the meaning of right relationship with nature?
Krishnamurti : I do not know if you have discovered your relationship with nature. There is no "right" relationship, there is only the understanding of relationship. Right relationship implies the mere acceptance of a formula, as does right thought. Right thought and right thinking are two different things. Right thought is merely conforming to what is right, what is respectable, whereas right thinking is movement; it is the product of understanding, and understanding is constantly undergoing modification, change. Similarly, there is a difference between right relationship, and understanding our relationship with nature. What is your relationship with nature (nature being the rivers, the trees, the swift-flying birds, the fish in the water, the minerals under the earth, the waterfalls and shallow pools)? What is your relationship to them? Most of us are not aware of that relationship. We never look at a tree, or if we do, it is with a view to using that tree, either to sit in its shade, or to cut it down for lumber. In other words, we look at trees with utilitarian purpose; we never look at a tree without projecting ourselves and utilizing it for our own convenience. We treat the earth and its products in the same way. There is no love of earth, there is only usage of earth. If one really loved the earth, there would be frugality in using the things of the earth. That is, if we were to understand our relationship with the earth, we should be very careful in the use we made of the things of the earth. The understanding of one’s relationship with nature is as difficult as understanding one’s relationship with one's neighbour, wife, and children. But we have not given a thought to it, we have never sat down to look at the stars, the moon, or the trees. We are too busy with social or political activities. Obviously, these activities are escapes from ourselves, and to worship nature is also an escape from ourselves. We are always using nature, either as an escape or for utilitarian ends - we never actually stop and love the earth or the things of the earth. We never enjoy the rich fields, though we utilize them to feed and clothe ourselves. We never like to till the earth with our hands - we are ashamed to work with our hands. There is an extraordinary thing that takes place when you work the earth with your hands. But this work is done only by the lower castes; we upper classes are much too important apparently to use our own hands! So, we have lost our relationship with nature.
If once we understood that relationship, its real significance, then we would not divide property into yours and mine; though one might own a piece of land and build a house on it, it would not be "mine" or "yours" in the exclusive sense - it would be more a means of taking shelter. Because we do not love the earth and the things of the earth but merely utilize them, we are insensitive to the beauty of a waterfall, we have lost the touch of life, we have never sat with our backs against the trunk of a tree. And since we do not love nature, we do not know how to love human beings and animals. Go down the street and watch how the bullocks are treated, their tails all out of shape. You shake your head and say, "Very sad". But we have lost the sense of tenderness, that sensitivity, that response to things of beauty, and it is only in the renewal of that sensitivity that we can have understanding of what is true relationship. That sensitivity does not come in the mere hanging of a few pictures, or in painting a tree, or putting a few flowers in your hair, sensitivity comes only when this utilitarian outlook is put aside. It does not mean that you cannot use the earth; but you must use the earth as it is meant to be used. Earth is there to be loved, to be cared for, not to be divided as yours and mine. It is foolish to plant a tree in a compound and call it "mine." It is only when one is free of exclusiveness that there is a possibility of having sensitivity, not only to nature, but to human beings and to the ceaseless challenges of life.
From ‘On Nature and the Environment’
Varanasi, 22 November 1964
If you are not in communion with anything, you are a dead human being. You have to be in communion with the river, with the birds, with the trees, with the extraordinary light of the evening, the light of the morning on the water; you have to be in communion with your neighbour, with your wife, with your children, with your husband. I mean by communion non-interference of the past, so that you look at everything afresh, anew - and that's the only way to be in communion with something, so that you die to everything of yesterday. And is it possible? One has to find this out, not ask "How am I to do it?" - that is such an idiotic question. People always ask, "How am I to do this?" This shows their mentality; they have not understood, but they only want to achieve a result.
So I am asking you if you are ever in contact with anything, and if you are ever in contact with yourself - not with your higher self and lower self and all the innumerable divisions that man has created to escape from the fact. And you have to find out - not be told how to come to this total action. There is no "how", there is no method, there is no system; you cannot be told. You have to work for it. I am sorry. I don't mean that word work; people love to work; that is one of our fantasies - that we must work to achieve something. You can't work; when you are in a state of communion, there is no working, it is there; the perfume is there, you don't have to work.
So ask yourself, if I may request you, to find out for yourself whether you are in communion with anything - whether you are in communion with a tree. Have you ever been in communion with a tree? Do you know what it means to look at a tree, to have no thought, no memory interfering with your observation, with your feeling, with your sensibility, with your nervous state of attention, so that there is only the tree, not you who are looking at that tree? Probably you have never done this, because for you a tree has no meaning. The beauty of a tree has no significance at all, for to you beauty means sexuality. So you have shut out the tree, nature, the river, the people. And you are not in contact with anything, even with yourself. You are in contact with your own ideas, with your own words, like a human being in contact with ashes. You know what happens when you are in contact with ashes? You are dead; you are burnt out.
So the first thing you have to realize, is that you must find out what the total action is that will not create contradiction at any level of your existence, what it is to be in communion, communion with yourself, not with the higher self, not with the Atman, god, and all that, but to be actually in contact with yourself, with your greed, envy, ambition, brutality, deception, and then from there move. Then you will find out for yourself - find out, not be told, which has no meaning - that there is a total action only when there is complete silence of the mind from which there is action.
You know, in the case of most of us, the mind is noisy, everlastingly chattering to itself, soliloquizing or chattering about something, or trying to talk to itself, to convince itself of something; it is always moving, noisy. And from that noise, we act. Any action born of noise produces more noise, more confusion. But if you have observed and learned what it means to communicate, the difficulty of communication, the non-verbalization of the mind - that it is that which communicates and receives communication - then, as life is a movement, you will, in your action, move on naturally, freely, easily, without any effort, to that state of communion. And in that state of communion - if you inquire more deeply - you will find that you are not only in communion with nature, with the world, with everything about you, but also in communion with yourself.
To be in communion with yourself means complete silence, so that the mind can be silently in communion with itself about everything. And from there, there is a total action. It is only out of emptiness that there is the action that is total and creative.
From ‘On Nature and the Environment’
Paris, 16th May 1965, 1st public talk[...]
We never actually look at a flower, because we look with our minds, with our thoughts, with our ideas, opinions, with our botanical knowledge of that flower. So it is thought that looks - not so much the eye as thought. Our thoughts, ideas, opinions, judgments, botanical knowledge - these interfere with our looking. It is only when you can look at something completely that you are in direct contact with that thing; and to look completely demands a great deal of energy - not words, words, words; they don't create energy. What brings energy is this observing, listening, learning, in which there is not the observer; there is only the fact, and not the experiencer looking at the fact.
Bombay, 24th September 1965, 5th public talk[...]
You can imagine, if you have got imagination, the colour of those flowers. Have a picture, mentally conjure up an image of that creeper with its delicate colours, the flowers of delicate colours, the extraordinary beauty of the flowers. But your image, your idea about the creeper, your feeling about the creeper, is not the creeper. The creeper with its flowers is a fact. And your idea
about the flowers, though it is a fact, is not actual. You are not actually in contact with the flower through an idea. I think this must be borne in mind throughout this talk: that we are dealing with facts and not with ideas, and that you cannot touch intimately, directly, concretely, come into contact with a fact through an idea. Death cannot be experienced. One cannot come directly into contact with it through an idea. Most of us live with ideas, with formulas, with concepts, with memory; and so we never come into contact with anything. We are mostly in contact with our ideas, but not with the fact.
Letters to the Schools – 15th November 1979We ought to consider very seriously, not only in these schools but also as human beings, the capacity to work together; to work together with nature, the living things of the earth, and also with other human beings. As social beings we exist for ourselves. Our laws, our government, our religions all emphasise the separateness of man which during the centuries has developed into man against man. It is becoming more and more important, if we are to survive, that there be a spirit of co-operation with the universe, with all the things of the sea and earth.
One can see in all social structures the destructive effect of fragmentation taking place - nation against nation, one group against another group, one family against another family, one individual against another. It is the same religiously, socially and economically. Each one is striving for himself, for his class or his particular interest in the community. This division of beliefs, ideals, conclusions and prejudices is preventing the spirit of co-operation from flowering. We are human beings, not tribal identities, exclusive, separate. We are human beings caught in conclusions, theories, faiths. We are living creatures, not labels. It is our human circumstance that makes us search for food, clothes and shelter at the expense of others. Our very thinking is separative and all action springing from this limited thought must prevent co-operation. The economic and social structure, as it is now, including organised religions, intensifies exclusiveness, separateness. This lack of co-operation ultimately brings about wars and the destruction of man. It is only during crises or disasters, that we seem to come together, and when they are over we are back to our old condition. We seem to be incapable of living and working together harmoniously.
Is it because our brain, which is the centre of our thought, our feeling, has from ancient days become through necessity so conditioned to seek its own personal survival that this isolating, aggressive process has come about? Is it because this isolating process identifies itself with the family, with the tribe, and becomes glorified nationalism? Is not all isolation linked to a need for identification and fulfillment?
Has not the importance of the self been cultivated through evolution by the opposition of the me and you, the we and they? Have not all religions emphasised personal salvation, personal enlightenment, personal achievement, both religiously and in the world? Has co-operation become impossible because we have given such importance to talent, to specialisation, to achievement, to success - all emphasising separateness? Is it because human co-operation has centred on some kind of authority of government or religion, around some ideology or conclusion, which then inevitably brings about its own destructive opposite?
What does it mean to co-operate - not the word but the spirit of it? You cannot possibly co-operate with another, with the earth and its waters, unless you in yourself are harmonious, not broken up, non-contradictory; you cannot co-operate if you yourself are under strain, pressure, conflict. How can you co-operate with the universe if you are concerned with yourself, your problems, your ambitions?
There can be no co-operation if all your activities are self-centred and you are occupied with your own selfishness, with your own secret desires and pleasures. As long as the intellect with its thoughts dominates all your actions, obviously there can be no co-operation, for thought is partial, narrow and everlastingly divisive. Co-operation demands great honesty. Honesty has no motive. Honesty is not some ideal, some faith. Honesty is clarity - the clear perception of things as they are. Perception is attention. That very attention throws light, with all its energy, on that which is being observed. This light of perception brings about a transformation of the thing observed. There is no system through which you learn to co-operate. It is not to be structured and classified. Its very nature demands that there be love and that love is not measureable, for when you compare - which is the essence of measurement – thought has entered. Where thought is, love is not. Now can this be conveyed to the student and can co-operation exist among educators in these schools? These schools are centres of a new generation with a new outlook, with a new sense of being citizens of the world, concerned with all the living things of this world. It is your grave responsibility to bring about this spirit of co-operation.
Krishnamurti to Himself – Friday, February 25, 1983There is a tree by the river and we have been watching it day after day for several weeks when the sun is about to rise. As the sun rises slowly over the horizon, over the trees, this particular tree becomes all of a sudden golden. All the leaves are bright with life and as you watch it as the hours pass by, that tree whose name does not matter - what matters is that beautiful tree – an extraordinary quality seems to spread all over the land, over the river. And as the sun rises a little higher the leaves begin to flutter, to dance. And each hour seems to give to that tree a different quality. Before the sun rises it has a sombre feeling, quiet, far away, full of dignity. And as the day begins, the leaves with the light on them dance and give it that peculiar feeling that one has of great beauty. By midday its shadow has deepened and you can sit there protected from the sun, never feeling lonely, with the tree as your companion. As you sit there, there is a relationship of deep abiding security and a freedom that only trees can know.
Towards the evening when the western skies are lit up by the setting sun, the tree gradually becomes sombre, dark, closing in on itself. The sky has become red, yellow, green, but the tree
remains quiet, hidden, and is resting for the night.
If you establish a relationship with it then you have relationship with mankind. You are responsible then for that tree and for the trees of the world. But if you have no relationship with the living things on this earth you may lose whatever relationship you have with humanity, with human beings. We never look deeply into the quality of a tree; we never really touch it, feel its solidity, its rough bark, and hear the sound that is part of the tree. Not the sound of wind through the leaves, not the breeze of a morning that flutters the leaves, but its own sound, the sound of the trunk and the silent sound of the roots. You must be extraordinarily sensitive to hear the sound. This sound is not the noise of the world, not the noise of the chattering of the mind, not the vulgarity of human quarrels and human warfare but sound as part of the universe.
It is odd that we have so little relationship with nature, with the insects and the leaping frog and the owl that hoots among the hills calling for its mate. We never seem to have a feeling for all living things on the earth. If we could establish a deep abiding relationship with nature we would never kill an animal for our appetite, we would never harm, vivisect, a monkey, a dog, a
guinea pig for our benefit. We would find other ways to heal our wounds, heal our bodies. But the healing of the mind is something totally different. That healing gradually takes place if you are with nature, with that orange on the tree, and the blade of grass that pushes through the cement, and the hills covered, hidden, by the clouds.
This is not sentiment or romantic imagination but a reality of a relationship with everything that lives and moves on the earth. Man has killed millions of whales and is still killing them. All that we derive from their slaughter can be had through other means. But apparently man loves to kill things, the fleeting deer, the marvelous gazelle and the great elephant. We love to kill each other. This killing of other human beings has never stopped throughout the history of man's life on this earth. If we could, and we must, establish a deep long abiding relationship with nature, with the actual trees, the bushes, the flowers, the grass and the fast moving clouds, then we would never slaughter another human being for any reason whatsoever. Organized murder is war, and though we demonstrate against a particular war, the nuclear, or any other kind of war, we have never demonstrated against war. We have never said that to kill another human being is the greatest sin on earth.
Krishnamurti to Himself – Wednesday, April 20, 1983At the end of every leaf, the large leaves and the tiny leaves, there was a drop of water sparkling in the sun like an extraordinary jewel. And there was a slight breeze but that breeze didn't in any way disturb or destroy that drop on those leaves that were washed clean by the late rain. It was a very quiet morning, full of delight, peaceful, and with a sense of benediction in the air. And as we watched the sparkling light on every clean leaf, the earth became extraordinarily beautiful, in spite of all the telegraph wires and their ugly posts. In spite of all the noise of the world, the earth was rich, abiding, enduring. And though there were earthquakes here and there, most destructive, the earth was still beautiful. One never appreciates the earth unless one really lives with it, works with it, puts one's hands in the dust, lifting big rocks and stones - one never knows the extraordinary sense of being with the earth, the flowers, the gigantic trees and the strong grass and the hedges along the road.
Everything was alive that morning. As we watched, there was a sense of great joy and the heavens were blue, the sun was slowly coming out of the hills and there was light. As we watched the mocking bird on the wire, it was doing its antics, jumping high, doing a somersault, then coming down on the same spot on the wire. As we watched the bird enjoying itself, jumping in the air and then coming down circling, with its shrill cries, its enjoyment of life, only that bird existed, the watcher didn't exist. The watcher was no longer there, only the bird, gray and white, with a longish tail. That watching was without any movement of thought, watching the flurry of the bird that was enjoying itself.
We never watch for long. When we watch with great patience, watch without any sense of the watcher, watch those birds, those droplets on the quivering leaves, the bees and the flowers and the long trail of ants, then time ceases, time has a stop. One doesn't take time to watch or have the patience to watch. One learns a great deal through watching - watching people, the way they
walk, their talk, their gestures. You can see through their vanity or their negligence of their own bodies. They are indifferent, they are callous.
There was an eagle flying high in the air, circling without the beat of the wings, carried away by the air current beyond the hills and was lost. Watching, learning: learning is time but watching has no time. Or when you listen, listen without any interpretation, without any reaction, listen without any bias. Listen to that thunder in the skies, the thunder rolling among the hills. One
never listens completely, there is always interruption. Watching and listening are a great art - watching and listening without any reaction, without any sense of the listener or the see-er. By
watching and listening we learn infinitely more than from any book. Books are necessary, but watching and listening sharpen your senses. For, after all, the brain is the centre of all the
reactions, thoughts and remembrances. But if your senses are not highly awakened you cannot really watch and listen and learn, not only how to act but about learning, which is the very soil in which the seed of goodness can grow.
When there is this simple, clear watching and listening, then there is an awareness - awareness of the colour of those flowers, red, yellow, white, of the spring leaves, the stems, so tender, so delicate, awareness of the heavens, the earth and those people who are passing by. They have been chattering along that long road, never looking at the trees, at the flowers, at the skies and the marvelous hills. They are not even aware of what is going on around them. They talk a great deal about the environment, how we must protect nature and so on, but it seems they are not aware of the beauty and the silence of the hills and the dignity of a marvelous old tree. They are not even aware of their own thoughts, their own reactions, nor are they aware of the way they
walk, of their clothes. It does not mean that they are to be self-centred in their watching, in their awareness, but just be aware.
When you are aware there is a choice of what to do, what not to do, like and dislike, your biases, your fears, your anxieties, the joys which you have remembered, the pleasures that you have pursued; in all this there is choice, and we think that choice gives us freedom. We like that freedom to choose; we think freedom is necessary to choose - or, rather, that choice gives us a sense of freedom - but there is no choice when you see things very, very clearly.
And that leads us to an awareness without choice - to be aware without any like or dislike. When there is this really simple, honest, choiceless awareness it leads to another factor, which is attention. The word itself means to stretch out, to grasp, to hold on, but that is still the activity of the brain, it is in the brain. Watching, awareness, attention, are within the area of the brain, and the brain is limited - conditioned by all the ways of past generations, the impressions, the traditions and all the folly and the goodness of man. So all action from this attention is still limited, and that which is limited must inevitably bring disorder.
When one is thinking about oneself from morning until night - one's own worries, one's own desires, demands and fulfillment - this self-centredness, being very, very limited, must cause
friction in its relationship with another, who is also limited; there must be friction, there must be strain and disturbances of many kinds, the perpetual violence of human beings.
When one is attentive to all this, choicelessly aware, then out of that comes insight. Insight is not an act of remembrance, the continuation of memory. Insight is like a flash of light. You see with absolute clarity, all the complications, the consequences, the intricacies. Then this very insight is action, complete. In that there are no regrets, no looking back, no sense of being weighed down, no discrimination. This is pure, clear insight - perception without any shadow of doubt.
Most of us begin with certainty and as we grow older that certainty changes to uncertainty and we die with uncertainty. But if one begins with uncertainty, doubting, questioning, asking,
demanding, with real doubt about man's behaviour, about all the religious rituals and their images and their symbols, then out of that doubt comes the clarity of certainty. When there is clear insight into violence, for instance, that very insight banishes all violence. That insight is outside the brain, if one can so put it. It is not of time. It is not of remembrance or of knowledge, and so that insight and its action changes the very brain cells. That insight is complete and from that completeness there can be logical, sane, rational, action.
This whole movement from watching, listening, to the thunder of insight, is one movement; it is not coming to it step by step. It is like a swift arrow. And that insight alone can uncondition the brain, not the effort of thought, which is determination, seeing the necessity for something; none of that will bring about total freedom from conditioning. All this is time and the ending of time. Man is time-bound and that bondage to time is the movement of thought. So where there is an ending to thought and to time there is total insight. Only then can there be the
flowering of the brain. Only then can you have a complete relationship with the mind.
Letters to the Schools – 1st November 1983One is quite sure that the educators are aware what is actually happening in the world. People are
divided racially, religiously, politically, economically, and this division is fragmentation. It is bringing about great chaos in the world - wars, every kind of deception politically and so on. There is the spreading of violence and man against man. This is the actual state of confusion in the world, in the society in which we live, and this society is created by all human beings with their culture, their linguistic divisions, their regional separation. All this is breeding not only confusion but hatred, a great deal of antagonism and further linguistic differences. This is what is happening and the responsibility of the educator is really very great. He is concerned in all these schools to bring about a good human being who has a feeling of global relationship, who is not nationalistic, regional, separate, religiously clinging to the old dead traditions which have really no value at all. His responsibility as an educator becomes more and more serious, more and more committed, more and more concerned with the education of his students.
What is this education doing actually? Is it really helping man, his children, to become more concerned, more gentle, generous, not to go back to the old pattern, the old ugliness and naughtiness of this world? If he is really concerned, as he must be, then he has to help the student to find out his relationship to the world, the world not of imagination or romantic sentimentality, but to the actual world in which all things are taking place. And also to the world of nature, to the desert, the jungle or the few trees that surround him, and to the animals of the world. Animals fortunately are not nationalistic; they hunt only to survive. If the educator and the student lose their relationship to nature, to the trees, to the rolling sea, each will certainly lose his relationship with man.
What is nature? There is a great deal of talk and endeavour to protect nature, the animals, the birds, the whales and dolphins, to clean the polluted rivers, the lakes, the green fields and so on. Nature is not put together by thought, as religion is, as belief is. Nature is the tiger - that extraordinary animal with its energy, its great sense of power. Nature is the solitary tree in the field, the meadows and the grove; it is that squirrel shyly hiding behind a bough. Nature is the ant and the bee and all the living things of the earth. Nature is the river, not a particular river, whether the Ganga, the Thames or the Mississippi. Nature is all those mountains, snow-clad, with the dark blue valleys and range of hills meeting the sea. The universe is part of this world. One must have a feeling for all this, not destroy it, not kill for one's pleasure, not kill animals for one's table. We do kill the cabbage, the vegetables that we eat, but one must draw the line somewhere. If you do not eat vegetables, then how will you live? So one must intelligently discern.
Nature is part of our life. We grew out of the seed, the earth, and we are part of all. that but we are rapidly losing the sense that we are animals like the others. Can you have a feeling for that tree, look at it, see the beauty of it, listen to the sound it makes; be sensitive to the little plant, to the little weed, to that creeper that is growing up the wall, to the light on the leaves and the many shadows? One must be aware of all this and have that sense of communion with nature around you. You may live in a town but you do have trees here and there. A flower in the next garden may be ill-kept, crowded with weeds, but look at it, feel that you are part of all that, part of all living things. If you hurt nature you are hurting yourself.
One knows all this has been said before in different ways but we don't seem to pay much attention. Is it that we are so caught up in our own network of problems, our own desires, our own urges of pleasure and pain that we never look around, never watch the moon? Watch it. Watch with all your eyes and ears, your sense of smell. Watch. Look as though you are looking for the first. time. If you can do that, that tree, that bush, that blade of grass you are seeing for the first time. Then you can see your teacher, your mother and father, your brother and sister, for the first time. There is an extraordinary feeling about that: the wonder, the strangeness, the miracle of a fresh morning that has never been before, never will be. Be really in communion with nature, not verbally caught in the description of it, but be a part of it, be aware, feel that you belong to all that, be able to have love for all that, to admire a deer, the lizard on the wall, that broken branch lying on the ground. Look at the evening star or the new moon, without the word, without merely saying how beautiful it is and turning your back on it, attracted by something else, but watch that single star and new delicate moon as though for the first time. If there is such communion between you and nature then you can commune with man, with the boy sitting next to you, with your educator, or with your parents. We have lost all sense of relationship in which there is not only a verbal statement of affection and concern but also this sense of communion which is not verbal. It is a sense that we are all together, that we are all human beings, not divided, not broken up, not belonging to any particular group or race, or to some idealistic concepts, but that we are all human beings, we are all living on this extraordinary beautiful earth.
Have you ever woken up in the morning and looked out of the window, or gone out on the terrace and looked at the trees and the spring dawn? Live with it. Listen to all the sounds, to the whisper, the slight breeze among the leaves. See the light on that leaf and watch the sun coming over the hill, over the meadow. And the dry river, or that animal grazing and those sheep across the hill - watch them. Look at them with a sense of affection, care, that you do not want to hurt a thing.
When you have such communion with nature, then your relationship with another becomes simple, clear, without conflict.
This is one of the responsibilities of the educator, not merely to teach mathematics or how to run a computer. Far more important is to have communion with other human beings who suffer, struggle, and have great pain and the sorrow of poverty, and with those people who go by in a rich car. If the educator is concerned with this he is helping the student to become sensitive, sensitive to other people's sorrows, other people's struggles, anxieties and worries, and the rows that one has in the family. It should be the responsibility of the teacher to educate the children, the students, to have such communion with the world. The world may be too large but the world is where he is; that is his world. And this brings about a natural consideration, affection for others, courtesy and behaviour that is not rough, cruel, vulgar.
The educator should talk about all these things, not just verbally but he himself must feel it - the world, the world of nature and the world of man. They are inter-related. Man cannot escape from that. When he destroys nature he is destroying himself. When he kills another he is killing himself. The enemy is not the other but you. To live in such harmony with nature, with the world, naturally brings about a different world.
Letters to the Schools – 15th November 1983By watching perhaps you learn more than from books. Books are necessary to learn a subject
whether it be mathematics, geography, history, physics or chemistry. The books have printed on a
page the accumulated knowledge of scientists, of philosophers, of archeologists and so on. This
accumulated knowledge, which one learns in school and then through college or university, if one is lucky enough to go to university, has been gathered through the ages, from the very ancient of days. There is great accumulated knowledge from India, from ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, the Greeks, the Romans and of course the Persians. In the Western world as well as in the Eastern world this knowledge is necessary to have a career, to do any job, whether mechanical or theoretical, practical or something that you have to think out, invent. This knowledge has brought about a great deal of technology, especially within this century. There is the knowledge of the so-called sacred books, the Vedas, the Upanishads, the Bible, the Koran and the Hebrew Scriptures. So there are the religious books and pragmatic books, books that will help you to have knowledge, to act skillfully, whether you are an engineer, a biologist or a carpenter.
Most of us in any school, and particularly in these schools, gather knowledge, information, and that is what schools have existed for so far: to gather a great deal of information about the world outside, about the heavens, why the sea is salty, why the trees grow, about human beings, their anatomy, the structure of the brain and so on. And also about the world around you, nature, the social environment, economics and so much else. Such knowledge is absolutely necessary but knowledge is always limited. However much it may evolve, the gathering of knowledge is always limited. Learning is part of acquiring this knowledge of various subjects so that you can have a career, a job that might please you, or one that circumstances, social demands may have forced you to accept though you may not like very much to do that kind of work.
But as we said, you learn a great deal by watching, watching the things about you, watching the birds, the tree, watching the heavens, the stars, the constellation of Orion, the Dipper, the Evening
star. You learn just by watching not only the things around you but also by watching people, how they walk, their gestures, the words they use, how they are dressed. You not only watch that which is outside but also you watch yourself, why you think this or that, your behaviour, the conduct of your daily life, why parents want you to do this or that. You are watching, not resisting. If you resist you don't learn. Or if you come to some kind of conclusion, some opinion you think is right and hold on to that, then naturally you will never learn.
Freedom is necessary to learn, and curiosity, a sense of wanting to know why you or others behave in a certain way, why people are angry, why you get annoyed.
Learning is extraordinarily important because learning is endless. Learning why human beings
kill each other for instance. Of course there are explanations in books, all the psychological reasons why human beings behave in their own particular manner, why human beings are violent. All this has been explained in books of various kinds by eminent authors, psychologists and so on. But what you read is not what you are. What you are, how you behave, why you get angry, envious, why you get depressed, if you watch yourself you learn much more than from a book that tells you what you are.
But you see it is easier to read a book about yourself than to watch yourself. The brain is accustomed to gather information from all external actions and reactions. Don't you find it much more comforting to be directed, for others to tell you what you should do? Your parents, especially in the East, tell you whom you should marry and arrange the marriage, tell you what your career should be. So the brain accepts the easy way and the easy way is not always the right way. I wonder if you have noticed that nobody loves their work any more, except perhaps a few scientists, artists, archeologists. But the ordinary, average man seldom loves what he is doing. He is compelled by society, by his parents or by the urge to have more money. So learn by watching very, very carefully the external world, the world outside you, and the inner world; that is, the world of yourself.
There appear to be two ways of learning: one is acquiring a great deal of knowledge, first through
Study and then by acting from that knowledge. That is what most of us do. The second is to act, to do something and learn through doing, and that also becomes the accumulation of knowledge.
Really both are the same: learning from a book or acquiring knowledge through action. Both are
based upon knowledge, experience, and as we have said, experience and knowledge are always limited. So both the educator and the student should find out what actually learning is. For example you learn from a guru if he is at all the right kind, a sane guru, .not the money-making guru, not one of those who want to be famous and trot off to different countries to gather a fortune through their rather unbalanced theories. Find out what it is to learn.
Today learning is becoming more and more a form
of entertainment. In some Western schools when they have passed high school, secondary school, the Students do not even know how to read and write. And when you do know how to read and write and learn various subjects - you are all such mediocre people. Do you know what the word mediocrity means? The root meaning is to go half way up the hill, never reaching the top. That is mediocrity: never demanding the excellent, the very highest thing of yourself. And learning is infinite, it really has no end. So from whom are you learning? From the books? From the educator? And perhaps, if your mind is bright, by watching? So far it appears you are learning from the outside: learning, accumulating knowledge and from that knowledge acting, establishing your career and so on. If you are learning from yourself - or rather if you are learning by watching yourself, your- prejudices, your definite conclusions, your beliefs, if you are watching the subtleties of your thought, your vulgarity, your sensitivity, then you become yourself the teacher and the taught. Then you do not depend inwardly on anybody, not on any book, not on the
specialist - though of course if you are ill and have some sort of disease you have to go to a specialist, that is natural, that is necessary. But to depend on somebody, however excellent he may be, prevents you from learning about yourself and what you are.
And it is very, very important to learn what you are because what you are brings about this society
which is so corrupt, immoral, where there is such enormous spreading of violence, this society which is so aggressive, each one seeking his own particular success, his own form of fulfillment. Learn what you are not through another but by watching yourself, not condemning, nor saying “This is all right, I am that, I can't change” and carrying on. When you watch yourself without any form of reaction, resistance, then that very watching acts; like a flame it burns away the stupidities, the illusions that one has.
So learning becomes important. A brain that ceases to learn becomes mechanical. It is like an
animal tied to a stick; it can move only according to the length of the rope, the tether that is tied to the stick. Most of us are tied to a peculiar stake of our own, an invisible stake and rope. You keep
wandering within the dimensions of that rope and it is very limited. It is like a man who is thinking about himself all day, about his problems, his desires, his pleasures and what he would like to do.
You know this constant occupation with oneself. It is very, very limited. And chat very limitation
breeds various forms of conflict and unhappiness. The great poets, painters, composers are never
satisfied with what they have done. They are always learning. It isn't after you have passed your exams and gone to work that you stop learning. There is a great strength and vitality in learning, especially about yourself. Learn, watch so that there is no spot that is not uncovered, looked at in yourself. This really is to be free from your own particular conditioning; The world is divided through its conditioning: you as an Indian, you as an American, you as a British, Russian, Chinese and so on. Out of this conditioning there are wars, the killing of thousands of people, the unhappiness and the brutality.
So both the educator and the educated are learning in the deeper sense of that word. When both are learning there is no educator or one to be educated. There is only learning. Learning frees the
brain and thought of prestige, position, status.
Learning brings about equality among human beings.