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BR79DT2.1 - The relationship between teacher and student
Brockwood Park, UK - 17 June 1979
Discussion with Teachers 2.1

0:49 Harsh Tanka: Krishnaji, there's a lot of unrest in education these days, there's a lot of debate and a lot of people are asking questions about it. But most of these questions seem to be about systems of education and methods of teaching and what subjects to teach. And there seems to be a lot of confusion and none of them seems to get to any point.
1:32 Krishnamurti: Don't you think we ought to first enquire what is education, rather than what subjects, what books, what system, what kind of teachers and so on. Shouldn't we first ask why are we being educated? The word education, what it means. But I'd like to ask, if I may, why we are being educated? To fit to a system? Into an establishment?
2:19 HT: A lot of education at present is precisely for that.
2:24 K: Yes, so is that what education is? Does education mean that? To conform to the social demand? To a particular culture, technological or otherwise, which says you must fit into this, you must conform, or you must find your career, your life, in this particular system. Is that why you are being educated? To have a good career, to have capacity to earn enough money, etc., is that why you are being educated? As you say, apparently it is so.
3:19 HT: Well, it would certainly seem to be a necessary part of education to prepare a student to earn his livelihood.
3:28 K: Yes, part of it. But even then I question it. Let's go into it a little more carefully, if we may. One might educate a boy or a girl to conform to a particular culture, social demand, technologically, as a career, which is necessary, and so on, but the rest of the whole human complex existence is totally neglected. Would you say that it is so?
4:06 HT: I think some attempts are made in some ways to try and include that. But it's hard to see exactly where to go or what to do, It's more of a feeling that education should be more, but exactly in what direction is very unclear. It also often involves some form of rejection of the society into which you're going, You see there's something wrong with it therefore you, in some way, don't want to be a part of it.
4:42 K: What is the meaning of existence? Unless we tackle it on a very large scale I don't see how we're going to solve a particular small problem. What is the meaning of human existence, what is the significance of it? If it is merely to earn a livelihood, merely to get a job, you know, it seems so limited, so extraordinarily narrow.
5:19 Stephen Smith: It is narrow, and yet it seems that those very things are becoming in fact more and more difficult, because of the very structure of society itself and its own momentum, its own structures.
5:33 K: Yes, over population. We know all that, need we go into all that? Over population, the destruction of the earth, the whole ecology and everything. Is that why we have made life so narrow and limited? As a human being, you've been to Oxford or Cambridge or whatever university, when you've got a degree, a job, and for the rest of your life until you almost die, you are caught into that, you have responsibility for your children, for your wife, all that. So is that all? Apparently that's all. Or if you are slightly inclined to be religious, you go off and pop into a church occasionally and say, I believe in God, and get on with it. Is that why we are being educated?
6:55 Brian Nicholson: It is about all that's happening at the moment.
6:59 K: I know that's what is happening. And there, what is happening, we want to improve it, find a different system, different methods, different way of teaching, and so on, to do what?
7:20 HT: It seems that education should be preparation for the whole of existence.

K: The whole of life, instead of merely limiting it to earning a livelihood. I should have thought any serious man concerned with education is concerned with the whole of existence of man, man not as an Englishman, a Frenchman, or an American, as a human being. So.
8:00 SS: You see, I think as religion has declined in the West, and generally, universally, often the solutions that are sought among teachers, particularly a younger generation of teachers, are, generally speaking, political. Not necessarily party political, but they are of a political nature, suggesting that you improve the world by adopting a certain line, or you have a non-authoritarian approach to the actual task of teaching, and out of that possibly something better will happen. In other words you try not to frighten the student, or not to dominate him, and in a sense challenge the values of the society you are in, which are consumer values, sometimes going to the army, almost generally having some kind of career.
9:16 K: That's all, we are saying the same thing.
9:20 SS: But this seems to be the level at which it functions.
9:25 K: And are we challenging in this meeting, are we challenging this whole approach to life?
9:34 SS: I think we are.
9:36 HT: I think we're asking whether it's possible in a school to educate for the whole of existence rather than just...
9:43 K: Yes, and is that possible?
9:46 Mathew Mitchell: Part of the problem is we haven't been educated ourselves for the whole of existence. We're caught in the trap ourselves.
9:53 K: I understand that, but as an educator, how do you approach this problem? On one hand you say you must have a career, job, etc., and also you say no authority, and also you say we must be concerned with the whole of life. Who is concerned with the whole of life? Not the politician, obviously, nor the priests.
10:36 SS: Not even them.
10:38 HT: Not the priests.
10:39 K: Certainly not the priests. Nor the army, nor the engineer, nobody is concerned with the whole of life. Or are they?
10:55 SS: Poets claim to be, but I think that's possibly partial too.
11:00 K: Are we exaggerating something which is accepted as an actuality if we are totally concerned with the whole cultivation of man? If we are, what shall we do? If we have children and we are concerned as parents who are also educators, not just parents and then shove them off into a school, but if the parents are concerned and the professional educators are concerned with the whole development of man, how shall we set about it?
12:26 HT: I think the truth is that we, the educators, are not always concerned with the whole.
12:36 K: Obviously not.
12:37 HT: Because we have our immediate responsibilities, our own jobs, our careers to look after, and all the problems that beset us.
12:48 K: Are you saying that there is no such group in the world? There may be, and which we don't know? Now, with the whole of life I mean, not only to help the student to have a technological job, knowledge, but also concerned, psychologically, inwardly, how to face problems, to understand the whole question of relationship, love, death, the whole of life. Who is there concerned like that?
13:44 BN: It's really very hard to teach if you don't feel like this.
13:48 K: It's not only hard, but are there such people? And if we are such people, what shall we do? We have not only to understand it ourselves, perhaps beginning verbally, intellectually, and then making it into an actuality in our lives, but how will you help the student to come to this, to the understanding of the whole of life? Because he comes to you conditioned, he is only concerned with a job, with a career, passing exams. If they don't want to pass exams and jobs, what will they do? You follow? What is our responsibility?
15:18 SS: I think one responsibility is to ask some different questions from the ones that are normally asked.
15:27 K: We're asking each other what's our responsibility?
15:31 SS: For instance one could ask how that society comes about which we see around us, how does it operate.
15:43 K: How has that society come about, because human beings have created it.
15:51 WS: That isn't obvious to a lot of people. Many people would say that society has created a human being.
16:01 K: Society has conditioned human beings. Are you trying to say society suddenly existed? God created it? Some fanciful deity living in wherever he is and suddenly says, 'There must be society' and bang, there is society, or man has created it?
16:27 WS: No, I am trying to say that the conditioning of society could create a human being and many people say that, if you changed that society, then the human being will change.
16:42 K: That has been tried by the communists, by the totalitarian people of different colour, change society, change environment, either through brutal means or different ways. But they haven't succeeded.
17:00 MM: Perhaps the response would be, people who went before just didn't do it well enough, and I'll do it better this time.
17:08 K: So, you say we'll have such a government who will be efficient to change the outer circumstances, society and all that, and hoping thereby to create a different human being, is that it? I believe every kind of system to change a human being from outside has been tried.
17:37 BN: One has to start from the other end, one has to care for the student.
17:42 K: I want to find out whether you want to start from the outside, outside in the sense change the environment, change the culture, change the government, change the whole way of looking at life from the outside through pressure, through cruel means or pleasant means, and then gradually bring about a different human being. Is that possible? And I believe they have tried every kind of system from the outside, the Greeks, the ancient Hindus, the Romans – historically it is so. And in recent years the communists in their way, through totalitarianism, have tried to force man to be different. They haven't succeeded. They have suppressed man. They have suppressed human beings to conform to a pattern. But there are always the dissidents, – you know the whole history of all that. So, that's what I want to find out. Are we trying to change the human character, the condition of man, from the outside? Which is called education in a different way, right? Or if it's not from the outside, is it from inside? Inside in the sense, inside the skin, psychologically, inwardly?
19:32 HT: But there has also been a movement of late, people have tried all kinds of things, turned to gurus, turned to psychiatrists.
19:45 K: Most of the gurus, are they concerned with the transformation of man?
19:53 MM: Well, people seem to believe they are.
19:57 K: Are you sure?
19:59 HT: What do you mean, by the transformation of man? What do you mean when you say, transformation of man?
20:07 K: To free him from his conditioning, from his problems, from his tortures, from his anxieties and despairs and depressions and fears, you know, all the suffering. Have gurus tried this? Or have they said, follow this, you will achieve something or other?
20:33 HT: They claim that they can free you from this kind of thing. They say, come to me, follow me, do what I say and I can remove all your suffering.
20:44 K: That means accept authority. You reject authority educationally, and here you accept authority. I don't know if I am explaining myself.
20:58 SS: Yes, that happens. But we ought to try and look at what comes about when you begin from the other way on, which is starting with the person you have in front of you.
21:23 K: Can we cultivate the human mind harmoniously?
21:29 WS: I'm not quite sure when you say cultivate it harmoniously.
21:34 K: What I mean by that is not only jobs and careers and all that, but also his mind, the way he thinks, his attitudes, all that. Can the two streams go together, the outer as well as the inner. Or must they everlastingly be kept apart? Or is there such a thing as the outer and the inner? I don't know if you are interested in this.
22:27 SS: Perhaps it's going a bit fast, Krishnaji. If we can see that the outer is the passing exams, and preparing for a career.
22:36 K: Career and living a life of constant struggle.
22:42 SS: What relation does that have to an education based on care, affection, psychological understanding, etc., the things we mentioned?
22:58 K: Can these two go together? That's what I am asking. Or, this division is artificial. The outer and the inner. Or there is no such thing as division, but it's a constant moving, outer and inner? I don't know if I am making myself clear.
23:34 MM: I think a little more, I'm not quite sure what you're talking about.
23:40 K: We have divided life as the outer and the inner. The inner is more complex, more difficult to understand, and so we have given much more emphasis to the outer. The outer is physical security, physical wellbeing, I am not saying we shouldn't be. Physical comforts, the whole commercialism, production, all that's going on in the present world, with their terror, with their tortures, with their wars, everything, that's the outer. And the inner is, beliefs, rituals, gods, the saviours, the gurus, the hope there will be some day some kind of peace in one's life. So we have these two.
24:56 HT: Is that part of the inner life of a student?
25:02 K: No, when the student comes to you he is conditioned by his parents, by the society, the culture he has lived in, and he comes to you and he is career minded, examinations, job. That's all. It is only very rare that a student comes who says, 'Sir, there is something more than this, please tell me what there is.' Like the other day the boy asked, 'All right, take it for granted we must have a career, but that's not the end of everything.' So are these two divisions artificial, man made? Because the one is very complex. Apparently very complex, put it that way. The other is fairly systematised. One wants security, physical security, and so that has been the urge right through history, that there must be physical security first. Feed me, and we'll think about God afterwards. And there are the others who say, think of God, be with him and everything will come right. Believe in the saviour and your life will be made easy. So we have kept these two in almost water tight compartments. Would you agree to that, would you say it is so?
27:21 HT: One of them we talk about much more, and the other is...
27:26 K: ...put aside, rather shy making. And rather, one doesn't want to expose oneself too much, so you say, please don't go into that, let's concentrate on this.
27:43 SS: Which is what we've done, and doing more and more really.
27:47 K: Yes. So I'm just asking, is this division emphasised by education, as it is now, sustained by acquiring superficial knowledge, and keeping the other in the cupboard, occasionally looking at it when the crisis, emotional crisis arises and you try to solve it but that is hidden, secret. Now I am asking, are these two streams, one very, very strong, all men are concerned with the one stream and so have given an enormous volume of water to it, energy, and the other practically neglected. Even the most religious person is concerned not with the ending of fear, sorrow, etc., but believing in God, practising certain rituals and hoping thereby to achieve a state of mind, or giving him some kind of peace. This is what is happening. Now I am asking, can these two streams be brought together? Surely that's the purpose of education, not to keep them apart.
29:38 HT: But why do you see it as necessary to bring these two streams together?
29:42 K: Because that's also my life, one's life. The suffering, the agony, the doubt, the guilt, the hurts, all that is part of my life, one's life. Why do you give importance only to this?
30:02 HT: But the two are not really separate.
30:05 K: The two are not separate but we have made them separate.
30:11 SS: Doesn't that imply that we need to concentrate on the other one, quite considerably?
30:16 K: No, one should be educated in both fields.
30:24 SS: But the other one is already so strong, you see. It tends to dominate the other.
30:28 K: So, what will you do? If the educators were concerned, and felt the tremendous responsibility that the two must be brought together. I doubt if they want to, first, if they do, then what shall we do together? As a group of teachers, as a group of educators, what shall we do? That the cultivation of the human mind is not only in the technological world but also in the so-called psychological and, if one may use the word, spiritual world also. And probably the organised religious people say, that's what we are trying to do.
31:38 HT: That's what they say but...
31:39 K: No, they would say that. Therefore one has to go into the whole question of what is religion. Are beliefs religion, rituals religion, the propaganda of two thousand years, religion?
32:01 SS: That is what is understood as religion normally. I think you would have to contest that concept of religion, or that statement about religion.
32:16 K: You have to counter it, you have to find out whether it is accurate or false, or invented by the priests.
32:23 SS: So you are introducing another element which is really some kind of psychological inquiry...
32:32 K: Revolution.
32:33 SS: ...or discussion among people as to what is the nature of things, which is a different element.
32:39 K: Yes, what is the nature of the psyche? What is the nature of a total human being, as it is now, and whether that total human being can be transformed, can be changed? After all you have a student who comes to you, ignorant of mathematics, history, or whatever it is, and you educate him so that he has a different mind at the end of ten years. He is either a mathematician, engineer, or physicist and so on. You take enormous trouble to do that, through schools, colleges, universities, that's what we are doing.
33:35 HT: Then we must take enormous trouble too to do the other.
33:39 K: The other, now who will do it? You see, who will undertake, feel the responsibility, say look, we must do this too.
33:54 HT: Well, as a teacher I see the responsibility, the necessity for doing that, but I know my subject and I can teach my subject but I don't know the other myself very well.
34:09 K: So what shall we do? If you see the importance of both, how will you inquire into the human existence as it is, and whether it can be transformed, whether it can be changed? I should have thought that is education, not merely cram the student with a lot of facts about this or that, but also how to live without problems, without suffering, without fear, without the agonies they go through.
35:02 BN: So you need to start really paying attention to your actual life, one day after another, as well as going to classes.
35:11 K: So, as an educator, can we do that? If the educator is not living that, is not himself involved in understanding his own life and he gets up and talks about the other, and the students obviously spot you as being rather shady. I question it: why has man denied the other side, or neglected it, or vaguely be concerned about it, why?
36:01 MM: One problem seems to be that we don't really know how to look at something for ourselves. I've learned mathematics, somebody has always told me how to do this or that, and when I have to look at something and nobody is telling me how to look, I'm a little lost.
36:18 K: Is that the problem? I'm not quite sure that's the problem.
36:24 SS: It's also where to look.
36:32 K: No, it's not that. I'm asking, why has he neglected this, the other side of man, the hidden side of man?
36:53 WS: Earning a living has become tremendously important, it seems the most important thing.
36:58 K: That is security. We'll call that security, physical security. And he is asking, give me psychological security and I will go after that. Rather than, educate me to find total security, psychologically and then I'll accept it. Is that it? He's seeking physical security, all human beings are, in one form or another. And if you assure man that there is also security inwardly then he might pay attention to it. So I'm asking, is the whole pursuit of man to be completely secure in both areas?
38:20 WS: Yes, I don't like to do something unless I know what's going to happen.
38:25 K: Yes, secure, certain. Give assurity, a sense of feeling safe, protected, and I will pursue that. They have done that, haven't they? Believe in Jesus, believe in certain forms of religion and you will be safe. If you don't believe, you will go to hell. Now, of course, nobody believes that kind of nonsense. So that's what I am asking, is man seeking security in both areas?
39:07 HT: Not just physical security but also security in relationships.
39:12 K: Yes, security in relationship so that I'll never be disturbed, not to be disturbed, not to have fears, completely safe. In this field he is demanding it – in the physical field – In the other he is also demanding it, and so he has created the churches, the gods, the whole religious structure, with their fanciful, romantic mysticism, all that. Is that what man is seeking? Therefore if you, as an educator, say, 'I'll give you security there, completely, in your relationship you will be safe, you will have no psychological problems, you will have no fear, no anxiety, no guilt, no sense of being hurt, you will understand death' and so on, so on, then he will follow that.
40:34 HT: Can we really do that for them?
40:37 K: That's what I'm asking.
40:50 HT: Is it possible to have complete security?
40:52 K: I think so.
41:01 WS: Then aren't you offering me the same thing?
41:06 K: I am not, no. First of all, I question the whole urge, structure of security. Is there security in this field – in the field of technology, in the field of career, in the field of having jobs and so on – is there security there?
41:35 HT: There's a kind of security but it brings with it its own dangers.
41:40 K: Its own problems, its own mess, which is not security. Security means to be perfectly safe. Perfectly protected, not disturbed, say, I have a job and nothing is going to happen. No wars, because the moment there is war I am lost.
42:11 WS: Also nobody is going to take my job from me.
42:13 K: But we want it there, and we're not finding it there. Governments change, inflation, every form of dishonesty. So I am asking, when we say we want security, is there such a thing at all? As long as we call ourselves Englishmen, Frenchmen, keep it isolated, keep ourselves isolated as divisions, and nations and so on, races, we are not secure. What do you say to that? Because I want to be secure in England as an Englishman, if I am an Englishman, or an Indian, or a Japanese, whatever it is, I want to be secure in my job, in my work, physically.
43:33 SS: And the solutions that are sought also tend to be bigger but of a similar kind. For instance, like a European parliament, or a European nation.
43:45 K: In the meantime, when that comes into being, in the meantime I go through agony, fears, uncertainty. There are millions of unemployed.
44:08 SS: I'd like to get back to the question of the teacher in a school, meeting a student who is the product of the society but who is not aware that he is
44:22 K: I have to help him not to be a product of the society.
44:25 SS: Or show that he is.
44:26 K: He is, obviously.
44:28 SS: Yes, but he probably doesn't see that. He probably doesn't realise that.
44:32 K: He doesn't. As an educator it's my responsibility. That he is the result of his father, grandfather, whole generations past, with their particular form of society handed down through tradition.
44:56 SS: And also the present society with its own violence, etc.
45:01 K: Yes, so he comes conditioned and the teacher comes conditioned.
45:14 SS: So they're both conditioned.
45:16 K: Both conditioned. At present, not realising both are conditioned, it's the blind leading the blind.
45:26 SS: Well, if one realises he is conditioned he is only partly blind.
45:34 K: Partly, but being partly blind isn't...
45:37 SS: It's not much good but it's better than being totally blind.
45:42 K: Partly. It's like saying partly sane.
45:46 SS: We are partly sane, aren't we?
45:48 K: But partly, and therefore… Being partly sane, the greater insanity takes place. Apart from all this, what shall we do? As educators, what's our responsibility?
46:09 HT: We're saying that, it seems that the main concern of humanity is with security. When the student comes, his parents, they're thinking of what he will do in the future, security.
46:28 K: Yes, for them, the parent is thinking security for them. And the security is career.
46:34 HT: Yes, but then career turns out not to be security, because there is uncertainty, there are all kinds of things.
46:42 K: For one job there are a thousand people. So I am questioning, when man is seeking security whether there is such a thing at all. Maybe temporarily you are secure if you have a bank account, if you have a great piece of the earth, perhaps you are secure. But even then, there is always encroachment, there are taxes...
47:19 BN: You raised the question as to whether one might be completely secure.
47:25 K: Yes.
47:27 BN: Could we look at that?
47:30 K: Look at it, sir. What do you say?
47:35 HT: What makes us insecure?
47:39 K: Division. Division of people into races, classes, nationalities, I am a Jew, you are an Arab. This division.
47:58 HT: We seem to encourage this division. We encourage this division. In schools there is competition.
48:05 K: Naturally, because each person is concerned with his own security and that security is through small groups, large groups, identifying with one country against another, which eventually breeds wars. We never say, look, we are one human race, for God's sake let's all work together and create a different world.
48:45 BN: So trying to find one's own security makes everyone insecure.
48:49 K: Obviously. Look at what is happening. The politician wants to be secure in his position. So, we are just asking, as educators, what shall we do, or what is our responsibility when we see how grotesque it has all become. It's like developing a right arm and neglecting the left arm, which is withering, which is ultimately going to destroy the whole human being. So, if you see both arms must be developed, strengthened, and work together, what shall we do? Would you ask that question, what shall we do, if you saw the importance that the inward as well as the outer must move together?
50:09 SS: I would certainly bring some deliberate attention to bear on it, spend some time with it, talk about it, even understanding it imperfectly myself because of the crucial nature of it.
50:29 K: Can you do that? Will you in a class give half of your time? Half an hour for mathematics, half an hour talking over the other? Discussing, having a dialogue, pointing out the importance of both?
51:03 HT: Or rather than separating them out like that, as you talk about the mathematics you're also looking at your responses to it, how the other is moving at the same time.
51:21 K: No, I'm saying something more. Will you in your class, or whatever you are doing as an educator give time to this?
51:32 WS: Isn't it rather artificial though, to divide the class half into the subject and half into something else?
51:40 K: It may be artificial. How will you do it? Will you do it at lunch time?
51:44 WS: As Harsh suggested, by the very working together at a subject you're also working together with the relationship of the student and you. It is not just working on a subject.
51:59 K: That means you have established a relationship with the student.
52:04 WS: Yes.
52:05 K: Have you a relationship with the student? Relationship means being concerned about his dress, the way he walks, the way he talks, the language he uses, cultivating his taste, manners, politeness, the whole of it. To help him to be free from fear and so on, so on. Are we doing this? Which means the educator must also be enquiring in himself. Or is this all so vague and uncertain and doubtful when the educator himself is conditioned to one way of life? What would you do if you had children of your own? After all the students are your children. What will you do, actually?