By staying with what is, you can go beyond it.
In the course of a talk to students in one of the schools founded by him, Krishnamurti said, ‘A new world is necessary. A new culture is necessary. The old culture is dead, buried, burnt, exploded, vapourised. You have to create a new culture. A new culture cannot be built upon violence.’
The truth of what he said is laid out before us every morning in the newspapers with their bland recordings of the explosions, vapourisations and acts of despoliation of Nature taking place daily world-wide. Though war and humanly wrought destruction of Nature have been endemic in history, the modern age has seen more destruction through wars than in the entire previous period of human history.
Things fall apart, the centre cannot hold;
More anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned...
But human kind cannot bear very much reality and various escape routes and various solutions are on offer.
Krishnamurti was constantly concerned to make us aware of the insidiousness and unreality of these escape routes and the ultimate inadequacy of the systemic solutions suggested. His teachings are a call to constantly consider and meditate on these matters.
Taking this to heart, aware of the blood-dimmed tide of. Yeats’ lines, and trying to ride on that other ‘tide of awareness’ in the Krishnamurti quotation at the beginning, the contributors of the articles in this issue reflect on the effects of these destructive forces and the more insidiously harmful effects of the knowledge and technological revolutions on young minds. They express a yearning for wider horizons, a greater plenitude of being, a reconnection of the lost bonds with Society and Nature. More than just yearning for a Brave New World, they acknowledge the responsibility of the adult generation for the present state of affairs, and also their own responsibility to protect their students from these influences.
First, the escapisms. Kartik Kalyanram’s article on risk-taking by youth, describes how the IT explosion and the high levels of sophistication achieved by television, movies and other media, and the unprecedented availability of these multiple harmful choices, promote hedonism, narcissism, sexual promiscuity and drug-taking among young persons, especially urban youth. He points out that teachers and all adults have a responsibility to protect youth from these dangers by making them conscious of them.
Dr. Kalyanram’s article describes the baneful effects of many ‘pop’ musical styles, and coincidentally (or synchronistically?) the Plato quotation at the beginning of Venkatesh Onkar’s article on ‘The evolving chant’ contends that new musical styles could insidiously undermine a whole society’s ethos. This article is a meditative one calling for non-judgemental reflection, along with students, on the great emotional energy contained by music, and its potentiality if ‘passively consumed’, as a carrier of that energy to prematurely form the identities of young persons, around the vital areas of sexuality, desire and relationships. Instead of escaping into passively consuming such music, the students should be invited to see the value of ‘direct immersion’ into music and actually creating it.
More escapisms. ‘Goodness in a changing world’ by the editors of the journal, describes how the severe distortion of childhood preoccupied with academic success and the consequent pressure and anxiety is driving children into the escapes of pleasure seeking and narcissistic isolation from their peers. Krishnamurti said, ‘It is the educator who needs to be educated.’ In this spirit the authors write about the need to examine the pattern of their own lives. Such self-reflection alone (and not the ‘time-honoured’ practice of ‘instilling values’ into children’s minds) would help to nurture the potential for qualities such as honesty, courage, forgiveness and generosity in young people.
G. Ananthapadmanabhan’s ‘The sameness curriculum’ points out how the well-intentioned effort to respect the child’s individuality and develop his or her real interests, may be undermining the other side of Krishnamurti education, namely to see the common ground on which all human beings stand—the common ground of universal patterns of thought and feeling as formulated in Krishnamurti’s statement, ‘You are the world.’
‘Amaltash’ describes the attempt in the Valley School, KFI, to make learning a free flow for eleven and thirteen year olds by breaking up the standard ‘horizontal’ structure of grouping children of the same age group in a class, and having a ‘vertical’ structure consisting of children of all these ages, thus making it possible to keep examinations away from the immediate horizon, enabling each child to learn at his or her own pace, and making it possible for children to learn from each other.
The alienation from and assault on Nature is of course the theme of many a lament in modern discourse and many authors in this issue are concerned with how to reconnect with and immerse ourselves and young people into Nature.
Suprabha Seshan and her team’s article on ‘Meeting life’ describes the ‘Landscapes course’ which makes participants ‘live as parts of the forest landscapes’ in two camp sites in the Western Ghats and Western Himalayas. The means used include both academic studies and the physical exploration of flora and fauna. K. Ramesh’s review of Tara Gandhi’s book. Birds and Plant Regeneration is an appreciation of the ways in which the book describes the intricate and delicate inter-relationships between birds and plants, and how this inter-relationship is part of the larger ecological cycle of earth-flora-fauna-atmosphere. Ashna Sen’s ‘On mathematics, nature and the nature of learning’ is about a more intellectual way of connecting to Nature and Cosmos by discerning the mathematical patterns embedded in them, following in the footsteps of ancient Greek and Indian mathematicians, and following through with modern studies on mathematical patterns in biological, ecological and population systems.
The excerpt from one of David Orr’s writings, entitled ‘Is environmental education an oxymoron’ describes how institutions of higher education, instead of being places of fundamental inquiry into the premises of our present attitudes to Nature, are actually reinforcing and legitimising these premises through excessive professionalisation, specialisation and careerism. Orr’s article provides a graphic illustration of Krishnamurti’s statement ‘Knowledge moves in the shadow of ignorance’ when he points out how it is only the knowledge of CFCs and nuclear reactions, which creates our ignorance of their effects. The article calls for a serious effort to rethink the substance and process of education and research and the definition of knowledge.
Patrick Foster’s ‘Desperate times and a new order of education’ is a fervent plea for a revaluation of all values and to ‘construct a new world view’. But the question is, can a new world view be ‘constructed’? Indeed, commendable and very necessary as are all the initiatives described in the articles, including Foster’s we are still left with the feeling that there is something vital missing, that try as we may, we are somehow missing that ‘source’ from which issues plenitude, and the new world Krishnamurti talks about.
With T.S. Eliot we can only say:
We must be still and still moving
Into another intensity
For a further union, a deeper communion...
Krishnamurti has the last word when he says, ‘It is only through negation that the positive is born.’ Hence the need to always move beyond whatever has been done, however necessary it may be.