I wonder what the future holds for us in the Krishnamurti schools. What role will the body of teachings that Krishnamurti left behind play in life at our schools? Obviously we must continue to be relevant to the world at large, in the sense of addressing issues of global concern, such as the threats of consumerism, of nationalism, and of the loss of bio-diversity; also, we must avoid the trap of what may be termed ‘K fundamentalism’. All these are obviously necessary. But what of the legacy that Krishnamurti left us? What are we to do with the immense body of teachings that he left behind?
K used to say, in private conversation, that he was told by friends that the full flower of his teaching would come only when he was not around any more, the metaphor being of the banyan tree (or the tamarind tree) under which little else grows. But perhaps the ‘full flower’ will appear only if we experience for ourselves the power of truth.
Truth in the scientific world
The power of science and mathematics are all too well known. Each time one travels in an aeroplane, one is literally trusting one’s life to Bernoulli’s principle (or, to be more precise, to our understanding of this principle). Science embodies precision and power in a manner that very few endeavours of humankind do (or even attempt to do). Consider the miracle of space flight: the precision needed to send an object into space to meet another distant object, itself travelling at great speed, after a lonely journey lasting a dozen years. (The Voyager and Pioneer missions of NASA did just this.) Illustrations of this kind of power are easy to list. A particularly nice example relates to the asteroid Ceres, which was spotted in early January 1800, tracked for a few weeks, and then lost to view. As anyone who has done stargazing will know, finding a specified object in the sky is hard work; much more so if the object can be seen only through a powerful telescope. If one loses sight of such an object, finding it again can be a frustrating task. This is what the astronomers found to their chagrin, in the spring of 1800. The problem was referred to the young mathematician Karl Gauss. He looked at the data collected by the astronomers, invented a technique for fitting an orbit to the data, 4 then boldly made a prediction as to where Ceres was to be found; and it was found exactly where he said it would be. This is the kind of story that illustrates most effectively the almost frightening power of mathematics and science. Perhaps it explains the aura around the word ‘scientific’. (It is odd, indeed amusing, to see the frequency with which this word is used to bolster a line of reasoning in an argument: ‘This has been tested scientifically...’)
Truth in the world within
K was all too aware of this power, and he asked, implicitly: can we bring about a culture within our schools that embodies such power – the power of truth? The word‘truth’ is being used in a somewhat different sense from that above. If there can be truth in the scientific world, in the world of measurement, then there can be truth in the psychological world too. The sense here is Socratic, perhaps even Biblical (statements such as ‘The truth liberates’ and ‘Know thyself, ’ which have come to us through the ages, are revealing in this regard), and it has implications for right living, right relationship. For instance, if I have an image about myself that I am truthful and honest, and actually I am not, then a sudden and uninvited experiencing of what I am actually— seeing myself in stark relief, so to speak— can have powerful consequences. So thesense of the word is, perhaps, ‘actuality: thatwhich is actually happening in my life’. The avoidance of this actuality creates the world of illusion and escape; and the denial of that avoidance is truth.
Krishnamurti pointed to the world within, and asked us in the various schools to be undivided, to be one body. He asked us to wipe away misunderstandings, the very day they arise; to store no hurts; to deny the small; to die each day; to learn from every intimation; to receive life with open arms, not dictating how it should come to us. What is our relationship to these challenges? Do we know the truth about them, and have we therefore tested the power of truth? K would sometimes say, if you wipe away a single hurt, a single image, then in that instant every hurt is wiped away; at a single stroke, every image. This is a statement of astonishing power; but perhaps we have not really experienced it. There is an invitation in these challenges to experiment, but most of us seem to find it hard to engage in such experimentation. Perhaps it is too daunting a prospect.
To Krishnamurti, this power was a reality. Some of the things he said in this connection are astonishing, perhaps even frightening, in their reach and clarity. ‘You know about the baby they have been bringing to me. The doctor said its brain had not formed. It could not see, could not smile, could not recognize, and I have been touching it. Something is functioning very strongly in me. I feel a burning in my hand and the baby has begun to smile, to recognize people. You can do it. All you have to do is to pick it up. The thing that is operating in me will work with you as well, pick it up...’ [from Pupul Jayakar’s biography of Krishnamurti, page 176]; and again, in a conversation with students of Rishi Valley in December 1974: ‘I put my hand on your bone that is broken and heal you. That you consider a miracle. Now when I put my hand on you and heal you, I say that God, through me, healed you. Or I say that I have got the power to heal you. The power is that I have meditated, and I have lived a proper life. As I have not hurt anybody and as I am totally unselfish, I have got this power to heal and so on. And as I have this power, I put my hand on you and heal you... I managed to heal because I lead a good life. As I do not run after money and so on and so on, I get this strange power and I heal you...’ [from the Bulletin, Volume 2000/1]. And in another talk to Rishi Valley students: ‘Sir, life is very strange. The moment you are very clear about what you want to do, things happen. Life comes to your aid — a friend, a relation, a teacher... somebody helps you... You know, in biology there is a phenomenon called the sport, which is a sudden and spontaneous deviation from the type. If you have a garden and have cultivated a particular species of flower, one morning you may find that something totally new has come out of that species. The new thing is called the sport. Being new it stands out, and the gardener takes a special interest in it. And life is like that. The moment you venture out, something takes place in you and about you. Life comes to your aid in various ways. You may not like the form in which it comes to you — it may be misery, struggle, starvation— but when you invite life, things begin tohappen.’ [from This Matter of Culture]. These are astonishing statements indeed.
I would say that this is a great challenge for us in the coming years — to really test out Krishnamurti’s statements, and to find a way of living that embodies the power of selfunderstanding, just as the mathematical sciences embody the power of logic and the power of the scientific method. Can we experience at first hand — by actually testing it out — the strength of vulnerability, or the strength of anonymity (‘hide your talent under a bushel’, as Krishnamurti liked to say), or the strength of being a single body, undivided? If our schools are to survive and to remain whole, if we are to remain relevant to the world at large, then we must do this.
Implications for education
What implication does all this have for education? How does a child get to experience the power of truth? In the area of science and mathematics this is not too difficult to do, for we see evidence of the power of science all around us. But it is all too easy to get dazzled by this power, to get carried away from oneself; and it should be part of our work to see that this does not happen. For this, it is necessary to focus attention, not on the objects and predictions and the end results of science, but to focus on the very process of inquiry itself.
What about the other area of selfunderstanding, which is so much more subtle? Clearly one has to start in a small way, perhaps by negating, starting with the power and reach of the false. This too is relatively easy to talk about and to show to the child, for we see instances of it all around us; the horrors of war, for instance, or of communal conflict, which show very pointedly the power of the statement, ‘As long as there is division, there must be conflict’. Consumerism and environmental issues offer another rich area for illustrating the power of the false. But to illustrate the power of truth seems to be a different matter altogether. Unless one has experienced such power at first hand, it may be impossible to talk about it in any meaningful manner. And yet that is perhaps the only rational way to proceed: to talk about it amongst ourselves, to expose ourselves psychologically to one another, to search for evidence of that power in daily life, and then to talk to students about it, hesitantly and without making false claims; in short, to make it part of one’s life.
The key word in all this, surely, is experimentation. It would seem that we have not really experimented with ourselves to the extent that we might have. What does experimentation really imply? — probably, more than anything else, a quality of trust in life, and also courage and integrity. Is trust in life the same as faith? Perhaps trust and faith are not too far apart from one another; but experimentation requires the trust to be active and real, not passive or abstract. It may in the end be the only rational thing to do.
Whenever a mind is simple and receives a divine wisdom, old things pass away, - means, teachers, texts, temples fall; it lives now, and absorbs past and future into the present hour.
[Ralph Waldo Emerson]
If the mind is happy, not only the body but the whole world will be happy. So one must find out how to become happy oneself. Wanting to discover the world without discovering one’s true self is like trying to cover the whole world with leather to avoid the pain of walking on stones and thorns. It is much simpler to wear shoes.