Dialogue with Krishnamurti: Understanding the causes of psychological problems
Question: I have parents who are orthodox and who depend on me, but I myself have ceased to believe in their orthodoxy. How am I to deal with such a situation? This is a real problem to me.
Krishnamurti: Now, why has one ceased to be orthodox? Before you say, `I have ceased to be orthodox’, must you not find out why, for what reason? Is it because you see that orthodoxy is mere repetition without much meaning, a framework in which man lives because he is afraid to go beyond and discover? Or, have you abandoned orthodoxy as a mere reaction, because it is the modern thing to do to reject the ancient, the old? Have you rejected the old without understanding it? – which is merely a reaction. If that is the case, it is quite different, it brings about quite a different issue. But if you have ceased to be orthodox because you see that a mind caught in tradition, in habit, is without understanding, then you know the full significance of orthodoxy. I do not know which you have done: Either you have left it in protest; or, you have abandoned it – or rather, it has fallen away from you naturally – because you understand it. Now, if it is the latter, then what is your responsibility to those people around you who are orthodox? Should you yield to their orthodoxy because they are your mother and father, and they cry and give you trouble at home, calling you an undutiful son? Should you yield to them because they create trouble? What is your responsibility? If you yield, then your understanding of orthodoxy has no meaning; then you are placatory, you don’t want trouble, you want to let sleeping dogs lie. But surely, you must have trouble, a revolution is essential; not the bloody kind of revolution, but a psychological revolution – which is far more important than mere revolution in outward effects. Most of us are afraid to have a fundamental revolution; we yield to the parents saying, `There is enough trouble as it is in the world, why should I add more?’ But surely, that is not the answer, is it? When one has trouble, it must be exposed, opened up and looked into. Merely to accept an attitude, to concede to the parents because they are going to give you trouble, kick you out of the house, does not bring out clarity; it merely hides, suppresses conflict, and a conflict which is suppressed acts as a poison in the system, in the psychological being.
If there is tension between you and your parents, this contradiction has to be faced if you want to live creatively, happily; but as most of us do not want to lead a creative life and are satisfied to be dull, we say, `It is all right, I will yield’. After all, relationship with another, especially with a father, mother or child, is a very difficult thing, because relationship with most of us is a matter of gratification. We do not want any trouble in relationship. Surely, a person who is looking for gratification, satisfaction, comfort, security in relationship, ceases to have a relationship that is alive; he makes that relationship into a dead thing. After all, what is relationship? What is the function of relationship? Surely, it is a means by which I discover myself. Relationship is a process of self-revelation; but if the self-revelation is unpleasant, unsatisfactory, disturbing, we do not want to look any further into it. So, relationship becomes merely a means of communication, and therefore a dead thing. But if relationship is an active process in which there is self-revelation, in which I discover myself as in a mirror, then that relationship not only brings about conflict, disturbance, but out of it comes clarity and joy.
The question, then, is: `When you are not orthodox, what is your responsibility to the person who is dependent on you?’ Now, the older you grow, the more orthodox you become; that is, because you know you are soon coming to the end of your life and you don’t know what awaits you on the other side, you seek safety, security, on both sides. But a man who believes without understanding is obviously stupid; and should you encourage stupidity? Belief creates antagonism, the very nature of belief is to divide: You believe in one thing, I believe in another; you are a communist, I am a capitalist, which is merely a matter of belief; you call yourself a Hindu, I call myself a Musalman – and we slaughter each other. So, belief is obviously a device which sets man against man; and recognizing all these factors, what is your responsibility? Can one advise another as to what to do? You and I can discuss; but it is for you to act, after looking into it. To look into it you must pay attention, and you must face the consequences of your decision, you cannot leave it to me or to anybody else. That means you understand and are quite willing to face trouble, to be thrown out, to be called an ungrateful son, and all the rest of it; it means that for you orthodoxy does not matter, but that truth, which is the understanding of the problem, matters immensely, and therefore you are prepared to face trouble. But most of us do not want the clear happiness that truth brings; want mere gratification, and therefore we concede and say, `All right, I will do what you want me to do; but for God’s sake, leave me alone.’ That way you will never create a new society, a new culture.
Question: It us the universally accepted conclusion of modern intellectuals that educators have failed. What is, then, the task of those whose function it is to teach the young?
Krishnamurti: There are several problems involved in this, and to understand them, one must go very carefully into them. First of all, why do you have children? Is it mere accident, an unwanted event? Do you have children to carry on your name, title or estate? Or do you love, and therefore you have children? Which is it? If you have children merely as toys, something to play with, or if you arc lonely and a child helps you to cover up that loneliness – then children become important because they are your own self-projection. But if children are not a mere means of amusement or a result of accidents, if you really love them in the profound sense of that word – and to love somebody means to be in complete communion with them – , then education has quite a different significance. If as a parent you really love your children, you will see that they have the right kind of education. In other words, children must be helped to be intelligent, sensitive, to have a mind and heart that are pliable, able to deal with any situation. Surely, if you really love your child, you as a parent will not be a nationalist, you will not belong to any country, you will not belong to any organized religion; because, obviously, if you are a nationalist, if you worship the State, then you inevitably destroy your son, because you are creating war. If you really love your son, you will find out what is your right relationship with property; because it is the possessive instinct which has given property such enormous significance, and which is destroying the world. Again, if you really love your children, you will not belong to any particular religion, because belief creates antagonism between man and man. It you love your children, you will do all these things. So, that is one aspect.
Then the other aspect is that the educator needs educating. What are you educating the children for? To become clerks or glorified clerks, governors, engineers, technicians? Is that all life us, merely a matter of glorified clerks, technicians, mechanics, human beings made into cannon fodder? What us the purpose and intention of education? Is ut to turn cut soldiers, lawyers and policemen? Surely, the occupations of soldier, lawyer, and policeman, are not right professions for decent human beings. (Laughter.) Don’t laugh it off. By laughing it off, you are pushing it aside. You can see that these professions do not contribute to the total well-being of man, though they may be necessary in a society that has already become corrupt. Therefore, first of all, you have to find out why it is that you have children, and what it is that you are educating them for. If you are merely educating them to be technicians, naturally you will find the best technician to educate your child, and he will be made into a machine, he will discipline himself to conform to a pattern. Is that all there is to our existence, our struggle and our happiness – merely to become mechanics, tank or airplane experts, scientists, physicists inventing new ways of destruction? Therefore, education is your responsibility, is it not? What is it you want your children to be, or not to be? What is the purpose of existence? If it is merely to adjust to a system, to efface oneself for a party, then it is very simple; then all that you have to do is to conform and fit in. But if life is meant to be lived rightly, fully, joyously, sensitively, then there must be quite a different process of education in which there is the cultivation of sensitivity, of intelligence, and not mere technique – though technique is necessary.
So, as a parent – and God knows why you are parents – you have to find out what your responsibility is. Sirs, you love so easily: you say you love, but really you don’t love your children. You have no feeling. You accept social events and conditions as inevitable; you don’t want to transform them, to create a revolution and bring about a new culture, a new society. Surely, it depends on you what kind of education your children will have. As the questioner says, education throughout the world has failed, it has produced catastrophe after catastrophe, destruction and more destruction, bloodshed, rape and murder. Obviously, education has failed; and if you look to the experts, the specialists, to educate your children, the disaster must continue, because the specialists, being concerned only with the part and not with the whole, are themselves inhuman. Surely, the first thing is to have love; for if there is love, it will find the way to educate the children rightly. But you see, we are all brains and no heart; we have cultivated the intellect, and in ourselves we are so absurdly lopsided – and then the problem arises of what to do with the children. Surely, it is obvious that the educator himself needs educating – and the educator is you; for the home environment is as important as the school environment. So, you have to transform yourself first to give the right environment to the child; for the environment can make him either a brute, an unfeeling technician, or a very sensitive, intelligent human being. The environment is yourself and your action; and unless you transform yourself, the environment, the present society in which we live, must inevitably harm the child, make him rude, rough, unintelligent.
Surely, sirs, those who are deeply interested in this problem will begin to transform themselves and thereby transform society, which will in turn bring about a new means of education. But you are really not interested. You will listen to all this and say, `Yes, I agree; but it is too impracticable’. You don’t treat it as a direct responsibility; you are not really, fundamentally concerned. If you really loved your son and knew the war was coming, as it inevitably is, do you mean to say yon would not act, you would not find a way of stopping war? You see, we don’t love; we use the word `love’ but the content of that word has no meaning any more. We just use the word without a referent, without substance, and we live merely on the word; so the complex problem is there still, and we have to face it. And don’t say I have not shown you a way out of it. The way is yourself and your relationship with your children, your wife, your society. You are the gleam, you are the hope; otherwise there is no way out of this at all.
Look at what is happening. More and more governments are taking charge of education, which means they want to produce efficient beings, either as technicians or for war; and therefore the children must be regimented, they must be told, not how to think, but what to think. They are taught to live on propaganda, slogans. Because those who are in power don’t want to be disturbed, they want to keep the power, it has become the function of government to maintain the status quo with little alterations here and there. So, taking all these factors into consideration, you have to find out what is the meaning of existence why you are living, why you are producing children; and you have to find out how to create a new environment – for, what the environment is, your child is. He listens to your talk, he repeats what the older people think and do. So, you have to create a right environment, not only at home, but outside, which is society; and you have to create a new kind of government which is radically different, which is not based on nationalism, on the sovereign State with its armies and efficient ways of murdering people. That implies seeing your responsibility in relationship, and you actually see that responsibility in relationship only when you love somebody. When your heart is full, then you find a way. This is urgent, it is imminent – you cannot wait for the experts to come and tell you how to educate your child. Only you who love will find the way; for, those hearts are empty that look to the experts.
You have listened to all this, and what is your reaction? You will say, `Yes, very nice, very good, it should be done; but let somebody else begin’ – which means, really, you don’t love your child; you have no relationship with your child, so you don’t see the difficulty. The more irresponsible you become, the more the State takes over all responsibility – the State being the few, the party, left or right. You yourself have to work it out because we are facing a great crisis – not a verbal crisis, not a political or an economic crisis, but a crisis of human degradation, of human disintegration. Therefore, it is your responsibility; as the father, as the mother, you have got to transform yourself. These are not just words I am indulging in. One sees this calamity approaching so closely and dangerously, and we sit here and do not do a thing about it; or if we do, we look to some leader and turn our hearts over to him. It is an obvious fact that when you pursue a leader, you choose that leader out of your own confusion, and therefore the leader himself is confused. (Laughter.) Don’t laugh it off as a clever remark: please look at it, see what you are doing. It is you who are responsible for the appalling horror which we have come to, and you are not facing it. You go out and do exactly the same thing that you did yesterday; and you feel your responsibility is over when you ask that question about education and pass your child on to a teacher who teaches and beats him. Don’t you see? Unless you love your wife, your children, and not merely use them as a tool or means for your own gratification, unless you are really touched by this, you will not find a right way of education. To educate your children means to be interested in the whole process of life. What you think, what you do, and what you say, matters infinitely, because that creates the environment, and it is the environment which created the child.
1948 3rd Public Talk, New Delhi, India, Available as: Report – ‘Poona, Delhi & Madras 1948, Verbatim Report’ and in book form: ‘The Collected Works of J.Krishnamurti, Vol V’